Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: American tourism’s 100m visitor plan soars ahead, but could it hit a snag?


Headlines this week

  • A snag in the USA’s 100m tourism plan
  • Airline chiefs discuss an Open Skies logjam
  • Ryanair turns the TV on.
  • Turkey introduces new e-visa.
  • Aer Lingus targets Toronto
  • Another Fine Meithealflashmob at Shannon

Video of the week is the flash mob at Shannon Airport (watch here) who astonished travellers with a dance. There was also some inflight entertainment with a difference from Australia, with an impromptu ‘Circle of Life’ performance on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney (watch here).

Check out too the tour of Britain and Ireland in dialects (watch here), the surfer who took to the web with a friend’s disabled mother (watch here) and volcano Tungurahua erupting in Ecuador (watch here). This week Ryanair unveiled its first TV ad in nearly 25 years, created by Dare – and there’s no sign of Michael O’Leary in a leprechaun hat (watch here) with a Ryanair second bag advert also hitting the airwaves (watch here).

Aviation chiefs arrived in Co Wicklow this week to ponder the big issues at Powerscourt where the CAPA: Airlines in Transition conference took place. Several of them suggested that progress had stalled in the seven years since the EU and USA signed the Open Skies agreement. Willie Walsh said the problem is that the wording of Open Skies agreement, intended to liberalise, is instead being used to restrict. People are now using Open Skies agreement to argue for more restrictions. Regulators should hang their heads in shame. John Byerley of the US State Department said there had been little progress on EU/US Open Skies ownership and control issues since it was first signed seven years ago. The big question is who will drive change beyond open skies? There is less pressure for change now and things may move backwards towards protectionism. Byerly felt that the US unions killed the Dulles-Madrid wetlease agreement with Aer Lingus.

Touching on a more recent wetlease, Willie Walsh said he found it “bizarre” that the EU Commission gave short haul business to Virgin, saying it must be “costing Virgin a fortune”. He added that by outsourcing the service to Aer Lingus, Virgin had shown that it couldn’t even operate it. He also said that part of the problem is that you have some airports making a hell of a lot of money, from airlines not making money. Cork based Fergal Kelly from event sponsors Travelport posed the question: All very well knowing data about a customer, but can you do anything useful with it.

Roger Dow of the US Travel Association speaking at IPW in Chicago April 8 2014IPW, formerly known as Pow Wow, in Chicago gathered 6,000 travel professionals who deal with inbound travel to the USA, including an Irish delegation of 20 buyers and media. Roger Dow (pictured) of the US Travel Association addressed the issues facing US tourism, including infrastructural shortfalls at airports (listen here). He said this could be addressed by raising the proposal to raise the passenger service charge from $4.50 to $8.50. He said that US inbound tourism may hit President Obama’s goal of 100m visitors two years ahead of schedule in 2019, rather than 2012. In reply to a question from Travel Extra, he conceded that he was concerned by consolidation by major US based airlines, but relieved that international routes were not being cut as domestic= routes have. He welcomed the proposed Norwegian Airlines trans Atlantic low-cost services.

IMG_6293Bill Davis of Universal Orlando baulked at naming an opening date for Diagon Alley (listen here) although he did promise a new experience on every section of the journey on Hogwart’s Express between the new and existing Harry Potter experiences (unusually they will traverse both Universal parks and riders will require a two-park ticket. Saying: we see Citywalk as our front door, he announced eight new venues to launch in 2014, He gave what he called a non-answer to Travel Extra’s enquiries about Project 340, the next big thing after Harry (listen here to full Q&A session at press conference). Xiomara Wiley of Universal Hollywood announced that California too would get a Wizarding World of Harry Potterexperience in 2016 (listen here).

IMG_6312 copyCaroline Beteta (pictured) of California Travel talked about the state’s new dream big campaign across social media (listen here) one of a series of announcements at Tuesday’s press conferences (see more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook).

ciara clodagh 001 copySunday saw a series of Visit USA committee meetings with different national delegations including the growing Irish committee, where the ere was no repeat of last year’s concerns about the future of US CBP in Dublin. The Irish Visit USA Committee which currently has 82 members signed up some prospective new members at the show. Visit USA will bring their roadshow on June 11-13 and partnering with Visit USA in London for Belfast, followed by a radio campaign in August. They have organised two fam trips for 2014 and the first fam for 2015 was also finalised at IPW. Picture shows Ciara Foley of Platinum Travel, chair and Clodagh Oxley executive officer of the Visit USA committee in Dublin, at the Britain and Ireland party at IPW which was hosted by the Fairmont Hotel. See more pictures here from the Britain and Ireland party or connect with the album on Facebook.

Tour America received a Chairman’s Circle Honours award fem the US Travel Association and Brand USA at a ceremony at the Shedd Aquarium.

media at ipwThe traditional media brunch event was held at the Hancock Centre, one of the world’s most impressive buildings in the world. Picture shows the Irish sextet at IPW: Gerry Benson, Eoghan Corry, Fionn Davenport, Michael Flood, Isabel Conway and Lesley Graham (see more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook). The brunch was followed by options that included an architectural tour of Chicago and the opening party in the Chicago Film Institute. The closing party took place in the Museum of Science of Industry, which opened its signature attraction, the captured German Uboat U505, to delegates (see more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook).

Megan Allen of Citypass sannounced that Tampa Bay would be the latest US city to get Citypass on May 21. Peter Eellegard, Baas Van Oort, Spud Hilton and Carlos Prez Galvan won the US travel writer awards for 2013.
disney posing_6357 copy san francisco party ipw 2014_6386 copyTuesday evening parties included a Las Vegas dinner hosted by John Donohue and his American colleagues. Michael Goldsmith of Las Vegas CVA said it was a question of ‘when and not if’ there are direct flights from Dublin to Las Vegas, The Disney event was hosted by new VP of sales and marketing Kenneth Svendsen on the 99th floor of the Willis Tower, Universal brought Irish tour operators to the Chicago Bears baseball game. The night finished for some (but not all) at the San Francisco party, acknowledged annually as the best of the conference (see more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook).group shot horse 001 copy

On the shore of Lake Michigan, still frozen over, April  10 2014Nine IPW post-fams departed from McCormick Place in Chicago on Thursday morning. Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry joined a tour of Michigan’s frozen lake shore. Ice covered 92.2 percent of the Great Lakes early in March, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That’s the most since 94.7 percent of the Great Lakes surface area was frozen over in early 1979.

Dune descent_6893 copyThe trip included visits to Oval Beach, Saratauk, Douglas, Holland, Grand Rapids and Traverse City, taking in some serious dune bashing along the way at Silver Lake (pictured). Picture above shows the group in Meijer Gardens and sculpture park: Natalija Sukure of TAS Baltics Latvia, Jose Mejia of Agencia de Viajes Transmundo Honduras, Chris Getley of Lowcoastbeds England (back), Dave Lorenz of Travel Michigan, Angelica Rodriguez of Lax Travel L’Alinxa Guatemala, Stine Meinertsen of Stjernegaard Rejser Copenhagen, Maria Merida of Amtours Guatemala, Grit Schwarzenburg from Berlin , Michael Flood of Irish Travel Trade News, Michaela Fulekova of Milliardcity in Slovakia (back), Lucia Maskova of the US Commercial Service in Slovakia (front), Oxana Blida of UNEX Moscow, Bettina Schmieding of Bettina Schmieding radio productions in Cologne , Donna Dailey from England (born in Iowa), Mike Gerrard from England, Tom Dedek of Diversity Tourism UG in Munich, Devender Grover of Travelspan Delhi, Max Zhang of Shangahi Ctrip International Travel Services, Thomas Boemkes of Diversity Tourism UG in Munich (back), Sanjay Grover of Plaza Times Delhi, Zhongshi Wang of CYTS Beijing (Back), Laura Huetter from Munich ( back), Belinda Gudiel of Agencia de Viajes Transmundo Honduras (front), Wang Chongyu (Tony) of Jiangsu Sainty Overseas Tourist Company in Nanjing, Henning Kretschmer of Revista Vivir de Viaje in Guatemala, Thomas Vogler of Travel Marketing Romberg Dusseldorf, Lana Bugonovich of ETB News in Sydney, Silvio Cioffi of Folha de Sao Paulo, Karolina Haynes from Grand Rapids Tourism, Janet Korn from Grand Rapids Tourism, Eoghan Corry of Travel Extra Ireland. Not in picture: Uschi Braun from BR Bayerischer Rundfunk in Munich.

Roger Dow was asked at IPW about US Homeland Security policy after Nigella Lawson was stopped from boarding a British Airways flight to Los Angeles. He said that when you have 67m visitors, “there will be stories. Another traveller who had his passport stolen forty years ago has spent the last two years trying to get himself removed from America’s “no fly list.” The London Telegraph recalled some odd cases of refused entry to the US, the pair deported for tweeting “we are going to destroy LA,” the professor who wrote for a research paper on drugs, the teenager banned for offending President Obama, the Dutch writer deported for having stamps from Muslim countries Yemen and Malaysia, in a passport, the Canadian deported for being hospitalised for clinical depression, the man who criticized for the US government’s spying operations, another denied entry because of a 24-year-old conviction for stealing and the German deported for traveling with his guitar. English authorities admitted that covert bag searches were conducted without authorisation at airports.

Turkey‘s new “Law on Foreigners” takes effect next Friday April 11 onwards, after which every visitor is supposed to have an e-visa (apply here). Visitors arriving to Turkey without visas will still be able to obtain their e-visas via interactive kiosks placed in Turkish airports.” The move has spawned a number of get-rich-quick websites that seek to divert unwitting travellers from the official channel by paying Google to appear at the top of the listings when a search is made. The site run by, for example, charges £55 – more than four times as much as you pay at the correct website,

Aer Lingus prepared for their second marquee route launch of the month, the inaugural flight to Toronto tomorrow Monday will use a B757 contracted from Air Contractors.

Christian Carbonne Benoit Berger copyLuxair held a business reception at the Royal Hibernian Academy to celebrate the re-launch of its Dublin to Luxembourg service on March 30. Benoit Berger (on right) of Luxair said the airline hopes for an 80pc load factor on the new route, which will fly from Dublin four days a week, and said that the Luxair group estimates a target of 1.6million passengers for 2014. Luxair’s marketing manager, Christian Carbonne, (on left) said the route has mainly targeted visitors from Luxembourg until now. Commemorative Guinness/Luxair t-shirts and pint glasses were issued as part of a St Patrick’s Day campaign. Ann Hoffman from Luxembourg’s tourist office said that the country’s tourism sector is a growing industry, accounting for 4pc of its GDP – so Luxembourg is not “just a banking street”. Under the slogan “Discover the Unexpected Luxembourg”, the tourist office promotes Luxembourg’s diverse regions and rich cuisine. Luxembourg has 11 Michelin-star restaurants, apparently the highest density of star-restaurants per habitant in the world. Camille Thommes of ALFI spoke about his trips to Ireland as a child and showed the similarities between the two countries. John Hurley and Vincent Harrison of the DAA welcomed the new service. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Robert Atkinson Anton VidgenRobert “Bob” Atkinson of Air Canada and Anton Vidgen (pictured) and Eamon Flanaghan of Air Canada rouge hosted a media briefing on its new Rouge non-stop service from Dublin to Toronto at The Shelbourne hotel ahead of the Rouge leisure service will fly non-stop from Dublin to Toronto from May 2 and has been extended to the winter season. Dublin is one of Air Canada’s six new European rouge routes, and will “offer the most seats than any other carrier operating that route”, according to Air Canada rouge’s senior director of customer and technology, Anton Vidgen. The flight frequencies will move from five per week to every day during the peak summer season. Vidgen boasted about the airline’s “excellent customer service”. The “rouge crew” have been trained at the Disney institute to offer family-friendly services such as offering free face-painting and making air sick bag puppets for children (empty contents, of course). The rouge “premium” service, which will launch on the Dublin route by the end of the summer, offers a free iPad service and access to the in-flight entertainment “player”, which offers a range of TV shows, films and destination content. Travellers in economy class can access the player, but will have to hire the tablet for $10 if they don’t already have their own device. According to Vidgen, Air Canada rouge is developing “extremely rapidly”, growing from four aircraft at the beginning of 2013 to 15 aircraft today. The rouge group projects that by 2015 it will have 50 aircraft to its fleet, which will amount to a quarter of Air Canada’s entire fleet.Listen here to an audio of the event. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook


  • Around 300 cases of air rage and other bad behaviour are being reported each week, according to the International Air Transport Association, which is urging countries to sign up to a new agreement to speed through changes to laws to cope with unruly and disruptive passengers after reaching agreement at a conference last week.
  • An Italian court ordered that non-EU carriers cannot offer fifth-freedom rights (traffic carried between two country by the airline of a third country) passengers to or from Italy, causing the cancellation of Emirates Milan-New York flight.
  • Research from IT firm SITA concluded more than half of air passengers will use their mobiles to check flight and baggage status by 2016, with all the major airlines offering these services.
  • A report claimed London City Airport should be closed because it is of little value to the capital and is worth more as a building site.
  • A worldwide search has been launched in a bid to offer a VIP ticket to the boy who ‘inspired’ Virgin Galactic.
  • Monarch was last year’s least punctual carrier, with delays of more than an hour on nearly 7pc of its flights.
  • Ryanair added a Heineken Cup semi-final flight Cork-Marseille 16.55 on Friday April 25 and return 20.35 on Monday April 28. Ryanair added a total of 61 new routes in the first week of April. Ryanair added a base in Cologne indicating what agencies called a serious move into Germany Ryanair cancelled Lisbon-Faro flights less than a week after inauguration. Stobart Air cancelled their Southend-Cologne after Ryanair opened Stansted-0 Cologne.
  • New York lawyer Brian O’Dwyer, Pat Gallagher and John Molloy have been added to the board at Knock.
  • British Airways extended their World Traveller and World Traveller Plus sale until April 17. British Airways prepared to turn 40.
  • Market analysts at Barclays said Ryanair may struggle to attract more business travellers despite the change in strategy.
  • OCS One Complete Solution challenged the rejection of its €25m cleaning order at Dublin Airport.
  • Airbus confirmed that a customer airline customer has already ordered a version of the A350 with ten across (3-4-3) in economy, one more than the manufacturer’s recommended configuration.
  • Manchester’s aim of becoming a northern hub received a boost when Cathay Pacific announced direct flights to Hong Kong from December this year
  • Thomson is launching direct flights from Gatwick and Manchester to Mexico’s Puerto Vallarta on May 3.
  • Etihad Airways launched the frequent flyer programme as a separate legal entity.
  • United unveiled seat plan for B787-9, with additional seats in business, premium economy and economy.
  • Air France passengers travelling in economy and premium economy on short and medium-haul flights can now pay for more legroom and sitting by the emergency exit.


Lufthansa unveiled its fully-flat A380 business seats.

  • American Airlines revealed its new fully-flat seat for the B777-200ER with some seats rear-facing in a herringbone layout.
  • Shannon Airport won an international award, the ‘Highly Commended’ award for airports under 4m passengers at the Routes Europe Airport Marketing Awards in Marseille.
  • Norwegian’s Irish-registered trans-Atlantic operation now employs 40 people at its offices close to Dublin Airport.
  • Qantas is to cut some A380 services that operate between Dubai and London Heathrow.
  • A footnote to last weeks’ Sunday supplement, the hotel where Aer Lingus staged their reception to celebrate their inaugural flight to San Francisco, the Westin St Francis, was the same hotel where Eamon de Valera stayed when he addressed the Democratic Convention in 1919.


  • The Emerald Sky, Europe’s newest river cruise ship set sail from Amsterdam this week, with godmother duties performed by Twiggy.
  • Norwegian cancelled calls to Roatán in Honduras after a crew member was murdered during an attempted robbery
  • The cruise industry refuted claims that it is ignoring the welfare of staff, a week after crew members on board an MSC ship were rescued from “slave-like” conditions.
  • The Marco Polo called to Dublin port.
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises promoted Adam Goldstein to President and COO.
  • Stephen Moffett left MSC after eight years.

Travel Trade

insight fam trip zoomPicture shows Insight Vacations’ Agent FAM Trip in Scotland: Siobhan Geraghty (Cavan Travel), Insight Vacations Tour Director, Donna Kenny (TTC) Kirsty Costello (Grogan Travel) and Shane Cullen (Killiney Travel).

  • Follow the Camino plans guided departures on August 30, September 6, September 20 and October 4.

topflightPicture shows Graham Hennessy and Maruice Sheils of Topflight hosting a pizza making Party in Galway for travel agents, with the winner of best dough tosser, Frances Grogan from Grogan Travel. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Innstant travel are recruiting agent for their head office in Dublin.

John Galligan Travel are planning their reunion for September 27.

Donna and Carole on the Contiki Golf BuggyPicture shows Donna Kenny and Carole Carmody on the Contiki Golf Buggy at the TIGS event at Baltray Golf Club on Thursday, sponsored by The Travel Corporation. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

  • Sunway holidays Orlando offers include the three star Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando from €560pp.
  • Contiki (holidays for 18-35s) reports an increase on sales by 46pc as it launched its 2014/2015 Australia and New Zealand programme this spring with an increase on sales by 46pc. Australia and New Zealand continue to be extremely popular destinations and young travellers can avail of Contiki’s 10pc Early Payment Discount on Contiki trips when paying in full prior to the 14th May 2014. Australia and New Zealand continue to be extremely popular destinations and young travellers can avail of Contiki’s 10pc Early Payment Discount on Contiki trips when paying in full prior to the 14th May 2014.
  • The Commission for Aviation Regulation awarded a new licence, to TravelPlan Corporate and two new trading names for Club Travel.  The Commission has published on its website a list of Frequently Asked Questions on Airline Licensing and Groundhandling.

oxygen group

Ski Beat, part of the Topflight group, are publicising their holiday offering in six French resorts for next season, La Rosiere, La Plagne, La Tania, Les Arcs, Meribel and Val D’Isere. Picture shows a team of Skibeat and Oxygene Ski school personnel who brought Irish travel media on a toboggan run in La Plagne. Picture shows Fi Cowx, Office Manager and Social media (Ski Beat), Scott Charlesworth, Resort Manager (Ski Beat), Bev Dickenson, Transport Manager (Ski Beat), Justyn Muffett, Area Manager (Ski Beat), Emma Knight, Logistics and Accounts Manager (Ski Beat), Olivia Valentine, Assistant Transport Manager (Ski Beat), Emma Morrison, Operations Manager (Ski Beat), Jo Greenwood, Marketing and communications (Oxygène Ski & Snowboard School), Jenny Gardiner, Ski Instructor (Oxygène Ski & Snowboard School),


  • The new hotel owned by Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is being investigated by travel site Tripadvisor after five star reviews appeared before it opened.
  • Bill Davis of Universal Orlando said rates at Cabana Bay Beach will be $174 for family suites, $119 for standard rooms. The hotel, which offers what Universal calls a value alternative to their three other onsite hotels in Orlando, will be the largest in the world to open this year at 1,800 rooms.
  • A survey claimed free breakfast is more important to hotel guests than free Wi-Fi.
  • Melissa O'Grady -  Business Development Manager
  • Melissa O’Grady (pictured) was appointed Business Development Manager at Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel
  • Frankfurt-based IHS GmbH acquired InnLink LLC, central reservations provider based in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
  • Hilton Dublin appointed Jason Banyon as new executive chef,


Universal California opened their signature new attraction for 2014, Despicable Me, A Fast & Furious ride is to launch in Universal California in 2015, using the same locations as the traditional studio tour. A night time studio tour will launch in Universal California in 2015, as well as Springfield USA, a whole new land adjacent to the Simpsons ride, according to Xiomara Wiley of Universal.

  • Nightswapping launched an easy-access home exchange system: travellers sign up, offering nights in their home for free. This earns night credits, which can be used at the homes of 6,000 registered users around the world for free.
  • The new Ratatouille dark ride at Disney Paris will open at the end of June.
  • Tripadvisor named Istanbul as the top destination in the world up 11 places from last year, followed by 2 Rome (+2), 3 London (0), 4 Beijing (+17), 5 Prague (+4), 6 Marrakech o (+13), 7 Paris (-6), 8 Hanoi (New), 9 Siem Reap (+14), 10 Shanghai (+12), 11 Berlin (0), 12 New York City (-10), 13 Florence (-5), 14 Buenos Aires (+4), 15 Barcelona (-10), 16 St Petersburg (+4), 17 Dubai (New), 18 Chicago I (-4), 19 Cape Town (-3), 20 Bangkok (-7), 21 Budapest (New), 22 Sydney (-12), 23 Lisbon (New), 24 Chiang Mai (0), 25 San Francisco (-18).
  • New York, Paris, Rome and Barcelona are among the most photographed locations in the world, according to a photo-sharing website.
  • The Mountain Travel Symposium took place in Breckenridge, Colorado
  • It was reported that the beach from Shawshank Redemption now poses a health risk. The London Telegraph listed some of the best beaches from the movies.
  • The Washington Monument will reopen to the public this May, three years after an earthquake badly damaged the structure.
  • Roger Dow of the US Travel Association told media that last year’s IPW generated an extra 1m visitors for Las Vegas according to Rockford research, more visitors and economic impact than the Superbowl. He said the average international visitor to USA spends $4,500.
  • The US Department of Commerce said that on travel free to point in the fourth quarter 2013. George Aguel of Visit Orlando said the city will have 118,000 tourist beds when opening of Cabana Bay Resort completes June 21. Orlando had a record number of visitors in 2013, 59m visitors, making it the most visited location in USA.
  • Bombs exploded at a Cairo University close to an Egypt hotel.
  • Amadeus and Oxford Economics concluded that the global travel industry is entering a “golden decade” during which Asia will account for 55pc of worldwide travel growth. China will overtake the US as the largest source of outbound travel spend in 2014. Business travel expenditure by US and European passengers is not forecast to reach pre-recession levels until [sometime in] 2014 and 2018.
  • Fresh snow fell at many European resorts with the heaviest snowfall has been reported in France and Austria, with up to 10cm of new snow landing on slopes above 2,000m. Wet weather has affected areas below the 2,000m mark. Breckenridge reported great conditions across the mountain on Thursday. Fresh snow has been reported at a number of Canadian ski areas this week, Simon Butler, an English ski instructor in Megeve, appeared in a French court to answer charges of teaching without proper qualifications.
  • Concerns have been raised that tourism is threatening the delicate eco-system of Inle Lake, one of Burma’s most popular tourist sights.


Shaun Quinn, Minister Ring, John ConcannonMeitheal in the RDS Dublin saw 400 Irish tourism providers meet 300 overseas tour operators in15,800 scheduled across the two days. The tour operators departed on fam trips throughout the country. Picture shows Shaun Quinn CEO of Failte Ireland, Minister Michael Ring, and John Concannon of Failte Ireland at Meitheal. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

TOURISM IRELAND AND VISITBRITAIN SIGN NEW PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTPicture shows Sandie Dawe, CEO of VisitBritain, and Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, signing a new Memorandum of Understanding at a business event in Imperial College London, to mark this week’s historic State Visit of President Michael D Higgins to Britain. The agreement is for a common marketing strategy to attract visitors from China. See more pictures here of Tourism Ireland activities in a busy week or connect with the album on Facebook. The London Telegraph published a guide to Galway, the home of president Michael D Higgins.

Tripadvisor readers selected Dublin as the top destination in Ireland and number 21 in Europe, followed by 2 Killarney; 3 Dingle; 4 Cork; 5 Westport; 6 Donegal town; 7 Galway; 8 Tralee; 9 Navan, 10 Kilkenny.

Craft1Susan Brindley of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland launched the first Wexford Craft Trail featuring 19craft makers on a driving route right across the county.

  • A 26km cycle route was announced to pass along the old Great Southern Railway from Glenbeigh to Cahirciveen over viaducts and through mountainous tunnels. Another cycle way will be developed in Co Waterford from Clonea outside Dungarvan along the Gold Coast to Durrow near Stradbally and a third from Galway city to Moycullen, the three projects costing€6.5m in all.Another €6.5m will be spent in nine towns to improve cycling infrastructure there, including the development of cycle lanes in Birr, Claremorris, Ennis, Cavan, Sligo, Tralee, Thurles, Wexford and Clonmel. A court ruled Bord Pleanala failed to consider the needs of cyclists and pedestrians when refusing permission for a major road widening scheme extending 28km between Tralee and Dingle.
  • A video of county Donegal is set to feature on an Oprah show special with Pharrell Williams (watch here).
  • Graiguenamanagh on the Kilkenny/Carlow border will host Graig Goes Wild on Saturday and Sunday April 26-27th.

Fáilte Irelands Visitor Attitudes Survey, conducted by Millward Brown found 39pc of overseas visitors said their experience in Ireland exceeded their expectations, 60pc said that Ireland met their expectations and 56pc said they would definitely return in the next few years. The positives were:

  • Irish people – 68pc
  • Scenery – 54pc
  • Irish history and culture – 31pc
  • Weather better than expected – 30pc
  • Food quality and variety – 21pc

Four new tolling points on the M50 in addition to the West Link bridge were proposed by the NRA.

Email to have your say or it is @TravelExtraIre on Twitter if that’s your bag.

Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: The log book which shows why Aer Lingus think Dublin-SFO will work this time round


Headlines this week

he arrival matched the sendoff, which was saying something. The Aer Lingus inaugural flight EI17 from Dublin to San Francisco pulled in to Gate 93 at SFO fifteen minutes early on Wednesday evening at the end of its ten and a half hour flight, taxiing past a fire truck salute and groups of passengers who waved furiously from the viewing decks. It was an altogether bigger occasion than its predecessor six and a half years ago (see gallery of pics from October 28 2007 here) and there was a strong sense that things would be different this time round – Aer Lingus pulled the route after two years in 2009.

aer lingus over san francisco 001 copyTo see how much the airline’s strategy has changed one need only look at the log-book. Of the 200 passengers on board, just 95 were from Ireland. The rest were from Amsterdam, Birmingham, Manchester, Paris and all over Europe, showing how the new Aer Lingus has turned Dublin into a hub. Christoph Mueller described the change when he spoke in San Francisco after Aer Lingus inaugural flight from Dublin (listen here). Prior to departure, Kevin Toland of the DAA said 600,000 people hubbed through Dublin last year, up 35pc (listen here).

Minister Richard Bruton invoked flower power as he sent the aircraft and its distinguished passengers from the world of travel and hi-tech industry on its way (listen here), while San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee welcomed the party at a reception in the SFO museum, he declared the day would be Aer Lingus day (listen here). Joe D’Allesandro of San Francisco tourism mentioned the strong connections between the countries (listen here)  John Martin of San Francisco airport outlined the importance of the route to SFO, which has three new international services this year (Taipei inaugural took place last Saturday (listen here). Irish honorary counsel Philip Grant paid tribute to Christophe Mueller on behalf of those who had waited for the return of the route for five years (listen here). Christoph Mueller talked of his surprise at the welcome to San Francisco (listen here). See here the gallery of pictures from Aer Lingus reception in San Francisco or connect with the album on Facebook. Prior to departure Christoph Mueller, speaking in Dublin, made two other significant announcements for Aer Lingus, gate to gate electronic device use and the new lie flat seat (listen here).

