The Montreal-based Uflyonline has launched an online travel company in the Middle East and Gulf region, from its regional offices in Beirut, Lebanon. “An IBM research revealed that 40 percent of Middle East travelers are willing to book online with an annual growth of 31 percent,” Uflyonline founder Mitri Kurban said, adding that “e-travel is the e-commerce business that has succeeded the most, achieving sales of 1.3 billion in March 2001,”
This project offers the user local airfares, hotels, cars and packages using the Sabre reservation system. Users will be offered the same rates they usually get from their travel agents but are promised to have much wider choices. Call center staff will be available to for technical assistance.
Uflyonline will operate in eight Middle East countries, by signing exclusive contracts with local travel agents. After signing an agreement with Kurban Travel and launching a pilot test operation in September 2001 in Lebanon, Uflyonline has signed with Fursan Travel and tourism in Saudi Arabia. Fursan is a subsidiary of the Saudi Al-Rajha banking group. Fursan operates 52 outlets where it will give access to all Uflyonline passengers.
In Bahrain, an exclusive contract has been signed also with World Travel Service (WTS), a subsidiary of the UNITAG group. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uflyonline has contracted with Abu Dhabi travel Bureau (ATB), which operates 17 outlets.
In Jordan, a contract has been signed with United Travel Agency (UTA). In Egypt, Kuwait and Qatar, final contracts are currently being signed. Uflyonline aims to increase its regional presence to 14 countries in 2003. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )