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Emirates A380 heading to Perth

Emirates A380

Emirates, a global connector of people and places will be giving travellers heading to Perth, Australia the opportunity to experience the Emirates Airbus A380 on the route for the first time, commencing 1st May 2015. The airline has announced that it will up-gauge one of its three daily services between Dubai and Perth to its flagship aircraft, demonstrating the growth of Perth as a global destination.

The change from a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will see an increase in capacity of 136 seats per flight and 1,904 seats per week, reinforcing Emirates’ commitment to business and leisure passengers visiting the capital city of Western Australia.

For business and leisure travellers, the Dubai-Perth route is a popular choice and our new Emirates A380 service will be instrumental in helping the airline meet this growing passenger demand as well as deliver substantial economic benefits through travel connections and inbound seats.

Together with Qantas, from May 2015 a total of seven daily A380 services will operate from Dubai to Australia with onward connections across the country via Qantas’ domestic network.

Today’s announcement caps off a range of recent upgrades to Emirates’ Australian services, including the introduction of a daily A380 to Brisbane and Melbourne, a double daily A380 to Sydney and a daily Adelaide service.

Emirates was the first airline to place an order for the iconic A380, and is today the world’s largest operator of this efficient and spacious twin-deck aircraft, with 56 in the fleet and 84 on order.


Kuoni has launched its first magazine-style guide for the honeymoons market.


The upmarket operator has produced the new publication for 2015, in partnership with Conde Nast Brides magazine, after deciding to move away from the traditional combined brochure for weddings and honeymoons.

It has instead produced a magazine-style honeymoons guide offering ideas, tips and advice in a bid to create “a style more relevant to how couples plan the most important holiday of their lives”.

Mark Duguid, Kuoni’s vice- president, commercial and product at Kuoni, said: “We’ve usually put weddings abroad and honeymoons together in one brochure, but the needs of both markets are actually quite different.

“The honeymoon market is such an important part of our business we felt it was the right time to create something new.

“It is more inspirational than our traditional approach, with a vibrant tone of voice to appeal to the bride and groom, whose average age is 29-30.”

The guide, Passport to luxury, is divided into themes such as the “luxury of doing nothing”, “luxury of silence”, and “luxury of privacy”.

The publication is included with the January edition of Brides, which is already on sale, and can also be picked up from Kuoni stores across the UK as well as agent partners.

The Global Luxury Hotels Market Recovered

Luxury hotel

The global luxury hotels market’s performance has recovered from the slowdown recorded at the beginning of the historic period (2009-2013) due to the financial crisis and recession. Overall, growth was recorded in the four markets – Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa – across all key performance indicators (KPIs) during the historic period. Growth is expected to continue over the forecast period (2014-2018) supported by the rise in tourism flows and expenditure.

According to the Travel and Tourism Intelligence Center’s (Travel and Tourism IC) analysis based on 40 countries around the world, the US was the leader in the luxury hotel market in terms of both revenue and number of establishments. The US recorded revenue of US$43.9 billion in 2013, which is more than double its closest competitor, China, which recorded US$20.6 billion in revenue in 2013

Growth in the Travel and Tourism sector in Asia-Pacific has proved beneficial for the luxury hotel market. Rising middle class population and economic growth have supported the increase in tourist volume and expenditure, consequently leading to rising demand for accommodation. International hoteliers such as InterContinental Hotels, Starwood, Hilton, Marriott, and Accor cater to the luxury segment in the region. Domestic hotel operators mostly focus on the budget and mid-scale segment

The luxury hotel market in Asia-Pacific recorded growth during the historic period. China was the largest market in terms of total revenue in 2013, followed by Japan, which was the leader in terms of number of guests at luxury establishments. Hong Kong recorded the highest revenue per available luxury room and was also the leader in terms of occupancy rate in 2013

Variations in performance were recorded in the luxury hotel market in countries in the Middle East and Africa. The Arab Spring revolution led to political instability, unrest, and violence in many countries, particularly Egypt. The Travel and Tourism sector in these countries suffered with significant decline recorded in international arrivals, consequently having a negative impact on demand for accommodation. On the other hand, the popularity of countries such as the UAE as leading tourist destinations in the Middle East increased.

Billionaires investors line up to buy their slice of the Maldives


The Maldives archipelago is one of the most idyllic destinations on the planet with around 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean surrounded by coral reefs abundant with sea life. It is also one of the world’s lowest-lying nations with many of its islands standing just 3 feet above a sea level predicted to rise up to 23 inches in the next 100 years. This has not, however, deterred billionaires and resort developers from investing in the area, and according to one company, inquiries keep rolling in.

Maldivian islands cannot be bought outright nor can they be for exclusive private use. The Ministry of Tourism will however grant long leasehold interests (typically 50 years) for those willing to invest in resort developments and generally contribute to the economy by employing native Maldivians. Those who have experienced the Maldives should have no problem with this since the locals are among the friendliest and loyal in the hospitality industry.

