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News10 / ConferenCe & Meetings World / issUe 65lent by China to Laos to build a new convention centre china post report$70mStarwood expandsSAUDI ARABIA - Starwood Hotels and Resorts is to expand its presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the opening of two new hotels. Owned by Saudi Brothers Commercial Company, the Sheraton Medina Hotel and the nearby Four Points by Sheraton Medina are both scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2012. The Four Points by Sheraton Medina will have 178 rooms and the Sheraton Medina hotel will have 279 rooms.China to fund Laos centreLAOS - China has agreed to lend Laos US$70.3m for the construction of a new convention centre in its capital, Vientiane. According to a report in The China Post newspaper, the money will fund the construction of the Lao International Convention Center, which is expected already to host the ninth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) 4-6 November 2012. ASEM brings together the heads of state of the 27 European Union member states and of 16 Asian countries, as well as the European Commission and the secretariat of the Association of South East Asian Nations. Hilton launches in ChadCHAD - Hilton Worldwide has launched its first property in the Central African landlocked country of Chad. The international hotel chain has signed a management agreement with Salim Group to run the 195-room Hilton N'Djamena. The hotel is expected to open in 2013 and will have a health club, business centre, banqueting hall, swimming pool and four restaurants. Sarawak wins ICCA eventmALAYSIA - Sarawak outbid tough international competitors from Australia and India to win hosting rights of the ICCA Asia Pacific Client and Supplier Business Workshop and the Asia Pacific Educational Seminar. The three-day event, 4-6 July 2012, will welcome 15 ICCA members and their association clients to converge for a B2B session. In briefUK - The Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) has launched a campaign for free Wi-Fi for conference delegates. The Conference Cloud, as the campaign is named, aims to put an end to Wi-Fi fees for delegates by encouraging venues across the UK to offer free Wi-Fi access. The campaign follows feedback from the association's professional conference organiser (PCO) members regarding the negative impact of high Wi-Fi access prices for delegates and also calls from buyers for venues to review their pricing strategies when it ABPCO launches free Wi-Fi campaignwe know that delegates attending our members' events need to stay connected while on the move. "Even with the proliferation of mobile broadband coverage, quality Wi-Fi is still the preferred online access route, especially for overseas delegates keen to avoid excessive data roaming charges. "Wi-Fi is already being set up by certain cities. Our aim is to work with venues to develop revenue models that work for them as well as our clients. When it comes to listening to what buyers need to support their events and free Wi-Fi is top of their list."BI rebrands to BI WorldwideWORLD - UK-based conference and incentive agency, BI, has rebranded to the same name as its parent company, BI Worldwide. It has also adopted a new logo. Following the establishment of regional hubs in 2010, the business is integrating under one brand.EUROPE - Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train between the UK and continental Europe, has launched a free smartphone application (app) for both Android and iPhone devices. The app is to help business travellers book tickets on the go and allows users to receive barcoded tickets direct to their handsets and amend to their bookings. Members of Eurostar's loyalty programmes can also use the app to earn points. Other functions include live service updates and a personal profile page, which provides an option to store seating preferences.Business travel The rebrand represents the app for Eurostarnext stage of integration of BI Worldwide businesses in Australia, Canada, China, India, the United States and the United Kingdom. "We are now a truly global business," said Managing Director of BI Worldwide, Mike Davies. mPI Turkey ClubTURKEY - Istanbul CVB GM Elif Balci Fisunolu has been appointed Vice-President of Communications of Meeting Professionals International's (MPI) newly-established Turkey Club, which was approved by the MPI Board in May. The news comes after a two-year campaign by industry leaders in Turkey to gain access to industry education and secure MPI representation in Turkey.The club has 31 members with plans to increase membership to 75 by the end of June 2012. comes to separate Wi-Fi charging. A debate on the topic at the recent UK meetings industry association Summer Summit in Belfast backed the PCO campaign. ABPCO Chairman Michael Foreman said: "Online access is a fundamental part of everyday working life and AUSTRALIA - The New South Wales government has been warned by an industry delegation its plans for a new convention centre in Darling Harbour need to be revised.Government plans include a 12,000sqm exhibition and banqueting hall, but now there are calls for dimensions to be increased. "It really doesn't do what Sydney requires to meet the needs of international conferences," said MD of Australia's largest organiser Arinex, Roslyn McLeod.Questions in Sydney

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