Bahrain to host forum for tour agentsThe World Association of Travel Agents (Wata) is to meet in Bahrain for the first time later this year. The Geneva-based organisation will hold its global assembly at the Gulf Hotel's Gulf International Convention and Exhibition Centre, from October 31 to November 4. The event will attract 100 travel industry leaders from around the world, said Bahrain Hotels Company chief executive and Wata associate member Mohammed Buzizi. Kuwaiti tourist flow to Turkey surges KUWAIT: The number of Kuwaiti tourists visiting Turkey soared in the first half of this year compared to the similar period last year, Turkish embassy information attachŽ Hasan Zongur said. He said there was also a 21 per cent increase in the number of visitors from the Gulf in the first half. Saudis topped the list of Gulf arrivals with a 77 per cent increase, followed by Kuwaitis with an 11 per cent increase, Emiratis with a nine per cent increase, followed by Bahrainis, Qataris and Omanis. Jizan airport to undergo $32m expansion JIZAN: The expansion of Jizan regional airport in Saudi Arabia will be completed in two years at a cost of SR122.3 million ($32.6 million), a report said following a meeting a of the project management committee chaired by Jizan Governor Prince Muhammad bin Nasir to review the expansion plans for the airport in the Kingdom's main port in the south. West Bank clashes 'fail to keep away Arabs' AMMAN: Violence in neighbouring West Bank has kept western and other tourists away from Jordan this year, but it has not scared off Arabs, according to Haidar Qssous, director of the tourism ministry's statistics department. He said more than 876,000 tourists visited Jordan in seven months ending in July, 5.2 per cent more than the estimated 832,800 tourists in the corresponding period last year. Of the total, 549,391 tourists were Arabs from Israel and Gulf states. Air-India sees $5.3m profit MUMBAI: State-run international carrier Air-India is expected to post a net profit of up to Rs250 million ($5.3 million) in the year to March 2002 after recording a net profit of Rs40 million in the first quarter, media reports quoted federal civil aviation minister Sharad Yadav as saying. Gulf Air named official carrier for AIBTM MANAMA: Gulf Air has been appointed as the official airline sponsor of the Arab International Business Travel and Meetings (AIBTM 2002) exhibition to be held in Bahrain from January 30-31 next year. Oman Air aims to add new routes MUSCAT: Oman Air plans to add new routes and resume flying to old destinations next summer, according to the airline's director general, Abdul Rahman bin Harith Al Busaidi. He said the new routes, which would enhance the role of Seeb Airport as a hub for passenger traffic, are part of a five-year plan to modernise the airline operations. Dubai firm plans ferry link to Gulf cities DUBAI: Naif Marine Services, which has started a ferry service from Dubai to Bushehr in Iran, now plans to link the entire Gulf region with a ferry network, the company's commercial director, Essa bin Hadher, has said. He said Bahrain and Kuwait could be the next port of calls after starting services to Iran and Iraq. Bahrain to host forum for tour agents The World Association of Travel Agents (Wata) is to meet in Bahrain for the first time later this year. The Geneva-based organisation will hold its global assembly at the Gulf Hotel's Gulf International Convention and Exhibition Centre, from October 31 to November 4. The event will attract 100 travel industry leaders from around the world, said Bahrain Hotels Company chief executive and Wata associate member Mohammed Buzizi. Oasis profits soar 44pc in first half DUBAI: UAE-based aircraft leasing company, Oasis International Leasing Company, said its gross profit for the first half of this year soared by 44 per cent to Dh15.89 million ($4.3 million). The company said its revenues rose 34 per cent to Dh107.76 million while net profit before asset trading grew 30 per cent to Dh16.71 million. Final net profit was however 25 per cent lower from the Dh22.3 million recorded in the comparable period last year due to lack of asset trade this year, given current market conditions. Hertz opens first Abu Dhabi branch DUBAI: Hertz UAE has opened its first branch in Abu Dhabi as part of a major expansion of services across the Middle East. The new branch becomes the 66th Hertz outlet in the region. In expanding its network of Hertz branches in the UAE to eight, the company expects Abu Dhabi to generate a substantial part of its overall car rental business, and is already planning to introduce more Hertz outlets in the emirate. MMI, Galileo Emirates sign partnership deal DUBAI: A product and service agreement signed by MMI Travel and Galileo Emirates will offer "a global reach with local touch" for travellers from UAE. The three-year partnership deal allows MMI Travel to avail of Galileo's extensive infrastructure, that they in turn will use to extend support to their customers, company officials said. The support structure included a dedicated account manger, a help desk, technical support, consultations, engineering and training. ITE gears up for European shows LONDON: ITE Travel Exhibitions