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Thu 1 Feb 2007 12:00 AM

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Tour operators predict 2007 travel trends

Tehran, Armenia, Mauritius and South America are just some of the top destinations the region’s major tour operators have tipped as hot sells for 2007.

Tehran, Armenia, Mauritius and South America are just some of the top destinations the region’s major tour operators have tipped as hot sells for 2007.

They believe customers across the Middle East are increasingly searching for unusual getaway options having already visited the tried-and-tested destinations on offer.

“For European ex-pats [such as myself], we have all done the London, New York and Paris thing. We want to visit new places while we are living in the Middle East,” said Tim Lanestott, manager, Air Arabia Holidays.

He tipped Yerevan in Armenia, one of the latest destinations to be launched by the low cost carrier, as a weekend break or ski option worth investigating: “Armenia is somewhere different – it’s definitely not something you would find in the Thompson [Holidays] brochure,” he added.

Lanestott said top sellers over Eid were Istanbul, Jaipur, and in Egypt, Luxor and Alexandria.

“Istanbul did so well that we had to put a stop sell on hotels,” he revealed.

Tehran, which is also set to appear in the Air Arabia Holidays brochure, would gradually gain momentum, he predicted.

Filipe Silva, general manager, Mahan Destinations, the new Dubai-based leisure division of Iranian airline, Mahan Air, agreed.

“Iran is perfect for a weekend break as it’s less than a two-hour flight [from most GCC countries],” he said. “It suits clients interested in history and culture.”

The company offers packages to Shiraz, Esfehan and two ski resorts – Dizin and Mount Touchal. Etihad Airways’ recently launched Abu-Dhabi-Tehran service will also help raise the profile of Iran.

Destination development managers at Emirates Holidays said Egypt, Jordan, Alexandria, Cairo, Mauritius and the Maldives had sold well for 2006 and would continue to do so this year.

Tunisia, Morocco, and South Africa were also tipped as up-and-coming destinations for 2007, although demand for the Seychelles would be hampered by capacity restraints they said.

Marco Heinrich, destination development manager for Europe & North America, added: “We are expecting the UK, including Scotland, to continue to grow, as well as France. I think Cyprus will develop nicely. It’s a short haul destination from here that’s often considered budget, but that’s not true. It’s completely undervalued.”

Many operators, including newcomer, Tempo Holidays, noted that bookings for South America would come flooding in when Emirates launched flights to the destination later this year.

Beirut-based tour op-erator, Wild Discovery, agreed: “Places like Peru and Chile are in demand,” said Patrick Samaha, general manager of the company’s Dubai office.

“Over Christmas, South Africa, the Caribbean and Cuba were the top requested destinations [out of Lebanon]. They wanted packages in the sun.”

He claimed that well-trodden destinations in the Far East, such as Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, were “already saturated” and that customer were looking to alternatives, such as Australia and New Zealand.

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Jamal Panhwar 13 years ago

Pakistan could also be a unique and worth visit destination specially during 2007 when Pakistan is celebrating the year as Visit Pakistan year.  Visit http://www.travel-culture.com/visitpakistan