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UFC, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organisation, and the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) have announced a new partnership to bring UFC events to the emirate for the next five years, beginning with UFC 242 on September 7.
UFC will be a part of Abu Dhabi’s continually growing mega events calendar, with new festivals, sporting events and other initiatives being drawn to the emirate in part by the attractive benefits offered by the Advantage Abu Dhabi programme. Advantage Abu Dhabi provides a unique opportunity for event organisers, increasing the overall value proposition of the destination by providing an array of support services throughout the event planning cycle. The partnership with UFC is the latest to demonstrate the power of the programme in creating new business opportunities in Abu Dhabi.
UFC’s highly anticipated return to Abu Dhabi, the promotion’s first since 2014, will air live on global broadcasters around the world and on Pay-Per-View in select markets. Though the bouts are still being confirmed, the card will be headlined by at least one championship fight. Likewise, over the course of the partnership, subsequent UFC events held in Abu Dhabi will be headlined by at least one championship bout.
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman, DCT Abu Dhabi said, “Abu Dhabi is now firmly established as a unique tourism destination which offers a diverse mix of activities and initiatives that cater to all kinds of audience and visitors. The emirate also has a strong affiliation with world-class sporting events, such as the FIFA World Club Cup, the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the Red Bull Air Race, and now this deal to bring UFC here allows us to once again show our ability to stage major events that thrill visitors and residents alike. UFC will become a key component of Abu Dhabi’s thriving events calendar for the next five years, which is already packed full of not only great sporting events, but also cultural, arts and entertainment offerings as well. This spectacular mixed martial arts event, which has a huge following around the world, will bring heightened impetus to visitation in the third quarter for the emirate and will no doubt boost incoming tourist numbers as fight fans across the world gather in Abu Dhabi.”
Dana White, President, UFC said, “We are making a long-term commitment to Abu Dhabi because we have had great success in that market. The demand from our fans to bring UFC back to Abu Dhabi has been overwhelming, and over the next five years, DCT Abu Dhabi will help us deliver some spectacular UFC championship fights to the UAE. I’m very excited about this partnership and what it will mean for the growth of this sport and for UFC in the region.”
UFC previously held live events in Abu Dhabi in 2010 and in 2014. UFC made history with its first event, UFC 112: INVINCIBLE, on April 10, 2010, as it was the promotion’s first held outdoors. To stage the event, UFC built an open-air arena on Yas Island adjacent to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. UFC returned to Abu Dhabi on April 11, 2014, as the promotion hosted UFC® FIGHT NIGHT: NOGUEIRA vs. NELSON at du Arena on Yas Island.
OYO Hotels & Homes, the world’s sixth largest and fastest-growing chain of leased and franchised hotels, homes & living spaces, announced that it has now become the second-largest hotel group and company in China.
In a short span of 1.5 years, OYO has expanded its presence to 320 cities, nearly 10,000 OYO-branded hotels and 450,000 rooms, surpassing the scale of traditional and established hotel chain brands in the country, such as Home Inn, Hanting and others. The franchisee contract renewal rate of more than 97 per cent has been highly encouraging and reflective of the value that OYO creates for asset owners, while providing quality affordable accommodations to guests.
Commenting on the development, Sam Shih, COO, OYO China said, “OYO Jiudian (Hotels) operates like a Chinese company and delivers better living for middle-income people across the country. We have ensured that for the first time you can get a great living space in less than RMB 150 as well. Everyday, over 200,000 heads are on OYO Jiudian pillows in China due to the great experience at low cost. Also, we have enabled jobs for over 100,000 young people due to the occupancy rise and, as more people stay in our hotels, more economic opportunities are created. I am humbled to see that over 97% of franchisee partners have come back and renewed their contracts, a testament to the impact we have had on their business, both at occupancy and revenue levels. Today, we are less than 2% of the country’s accommodation market that stands at ~35 mn rooms. We have an incredible opportunity ahead of us and we are just getting started.”
