Archive for March 16th, 2017

Official Statement on the UNWTO Secretary-General Candidates

Statement by the UN World Tourism Organization in regard to the upcoming elections

The Secretariat of the World Tourism Organization referring to decision CE/DEC/15(CIV) of the Executive Council at its 104th session (Luxor, Egypt, 30 October – 1 November 2016), on the procedure for the election of the Secretary-General, informs in regards to the election for the post of Secretary-General for the period 2018-2021, that as of 11 March 2017, 24:00 hours, Madrid time, the deadline for the submission of candidatures in accordance with the aforementioned decision, the following candidatures were complete and duly accompanied by the required documents (letter of the candidate, curriculum vitae, statement of policy and management intent and a certificate of good health signed by a recognized medical facility), along with the letter of support from the Government of the country endorsing a candidate (listed in alphabetical order of the Member State):


Mr. Vahan Martirosyan submitted with the support of the Government of Armenia and received on 10 March 2017;


Mr. Márcio Favilla submitted with the support of the Government of Brazil and received on 6 March 2017;


Mr. Jaime Alberto Cabal Sanclemente submitted with the support of the Government of Colombia and received on 6 March 2017;


Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili submitted with the support of the Government of Georgia and received on 2 December 2016;

Republic of Korea:

Mrs. Young-shim Dho submitted with the support of the Government of the Republic of Korea and received on 24 February 2017;


Mr. Alain St. Ange submitted with the support of the Government of Seychelles and received on 18 January 2017;


Mr. Walter Mzembi submitted with the support of the Government of Zimbabwe and received on 4 March 2017;

The Secretariat received seven other applications which were not accompanied by the required documents. Consequently, the applications will not be submitted to the 105th session of the Executive Council.

UNWTO to make a major impact at the Arabian Travel Market


(Posted 16th March 2017)

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are expected to welcome 195 million international tourists by 2030. Between 25 million and 50 million new jobs will be required in the region over the next decade. Over 20 Ministers and industry leaders will gather at the Ministerial Forum to discuss how tourism can play a role in the future of the MENA region.

Visitors to the MENA region will total 195 million by 2030, growing at a rate higher than the world average, according to figures by the World Tourism Organization.

The rapid development of the sector will form part of the discussion at the UNWTO & ATM Ministerial Forum at the Arabian Travel Market, taking place on April 24th in the Dubai World Trade Centre, United Arab Emirates. The Forum, an official event of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 returns to ATM this year, with a particular focus on the contribution of tourism to sustainable economic growth and economic diversification of the MENA region.

Tourism is an increasingly important sector to support the economic diversification of the region. In addition to generating foreign exchange earnings and creating jobs, tourism promotes trade and investment and significantly contributes to the development of other sectors of the economy – such as construction, manufacture, retail and financial services‘ said UNWTO Secretary-General, Dr. Taleb Rifai.

Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, said: ‘The Middle East has experienced huge changes since the UNWTO Ministers Forum was last held at ATM back in 2015. This year will reflect the pace and level of that development, uniting more than 20 ministers with industry leaders in the MENA region to consider methods of capitalising on tourism growth and building a sustainable ecosystem for the sector to unlock its potential within each country’s National Agenda. Specific areas of focus will include GDP growth and economic diversification, innovation, entrepreneurship and productivity, job creation, human capital and infrastructure development, investment and export promotion‘.

The Forum is one of a number of events in the year-long programme of official activities of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017.

In his message on the occasion of the Year, United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said: ‘Tourism has become a pillar of economies, a passport to prosperity, and a transformative force for improving millions of lives. The world can and must harness the power of tourism as we strive to carry out the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development‘.

Taking place on Monday, 24th of April from 3.30pm, the Forum will be held under the patronage of H.E. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates. This will follow the 42nd meeting of the UNWTO Commission for the Middle East which is being held at 10am in the morning.

The Forum will address the following issues:

– Empowering evidence based decision making and accurate measurement of the contribution of tourism to current and future economic growth – particularly as regards GDP, jobs and exports – and its multiplier effect on other sectors of the economy.

