TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Can Aer Lingus’ deal survive Black Monday?


Stephen McNally Presiient of the IHF presents Mary McAleese with the President's award at the Irish Hotels Federation Conference Gala Dinner while being photographed by Don McMonigle in the Slieve Russell Hotel,

Stephen McNally, President of the IHF, presents Mary McAleese with the President’s award at the Irish Hotels Federation Conference Gala Dinner while being photographed by Don McMonigle in the Slieve Russell Hotel.

The headlines this week:

  • IAG holds fire after Paschal D’s Downer
  • Hoteliers talk growth, but 150 hotels still in trouble
  • Airlines release sale fares for late spring
  • Stena Superfast starts journey from Poland
  • Count ‘em – 3 waterslides for Royal ‘s biggest ever cruise ship
  • Farewell NITB, hello Tourism NI

Travel Extra TV

Video of week March 1Our video of the week comes from Mammoth Films. Half of the homes in Lake Lotawana, Missouri belong to visitors who only holiday during the summer. So what does everyone else do during the winter season? Watch here to find out.

  • Michael O’Leary talks about Ryanair sponsoring the Fairyhouse Gold Cup. Watch here.
  • KLM showcases its corporate biofuel programme. Watch here.
  • Opera singer Pretty Yende went on a two-day visit to South Africa with British Airways, where she took some time off touring to speak to 350 young people from Cape Town. Watch here.
  • Emirates marks the Dubai Food Festival with a special menu designed by chef Silvena Rowe. Watch here.


paschal donohue mary mcaleeseWe note the press statement issued by the Irish government and will consider it in due course. That was IAG’s one line response to the events of Black Monday when Paschal Donohoe told IAG it would have give extended guarantees on Heathrow slots and growth in both Cork and Shannon. The statement had the desired effect of asserting, presumably on behalf of the Labour Party, a silencing of the dissenting voices within the Aer Lingus Trade Unions suggesting a large number of staff (80pc according to IMPACT official) were in favour of the IAG bid, and an interesting message of support from Pat Rabbitte. Can IAG allow the politicians play politics further. Nobody but Willie Walsh would have brought the bid this far and the game is not over yet. Paschal is pictured chatting with Mary McAleese at the IHF gala dinner.

Irish Hotels Federation President Stephen McNally and CEO Tim Fenn at the IHF Conference in the Slieve Russell Hotel, Feb 23-25 2015

Irish Hotels Federation President Stephen McNally and CEO Tim Fenn at the IHF Conference in the Slieve Russell Hotel, Feb 23-25 2015

Former president Mary McAleese was the recipient of the president’s award at the Irish Hotels Federation conference in the Slieve Russell Hotel, giving perhaps the most memorable speech in the entire history of IHF gala dinners (listen here) (listen here for Michael Rigney’s citation of Professor McAleese). Paschal Donohoe paid tribute to the resilience of the sector in his speech (listen here). It was the biggest conference in recent years, with 33 sitting for the gala dinner and 730 bookings, up from 680 last year.

alan ahearneEconomist Alan Ahearne told delegates the 9pc tourism VAT rate has exceeded expectations in terms of job retention and creation while the cost to the Exchequer has been markedly lower than initially expected. He claimed the tourism industry has added more than 30,000 jobs since the VAT rate was reduced to 9pc − accounting for more than one of every three net new jobs created in Ireland over this period.

All zoom and boom then (or even boom and Coombe, with a handful of hotels expanding and new hotels being born)? Not really. In the Fáilte Ireland survey 35pc of Irish hoteliers say they still doubt the viability of their business.

Aiden Murphy 001Aiden Murphy, in the most informative presentation to the conference, said there are 150 hotels still out there who need long term financial help. Peak debt incurred by Ireland’s hotels was €6.7bn, of which €3.9bn was sustainable but €2.8bn required a write-off. “After seven years of recession only 50pc of these hotels have been worked out”. Of 145 hotels put into receivership, 85 have been sold, 25 are for sale and 35 are due to come on to the market. He said hotels belonged in three tier of which the first tier, 84 Dublin city centre hotels, were doing best, but most of the 663 third tier hotels were find trading conditions difficult.