OYO has revolutionized the fragmented and legacy-driven budget hospitality space in China by building a brand, optimising costs, hiring talent, as well as leveraging brand channels. With second-tier cities at its core, OYO Hotels’ chain extends deep into China’s tier-2 to tier-6 cities.
Asset owners, who have joined the OYO Jiudian (Hotels) group for 3 months or more, have, on average, seen a 2X increase in occupancy.
As of now, OYO Hotels gets 25 per cent of bookings from OTAs in China.
Encouraged by growing numbers of Indian groups to Turkey, the Turkish Culture and Tourism Office in India recently organized a familiarization trip for Indian MICE agents and operators to showcase the best of hotels and destinations. The FAM trip comprised of representatives from Fountainhead, Thomas Cook, Cox & Kings, FCM, Ease my Trip, 7 Wonders World, One Above- A truly Global DMC and Enrich India.
The group visited Izmir where they explored the city and checked a few hotels. The following day the group visited the ancient city of Ephesus, known for its historical landmarks and considered one of Turkey’s top tourist destinations.
Next destination was Antalya where the group visited some of the luxury hotels in Belek region. In between hotel inspection, the group had a leisure visit to Duden waterfall and Aspendos Antique Theatre. After Antalya, the group moved to Istanbul where they visited some of the best hotels, held B2B meetings and enjoyed a cultural tour of Istanbul.
According to release issued by Turkish Culture and Tourism Office in India, Turkey hosted a big MICE group of 1000 employees from Indian company, Titan in the last week of April and another big group of Max Insurance was hosted in the first week of May. Meanwhile, Turkey has been receiving many enquiries from Indian DMC’s and corporates alike for large MICE group.
MICE travel in Turkey is increasing at an incredibly fast pace, with the country being ranked among the world's top 10 meeting and congress destinations. “Istanbul and Antalya have been listed among the “Top 5 cities in Europe” in terms of the international tourist arrivals in 2018. Istanbul and Antalya hosted 13.5 million and 12.5 million tourists respectively in 2018. Mice travel from India is our big focus and we expect the numbers to increase this year,” says H. Deniz ERSÖZ, Culture & Tourism Counsellor, Turkish Culture and Tourism Office in India.
In the context of IMEX, Accor and meetago agreed on a strategic international partnership for its core meeting and events business today. This deeper level of cooperation was officially stamped and sealed on the basis of their already existing successful collaboration. meetago provides booking and software solutions in the fields of meetings, incentives, conferences & exhibitions (“MICE”, for short) and is one of the biggest players in Central Europe.
meetago’s booking technology and services will be offered by Accor, not only in the DACH (Germany-Austria-Switzerland) region, but across Europe and in a few key source markets such as the US and China. With the launch of this partnership, the jointly developed Connectivity Solution will be available to more than 1,600 meeting hotels worldwide. The offer is focused on a comprehensive and attractive portfolio of meeting and conference hotels across all brands.
Promoting international expansion, The Accor and meetago partnership aims to make booking and managing conferences, events and business meetings faster, more global and more efficient for hotels and event organisers. It will make meeting demand from corporate customers easier and will promote the continued international expansion of the meeting business of both partners.
Sabine Toplak, Vice President Sales Central Europe, Accor said, “Through the strategic partnership with meetago, we are responding to growing demand from our corporate customers and we will be making our offer available centrally via one platform in the future. We also provide more comprehensive and efficient services with a higher level of digitalisation to the conference industry.”
Udo Lülsdorf, CEO and Founder, meetago said, “We are very pleased to be expanding our collaboration with Accor, which will further advance our global growth. We want to use innovative ideas to provide an excellent user experience.”
In an attempt to broaden its reach in the India market, Thailand-based the Village Coconut Island has appointed Indian representation company, Nijhawan Group as their representative to enhance their trade and media initiatives in India.
“India market is one of the biggest source markets for Thailand and the number of visitor arrivals to Phuket is continually increasing, with the year on year sale of the resort witnessing a growth of 30-60 per cent. We are excited at the opportunity of presenting innovative offers to our key Indian visitors,” Jintana Ngorsurachet (Yok), Assistant Director of Sales, The Village Coconut Island said and added that the partnership with Nijhawan Group enable the Coconut Island to grow business from Indian MICE, wedding, FITs and female travelers segments.