– Enhancing the contribution of domestic tourism alongside international tourism (especially intra-regional) in delivering sustainable economic growth from the sector.

– Main challenges and opportunities for securing investment in tourism (FDI and domestic investment).

– Strategies and measures to strengthen tourism’s resilience to external shocks.

– Ensuring that economic growth due to tourism leads to the sustainable and inclusive development of host communities and the transition towards a green economy.

– Investing in technology – driven innovations to enhance performance and improve competitiveness.

– Policies to promote job creation and entrepreneurship

– Strengthening the sector’s institutional framework, engaging and aligning key governmental role players on tourism policy issues and targets and developing result driven partnerships with local and international stakeholders.

Additional information:

Arabian Travel Market 2017

Brussels Airlines ends challenging year with a profit announcement


(Posted 16th March 2017)

Neither increased competition nor the terror attack on Brussels Airport and the subsequent shift of operations to other airports in Belgium, Germany and Switzerland could stop Brussels Airlines from ending the financial year 2016 with a profit, albeit lower than in 2015.

Key data availed show an impressive performance:

  • Operational profit of 20.4 million and net profit of 15 million, despite very difficult year
  • 1.271 billion euro revenue and 3.2% passenger growth
  • 2.5 million euro profit redistribution to personnel (included in the result)
  • Strategic investments in line with plans

Brussels Airlines’ financial results were largely influenced by the attacks that hit Brussels last year. Before the 22nd of March, Brussels Airlines was heading for a record year and was registering strong growth. Following the attacks, and the 12-day closure of Brussels Airport, however, there was a sharp decrease in the number of passengers – especially with regards to incoming business traffic (to Belgium). Yet, thanks to several commercial initiatives, Brussels Airlines managed to close the year with a passenger growth of 3.2% – a total of 7.7 million passengers took a Brussels Airlines flight. The seat load factor was just under 75% and the transported cargo volume grew by 6%.

The direct financial impact of the attacks amounted to more than 100 million euro. Only a portion thereof could be offset through compensations already granted by the insurance companies or estimated to be granted in the future.

Despite this major financial setback, Brussels Airlines continued with its planned investments. The intercontinental network expanded thanks to the successful launch of Toronto and the announcement of a Mumbai service for 2017, the European seat offer grew by 3 percent and the fleet renewal programme was further implemented. The planned investments for passenger comfort, including the introduction of the new long-haul travel class Economy Privilege, was launched.

"Although it seemed logical to review our aspirations after the attacks, we have nevertheless chosen to continue our investments without exception, because we knew we had created a strong base for Brussels Airlines over the years."

— Bernard Gustin, CEO Brussels Airlines.

While revenues remained stable due to the challenging conditions (1.3 billion euro), Brussels Airlines posted an operational profit of 20.4 million and a net profit of 15 million euro. As a consequence of these results both the company’s cash position and its equity have improved.

"Without the attacks, 2016 would have been a record year for Brussels Airlines. Yet, despite the difficult context of the attacks and the incredibly competitive market environment, which has put great pressure on ticket prices, we realised a positive result. I’m very grateful to our employees for what we have achieved both operationally and commercially in 2016, especially after March 22nd. Therefore, the Board of Directors has decided to redistribute 2.5 million euro to the staff."

— Bernard Gustin, CEO Brussels Airlines

2016 was also the year in which the success of Brussels Airlines’ hybrid business model was confirmed. It allows passengers to choose from a large network of both business and leisure destinations on the one hand and travel products that appeal to both price-sensitive customers and clients for whom additional services are important on the other.

"By offering customized products to anticipate the rapidly changing market environment and by making both our leisure and our business offer even more relevant for our customer, we have laid the foundations for the further sustainable development of Brussels Airlines."