Sarah Duggan said there was a lot of revpar decline to be recovered. Revpar declined 29.8pc during the recession. She pointed out that while Dublin has been experiencing growth for 20 months, Dublin started growing 16 months before the rest of the country. Jim Dollard, executive director of Electric Ireland, announced a 20pc discount for hoteliers booking before end of April. Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody told delegates: “it is so dangerous dealing with success, success makes you soft if you let it.” Michael Cawley gave an entertaining account of Fáilte Ireland’s plans with numerous mentions of his former employer Ryanair. “When you see what Stratford upon Avon can do with a little known English writer, think of what Dublin can do with its writers.”

stephen laughingIHF President Stephen McNally called a truce with the much maligned OTA’s: The main point is that we control the inventory and we give them the rate we cannot always blame them. We need to focus and motivate our staff.

Michael Ring declared the election on with a rousing speech asking the hoteliers who had looked after them when they came to cast their votes. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

2 logos

Spot the difference: Tourism Northern Ireland has replaced the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the most visible change from a review of NITB activities in October. A new chair will be appointed to the body when Howard Hastings’ term ends in mid March and a new CEO to replace the departing Allan Clarke is expected to be appointed in early April.

NO FEE GPO WITNESS HIS CENTRE MX1An Post has appointed Shannon Heritage to operate and manage the €7m GPO Witness History Interpretive Exhibition Centre following a competitive tender process.   The centre is currently under construction in the inner eastern courtyard of the GPO and expects 300,000 visitors after it opens Easter 2016. Picture shows John Ruddle of Shannon Heritage; Barney Whelan of An Post; Minister for Arts, Heather Humphreys and Neil Pakey CEO Shannon Group.turkish airlines group pic copy

IMG_0426 copyNiall Glynn of Croatia Tours/Marian Pilgrimages and Onur Gul of Turkish Airlines hosted a group of travel writers in Istanbul and the Holy Land, stopping by to see the sights of Istanbul en route to Tel Aviv, which is Turkish Airlines most popular transfer option for Turkish Airlines. Pictures shows  Joe Supple of East Coast FM, Eleanor Goggin of the Sunday Independent, Patsy McGarry of The Irish Times, Nadine O’Regan of The Sunday Business Post, Eoin Edwards of the Irish Examiner, Niall Glynn of Croatia Tours/Marian Pilgrimages, Onur Gul of Turkish Airlines and Eoghan Corry editor of Travel Extra, and Niall Glynn with Onur Gul. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Airbnb is to create 200 new jobs at its Dublin base as part of an expansion at the Watermarque Building in Dublin 4. The company also announced plans to extends its operations to a new building at Hanover Quay. 

Travel Trade

Topflight launched their programmes to Madeira on a shared charter with Concorde and Travel Department. A Europe Airpost charter will operate direct from Dublin to Funchal every Thursday from May 7 until Sept 17, after a hiatus of two years.

Limerick Travel Photo copyLimerick Travel and Roscrea Travel were the winners of the Bookabed Valentines Promotion and had a €100 voucher and a bottle of champagne delivered by Lee Osborne. Picture shows Limerick Travel group: Stephanie Nagle, Susan Ryan, Lee Osborne, Jayne O’Shea & Rita Gaughan-Hough.

United Airlines’ booking incentive starts Friday next for any booking on United‘s Dublin/Washington service made until June 30. Agents can win a pair of return flights to Washington DC in United BusinessFirst. Send booking details, including flight reference, in one e-mail to: putting “DUB-IAD” in the subject line. The more bookings you make, the more chance you have of winning.

IMG_4296The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s European director Tanes Petsuwan said he expected the Irish market to return to growth in 2015 after visitors from Ireland fell by 1.25pc to 62,727 from 63,522 in 2014, was still the third highest figure ever, close to the 62,924 recorded in 2013. Overall visitor numbers were 24,779,768 down -6.66pc from 26,546,725 the previous year. European visitors were down 2.38pc to 6,156,132.The Tourism Authority of Thailand hosted Irish travel agents at a series of roadshows in Belfast, Dublin and Cork this week.

Travel Professional Skillnet is offering a Confidence on Camera workshop on March 3, 9.30am-5pm at ITAA Office, Westmoreland St, Dublin 2. Costs €120. Full details and bookings.

Lorna at Thomas Cook Mansfield FHFunway‘s tweetheart Valentine’s Day competition winner Lorna Hamilton of Thomas Cook Mansfield is presented with her prize by Anna Hawkins of Funway Holidays.