Velaa Private Island resort is a typical if not decadent example of successful development in the area after a wealthy businessman from the Czech Republic bought the 20 hectare island and developed a collection of luxury villas which opened in November this year and can cost a staggering €24,000 per night. Earlier this year the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia paid a eye watering €24 million just to rent 3 islands for a month when he anchored his 78 metre superyacht Tueq in the area after an official visit.

The cost involved in obtaining the leasehold can vary depending on the islands size and proximity to Male International Airport says O’Connor. An undeveloped island of around 14 acres can cost between 7 and 8 million USD if it is under half an hour by sea plane from Male where as something of around 30 acres further afield can be picked up for around 12 million.


Baros Maldives adds more water pool villas

Baros Maldives

Baros Maldives, a 5-star boutique resort, has added five brand new Water Pool Villas for guests to enjoy swimming in the privacy of their very own private pool. Located at the tip of the board walk, overlooking the lagoon with stunning infinity views over the Indian Ocean.

The first five Water Pool Villas at Baros Maldives were opened in 2012 and proved to be very popular. In response to this demand, more Water Pool Villas are being added over the years. There are now 15 Water Pool Villas. Each villa is 126 sqm in area, with plenty of daylight, space and elegant décor. Guests seeking total privacy relish the Water Pool Villas as the sundeck and the pool cannot be observed from neighbouring villas.

The resort now has 30 overwater villas, of which 15 have pools, and 45 beachside villas, ten of which also have individual plunge pools, and one romantic Baros Residence. Baros Maldives is renowned as the ultimate retreat for tropical living and gourmet cuisine in the Maldives.

Recently winning the World Travel Award as the Most Romantic Resort in the Indian Ocean 2014 for the second year running, which was presented at November’s WTM, and proves that after 40 years Baros still continues to improve on guest expectations, delivering an unparalleled experience.

Baros Maldives, a legend since it was established in 1973, is an independent, luxury Maldivian-owned and run resort in the Indian Ocean just 25 minutes by speedboat from the Maldives international airport. It consists of 75 private beach and overwater villas, some with individual swimming pools; the exclusive Baros Residence; three gourmet-class restaurants, cocktail and palm grove bars; a house reef exclusive to the island; a spa and a gym in lush tropical gardens.

For the first time the number of Chinese tourists exceeded 100 million

chinese tourists

The number of outbound tourist departures from the mainland has exceeded 100 million in a calendar year for the first time, the China National Tourism Administration has announced. The milestone was reached at the end of November. Nearly 90 percent of departures were to Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Asian countries.

The number of departures has been growing steadily for years, boosted by simplified visa application procedures and tailoured travel services. The number of outbound tourists from the mainland reached 98.19 million in 2013, an 18 percent year-on-year increase, according to the CNTA.

President Xi Jinping said during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing on Nov 9 that the number of outbound tourists from China will exceed 500 million in the next five years.

Li Shihong, head of the administration’s marketing and international cooperation department, said: “The destinations that attracted more than 1 million Chinese mainland tourists each this year are South Korea, Thailand, Japan, the United States, Vietnam and Singapore.”

“Many Chinese outbound tourists recently went overseas for the first time,” said Wang. “They have to consider the cost and duration of a trip, language and cultural differences. To start with a neighboring country is a good choice.”

Wang said political tension in certain countries and regions is unlikely to harm the tourism industry significantly.

Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives wins Leading All Inclusive award

Centara Grand

Centara Grand Island Resort&Spa, was nominated in 3 different categories – Leading All Inclusive Resort, Leading Family Resort, and Leading Dive Resort.  “We are extremely proud of the Ultimate All Inclusive which we offer and are delighted that we have now been recognized as being the best in Maldives” says Voytek Klasicki, general manager of Centara Grand Island Resort&Spa Maldives.

Centara Grand Island Resort&Spa Maldives is located in the South Ari Atoll, about 25 minutes by seaplane from Male International Airport, or 15 minutes by speedboat from the domestic Maamigili Airport.

The resort features a cashless island experience with its Ultimate All-Inclusive programme. Unrestricted dining in any restaurant during regular opening hours means that guests may dine as often as they like in their favorite dining venue. An exhaustive drinks menu is also available in all bars and restaurants with up to ten different wines included as well as beers, cocktails, mocktails and soft drinks. The in villa mini bar is also topped up daily for those wishing not to walk far. For the more active guests, there are five excursions to enjoy which include whale shark snorkeling, local island visits, sunset cruises and night fishing as well as other snorkeling trips. The resort also includes floodlit tennis courts, Wi-Fi, snorkeling equipment, selected motorized and non-motorized water sports, separate teen and children’s clubs as well as each and every adult guest can enjoy one daily spa treatment per day of their holiday (up to $100 per person per day).