On Friday Aer Lingus hosted Barry O’Leary of the IDA  and others in the Four Seasons hotel in Palo Alto to celebrate the airlines’ links for the tech sector. Barry O’Leary of the IDA said 40pc of the foreign direct investment to Ireland from the US comes from the Silicon Valley area, the route boosts the offering Ireland can present to the vibrant Silicon Valley community, making Ireland even more visible to companies looking to internationalise.”

crew_5366 copyPicture shows the Aer Lingus Crew on the inaugural Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to San Francisco, Capt John Naughton, Donna Docherty, Glen Scheinar, Laura McCabe, Grace Mulcahy, Muriel Cooke, Kayleigh Dempsey, Gary Prendergast, Patricia O’Donohue, John Thompson and Dermot Johnston. Not in picture: Francis Glancy and Michelle Conlon. See more pics here of the Aer Lingus inaugural and receptions in Dublin and SFO or connect with the album on Facebook. See video of the departure event here.martin skelly seat copy

Micheál Gannon of Aer Lingus and Gary Montgomery of Thompson seats in Portadown were on hand to show off Aer Lingus new lie flat business class seat on Wednesday morning. The seats will be in a 2-2-1 configuration, with the single “throne” seats the most coveted. The first to be fitted with the new seats will be the 330-200 where the number of seats in Premier will be reduced slightly from 24 to 23. Christoph Mueller said the seats were long enough to accommodate the Charge d’Affaires at the American embassy in Dublin, the Maine colossus, Stuart Dwyer, all 6’7 of him, ITAA President Martin Skelly was on hand to try out the new seat. Listen hereto Micheál Gannon’s description of the new seat.aer lingus hanover

Last Sunday represented the start of the northern hemisphere’s summer season when airline schedules are significantly adjusted to cope with the seasonal changes in demand, and when European airlines typically launch the bulk of their new routes for the year. Anna aero said the number of new airline services being launched in the first three weeks of the summer season is almost identical to last year, at around 460. These new services will be operated by almost 120 airlines operating to airports spread across 90 countries, led by Ryanair (again) with 65, Germanwings 43, Easyjet 34, Air One 19, Vueling 14, American Airlines 11, and jetairfly, Norwegian and SAS 10 each. Germany had the most new routes with 94, Italy 89, Britain 77, France 62, Spain 55, USA 49, Greece 36, Japan 28, Ireland 28, China 27, Mexico 22, and Poland and Portugal 17 each. Most of the Irish routes were launched in an eight day period from Thursday (Cork to Newcastle, Aer Lingus regional) to Friday and route launches continue next week with Toronto (Aer Lingus), and Pula (Aer Lingus, April 19) Picture shows the firehose greeting for the new Aer Lingus service to Hanover last weekend . Listen here to Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry commenting on the new routes on RTÉ’s News at photo 005 copy

Skibeat, the chalet specialist that belongs to the Topflight suite of companies, hosted a press group in La Plagne. Pictures shows Rebecca Lee of Q102/Sunday Mail, Eoghan Corry of Travel Extra, Tony McCullagh of Northside/Southside People, Aileen Eglington of AE Consulting, Derek Keogh of the Sunday World and Kevin Flanagan of the Sunday Independent. Silvia Moser Eoghan Corry_9035 copyTravel Extra’s Eoghan Corry is pictured with Italian world cup ski racer Silvia Moser, with Mont Blanc peeping over their shoulders on a sunny day in the 450km Paradiski region.

It was a hot and sunny week in the Alps, with high temperatures but excellent spring snow on offer in France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. Some light fresh snow is expected at higher altitudes over the weekend to freshen things up a bit. Fresh snow fell in the Pyrenees on Thursday, giving an overdue and welcome top up to the pistes. Strong winds kept some of the links closed. Resorts in Colorado receiving more than 50cm of fresh snow and Californian resorts received a metre in a few places. Canada saw excellent snow bases topped up by recent snowfall, with more expected over the weekend and into next week.

Consumer research group Exponential Interactive released analysis of how skiers and boarders differ, claiming the results “dispel the stereotypical notion that boarders as a whole are skiers’ more ‘alternative’, grungier, younger, poorer, less responsible, laidback cousins”. It was reported that skiers drop €40m worth of valuables off ski lifts.Croatia event apr 2 2014 copy

Croatia Tourism came to Dublin to brief Irish travel media in advance of the launch of the Aer LIngus Dublin to Pula route on April 19. Picture shows Svemir Radmilo, CEO of Pula Airport, Tonko Rilovic, Ireland and Britain Director of Croatia National Tourist Office, Jasna Ognjanovac, Croatian Ambassador to Ireland, Valter Flego, President of the Istrian Region, and Denis Ivosevic, Director of the Istria Tourist Board.

Travel Extra joined a press trip to Lisbon. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

The 6,000 delegates from 70 countries, including more than 14 travel buyers and six travel writers from Ireland, descended on the Chicago Convention Centre in McCormick Place (named for the Antrim publishing family) for IPW 2014, the artist formerly known as Pow Wow. The major events take place in the John Hancock Centre, Cinespace Chicago Film Studios and the Museum of Science and Industry.

mana-dolphin_2868402bApril 1st brought its annual share of pranks and jokes throughout the travel community. The best was from Clare FM, which claimed Shannon airport as to be renamed in honour of Davy Fitzgerald. St Petersburg/Clearwater coastal region of Florida have claimed the “long-extinct manaphin” has been found on its shores – a hybrid mammal that apparently sports the nose of a manatee (sea cow) and the body of a dolphin. Northern Lights in Holland copyCMV said cruise passengers had seen the Northern Lights during the day on a daytime visit to Amsterdam. Thorpe Park declared it was the world’s first theme park to allow dogs onto rollercoaster, presumably doing away with its height restrictions in the process. Wightlink Ferries revealed a new submarine, named SubLink, it said will “provide an exciting yet efficient means for foot passengers to explore the waters between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.” Club 18-30 announced a new Beer Goggles augmented-reality app which allowed users to save the images to their phone “in order to assist with the ‘memory recovery process’ the following day.” has opened bookings for a new Top Secret, art deco-style hotel in the MI5 Headquarters, which has “direct Thames access” and “is so hush-hush, guests wishing to stay in its rooms are required to sign the Official Secrets Act prior to check-in.” Hotel website Mr & Mrs Smith, in cahoots with “private-jet firm Heaven & Back”, was proud to announce a package that offers couples “a discreet and romantic atmosphere in which to celebrate their relationship mid-flight.” A Virgin press release about futuristic new hotels. Gerry Benson’s Travelbiz announced a new tour operator in the Irish market, causing at least one existing tour op to nearly choke on his shredded wheaties. The London Telegraph rounded up the best and worst April Fools’ Day travel stories. The most incredible story of all, Michael O’Leary’s jibe about having sex with the Queen of England, turned out to be true.

group_5650Picture shows Irish travel media and their host on an urban hike through San Francisco, Katie Byrne of the Irish Independent, Martin Breen of the Sunday Life, Yvonne Gordon of the Irish Mail on Sunday, JJ Worrall of the Irish Times, Eoghan Corry of Travel Extra, Fionn Davenport of the Irish Times, Katie Petrucci of San Francisco travel and Gillian Culhane of Aer Lingus. Alexandra Kenin led the walk through the landmarks of the city, the hidden paths and stairways. The group were accommodated at the Intercontinental San Francisco in Howard St. Meals were at the famous Scoma’s Restaurant where they were hosted by Maryann Costello, Chair of San Francisco Travel, Ferry Building Marketplace and the splendidly lit Garden Court at the Palace Hotel, a splendid art deco landmark that was once the world’s largest hotel.

Travel Extra joined a press trip to Lisbon. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.


  • Video of the Week is The Dream: 3D Printing an Airplane (watch here).
  • Ryanair launched its new website which allows check in from up to 30 days in advance and up to 2 hrs before flight. Ryanair said during the show around of the airline’s new headquarters that it will create 200 IT jobs to develop an improved digital platform including a new mobile app.
  • The Cityjet/Intro Aviation deal was finally signed. The European Regional Airline Conference was told that the first thing on Intro’s agenda is fleet renewal. Intro will take control of CityJet and VLM in four weeks time. Intro Aviation said: “we are talking to all manufacturers” on Cityjet fleet replacement.
  • Windavia cancelled their proposed Dublin to Funchal summer programme. The charter was to be shared by Concorde Travel, Sunway, Topflight, and Travel Department.
  • Aer Arann/Stobart’s seventh ATR72-600, EI-FCY arrived in Dublin from Toulouse on Friday, a second -600 will move to Cork on April 14.
  • Quickpark introduced a new barcode booking system to its Dublin airport car park. Existing customers need to re-register they first time they use the new system.
  • Aer Lingus got clearance for passengers to leave electronic devices on from gate to gate last Tuesday night and new rules were effective from Wednesday.

Ryanair HQRyanair‘s new headquarters in Swords comes complete with a slide and ‘welcome to the madhouse’ slogan.

  • Delta brought in new economy sleep kits including individual eye shades and earplugs.
  • Willie Walsh said at Aviation14: The idea that we need to regulate customer service is ridiculous consumers recognize valueeraa conference_3375 copy

The annual ERA Regional Airline Conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Lisbon, opened with an airline and airport CEOs’ breakfast. Simon McNamara, director general of ERA reported that the financial community has reacted very positively to the rationale for investing in or lending against regional jets and turboprops. Picture shows Chris Surgenor, publisher, Christine Ourmières, CEO of Swords-based CityJet, Alan Epstein of Pratt & Whitney, and Foeke Noppert, EU policy analyst of DeHavilland EU. Christine Ourmieres says Cityjet will install smart tablets for flight decks. Been busy finding new shareholders. Next project will be buying a new fleet.

  • Leo Varadkar said: Aer Lingus and the DAA will not be allowed to take a financial hit over the pensions dispute (listen here).
  • Forbes pondered why UAE and Qatar have the ‘World’s Best‘ airlines
  • Emirates is to open a lounge in Glasgow in June. Is Dublin next?
  • Dublin based cabin crew are being trained for Ryanair’s 737-400s which the airline will lease for the summer.
  • TAM and US Airways joined Oneworld.
  • Lufthansa cancelled 3,800 flights due to a three day pilots’ strike, including Irish flights, disrupting the travel plans of 425,000 passengers.

Ryanair varadkar Apr 14 copyIreland’s €3 air travel tax ended on Tuesday. Picture shows Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs and cabin crew Daniela Sopkova and Federico Galli celebrating the start of Ryanair’s Dublin summer season with Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar, in commemoration of the event.

  • Air France launched a Brasilia route joining the French carrier’s services to Rio De Janeiro and Sao Paolo.
  • Lufthansa A380s now have fully-flat business seats.
  • Manchester and Zurich are expected to be added to the Cathay Pacific network from winter 2014/15
  • BA brought in a Gold Executive Club cancellation fee. BA introduced a breakfast card as one of several sleep-saving measures the airline for Club World passengers on overnight flights from New York to London.
  • United launched a service from San Francisco to Taipei and is also launching a second daily flight between Houston and Tokyo.
  • Experts revealed the secrets of aviation, how long would you have if all four engines failed, how often are planes struck by lightning and other trade secrets.
  • Ryanair passenger numbers were down 4pc in March and Aer Lingus down 5.6pc, both blamed on timing of Easter. Aer Lingus long haul was down 9.6pc for the month.
  • Aer Lingus new in-flight shopping brochure launched, the price of 200 cigarettes available for purchase on flights to and from non-EU destinations rose from €34 to €35.
  • The London Telegraph highlighted 10 obscure destinations served by Ryanair as they launched their first services into Osijek, Croatia: gateway to Slavonia.
  • The Aer Lingus Charitable Foundation Dragon “Iolaropened its 2014 season with a flight to Weston on Thursday and it was over the city on Friday.
  • Siim Kallas’s office in the European Commission is examining
  • Etihad‘s stake in Germany’s Air Berlin and other foreign holdings in European airlines, to see if they comply with rules for operating an airline within Europe, including Delta Air Lines’ stake in Britain’s Virgin , Korean Air’s stake in CSA Czech Airlines and Chinese investment vehicle HNCA’s 35 percent stake in freight carrier Cargolux.
  • Norwegian Longhaul craft Boeing 787-8 designated EI-LND has been affixed with the portrait of Grete Waitz (photo here), nine time New York Women’s Marathon winner and silver medalist at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and a gold medal at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki.
  • Christoph Mueller was asked about the aborted Halifax route in an interview to George Hook in San Francisco (listen here).
  • Michael Greally will leave Aer Lingus on 30 September 2014 to pursue new opportunities outside Aer Lingus. The company has commenced a search for Michael’s successor as Chief Human Resource and Change Officer.
  • A US pilot was arrested at Canadian airport with loaded handgun.
  • Delta is joins Virgin at Heathrow T3 as the partners plan to launch new Detroit service.
  • Flybeannounced a rebrand or what it calls a refresh, with new purple uniforms, and a new slogan: The Fastest Way from A to Flybe.
  • A fly.comsurvey shows 89pc of fliers felt it was wrong to charge checked baggage fees, but people are willing to pay for leg room and dedicated hand luggage space: 45pc of respondents would pay for extra legroom, 26 would pay to have an empty middle seat next to them, 34pc would pay to prevent the seat in front of them from reclining, 36pc said they would purchase a fast pass to speed through security, and 35pc would be willing to pay for their bags to arrive first at baggage claim.
  • TAM and US Airways both joined the oneworld alliance.
  • Ryanair announced new bases in Athens and Lisbon. Kenny Jacobs tweeted: 5m Portuguese passengers will save 830m this year. That’s ten Cristiano Ronaldos.
  • Aer Lingus launched a summer sale with 20pc off fares to 100 destinations across Britain and Continental Europe.
  • The surprise resignation of Heathrow CEO Colin Matthews left the airport searching for new chief executive to make its case for a third runway.
  • celebrated its 10th Anniversary of operating out of Ireland.
  • EasyJet entered into a 10-year deal with Luton, the airport where it was founded.
  • London Mayor Boris Johnson published a report showing how Heathrow could be closed down and re-developed to create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
  • Chicago unveiled the new International Terminal 5 at O’Hare International Airport, a $26 million project featuring 24 new retail and dining destinations including 11 local Chicago brands.
  • Sri Lankan have extended their Dublin-Colombo sale fareof€30+€253 taxes Valid for travel April 18 to June 15.


fred olsen cruiseescapes copyCruise line Fred Olsen has appointed Alan Lynch’s Cruisescapes as its ‘Preferred Partner’ for trade and direct business. Picture shows Kate Wooldridge, International Sales Manager of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines with Alan Lynch Managing Director and Celine Kenny General Manager of Cruisescapes.

Explorer of the Seas will substitute for Adventure of the Seas to homeport at Southampton, England from late-April through Sept. 2015.

Stena Line stena horizon copyCeltic Link Ferries Rosslare to Cherbourg will be operated by Stena Line since last Tuesday. Picture shows Ian Davies, Stena Line’s Route Manager Irish Sea South and John Lynch, General Manager Rosslare Europort as the leading ferry company commences its direct ferry route from Ireland to France.  The route will operate on an all year round service with three weekly sailings from Rosslare and Cherbourg accommodating up to 1 000 passengers, 200 cars and 120 freight units per sailing.

  • The Cruise360 conference in Miami provided a forum for opionions on how to sell more cruises: agents should mine existing database to identify new cruisers and upscale cruise clients.
  • Royal Caribbean‘s Splendour of the Seas will be based in Dubai for 16roundtrip sailings from December 2015 through March 2016, with calls to Oman’s capital of Muscat and Khasab and Abu Dhabi.
  • Hurtigruten launched its main 2015/2016 brochure and reduced voyage-only and inclusive packages. Explorer and Coastal voyages also appear in one main brochure for the first time in several years.
  • Celebrity Cruises offered guests $500 onboard spend as part of its ‘Celebrity Future Cruise Holidays’ programme, along with the added benefits of 123go! promotion for those choosing to book their next cruise whilst onboard.
  • P&O Ferries Express resumed between Larne and Troon.

Travel Tradetravel counsellors_9507 copy


  • Picture shows Winners of the Emirates sponsored Travel Counsellors competition pictured in L’Ecrivain, Andre Bedford, Sinead Daly, Sue Cahill, Bernie Whelan of Travel Counsellors head office, Geraldine Martin, Rosemary Chawke, Stephen Davitt of Emirates, Cathy Burke Ireland general manager of Travel Counsellors, Fidelma Brady and Ian Walsh.
  • Keith Chuter is the new acting sales manager for British Airways in Dublin. Keith replaces Simon Daly who according to the press release, has decided to leave.
  • Topflight have two Gondola cars from the French Alps in their new office which they revealed to invited guests last week.
  • The Irish Travel Agents Association announced a new deal with Irish Independent, worth €150,000 over 20 weeks. TravelPort and the ITAA launched a campaign to increase consumer awareness about the benefits of booking with a travel agent and reward Irish travel agents who are using technology to drive innovation within their businesses.
  • Distribution of the Summer 2014 Just Sunshine brochure has begun.
  • Attraction Tickets Direct are looking for a Country Manager, Ireland to manage the Dublin office with two direct report and improve sales to both direct and trade customers. Closing date is April 20th. Salary €35-37,000 per annum plus company bonus. Curriculum vitae, accompanied by a covering letter, to David Gawn – Sales and Operations Director.
  • The Irish Travel Agents Association has allocated a number of positions on their upcoming Travel Professionals Essential Skills Programme for jobseekers. The programme will begin on April 21, with twenty days of training and twenty days of work experience within a member company.
  • New Skal President Margaret Cronin & Vice President Darragh O’Neill will attend Tuesday’s Skal Dublin club function at the Westin Hotel, Westmoreland Street, 12.30 for 1pm, €30 for members and guests.emirates at back street boys

Picture shows Emirates team and guests dining in the Gibson hotel before a trip to the Back Street Boys at the O2: Emirates team and guests dining in the Gibson hotel before a trip to the Back Street Boys at the O2: Fiona O’Reilly of Abbey Travel, Roisín Carbery of Topflight, Caitríona Power of Club Travel, Olivia Byrne of Travelmood, Jane Masterson of Emirates and on right hand side of the table Kate Siddall of Abbey Travel, Stephen Davitt of Emirates, Yvonne Tully of Club Travel, Peter McKiernan of Travel Counsellors and Jane Murray of WTC.

  • John Galligan Travel have set a date for the 25th anniversary\ reunion party. Anyone who has worked in JGT at any time since February 1989 is asked to e-mail or call John on +3531 2076555 to join the trip down memory lane.
  • Rendez Vous de France was held in Clermot Ferrand. Next year’s Rendez Vous will be in Paris at a date yet to be decided.
  • Cork will host 80 international delegates from as far afield as Ecuador, Ghana and Japan on Monday at the General Assembly of Federation EIL, an international non-profit association whose members run youth educational and lifelong learning travel programmes throughout the world.
  • Visit Scotland Expo in Glasgow hosted 700 buyers who met with 250 Scottish tourism businesses.


  • Savills said 13 hotels worth €85m were sold in the first three months of the year, an increase of 150pc on the same period in 2013, when just six hotels, valued at €34m, were sold. Significant hotel sales in the first quarter of this year included the Hilton Hotel Dublin for about € 30m, and the former Clarion Dublin Hotel Airport Hotel and Doonbeg Golf Resort for €15m each. Dublin properties for sale include the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links (€ 20m) and the Pearse Hotel (€9m), with the Westin Hotel due to come to the market shortly.
  • The Marker Hotel on Grand Canal Dock celebrates its first birthday.
  • Dublin’s Gibson hotel launched their new Artist in Residence 2014, urban artist Fin Dac,


  • The world’s highest Ferris wheel opened in Las Vegas, offering tourists views of the city from 550 feet. The London Telegraph listed at some previous record holders and the world’s tallest structures.
  • A plenary sitting of parliament in Brussels voted to ban mobile phone surcharges, which hit users as they cross national borders in the European Union. The change could take effect by December 2015.
  • The price of a tourist visa to Jordan was doubled with 24 hours’ notice, in a move that will affect small groups, tailor-made and independent travellers
  • Universal Orlando’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort opened to guests.
  • GTI announced three new destinations for 2014, Slovenia, Canada and Majorca.
  • Tour operators said they have seen a rise in bookings to Iran, despite European countries advising against travel to the country.
  • From mobsters to hippies, the London Telegraph listed other unusual American tour options
  • Fears were expressed that the end of the road is nigh for paper maps as the London Ordnance Survey became one of the first national mapping agencies to discontinue their printing.
  • There were proposals to ban love locks in Paris where the bridges are groaning under the weight of an estimated 700,000 padlocks scrawled with lovers’ names (Dublin’s Millennium Bridge has its own share already).
  • Frank Cullotta, a former hitman, started working as a tour guide in Las Vegas.
  • Airbnb, the San Franciscan home-sharing startup lost a case in its home city and will begin collecting hotel taxes, ending a two-year long fight against the practice.
  • HomeExchange CEO Ed Kushins said house swaps will grow by 17pc in 2014.



  • The European Commission proposed to make it quicker and easier for tourists to apply for Schengen visas, which allow entry to 26 countries excluding Ireland and Britain. Application processes will improve, reducing the maximum amount of time to process a visa from 15 days to 10 and simplifying the application form, repeat travel will be facilitated, and a new visa allowing stays longer than 90 days will be introduced. Ireland and Britain are in the process of phasing in a common visa for both islands and are considering a pilot programme that allows selected Chinese travel agents to apply for Ireland and Britain visas using the Schengen form.
  • It was announced Royal County Down Golf Club will host next year’s tournament May 28-31 2015 and Lough Erne resort in 2017, Cork’s Fota Island is front-runner to stage the event in 2016.

LONDON LAUNCH OF LIMERICK CITY OF CULTUREPictures shows Mike Fitzpatrick, interim head of Limerick City of Culture; Coman Kenny, Tourism Ireland; and Sheila Deegan, Limerick Arts Officer, at the launch of Limerick City of Culture 2014 at the Embassy of Ireland in London.

The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation look ‘behind the data” noted a shift in the purpose of visit of tourists to Ireland, holiday/leisure visits have declined as a share of total visitors from just over 51pc in 2008 to 47pc last year, as Ireland has become relatively more dependent on VFR and business visitors during the economic downturn. Last year VFR visits increased by 12pc to just under 2m (1,967,000), representing 31pc of the total.Meitheal Westport copy

Tour operators started arriving from around the world for Fáilte Ireland’s annual inbound tourism event, Meitheal, which takes place this week with sessions in Enniskillen and Dublin. Biddy Hughes Sales and Marketing Westport House, Brian Quinn of Failte Ireland, Kay Cleary, Martin Lettice of EireBus, Paul Harmon of Electric Escapes Bike suppliers, and Jonathan Powell of Bike electric Connemara are pictured with Travel Buyers from Italy, France, Denmark Belgium and Germany, at Westport House Co Mayo before their cycle on the Greenway. meitheal Charles Fort copyThis group are experiencing a soft day thank God in Charles Fort, Kinsale.

When microstates such as the Vatican and Andorra are excluded, Ireland comes third in the list of European countries where tourists outnumber residents: 1 Austria 8,462,446 residents, 24,151,000 tourists 285.39pc, 2 Iceland 320,137 residents, 673,000 tourists, 210.22pc, 3 Ireland 4,588,798 residents, 7,550,000 tourists, 164.33pc (France 126.37pc, Spain 124.85pc, Norway 101.72pc, Sweden 116.8pc).

  • Donal Fallon gave the inaugural Green Mile walking tour of Stephens Green.

‘CONNECTING’ CANADA AND IRELANDPicture shows Claire Myler, River Lee Hotel, Cork; Francis Brennan, Park Hotel, Kenmare; Carol Hinch, Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Connemara; Tony Keane,; Jim Deegan, Railtours Ireland First Class; Jayne Shackleford, Tourism Ireland; Dermot O’Neill, Abbey Tours; Siobhán Byrne Learat, Adams & Butler; Jason Powell, Causeway Coast and Glens; and Tanya Warren, Tourism Ireland, in Toronto during Tourism Ireland’s Connect Canada sales blitz.

  • The Game of Thrones Exhibition will be returning to Titanic Centre Belfast from June 11- 15.
  • The twin towns of Killaloe and Ballina are planning battle re-enactments, Viking boat tours on the River Shannon, theatre, walking tours and music for the the Brian Ború Millennium Weekend from April 11-13th.
  • Mayo leads the reader nominations for Irish Times Best Place to Go Wild in Ireland.
  • Killarney Convention Centre invested €300,000 in upgrading its Wi-Fi network.
  • Irish HGVs faced a charge of £10 (€12.10) a day when entering Northern Ireland and Britain from last week.

washington-dc-dorothy-henggelerSad news: The death occurred after a short illness of Dorothy Henggeler (27) from the New York office of Tourism Ireland came as a shock to everyone in the travel and tourism community. Dorothy was the Washington DC Rose in the 2011 Rose of Tralee competition. Travel Extra extends our sympathy to Dorothy’s family.

Email to have your say or it is @TravelExtraIre on Twitter if that’s your bag

Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Michael’s puppy steals the show

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This week:

  • Michael’s puppy gives paws for thought at Ryanair web launch.
  • 25 new routes in one week.
  • Belfast goes pink for the Giro.
  • Travel Centres conference for Nov 14-15.
  • The return of Europe’s rollercoaster rides.

This is the picture that had the international media talking this week (see Bloomberg video). Look at those puppy dog eyes. That cute creature would NEVER charge you €70 to print out a boarding pass, right?

200211576-001Ryanair staged a show and tell at the London Design Museum on Wednesday, flying in 70 journalists for the occasion (itself a landmark). Kenny Jacobs and Michael O’Leary talked up the new website, due for launch April 10 with the phone app to follow in May, but it was the puppy that stole the show. Michael never met the puppy, he told the press conference, so could the photograph, which first appeared in September be photo-shopped? Whatever about the prospects of getting the puppy and the Mullingar mastiff into the same studio, all the signs are that the cuddly rebrand worked. Michael O’Leary said that advance bookings for May, June and July, are running 5pc ahead of where they were in 2013. Ryanair’s chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said the aim was to: “Become as liked as we are useful.”

michael o'leary demo 016 copyHell has frozen over,” Michael O’Leary said. “Ryanair is doing TV advertising, distributing through travel agents and nice to customers.” He spent some time slagging off a website that was clunky and infuriating for the user, the opposite of the new Ryanair website which looks a lot like Skyscanner. Which enemy of Ryanair’s website, perhaps the Department of Transport he once claimed should be shut down, the DAA, Easyjet’s or the “useless” regulator’s? His own, apparently. The old Ryanair website is now the subject of O’Leary’s withering ire since he encountered (or didn’t encounter) the puppy. O’Leary said he marvels at the fact that, despite a decade of treating customers like cattle and handling complaints with combativeness, Ryanair still has triumphed. “There’s no more conflict,” he said. “This will be a revolutionary change. It’s all about de-stressing the passenger. We’re going to stop being nasty to people about the size of their bags. “We have been needlessly irritating people, from our creaking old website to our interrogation of passengers over the size of their purses. For 20-odd years, our focus has been to stack the product high and sell it cheap. We’re still going to do that, but we’re going to let the customer relax in the process. Just imagine how many more people we’re going to carry and how much more money we’re going to make when we give customers more of what they want.”

Ryanair will unveil new family fare offers in April. Other initiatives may include offering free checked-in baggage and free allocated seating for kids. The airline will also offer an on-board milk-warming service for babies.

kenny jacobs 001 copyO’Leary said Ryanair’s no-frills business model was recession-proof but as the continent slowly returns to growth the airline can expand more rapidly by rewarding its customers with targeted discounts using a new personalised loyalty program. “You’re a business person, you have different needs. You may want to fast-track through security. We’re going to have a product that’s going to allow you to do that.” He wants to reach 110m passengers by 2019, and plans to expand his all-Boeing 737 fleet from 300 to 400 in the process. “We’ll grow to 110m increasingly from business and travel agency distribution,” he said. “The travel agents will put together very low cost packages and Ryanair will become a key part of that pricing.” Although Ryanair is back on GDS (exclusively with Travelport until October) and flights can be packaged by travel agents, agents should be wary. The press conference was told Ryanair intends to capture customer data – and seek to get as much as possible.” “When I go around saying mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, I’m sorry for what I’ve done wrong, well, this generates huge publicity. Is it just a PR stunt? I’m no longer going to be dressing up in silly costumes to generate free publicity.” But, being Michael, he reverted to type when someone asked if they would be carrying puppies as part of the new policy. “We tried it, but we lost a snake in Sicily and a cat at Milan Bergamo.”

  • Michael O’Leary said Ryanair are in talks with primary airports in Czech Rep, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway and Spain. Four of eight new bases are primary cities.

Passengers were warned of possible strike action by Italian air traffic controllers today Sunday Mar 30th between 12.30 and 16.30 Italian local time. Lufthansa cancelled 600 flights, a third of its services Thursday due to a strike by airport public-sector workers.

tourism irelandTourism Ireland hopes increased air access will boost inbound visitors from Italy when Giro d’Italia comes to Ireland this May. Niall Gibbons said that “the capacity is there” to entice Italian tourists to Ireland. “Europe as a whole will see 9 pc more seats into Ireland,” he said. “But if you look at markets like France, there are 14 pc more seats. Germany has 16 pc more seats and Italy has about 9 pc more seats.”

tourism ireland 2Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar (listen here) said that the Government is confident 2014 will be a good year for Irish tourism thanks to “the very significant increases in air access”, and hopes Giro d’Italia will help promote Ireland to Italian tourists. “If you look at the Italian market, when Italians are asked where they want to go on holidays, Ireland consistently appears in the top 10,” he said. “So I think the Giro will help us to support our general marketing of Ireland in Italy.” Looking at figures for the Danish leg of the 2013 race, Tourism Ireland hopes to attract an estimated 40,000 visitors to Ireland. It is also hoped that Giro d’Italia 2014 will attract widespread international media coverage. Last year’s event was broadcast in 165 countries and reached a claimed 125m households. Tourism Ireland will plug the race at several consumer, trade and media events over the coming weeks, including le Monde à Paris and at Jump into Ireland events in the US. The Grande Partenza leg of Giro d’Italia starts in Belfast on May 9 and ends in Dublin on May 12. The race is being promoted in nine countries: Britain, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, the Nordic region and Australia. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

arthurThe 12th rollercoaster at Europa-Park (between Strasbourg and Freiburg) opens next Saturday featuring indoor and outdoor elements, on board audio, rotating ride vehicles and a raft of special effects. Located near the Enchanted Forest area of the theme park, Arthur in the Minimoys Kingdom (also known as Arthur – The Ride, watch video here) is based around the film series Arthur and the Invisibles. Other new attractions at Europa-Park include family drop tower rides, a carousel, slides, a themed village, retail outlet and a catering establishment.

ratatouillevisuel.jpgoriginal-610x683Europe’s theme parks are cranking up the roller coasters for the summer season ahead. Disney’s two parks in Paris (website, their big new attraction for 2014 will be dark ride Ratatouille, pictured) and Futuroscope in Poitiers (website) remained open throughout the winter. Legoland Windsor opened March 15, Prater Vienna opened March 15, Thorpe Park opened March 20, Alton Towers reopened last Saturday (the new CBeebies Land will follow in May, replacing the Old MacDonald’s Farmyard and Storybook Land areas of the park) and Chessington World of Adventures near London reopened on Thursday.

  • Yesterday saw Blackpool Pleasure beach move to its summer season yesterday and Heide Park near Hamburg reopen for summer. Other opening dates:
  • April 1: Phantasialand near Cologne reopens. Gardaland in Verona reopens.
  • April 4: Efteling in Rotterdam summer season begins.
  • April 5: Duinrell/Attraktiepark between Amsterdam and Rotterdam reopens, Legoland Billund reopens, Legoland Deutschland reopens, Lightwater Valley in Yorkshire reopens, Mirabilandia in Ravenna reopens, Pleasureland Southport reopens, Tivoli Friheden in Aarhus reopens.
  • April 10: Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen reopens,
  • April 11: Portaventura in Salou reopens (new ride Angkor is due this summer, a boat ride in the China Area which sets a record as the longest circuit in Europe, while Cirque du Soleil show Kooza joins the entertinament lineup), Puy du Fou in the Vendee reopens, Parque Warner in Madrid’s summer season begins, Terra Mitica in Benidorm reopens, Oakwood in South Wales reopens.
  • April 12: Parc Asterix in Paris reopens. Holiday Park in Nuestadt reopens.
  • April 19: Isla Magica in Seville reopens.
  • April 26: Gröna Lund in Stockholm reopens, Liseberg in Gothenberg reopens.

Walls are starting to come down around the new Seven Dwarves ride at Walt Disney World giving park goers a peek of Disney’s big summer opening in Orlando.

itaa presentation
The Irish Travel Agents Association AGM in Bewley’s Leopardstown on Thursday, will be preceded by the announcement of a major deal with a media partner, the first (and one of the largest sponsorships) in the history of the Association. The AGM is sponsored by Travelport and there will be a presentation on HR Skillnets (see Fionnuala Carter and Sinead Reilly’s presentation here). Ryanair’s return to GDS is likely to be discussed at the meeting, as will the fraught relations with tour operators the improved relations with the Commission of Aviation Regulation. All member agents are likely to be included in the new round of bonding on May 1, as attempts to change the licensing system long term continue. Martin Skelly of Navan Travel will be elected unopposed as the 18th president of the Association for a two year term (while two consecutive terms are not allowed by constitution, four previous presidents returned to serve a second term). There are no nominations for treasurer. The association made a small profit last year after years of losses. Refunds from the IATA trust are being processed.

Aoife Walsh_Clare Mc Coy2 copyThe ingenious antipodean originated idea of turning icons green for St Patrick’s Day has inspired Northern Ireland Tourist Board, who intend turning Northern Ireland pink in anticipation of Giro d’Italia. Clare McCoy (Listen here) told the press gathered in the Shelbourne Hotel to look out for “a tractor in Ballintoy that is completely spray-painted pink” and said that Ulster Museum, Belfast City Hall and the Lagan Towpath will be turning pink for the occasion as well. The first three stages of the cycle race will take place in Belfast, the Causeway coastal route and Armagh from May 9-11 before heading to Dublin on May 12.

  • The Game of Thrones exhibition returns to the Belfast Waterfront from June 11-15. Last year’s event attracted “19,000 visitors over 10 days,” according to Clare McCoy, and “it is only held in eight cities across the world, two in Europe are Belfast and Oslo”.
  • Brian Boru festival in Armagh from April 22 (the millennial of the Battle of Clontarf) until May 4 will host a warrior re-enactment, Viking long-boats and a Viking village.
  • Derry will host the Jazz and Big Band Festival from May 1-4 for the 35,000 jazz fans expected to watch 200 musicians play across 70 venues.
  • The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race will stop off at the Foyle International Maritime Festival in Derry from June 21-29.
  • The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival will bring live music, comedy, spoken work and visual arts to Belfast from May 1-11. Picture shows Aoife Walsh and Clare McCoy at the briefing.san francisco five

It is a big week ahead for aviation, led by the inaugural San Francisco flight by Aer Lingus on Wednesday, resuming a route the airline flew in 2007-9). Picture shows Joe D’Allesandro, President/CEO of San Francisco Tourism, Kandace Bender, Deputy Airport Director, SFO Airport, Tom Kiely, Exec VP San Francisco Tourism, Angela Jackson, Director, Media Relations, International and Hubertus Funke, Director, International Tourism, Europe in Dublin recently to promote the route. It is just one of 22 new routes, 17 of them from Ryanair, taking to the skies from three Irish airports. Three further routes are already up and running: Cork-Newcastle (Aer Lingus Regional) commenced on Thursday and Dublin-Hanover (Aer Lingus) and Dublin-Luxemburg (Luxair) commenced yesterday. Ryanair launch their new Dublin routes over three days:

  • Tuesday: Almeria (2 pw), Basel (2 pw), Chania (2 pw), Lisbon (7 pw). Prague (5 pw).
  • Wednesday: Bucharest Otopen (4 pw), Marrakech (2 pw)
  • Thursday: Comiso (2 pw),
  • Friday: Bari (2 pw)

and their new Shannon routes over four days:

  • Tuesday: Beauvais (1 pw). Faro (1 pw), Munich Memmingen (1 pw)
  • Wednesday: Krakow (1 pw), Warsaw Modlin (1 pw)
  • Friday: Berlin Schonefeld (1 pw), Nice (1 pw)
  • Saturday: Fuerteventura (1 pw)

Aer Lingus Regional commence Shannon-Bristol on Tuesday and Jet2 commence Belfast-Malaga on Wednesday. Ryanair’s Krakow and Warsaw routes to commence Wednesday are effectively replacing Cork flights to Krakow and Warsaw which finished on Friday last.

The new routes should improve Ryanair’s market share at both airports. Aer Lingus overtook Ryanair in 2010 when Ryanair’s market share at Dublin airport declined from 41pc to 39pc, while Aer Lingus saw its market share increase from 37pc to 39pc. Anna aero did a recent August v August snapshot of traffic at Dublin airport which indicated Aer Lingus at 42.6pc and Ryanair 37pc, whereas the summer slot information indicated a market share of 32pc for Ryanair and 44pc for Aer Lingus. Dublin airport will have 29 serving scheduled carriers this summer, as it did last year, according to Diio Mi data.

Guerlain Chicherit crashVideo of the week is a car crash, literally. Guerlain Chicherit crashed on his attempt on the longest gap leap world record in Tignes (watch here). His previous attempt last year was more successful (watch here).

Eoghan skis_8883 copySnowy weather over last weekend and into this week dramatically improved conditions at most European skiing locations, temperatures rose midweek to bring a return to spring riding conditions, especially on lower and sun exposed south facing slopes. Brighter skies in the second half of this week provided excellent visibility to take advantage of the fresh snow. Passo Tonale in Italy reported an upper base depth of 6 metres. Colorado and California reported dumps of 25cm on Wednesday.

Alex Stojanovski Eoghan Corry copyTignes was where Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry spent the week to check out the big snowfall that hit most of the Alps last weekend, and the changes brought to the resort by the addition of the new télécabine de Tovière. The sun emerged Tuesday to turn the 350km of Espace Killy into a brightly lit playground. Picture shows Alex Stojanovski who represented Macedonia at the Navano Winter Olympics and Eoghan Corry in Tignes.

Eoghan Ice Diving Mar 25 2014_5104 copyTignes more sporty and sprightly and less stuffy than its neighbour, pretentious and pricy Val d’Isère. The two resorts shares the same ski terrain although Tignes has ended up with some of the better bits (try to find a better red than the Double M run in the morning sunlight) as well as a livelier night scene . There is lots of potential for Tigne-ager kicks. Off-piste activities include some creative new ones, such as ice diving, the chance to scuba dive to the lake floor and look back at the shafts of light coming down through the ice mantle. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Eoghan Ice pool_5108 copyThere are cheaper places to ski than Tignes, but the ease of access to the slopes, and free amenities (the lift pass gives free access to an extensive aquatic and wellness centre, Lagon) and free bus service between the various social hubs mean unexpected savings. And if that’s not enough, you can dig a hole in the ice to investigate the original Tignes, drowned by a 1950s hydroelectric project. Tignes-agers are a lively bunch, with 40 bars to chose from (including the iconic Loop and Couloir) and four disco-nightclubs (including the Melting Pot). On the second night in Tignes, the ATM nearest the hotel has run out of money. It is that sort of place. Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry travelled with Crystal Holidays on their charter to Chambery, and was accommodated by Crystal at the Hotel Diva, a hotel 30m walk from the Val Claret lifts but with above-average restaurant and facilities (sauna and hammam).

Medical Tourism Seminar at the Polish Embassy Mar 27 2014-002Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, Marcin Nawrot and Boguslaw Becla, Acting Director of the Polish National Tourist Office in London, hosted a medical seminar, ‘Asthma Treatment in Subterranean Conditions’, in the Polish Embassy. Speakers included Dr Krzysztof Czarnobilski who spoke about the rehabilitation of patients with chronic respiratory diseases in the Wieliczka Salt Mine Health Resort near Krakow, Poland. Magdalena Kostrzon gave details about travel, accommodation and attractions within the resort as well as the health and medical treatments available. Wieliczka Salt Mines were placed on the original UNESCO list of the World Heritage Sites in 1978. Picture shows Boguslaw Becla, Acting Director of the Polish Tourist Office in London, Joanna Wojciechowska-Tatar, Krzysztof Czarnobilski, Polish Ambassador Marcin Nawrot and Magdalena KostrzonSee more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Josie Self_Amy Scott_Jenna Osbourne copyThe Hills Balfour team came to Dublin on behalf of their tourism and travel clients and hosted afternoon tea with the travel press in the Westin’s Atrium tearoom. Josie Self, Amy Scott and Jenna Osbourne (pictured) detailed a number of new products.

  • Radisson Blu is to open a new hotel in Nairobi, south of the city centre.
  • Kenya: Gamewatchers Safari Group is to open a new camp in Ol Kinyei Conservatory in June. The park measures 17,000 acres.
  • Mauritius: The Outrigger resort and spa is to re-open after a six-month renovation.
  • A new conference centre is to open in Qatar, which is preparing for the 2022 World Cup. Architect Jean Nouvel will unveil the National Museum of Qatar in December.
  • Tahiti will host the first International Graffiti Contest in Papeete in May and the Billabong Pro Surfing Contest in Teahupoo Tahiti in August. In July The Brando luxury resort on the island of Tetiaroa will open to guests.
  • Brisbane will launch free WiFi in April ahead of the G20 summit.
  • Five-star Hotel Mastinell, a new hotel that specialises in wine tourism, has opened in Vilafranca del Penedes. L’Ó restaurant in Barcelona was awarded a Michelin star.
  • Greece’s first diving parks will open this summer near Pylos. They will be the first underwater archaeological sites open to the public.
  • Various museums and sites in Vienna including the Austrian National Library, Leopold Museum and Wien Museum Karlsplatz will be staging exhibitions to mark the centenary of World War I.emirates 600

P Picture shows Margaret Shannon of Emirates celebrating the half millionth passenger through Dublin airport. She is in the middle with Amanda Scully, Airport Supervisor for Emirates, Shane Folan from Roscam, Galway, (Margaret Shannon), Elaine Folan from Roscam, Galway and Alex McDonald, Airport Officer.

Ingrid Aagesen Stephen DavittStephen Davitt who co-hosted travel agents at the Dubai-Emirates event last week, works for Emirates and not the airline suggested in a line of last week’s report. We are happy to correct the report (as we always are at Travel Extra). Stephen is pictured with Ingrid Aagesen of Dubai Tourism. Listen here to Stephen Davitt’s presentation on behalf of Emirates. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

  • Singapore Changi Airport was, once again, named best airport in the world at the 2014 World Airport Awards. The glittering ceremony was part of Passenger Terminal EXPO 2014 at the Fira de Barcelona in the heart of Barcelona’s new business area. Changi was followed by
: 2 Incheon International Airport, 
3 Munich Airport, 
4 Hong Kong International Airport, 
5 Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, 
6 Tokyo International Airport, Haneda, 
7 Beijing Capital International Airport, 
8 Zurich Airport, 
9 Vancouver International Airport
, 10 London Heathrow Airport.

sean brogan 001 copySean Brogan (pictured) said Stobart Air (the artist formerly known as Aer Arann), which operates Aer Lingus’s regional services, may have to expand its fleet after signing a franchise deal with Flybe similar to that with Aer Lingus. It is likely to exercise options on four more aircraft. Sean Brogan said the target of 2m passengers by 2016 is achievable. Since last May, it has taken delivery of six out of eight ATR 72-seat craft. The next ATR 72-600 (number seven) EI-FCY is due to arrive in Dublin from Toulouse on Friday next, which will allow a second -600 to move to Cork on April 14. Two aircraft will be permanently based at Southend.

  • Etihad brought their share holding in Aer Lingus to over 5pc. Etihad’s 49pc stake in Air Serbia was approved.
  • Flight Search on Google launched in Ireland.:
  • Ryanair has scheduled an extra return flight from Dublin to Dortmund for Ireland’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Germany on Tuesday October 14.
  • Aer Lingus is to seek further savings totalling €30m under a new round of cost reduction measures including job cuts and increased productivity under a programme called CORE (Cost Optimisation and Revenue Excellence), according to the company’s annual report. Aer Lingus appointed Emer Gilvarry to its Board of Directors. Christoph Mueller earned €1.521m last year, up from €1.293m in 2012, including an annual bonus of €420,000, a special 2013 bonus of €400,000 and pension contributions of €175,000. SIPTU has accused Aer Lingus of showing contempt for workers by awarding almost €1m in bonuses for its CEO.
  • The new Lufthansa lounge to be unveiled at Heathrow Terminal 2, where Lufthansa move in October, will be the largest Lufthansa lounge facility outside the airline’s home-base in Germany. Lufthansa are increasing summer capacity from Dublin by 16pc from April with the summer service to Munich going from 3w to 4w and 5w in July. Earlier this month, Lufthansa unveiled its new premium economy seating.

UnitedUnited has started installing 500 charging stations in customer seating areas across American airports. Chicago O’Hare International airport will be fitted with 110 charging stations in Concourse B and C to be completed tomorrow. Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, Washington Dulles, New York LaGuardia and New Orleans airports will be also be installed with the power points over the coming weeks.

  • Wizz Air’s flight from London’s Luton Airport to Budapest has become known as the flight that never leaves on time, it has not left on time since last summer was nominated as the world’s most unreliable flight having taken off ‘late’ 293 times in a row. Wizz Air said the departure times do not qualify as delays however, industry standards define flights departing within 15 minutes of the scheduled departure time, as on time.
  • Dubliner & IAG CEO Willie Walsh is the new chairman of Oneworld. BA’s second A380 service from Heathrow to LAX has been postponed again, originally from April 10 to May 7, and now again to May 19. Under a new joint venture, BA, Finnair and JAL will share revenue and cooperate on scheduling and pricing from Tuesday.
  • World Airways ceased trading. The carrier leased an MD11 N272WA to Aer Lingus for summer seasons between 1998-2001.
  • Virgin America reported it is in profit for the first time.
  • Dublin Airport was named world’s Best Airport Twitter Feed in the Moodies awards for airport digital communications for the second year in a row.
  • Aer Lingus Regional launched their 4w Cork to Newcastle service, the airline’s eighth regional route from Cork.
  • IATA called on governments to close legal loopholes that allow unruly passengers to escape consequences for offences committed on board aircraft.
  • The long drawn-out sale of Cityjet was reported to be imminent.
  • Qatar Airways launched a double-daily B787 direct service from Edinburgh to Doha, effectively ending speculation it would join Emirates and Etihad in Dublin.
  • Atlanta airport is to offer new international route incentives Until Apr 8.
  • British Airways in Ireland launched a World Traveller and World Traveller Plus sale.
  • SAS are offering seats from Dublin from €45pp one-way to Copenhagen, Oslo or Stockholm.
  • Aer Lingus’ third B757 EI-LBR has returned with its livery completed in Maastricht.
  • Slot information for Dublin airport summer 2014 confirms Ryanair lease in of B737-400s. Four 170 and 168 seat craft will be based in Dublin.
  • Ryanair‘s planned Russian flights continue to be delayed by visa questions for flight crew and are not going to make the proposed April 30th start-up date: proposed times Dublin 7am (arr14.25) & Vnukovo 14:55 (arr16.20).
  • City of Derry airport was used by 384,973 passengers in 2013, down 3.3pc, making it Ireland’s seventh busiest airport.
  • Customs officers at Dublin airport seized 266,880 cigarettes with a retail value of €126,768.
  • Aer Lingus said it was confident about its £100m investment in Belfast.
  • SiTA said that the 2013 figure of 6.96 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers in 2013 was the lowest ever recorded, 81pc of these were delayed bags.
  • Malaysia Airlines texted families of the 239 people on board to say assume “beyond any reasonable doubt” that craft is lost. Kim Bielenberg reported on fear of flying and its impact in the wake of the disappearance of MH370 for the Irish Independent.
  • Etihad Airways is to increase its stake in Air Berlin to 49.9pc, and the airline will be delisted from the London Stock Exchange,
  • Thirty two people were injured after a train derailed and hit a platform at O’Hare International airport in Chicago
  • Heathrow sees one emergency landing a week leading campaigners to claim plans for a third runway should be scrapped, according to campaigners. Gatwick bosses say air traffic to and from south London would be transformed if the airport is allowed to expand to two runways. Emirates airline president Tim Clark (and part time Lismore resident) said Dubai’s growth as a global airport hub is taking business away from London helped by inaction over airport capacity.
  • Australian authorities report “unprecedented” increases in turbulence. The London Telegraph asked if turbulence is becoming more common?
  • Luxair resumed their 4w Dublin to Luxemburg service from yesterday, using DHC8-Q400s.
  • EasyJet’s winter was better than expected as the airline reported a pre-tax loss of £55m less than the £70m originally forecast.


uniworld namingThe new Uniworld river ship SS Catherine was named by French actress Catherine Deneuve in Lyon. It has been a big fortnight for river cruise. On St Patrick’s Day Viking River Cruises surpassed its own Guinness World Record for “The Most Ships Inaugurated in One Day by One Company” with the simultaneous naming of 16 new Viking Longships over 24 hours in Avignon. See video report here.

cruise trailfinders copyPicture shows Roie Mamane of Trailfinders, Trayphavana Cross of Celebrity Cruise and David Hayeems of Trailfinders, as Trailfinders were recently presented with an award for best independent Agent for Celebrity and Azamara 2013

  • Richard Branson said he is to launch Virgin Cruises.
  • Disney cruise itineraries for 2015 include Norwegian fjords, Iceland and Baltic Sea. Disney Cruise Line is to change its internet charges from time based to the amount of internet data used.
  • Cruise industry group CLIA says Irish and British market grew by only 1.5pc last year.
  • Thomson Celebration will be based in Dubrovnik from May 2015 with four new ‘adult-only’ itineraries.
  • Carnival Cruise line said bookings are up, but prices are down as it reported a first-quarter loss.
  • Quark Expeditions announced that the ship 50 Years of Victory will retire as an expedition vessel after the 2015 Arctic season following three final voyages to the North Pole in June 2015.
  • Grand Circle Cruise Line will launch a new European river cruise tour next year, after buying a new ship, River Cloud II from Sea Cloud.


  • Globe Hotels now have directly contracted rates with PortAventura.
  • TravelCube’s Irish sales team say room nights booked through increase by 22pc last year.
  • Grand Canal Hotel in Dublin celebrated its tenth anniversary.

DUBLIN2 copyMinister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan will launch the Gibson hotel’s latest “artist in residence” programme on Tuesday. Picture shows Dublin senior football manager Jim Gavin and new general manager of The Gibson Hotel Nicky Logue at the launch of the renewal of their hotel (sleeping) partnership which will see the 2013 All Ireland Football Champions continue to use the hotel.

Eoin Likely-0030 copyEoin Likely (pictured) has been appointed Chief Financial Officer for O’Callaghan Hotel Group.

  • The New Yorker Hotel is to get an additional 172 rooms as part of a rebranding to a Wyndham property.
  • Holiday Inn Express is to introduce a prototype redesign following feedback about changing guest needs.
  • Meli Hotels International is to open a new INSIDE property in Manhattan financial district in 2016.
  • Millennium plans to open 20 hotels in Saudi Arabia.
  • Ritz-Carlton are to open a hotel in Perth in 2018. The city is notoriously short of hotel beds.
  • Element brand unveiled plans for a third Hotel in Florida.

Travel Trade

  • Travel Centres confirmed that their 2014 conference will take place in Killashee House, Naas, on Nov 14-15.

att9b061Sunway have set up a voluntary donation section on their website for Daffodil Day and and View Data. On the payment section of every booking page the option was made available to donate €3 for Daffodil Day. Sunway staffed posed for a SunwaySelfie to raise awareness for the Irish Cancer Society.

Sinead Cregan Hayes 150

Sinead Cregan-Hayes (pictured) has joined Travel Counsellors Head Office. Sinead most recently worked as Regional Sales manager for Falcon Holidays.

  • Will Walsh of The Travel Broker and Niki Stanford of Thomas Cook are moving to to look after the company’s long-haul and cruise business.
  • Brendan Mallon, previously with the Online Hotels Group, who has joined World Travel Centre: Roomteam by Thriftway as Sales Development Executive.
  • American Holidays hosted 60 consumers at a Florida information evening at the tour operators’ Duke Street premises.
  • GBT III BV in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, trading as American Express Global Business Travel, has been awarded a travel agency licence by CAR.
  • Amadeus launched lcloud-based platform for airlines and ground handlers Amadeus Airport Common Use Service.
  • AirAsia and Travelport signed a breakthrough distribution agreement
  • PhocusWright reported that less than a quarter of travel activity gross bookings in Europe happen online, 23pc of a €37bn Market.

Oasis travel 16 copyPicture shows Julie-Anne Vaughan (left) and Wendy Harper celebrating 25 years with Oasis Travel in Lisburn.

  • TUI predicted profits will be up 7-10pc as winter 2013/14 programme is almost fully sold and summer trading is “in line with expectations’. TUI Travel’s CEO called for schools to stagger their term time dates.


cormac coyne cliffs of moherCliffs of Moher Visitor Experience is to get a €550,000 upgrade for Centre’s exhibition and car park to provide additional coach parking. This is Cormac Coyne’s photograph this week of the Cliffs of Moher pictured from Inis Oirr.

PUTTING IRELAND ON THE ‘MAP’ IN PARISPicture shows Caitriona Butler of Irish Ferries; Vanessa Drew of Ballyroney Cottage B&B Banbridge, and Roisín Liston of Tourism Ireland on the Tourism Ireland stand at le Monde à Paris holiday fair in Paris.

  • Master It by Rory O’Connell published by Fourth Estate won the food category of the André Simon Awards for food and drink books. Rory O’Connell founded Ballymaloe Cookery School with his sister Darina Allen in 1985.
  • Astronaut Chris Hadfield promoted Ireland in a series of online clips, claiming ‘space is a doddle compared to hurling‘:
  • The inbound tour operators body ITOA reported that business was up 11pc in 2013.
  • The CSO reported overseas visitors to Ireland are up 11pc December 2013 to February 2014.
  • Keith McDonnell’s Extreme Event Ireland said a new €1.9m whiskey museum located at 119 Grafton Street and 37 College Green opposite the front gates of Trinity College hopes to attract 100,000 visitors in first year.

International Tourism.

  • Disneyland Paris free half board meals offer ends tomorrow Monday March 31st.
  • The French incoming tourist event, Rendez Vous France takes place in Clermont-Ferrand on Tuesday and Wednesday. The event returns to Paris in 2015.
  • Tourism New Zealand aims to earn $41bn in 2025 under its new development plan.
  • Croatia’s Tourist Board comes to Dublin in buoyant mood for a briefing on Wednesday. Visitor numbers from Ireland were 40,008 last year, up 31pc, if still short of its 45,920 peak in the early noughties. Minister for Tourism Darko Lorenicin accompanied the delegation last year and talks that day with Aer Lingus resulted the new route to Pula which commences April 19.
  • Turkey recorded 112,665 Irish visitors in 2013, up 1.63pc on 110,863 in 2012, making it Ireland’s 11th most important outbound market.
  • New York’s Memorial Museum devoted to the WTC attack on Sept 11 2001 has a confirmed opening date for May 21.
  • Switzerland reported 68,827 visitors from Ireland in 2013, up 8pc from 63,722 in 2012. Ireland have an 0.2pc share of all markets, nearly 4pc if the 44pc home market is excluded. Switzerland is Ireland’s 17th most important outbound market.
  • Dubai recorded 45,037 Irish visitors in 2013, up 9.21pc from 41,237 in 2012.
  • The CSO reported the number of trips made by Irish residents overseas decreased by 2.3pc, although expenditure increased by 2pc, and the average duration of overseas trips made by Irish residents fell from 6.9 nights in Quarter 4 2012 to 6.7 nights.
  • The Royal and Ancient Golf Club St Andrews is to vote in September on a motion to admit women as members.
  • China‘s weirdest tourist attractions were listed by the London Telegraph.
  • Authorities in Burma placed a ban on the construction of more hotels in Bagan, home to a vast plain of hundreds of temples and shrines.
  • Plans to restore the Camino del Rey means thrill-seekers have until May to tackle what is claimed to be the world’s scariest walk.
  • With La Beccherie, the restaurant in Rome that claims to have invented tiramisu closing, 12 establishments were listed by the London Telegraph that you can still visit where famous dishes were invented, such as the Waldorf-Astoria, New York, (birthplace of The Waldorf Salad, and Eggs Benedict), The Raffles Hotel, Singapore, (birthplace of The Singapore Sling),  Sharrow Bay, Lake District, (birthplace of sticky toffee pudding), Hotel Caesar’s, Tijuana, (birthplace of Caesar Salad), Caribe Hilton, San Juan, (birthplace of Pina Colada), and Hotel Tatin, France, (birthplace of Tarte Tatin). It is claimed that the Pavlova, a meringue-based dessert named after the ballet dancer Anna Pavlova, was invented at the now-demolished Esplanade Hotel in Perth.

Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: It’s official: you CAN board a Ryanair flight without printing the boarding card

This week:

  • Ryanair says Russia not yet, but will fly Dublin-Cologne for winter 2014-5.
  • Aer Arann to become Stobart Air.
  • Groupleader goes live for Group bookings
  • Tryphavana & Celebrity Cruises guide us into 2014.
  • Sing it: the Canary Islands enjoy a record winter from Ireland.
  • An aquarium tank bursts at Disney Orlando.
  • Venice changes its mind on cruise ships.

IMG_4889Ryanair’s new marketing manager Kenny Jacobs, pictured here with Vincent Harrison of DAA, says that Ryanair will have mobile boarding cards from April and a new phone app in May. In the meantime, it is possible to board your Ryanair flight without a printed boarding pass. Just email the pdf to your smartphone and the barcode will be scanned at the gate. Listen here to an interview with Kenny Jacobs.

aquarium accidentVideo of the week is the sight of diners at T-Rex Café in the Downtown Disney entertainment complex in Walt Disney World in Orlando getting a watery surprise Monday (watch here) when a huge aquarium burst open, sending a fountain of water gushing across the room and onto some customers. The London Mail reported that the stream of gushing water from the circular tank forced workers to grab nets and empty trash cans in a desperate bid to save the aquarium fish. Check out also the news anchor team reacting live to a 4.4 earthquake in Los Angeles (watch here),

Aer Arann is to change its corporate name to Stobart Air, a process to be completed by year end. It says this is the conclusion of the first phase of the airline’s ‘new beginning’ strategy. The airline will continue to operate under the Aer Lingus Regional brand as part of its franchise agreement with Aer Lingus. Stobart Air’s Irish operations will continue to be based at Northwood, Santry, next to Dublin Airport. The next phase of its strategy will focus on additional franchise partnerships; leveraging its connection with London Southend Airport; and advancing growth with its other airport partners, including Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports. Aer Lingus Regional/Aer Arann/Stobart Air reported a 13pc increase in February passenger numbers.

celebrity team will be pushing out their luxury offering to the trade over the coming weeks. Asked about Irish pick-ups Jo Rzymowska said (very interestingly) they would not happen this year (listen here). It should have been the start of the post-Lorraine Quinn era for Celebrity Cruises, but hey, Lorraine, the woman who transformed the cruise industry from a niche to a mainstream product, turned up for this week’s Celebrity event with her trademark smile. Apparently she will be working part time for the brand as Tryphavana Cross heads up the Irish operation. Picture shows Nicki Tempest Mitchell, Lorraine Quinn, Tryphavana Cross and Jo Rzymowska, the team from Celebrity Cruises. Listen here to Jo Rzymowska’s presentation. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Ingrid Aagesen Stephen DavittAs plans were announced to turn the Dubai metro into an art gallery, the stopover is the next big campaign for Dubai Tourism in the Irish market, as Ingrid Aagesen told Travel Extra at Wednesday’s jam-packed event for the trade in 37 Nassau St. While the LUAS engineer4esturned the street outside into a building site, no doubt as part of the theme, Ingrid and Stephen Davitt of Emirates listed the reasons to visit Dubai in the coming year, as the city expands its four-star offering and appeals more to families. Listen here to Ingrid Aagesen’s presentation, listen here to an interview with Ingrid Aagesen. Listen here to Stephen Davitt’s presentation on behalf of Emirates. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

ryanair launchThe summer schedule has yet to start (the weekend after next) but Ryanair, undeterred, made their earliest ever winter routes announcement. Ryanair’s much-trumpeted so called seven new routes from Dublin next winter turned out to be one genuine route (Bonn/Cologne) and six of the new summer routes continued into winter: Bucharest, Lisbon, Prague, Basel, Marrakesh and Nice. The new routes are only part of the story as Ryanair will increase Dublin-Stansted from eight to ten daily, and two extra flights daily each to Beauvais, Birmingham, Brussels, Madrid, Milan and Rome, all apparently with business travellers in mind,. Their winter flight count in Dublin is now over 1,000 a week for the first time. Ryanair say there will be more growth from the other airports in Ireland. The press conference was at times surreal, with Minister Leo Varadkar and DAA’s Vincent Harrison lining up to say nice things about the relationship with Ryanair (listen here). To hear Kenny Jacobs full presentation to the launch press conference listen here. Leo Varadkar said the extra flights justified the €30m foregone in travel tax. Listen here to Leo Varadkar’s speech at the launch press conference. Listen here to Vincent Harrison’s speech at the launch press conference. The previous day Ryanair announced they would increase their Stansted flights from 500 to 700 a week this coming winter, where Michael O’Leary said: our eight new winter routes with multiple daily frequencies are ideal for business passengers.” Picture shows Vincent Harrison of DAA, Minister Leo Varadkar, Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs, and Ryanair press officer Robin Kiely addressing travel media. Listen here to Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry speaking about the Ryanair return to growth on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook. - ITB has gone live for bookings by groups, a new travel technology start-up based in Dublin and co-founded by Bob Haugh of Travel Department and Fergal O’Brien. Picture shows Richard Sears and Fergal O’Brien of Groupleader at ITB Berlin. Bob Haugh estimates that group travel is worth about €31-€50bn worldwide (listen here) and continues to grow in the era of the independent traveller, was being boosted by social media (listen here). Fergal O’Brien explained the price on request model (listen here) and the request for price process (listen here).

Bob Haugh says (listen here): We have come from travel into technology while OTA’s have moved from technology into travel. The group have built their own technology and database as there was nothing available in the marketplace (listen here). Groupleader wanted to build a good range of mainly urban hotels in the key European destinations (listen here). Bob Haugh explained how he first got the idea for Groupleader (listen here). He said the product offers considerable advantages to group trip organisers and travel agents (listen here), and every request to a hotel will return a unique rate (listen here). This creates its own competitive tension among hotels (listen here). He says hoteliers like Groupleader (listen here) largely because the product does not look for allocations or contracts (listen here) and hotels have more control over their own bookings than in other processes (listen here): default terms and conditions will kick in as soon as the request is answered. He said there were safeguards against anyone spamming hotels for multiple quotes (listen here) as the request process was “difficult but not too difficult” (listen here). He said he hoped Groupleader would become a linked-in of tour guides and coach operators (listen here), as hotels had embraced technology much more quickly than the coach sector (listen here). “A good bus driver can enhance a tour” (listen here)

IMG_4807Ryanair’s services to Russia from Ireland could start within a month, Kenny Jacobs (pictured with Leo Varadkar and Vincent Harrison) told the press conference at Ryanair’s route announcement this week: We want to do it, the airport want it, but there are obstacles such as visas which are holding us up (listen here). Ryanair plans to fly to Moscow four times a week, leaving Dublin at 7.00am and arriving Moscow (Vnukovo airport) at 14:20, departing Moscow at 14:55 and arriving in Dublin at 16:20. Ryanair developed a similar schedule to fly from Dublin to St. Petersburg three times a week.

Minister Leo Varadkar said that Aer Lingus should call off their legal action against SIPTU and Dermot O’Loughlin (listen here). He said he wanted to see everyone working with the expert panel and not threatening strikes or suing each other. Éist anseo le Eoghan Corry ar Adhmhaidin ar Raidio na GaeltachtaListen here to the full question and answer session at the launch press conference. SIPTU was ordered to pay the legal costs incurred by the DAA and Ryanair in their successful applications for injunctions preventing stoppages at the country’s airports. The Judge put a stay on the costs orders pending the hearing of the full action between the sides.

baia-do-sanchoBaia do Sancho in Brazil was named the world’s best beach by the travel review website TripAdvisor. Inchydoney was selected as Ireland’s top beach with Banna Strand, Derrynane, Portmarnock, Lahinch, Inch, Curracloe, Barleycove, Salthill and Renvyle making up the top ten.

The top 10 Beaches in the World were 1 Baia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha, Brazil, 2 Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, 3 Flamenco Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico, 4 Rabbit Beach, Lampedusa, Italy, 5 Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Australia, 6 Playa de ses Illetes, Formentera, Spain, 7 Anse Lazio, Praslin Island, Seychelles, 8 Lanikai Beach, Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii, 9 Rhossili Bay, Swansea, Wales, 10 Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, Mexico. The top 10 beaches in Europe were: 1 Rabbit Beach, Lampedusa, Italy, 2 Playa de ses Illetes, Formentera, Spain, 3 Rhossili Bay, Gower, Wales, 4 Playa de las Catedrales, Ribadeo, Spain, 5 Elafonissi Beach, Elafonissi, Greece, 6 Cala Mariolu, Baunei, Italy, 7 Woolacombe Beach, Woolacombe, United Kingdom, 8 Iztuzu Beach, Dalyan, Turkey, 9 Porthminster Beach, St Ives, United Kingdom, 10 La Concha Beach, Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain.

venice sailoutLarger cruise ships will get the chance to visit Venice after all. Since January the Italian government reduced by 20pc the number of cruise ships over 40,000 tons visiting Venice due to fears they were damaging the World Heritage-listed city. It was also planning to ban all ships over 96,000 tons from Venice altogether from November. A regional court in Veneto has suspended the law, ruling that the risks posed by the cruise ships have not been proven. The suspension will last until June, when the issue will be re-examined. Venice is working on plans to open a new shipping route into the city which will avoid cruise liners from sailing along its ancient canals, but these have not yet been approved. Listen here to Jo Rzymowska discussion the Venice issue in relation to Celebrity Cruises.

visit england groupPicture shows the press group who visited Manchester, the Kiplingcotes Derby, Hull and the East Yorkshire Dales, organised by VisitEngland and Yorkshire Tourist Board:  Nicola Brady, Marisa Mackle and Siofra Tobin-Larkin with Anthony Yates, tourism manager at Visit Hull & East Yorkshire.

  • The Canary Islands are turning in some astonishing figures for growth from the Irish market in 2013. Our most popular destination island, Lanzarote clocked 202,760 (more the Greece and Turkey put together), up from 174,321, while Gran Canaria recorded 79.106 Irish. Last week Tenerife reported 72,419 Irish holidaymakers in 2013, up 5.5pc compared to 2012 (68,671 people). Gran Canaria’s total tourism is 2,994,608 and Lanzarote 2,170.128.
  • Following weeks of sunny, spring skiing heavy snow is set to return to ski resorts in Europe. Snowy weather should continue across most of North America. Heavy snow is predicted for this weekend in Austria, particularly in St Anton. Espace Killy and the Three Valleys in France are expecting consistent snowfall this week after a warm and sunny spell across the Alps. In Switzerland, best conditions are on offer on the upper slopes at most resorts. Heavy snow hit many resorts in the USA with Big Sky, Montana getting over 60cm on Wednesday while, on the east coast, Sunday River and Attitash got 30cm the next day. Whistler is enjoying its best spell of the winter with new snow each day this week. Growing support was reported for the ski firm who offered to pay term-time holiday fines for its English customers. A revolution? Nah.
  • WTTC says Travel & Tourism in Ireland will grow 6.1pc during 2014. In 2013 in Ireland, the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was €14.7bn, (9.0pc of GDP), the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment, including jobs indirectly supported by the sector was 169,974 jobs (9.1pc of total employment), travel & Tourism investment was €4.6bn, or 29.7pc of total investment. It is projected to rise by 1.9pc in 2014.

NI Travel News#4NI Travel News directors Jonathan Adair and Brian Ogle launched their new telephone app to enable each month’s issue to be downloaded. The monthly newspaper first launched in 1990. Picture shows Jonathan Adair of NI Travel News, Diane Poole of Stena Line, Peter McMinn of Travel Solutions, and in front: Brian Ogle of NI Travel News, Ciaran Mulligan of, and Brenda Morgan of British Airways.

mike webster H&S

  • Mike Webster launched a new global car rental venture, Mobacar and said it will be making customer deal announcements in the coming weeks. “Our brand has been providing seriously good car rental prices to 1.5m customers globally since 1997. Our new Swiftfleet product is gaining traction with the world’s leading players in online travel. We operate in a market that is in need of serious innovation and we are primed to take advantage of that on a global scale.”
  • Bangkok lifted the state of emergencyto the relief of tour operators who experienced some cancellations during a period of mass street protests. The Thai Government decided to revoke the emergency decree, which had given security forces greater power, after the Department of Special Investigation said the risk had ‘significantly decreased’Joanna Cooke’s blog continues to stress that visitors to Thailand are unaffected.
  • brian stack H&SBrian Stack, managing director, CIE Tours International was one of the eight people inducted into the 2014 Irish America Hall of Fame in the Metropolitan Club Manhattan on March 13th. Brian Stack has led CIE Tours since 1990 having previously worked with the Irish Tourist Board in New York. He was chairman of the United States Tour Operators’ Association, President of the Society of Incentive Travel Executives and vice chairman of the Irish American Cultural Institute. Other inductees included Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Chris Matthew, the host of Hardball, and Bill O’Reilly of the The O’Reilly Factor, America’s most watched broadcaster.
  • MSC new ship rendering 001MSC Cruises has signed a letter of intent with Saint Nazaire ship yard to build two new ships for launch in 2017 and 2019, the biggest cruise ships yet built by a European ship owner They are 315 metres long and 43 metres wide, 167,600 tons, with 2,250 cabins for guests and 820 crew cabins, accommodating 5,700 passengers and 1,536 crew members.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line launched a new specialty dining & drinks package promotion in Ireland. Norwegians wine and dine on the house, which allows guests to experience dining choices on board for free. Guests booking a Balcony Stateroom or higher on board Norwegian’s newest ships, Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Breakaway, will be treated to a complimentary Ultimate Dining Package including selected specialty dining every night during a seven-night cruise.
  • Cruise regulations put Svalbard off-limits as Norwegian authorities told cruise firms to switch to lighter, more expensive fuel or change their itineraries.
  • Brittany ferries pont avenBrittany Ferries’ Pont Aven (pictured)  began its new season sailings yesterday March 22 and will sail weekly from Cork to Roscoff every Saturday until November 1. The company says bookings from France are up 15pc for 2014, and highlights the new treatments available in the on-board spa.
  • Passengers who fell ill while travelling aboard the Fred Olsen cruise liner, the Boudicca, on nine trips between October 2009 and May 2010 won a £280,000 settlement. The cruise operator said the illness was the result of norovirus outbreak and denies liability.
  • Silversea’s third expedition ship, Silver Discoverer, will be launched this April.
  • hospitality and event specialists won an award for excellence in service from The World – Residences at Sea for supporting The World’s staff during its 10-day call to Ireland in 2013.
  • NYC & Co  Fred Dixon 3-14-14 © Julienne SchaerFred Dixon (pictured) has been confirmed as the new CEO & President of NYC & Company, The appointment by the new mayor Bill de Blasio is normally a political one, but Fred who has been filling the role since George Fertitta resigned on January 1, has been confirmed in the post.
  • Castel Gandolfo, the traditional papal summer residence, opened to the public.
  • Why are children climbing Everest? It was asked.
  • Work to complete a new museum next to the pyramids in Egypt is being continued.
  • The Czech centre in London is moving to new address from March 26: 116 Long Acre, London WC2E .
  • Indonesia is to develop over 500 tourism villages.
  • frank mccaffrey h&SFrank McCaffrey (pictured) has been appointed Sales Manager at, he was previously with SAS Scandinavian Airlines and Justsplit.
  • A rail tour operator launched a 53-day, €26,300 round-the-world itinerary, taking in cities as diverse as New York and Ulaanbaatar.
  • A tour company offered a politically-themed group trip to Ukraine next month.
  • Gelsenkirchen (50km from Dusseldorf airport, 80km from Weeze, and 100km from Cologne/Bonn), the stadium which was the scene of the Wim Kieft offside-goal disaster at Euro 1988, will host the Germany-Ireland Euro qualifier in soccer on October 14.
  • radka linn h&sRadka Lynn’s (pictured) Balkan Tours has discontinued its summer sun holiday programme to Golden Sands and Sunny Beach in Bulgaria after 30 years, but will continue its winter programme of ski holidays to Bulgaria and Romania. The programme ran from both Belfast and Dublin but has been run from Belfast only since 2009.
  • Tour operator Sunvil selected Amadeus as its global distribution system provider.
  • Business Travel Coalition said airlines were creating public-policy and cost issues for managed travel programmes as they reformulated their loyalty programs to reward spend rather than distance.
  • A poll found three-quarters of English people could not find Greece on a map.
  • Bannockburn is to be re-enacted on June 29 to mark its 700th anniversary, complete with cavalry, 12ft pikes and hand-to-hand combat.
  • Dozens of couples took part in the seventh English wife-carrying contest in the Surrey town of Dorking.
  • Dublin airport reported passenger numbers were up 8pc in February to just under 1.3m. The 2014 figures for the first two months are up 9pc on 2013.
  • Etihad upped their percentage shares in Aer Lingus to 4.1pc. Etihad’s stake in Aer Lingus now stands at a little under €37m. Last year, Etihad secured approval from US regulators to codeshare on Aer Lingus transatlantic flights. It bought its initial 2.987pc stake in Aer Lingus in 2012. John Mulligan commented there was no chance of Etihad taking over Aer Lingus under current rules. Etihad’s chief financial officer,  James Rigney, recently commented that the airline has already made its money back from its initial investment in Aer Lingus.
  • JetBlue CEO Dave Barger said the airline is looking at deepening its ties with Aer Lingus. He said that a transatlantic service from Jetblue is likely, but not within the next three years.
  • Kent’s Manston airport is to close (it once had a service from Dublin)
  • Ryanair received a BBB+ rating (modified from a-) from Standard & Poor’s making it the highest rated airline in the world. Ryanair plans a €500m bond issue in summer.
  • Etihad will unveil a new livery and corporate image later this year. The first aircraft to get the new colours and interior products will be the Gulf carrier’s first B787 in October, followed by its first A380 in December. Interiors of both new aircraft are likely to be unveiled at the Arabian Travel Mart in Dubai in May.
  • Cork airport will see more flights to Faro than Malaga this summer. The Ryanair service to Faro is increased from 3W to 5W flying on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays (double daily), Sundays. Lanzarote has increased from 1W to 3W, Liverpool from 5W to 6W, Reus from 3W to 4W and Wroclaw from 2PW to 3PW – Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays.
  • The Mercer Street, Dublin based leasing firm Amedeo.  which last month ordered 20 A380s worth $8.3bn, says it “is pushing Airbus very hard” to get 11-abreast in the A380 “to add 35 to 40 seats.’ In recent months Airbus raised the cabin sfloor by two inches in the latest A380′s widest section, to increase interior width. Emirates was mulling high-density economy class versions of the A380. Boeing says airlines are opting for the cheaper-to-operate B777-300ER over the A380, and forthcoming B777X, which can accommodate roughly the same number of passengers. Airbus wants to honour its pledge to offer 18-inch wide seats, which would give it a competitive edge over Boeing’s 777-300ER. Airbus will reveal the new 11-abreast A380 cabin mock-up at next month’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg.
  • South African Airways launched a travel trade website.
  • US Airways will exit Star Alliance on March 30 to join Oneworld in the next step in their merger with American Airlines.
  • Ryanair BratislavaRyanair celebrated 6,666,666 passengers at Bratislava Airport, since it started serving the airport in October 2005.
  • Sun Express, jointly owned by Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines, is considering a Dublin-Antalya year-round service to replace the seasonal service discontinued by Thomas Cook.
  • Hamilton Island, the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, is set to welcome the return of a direct Qantas service from Sydney,
  • AirBaltic and Etihad Airways expanded their codeshare.
  • The FAA declared the Boeing Dreamliner safe to fly.
  • Belfast fights are unaffected by the George Osborne decision to lower tax on airline travellers in 2015 as it only applies to long-haul flights and United’s Belfast service is not subject to APD. England’s Air Passenger Duty has risen 470pc in seven years.
  • Reports in the German aviation media suggest that Etihad Airways would like to see Air Berlin split into two separate divisions, one handling the tourism business, and the other concentrating solely on feeder routes to Etihad’s hub at Abu Dhabi. Air Berlin’s annual press conference was cancelled at short notice. Etihad own 30pc of Air Berlin.
  • And an era ends: Michael Cawley left Ryanair on Friday. Cawley joined Ryanair in 1997 as Chief Financial Officer and Commercial Director. Cawley did the bulk of the negotiations at airports across east and west Europe. His catchphrase: “you have to be brave to do business with Ryanair.” Listen here to his explanation of Ryanair’s Business model and listen here to his comparison between Ryanair and other low cost carriers.
  • shane mac thomaisTributes are pouring in for Shane Mac Thomáis, historian and curator of Glasnevin Cemetery Museum who died tragically on Thursday. Shane was instrumental in establishing the cemetery tour at the heart of Dublin’s tourism culture and provided a memorable day out for international and local tourists alike. Travel Extra extends our sympathy to his family, a close friendship that has endured through generations.
  • IRELAND IS ALL ‘TEE’D UP’ FOR GOLF TOURISM FROM BRITAINRachel Meehan (5th left) and David Boyce (8th left) of Tourism Ireland hosted golf writers at Tourism Ireland’s golf media day for English writers in Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire.
  • The film Calvary will be released next month and is likely to propel Easkey, Co Sligo, to prominence.
  • The Restaurants Association of Ireland, in conjunction with from An Post is in the process of selecting Ireland’s premier Foodie Town’
  • See more pictures here of the greening of icons round the world on St Patrick’s Day or connect with the album on Facebook.
  • Portstewart Songwriters Festival takes place Friday, March 28 to Sunday, March 30,
  • The EPA says 7m trees were lost in the January storms
  • Dalata raised €265m in a listing on the Irish and London stock markets. Dalata is now looking at acquiring 16-25 more hotels.
  • US businessman John Malone, reputed to be the largest land owner in the US, acquired the Dublin Hilton hotel at Charlemont Place for €30m.
  • City North Hotel in Gormanstown is among the properties to be sold by NAMA this year.
  • Responsible Tourism Conference 2014 AwardsThe Westport Woods Hotel was rated Ireland’s leading Green Hotel, as verified by The Green Hospitality Programme, which were announced at the ‘Responsible Tourism Conference’ in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Golden Lane in Dublin. It was followed by 2 River Lee Hotel, Cork City, 3 Garryvoe Hotel, Cork, 4 Bewley’s Hotel, Dublin Airport, 5. Radisson Blu Hotel, Galway City, 6 Castle Court Hotel, Wesport, 7 Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise, 8. Carlton Hotel, Dublin Airport, 9 Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin City, 10 Maritime Hotel, Bantry. James Hogan of The Green Hospitality Programme said “Green hospitality has saved our members €35,000 / annum on average, through ‘no cost’ and ‘low cost’ measures. Reducing ones environmental footprint, by reducing waste is good for business and the environment” Picture shows Maurice Bergin of Green Hospitality, Michael Lennon of General Manager, Westport Woods Hotel Cork and James Hogan of Green Hospitality. See
  • say London was the top destination for Irish holidaymakers in 2013, followed by 2 New York; 3 Paris; 4 Berlin; 5 Rome; 6 Barcelona; 7 Amsterdam; 8 Las Vegas; 9 Liverpool; 10 Edinburgh; 11 Orlando; 12 Manchester; 13 San Francisco; 14 Dubai; 15 Lanzarote; 16 Albufeira; 17 Tenerife; 18 Brussels; 19 Boston; 20 Madrid.
  • ballygally-castle-hotelBallygally Castle will officially re-open on Sunday April 6 after a €3.5m refurbishments. See details of the refurb on a dedicated website.
  • Room letting website Airbnb plans to be the world’s biggest hotelier this year as it enters in fundraising talks that value the company at $10bn.
  • DoubleTree by Hilton opened in Edinburgh.
  • HRS say they have managed to negotiate an average 30pc discount for corporates via their new ‘Business Tariff’ product.

Skal Dublin club 2014 Council

  • Group pictured at the Skal AGM including president Margaret Cronin of Cronin Coaches, Vice President Daragh O’Neill of GM Stillorgan Park Hotel, Hon Sec: Michael Byrne, Hon Treasurer Kathryn Johnston and International Councillor Douglas Jordan.
  • rebecca lorenzo Rebecca Kelly of MSC organized a farewell party for Lorenzo Diamantini (pictured) who has been promoted to the Geneva office of the cruise company.
  • The London Telegraph reported on the damage to Syria‘s tourism industry, and how it could be five years before visitors can return. Separate pieces gave a guide to forthcoming astronomical events, a guide to 20 eye-catching underground stations., St Patrick’s Day around the world, Europe’s best historic cafes and 10 of the biggest aviation mysteries.
  • The deadline was extended until March 31 for businesses in the UK and Ireland to enter the Cathay Pacific China Business Awards 2014, in association with HSBC.
  • The Irish Embassy in London will host a reception on April 1 to celebrate Limerick City of Culture 2014. Five events of international appeal have been identified by the organisers.
  • matt corcoran H&SMatt Corcoran (pictured) and his team at King Travel are celebrating 25 years in business this month.
  • Earth’s Edge are to host a Mount Kilimanjaro Expedition talk in Landers Outdoor World, Tralee, Co. Kerry on Thursday, March 27th 7pm. Click here to register.
  • Wendy Wu Tours roadshow is coming to Belfast on April 15th.
  • The e-Travel Cruise Show takes place on Sunday April 6th at the Red Cow Morans Hotel, Naas Road, Dublin 22, 12-5pm.
  • Oman Tourism will host Irish travel agents at a film screening with prizes on Tuesday April 29th at Brooks Hotel, 59-63 Drury Street, Dublin 2, 6pm – 9.30pm.
  • Innstant Travel continues to offer agents the chance to win One4all vouchers until March 31.
  • Topflight‘s 3 Day Italian Sale from 24th to 26th March –Save up to €360 per couple
  • Irish Ferries announced a discounted motorist fare to France, starting from €89 each way for a car and 2 people, on sailings up to April 30.
  • Stena Line is offering a free half-board upgrade for Pontins self-catering holidays to Britain until Monday March 31st.

Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Ryanair join GDS from Weds Next, Egypt flights suspended & Aer Lingus’s Unhappy Friday

This week:

  • DFA advises against all travel to Egypt, Sharm programme cancelled for rest of season.
  • No strike: But Aer Lingus €5m out of pocket
  • Travelport Ryanair GDS deal means agents will sell Ryanair inventory from Wednesday next but, crucially, NOT their cheapest fares.
  • Thailand expects more growth from the Irish market.
  • Tiarnas of tourism converge in the House of Lords

April 2014 cover 300The latest issue of Travel Extra will be in agencies and other outlets this week. It features a ten page summer cruise supplement, previewing the 2014 summer season after a very interesting year in the industry, which saw the first major reconfiguration of market share in the Irish market for 15 years. There are reports from the major events and conferences over the last month including ITB, BIT Milan, and the IHF conference, a preview of the pick of the 28 new routes launching from Ireland in April, comment from industry leaders Clem Walshe and Karl Tyrrell on the OHG collapse, the Travelport-Ryanair deal, Don Shearer’s holiday choice, and much more. There is also a review of the world’s highest bungee swing: “it is not pride that comes before a fall, but sheer unadulterated terror.”

Somewhat unexpectedly, to say the least, the DFA followed the lead of Germany in evacuating Irish tourists out of Sharm el Sheikh after an updated travel advisory at Wednesday lunchtime: Due to an increased risk of civil unrest and a heightened threat of terrorist incidents, Irish citizens are advised to avoid all non-essential travel to Egypt at this time including Sharm El-Sheikh and the rest of the Sinai.