  • Agents are reminded to register their British Airways, American Airlines or US Airways bookings made until April 3 to be in with a chance of winning a place on the USA MegaFam trip 2015, May 14-21. Apply at
  • Rannveig Snorradottir is leaving her position as sales manager for Tumlare.
  • Roscrea Travel Photo copyPicture shows Roscrea Travel group with Lee Osborne of Bookabed, Claire Byrne, Denise Reid and Bernie Hensey.
  • MSC Cruises in London has appointed Chiara Brooker to the newly created role of Sales Manager (trade operations).
  • Innstant Travel launched its new car hire product, booked using a two-step process and combining 500 suppliers in 193 countries such as Avis, Sixt, Hertz, Europcar and Budget.
  • ADMEI awarded the Joanne O’Conor President’s Award to Brian Ferrell of Destination Oklahoma
  • sara rviero and babySpotted at Dublin Airport with a sleepy baby en route home to Madrid: Sara Rivero of the Spanish Tourist Board.
  • The Irish launches of Salou Holiday Experience, take place in Cork on Wednesday and Dublin on Thursday. Packages can be purchased through Travel Agencies and include return airport transfers, accommodation as booked, 3 day park passes to PortAventura and services of local partners. Flights can be booked at best available rates by the client or their chosen Travel Agent.
  • Lowcostbeds, headed up in Ireland by Clem Walshe, says its new mobile holiday booking app has now over 6,000 downloads.
  • Disney named Bob Chapek as chairman of its theme parks business, replacing Tom Staggs, who was promoted to COO.


A UNWTO report on Hotel Classification Systems identified common criteria among 4 and 5 star hotels, to guide destinations wishing to revise existing or establish new hotel classification system.

orla kielyThe Glenlo Abbey Hotel in Galway is to stock amenities by Irish designer Orla Kiely. The range includes Geranium Bath & Body products.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts is offering guests one Starpoint loyalty point for every dollar spent on Uber rides. Guests must link their Starwood Preferred Guest and Uber accounts online at Hotels & Resorts Worldwide opened the Sheraton McKinney Hotel and Conference Centre in McKinney, Texas. Starwood and Spanish hotel operator Melia Hotels International announced yesterday that they have established a joint venture that has agreed to acquire a collection of hotels across key resort locations in Spain The 5-star Radisson Blu Hotel Du 2 Février Lomé in Togo to open in autumn will offer 320 rooms and apartments, five food & drink outlets and meeting space of 3,600sqm.

  • New hotels in Italy: JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, opens mid-March. ME Hotel Il Duca, Milan, opens April 2015. Mandarin Oriental, Milan, opens May 2015. Sheraton Lake Como Hotel, opens March 25.
  • Pousada de Lisboa will open June 1 in Terreiro do Paço in a historic building within walking distance of the Tagus River. An opening discount of 15pc with breakfast included is available for bookings made through the hotel’s website 30 days in advance and non-refundable in case of cancellation.
  • CWI 2 is to acquire up to $1.4bn of hotel assets.
  • Hotel Arts Barcelona launched the Picasso/Dalí experience in celebration of the eagerly anticipated Picasso/Dalí, Dalí/Picasso exhibition at Museu Picasso.
  • Three new London Suites will open at The Marylebone Hotel in May. The hotel’s redesign will also see a redesign of the public area and 108 Brasserie.
  • Palladian Hotel Bathroom copyKimpton Hotels opened its new Palladian hotel; a renovated 97-room property on the edge of Seattle’s Belltown neighbourhood (2000 2nd Ave) with a “Sleep with David Bowie (Or Another Celebrity)” package.
  • Virgin Hotels is to grow its portfolio to 20 hotels by 2025.
  • Melia Hotels International will open a new Me brand property in Barcelona in 2017.
  • Hilton Worldwide is rebranding Hilton London Docklands Riverside as a Doubletree hotel, making it the brand’s 11th hotel in the city. 
  • launched a new late bookings app and reported it was hit by a phishing scam that targeted hoteliers. The scam targeted hotel commissions to be paid to the site with a rogue email claiming the automatic payment system had malfunctioned.