Bernard Gustin, CEO Brussels Airlines

In 2017 Brussels Airlines will continue this strategy. The first two months of the new year have already showed passenger growth. Yet it is clear that additional efforts are still necessary in order to further stimulate the incoming market (businessmen and tourists who travel to Belgium).
In late March, India will be added to the network and in spring, the European network expands with four new destinations and numerous frequency increases. In the fall of 2017, the renewal and harmonization of the European aircraft fleet will reach a milestone, when the last AVRO RJ100 leaves the Brussels Airlines fleet.Together with the Lufthansa Group, which has fully owned the Belgian airline since the beginning of this year, Brussels Airlines is currently working on a strategic plan for the future ensuring growth and further increase of the competitiveness of Brussels Airlines.
Finally, Brussels Airlines will in 2017 further optimise the quality of its services, further invest in digital and further improve its profitability and market position through revenue-enhancing and cost-cutting initiatives.

“Our challenge will be to improve our customer service even more, while speeding up our cost reduction programme. This is the best way to differentiate ourselves from low-cost competition, while ensuring adequate profitability in an environment where prices are falling.”

— Jan De Raeymaeker, CFO Brussels Airlines

Brussels Airlines press room Logo

Brussels Airlines serves three destinations in Eastern Africa, Entebbe with five flights a week, all operated on Airbus A330 equipment, while Kigali is served six times a week, once on conjunction with Bujumbura. The airline has been serving Uganda in particular for decades, first uninterrupted as SABENA, then as SN Brussels Airlines following the rebirth of the Belgian national airline after being dragged into the financial abyss by parent company Swissair before eventually becoming Brussels Airlines.

More high profile endorsements for St. Ange candidacy


(Posted 16th March 2017)

Philippe Hitié, broadly referred to as Popo, the MD of SummerTimes Group of Mauritius says ‘I join every sincere Indian Ocean Islander to say that I stand behind Alain St.Ange as the Seychelles Candidate for the UNWTO and say without hesitation ‘Vote Seychelles for UNWTO, Vote St.Ange
In his Letter of Endorsement Philippe Hitié says: ‘I believe that as a Mauritian in the Tourism Industry from the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands it is my duty to come forward to officially say that I am supporting the Seychelles Bid for the post of Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
Every islander from our region must today be joining hands with the Seychelles and endorsing this Bid that will make not only Seychelles, but also our region as a whole inclusive of mainland Africa proud.
Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles nominated candidate has been known to me since I worked in Seychelles in the 1980s with the then Travel Services Seychelles (TSS). He was then a Tourism Officer with the Ministry of Tourism of his country and was even in these early years of his career a great Ambassador for Seychelles. Today as Managing Director of SummerTimes Group welcoming some 150,000 holiday makers to Mauritius and employing over 300 staff members, I do appreciate the leadership and professionalism required to manage our highly specialised tourism industry at large.
In the more recent times, I have seen Mr St.Ange as head of his island’s Tourism Board and then as Minister and his enthusiasm and passion for tourism has never been greater. He developed as a motivated Team Player the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands and this is proving a good catalyst for the promotion of our islands especially in new emerging tourism source markets. He worked to attract Passenger Cruise Ships to our shores with success and today as he sits in a line-up of Candidates for the post of SG of the UNWTO, I am so proud to say I knew him, worked with him and consider him a tourism professional par excellence and truly devoted to the region.
Today I join every sincere Indian Ocean Islander to say that I stand behind Alain St.Ange as the Seychelles Candidate for the UNWTO and say without hesitation ‘Vote Seychelles for UNWTO, Vote St.Ange

Alain St.Ange responded to this development and said as he was contacted by press from Mauritius that it is pleasing to see such spirit of patriotism as expressed in that letter from Mauritius. ‘Yes it is very clear that a Vote for Seychelles in the May elections with make Seychelles, the Vanilla Islands, the Region, mainland Africa proud. This is very clear, but it will be a good vote for tourism‘ said Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Candidate for Secretary General of the UNWTO

IATA AGM 2017 will take place in Cancun

IATA’s Annual General Meeting set for early June in Cancun / Mexico


Dear Media Colleague,
The IATA Corporate Communications Team is pleased to invite you to register to attend the 73rd IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit taking place in Cancun, Mexico, from 4 to 6 June 2017.This year’s AGM occurs as the airline industry is on track to deliver another strong financial performance, including covering its cost of capital for a record third consecutive year. But it also takes place against the backdrop of a growing movement in some parts of the world toward restricted borders and trade protectionism. This threatens to deny the benefits of globalization that aviation enables. And the air transport industry continues to be a target for terrorist and security-related attacks. These subjects, and others, are on the agenda at the 73rd AGM.