The advisory allows travel to the Red Sea costal resort of Hurghada and other Red Sea resorts outside the Sinai peninsula, where Irish citizens are advised to arrive and depart by air and to strictly avoid travelling outside the resort and Luxor and Aswan (including cruises between them) where Irish citizens are advised to exercise caution and arrive and depart by air. Which is all very frustrating when the only flights got to Sharm.

It led to a fervent evening for Falcon Holidays and Thomas Cook who share a Thursday morning Thomsonfly charter which returned full but left a lot of unhappy would-be outbound holiday makers whose holiday was abruptly cancelled.

The Westminster government still excepts Sharm from its “don’t go” advisory but the flight programme from Belfast is summer-only. It was claimed that Giza‘s horses are facing starvation due to a downturn in tourism at Egypt’s pyramids.

Travelport Ryanair DSC_4454According to Travelport, the Merchandising Platform launched in Powerscourt last April was the deal-clincher behind Ryanair’s re-entry to GDS. The partnership, announced at the Hospital Club, Covent Garden on Tuesday last March 10, is exclusive to Travelport until October. The interface has already been alpha and beta tested (in advance of the announcement) and means that Travelport will load almost all the Ryanair inventory (but not, crucially, their very cheapest promotional fares which are among three classes of fares held back) to Galileo on Wednesday next and on Worldspan in the coming weeks. Within a few months the Ryanair inventory would be on Travelport’s own universal api servers. There will be no point of sale fee. Picture shows Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs and Travelport’s Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, Kurt Ekert, making the announcement.

sinead reilly h&sSinéad Reilly (pictured), who heads up Travelport in Ireland said “This is great news for the travel agency community in Ireland, the low cost carrier domination was the source of difficulty and this has overcome that difficulty. It is bringing value back in the travel agent ability to add value for the consumer. This is a hugely important partnership for travel agencies in Ireland, and we are delighted to be providing them with fares and ancillaries from one of the highest profile low cost carriers in the world and a very important one here in Ireland. Ryanair has fully embraced what we can uniquely offer through our industry-leading technology and we look forward to working exclusively with the Ryanair team over the coming months to help them reach new travellers whilst providing more in-demand, low cost air content to our Irish travel agency and tour operator customers.” The ITAA responded they were “delighted with the announcement that Ryanair and Travelport will be working in partnership. The move will make it easier for our travel agents to book air fares efficiently. This will be particularly of use for business travel. Anything that allows us to offer better value, security and choice to Irish consumers will always be met with open arms.” Charlie Taylor commented the deal would help Ryanair double the number of business passengers it currently has. 

TAOISEACH ATTENDS TOURISM EVENT IN HOUSE OF COMMONS, KICKING OFFOf the three politicians who spoke at the CHAMP event in London’s House of Lords, guess which one got the name of the event wrong? Not once, mind you, but four times. Yes, the Taoiseach. Enda Kenny kept calling the event “Champs” like it was a wine bar (listen here), while Theresa Viliers the Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (listen here) and Ed Milliband, leader of the Labour Party (listen here), both called it correctly. The event is in its 11th year, a warmly cross-party occasion organised by James Winston, Judith Cassidy to Tourism Ireland and hosted graciously by former Labour politician Alfred Dubs (listen here). Niall Gibbons spoke of the importance of the event (listen here) and introduced the speakers. Irish ambassador to London Dan Mulhall was there for his first St Patrick’s day in London. Ed Milliband paid tribute to Paul Goggins who died earlier this year. Ivan Lewis, shadow Northern Ireland secretary was also present. Picture shows Brian Ambrose, Chairman of Tourism Ireland; Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland; Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Ed Miliband, Leader of the British Labour Party, with the “greened” London Eye in the background. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

St Patrick’s weekend sees a record number of icons turn green around the world. The list was only completed this weekend (asterisk marks a new greening) and goes:

  • Argentina: El Monumento a la Carta Magna y las Cuatro Regiones Argentinas (commonly referred to as the ‘Spanish Monument’), Buenos Aires,* Galileo Galilei Planetarium, Buenos Aires,*
  • Australia: Sydney Opera House, Old Parliament House, Canberra,* State Library of New South Wales, Sydney,* AFL match, Sydney (stadium, big screen, exit lighting and fireworks),* Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney, Pitt Street Mall (pedestrianised shopping street), Sydney,* Council House, Perth
  • Austria: Burgtheater (City Hall), Vienna, Kaprun Castle, Zell-am-See region,* Skiwelt Söll (ski resort),* Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel (or Wiener Riesenrad) in the Prater Amusement Park*
  • Belgium: Brussels Grand Place* including Brussels Town Hall, Manneken Pis statue, Belgium (“dressed” in Irish costume)
  • Brazil: Christ the Redeemer statue,
  • Canada: Whistler, Canada’s famous ski resort in British Columbia,* City Hall, Toronto, City Hall, Montreal,* Cabot Tower on Signal Hill, St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador,* Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, “Tower of Hope” atop the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg*
  • China: The Great Wall of China* Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower, Shanghai, Canton Tower, Guangzhou
  • Czech Republic: Petřín Lookout Tower, Prague,* City Hall Viewing Tower, Ostrava*
  • Denmark: Little Mermaid, Copenhagen
  • Egypt: The Great Pyramid of Giza and the Sphinx (pictured),
  • England: London Eye, HMS Belfast, London, Selfridges, London, Selfridges, Birmingham, Selfridges, Manchester,* Manchester Town Hall.
  • France: Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland® Paris,* Euronext Paris (formerly the Paris Bourse),* Moulin Rouge, Paris. Irish Embassy, Paris*.Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), Lorient*
  • Germany: TV tower in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, Allianz Arena, Munich, BMW Welt, Munich,* Amerika Haus, Munich,* Odeonsplatz in central Munich, ‘Lighthouse’ building in Düsseldorf, Neumünster church (built over the tomb of St Kilian), Würzburg, Town Hall, Würzburg, Olympic Tower in the Olympic Park, Munich,* Town Hall, Hannover,* Aer Lingus check-in desks at Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg and Munich Airports,* AVIAREPS building, Frankfurt,* Irish pubs network
  • India: Taj Mahal Palace hotel tower wing, Mumbai, India*
  • Italy: Leaning Tower of Pisa, Porta San Giacomo, Bergamo (the imposing entrance to the Città Alta)* Fountain of Piazza dei Martiri, Reggio Emilia* Virgin Active fitness centres in Milan will green their spinning classes*THE TREASURY IN THE ANCIENT CITY OF PETRA, JORDAN, JOIN TOURISM
  • Jordan: The Treasury in the ancient city of Petra (pictured),*
  • Luxembourg: Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), Place Guillaume II, Luxembourg city*
  • Malta: Porte des Bombes, Valletta*
  • Mexico: El Ángel de la Independencia, Mexico City*
  • Monaco: Prince’s Palace
  • Netherlands: Evoluon Eindhoven* Splendor (music centre), Amsterdam*
  • New Zealand: Sky Tower, Auckland,
  • Norway: Holmenkollen ski jump, Oslo*
  • Portugal: Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães, Caiscais*
  • Pudong Shangri-La Hotel old and new towers, Shanghai*
  • Saudi Arabia: Kingdom Tower*
  • Scotland: Clyde Auditorium, affectionately known as the ‘Armadillo’ (SECC), Glasgow, The SSE Hydro, Glasgow,* Glasgow Prestwick Airport*
  • Slovakia: Radisson Blu Carlton Hotel, Bratislava*
  • Slovenia: Ljubljana Castle,* Triple Bridge, Ljubljana (three bridges across the Ljubljanica River)*
  • South Africa: Table Mountain, Cape Town,
  • South Korea: N Seoul Tower, South Korea*
  • Spain: Cibeles Fountain and Palace, Madrid, Palacio de Communiaciones, Madrid, Tower of Hércules, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Galicia, Town Hall, SalamancaTHE ICECONCERT HALL IN LULEÅ (SWEDISH LAPLAND) JOINS TOURISM IR
  • Sweden: Ice Concert Hall in Lulea (pictured)
  • Switzerland: Rhine Falls, Neuhausen near Zurich (one of the highest waterfalls in Europe, pictured)*
  • United States: Niagara Falls (on both the Canadian and US sides), ‘Welcome’ sign, Las Vegas, Empire State Building, New York, City Hall, San Francisco, Massachusetts State House, Boston, City Hall, Savannah,* Lick Observatory, San Jose, California,* Downtown Disney, Orlando,* Chicago River, Chicago MYSTERY GREENING,* Chicago “Taking it to the Streets”, Congress Parkway,* State Street,*, Chicago “Tall Buildings and Chicago Icons”, 311 South Wacker Drive “White Castle Building” (65-storey skyscraper),* Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower,* Chicago Board of Trade,* Millennium Park /Jay Pritzker Pavilion,* Soldier Field stadium (home to the famous Chicago Bears team),* Trump International Hotel & Tower,* Wrigley Building,* Chicago “Eating Green Around the City”, Chicago “Broadway in Chicago Goes Green”, Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University,* Bank of America Theatre,* Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place,* Cadillac Palace Theatre,* Oriental Theatre,* Chicago “Northside Goes Green, State Bank of Countryside*. Four iconic skyscrapers in Philadelphia, including Cira Center (29-storey skyscraper in west Philadelphia), One Liberty Place (61-storey skyscraper) and Two Liberty Place (58-storey skyscraper), BNY Mellon Center (54-storey skyscraper). See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Dublin Airport goes green for St Patrick's weekend Mar 14-17 2014More than two million people are expected to take to Irish streets for St Patrick’s Day celebrations over the next three days. One that won’t be turning up for St Patrick’s Day: the great white shark which has turned away and is heading in the direction of Greenland. Bar 54 at Hyatt Times Square has created a new cocktail for St Patrick’s Day. Dublin airport also went green. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

flanders group 002

Travel Extra journalist and historian Ida Milne was in her element on the Aer Lingus/Visit Flanders press trip to Ghent and Ieper (we’re going with the Flemish spelling for Ypres now, the English WW1 soldiers called it Wipers). ‘Visiting the battlefields of Flanders is very much a living history experience. Farmers are still finding mustard gas cannisters and shells in the fields when they plough, and we got to see some of them. So even 100 years on, the war is still having a traumatic impact on local people’ New attractions are being developed. Milne says the newly refurbished Yser Tower in Diksmuide particularly interesting – visitors to the 22-floor museum can smell the chloral and mustard gas, feel the fear of soldiers in the Death Trench. There is a Peace Village hostel linked to the Irish Peace Tower, The hostel was originally intended as a place where young Irish people would get together to explore their common heritage in the war. Now it’s open to all. Picture shows the group of Irish journalists who visited the Flanders battlefields in advance of the centenary of the outbreak of WW1: Sheena Davitt of the Daily Mail, Clodagh Finn of the Examiner, Ida Milne of Travel Extra, Anita Rampall of Visit Flanders, and Ronan McGreevy of the Irish TImes at Caterpillar crater, on Hill 60, which shows the impact of the war on the landscape.

panel discussion

The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s European director Tanes Petsuwan said he expected further growth from the Irish market in 2015 after visitors from Ireland climbed 4.34pc to 62,924 in 2013, already signalled by an 18.65pc increase in arrivals from Ireland to 6,592 this year. (listen here). Picture shows Joanna Cooke chairing the Thailand panel discussion with Tony Collins of Topflight, Brendan Barry of Discover Travel and Eoghan Corry of Travel Extra (listen here) treated subjects such as the performance of the Irish market, Topflight’s new dedicated Thailand brochure, the availability of xml rates designed for other markets (such as India) to Irish consumers and the ongoing protests in Bangkok and their impact on Irish tourism. Picture shows Karen Maloney of Etihad and Jackie Herssons of Travelmood at the event. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

fain donald sheehan

Cruise Shipping Miami coincided with Spring Break, which led to an odd mix of party-goers on South Beach. The impressive turnout of cruise line CEOs addressed the big topics facing the industry, principally the strict air pollution standards that go into effect in 2015. CLIA CEO Christine Duffy said 21.7 million global passengers will cruise this year up from 21.3 million in 2013. To meet the growing demand for cruising, 24 new ships will launch by the end of 2015. Chief executives of Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises were on stage together to size up the state of the global cruise industry Tuesday morning and gave a calmer-seas outlook. Kevin Sheehan (pictured on right), president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, said: “we deserve a higher price, I think we’re poised for that right now.” Arnold Donald (pictured centre), new CEO of Carnival said that cruising is “more cost effective than visiting your relatives, and depending on your relatives, we’re a lot more fun.” Richard Fain (pictured on left) CEO of Royal Caribbean described the past few years as an anomoly. “The reason that’s so noteworthy is that it was so unusual because as an industry, over its history, the industry has had such strong growth and good performance.” Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises said it’s important to push aside the old cruising image and create a more modern one. Consumers still wonder “what am I going to do onboard or if they have to wear a black tie.” There are almost 900 exhibiting companies and the organisers expect about 15,000 people to attend the four-day event filling all four halls of the city’s Convention Centre, including the world’s largest shipbuilders, 400 destinations, information technology providers, ship equipment suppliers and entertainment companies, a far cry from the 150 people in a hotel room 30 years ago. New this year is an interactive Food and Beverage Pavilion focusing on the latest in shipboard culinary trends, products and equipment. Other industry sectors include ship design and refurbishment, ship services and hotel operations. Minister Leo Varadkar led a small but active Irish delegation at the event. Leo’s verdict: “It was interesting and an education. I went to the state of industry session and met all the senior executives. There is definitely lots of scope to grow cruise tourism in Ireland and we have many advantages but it is a tough business and it is important that we go into it with our eyes open and are cautious about any investments.”ann marie dalton group

Dermot Merrigan of Irish Ferries won best golfer with a score of 44 points at the first TIGS outing of the season sponsored by Amadeus at impressive links (Par 71) course at St Anne’s Golf Club on Dublin’s Bull island. Best lady golfer went to Audrey Headon of World Travel Centre with a score of 34 points. Best team winners were Dermot Merrigan of Irish Ferries, Seamus McConville of Irish Ferries and Brendan Moran. TecSupport sponsored some prizes on the day. Picture shows Anne Marie Dalton of Turkish Airlines with Audrey Headon of World Travel Centre and Gillian Lowry at the opening TIGS event of the season in St Anne’s Golf Club sponsored by Amadeus. If you are interested in joining TIGS check out their website for more information. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.KIRCHBERG

Topflight took their top ski agents to St Johann and Kirchberg, where agents were presented with their Top Agent Ski Award at 1900 metres on the Kitzbuhel Alps. Picture shows Mark Clifford of O’Hanrahan Travel, Graham Hennessy of Topflight, Brenda Ryan of Cassidy Travel, Don Shearer of Worldchoice, Bernie O’Callaghan of Barters and Michael Bowe of Bowe Travel at the presentation of the Topflight Top Agent Ski Award at 1900 metres on the Kitzbuhel Alps. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Spring arrived in the Alps affecting snow conditions in some resorts. The further south you go the lower the temperature is. You can expect softer snow conditions in the Alps than the Pyrenees. Sierra Nevada in the south of Spain had the lowest temperatures of all European resorts on Thursday. Western areas of Canada received light snow on Thursday while over in eastern America there was up to 60cm of fresh snow in Killington, Sugarbush and Sunday River. All the European markets are seeing some of the best spring ski deals for a decade thanks to sun at home, snow in the Alps and a late Easter. An English based ski company has offered to pay any fine incurred by parents booking a holiday during term time. The number of parents fined for taking their children out of school for a holiday rose by more than 70 per cent last year in England, after the Westminster Government hardened its stance on the issue.

john grehanJustsunshine put its Tunisia programme on sale, using a weekly Tunis Air charter service to Monastir from June 21 to September 27. Within two hours of sending out log on credentials to Irish agents for the new website this morning, the first booking was completed online by Gemma Duffy, Manager of Best4Travel in Navan. John Grehan (pictured), who heads up the Irish operation says: “the feedback in general from the Irish travel agents has been hugely positive, probably because the site is so uncomplicated and packed with relevant information for the agent and their customers. Admittedly we are a little later than expected getting the product to market, but I was determined to make sure we had the right flight day and timings. We now have the best flights and all the well known hotels in Tunisia”. Owned by The El Mouradi hotel group, Just Sunshine feature more than their own properties to ensure there is a terrific mix of accommodation with “The Classic” Tunisia 1 week touring holiday on sale for selected dates throughout the season. The brochure will be distributed by the end of the month.

The Sunway Nouvelair service to Enfidha moves from a Saturday to Friday flight. Flights begin April 11 and continue until October 31.

Hotel prices in Dublin have increased by up to 86pc this St Patrick’s Day, according to the Trivago Hotel Price Index reported monthly by hotel comparison website Prices are also up in Limerick, Kilkenny, Galway, Waterford and Cork but, interestingly, most are down on this time last year. Elsewhere in Europe, hotel prices have increased for the spring season. Based on the 50 most popular European cities on Trivago, one night in March will cost an average of €109. This is an 8pc increased from the February monthly average of €101 per night. Compared to last month, the most significant increases can be found in Rome (up 28pc to an average of €122 per night), Istanbul (up 27pc to €109), Geneva (up 25pc to €277) and Florence (up 22pc to €117). The Irish price list for March goes:

  • Belfast €94, +1pc on last month +2pc on last year
  • Cork €90, +7pc on last month -5pc on last year
  • Derry €81, +1pc on last month -5pc on last year
  • Donegal €125 -4pc on last month +13pc on last year
  • Dublin €113 +14pc on last month -7pc on last year
  • Galway €86, +5pc on last month -12pc on last year
  • Kilkenny €89 -2pc on last month -4pc on last year
  • Killarney €91, +1pc on last month -8pc on last year
  • Limerick €75, +1pc on last month -5pc on last year
  • Sligo €84, +2pc on last month -9pc on last year
  • Tralee €81 -1pc on last month -9pc on last year
  • Waterford €79 -2pc on last month -7pc on last year
  • Average €91, +2pc on last month -2pc on last year

PwC said the average daily room rate for Dublin was €89 last year, putting it in 14th place among the cities surveyed. Dublin’s occupancy levels are 4th in Europe. Occupancy has passed pre-recession levels to 79pc, up from 67pc in 2008. They predicted they would rise again this year to 80pc and that rates will increase 5.2pc this year to €94, and 3.8pc next year to €96. Revenue per available room (which rose 11pc last year) will increase 5.2pc this year, and 3.8pc next year.

ireland inspiresVideo of the week is the Ireland Inspires feelgood video produced by BigO Media for Fáilte Ireland (watch here) was uploaded on Tuesday and is heading towards 1m hits. Check out the cool animation of the monk jumping on to a manuscript page. It will be shown at embassy events around the world over St Patrick’s weekend. The song is Steve Winwood’s Higher Love, as reworked by James Vincent McMorrow. There was no mention of Rory Gallagher, Van Morrison or Thin Lizzy in the list of Irish music stars, I hear you cry. (Question: Which leading Irish travel trade personality played support to both Rory Gallagher and Thin Lizzy at Cork Opera House?). The timelapse techies are at work again this week, with intriguing timelapse takes of plane-filled skies by NATS and of the winter storm Vulcan.

dermot o'loughlinThe four-hour Friday-morning stoppage, scheduled by SIPTU, did not take place after Justice Paul Gilligan granted an injunction to the Dublin Airport Authority, but the threat of doing so still left Aer Lingus over €5m out of pocket. Aer Lingus sued for damages on Friday, accusing SIPTU of inducing a breach of contract between them and their customers and damages inflicted by unlawful means. Unusually it also took individual action against SIPTU official Dermot O’Loughlin (pictured).

SIPTU said it would fully oppose the Aer Lingus action. “We will be consulting with our legal advisers over the next number of days and we will be vigorously resisting this action in the courts.” The pursuit of Dermot O’Loughlin is unusual (although not unprecedented) in trade union relations, raising interesting questions for David Begg (member of the Aer Lingus board) and the Labour cabinet members who control 25pc of the Aer Lingus. Coming just as the Government is committed to new legislation guaranteeing the right to collective bargaining (ironically relting from the Supreme Court case involving Ryanair) the timing of Aer Lingus threat is sensitive for Government unions and even for IBEC. Listen here to Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry speaking in advance of the dispute on RTÉ Radio.

The Liveline programme treated the Onholiday group collapse (listen here) with customers who faced demands for payment by hoteliers, including a woman who paid €1,048 for her holiday with Lastcheck. The main bedbanks in the Irish market reacted to coverage of the OHG failure by emphasising their integrity and financial stability in comparison. karl tyrrell h&sKarl Tyrrell of Bookabed has written a piece for the print edition of Travel Extra asking agents to check the profitability of the bedbanks they deal with. He called on agents to use established Irish companies/bedbanks offering payment post arrival rather than other bedbanks coming into Ireland selling off at unsustainable margins. Bedbanks argue:

  • It hard to bond a product that agents don’t pay for until guests arrive.
  • If they were getting paid like tour operators do (eight weeks before travel) or an airline (the date the ticket is booked/issued) it would be different.
  • The OHG accounts which were freely available showed the VAT liability as a provision and it was obvious if it was called in that the company would be insolvent.
  • Most bedbanks in Ireland only get paid by agencies after arrival so bonding would be pointless (unlike OHG in Ireland who insisted on pre payment).
  • With bedbanks only getting paid after arrival, there is no protection for bedbanks if an agency goes bust the week or week before arrival. Bedbanks usually pay their suppliers post departure meaning the collapse of anyone in the chain wouldn’t have too much impact on an Irish agent.

interview-aer-lingus-image-2Aer Lingus CCO, Stephen Kavanagh told Paul Hogan of that Aer Lingus are looking at Florida (Miami?) and possibly another gateway on east coast for 2015. “We have started using leased 757s as pathfinders – a tool to see if the A330 can be put on, but not just as a bridging solution – the 757s are the only current solution for 170-200 seat demand in our network. In the next 18 months we are looking to issue an RFP for up to 40 short-haul aircraft which will also serve as the 757 replacements, and growth. We have also evaluated transatlantic-capable A321neos, but also possibly 737s. The -900s will replace the seven A330s, including some lower capacity -200s which are now too small, and the -900 Regionals will be used for east coast operations. Dublin has a significant advantage of geography and a lack of congestion over Heathrow and Amsterdam, not to mention the unique pre-clearance product. There’s a lot of people in Europe not connected to North America, but for us the opportunities for short-haul growth lie in improving load factors without necessarily needing more routes and new aircraft – we have average loads of around 75pc on the short-haul network, I want to get an eight in front of this number. Gatwick was an implementation failure in terms of pricing and marketing. It’s a case of what might have been, I don’t think we’ll be trying anything similar in the near term. Dublin’s Terminal 2 was not specifically developed as a connecting terminal, but working with DAA, we are finding it fit for purpose, especially this year which is the first season we can market pre-clearance comprehensively across all US flights. And the attractions are not just price sensitive – our move into the JFK domestic terminal and the arrangements with JetBlue offer MCTs of just 45 minutes.

  • Belfast City Airport has introduced unlimited free wi-fi.
  • An internet forum suggested Aer Lingus are considering “bid to upgrade” on Trans Atlantic service. Under a system being used by several airlines, passengers who booked in economy can make an offer to upgrade to business class on a flight if there is availability. It is being considered but is a long way off implementation.
  • The IAA say total traffic increasing at Irish airports by 6.2pc in February 2014 compared with last year. Commercial terminal flights at Dublin were up 7.2pc (an average of 404 daily movements), Cork was down 5.3pc, (46 daily movements), Shannon up 10.9pc (40 daily movements).
  • Ryanair February customer service statistics indicate 91pc of 30,000 flights arrived on-time, less than one complaint per 1,000 passengers, less than one bag complaint per 2,000 passengers and over 99pc of all complaints answered within seven days. Ryanair is to contract in B737-800 aircraft from Fly Dubai. Next up in the Ryanair image change: the calendar girls may become a thing of the past under its new customer friendly approach.
  • Air passengers are told to “expect teething problems” at the new €3bn Heathrow Terminal 2 when it opens on June 4. Aer Lingus move there on July 9. There are fears it will be a repeat of the Terminal 5 horror show in 2008. A large number of the retailers will be local brands, with John Lewis opening its first ever airport store.

Etihad Regional - New Fleet OrderEtihad Regional announced an agreement to lease four ATR 72-500 aircraft, which will see the carrier boost its regional fleet to 12.

  • The Irish Aviation Authority is to provide air traffic control services in Northern Irish airspace on a trial basis as part of an initiative between Irish and British jurisdictions for better co-operation and improved safety. The UK-Ireland Functional Airspace Block launched the first-ever operational trial to test new ways of delivering air traffic control services to airlines and gather information on efficiencies that could be gained through the SESAR concept of ‘dynamic sectorisation’ the tactical switching of air traffic services between providers.

Car Park mapShannon passenger numbers were up 10.9pc in February. Shannon Airport launched Park4Less which it says is Ireland’s cheapest online airport car parking with a month-long introductory offer of €24.99 per week. The Park4Less car park will be located at the former long-term 4 Car Park, adjacent to the Air Traffic Control tower at the airport. Park4Less is open for booking online. A new traffic management system is in place at Shannon Airport.  The new system features revised set-down and pick-up arrangements.

  • Aer Lingus have partnered with CarTrawler to offer an improved car rental experience on Industry-leading car rental brands include Avis, Enterprise Europcar, Sixt and National.
  • US Airways ticketing and baggage operations will relocate from Concourse J in the South Terminal to Concourse D in the North Terminal at Miami.
  • United Airlines will deploy the first of its newer, bigger Boeing 787 Dreamliners on routes within the United States this summer before it shifts the jet to a new Los Angeles-Melbourne route in October. The “dash-9″ will be about 20 feet longer and able to carry about 40 more passengers thatn the current 787-8 Dreamliner.
  • Frankfurt passengers are world’s highest users of mobile boarding passes, according to the Passenger IT Trends Survey 2013 (download 2.55 MB) survey from SITA.
  • The ERA Regional Airline Conference 2014 will be held in Lisbon, Apr 2-3.
  • Emirates will expand its European network with a new daily flight to Oslo to Dubai from September 2.
  • Etihad launched a new programme to improve sleep quality on its long-haul flights. Investment in the on-board experience including new luxury all-natural bedding. Etihad Airways will increase its services between Abu Dhabi and Moscow to double daily from June 1 and triple daily from October 1.
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport was announced as the winner of the Asia heat of this year’s Routes Marketing Awards.
  • Another caller to Liveline alleged he was asked by an airline employee if he left his bombs at home.
  • It is all speculation rather than news on the missing Air Malaysia flight MH370 (eg: “it’s CONCLUSIVE jet carrying 239 was seized by individual or group with significant flying experience”), much of it emanating from Washington rather than Kuala Lumpur. Skeptics of the hijack theory included Eoghan Corry who was asked on Raidio na Gaeltachta (éist anseo) about his controversial assertion that he assumed almost every flight he boarded these days carried a couple of people with stolen or incorrect passports. As the influence of technology grows, Joe Shute reported that pilots are struggling to stay alert in the cockpit.

Skymark-newCAuniform_zps7efc9f75Air hostesses told Japanese Skymark Airlines airline that their skirts were too short and invited sexual harassment” with a uniform intended to attract more customers. Skymark’s royal blue outfit was launched last week and the length of the dress has drawn criticism with the Japan Federation of Cabin Attendants, 

  • US Airways plane with 149 people on board that suffered a nose gear collapse on the runway of Philadelphia International Airport on Thursday has been removed.
  • American Airlines Group plan to fly bigger jets between American and US Airways hubs, cutting its reliance on regional American Eagle-branded carriers. AA and JetBlue ended their interline agreement.
  • British Airways’ B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, the first of which will arrive next year, will be fitted with a First cabin.