orlando eyeVisit Orlando has identified 15 new openings for 2015. More unusual are the Dr Phillips Centre for the Performing Arts and the arrival of franchise team Orlando City Soccer Club. Orlando Eye, a 400-foot-tall observation wheel s one of a trio of new attractions from I-Drive 360, a new entertainment complex from Merlin Entertainments, alongside Madame Tussauds and Sea LIfe Orlando delivering a new wave of displays of colourful fish, sharks, jellyfish, sea horses and more. Mangos Tropical Café, one of South Beach’s hottest dance clubs is coming to Orlando offering 55,000 square feet of entertainment space. Escapology Orlando brings a new kind of entertainment to Orlando challenging teams of up to six players to escape from a themed room with just 60 minutes to combine clues, solve puzzles and discover the key to escape. Crayola Experience at nearby International Drive will offer 25 hands-on activities. The Whiskey on Sand Lake Road, offers 100 brands of whiskey for the thirsty connoisseur. A new land opens at Legoland Florida Resort called Heartlake City and a new show at SeaWorld Orlando: Clyde & Seamore’s Sea Lion High. Walt Disney World Resort is transforming Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, doubling the number of shops, restaurants and other venues. The new area will open in phases starting in 2015 and include Morimoto Asi. Other new restaurants include the Boathouse an up-scale, waterfront dining restaurant at Disney Springs, STK Orlando steakhouse with a chic lounge and the only rooftop dining venue in Disney Springs, Two Chefs Seafood, The Palm Restaurant; and North Quarter Tavern. Hotel developments include Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes new restaurant concept based on the resort’s Whisper Creek Farm.

tony-tylerWorld Travel & Tourism Council announced the speakers at its Global Summit in Madrid from April 14-16: Ana Patricia Botin, Executive Chairman, Banco de Santander; Richard Fenning, CEO, Control Risks; Julie Meyer, CEO, Ariadne Capital; Taleb Rifai, Secretary General, World Tourism Organisation; Tony Tyler, CEO, IATA (pictured); Chip Conley, Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy, Airbnb; and Luis Gallego, CEO, Iberia.

LOOKING ACROSS THE BAY TO PASSENGERS DISEMBARKING AT TOBERMORY ISLE OF MULL INNER HEBRIDES. PIC P.TOMKINS VisitScotland-1VisitScotland’s Brilliant Island Moments campaign distributed 8,000 free ferry tickets to visit Scotland’s islands.

Airbnb will host its annual host get-together in Paris, the first time it has been held outside San Francisco. 6,000 hosts will attend the Airbnb Open, which takes place November 12-14. With 40,000 active listings on Airbnb, Paris was crowned the most active home-sharing city this week.

A poll in England found that skiers are more likely to injure themselves during apres-ski partying than on the slopes.

  • Exponent Private Equity bought Big Bus Tours, which offers sightseeing trips in 16 cities.
  • The Italian Ministry of Tourism launched, the events site for Expo Milano 2015. 1,300 events are listed on the site.c
  • Google’s updated Flight Search tool is targeted at travellers who are not sure where they want to go.
  • Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas announced that it will develop a resort at Uluwatu, a 35-minute drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport.
  • It is now possible to make payments in South African Rand using eNett International‘s Virtual Account Numbers.
  • Universal Orlando single park day passes now cost $102 before tax, children’s tickets now cost $97 and the two-park pass is now $147.
  • This year’s BIT Milano in numbers: there were 61,781 visitors, 60pc of whom were travel professionals; 100 countries and all the Italian regions were represented; 2,000 exhibitors attended the fair and met 1,500 host buyers in 40,000 matched meetings. Next year’s event takes place February 11-13.
  • Iberia will offer UNWTO members transportation to the International Conference on Tourism Deseasonalisation, which takes place in Torremolinos, June 3-5.

Food & Wine

SCAE Ireland is seeking out Dublin’s best coffee providers in advance of the World of Coffee conference in Dublin June 22-26 2016. The event will attract 10,000 coffee professionals from 100 countries. They intend creating a World of Coffee Ambassadors’ Club featuring the top 100 cafés, restaurants, hotels and bars serving coffee in the capital, and support them through a range of training and marketing initiatives.

  • Three new restaurants have opened in Rome, ENIT announced: Na’Cosetta in Pigneto, Exquisitaly in Piazza San Bernardo and Il Passetto re-opened in Piazza di St Apollinare. Three new restaurants in Milan: Essenza, 34 Via Marghera, Filippo La Mantia and Manuelina.
  • Irish West End star David Shannon is teaming up with Ghan House in Carlingford, Co Louth for a musical dinner on March 6. There will be singing before, during and after a dinner prepared by Stephane le Sourne. Tickets €65. See or call 042 9373 682 to book.