aim to build on the success of this year's travel shows in central and eastern Europe with big plans for three of the major events in the region next year. Holiday World 2002 will be held in Prague from February 7-10, MITT in Moscow from March 27-30 and UITT in Kiev, Ukraine, from April 3-6. Special features already planned for the shows include the Second Central European Travel Conference, which will take place in Prague one day prior to Holiday World on February 6. Oracle to help promote hospitality software DUBAI: UAE-based New Technology Systems which recently launched HostNet, an integrated hospitality software, has joined hands with Oracle Corporation to promote the innovative solution in the entire Middle East. The software was presented at a recent Oracle Partner meeting in Dubai and discussions are now on with the other Oracle partners to market HostNet in the regions where they have a strong marketing presence. AACO picks Aerospan e-marketplace BEIRUT: Aerospan - the dedicated, industry-owned e-marketplace from SITA - has been selected as an e-marketplace for the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO). Six members of AACO signed the group agreement and two of them, Gulf Air and Kuwait Airlines are already using the service. Under the agreement, AACO members can Aerospan's functionality and business services at a reduced rate, improving efficiency and effectiveness of purchasing operations, reducing inventory levels and the prices they pay for goods and services. AWTTE 2002 set for April BEIRUT: The 7th Arab World Travel and Tourism Exchange (AWTTE 2002) will be held from April 11-14 in Beirut. The show offers regional tourism and travel industry players "an exceptional opportunity to expand" their business, organisers say. This year's event featured more than 170 exhibitors from over 20 countries and attracted 14,000 visitors from 24 nations, the organisers said. Malaysian firm blamed for jet damage Jeddah:A maintenance company at Kuala Lumpur airport is being blamed for the incident in which a Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAA) 747-300 jumbo jet skidded into a drain at the airport, damaging the plane's cockpit, aviation sources said. The accident occurred as the plane, one of the airline's newest, was being taxied to the departure gate of the airport's main terminal by maintenance workers. SAA bans smoking on European sector RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAA) will ban smoking on all flights to and from Europe starting September 18, the airline's assistant executive director general for marketing, Abdulaziz Al Hazmi, said. The airline had earlier banned smoking on its domestic, USA, Middle East and GCC flights, a report said. Qatar Airways to double Bahrain flights MANAMA: Qatar Airways plans to double its flights on the Bahrain-Doha route to accommodate the airline's increasing traffic volume, particularly for its destinations in the Far East. The airline's new manager in Bahrain, Fathi Al Shehab, said traffic between Bahrain and Doha was good because of the historical links between the two states. The airline currently operates 12 flights from Bahrain to Doha. Mahan to start Sri Lanka service DUBAI: An Iranian airline is starting a new twice-weekly service from Dubai to Colombo despite the terrorist attack which hit operations at Sri Lanka's only international airport last month. Mahan Air said passengers will pay Dh890 ($242) for a return ticket from Dubai to Colombo via the Iranian city of Zahedan. A dream anniversary gift for Ahmed DUBAI: Delta's 'Global Quiz' competition in conjunction with Galileo Emirates gave Sharjah-based Ticketing Agent Sajjad Ahmed his dream tickets to the USA on time to celebrate his first wedding anniversary in style. The 27-year-old Pakistani consultant of Sharjah National Travel And Tourist Agency (SNTTA), answered correctly the quiz's 10 questions and entered the draw together with 400 Dubai and Northern Emirates travel agents. He won a pair of Delta economy class tickets between Dubai and anywhere in the continental USA. Royal Jordanian to increase Baghdad flights AMMAN: Jordan's national carrier, Royal Jordanian (RJ), will increase the number of its regular flights to Baghdad to four a week from three as of this month, Transport Minister Nader Dahabi said. He also said that RJ hoped eventually to fly to Baghdad daily after Iraq offered facilities to the airline. Lufthansa in partnership deal DUBAI: Lufthansa German airline has signed a global partnership agreement with leading online travel company Travelocity.com to further exploit global online potential. The airline's Dubai office said the deal was signed in Fort Worth, Texas, and represents a considerable improvement in its online position and a higher market share in the US, Canada, the UK and Germany. Kuwait Airways, GE mark 10 years of tie-up KUWAIT: Kuwait Airways and GE Aircraft Engines are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their successful relationship. The airline became a GE customer at the end of the Gulf War and, today, operates a fleet of 17 CF6, CFM56, and GE90-powered aircraft. Cathay to resume daily service MANAMA: Cathay Pacific Airlines will resume daily flights