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Mon 3 Sep 2007 04:00 AM

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Sharaf creates a new travel group

Dubai-based Sharaf Group has restructured its travel and tourism companies to form a new entity - the Sharaf Travel & Tourism Group.

Dubai-based Sharaf Group has restructured its travel and tourism companies to form a new entity - the Sharaf Travel & Tourism Group.

Adhering to the motto ‘Think travel, think Sharaf', the group, which will see Sharaf's previously independent travel businesses come under one umbrella, aims to ramp up its market share of travel and tourism-related business in the region.

"Our operations cover inbound, outbound, leisure and corporate travel and most recently, have expanded into space tourism. Through this reorganisation of the individual business units we hope to achieve greater synergies and a more collective approach to doing business," explained Sharaf Travel & Tourism Group chairman, Salah Sharaf.

"We have identified that there are several travel agencies in Dubai all going after the same market; Sharaf Travel & Tourism Group will add some niche tourism products to its portfolio in 2008, which will give us a stronger competitive edge and brand recognition."

John Kerr, the former managing director of Sharaf's inbound operation, Oasis Adventures, who has been appointed the new group's MD, revealed that enhancements to Sharaf's leisure brand were on the cards.

"Oasis Adventures is continuing its expansion in the MICE market, having handled several large incentive groups already this year and is set to build on this success during 2008," he said.

"In addition, we are currently in talks with a number of international airlines regarding their sales requirements for the region and our corporate and outbound divisions," he added.

The agency arm of the group, Sharaf Travel, boasts numerous airline GSA agreements and represents several leisure products spanning cruising, tourism boards and special interest brands such as student travel.

This year the agency was also appointed the exclusive accredited space office for the world's first commercial space line, Virgin Galactic.

Sharaf: no space cancellations

Virgin Galactic claims it has received "overwhelming support" from its space clients and "new reservations" for space flights, despite last month's deadly explosion at the factory where its spacecraft are being constructed: "Virgin Galactic has not had a single cancellation since the incident in California. There continues to be strong confidence in space travel and the Virgin Galactic product," explained Sharon Garrett, head of space marketing & PR at Sharaf Travel, the Dubai-based accredited space office for Virgin Galactic.

She was speaking after a blast at the factory belonging to Scaled Composites that builds Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo spacecraft killed three workers.

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