In Brief


Singapore aims high 
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) announced its 2008 targets at its annual Tourism Industry Night, setting an ambitious goal of nearly $11 billion in tourism receipts and 10.8 million visitor arrivals for this year.

To achieve this, Singapore will follow an integrated tourism plan, which includes a calendar of high profile events set to take place throughout the year that promises to also attract Middle eastern travellers. For the coming year, Singapore also plans to leverage on several key tourism opportunities, particularly in the cruise, hotel, and MICE industries. International cruise companies are strengthening their presence in the region and have been identified as a new growth opportunity for Singapore’s tourism sector, with an expected 1.5 million cruise passenger throughput for Asia expected by 2010.

VOIC- ing vacational views
More than 150 representatives of the region’s timeshare and fractional ownership sector will be meeting in Dubai at the One&Only Royal Mirage for the fourth Vacation Ownership Investment Conference (VOIC) on March 11 to 12. Speakers will include senior executives from the hospitality industry alongside several regional independent developers of vacation ownership projects. Research by the Dubai government revealed that 20 per cent of the predicted 15 million annual tourists (in 2012) will choose accommodation alternatives to traditional hotel rooms, with many expected to favour timeshare options.

Bahrain e-gate eases travel
A new e-gate at Bahrain International Airport’s arrival area, where Bahraini travellers can use their Smartcards instead of passports, was officially launched in a ceremony held under the patronage of Interior Ministry under secretary for Nationality, Passports and Residence Shaikh Rashid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa. Passports are being replaced by Smartcards at the e-gates to accelerate the check-in time and provide a better service to travellers. The system provides the option to either go through normal gates or the new electronic gates and is free of charge. Those wishing to use e-gates have to obtain smartcards first from the CIO.
Full steam ahead for GIBTM 2008
THE Gulf Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM) taking place from April 8 to10 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company Centre. National tourist organisations, convention bureaus, hotels and hotel groups, destination management companies and specialist service providers that have signed up include the InterContinental Hotel group, Virgin Atlantic, the Leading Hotels of the World, Rotana Hotels and Resorts, Starwood, Kempinski, Jumeirah, and Etihad Airways, the event’s airline partner.

Global agreements forged
TRAVELPORT GDS, a global distribution system providers, today announced it has signed an agreement with the online travel company Expedia to provide global distribution system (GDS) services for various points of sale in Europe. The partnership with Travelport GDS reinforces the commitment Expedia has made to a multi GDS strategy to provide customers with greater flight selection and more destination options. “The connection with Travelport GDS is a step we have taken in Europe to diversify our GDS mix as we continue to expand in size and geographic reach,” Wes Peterson, vice president, EMEA Transport & Tour, Expedia. “We are pleased to have access to the fares and inventory Travelport GDS will offer our customers in Europe.”