from Bahrain to Hong Kong from September 1. An airline official said the decision had been taken after a semblance of normalcy in the airline's operations worldwide. Cathay Pacific's flight schedule worldwide has been severely disrupted by an ongoing industrial dispute with its pilots. Tassili launches tender for 21 planes ALGIERS: Algerian Tassili airline has launched an international tender to purchase 21 planes to expand its fleet, officials said. Tassili, a joint venture between state-run gas and oil firm Sonatrach and flag carrier airline Air Algerie, has set September 10 as a deadline for the tender to buy the 21 jets, 15 of which will have a capacity of 20 to 50 seats. Inter-Con offers Egyptian holidays Cairo:Egypt's appeal as a versatile family holiday destination this summer is being highlighted by an attractive range of seasonal offers at the country's three Inter-Continental hotels - on the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, at the heart of Egypt's world-famous monuments, or on the banks of the Nile in Cairo. Visitors can also opt for a two-centre summer holiday, combining relaxation and leisure, and the chance to explore some of the country's historic sights and landmarks. Cadillac Escalade lure for loyal guests CAIRO: Business and leisure travellers in the Middle East and Africa joining the Inter-Continental's Six Continents Club guest recognition programme this summer will double their chances of winning the all-new 2002 Cadillac Escalade in the next annual grand draw. Members normally earn one entry into the draw for every stay at a participating Inter-Continental hotel in the region but they will now receive two entries every time they check in before September 15, said Magdi Samman, regional sales and marketing director for Six Continents Hotels. Summer Sensations pay off for Hilton DUBAI: Hilton hotels in the region are enjoying high occupancy and a surge in bookings since the launch of their GCC-wide promotion "Summer Sensations!" on June 15. "The overwhelming regional response to "Summer Sensations!" is a testament to the loyalty of our Hilton customers and the fantastic value rates from only $60 per night offered to GCC residents over the summer until September 15," said Guy Epsom, regional director of sales and marketing, Arabian peninsula, Hilton International. Room rates fall 12pc in London LONDON: Average room rates fell 12 per cent at London hotels in July to £112 ($161) while occupancy slipped five per cent to 84 per cent, a preliminary report by the Andersen Hotel Industry Benchmark Survey revealed. This is the first month that average room rates have declined this year. Hotel slashes rates for GCC Visa members LONDON: Radisson Edwardian Hotels, one of the UK's largest privately owned hotel groups and a non-equity strategic partner of Radisson Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (RHRW), is offering GCC-based Visa card-holders reduced rates of up to 57 per cent for stays at two of its premier London properties until September 9. Starwood expands in China SINGAPORE: Starwood Hotels and Resorts has further expanded its presence in Asia with the opening recently of its new The St Regis Shanghai luxury hotel in China. The opening of The St Regis Shanghai follows the rebranding and upgrading of the acclaimed Beijing International Club, the unrivalled leading hotel in the Chinese capital, to The St Regis Beijing in March last year. Ciro's Pomodoro opens at Dubai resort DUBAI: Popular Italian restaurant 'Ciro's Pizza Pomodoro' has opened its newest outlet at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina in Dubai. Ciro's which first opened in Knightsbridge, London, in October 1978 has spread to Italy, Canada, the US and the Middle East. Founder Ciro Orsini from Naples, Italy, attributes the success of his chain to a combination of 'Pomodoro style' pastas, pizzas, and other great Italian dishes with "the best live music nightly" and celebrity themed dŽcor to enhance a vibrant atmosphere. London hotel thanks clients LONDON: The Churchill Inter-Continental London hosted a summer barbeque on behalf of London Inter-Continental Hotels for all their corporate clients and travel agents. The event is held every year to thank the hotels' clients for their support over the year, a spokesman said. Marriott makes Scandinavia debut WASHINGTON: US-based hotel group, Marriott International, will have its first Marriott-branded property in Scandinavia this month with the opening of the 395-room Copenhagen Marriott Hotel. Located in the heart of Copenhagen, the amenities at the hotel will include a business centre, a fitness centre, a sauna and massage services, 24-hour room service, laundry and dry cleaning service, daily newspaper, gift shop, car rental desk, indoor parking garage and concierge. New Dubai 4-star seeks price advantage DUBAI: The Sea View Hotel in Bur Dubai will be fully operational by September and is offering competitive prices to take advantage of its convenient location. The Dh60 million ($16.3 million) property, opposite the Dubai Ports and Customs building, aims to offer quality service at rates that are substantially lower than five-star hotel tariffs, managing director Shiraz Kassam said.