Siobhain Mulholland lowcost picSiobhain Mulholland (pictured) has been appointed Commercial Manager of Lowcostbeds Ireland. Siobhain started her career in the travel industry in 1993 with Centre Travel, Dundalk going on to Budget Travel and the Garda Holiday Club prior to joining the lowcosttravelgroup in 2011.

  • The winner of the Travel Corporation Facebook Friday incentive was Eilish Walsh of Cavan Travel, where agents have been sending their booking references for any Insight Vacations, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and Contiki holidays. Eilish Walsh won a choice of a Tour with Insight Vacations, a Tour with Contiki Holidays or a Cruise with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises.

sharon wilson topflightRoyal Caribbean’s Sharon Wilson joined Topflight for a training day on Tuesday. Picture shows Sharon Wilson of Royal Caribbean with Maria Pazienza and in the front row Roisín Carbery and Cora Munds of Topflight.

  • O’Callaghan Travel, Dundalk won the February Sunway incentive – this is the second month in a row.
  • Travel agents can travel to Tunisia for just €99 to celebrate the launch of Sunway’s ‘Revisit Tunisia’ campaign.

Tour America Deloittes

  • Picture shows staff of Tour America celebrating the Deloitte’s Best Managed Company award on Friday, their 5th in a row and the second year to be awarded the prestigious Gold award: Tracy McLoughlin, Leslie Marshall, Eimear Martin, Amy Henderson, Liz Wright, Sinead Murphy, Niamh Doherty, Natalie Hanley, Kathleen O’Rourke, Ross Waters, Aoife Keating, Daniel McCluskey, Sarune Zerauskaite, Sarah Kinsella, Kate Keegan, Glenda Dwyer and Alice Carrick.

Tony Collins, Buakaw & Barry Hammond (1)Picture shows Tony Collins and Barry Hammond of Topflight with Buakaw Banchamek the champion welterweight Thai kickboxer at ITB, Berlin.

  • Sunway previously announced details of the campaign with holidays from just €299 and all inclusive deals from €399.
  • Severe fog affected the Cheltenham day trips. Michael O’Leary’s Savello was a 16-1 winner at Cheltenham, his fourth at the home of National Hunt. The other O’Leary horse, the controversial Last Installment unseated his rider six fences from the finish. Brian O’Connor said O’Leary is a lot more hands-on with his horses than is commonly imagined (he once said “Eddie buys all the horses, does all that. I just write the cheques. We have an appropriate division of labour”). The death of four horses and injuries to four jockeys including serious injuries to Darryl Jacobs and Ruby Walsh marred the festival. Ireland’s total of 12 winners was the third highest ever, behind the 14 in 2013 and 12 in 2011.
  • Hotel comparison website wants to pay travellers for hotel reviews in an attempt to make its comparison website more authentic and trustworthy. Its mystery guest programme piloted in Germany before being launched here with a mission statement to “combat the increasing difficulty of guaranteeing online reviews are accurate and genuine,” Users save money on their hotel booking by completing an online questionnaire. The results are displayed on Trivago to create comprehensive hotel information and reviews. Hoteliers can purchase test results for further insight and to maximise their visibility and bookings
  • HRS listed Europe’s top 10 most popular new hotel openings in 2013. topped by Dora Hotel in Istanbul.Annette O'Neill -  Director of Sales & Marketing
  • Annette O’Neill (pictured) has been appointed Director of Sales and Marketing at Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel.
  • John Ó Ceallaigh explored the 52nd-floor infinity pool inside Shangri-La London, champagne bar and other luxuries in advance of its opening.
  • Palacio Nazarenas, Orient-Express, Cusco is the best hotel in the world according to ReviewPro’s study measuring online guest satisfaction. Oberoi, Four Seasons and Orient Express (which recently changed its name to Belmond) lead the ranking for large brands, while Constance, Capella and Montage are the best rated small brands.O'Callaghan & Temple St. 10
  • O’Callaghan Hotels in Dublin is funding equipment to treat babies in Temple St Children’s Hospital.
  • TripAdvisor’s China website came under fire with what researchers called “thousands of suspect reviews.”
  • HRS say improving adherence to travel policy is the second highest priority for travel managers worldwide in 2013-14.

Skjeldam og Viestad MS Nordkapp _Copyright Lars Åke AndersenPicture show Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten and Andreas Viestad. The celebrity chef who is to create Norway’s Coastal Kitchen on board Hurtigruten sailings.

  • Celebrity Cruises will broadcast the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil onboard its ships sailing to Alaska, Bermuda and Europe.
  • Quark Expeditions launched their Arctic 2015 season.
  • Norwegian announced its winter 2015/16 itineraries. Norwegian Escape is to homeport in Miami year-round. The hull of Norwegian Cruise Line’s next ship will be painted with an underwater scene depicting a giant sailfish, turtle and other sea creatures. The company commissioned the artwork for the Norwegian Escape from marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey. The 163,000-ton vessel will be Norwegian’s largest ever when it debuts in October 2015. Norwegian Cruise Line cancelled its entire Tunisia programme, citing an incident that occurred Sunday when one of its ships visited the Tunisian port of La Goulette. Norwegian says Tunisian officials refused to allow Israeli nationals on the 2,402-passenger Norwegian Jade the right to disembark the ship during the call, which was part of a Mediterranean cruise.
  • Tenerife reported a total of 72,419 Irish holidaymakers in 2013, up 5.5pc compared to 2012 (68,671 people). In 2013, more Irish opted to stay in 3-star (9,311 people) and 4-star hotels (21,019 people) – 41.9pc of the total. The number of Irish visitors staying in the city of Santa Cruz, the island’s capital city, increased by 47.3pc compared to 2012. The northwest of Tenerife (La Laguna, Bajamar, Tacoronte) and the south also saw a 6pc increase from Irish holiday makers. Tenerife is the third most popular of the Canary islands in the Irish market.
  • The new Darren Clarke Centre of Excellence opens at Sicily’s Donnafugata Golf Resort and Spa this month.

Today, Universal Orlando Resort revealed never-before-released details about the Hogwarts Express experience that will debut as part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley – the all-new, magnificently themed land opening this summer.Universal is to allow park visitors to ride the Harry Potter train between London and Hogsmeade at its park in Orlando, opening with its Diagon Alley attraction this summer.

  • Ciaran Mulligan’s announced a new low cost annual travel insurance price starting from €17.95. Insurances say 42pc of claims during 2013 were for medical assistance and they have seen significant increases in claims over €100,000 in the past number of years.
  • Karl Tyrrell says Bookabed’s sales are up over 170pc
  • Tourism Concern warned that poorer labour rights and conditions are the price of all-inclusive holidays.
  • Travellers to Hungary beware, from 15 March photographers are required by law to ask permission to take pictures from everyone who will be in the shot. Critics say the law is ‘vague and obstructive‘.
  • Ferrari are to open a theme park at PortAventura resort near Salou in 2016. Attractions will include Europe’s fastest and highest vertical accelerator and a hotel in the shape of an F1 front wing.
  • The 53rd SKAL North American Congress takes place May 1-4, 2014.
  • The 15 month delay in appointing a US ambassador to Ireland, the longest since 1935, was raised by Enda Kenny with Barack Obama (don’t tell Obama, but US attaché Stuart Dwyer is doing a great job in the absence of an ambassador).
  • Nepal said Himalayan peaks could be leased to private tourism companies in an attempt to ease increasing congestion on Mount Everest.
  • Paul McGinley was the recipient of the Distinguished Services to golf award at the Irish Golf Writers’ Awards at Portmarnock Golf Club, sponsored by Carr Golf. Roddy Carr asked Padraig Harrington at the evening Q&A session if he had two words for Paul, what would they be, to which Padraig answered “Pick Me”.
  • Channel 4 broadcast live from the International Space Station.
  • Tourism New Zealand launched a new trade website. New Zealand considered whether to drop the Union Jack from the corner of its flag.
  • A groom flying from Atlanta to Costa Rica forced his Delta Air Lines flight to divert to the Cayman Islands after he got into a “drunken argument” with his new wife en route to their honeymoon. The man was escorted from the flight and taken into custody by Cayman Islands police. The bride continued on with her trip to the Costa Rican capital of San Jose.
  • The London Telegraph listed cities that outshine their capitals.

vera stedman briefing_4664Vera Stedman, Tourism Ireland’s deputy director at the London office, briefed Irish travel media at the offices in London. She said that the marketing campaign for 2013 had yielded growth and that social media would be at the heart of their campaigns in Britain in 2014.

  • The centenary year of the Easter Rebellion, 2016, is being considered by the government as timely for a repeat of the Gathering.
  • Aileen Hickey, Tourism Ireland’s manager for the Nordic region led a delegation of 17 Irish tourism enterprises to the biennial COS roadshow, a three-city trade mission to Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm.
  • Northern Ireland Tourist Board has chosen Antrim born film star Liam Neeson to be the voice of its latest TV advertising campaign in Ireland (watch here).
  • Limerick City of Culture campaign has identified five events which have international appeal. They will be launched in the English market at an event next week.

TARGETING BRITISH TOURISTS FOR IRELANDPicture shows Helen Wycherley, Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery; Minister Pat Rabbitte TD; Jim Maher, Select Hotels of Ireland; and Vanessa Markey, Tourism Ireland, on the Tourism Ireland stand at the Best of Britain and Ireland travel trade fair in Birmingham.

Duncannon beach will host the country’s only Beach Parade this St. Patrick’s Day.

Robert Ballard will open a new Ocean Exploration Centre at Titanic Belfast this month. Brick City, one of the world’s most popular and fun exhibitions using Lego bricks, is coming to Titanic Belfast in May.

MINISTER JOHN PERRY LENDS A HAND TO BOOST TOURISM FROM SPAINPicture shows Minister for Small Businesses John Perry; Barbara Wood of Tourism Ireland; Justin Harman, Irish Ambassador to Spain; Juan Carlos Arcones and Carlos Sánchez, both Aer Lingus Spain at a St Patrick’s reception in Madrid hosted by Tourism Ireland in conjunction with the Irish Embassy.

  • The Irish Water Safety Association warned that a full moon this Sunday 16th March will mean higher “spring” tides.
  • Dublin’s freedom bell at the Smock Alley Theatre, the first Catholic Church bell to ring in Dublin in 1811 in defiance of the Penal Laws, is to be restored as part of a €620,000 tourism investment.
  • The Environmental Protection Authority said raw sewage is still being discharged into rivers, lakes and the sea in 42 towns and villages, including Arklow, Clifden, Cobh, Killybegs, Passage West, Ringaskiddy and Youghal.
  • Fáilte Ireland announced a new marketing plan for Lough Derg.
  • First Vogue, now Vanity Fair, photographer Annie Lebowitz shot the Game of Thrones cast for Vanity Fair’s latest cover in Ireland including Emiliaa Clarke, Kit Harington and Peter Dinklag
  • After the first Irish-bred Golden Eagle under the reintroduction programme was shot, the director of the Golden Eagle Trust Laurence O’Toole said he was concerned about “urban prejudice” against small farmers as guardians of the landscape.

Stena Line 3Ferry week begins this week and both major ferries operating out of Ireland, Irish Ferries and Stena Line, have announced that children under 16 will travel for free by car on all routes and all sailings to Britain up to December 18, book Irish Ferries by March 29th, with Stena Line by March 31st.

Irish Ferries - Kids go FreeTopflight are offering Madeira this April from €599pps.

  • Balcony stateroom are on offer for the same price as an outside stateroom with Royal Caribbean on select holidays before 31 March 2014.
  • Holidayonline lead-in prices are from €292, Tunisia from €292, Morocco from €342, Lanzarote from €388, Fuerteventura from €389, Tenerife from €375, Gran Canaria from €392, Madeira from €562, Egypt from €677, or phone 01-7640469.
  • And the answer to the quiz: rock-n-roll babe Dominic Burke of Travel Centres played support to BOTH Rory Gallagher and Thin Lizzy.


Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: ITB or not ITB: DAT is the Question & Another Bedbank Breach

This week:

  • OHG OMG: Questions about bed banks as OHG goes under
  • Martin Skelly new ITAA president
  • Leo goes to Berlin as Arlene stays at home
  • Dun Laoghaire eyes up location for diaspora centre

dermot o'loughlinThere strikes and we are all out. Next Friday’s planned SIPTU triple-strike over the IASS pension fund has moved to the courtroom (Dermot O’Loughlin of SIPTU is pictured). Both DAA and Ryanair (who say 13,000 passengers are affected) sought injunctions to prevent the action on the grounds that it is not a trade dispute and SIPTU didn’t ballot all members of staff which is in breach of existing agreements. Aer Lingus cancelled 30 flights, rescheduled 42flights, hired aircraft, re-timed flights and re-booked passengers, more information on their website. Brendan McGinty and Laura Gallagher from KPMG and Peter McLoone and Eugene McMahon of Mazars have been appointed to investigate a resolution and report at the end of March.

Some big questions about bedbank security were brought sharply in focus on Thursday night with the failure of OnHolidayGroup and its related family of bed banks (Holiday Broker/Eurorooms). The questions do not reflect adversely on our bed bank operations, in fact the opposite. The vast majority of bed banks including (without exception) the 20-odd operating in the Irish market are reputable and sound businesses, but they emerged after the existing systems to protect consumers and agents were put in place.

The closure is a tragedy for Brendan Mallon who had worked hard to establish OHG in the Irish market place. The problems relate more to the model itself than OHG in particular. The very concept of a bedbank slips through the cracks of the bonding system. It means Irish agents will be out of pocket accommodating clients whose bookings have been cancelled as a result of the failure. Hoteliers who are owed an estimated €9m are now likely to demand payment from current guests. The company says that “All monies received from agents is held in ring-fenced client accounts and will be returned by the On Holiday Group to agents in the next few days”.

steve endacott.jpegSteve Endacott (pictured) blamed a judgment in the English courts on disputed VAT payments for the failure. This raises alarm bells as other bed banks are disputing the tax terms applied in London. Another bed bank won a landmark London Supreme Court decision, but it came too late to save the On Holiday Group.

Even worse, many bedbanks enhance their database by using other bedbanks, some of whom do not operate in the Irish market at all.

A failure by a third rank bedbank could end up costing Irish travel agents money and reputation.

The bonding system, devised in 1983 before bed banks, online transactions and widespread use of credit cards, has been creaking under the force of change for decades.

Even from the beginning, there were anomalies that airlines are outside the system, leaving agents open to the sort of havoc that accompanied the collapse of Malev. Two years later no compensation has been paid.

Disputes within the system were largely responsible for bringing down Eugene Corcoran’s Budget Travel (over the level of bonding required when capacity was reduced). Several business were forced from the market place because of the lean that bonding put on their cash flow.

A  chorus of industry individuals and organisations, including the ITAA and ITOF, have been advocating that bonding be abolished altogether and replaced with a flat tax on airline ticket sales.

Minister Leo Varadkar has parked a response to submissions on bonding until European legislation is complete, which appears intent on opening the market to companies licensed (but not bonded) in other EU countries.

In the meantime Irish agents who are being forced to rebook their clients this week could potentially be left high and dry. The London Indie featured a consumer Q&A on the crisis.

martin skelly h&s 1400As the only nominee for the post, Martin Skelly of Navan Travel will become the 18th president of the Irish Travel Agents Association for a two year period after the forthcoming AGM at Bewley’s Leopardstown on April 3. There are no nominations for treasurer which presents the ITAA with a dilemma. Martin is number 18 in 44 years. While two consecutive terms are not allowed by constitution, four previous presidents returned to serve a second term.

The Spanish Tourist Board has launched a new Twitter account @spaininireland. Spain attracted a record 60,661,073 inbound visitors in 2013. 
Passenger numbers from Ireland were 1,270,038 up 6.8pc, making Ireland the 14th most important inbound market into Spain, according to the Instituto de Estudios Turisticos.

Tourism Australia say 60,600 Irish short term visitors travelled to Australia in 2013 down 1.1pc on the 2012 figure of 61,300. Ireland has slipped to the 20th most important inbound market to Australia.

Canada is to increase working holiday visas for Irish people to 10,700 from 6,350 last year. The young professionals and international co-op categories will open for applications on March 11th, with the first round entries for the working holiday category to follow on March 13th. A second working holiday round will be announced at a later date.

sue udaSue Uda of A Touch of Ireland was elected new President of the Incoming Tour Operators Association Ireland at their Annual General Meeting in Druids Glen. Sue has over 30 years’ experience in the industry, based in London and Dublin.

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai opened tInternationale Tourismus-Börse, ITB Berlin which attracted 10,147 exhibitors from 189 countries. The organisers reported with growth in Gay & Lesbian Travel and Adventure & Sustainable Travel, a large increase in exhibitors from Asia, India and the Arab countries and big interest in the ITB Berlin Bloggers Speed Dating event.

The most interesting discussion was the panel discussion on tourism in “dark countries” with representatives from what Americans lovingly used to call the Axis of Evil.

  • North Korea: it’s more interesting than South Korea but you can still see everything in one visit, just don’t talk politics with your guides.
  • Iraq:  it’s perfectly fine to come to Iraq! We have working airports! There are millions of tourists each year and very few of them get killed.
  • Afghanistan: It’s not safe, don’t come.
  • Iran: I don’t know why I’m on this panel. Iran is not a dark country.

Loveleen Tandan, the co-director of Slumdog Millionaire, talked about the rise of slum tours in Mumbai after the movie came out and how she believes this is good for the people.

collins varadkar gibbonsThe post conflict version of Tiocfaidh Ar LA (Leo/Arlene) went to  in 2013. Leo returned it this year but Arlene was a late withdrawal. The 21 exhibitors on the Irish stand were: Abbey Tours, Aer Lingus, B&B Ireland, Causeway Coast & Glens, Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, Gaeltacht Irland Reisen, Guinness Storehouse,, Irish Ferries, Irish Welcome Tours, Jameson Distillery Tours & Banquets, Killarney Hotels Ltd, Select Hotels of Ireland, Silver Line Cruisers, The Castle Collection, The Inn at Dromoland & Dromoland Estate, Titanic Belfast, Treacys Hotel Spa & Leisure Centre, Tullamore Dew Visitor Centre, Vagabond Tours and White Hotel Group/Irish & English Tours. Picture shows Michael Collins, Irish Ambassador to Germany; Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar; and Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, at ITB Berlin. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Next year, the opening ceremony of ITB Berlin will take place in the CityCube Berlin, which has currently entered the final stages of construction.

Next stop for Leo: Cruise Shipping in Miami, March 10-13, to argue for more cruise turnarounds out of Ireland. If Larry Pimentel of Azamara is anything to go by he could get a hearing.

what languagesVideo of the week is by 19-year-old Finnish Youtube user Sara Marié (smoukahontas) speaking gibberish with a sequence of impressive accents to show what languages sound like to foreigners, including American English (watch here). It has been getting 1m hits a day since it was uploaded on Sunday. Buzzfeed’s Travel Secrets video (watch here) is worth a watch, a breezy 90 seconds of Barnum style travel-tips (if flying from cities A to B its too expensive, try booking from A to C with a layover in B and get off in city B).

140305_M3_051Long before cultural tourism became a buzzword, a tall academic from St Paul in Minnesota, Eoin McKiernan, created a programme of cultural tours to Ireland. He abhorred the imagery of shamroguery and shillelagh and brought his American visitors to cultural and historical icons in the days before interpretative centres and discovery points. Irish America Reawakening, a biography of Eoin McKiernan, the reticent figure behind the Irish American Cultural Institute by his daughter Deirdre McKiernan (listen here) was launched in Dublin this week by Cathal Goan (listen here), with a spectacular oráid in his memory by Dónla Uí Bhraonáin (éist anseo). Picture is of Deirdre McKiernan with Cathal Goan and Eamonn Ó Hargáin. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Dun laoghaire conference_4195Fitzpatrick’s Castle hotel in Killiney hosted a conference on tourism for the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown FG TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor at which Leo Varadkar (listen here) suggested Dublin could get more tourists (report here). He mentioned Dun Laoghaire as a possible location for the National Diaspora Centre which will cost between €5m and €26m depending on the approach taken with the capital cost likely to be considerably less if an existing building can be found. A  study by Fáilte Ireland found that a centre could be viable and self-financing, but it was improbable that it would be able to meet its own building costs (Minister’s statement here).

martime trio mar 6 2014Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry (listen here) warned delegated not to confuse local attractions with tourist attractions that had international significance, but that Dun Laoghaire had an opportunity to promote itself as the jewel of Dublin and lead the country in maritime tourism. Gerry Dunne of the harbour board (listen here), Liz Ferris (listen here), Grainne Miller (listen here) and Kevin Moriarty (listen here) of Failte Ireland also spoke. There were separate question and answer discussions for the minister Leo Varadkar (listen here) and at the end of the conference (listen here). Picture shows Jeff Brownlee, Bref Kennedy and Paal Hanson at the Dun Laoghaire tourism conference. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

margaret shannonThe Emirates team of Margaret Shannon, Anita Thomas and Valerie Murphy (pictured) hosted the Irish travel trade for a rugby pre-match panel discussion at Il Posto on Thursday. Margaret Shannon (listen here) said the second Emirates flight would be the last out of Dublin in the evening and opened up new connections that were not previously available to Irish customers. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

simon polito 74The Ryanair appeal against the Simon Polito (pictured) decision that they reduce their shareholding of Aer Lingus from 29pc down to 5pc was rejected by the next stage of the English legal system on Thursday. Ryanair will now bring their case to the London Court of appeal. John Mulligan suggested Ryanair is running out of legal runway on the issue. In Spain, a Ryanair air steward dismissed for eating a sandwich on duty without paying was told to take his case to Ireland. A report from the International Labor Organisation estimating an 0.1pc profit margin for the aviation in general prompted the Guardian to ask with world’s airlines eager to cut crew costs, is life as a flight attendant getting worse?

IMG_4222Caracas is among the unusual top twenty transfer destinations through Frankfurt that were reported by Lufthansa in their briefing for the Irish travel media this week. With 40pc of their traffic going on to further destinations, Moscow is their number one transfer, followed by Vienna, Beijing, Lagos and Tel Aviva. Lufthansa’s Dublin to Munich service will increase to 4w and further to 5w in July. Two thirds of the tickets on Lufthansa’s Irish routes are sold in Germany. Last year Lufthansa saw record load factors on their Irish routes and are looking forward to more growth in 2014. Just over 50pc of the tickets sold in Ireland are sold through the trade and London-based Irish and Britain manager Christian Schindler of Lufthansa says he will continue to support the trade in Ireland. Picture shows Gudrun Gorner and Christian Schindler of Lufthansa in Dublin’s Westin Hotel. In addition, Lufthansa’s low cost subsidiary Germanwings have four services from Dublin to Dusseldorf, four to Cologne and a service from Dusseldorf to Knock. Lufthansa have 300 aircraft on order.

Lufthansa unveiling its new Premium Economy Class at ITB Berlin with a 38″ seat pitch. The seats can be booked from May onwards and will be available from November 2014, initially on the Boeing 747-8. While the seat will be branded as premium economy, it will be classed as economy within the booking system and will not carry benefits such as a dedicated check-in.

Turkish Airlines CEO Temel Kotil told Barry O’Halloran that is company regarded Dublin Airport as a potential “gateway to the entire Atlantic” despite the failure of talks with Aer Lingus regarding a possible partnership that would involve Turkish feeding passengers to transatlantic services.

united fam

United Airlines, California Central Coast Tourism Council and San Francisco Travel hosted eight travel agents who won a place on the trip from a recent booking incentive, flying from Dublin with United to its New York/Newark hub and then onward to San Francisco. The group spent two nights in San Francisco before commencing their journey down the Pacific Coast Highway through Hearst Castle, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Solvang, Ventura, and Cambria. Picture shows Mary McGovern, Karen Condon, Lorraine Roche, Edel Clune, Aoife Gregg, Cara Barry, James Mead, Bernie Roche, Fergus Burke and Stephanie Nagle. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

TARGETING THE DIASPORA AT GENEALOGY EVENT IN LONDONPicture shows Irish tourism companies and genealogy experts at the Who Do you Think You Are show in London. Luke Portess of Glasnevin Cemetery Museum; Nicola Treanor of Ireland’s Blue Book; Margaret Mellor of Tourism Ireland; Helen Kelly, genealogist; and Aideen Ginnell of Lough Owel Lodge representing B&B Ireland.

  • The Anner Hotel in Thurles and the Midleton Park Hotel in Cork were sold for €3m. Minister Michael Ring said Nama receivers are in danger of turning rural towns into deserted villages. The Indo property section said new developments totalling €890m, many of them concerned with tourism, are planned for Dublin’s Liberties.
  • Sean Kelly said Tourism Ireland’s lack of promotion for the Giro d’Italia was a scandal.

IRELAND’S BIG ‘DRIVE’ AT GOLF PROMOTION IN TORONTOPicture shows Jayne Shackleford of Tourism Ireland; Paul Collins of North & West Coast Links; John Murray of Golf Travel ETC; Breffne Costello of Castlemartyr Resort; and Jonathan Millar of Irish Golf Breaks, on the Tourism Ireland stand at the Toronto Star Golf & Travel Show.

IRELAND SCOOPS “BEST POTENTIAL DESTINATION” AWARD IN CHINAPicture shows Iris Wang, Tourism Ireland, with the award for “best potential destination” at the fifth annual Ctrip ‘best tourism destination’ awards ceremony in Shanghai. Tourism Ireland wants to grow Chinese tourism from 17,000 visitors in 2012 to 50,000 per year over the coming five years.

  • A woman in labour caused an Air France A340 from Paris to Detroit to divert to Belfast on Thursday and the French passenger gave birth to a baby in Antrim Hospital.
  • The aircraft carrying Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy en route home from the EPP conference in Dublin was forced to make an emergency landing at Dublin Airport
  • It turns out what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas after all. California man Mark Johnston sued the Downtown Grand casino Las Vegas because he was blackout drunk when he lost $500,000 during a trip over the Super Bowl weekend, and the Downtown Grand should have cut him off and certainly should not have loaned him the $500,000. The Downtown Grand is countersuing Johnston for trying to shirk his debt. Nevada law bars casinos from allowing visibly drunk patrons to gamble and from serving them comped drinks.
  • Mohammed al-Shaibani, Dubai’s finance chief, said Emirates could be partially floated on the London Stock Exchange.
  • Aer Arann owner Stobart is to sell off half its core business.
  • Etihad increased its stake in Aer Lingus from 2.987pc to 3.01pc. Chief financial officer James Rigney said Etihad has already recouped its investment. Etihad is creating of the Etihad Aviation Group, a new structure marking the transition from a single entity airline to a wider global aviation group. Eithad reported profit up 48pc from US$42m to US$62m. Eitahd is to fly its first A380 from Abu Dhabi to Heathrow in the first week of December and then roll out the aircraft to New York, Sydney and Melbourne.
  • BA included Dublin in a list of six cities with cheaper ‘day trip’ fares for under £100, if you fly out and back on a Saturday or Sunday.
  • Norwegian Airlines Dublin-headquarter trans-Atlantic flights were described as dangerous in the latest development in a campaign by US carrier and labour unions to stop the service. US pilots are asking Washington to block the proposed flights, describing the airline as a “sketchy foreign competitor”. ALPA’s president, Captain Lee Moak, said: “Norwegian Air International was clearly designed to attempt to dodge laws and regulations, starting a race to the bottom.”
  • Sao Paolo topped a list of the ten worst airports in the world, followed by 2 Chicago Midway, 3 JFK New York, 4 N’Djamena Chad, 5 Paris Beauvais, 6 London Heathrow, 7 LaGuardia NY, 8 NinoyAquino Manila, 9 Jomo Kenyatta Nairobi, 10 Tribhuvan Kathmandu.
  • Ryanair’s passenger traffic grew 7pc to 4.5m in February. Traffic grew by 300,000 to 4.5m customers (up 7pc). Load factor increased 1pc to 78pc. Annual traffic to February 2014 rose to 81.9m customers (up 3pc). Short haul traffic at Aer Lingus dragged down passenger figures in February. Long haul passengers increased by 7.0pc from 43,000 to 46,000, Load factor in February 2014 was 67.3pc compared to 68.3pc for the same month in 2013.
  • David O’Brien, Ryanair’s new CCO, told Anna Aero: You can’t do too many Ireland-Russia flights – maybe three or four a week to St. Petersburg and three or four to Moscow. He said Ryanair will grow to 110m passengers within the next five years. On trans-Atlantic for a tenner, he said All the long-haul orders are sewn up for a long time to come. We’re not going to do this with old aircraft. If an order collapses somewhere, we’ll nip in.
  • Ryanair is seeking to appoint an agency partner to develop its data and customer relationship marketing as part of its revised customer strategy. Ryanair announced a new collaboration with Paypal.
  • Boeing checking 40 planes still in production found hairline cracks. There was confusion over reports of Boeing 777-200ER crash on flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing as the plane mysteriously disappeared.