Program highlights will include

The IATA Director General’s Report on the Industry Updated Airline Economic Outlook Keynote address on Human Trafficking The CEO panel A full program of media briefings and the opportunity to interview IATA subject matter experts Accreditation and media facilities

The IATA AGM is an invitation-only event. Sessions are open to pre-registered, accredited press, who will have access to specialized briefings, full media room facilities, including a reserved working area, wireless Internet and printers.

Registration, accommodation and visas

Please register now for this event. After your registration has been confirmed, you will receive an email with instructions on media hotel arrangements in Cancun, as well as information regarding visas. We also have a limited budget to help with travel arrangements. Please let us know if we can be of assistance.

We will be following-up regarding your participation after you register. In the meantime, if you have any questions about registration or if you require assistance with logistics, please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the IATA Corporate Communications team whose contact details are noted below.

We look forward to seeing you there.


Anthony Concil
Vice President, Corporate Communications=

St. Ange presses on with his high profile campaign for the UNWTO top job


(Posted 16th March 2017)

Alain St.Ange, the former Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine of the Seychelles and now one of the seven candidates for the position of Secretary General of the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation) was on the panel of speakers at the PATWA (Pacific Area Travel Writers Association) Summit for World Tourism & Aviation Leaders on Peace, The Vehicle for Tourism organised on the sidelines of ITB in Berlin.

PATWA believes on the benefit of a vibrant tourism industry in a nation’s economy is only the top of the iceberg and that tourism should become the force on the promotion of world peace and the building of understanding and interdependence between Nations. It was therefor not surprising to see Dr. Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the UNWTO personally gracing this event and Anita Mendiratta, of TASK CNN to be the moderator of the Summit.

A great panel was in place as the Minister of Tourism of Egypt invited to address the Summit.

Alain St.Ange used the Summit to ask everyone to reflect on what is tourism so as to better understand PATWA’s call for using this industry as to be the vehicle for peace. St.Ange of the Seychelles asked if tourism was today the hotels or resorts, or was it the airlines of DMCs before speaking on the fact that tourism was the destination as a whole. ‘We can no longer be in a plush hotel and open the window to see a ghetto with people sleeping on the roads, we can no longer be witnessing a situation where the people of the country are disconnected with their tourism industry. We need to rally through the UNWTO to have a wholesome approach to tourism that embodies culture and ensures that the people of the country is part and parcel of their tourism industry‘ said St.Ange

Speaking to the press after the summit, Alain St.Ange said that he hope to work closely with such bodies as PATWA if he succeeds to be elected as SG of the UNWTO. ‘We need to salute the efforts of such organisation as PATWA and recognise the good work they are doing to keep tourism and the good virtues of this great industry visible‘ St.Ange of the Seychelles said.

Also present was Dr. Eng. Walter Mzembi, the candidate of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Best Western Hurlingham set to change into a Four Points by Sheraton in early April


(Posted 16th March 2017)

The owners of the former Best Western Premier in the Nairobi suburb of Hurlingham have now started to unveil their new brand for their hotel, a Four Points by Sheraton and the transition will be completed by early April it is understood.
The hotel’s Facebook page too has already been updated and is accessible via

(Rooftop view over the city of Nairobi from the hotel)

This will be the first entry by a Starwood brand into Nairobi – Starwood is now part of Marriott International – but will not be alone for long as another Four Point by Sheraton is coming up near the international airport, also by the same owners it was learned.
What prompted the change of branding is not entirely clear but may have to do with Best Western’s widening footprint in Nairobi, as was reported here just two weeks ago via
Brand competition on such a scale may not have been to the liking of the owners of the Hurlingham based hotel and with no other Four Points by Sheraton, other than the airport hotel, in the pipeline this added exclusivity may well have tipped the scale in favour of the brand switch.

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