In Brief


Egypt’s boom attracts Ritz-Carlton
Egypt was among the leading destinations in tourism growth in the Middle East last year, with international tourist arrivals up 20 per cent during the first 10 months.

Investment in the country, particularly in the hotel sector, continues, and last week the Egyptian prime minister Ahmed Nazif and Mahmoud Mohi EI Din, the Egyptian minister of investment signed a letter of intent between Misr Hotels, a subsidiary of the holding company for tourism, hotels and cinema, chaired by Aly Abdel Aziz, and Simon F Cooper, president and COO of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, to convert the Nile Hilton to the Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo.

Arabic a passport to Libya
THE Libyan government has introduced a restrictive measure forbidding entry into the country visitors who do not have a passport that has been translated into Arabic. The new rules require all personal details in the passport to be translated. All travellers to Libya must now contact a Libyan embassy for more information before proceeding with their holiday plans.

IHG’s Formula One track record
INTERCONTINENTAL Hotels (IHG) has announced it will develop two hotels in Abu Dhabi, near the Formula One race track currently under construction. The group will be in partnership with Aldar Properties, developers of the massive $45-$50 billion YAS Island mixed use project.  IHG will build a 430 room Crowne Plaza and a 165 room Staybridge Suites on YAS island, which will eventually have four golf courses, several theme parks (including a Ferrari park) and other tourism facilities, as well as the Tilke F1 race track, which will stage its first F1 race in 2009. The 25,000 hectare island is being developed in three phases, all of which are scheduled to be completed by 2014.

Preserving Moroccan character
Morocco is on target to achieve its cited "10 million visitors in 2010” as the country attracted 7.5 million international travellers in 2007, up by 13 per cent over the previous year. Tourism revenues grew by 12 per cent to reach $8.35 billion, making tourism the kingdom’s top foreign exchange earner. New forecasts are now looking at 12 to 14 million arrivals by 2015, and Morocco wants to preserve its authenticity and the traditional welcoming character of its population. By the end of the decade, the country will have invested between $16-$18 billion in new beach resorts, transport and utilities infrastructure, hotels and new attractions. A large part of those investments will flow into hotel development with a projected 160,000 beds to be added by 2010.

Frequencies above destinations
Qatar Airways announced a change in its strategy at this year’s ITB. It will look towards increasing flight frequencies rather than expand into new destinations, according to CEO Akbar AI Baker.
“We want to improve our connectivity and reinforce our presence in the markets we already serve,” said AI Baker. In Europe, Qatar Airways will step up frequencies to London to four daily flights, Milan from four times a week to a daily flight, Istanbul and Geneva (from five to six flights a week). Beirut, Johannesburg, Lagos, Seoul and New York are some of the other destinations benefiting from additional flights. The airline will take delivery of 10 new aircraft this year, including the brand new Boeing 777-200 lR, which will be put into service for Qatar Airways’ new destination Houston. The airline has also inaugurated four weekly flights to Guangzhou as from last month, with a fifth flight being offered from May. A third destination will be announced later in the year.