Aer Lingus have added extra flights to Chicago for winter 2015 and will operate up to ten flights a week from Dublin during the months of November and December. Twice daily flights will operate Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, adding an extra 13,000 available seats and a 24pc capacity increase. This in addition to the new transatlantic service from Dublin to Washington-Dulles commencing May 1, additional flights on the Dublin to San Francisco and Orlando routes and a third daily early morning flight from Dublin to New York, departing at 07.50 and arriving at 12 noon will also be added. Long haul capacity will be 18.4pc up on 2014 in the peak summer season.

Sunway Holidays, will operate a weekly charter service from Knock to Izmir every Saturday from September 12 to October 24.

murat balandiTurkish Airlines intends increasing worldwide capacity by 15pc in 2015. In 2014 Turkish Airlines recorded a capacity (ASK) growth of 16,3pc, significantly above the industry growth rate of 5,6 for the same period, resulting in an increase in global market share from 1.6pc to 1.8pc. Turkish Airlines carried 54.7m passengers in 2014, up 13.3pc making it the third largest carrier in Europe by number of passengers. Load factor was 79pc. Turkish Airlines currently flies to 264 destinations in 108 countries with a fleet of 263 aircraft, 55 wide body, 199 narrow body and 9 cargo. Turkish Airlines Sales revenue increased by 29pc in 2014, and operating profit was up 10pc. Turkish are increasing their Istanbul to Antalya flights from late April. Turkish are upgrading their Dublin service to double daily this summer.

British Airways are bringing their Flying with Confidence course for nervous flyers to The Maldron Hotel close to Dublin Airport on Saturday, March 28, 08.00-16.30. Participants meet pilots who explain how an aircraft flies, what causes turbulence and those unsettling sensations that you feel during flight, a psychologist who explains how to understand fear and teaches how to reduce anxiety. Price of €299 includes a 45 minute flight from Dublin airport to put theory into practice. BA claims the course has a 98pc success rate in its 28 year history. Contact Captain Steve Allright. EasyJet holds its Fearless Flyers programme at the Europa Hotel Belfast on March 6-7. Costs £189 incl. post course flight.

Viewing gallery 1Belfast International Airport re-opened its viewing gallery after ten years and added the facility to track the progress of arriving and departing aircraft and eavesdrop on Air Traffic Control and apron chatter. The viewing gallery is situated landside and is open to travellers and non-travellers alike

SITA’s latest industry report The Future is Personal claimed 97pc of airline passengers carrying at least one personal electronic device but passengers have been slow to adopt new airline and airport mobile services when travelling. Some industry players are bucking the trend and achieving high levels of usage.

British Airways won Best Overall Wine Cellar at the Business Traveller Cellars in the Sky airline wine awards at the Hilton London Paddington hotel. and Best Business Class Cellar. Finnair won the long-haul wine selection award for the Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2012, Marlborough, New Zealand; they won silver for Best Business Class Red for Nicolas Perrin Crozes – Hermitage 2012, France and bronze for Best-Presented Business Class Wine Menu. Two airlines took home two Gold Medals apiece: Singapore Airlines for Best First Class Cellar and Best First Class Fortified/Dessert, and Qantas for Best First Class Sparkling and Best Business Class Fortified/Dessert. Garuda Indonesia took the top spot for Best First Class White. Cathay Pacific won the Gold Medal for Best Business Class Sparkling. The awards were entered by 35 airlines.