Qatar Airways Debuts New A380 First Class Seats at ITB BerlinQatar Airways unveiled their A380-800 First Class seats at ITB Berlin with Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit first to test the product. Qatar is upgrading its business class seat and IFE systems on select A330-200 and A320 aircraft

  • Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines have agreed a major expansion of codeshare ties, covering destinations beyond both Istanbul and Singapore.
  • Garuda Indonesia became the 20th Member of SkyTeam Alliance.
  • Aer Lingus Regional said it is on target to fly 300,000 passengers on its Cork routes having allocated its two newest aircraft to service the expanded Cork routes and a new route to Newcastle to launch March 28.
  • Airberlin is the only German airline with FullFlat seats on every Business Class flight, with increased frequency to Greece, Turkey and the Canaries, as well as to Abu Dhabi, the Caribbean and the USA.
  • Turkish Airlines is revamping its Miles&Smiles frequent flyer programme, with new rules that include earning Miles from all tickets including promotional tickets.
  • Finnair will begin operating aircraft with fully-flat business class seats to Tokyo and New York from April 1, and to Beijing and Seoul from May 1.
  • Simon McNamara, director general of the European Regions Airline Association says Europe’s regional aviation sector is slowly returning to growth. A return to month-on-month passenger growth in September of last year bucked a trend of 18 months of negative growth.
  • BA Gold Executive Club members will now receive two upgrade vouchers for one person, instead of a single upgrade voucher for two, when they earn 3,500 tier points.
  • Emirates is offering two members of the travel trade, plus their guest, a Business Class holiday to Dubai, enter the draw by booking before March 31st, for travel during 2014.
  • Brazil upgraded air traffic technology for the World Cup and Olympics.
  • Sri Lankan will join Oneworld on May 1 having been a member elect of the alliance since mid-2012.

DC 200214 AIRPORT 14Picture shows Aoife Buckley, Aviation Marketing Officer, Cork Airport and Graham Hennessy, Topflight Business Development Manager launching Topflight’s summer 2014 service from Cork to Verona. Cork Airport Development Council held its inaugural meeting at the airport. The board consists of Pádraig Ó Ríordáin, Chairman and Chairman DAA, Corporate Partner, Arthur Cox, Fiona Buckley, Head of Operations, Fáilte Ireland, Conor Healy, Chief Executive, Cork Chamber, Niall MacCarthy Managing Director, Cork Airport, John Mullins, Chairman, Port of Cork, Dr Michael Murphy, President, University College Cork, Eric Nolan Director, DAA, Anne-Marie O’Brien, Ballydoyle Racing Stables, Emma O’Brien, Director and Vice Chairman of the Clonakilty Chamber of Commerce, Joe O’Flynn, General Secretary, SIPTU, Ann-Marie O’Sullivan Director DAA, Director of H+A Marketing + PR, Bob Savage, Vice President and General Manager, EMC, Cork, Kevin Toland, Chief Executive, DAA, Jim Woulfe, Chief Executive, Dairygold Co-operative Society, Gerry Walsh Director DAA, Director Spruce Consulting.

PROMOTION WITH A DIFFERENCE FOR THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY!Picture shows Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland and David Corbett of the Absolute Hotel, Limerick presenting newly-weds Roxanne Wilson and Frank Kennedy with Claddagh rings in Tourism Ireland’s ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ garden at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

  • Ireland became the first country in the Hailo global network to get complete country wide coverage. Irish taxi drivers can connect to over 430,000 customers and growing on the Hailo network.
  • Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan said we can do better on St Patrick’s Day. The London Telegraph listed some places to toast Irish heritage and checked out the prospects for a break in Dublin for a an English tourist.
  • Donald Trump said he was hoping to rebuild Doonbeg and take on the Vertigo angustior snail. British designer Martin Hawtree will either enhance the existing course or completely redesign a new links couorse.
  • Winter was the wettest on record with Valentia Observatory recording 848mm of rain over three months, 183pc of average,
  • Guest speakers for the Restaurants Association Conference in the Shelbourne Hotel, on Wednesday March 26th include: Peter Kreiner of NOMA Restaurant Copenhagen, Joe Warwick Founder of World’s Top 50 Restaurant Awards and Author of Where Chefs Eat, John Teeling of Cooley Distillery, Ami Hovstadius of the Swedish tourism and Andrea Coffey of Google Ireland.
  • The year has begun very strongly for the lowcosttravelgroup, headed up in Ireland by Clem Walshe, with traffic to their international websites up 50pc, overall sales up 40pc and Irish sales up 54pc.
  • Mary McKenna’s Tour America won the service award at the Small Firms Association annual awards.

Hurtigruten fam trip feb 2014_0058Hurtigruten will operates a direct charter from Dublin in 2015 with highlights including a trip to the North Cape – the Northernmost point on Mainland Europe as well as a visit to the Snowhotel in Kirkenes and a Midnight concert at the Arctic Cathedral in Tromso. Hurtigruten hosted Irish travel agents on a trip deep into the Arctic Circle, on-board MS Trollfjord. Pictured here at the North Cape (from left to right) are: Danny Giles, Hurtigruten; Mark Davidson, Oasis Travel Belfast; Emma Bunbury, Thomas Cook Dublin; Carmel Aylward, King Travel Malahide & Raymond Parker, Feherty Travel Bangor.

  • Celebrity Cruises 2015 sailings will go on sale on March 18, five ships sail in Europe, with Celebrity Equinox based in Barcelona, Celebrity Reflection based in Rome, Celebrity Silhouette based in Amsterdam, Celebrity Constellation based out of Venice and Celebrity Eclipse based out of Southampton. New for 2015 will be the new Suite Class experience with a suites-only restaurant, VIP lounge and complimentary premium drinks.
  • AIDA Cruises grew by 20pc in 2013. The German market for ocean cruises grew by 9.2pc in 2013 to 1.69m passengers.

IMG_4287The voyage as a destination is the new campaign by Royal Caribbean for this summer. Their Irish campaign will focus on Liberty of the Seas itineraries out of Barcelona. Royal Caribbean have allocations on Aer Lingus flights to Barcelona. Royal Caribbean are offering balcony staterooms for the same price as an outside stateroom with Royal Caribbean on select holidays before March 31. Picture shows Jennifer Callister, Surinder Manku and Matt Chandler of Royal Caribbean on their visit to Dublin.

  • Norwegian Epic will homeport year-round in Barcelona and will sail Canary Islands & Morocco and Western Mediterranean itineraries during the 2015/ 2016 winter season. Cruises will go on sale in Ireland in early April.
  • Irish Continental Group the parent of Irish Ferries results reported passengers are down 4pc so far in 2014, but roll-on-roll-off freight volumes are up 18pc. They said 16pc of budgeted sailings have been cancelled since the start of the year, resulting “in some loss of discretionary passenger business and a disruption to freight business”.
  • Stena HSS Fastcraft will return for its seasonal service on its Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead route from Wednesday April 9 until Tuesday September 9.
  • Chapman Freeborn and EYOS Expeditions announced a collaboration to offer yacht voyages to what it says are some of the most remote places on Earth.
  • Legoland will close its hotel this weekend after militants allegedly threatened the resort for agreeing to host a Muslim fun day.
  • The Backpack, Cape Town, South Africa was rated the best value place to stay by Lonely Planet.
  • The mysterious boutique hotel positioned at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard has been officially christened ‘The Cromwell.
  • Starwood Aloft brand plans to debut in Sarasota, Florida in August 2015.’
  • Worldhotels launched a loyalty programme: Peakpoints, members can earn two points for every euro spent on their room at 500 hotels. The first yoo2 hotel in Worldhotels’ portfolio is Yoo2 Taksim Square in Istanbul.
  • Abu Dhabi’s 149 hotels and hotel apartments got 2014 off to a flying start with guest arrivals up more than a third against January 2013.
  • The Shannon College of Hotel Management says it delivered 100pc graduate employment rate for 63rd year in succession. Of the 92 students who graduated last week, the 38 Irish graduates coming from counties Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Sligo, Wexford, Dublin, Kildare, Westmeath, Galway, Waterford and Mayo.
  • Relais and Chateaux has added six new members to its international hotel and restaurant collection: Maison d’Uzes in Gard, France; Hotel Restaurant Mammertsberg in Freidorf, Switzerland; Chasa Montana Hotel & Spa in Samnaun, Switzerland; Myconian Utopia Resort on the Greek island of Mykonos; Mihir Garh in Jodhpur, India; and Brilliant Resort & Spa in Kunming in China’s Yunnan province. Relais & Chateaux was established in France in 1954, its mission is to spread its “art de vivre around the world by selecting outstanding character properties” it now has 520 hotels and restaurants in 64 countries.
  • According to Get Safe Online, 30pc of holiday fraud victims in 2013 were scammed by the fraudulent advertisement of holiday villas and apartments, while 21pc were for airline ticket booking fraud and the problem is growing. Get Safe Online have published advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of holiday booking fraud.
  • A 20 year old snowboarder, Michael Handley 20, died after a crash in Les Deux Alpes while training. Michael Schumacher’s family were told that only a miracle can bring him back now.
  • Warmer, sunny weather arrived in the Alps on Thursday and looks set to stay with no new snow in the forecast for the next nine days. Over 100cm of new snow landed at Cauterets in France, forcing the resort to close on Tuesday to reopen Thursday. The Milky Way area in Italy was covered in half a metre of powder. Saas Fee in Austria received 40cm of new snow. It has been a great week for skiing in California with over a metre in the last seven days at Mammoth. Whistler is still enjoying regular heavy snowfalls. Squaw and Alpine have added Sugar Bowl Access to their Season Pass.
  • The world’s highest zip wire opened at an altitude of 3,200m from the top of the Bouchet Chair Lift in Orelle to the summit of Val Thorens.
  • Tompkinsville as the next destination to be featured in NYC & Company’s Neighbourhood x Neighbourhood campaign. The free Staten Island Ferry offers some of the best views of the New York Harbour and Manhattan skyline, and is a great way to visit Staten Island. NYC & Company are headed up in Ireland by John Donohue.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit‘s Worldwide Cost of Living survey named the world’s costliest cities as Singapore, Paris, Oslo, Zurich, Sydney, Caracas, Geneva, Melbourne, Tokyo (all joint sixth) and Copenhagen. The world’s 10 least expensive cities to live in 2014 were Riyadh, Jeddah, Panama City, Bucharest, Algiers, Damascus, Kathmandu, New Delhi, Karachi and Mumbai. Dublin was rated 21st, up from 34th in 2013. Separately Expatistan rated the world’s costliest cities as Paris, Singapore, London, Oslo, Geneva, Zurich, New York, Lausanne, Singapore, Paris, San Francisco and Copenhagen. Immediately there were some helpful cost-cutting tips for residents.
  • Peruvian guards were asked to increase surveillance at tourist site Machu Pichu after a spate of stripping.
  • Nepal is asking climbers of Everest to take back 8kg of rubbish with them.
  • A German tourist disoriented by floods survived on flies in the outback for three weeks before being rescued by police near the township of Windorah in Queensland.
  • A loo-finding website called AirPnP was launched to help visitors needing to relieve themselves during Mardi Gras.
  • GTA renewed its distribution deal with Hilton Worldwide. GTA’s enhanced distribution deal with Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts went live.
  • Tour operators to the Ukraine are keeping an eye on events before cancelling trips to the region.
  • The first travel packages for to next year’s Rugby World Cup went on sale but not yet in Ireland where Club Travel are official Irish travel agent. Ireland play in Cardiff (Sept 19 and Oct 11) and London (Sept 27 and Oct 4) in their group matches.
  • The London Telegraph rated holiday packing apps and asked whether they’re worth the download.
  • Tourism authorities in York launched a scented travel guidebook. England main attractions hosted 6pc more people last year than in rainy 2012, the British Museum was top for the3 seventh year with 6m visitors, followed by the National Gallery (6.03m) and Natural History Museum (5.35m). Attractions with big increases last year included the Tower of London (up 18.4pc to 2.89m), the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, south-east London (up 27pc to 1.43m) and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where the opening of the Mary Rose Museum resulted in a 55pc rise in visitors to more than 674,000.
  • The home of Arnold Bennett, Stoke-on-Trent’s first Literary Festival will be held at the Emma Bridgewater Factory, on Lichfield Street, over the weekend of Friday, June 20-22.
  • A section of the Great Wall of China is being set aside for graffiti, in the hope that this will reduce the extent of scrawlings elsewhere
  • STA Travel and Brand USA unveiled American Road Trip videos. A study by Oxford Economics indicates that Brand USA’s marketing efforts generated 1.1m incremental international visitors to the destination – a 2.3pc more than would have occurred without Brand USA marketing initiatives.
  • State of Alaska tourism office launched a Spanish-language travel website.
  • Donna Kenny of Classic Resorts will join The Travel Corporation at the end of the month as Business Development Manager.
  • Kristin Intress was announced as new Chief Executive Officer of Worldhotels.
  • Amadeus announced it is partnering with the European Travel Commission to promote Europe as a tourism destination.
  • Customers who book parking online at, and tune in to Radio Nova can win free parking for a year, and an overall prize of an overseas holiday.
  • Celebrity Cruises is giving agents to confirm a new 2014 or 2015 booking between now and April 30 for the chance to win one of five £100 Ticketmaster gift cards each week, redeemable on events and concerts in Ireland and Britain, including GAA fixtures, Katy Perry and Robbie Williams.
  • Aer Lingus has launched what it calls its biggest ever seat sale with up to 50pc off seats.
  • Attraction Tickets Direct is offering receive a FREE 14 day unlimited LEGOLAND Florida ticket worth €59pp for purchases of Disney, Universal or SeaWorld Orlando tickets by March 31.
  • Innstant Travel is offering agents €5 worth of One4all vouchers with every booking made during the month of March confirmed on
  • The Thailand Roadshow, Dublin takes place in the Doubletree by Hilton, Burlington Road, tomorrow from 16:30-17:30.

Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Stena goes to France & Aer Lingus shows us the future

This week:

  • Stena Line takes over the Celtic Link Rosslare to Cherbourg route.
  • Aer Lingus sets 2015 date for A330 Business Class flatbed.
  • Unions schedule 4-hour airport action for Mar 14.
  • Hoteliers get a new president, Stephen McNally.
  • MSC Cruise Awards for Celine Kenny, Mary McKenna and John Spollen.

XL-Image-2---front-viewAer Lingus are to get new lie flat seats in premier class in early 2015, using the Thompsons Vantage XL seat from Thompson Aero Seating in Portadown, which has Jetblue, Swiss and Air Canada as customers. The airline will launch its new reservation system with enhanced retail selling, a new website, and a new mobile app in autumn.

A surprise from the sea: the Celtic Link route from Rosslare to Cherbourg is to be taken over by Stena Line with effect from Monday March 31. Celtic Link currently provides a three times weekly service between Ireland and France with the MV Celtic Horizon, which can accommodate 1 000 passengers, 200 cars and 120 freight units. The all year round service currently operates from Rosslare at 21.30 on Tuesday and Thursday with a Saturday sailing at 16.00. From Cherbourg the schedule is 21.00 on Wednesday and Friday with a Sunday sailing at 16.00 with a journey time of approx 17 hrs.

trondheimThe Giant’s Causeway featured in a spoof video claiming to be a leaked advert for England’s National Trust (watch here). The video caused a commotion on social media with many suspecting it was real. The National Trust stated on Twitter, ‘we can’t take credit for this one. Lisa Gledhill, press officer for video communications said it did make us laugh in the office but unfortunately we have no idea who produced it, though we’d love to find out.’”

Virgin launched their new animated safety video which premiered on aircraft yesterday.

Rita Wilson Dooey, Atlantic Drive, Co. Donega1The Video of the week is a timelapse footage (watch here) of the Aurora Borealis over Trondheim by nature photographer Oyvind Schei. There were rare sightings of aurora borealis as far south as Mayo, with spectacular displays in Donegal and Tyrone. Inishowen Tourism has a list of the best places to see the Northern Lights while twitterrati rifled off rapid-fire Twitter alerts on best viewing sites. The picture here is by Donegal based Rita Wilson.

Cruise line MSC launched their new four-tier Experiences pricing structure to the trade on Friday, based on experience and inclusions rather than just cabins. It comes into force for winter 2014/15 sailings and replaces the current over-complicated cabin pricing. Guests who are already booked onto sailings will not be affected. MSC say it is based on consumer research, which found 30% of passengers are price sensitive while 70% decide to book cruises based on quality factors. Sales tools and a FAQ sheet are available to travel agents detailing dining priorities; how upgrades will work and adding extra packages

  • The Bella Experience will offer the lowest prices with an inside, ocean view or balcony cabin and full access to the pool, gym, activities and entertainment.
  • Fantastica, will have the Bella benefits as well as booking flexibility; 24-hour room service; 50% discount on fitness classes; special events for kids; free breakfast in cabin and dinner sitting priority.
  • Aurea will cover balcony and suite accommodation with the above benefits plus a complimentary spa package; priority embarkation; complimentary products and unlimited drinks with every meal.
  • MSC Yacht Club Experience is the already established ship on a ship experience, sampled by Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry this week, with its large suite, private pool area, personal butlers and chocolate covered strawberries.

3 winnersMary McKenna of Tour America, Celine Kenny of Cruisescapes and John Spollen of Cassidy Travel were the national winners at an agent awards ceremony on board the Splendida, giving Travel Extra an opportunity to catch up with the plans of new director of sales for Ireland Stephen Moffett and new Ireland and Britain director Giles Hawke (pictured). The pricing structure offers opt-outs such as room service. Among the proposals being considered is higher commission on shore excursions.stephen giles

MSC CEO Gianni Onorato (listen here) said MSC’s Grand Voyage to Australia was 60pc sold a year in advance, that the cruise line was planning earlier launches of their brochures and was seeking a name for their new agents-only platform. The cruise line is to open a unified European contact centre.

Rebecca Kelly of MSC said that the cruise line will continue to support the trade and has no intention of going direct to the consumer. MSC has announced MSC Orchestra will replace MSC Lirica in the UAE for winter 2014/15 and will see MSC Preziosa depart from Venice instead of Genoa. MSC Armonia will return from its drydock period with 200 new balcony cabins. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

The industry gears up for Internationale Tourismus-Börse, ITB Berlin from Wednesday next where 11,000 companies from 180 countries will fill a display area covering 160,000sqm spread across 26 halls. It is a good place to watch the leading lights of the travel industry, all of them utterly lost. Emirates are bringing their revolving globe, adding to the dizzying nature of the event. Last year Angela Merkel astonished the audience by telling German people to holiday at home as she opened the event. The Irish stand will be supported by 20 plus Irish tourism partners, including Aer Lingus, Irish Ferries, hotels, B&Bs, visitor attractions, incoming tour operators and activity providers. Both of Ireland’s ministers for tourism, Leo Varadkar and Arlene Foster are down to travel but not 100pc confirmed.

The IASS Defined Contribution pension talks, between ICTU on one side, and Dublin and Shannon airports and Aer Lingus on the other, never really got started. Aer Lingus wants the Trustee to get approval from the Pensions Board on its latest package, with unions obviously uneasy about Pension Board skepticism of the viability of the proposed remedies and on the DC/DB pensions debate in general. The airports look like becoming a staging post for the great pensions stand-off which has implications for public sector finances for years to come. ICTU called a four hour strike for Friday March 14 and Aer Lingus froze staff payments. Christoph Mueller said the absence of progress on pension matters inhibited developments on several other key matters for the business. Aer Lingus options include applying for an injunction on the grounds that this is technically not a “trade dispute” in the normal sense of the word.Stephen Kearney, Andrew MacFarlane Christophe Mueller

Aer Lingus reported an operating profit of €61.1m for 2013, an 11.6pc fall on 2012, with some good news from long-haul revenue (up 11.1pc to €381.6m) and transatlantic passenger numbers (up 12.2pc). Christoph Mueller told the annual results presentation conference (summary 1meg, presentation 2.5megs, online webcast here – requires registration) that having a mix of smaller shareholders, rather than potential large-scale stake building by a few investors is best for the airline. Other news:

  • Contract flying operations on behalf of Virgin Atlantic Airways operation broke even in 2013, reflecting start-up costs incurred in early 2013, and is forecast to turn profitable in 2014.
  • increased private demand from Ireland and corporate demand for San Francisco.
  • New routes Toronto and San Francisco are selling in line with expectations.
  • Full US Customs and Border pre-clearance has been secured for summer 2014 schedule.
  • Aer Lingus Regional is now growing independently as a franchisee, with aircraft to be based in Cork and Shannon for summer 2014. Aer Lingus mainline will not be switching any more capacity to Regional.
  • In 2014 the focus is on reducing costs, improving products and service, selling the additional long haul capacity and on load factor, it was stressed that 25pc of Aer Lingus seats remained unsold in 2013,
  • Christoph Mueller wants to use the Aer Lingus cash holding to be an active participant in the consolidation of the European airline sector, otherwise cash would be returned to shareholders.

michael caslinThe Euro 2016 draw brought bad news for soccer fans with three away trips this coming autumn to drain their budgets. Michael Caslin of 747 Travel (pictured) brought 130 fans to Tbilisi in 2003. He says connectivity has got worse in the 12 years since (one connecting return option leaves at 4am) and expects he will not bring a quarter that number to the match on September 7. The travel programme is Sept 7 Tbilisi, Oct 14 Germany (venue to be decided), Nov 14 Glasgow, Sept 4 2015 Gibraltar (in Algarve), Oct 11 2015 Poland (venue to be decided, likely to be Warsaw).

IMG_0268The Lowcost travel group, headed up in Ireland by Clem Walshe, are to set up a new Irish headquarters in Dundalk. and the company expect to employ up to 12 staff before the end of 2014. Immediate appointments will include call centre staff and aviation executives. Lowcost is offering the Ibiza Rocks Hotel, exclusively venue for acclaimed Ibiza Rocks gigs every Wednesday and WAR every Friday. If staying over a gig date, tickets are included in the price of the hotel booking. Picture shows Claire Howson, Clem Walshe and Kat Pouer of Lowcostbeds.

The CSO overseas travel stats showed that Irish people took slightly more trips abroad than last year, with 1.197m people travelling overseas, up 1.4pc on the same period a year ago.

Dalata hotel group, which operates 34 hotels in Ireland and Britain a third of which are under the Maldon name, plans to raise €200m through IPO. Tom Barrett of Savills Ireland said revenue per available hotel room in Dublin rose 11pc last year to €71,10pc in Cork, 9pc in Galway and 12pc in Kilkenny. Savills said 39 hotels worth €200m were sold in Ireland last year. Key deals included Trinity Capital Hotel in Dublin to US billionaire John Malone for €35m, the Clarion for €33m, Citywest for €30m, the Morrison for €22m, Fota Island Resort in Co Cork to the Beijing-based Kang family for €20m and Ashford Castle for €20m.

a350 testThe original delivery dates for Aer Lingus nine A350XWB aircraft cannot be achieved so Aer Lingus and Airbus are renegotiating delivery dates likely to be over the 2018-2020 period. Aer Lingus will still take nine aircraft, probably a mixture of A350-900 and A350-900R variants, which has more limited range. Airbus reported higher costs on the A350, its newest widebody jet, in its annual results this week as two more A350 XWB flight test aircraft, took to the skies above Toulouse (pictured), bringing the total number of A350 XWBs now flying from two to four. Airbus said it would raise output of its A320 family of small jets to 46 aircraft a month by the second quarter of 2016 from 42 now. Boeing’s rival jet aims to hit 47 a month by 2017.

WAW TeamIt seems blindingly obvious, already 95pc of images used abroad from Ireland are of the west coast, but nobody thought of it until now. Fáilte Ireland commissioned a carpet map of the Wild Atlantic Way which proved handy for the photos when they launched the details of their Wild Atlantic Way promotional campaign on Thursday. Full signage will be place at end of March, 2,850 signs at 980 junctions were being erected, national routes are already signed, the mobile app will be ready in June and already 15 of biggest inbound tour operators are already programming the Wild Atlantic Way (for a video of overseas reactions from DERtours and CIE Tours watch here). As for the acronym WAW: the jury is out on that one. Picture shows the Fáilte Ireland Wild Atlantic Way team: Fiona Monaghan, Joan Crawford, Josephine O’Driscoll, Flan Quilligan and Máire Aine Gardiner.

Project director Fiona Monaghan (listen here) said German cinema audiences gasped when they saw the soul-stirring cinema advertisements for the route (Irlands spektakuläre Küstenstraße, watch here) as have their French equivalent (La Côte Sauvage d’Irlande, watch here). She said this is about a rebirth for the businesses along the route (listen here).

Minister Ring Officially Launches Wild Atlantic Way [Trade]Fáilte Ireland CEO Shaun Quinn talked about the need to address the developing gap (listen here) between tourism in Dublin and the rest of the country and the Wild Atlantic Way would help address that, it was more than a road (listen here) and a bit like a shopping aisle (listen here), “visitors travel on it and go off it to consume”. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Minister Michael Ring pointed out that tourism creates jobs away from the big commercial hubs (listen here), and declared “the west of Ireland had beauty, infrastructure and people” (listen here), and recycled the joke about the WAW being known as the Ring road (read Lise Hand’s take on it). Wild Atlantic Way is the successor of the Gathering, the next big idea (listen here). He paid the now prerequisite tribute to the success of the Gathering (listen here) and to Michael Vaughan’s presidency of the IHF (listen here). The promotional campaign is to be extended to Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. Minister Ring Officially Launches Wild Atlantic Way [Minister]Fiona Monaghan compared the trail with the Great Coastal Route in Australia and the Pacific Coastal route in California except it is longer. with 159 discovery points with signage and interpretation and 16 signature discovery points. She stressed that the success of the initiative depends on businesses and communities along the route. There are 2,500 tourism enterprises along the route and she hoped this will encourage new businesses and start-ups: “the marketing is in place and it is up to us to deliver on the marketeers’ dreams.” Fiona Monaghan detailed the explosion of adventure events on the route and the expanding  blue ways, a maritime version of the land based greenways, signed trails for kayakers and scuba divers. She said this would encourage more visitors to engage with water, seascapes by boat & land and 26 offshore islands can be accessed from the route.  She said there was a lot of work to be done on community briefings along the route so nobody who was asked by a tourist could reply: the what? A video was shown featuring the people of the Wild Atlantic Way (watch here).

ambassadors 002Three Wild Atlantic Ambassadors spoke at the event: Michael Vaughan of Vaughan Lodge who said the route will make businesses economically viable that were not until now and talked about restorative power of coming to countryside and discovering nature compared with the high price of therapists in New York (listen here), Anne Ferguson of Ocean Addicts in Kinsale who said Ireland has some of best scuba diving but did not have the marketing power to compete until now (listen here). Margaret Cunningham of Glencolumbkille folk village talked about the impact of the disproportionate route on Donegal (listen here). TOPFLIGHT PARTY NIGHT Barter Travel

Picture shows the winning team from Barter Travel at the Topflight table quiz to celebrate the launch of their Cork to Verona flight for Summer 2014: Sonia O Connor, Linda O’Donovan, Shirley O’Connor, Graham Hennessy of Topflight, Lorraine Fuller and Gonzalo Quinaz. Topflight hosted 45 agents at a party night. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

  • Topflight That’s Amore campaign gives the agents a chance to win a €200 voucher for an Italian restaurant of their choice by booking a Topflight Italian holiday. Winners were Premier Travel (Derry), Dawson Travel (Cork), Douglas Travel (Cork), Professional Travel (Dungannon) and Just Split (Kilnamanagh in Dublin). Still more winners to come next week!
  • The winners of the TravelCube competition for an iPad 16 GB (worth €350) were announced as Noreen Monaghan (Virginia Travel Cavan) and Chanel Carels (USIT Dublin), both were thrilled with their prize.
  • Travelugo would like to invite Irish Travel Agents to sign-up for an account via There are no costs involved in this. When your account has been created Travelugo will send login details which will enable Agents to access all products and rates. Irish Travel Agents will be able to view net rates for each product as well as a suggested consumer selling rates.

