Zawfir Ziard, group managing director of Unique Choice, is a pioneer in both the retail and wholesale out-bound travel business and a well respected figure in the field of tourism.
With over 25 years of experience in the travel, tourism and marketing field, Ziard was recognised for having established one of the largest retail tour operations in Saudi Arabia and had served as the president of the ‘Visit USA Committee’ in Saudi Arabia. He talks about his company and more. Excerpts from an interview:
At the outset, could you brief us on Unique Choice and its role in the Saudi travel industry since the early days?
Unique Choice was launched in 1994 to meet the needs of the retail tour operators to develop their full market potential within their respective markets. In a short span of three years, we expanded on the international scene and gained recognition as a reputable and established overseas wholesaler with the ability to concentrate on developing several potential destinations. I am indeed proud to note that Unique Choice, which began with staff strength of just two, has now grown into a global travel network employing professionals throughout the region.
What are the future goals of Unique Choice?
Our ultimate future goal is to provide an optimum return for our partners by means of maintaining an impeccable service level and the fully comprehensive range of product lines catering to their respective markets. To this end, we entertain a strong vision for creating global partnerships with those who share our ambition of maintaining an impeccable reputation of unsurpassed excellence for services, market adaptability and high ethics within the international travel community.
For this, we participate in industry trade shows, which keep us in touch with the trends of the market. We will continue to focus on the ever-changing requirements of our clients and increase our wide range of services and product lines.
You mentioned entering into global partnerships. Do you have any existing partnerships with international travel and tourism groups?
We already have several corporate and business associates. Some of them are Kuoni Travel (incoming services), Zurich; World Avenues, Geneva; Saltours International, London; Consortium Tours of North America, New York; Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, Kuala Lumpur; Spanish Tourist Board, Madrid; RMG Tours, Singapore; Asian Overland Services, Kuala Lumpur; Star Cruises; Hilton International Hotels; Asian Trails, Bangkok; Mercan Tourism; Walker Tours, Colombo.
And besides Saudi Arabia, have you expanded into other countries as well?
Over the years, we have set up offices in British Virgin Islands, Doha and Sharjah.
What would you attribute the success of Unique Choice to?
One of the vital factors contributing to the company’s success is its concept of “understanding the clientele”. We follow this concept by supporting our agents and the creation of product lines based on the specific needs of a particular market. We aim to strengthen the role of our partners by projecting their effort, while we ourselves maintain a low profile.
This creates an efficient working forum that results in mutual profitability. This approach to our business has contributed greatly to the success of Unique Choice. And we will continue to strive for excellence.
Among the several awards Unique Choice has won, which would you rank as the most significant?
The award by Tourism Malaysia for the Best Foreign Tour Operator for Middle East & Africa in 2001/2002 is indeed a most honoured recognition that was conferred upon us. Here, I would like to say that Malaysia was one destination that was promoted by us even before Tourism Malaysia took the initiative in this region.
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