  • Lufthansa won the Eco-Airline of the Year award at the 41st Annual ATW Airline Industry Achievement Awards in Washington, DC.
  •  Jet2 will fly Belfast to Rome from April 5.
  • Cash management provider Citi will provide a supply chain finance service to Etihad Airways to pay select suppliers.
  • IAG reported an 80pc increase in annual profit. The group made an operating profit of €1.4bn in 2014, up from €770m in 2013.
  • Aer Lingus reported 2014 operating profit up 17.8pc to €72.9m on total revenue up 9.2pc to €1.6bn. Balance sheet at end of year was up 29.9pc in net cash to €553m.
  • British Airways launched its First and Club cabins sale. Business class discounts are also available on flights ex Dublin, Cork and Shannon. Passengers must book by midnight on March 10 for travel between March 12 and February 28, 2016.
  • An Air France flight from New York to Paris had to stop in Manchester because the pilot had already exceed the maximum 11 work hours. The A380 was unable to continue with rested crew following the Manchester hiatus because of a pressurization fault, forcing the airline to dispatch three smaller aircraft to fly the stranded passengers.
  • Delta Air Lines will upgrade its in-flight Wi-Fi on its international fleet.
  • Lufthansa completed fitting its new first class cabin onto all long-haul aircraft based at Munich airport.
  • Cathay Pacific  is now offering Illy coffee to its First Class and business passengers. 
  • Luxair took delivery of its new Boeing 737-800. The aircraft will be operated on behalf of LuxairTours.
  • Rumour has it Michael O’Leary was invited to join the elite Bilderberg Group.
  • Flybe signed an agreement with Singapore’s Avation PLC to lease four turboprop aircraft to use on its while label operations for SAS.
  • It was reported that Thomas Cook is looking to offload its airline as part of a turnaround plan.
  • American Airlines signed a multiyear sponsorship deal with the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team.
  • Airbus Group reported 2014 revenues of $68.6bn, up 5pc.
  • TAP Portugal signed a Rich Content and Branding agreement with Travelport.
  • Airbus delivered its second A350-900 to Qatar Airways.
  • Qantas reported a H1 profit of US$162m. Dublin-born CEO Alan Joyce said the airline is meeting or exceeding all targets in its three year plan.
  • Etihad wants more flexible rules on air routes between Australia and the UAE as it nears the cap on the number of flights it can operate there.
  • Lufhansa LEOS started using its TaxiBot aircraft tractor on real flight operations at Frankfurt Airport.
  • Malaysia Airlines is to finalise plans to issue termination letters to staff identified for 6,000 job cuts under the airline’s restructuring exercise.
  • Ryanair is the new title of the Grade 1 novice Chase at the Easter Festival, Fairyhouse Racecourse. The title will be run as the Ryanair Gold Cup on April 5.
  • Passenger traffic between Shannon and Heathrow was down 9pc last year, while traffic between Shannon and Stansted was up 10.4pc.
  • Aircraft lessor AerCap terminated leases on six Boeing 757s and three 767s on lease to Russian carriers in December 2014.


IMG_0120Stena Superfast X left Gdynia en route to Dublin for its naming ceremony on March 11. Passengers will have access to three decks of service areas with additional deluxe cabins, Barista Coffee House, Met Bar and Grill, retail shopping in the Outlet, two free cinemas, a family lounge featuring a children’s play area and X-Box stations and Stena Line’s premium lounge Stena Plus. There will be a dedicated freight driver lounge. Superfast X is a sister ship of the award winning Stena Superfast VII and VIII ships which have served the Belfast to Cairnryan route since their launch in 2011. Stena Line’s Head of Travel Orla Noonan (pictured on board Superfast X with Jim Howey of Stena) said “We have paid special attention to every little detail, from the type of bed linen used in our cabins to the quality and comfort of our seating onboard.” The ship boasts 10 decks, 2km of lane space for vehicles and can carry 1,200 passengers. She will make two return sailings daily between Dublin and Holyhead, completing the crossing in 3 hours and 15 minutes.  Superfast X will operating alongside the Stena Adventurer.

harmony with slidesHarmony of the Seas was confirmed as the name for Royal Caribbean’s next Oasis-class cruise ship, set to debut in April 2016. Features include three waterslides, the line’s first, that start from the top-deck Pool and Sports Zone and twist and turn down three decks into one of two pools. One of the slides will feature a Champagne bowl that swirls riders around as they approach the end of the slide. Seven neighbourhoods are featured including the signature Boardwalk and Central Park spaces. The Boardwalk on Harmony will reportedly feature a classic games arcade, a kids-only climbing play area and a Starbucks cafe. Passengers will be offered a choice of two Dynamic Dining option. At 227,000 gross tons,  Harmony will weigh 1,718 tons more than the current record-holder.