“No other resort in Maldives offers such a comprehensive, flexible, unrestricted All Inclusive programme suitable for families and couples alike’ says Mr. Klasicki, “and we are extremely proud of our accomplishment this year.”

Centara Hotels&Resorts is Thailand’s leading operator of hotels, with 48 deluxe and first-class properties covering all the major tourist destinations in the Kingdom. A further 26 resorts in Maldives, Vietnam, Bali, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Ethiopia, Qatar, Laos and Oman brings the present total to 74 properties.  The latest Centara brand is named COSI Hotels, an affordable lifestyle brand designed for travelers who predominantly make their bookings via the Internet and who want comfort and convenience at affordable prices; the brand is under development with the first property due to open in 2016.


Russia warns of recession in 2015


The Russian government has warned the economy will fall into recession next year as Western sanctions, in response to its role in eastern Ukraine, and falling oil prices begin to bite. Russia’s economic development ministry estimates the economy will contract by 0.8% next year. It had previously estimated the the economy would grow by 1.2% in 2015.

Russia’s reliance on tax revenues from the oil industry makes it particularly sensitive to price movements. The currency slid almost 9% against the dollar before rallying after suspected central bank intervention. The currency has already lost 40% in value this year.

The bank published its stress scenario last month, saying that at $60 per barrel, GDP would decline by 3.5% to 4%. The price of oil has fallen nearly 40% since the summer because of oversupply caused by rising US shale oil production.

Russia is a non-investible country for all but the bravest of hedge fund investors right now, and will remain in this category until both the rouble and oil stabilise at minimum. Last week, Opec ministers met to discuss a possible cut in oil production in order to stabilise the oil price, but the meeting broke up without agreement. Opec secretary general Abdallah Salem el-Badri said: “There’s a price decline. That does not mean that we should really rush and do something.”

Highly unusual football pitch draws tourists to Thailand

floating football pitch

Despite the Thai tourism Industry taking a battering this year with nearly a nine percent drop in tourist arrivals, the Panyee, part of Thailand’s picturesque Phanga Nga province, foreign visitors keep coming. But it’s not mother nature drawing tourists here—it’s a floating football pitch.

Nestled next to the largely Muslim island’s ferry pier, the 16 by 25 metre (50 by 80 foot) pitch has become something of a national treasure after an advertising campaign by a Thai bank in 2010 made the fishing community locally famous for their dedication to football.

“What do you do when you come to Panyee Island? You must see the floating football pitch,” beams island chief Muhammad Prasanpan, who says 50,000-70,000 baht (RM5,151-7,212) now comes in from tourists each day.

That represents a five-fold income increase for the 320 household-island since a decade ago when fishing was its mainstay, the chief says.

The island has long had a reputation for football-obsessed inhabitants who have refused to let something as inconvenient as a complete lack of flat surfaces hold them back from practising the “Beautiful Game”.

The first floating pitch was built 30-years ago but was a dangerous hotchpotch of wooden boards knocked together with rusty nails.

The pitch has done more than attract new arrivals. It has kept the island’s younger inhabitants from leaving. Depopulation is often a major problem in Thailand’s poor communities, with youngsters travelling significant distances to find better paid work—usually to support large families back home.

In Panyee the locals hope Thailand’s tourist troubles don’t put off visitors—and that the floating pitch will continue to draw curious football fans—if they are to provide for future generations.

As village chief Muhammad concludes: “I think we should keep the football pitch for our children and grandchildren because we can say that the floating pitch is unique to the village.”

SATTE broadens appeal for 2015


Indian travel trade show SATTE is expected to have a broader appeal next year, due to the new Indian government’s apparent focus on the tourism industry. Organiser UBM India reports that exhibitors from around 50 countries are expected to be on display at SATTE 2015. This is up from just 35 countries in 2014.

VisitBritain, Brand USA, Tourism Malaysia, Tourism New Zealand, Hong Kong Tourism Board, Japan National Tourism Organization, Korean Tourism Organization and the Tourism Authority of Thailand are all expected to attend the event, along with countries including Argentina, Bhutan, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Macau, Israel, Mauritius, Oman, Fiji, the Philippines, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, the Maldives and the UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) , will participate in the trade show that will be held from 29-31 January 2015.

And India’s states will also be well represented, with tourism delegations from Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Lakshwadeep, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.

Apart from NTOs and state tourism boards, travel and hospitality companies, DMCs, OTAs and tourism products will also join the event. This includes a return for India’s biggest hotel group, Taj.

“The huge surge amongst the industry players for SATTE 2015 is the result of the new government’s renewed thrust on tourism as one of the significant industries to contribute towards employment and revenue generation,” explained Joji George, managing director of UBM India.

The Ministry of Tourism has already initiated a series of marketing initiatives to make India as a must-see tourism destination.