IMG_4182Sri Lankan Airlines hosted the trade in Dublin on Thursday night. They are represented in Ireland by Premair. Picture shows Premair’s Eamon Flanagan listening to the speech by outgoing president of the ITAA Clare Dunne, who is travelling to Sri Lanka soon, with Indunil Wijekoon and Jeremy Soertsz of Sri Lankan in the background. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Amadeus reported a market share increase to 40.1pc in total air travel agency bookings and a 7.2pc year-on-year increase in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to €1.2bn. Air travel agency bookings increased by 6.5pc, to 443.4 million, on the back of strong growth in North America (+38.1pc) and Latin America (+12.5pc). Passengers Boarded increased by 9.2pc,to 615.7 million, with a 57.6pc rise in Asia Pacific. Amadeus acquired Newmarket International, a leading US-based Hotel IT provider, for $500m last year.

Nominations close next Thursday March 6 for the offices of president and treasurer of the Irish Travel Agents Association and for the board. As Clare Dunne has served a two year term a new president is now required. The AGM will take place in Bewley’s, Leopardstown, on April 3, sponsored by Travelport. Issues to be considered include the restructure of quorum requirements and board membership.

crystal ski pic La Plagne feb 2014

Double freeride world champion skier Adrien Coirier joined a ski trip to La Plagne in France led by Ray Scully of Crystal Ski. Picture shows Kevin Gleeson of the Irish Mail, Ray Scully of Crystal, Catherine Murphy of the Sunday Business Post, Adrien Coirier in red and John Collins of the Irish Times.

Heavy snow hit France in the middle of the week with Alpe d’Huez, Les Deuz Alpes and the Three Valleys providing powder skiing and clear weather on Thursday. Austria has enjoyed a mostly sunny week but there were light dustings at Lech and Zurs on Thursday. There was also powder on offer in Italy. Bulgaria also provided good skiing this week thanks to new snow on Tuesday. Whistler has been enjoying some of its famous powder days this week. After a relatively dry period for most American resorts Colorado is preparing for heavy snow next week and Squaw got 26 inches of snow. It was suggested a new Jungfrau cable car could cut travel time to Europe’s highest train station by 90 minutes.

The stand-off between ski schools ESF and Evolution on the French slopes has led to some interesting patriotic stand-offs over English ski guides with the London Telegraph and London Mail both working themselves into a temper. The Telegraph ran a poll to “support English ski instructors in France and alleged that one ski instructor faced prison for allegedly working without a licence as part of an attempt to drive away British professionals. The Mail reported Ski professionals from the UK believe the French are trying to drive them off the slopes – ruining peoples’ holidays in the process. More reasonable voices argued the system is not anti-British but an attempt to impose order on the slopes.

IMG_0519The DFA updated their advice on Thailand with some detail but the key advice remained unchanged asking Irish citizens to exercise caution and stay away from protest sites. Joanna Cooke’s blog continues to stress that visitors to Thailand are unaffected by ongoing protests and tourist attractions and sightseeing tours are open and operating as usual. A number of rapid Tourist Police units and 50 volunteers are also on standby to assist tourists who may require travelling through the demonstration areas and the Tourist’s Friend Centre is open 24 hours a day to offer assistance for tourists.

German tourists were pulled out of Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt‘s Sinai peninsula, while Irish travellers were left in the resorts. The DFA advises Irish citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to Egypt at this time with the sole exception of the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh, where Irish citizens are advised to arrive and depart by air and to avoid travelling outside the resort. Nick Trend argued holidaymakers heading to Sharm el Sheikh deserve more options and another newspaper complained tourists face “lockdown” within a security cordon when they arrive. Even excursions such as quad-biking and camel-riding in the desert are off-limits.

panel discussionYou couldn’t make it up department. Self-fulfilling prophecy/parody of the week was Michael O’Leary’s address to the IHF. He told the convener Olivia O’Leary that while “being savages” for free publicity worked in newer markets such as Italy where Ryanair was still breaking through, it just annoyed people in its more mature markets. He gave some examples: his proposals to charge for using the toilet on aircraft (June 1 2009) and plans to fly passengers to US for under €10 (June 17 2008 at the infamous beds and blowjobs press conference, watch here, and again June 23 2013 on Bloomberg). Then, when Olivia O’Leary pressed him on the issue, O’Leary reverted to type (listen here) and replied that he hoped to launch long haul once Gulf airlines like Qatar and Emirates (which he dubbed “extensions of the state’s penis”) stop buying up longhaul aircraft. Ryanair would fly from 12-14 major European cities to 12-14 major US destinations and a full service would begin within six months of Ryanair getting the aircraft to do so. While Tim O’Brien in the Irish Times believed Michael’s introductory remarks that he was being facetious, the temptation proved too good to resist for Aideen Sheehan in the Irish Independent. She was right. The trans-Atlantic ten-euro story went viral (again, for the third time) with more than 200 articles worldwide. Willie Walsh was even asked about it at the IAG results and bemusedly replied it could never happen because of taxes and airport charges. The London Telegraph took up Michael O’Leary’s point how passengers would pay extra for everything from meals to baggage and considered whether the experience would be worth the savings.

Elsewhere Michael Cawley was telling the Shannon Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Dromoland Castle that Ryanair “is only scratching the surface” of its potential in Europe, stating that carrying 200m passengers in a single yearis very realistic”. He said Ryanair “lost families in a big way” last year.

The London Telegraph profiled Michael O’Leary’s travelling life, including a trip to Bucharest back in the early days of Ryanair, people talk about Ryanair’s customer service ethos, but this took the biscuit. We landed at midnight and were marched silently into the terminal building by machine gun-toting guards. They locked the doors, turned off the lights and left us there all night. The following morning, without anyone telling us where we were going, we were marched onto a bus, then on to a train to endure a six-hour trip to Bucharest, itself a dreadful place to visit. Back then, all foreigners were put into the Intercontinental Hotel. In those days there were no lights, the food was atrocious, the beer even worse, and it was full of hookers and God knows what else.

stephen mcnally2The new man wearing the chain at the IHF is from a chain. Deputy CEO of Dalata Hotel Group Stephen McNally was elected president of the Irish Hotels Federation for the next two years. McNally said an extra €30m a year should be ring-fenced for development of tourism infrastructure and an extra 74,000 tourism jobs could be created by 2020 if Ireland attracted 10m overseas. The pre conference survey indicated:

  • Hotel room occupancy levels were flat (up 1pc) and rural hotels faced weak domestic demand and difficulties encouraging overseas visitors to venture outside cities and traditional tourism locations. IHF CEO Tim Fenn said “We’re effectively seeing a three-speed recovery with Dublin city centre positioned in the fast lane and tourism hotspots such as Cork, Galway and Killarney doing fairly well.” Listen here to Michael Vaughan’s opening address.
  • 68pc of hoteliers plan to take on additional staff over next 12 months
  • 75pc of hotels and guesthouses reported difficulties hiring suitably qualified craft-level staff.
  • The conference called for a 30pc reduction in local authority rates.

o'learyOlivia O’Leary introduced Leo Varadkar as “the man who got rid of the travel tax” as he was invited to close the conference. He said he is keen to budget further investment in the Wild Atlantic Way and said that the €8m currently budgeted for the project is only for 2014. He said it will cost around €17m to repair damages caused by the recent storms (listen here).

  • Michael O’Leary demonstrated Ryanair’s new-look website and soon-to-be-launched app, and announced that he would be stepping out of the limelight to allow Ryanair’s more customer-friendly advertisement campaign get under way.stephen mcnally3
  • Guest speaker futurologist Paul Dixon (watch his update from the IHF conference here), said that in order to understand the future of travel, hoteliers have to understand the “madness of customers”. He said that hoteliers have to understand their customers’ experiences and that “the greatest risk [to the business] is institutional blindness. It is crucial for hotels to have a decent mobile website, 82pc of research buying decisions are made on mobile and that 85pc of all web traffic is lost in five seconds because of poorly-built websites. Tiny things really matter, like having a large-print restaurant menu and legible shampoo bottles. Looking to the future, with a rapidly aging population it is important to think about over 50s’ experiences in hotels. Dixon also recommended almost instant email responses, regular social media engagement and even told hoteliers to challenge negative posts on TripAdvisor.ihf4
  • Designer Mel McNally said customers want spa-like bathrooms that are better than home. Oversized bathtubs, waterfall showers and his-and-hers sinks are in vogue. The blurring of indoor and outdoor settings is a definite trend at the moment and a multifunctional foyer is a must-have for hotels. A dramatic change of lighting can transform the atmosphere in the foyer and dining area, which is popular with parents who are looking for a restaurant that serves as both a casual dining area for the family and a chill-out for the parents. “Four-stars need to add boutique,” McNally said, and recommended that hoteliers play on the Irish culture to create unique spaces.ihf3
  • Memory expert and entertainer Bob Gray (watch here) demonstrated how to remember guests’ names by attaching an object to the name. He also proved how he can speak phonetically backwards and write extemporaneously upside down, backwards and upside down and backwards with both hands and feet (he holds two Guinness world records).
  • Food writer John McKenna urged hoteliers to create “emotional experiences” for their customers: “Irish hospitality is fundamentally about emotional experiences, hotels can use cheap initiatives to create these experiences like making the perfect ham sandwich (not an easy task) and investing in a food truck to showcase hotel foods at festivals. Hotel “staff need to be experts, not spear-bearers, so it is important for hoteliers to know their region and know everything about what they put on a plate. And a good barista will serve hotels well because there’s big money to be made in coffee.
  • Stephen McNally is a Meath-born Kildare supporter which might mean Kildare on the podium soon (it worked for Paul Gallagher’s Dublin and Michael Vaughan’s Clare).Gathering Award Winners_0
  • The Kenmare Lace Festival won Best Innovative Gathering at The Irish Hotels Federation Gathering Awards. Other winners: Best Sports Gathering: Emerald Isle Gathering, Best Arts & Culture Gathering: The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival, Cork, Best Family Gathering: The Stack Clan Gathering, Best Gathering Festival: Kilkenny Tradfest, Each of the winners receives a €2,000 bursary to be used to host a future event.See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Turkey extended the transition period of the e-visa process until December 31 instead of April 30 as originally planned.

Dubai says bookings made prior to March 31st with arrivals from March 31st will not be exempt from the new compulsory Tourist Dirham tax to be levied on all booked hotel accommodation in Dubai form that date, the tax ranges from AED7/€1.40 in one star, AED10/€2 in two and three star, AED15/€3 in four star and AED20/€4 per room in five star.

view from towerAlan Gilsenan’s and Lesley McKimm‘s Pioneers and Aviators documentary about Irish aviation was shown on RTE1, largely a twin-tribute to two Munstermen, Clare’s Brendan O’Regan and most especially Tipperary’s Tony Ryan (Ryan’s biographer Richard Aldous featured prominently). Kevin Conner said that one in five aircraft in the sky is now managed out of Ireland, and Peter Sutherland said that aircraft leasing contributed prominently to Ireland’s balance of trade figures with the USA. Watch part one here and watch part two here on RTÉ player. Declan Lynch paid a tribute of his own: “it is truly astonishing to think that at one time in Ireland, there were men in the public service such as Brendan O’Regan who didn’t actually need to be incentivised to do their jobs properly, who didn’t require a top-up, and who sometimes even favoured the opposite, a kind of a top-down” Another reviewer felt the second part had “a corporate video feel to it” (it was partly-sponsored by Dómhnal Slattery‘s Avolon). While its coverage of the failure the GPA flotation featured a sanitised version of Jack Welch’s exchange with Tony Ryan (Tony: “you are raping me,” Jack: “you are walking around with no clothes on“), the premier of the programme in the National Concert Hall in January coincided with what Reuters called: “revenge of the Irish,” the takeover of ILFC by Aengus Kelly‘s AerCap, which is due to close in May. The most revealing thing about remarkable thing to emerge from Pioneers and Aviators is how  Ireland’s aviation successes have remained hidden from popular culture for so long.  

  • Falcon/Thompson launched an online check in service for their Irish clients for Thomson Airways flights. Passengers can now check in and print their boarding cards before they get to the airport.
  • Singapore Airlines is to close its Dublin office in Dawson Street.
  • Aer Lingus third B757 EI-LBT has been rolled out as St Brendan.
  • An internal Air France document seen by AFP suggests that Air France negotiated a five year profit-sharing arrangement with Cityjet’s new owners Intro when they take over mid-March.
  • Ethiopian Airlines will go daily with its 21:00hrs evening service between Addis Ababa and London Heathrow  from July, adding a Tuesday flight to its previously 6w service. Ethiopian will move into Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 in September, offering same-terminal connections with Aer Lingus. The airline is currently implementing its 15 year strategic plan called Vision 2025 to become the most competitive and leading aviation group in Africa. Represented in Ireland by Premair, they offer connections from Dublin via Heathrow and Frankfurt to Addis Ababa and onwards to African destinations. Ethiopian airlines connections are available through Copenhagen with SAS. It recently made Vienna its ninth European destination and hopes to start a Dublin-Addis Adaba service in January.
  • A group of conservationists told Virgin boss Richard Branson “don’t be a dick” and stop selling trips to the SeaWorld theme parks with an open letter on Youtube (watch here). Whale and Dolphin Conservation appears to have singled out Branson for the launch of the campaign because he is well-known for his environmentalist credentials.
  • Heathrow Airport Terminal 2, to which Aer Lingus moves on July 9, announced its 64 shop and restaurant retail line-up featuring Cath Kidston, London’s Pride by Fullers, Bottega Veneta, John Lewis and Michael Kors. A new 270-degree observation deck, converted from a former airline lounge, opened in Heathrow T4 between gates 15 and 16. The airport plans to cut 200 jobs in a major restructuring, despite making its first profit since 2006.
  • Etihad will launch a non-stop daily service between Abu Dhabi and Phuket on October 26 using two-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft, with 22 Pearl Business seats and 240 Coral Economy seats.
  • The European Commission found that agreements giving discounts on airport charges and marketing incentives concluded between Aarhus airport and Ryanair in 1999 did not involve any state aid.
  • Lufthansa say portable electronic devices can be used in all phases of flight from March 1. Lufthansa are going to add a fifth weekly Dublin-Munich service for peak summer.

Cork airport app launch 08Cork Airport made Google Indoor Maps available for all public areas of the airport. A new Cork Airport App, developed with Irish web design company FeedHenry, introduces features such as live arrivals and departures information, car park booking, integrated maps and details of all of the retail and catering outlets within the terminal. Picture shows Niall MacCarthy, Managing Director, Cork Airport and Aoibhinn Gleeson, Operations Support Specialist, Cork Airport.

  • Flybe are to replace their Dash 8 with an E-195 on the Dublin Exeter route.
  • Belgian airline, VLM (Flemish Air Transport Company joined the European Regions Airline Association, bringing membership to 49.
  • Ralph Anker’s reported passenger numbers at European airports were up 3pc in 2013. Numbers at Irish airports were up 4.2pc. Other increases include Turkey 15.1pc, Russia 12.3pc, UK 3.4pc, France 2.1pc, Germany 0.5pc, Italy -1.9pc, Spain -3.5pc.
  • Turkish Airlines Lounge in Istanbul has added another 2400sqm to its existing 3500sqm, increasing the size by over 40pc,
  • WestJet, which commences a Dublin-St John’s service on June 15, has signed Panasonic Avionics Corporation to provide it with a new in-flight entertainment system.
  • Brendan Howlin told Michael Brennan that the government has abandoned plans to merge the Aviation Regulator and Irish Aviation Authority due to advice from Europe.
  • Ryanair suspended 18 routes this summer from Dusseldorf Weeze and airport traffic will fall at least 20-25pc according to the airport CEO.
  • ANA are to add onboard wifi next month. Japan Airlines grounded a Boeing Dreamliner when smoke was seen outside the cockpit window.
  • Emirates are to fly Dubai to Chicago operated by a Boeing 777-200LR from August. Emirates Abu Dhabi-Chengduu goes daily form the current 5w on March 30.
  • Cathay and Qatar announced a strategic agreement.
  • Qantas is dropping its services between Perth and Singapore and downgrading Singapore services out of Sydney and Brisbane from B747s to smaller and more fuel-efficient A330s now that most European traffic has switched to Dubai. It will keep its twice daily A380 services to London, despite speculation that either one or both routes would be dropped in a bid to reduce losses. Tallaght-born CEO Alan Joyce said he was “absolutely committed” to Qantas, despite calls for his resignation as the airline suffered a loss of Aus235m/€152m, the biggest first-half loss since the Keating government began cutting it free from government ownership in 1995. Qantas plans to shed 5,000 jobs from its 33,000-strong workforce. Staff costs are twice as high as those at Emirates, Etihad and SIA, and it is facing increased competition in its home market. Virgin Australia blamed intense competition, subdued demand and economic uncertainties for its own €55m loss.
  • British Airways’ owner International Airlines Group returned to profit after Iberia restructuring and benefits of more Heathrow take-off and landing slots. Air France-KLM improved from a net loss of €696m to a net loss of €349m, actual net loss was €1.8bn compared to 1.22bn in 2012.
  • Etihad CEO James Hogan said his airline will launch a route to a major Scottish city in 2015. Willie Walsh said travellers will head for an independent Scotland if it abolished air passenger duty. Julie Davidson assembled a virtual infantry at the Bannockburn visitor centre state-of-the-art visitor centre, which opens on Saturday.
  • Finnair is to add operate 17 weekly services to Bangkok up from its current double-daily.
  • Delta Air Lines is revamping its frequent flyer programme to reward passengers who buy the most expensive tickets. From January 1 next year it will move to a system where passengers will be awarded miles based on the price of their ticket rather than distance travelled. Members will earn between five and 11 miles per US dollar spent, depending on their SkyMiles status and benefit from new One-Way Awards, the introduction of additional Miles, cash award options and improvements to shopping tools.
  • BMI pensioners found that cash compensation by Lufthansa to ease pension losses is now subject to tax.
  • David Ashford, a 74-year-old Bristol-based entrepreneur, is hoping to bring down the cost of commercial space flight 1000-fold with an innovative spaceplane design capable of sub-orbital flight and looked for crowdfunding to fund it.
  • Nick Trend considered whether airlines increase fares as they track customers searching for flights.
  • Holidaymakers to Goa are warned of an ongoing strike by taxi drivers affecting travel around the airport and major hotel.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Verona ordered a replica Juliet statue after one too many brushes with tourists. The tradition of rubbing a bronze statue of Shakespeare’s star-crossed heroine has damaged it.
  • Fresh concerns were raised about safety in Zanzibar following separate explosions at a cathedral and Mercury’s restaurant and bar, a favourite of tourists. in Stone Town.
  • Walt Disney World raised the price of a single-day ticket to the Magic Kingdom by $4 to $99 for visitors aged 10 and over, and $93 for children up to 9 years old while under 3′s will continue to gain free admission. Day tickets to Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom also rise $4. Disney World has spent heavily on the recently launched $1.5bn MyMagic+ ticketing technology which includes MagicBand bracelets, offering an all-in-one admission ticket, guestroom key and virtual credit card.
  • Turkey extended the e-visa deadline so holiday makers visiting Turkey will still be able to purchase their visa at the airport until the end of the year
  • Tourism Australia’s latest There’s nothing like Australia campaign for April 2014 is promoting the country as a two week destination with a range of 13 day itineraries.
  • It was reported that English hotel staff have failed to shake off the Basil Fawlty reputation for desultory service. London barrister Shirley Bothroy was the latest hotelier to turn on a Tripadvisor reviewer. She said she liked being labelled a ‘Basil Fawlty’ as it showed she likes to entertain.
  • Despite the detractors, the winter Olympics were a success and the lessons from Sochi pieces started early and continued. The Winter Olympics boosted Sochi’s potential as a holiday destination as hotels received a surge in bookings.
  • Oscar weekend brought out some travel articles highlighting filming locations.
  • An English holiday maker won a refund of €2,500 for cancelling a Thomson holiday.
  • Hilton is set to open a 389-room, five-storey Munich Airport hotel. The building currently operates as Kempinski Munich Airport Hotel and will eventually be known as Hilton Munich Airport.
  • Doyle Collection launched its new suite, which is the largest townhouse suite in London, and they are holding a dinner with key media on Tuesday.
  • Susie Ellis of the Global Wellness Tourism Congress says six of the top ten nations for total wellness tourism trips and expenditures are in Europe.
  • Orient-Express Hotels are to rebrand as Belmond.
  • Skål Dublin Club AGM is to be held at 12.30 on Tuesday March 11 followed by lunch in the Conrad Dublin Hotel.

travelfox rcclRoyal Caribbean said over two-thirds of bookings for the first day of sales on Anthem of the Seas were for premium balcony and suite accommodation. Picture shows Jenny Rafter of Royal Caribbean (on left) with the Travelfox team on last week’s agency tour: Christine O Sullivan, Lorraine O Connor, Colette Morey, Jane Mc Mahon, Lorraine Harrington and Roz Walsh.

  • Disney ships received 29 awards in the Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice awards including 13 number one awards such as Best Overall, Best for Families, Best Service, Best Dining and Entertainment, Best Cabins and Public Rooms for the Disney Fantasy in the Large Ship category.Graham Hughes’s trip to every country in the world (without boarding a plane) was finally recognised by Guinness World Records.
  • Hotelbeds and Palladium Hotel Group hosted the second MarketHub Europe in the new Hard Rock Hotel in Ibiza
  • MoonJet announced a new VAT exemption programme aimed at aircraft operators wanting to make significant cost savings on aviation fuel purchases.
  • WorldSIM launched a new dual SIM smartphone, the WorldSIM Orbizz which comes unlocked with a travel SIM card that gives cheap call and data worldwide.
  • The Macau Government Tourist Office launched an iOS app.
  • Bourg in Bordeaux is hosting 800 tasters to sample 5,000 wines from 34 countries in the 38th Challenge International du Vin, the largest international wine competition held in France.
  • The US Department of Commerce said America’s outbound travel was up 1pc in 2013.
  • MAMA March Marketplace will host 200 international travel buyers who travel to England including Thompson Holidays, Tui and Thomas Cook and Irish operators at Wembley Stadium on March 17.
  • Adventure Canada’s Northwest Passage Voyage was declared a 2014 Canadian Signature Experience.
  • The European Investment Bank has agreed to provide a funding contribution of GBP175m towards the completion of the motorway link between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
  • Bushfire, Swaziland’s biggest collaboration of artists from across the world; a celebration of music, art, and culture takes place May 30-June 1.
  • DreamWorks Animation will partner with the company behind the London Eye ferris wheel for a Shrek-themed attraction on South Bank of the Thames, due to open in summer 2015, and six similar sites across the globe.
  • The world’s longest drop tower multi-slide ride, Ihu’s Breakaway Falls, will open on May 9 at Aquatica Orlando.
  • SITE, the Swahili International Tourism Expo, will be hosting Irish buyers and travel writers at Tanzania’s first ever International Tourism Expo, October 1-4.
  • Sunway launched a new Couples Retreats and Honeymoon brochure.
  • Translate Your World, developers of language software and mobile applications says its TYWI-Tourism, a suite of software enables hotel staff and managers to speak up to 78 languages instantly, eliminating the language barrier.
  • AirSafetyCentral reported it now has 100 members, including major airlines, business aviation operators and airports from around the world, reporting and sharing flight safety information.

sunway James FlemingSunway Holidays is increasing its cruise department with James Fleming moving from his Club Med and Rivercruise brief. James has been with Sunway for three years and is now back in the Dun Laoghaire HQ and will lead up this new cruise team. Sunway is currently recruiting cruise experts, preferred cruise partners including Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, MSC Cruises, Holland America, Silversea and Carnival Cruise Line & Star Clipper Cruises.

  • Bushfire, Swaziland’s biggest collaboration of artists from across the world; a celebration of music, art, and culture takes place May 30-June 1.
  • CSO overseas visitor figures to Ireland show growth of +8.2pc for November 2013 to January 2014, over the same three-month period last year, with North America up 15pc, Britain +8.5pc and the mainland +2pc, Germany (+18.6pc), Spain (+10pc) and the Benelux countries (+9.1pc).
  • The Office of Public Works released its figures for 2013 in response to a written Dáil question from Galway West TD Brian Walsh, showing most attractions unable to pay their way through gate receipts alone. The top attractions were: Botanic Gardens 550,000, Farmleigh 435,476, Kilmainham Gaol 326,206,Rock of Cashel 255,338, Castletown House and Parklands 244,416, Kilkenny Castle 241,302, Clonmacnoise 139,413, Phoenix Park Visitor Centre 137,755, Newgrange 133,616, Dun Aonghusa 105,539.
  • The Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark, in conjunction with the Burren Ecotourism Network, will host The Burren Tourism Story 2014 at the Pavilion, Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare, on Wednesday 5th March from 6.30-8.30pm.
  • The Tree Council of Ireland selected Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow as the venue for the Launch of National Tree Week, March 2-8.
  • Belfast St George’s Market was shortlisted in the ‘Best Food Market’ category of this year’s BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards 2014.
  • Franciscan Well on Cork’s  North Mall is launching Brewery Tours & Tastings from 6:30pm, €10 per person.

Joe Arkins Monica Meehan Conor O’Brien,Conor O’Brien (descendant of Brian Ború) launched the new Brian Ború Trails Guide featuring sites in Co Clare associated with millennial hero. Pictures shows Mayor of Clare Joe Arkins, Monica Meehan of Clare County Council and Conor O’Brien,

  • Labour Party MEP Emer Costelloe said that Ireland could not treble its revenue earnings in maritime tourism to €1.5bn by 2020. Approximately 21,000 people were employed in Ireland’s coastal tourism sector in 2008.
  • The Irish Craft Beer and Food Market takes place from Thursday March 13 to Monday March 17 inside the CHQ Building on George’s Dock.
  • Consent to destroy the 800-year old Coolbanagher Castle on the outskirts of Portlaoise was granted by Laois County Council under dangerous buildings legislation.
  • opened new facilities for golfers arriving in Shannon and Cork to go along with those already serving golfers arriving at Dublin airport.

Failte Ireland geneaologyKilkenny launched the Medieval Mile from Kilkenny Castle to St Canice’s Cathedral. Picture shows Pat Tynan of Tynan Walking Tours, Joe Crockett Kilkenny County Manager, Gary Breen, Head of Operations Fáilte Ireland, Liam Anthony Griffin of Destination Kikenny/Griffin Group; Brian Tyrell of Kilkenny Borough Council.

  • Aer Lingus latest sale is offering San Francisco direct from €369, Toronto direct from €239.
  • Etihad are offering Pearl Business Class return ticket from Dublin to Abu Dhabi from €1,767, Muscat from €1,761, Bangkok from €1,937.
  • Emirates offering economy class fares from Dublin to Australia and New Zealand has economy fares starting from €754 return. Book by March 17.
  • Celebrity Cruise line is offering a choice between complimentary drinks or up to $300 onboard spend on selected sailings departing from May 2014 to March 2015, booked before April 30.
  • Irish Ferries Holidays is offering a two for one offer on tickets to Alton Towers Resort when it reopens for the new season on March 22nd.