Priyanka Nijhawan, Director- Representations, Nijhawan Group said, “We feel honoured to be appointed as the India representative of The Village Coconut Island. Owing to the increasing disposable incomes and the rising middle class, India’s GDP is growing at the rate of 7 per cent every year, thus, making India one of the fastest growing outbound markets in the world.”
She further added that Nijhawan Group would support the tour operators and travel agents in their sales and marketing efforts to maximize the number of Indians staying at The Village Coconut Island. “We look forward to bringing out the best of the resort through our marketing initiatives and increasing visitor arrivals from India,” she added.
Sabre Corporation announced a new long-term agreement with national carrier Vietnam Airlines, which has adopted Sabre AirVision In-Flight solution. In line with a recently announced MoU describing Vietnam Airlines’ intention to significantly expand their existing strategic relationship with Sabre, In-Flight is expected to drive substantial efficiencies and cost savings for the airline.
"Vietnam Airlines is pleased to deepen its partnership with Sabre. As the fastest growing flag carrier in Southeast Asia, we continually look for innovative technology solutions to propel our business into the future," said Trinh Ngoc Thanh, Executive Vice President, Vietnam Airlines. "In addition to optimizing our onboard catering and provisioning, In-Flight will also enable a connected view across all our catering functions and provide advanced integration and automation capabilities that will positively contribute to our margin," he added.
As part of Sabre’s Commercial Platform offering, In-Flight can help an airline to drive cost savings of up to 10 percent of their total catering budget by enabling a seamless integration between the airline and its catering partners, regardless of their location, thanks to its automated planning and communication capabilities.
"Sabre In-Flight will enhance the carrier’s operational efficiency as Vietnam Airlines strives to become one of the largest airlines in the region by 2024,” said Dasha Kuksenko, Vice President, Regional General Manager, North Asia, Travel Solutions, Airlines.
With Wairarapa set to become an internationally recognised Dark Sky Reserve in New Zealand - one of only a handful in the world - Tranzit Group is creating a suite of group tours that will provide visitors with a unique experience.
Extending across all sectors in the Wairarapa, the Dark Sky Reserve will encompass all three Wairarapa districts (approx. 6000 square kilometres) and provide visitors with an all-year round experience.
Robin Corbett is Tours Manager for Tranzit Tours and Hammonds Wellington Tours. She says Tranzit is working with Destination Wairarapa, the regional tourism organisation, existing tour operators and new attractions – such as Star Field Tours Martinborough who already have giant telescopes onsite and plans to open a new Visitor Centre this spring – to develop a suite of Dark Sky products for different markets.
“Tranzit is working on a number of bespoke group tours that will offer visitors unique experiences in New Zealand and meet the demands of different markets,” she says.
“This could include a small group tour that enables visitors to star gaze and meet experienced astronomy guides at the new Star Field Tours Martinborough on the outskirts of the boutique wine village; a dinner and Dark Sky experience at a vineyard as well as large group experiences that visit existing attractions such as Stonehenge Aotearoa.”
“Tranzit is the glue that will bring more visitors to the Wairarapa and safely transport them within it.”
David Hancock, General Manager of Destination Wairarapa, says it is great to see operators, like Tranzit, developing new products across the region that will bring international visitors to Wairarapa.
“Wairarapa already has a diverse product offering with rugged coasts, boutique villages, wine, food and cycling,” he says. “The new Dark Sky reserve products currently being developed will integrate really well with our existing tourism infrastructure and help shallow the lower occupancy winter season.”
International tourism continued to grow over the first quarter of 2019 although at a slower rate when compared with the last two years, says the latest issue of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. The 4 per cent increase registered in early 2019 is a very positive sign, the Barometer says.
