Clive Jacobs, chairman of Travel Weekly parent Jacobs Media Group, discusses the launch of a new multimedia brand for the Middle East’s travel and hospitality industries
This week, Travel Weekly’s parent company Jacobs Media Group expanded into the Middle East with a new multimedia brand for the region’s travel and hospitality industries.
Based at newly-established headquarters in Dubai’s Media City, Connecting Travel will cover inbound, outbound and internal trends across the Middle East and facilitate partnerships in the region and in source markets.
It will be spearheaded by Jacobs Media Group chairman and Holiday Autos founder Clive Jacobs, supported by commercial director Paula Lacey and editorial director Sarah Hedley Hymers.
The launch of Connecting Travel expands the Jacobs Media Group portfolio, which includes Travel Weekly, The Caterer, Travolution, Aspire, Connections, The Association of Touring & Adventure Suppliers (Atas) and the Global Travel & Tourism Resilience Council.
The company also recently launched Global Travel Week, an international travel trade event that further develops a worldwide footprint which led to JMG receiving the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade in 2020.
Jacobs said the Connecting Travel project was inspired by the growth of the travel and hospitality industries in the Middle East region and a desire to diversify and strengthen the business following the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: “Throughout my business career I have been a firm believer in a global outlook. I took Holiday Autos from a UK business to one operating in more than 30 markets, and in the decade since Jacobs Media Group was created with the acquisition of Travel Weekly, we have expanded to become the global voice for the travel and hospitality industries with a presence in 26 countries across five continents.
“Our market-leading brands inform, support and connect the industries and markets they serve, and we identified an opportunity to bring that established and trusted template to a region that is the crossroads between East and West and will only grow in significance in the years ahead.”
Jacobs said the initial response from industry leaders across the Middle East had been incredibly positive and added that the reach of the Jacobs Media Group portfolio offered a range of opportunities within the region and key source markets.
He said the timing of the launch was also key as brands and destinations looked to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic with ambitious travel and tourism strategies.
“Throughout the crisis, I have been convinced that we needed to meet our challenges head-on, to support the travel and hospitality industries and to identify ways in which we could emerge a stronger and more resilient business,” he explained.
“That approach is one I have seen mirrored in the Middle East region, which has taken one of the most balanced approaches to maintaining the health of its population while supporting industries including tourism and hospitality.”
He added: “Nobody can or should underplay the seriousness of this virus, but rather than becoming paralysed by fear, we need to find a proportional response to ensure our societies and our businesses are sustainable beyond the pandemic.”
Serving and supporting
Jacobs believes Connecting Travel will not only fill a gap for a dedicated travel and hospitality media brand in the Middle East, but will also help “lead the conversation” for two sectors that are becoming increasingly important drivers for destinations in the region.
“I have been involved in every facet of the travel and hospitality industries during my career, and I am passionate about the benefits they can bring to economies and the lives of people whose opportunities may otherwise be limited,” he said.
“Many countries, including the UK, have grossly undervalued the contribution of both sectors and this has been particularly apparent during this dreadful crisis, when they have so often been the victims of inept decision making.
“In contrast, destinations in this region have managed to keep their sectors moving and recognised their importance to recovery.”
Jacobs added: “A brand dedicated to the Middle East has been on our radar for some years now, so it is exciting to turn that into a reality and inform and connect the travel and hospitality trade as The Caterer and Travel Weekly have done in the UK for 143 and 52 years respectively.
“We can also play a key role in helping these destinations reach source markets around the world and develop the understanding of what they offer.
“Dubai is often painted as only offering a five-star product for an audience of influencers, but the reality and diversity of its tourism and hospitality product is so much more than that.
Elsewhere, the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, is a thriving cultural hub with world-class art and architecture, and neighbouring emirate Ras Al Khaimah is an adventure playground for explorers, while Sharjah hosts a groundbreaking biennial contemporary art exhibition.
“Qatar is gearing up to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022 and Saudi Arabia is developing unprecedented giga-projects as part of its Vision 2030 that will change the landscape of tourism in the Middle East for ever.
“We will have a key role to play in education and training both in the region and beyond to support that growth.”
Key to Connecting Travel’s success will be its willingness to innovate and find new and impactful ways to deliver information and forge partnerships, Jacobs believes.
He said: “As an entrepreneur, I don’t like to do things in the way they have always been done. We want to be innovative and ensure our activity supports our readers and partners.
“The past 18 months have been a dreadful period for our industries, but we haven’t hibernated and have instead looked at ways to diversify and support the process of recovery and rebuilding in all the markets we serve.”
He added: “It is going to take some time for the global industry to rebuild and it will need a great deal of support, but we have positioned ourselves at the forefront of that process and relish the opportunity to play our part.”