According to the Barometer, the Middle East (+8%) and Asia and the Pacific (+6%) experienced the highest increase in international arrivals. Numbers in both Europe and Africa were up by 4 per cent, and in the Americas growth was recorded at 3 per cent, it adds.
“International tourism continues to perform strongly worldwide fuelled by a positive economy, increased air capacity and visa facilitation”, says UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili. “Growth in arrivals is easing slightly after two years of exceptional results, but the sector continues to outpace the global rate of economic growth.”
Europe, the world’s largest tourism region, reported solid growth (+4%), led by destinations in Southern and Mediterranean Europe and Central and Eastern Europe (both +5%). Growth in Africa was driven by the ongoing recovery in North Africa (+11%). In the Americas, the Caribbean (+17%) rebounded strongly after weak results in 2018, following the impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria in late 2017. In Asia and the Pacific, results for the first three months showed a 6 per cent increase led by North-East Asia (+9%) and a very solid performance from the Chinese market.
“With this growth comes greater responsibility for translating it into better jobs and better lives”, Mr. Pololikashvili stresses. “We need to continue investing in innovation, digital transformation and education so that we can harness the many benefits tourism can bring while at the same time mitigating its impact on the environment and society with a better management of tourism flows.”
Confidence in global tourism has started to pick up again after slowing down at the end of 2018, according to the latest UNWTO Confidence Index survey. The outlook for the May-August 2019 period, the peak season for many destinations in the Northern hemisphere, is more optimistic than in the recent periods and more than half of respondents are expecting a better performance in the coming four months.
Experts’ evaluation of tourism performance in the first four months of 2019 was also rather positive and in line with the expectations expressed at the beginning of that period.
UNWTO forecasts growth of 3 per cent to 4 per cent in international tourist arrivals in 2019.
Ginger strengthens its presence in Western India, with the opening of a new hotel in Dwarka, Gujarat. With the addition of this hotel, Ginger will have seven hotels across cities in the state. Located off the Porbander – Dwarka (NH 51) highway, Ginger Dwarka houses 98 rooms in superior and suite category.
Deepika Rao, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ginger said, “This is a proud moment for Ginger. The hotel complements Ginger's growth strategy of building presence in key religious destinations in India.”
With the opening of this hotel, The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) will have 15 hotels across its brands in the state of Gujarat.
Marriott International has announced its first-ever longer stays category marketing campaign, Room for Possibility. The integrated effort features Residence Inn by Marriott, Element Hotels and TownePlace Suites by Marriott to reinforce each brand’s offerings.
The multi-platform campaign is the first from Marriott International since the hospitality industry leader introduced its new loyalty platform Marriott Bonvoy earlier this year. Marriott argues Residence Inn created the longer stays lodging category in 1975.
With more than 1,200 hotels around the world, Residence Inn, Element Hotels and TownePlace Suites controls approximately ten per cent of the world’s product in the growing longer stays segment, with the category accounting for 20 per cent of Marriott International’s portfolio as well as 25 per cent of its global growth.
These brands are continually listening to research and guest feedback to evolve the brand experience for guests. A qualitative research study commissioned by Marriott International was leveraged to develop the Room for Possibility campaign’s creative trajectory.
While the brands have always designed for more space and a better experience, the research showed more so than ever that travellers are looking to blend the best parts of being at home with the best parts of being on the road, free from the regular routines of life and that is what these brands offer.
Paige Francis, Vice President- Global Brand Marketing, Marriott classic select brands said, “We believe that when people travel, they shouldn’t have to compromise on the experience. We’ve designed these brands to allow guests the flexibility and versatility to choose how they eat, work, and experience a destination. We know our guests crave the comforts of home as well as the freedom that travel allows, inspiring this campaign to celebrate how business travellers can live their lives while on the road, beyond the business they came for.”
The three brands featured in the campaign offer three very unique stay experiences. The Room for Possibility media plan will span the US and Canada with broadcast, in-flight, in-airport and digital/social. Marriott International collaborated with mcgarrybowen to develop and produce the campaign, with the spots directed by Jonathan Baker and Josh Baker of Reset Content.
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