  • Silversea Expeditions launched a collection of speciality expeditions: Birding & Ornithology Expedition Voyages; Wellness Expedition Voyages; Photography Expedition Voyages; and Culinary Expedition Voyages. detailed in six mini-brochures available in traditional print format and as digital flip books of between six to eight pages each. After the launch of their next ship in the spring, Silversea Cruises will build two more cruise ships after coming to an agreement with Fincantieri Shipyard in Monfalcone in Italy.
  • MSC Cruises extended their winter 2015/16 season from Dubai. MSC Musica will offer 16 eight-day/seven-night cruises from Dubai for winter 2015/2016, four more sailings than were operated this winter aboard sister ship MSC Orchestra. MSC Gulf cruises call into Abu Dhabi, UAE; Khor al Fakkan, UAE; Muscat, Oman and Khasab on the Musandum Peninsula before returning to Dubai for an overnight stay on board.
  • Disney Cruise Line won twelve awards in the annual Cruise Critic US Cruisers’ Choice Awards. Disney Dream was named Best Large Ship; the third year in a row a Disney ship has received top honours and Disney Wonder Best Midsize Ship. Silverseas’s Silver Galapagos won best small ship.
  • Celebrity Cruises won nine awards in the year’s Cruise Critic England Cruisers’ Choice Awards including Best Overall ship for Celebrity Equinox. In the Mid-Size ship awards Oceania Riviera won five awards including Best Overall ship. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines was successful in two Mid-Size, and three Small Ship categories, for Balmoral and Black Watch.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line announced that Captain Evans Hoyt and staff captains Robert Lundberg and Preston Carnahan will serve on Norwegian Escape. Captain Gunnar Hammerin will step in when Captain Hoyt is on holiday.
  • Royal Caribbean was forced to cancel the next cruise of Brilliance of the Seas because of foggy weather. She was stranded outside the Port of Tampa Bay this week for 24 hour due to thick fog.
  • P&O Cruises confirmed that England’s Queen Elizabeth will name their new  ship Britannia at Southampton on March 10 as the 141,000-ton Britannia was handed over to the cruise line at Fincantieri’s Monfalcone yard, near Trieste.

Deal Watch

Aer Lingus launched a North America seat sale, lead in €239 each way for travel from April 1 to June 15, book by March 9.

  • Cruisescapes offered a Best of the Rhine & The Rhone cruise, 10 days from €1,490 with three departures in May, July & October.
  • The Westbury Hotel is offering Afternoon Tea with a Touch of Blush to celebrate Mother’s Day: raspberry tiramisu, strawberry macaroons with lime truffle, cherries with vanilla entremets and lemon tart with berry marshmallows are all on the menu, as well as the traditional baked scones with jam and cream and finger sandwiches. Available 1.30pm-5pm, March 2-29. €45pp/€55pp incl. rosé champagne. Call 01 646 3311 to book. The Westbury Hotel is also offering the Say It With Flowers package from €395pppn. It includes 1 night’s B&B accommodation and Champagne Afternoon Tea for two.
  • Tourism NI offers of the week: 2 nights at The Archways Larchfield Estate, Lisburn from £65pp incl. breakfast hamper on arrival in the cottages, available until March 26, call 028 9263 8025 to book. 2 nights B&B Belmore Court and Motel, Enniskillen from £60pps, available March 13-20, call 028 6632 6633 to book. 2 nights B&B Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh from £80pps incl. 3 course dinner on one evening in the Barreta Bar and Grill, available until Dec 31, call 028 8824 2520 to book.
  • Lowcostholidays‘ Pay Day offers for April and May: 7 nights self catering Rio Apartments, Algarve from €205pp, depart May 11. 7 nights self catering Grangefield Oasis Club, Costa Del Sol from €289pp, depart May 11. 7 nights self catering Be Smart Florida Plaza, Tenerife from €299pp, depart May 11. 7 nights Days Inn Kissimmee, Orlando from €620pp, depart May 15. 7 nights B&B NYX Hotel Cancun, Mexico from €950pp, depart April 15. 7 nights B&B Deevana Patong Resort & Spa, Phuket from €1,025pp, depart April 15. 2 nights B&B Norfolk Plaza Hotel, London from €160pp, depart April 17. 2 nights B&B Timhotel Montmarte, Paris from €160pp, depart April 17. 2 nights B&B Oasis Hotel, Barcelona from €205pp, depart May 13. All prices include return flights ex Dublin and taxes. Pay Day Holiday Offers for Apr-May.
  • Lowcostbeds offers: 3* Rosen Inn International Drive, Orlando room only from €26pppn. 4* Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas room only from €50pppn. 4* Oasis Palm Hotel, Cancun, All Inclusive from €74pppn. 5* Bonnington Jumeriah Lakes, Dubai, room only from €57pppn. Based on 7 nights 2 share, depart May 23.
  • Topflight is offering 9 nights B&B Melia Bali Resort from €1,429pps incl. trasnfers, return flight and taxes. Call 01 240 1709 to book or visit
  • Sunway St Patrick’s Day breaks: 3 nights Yotel Hotel New York from €765pp, departs March 16. 4 nights Circus Circus Resort, Las Vegas from €645pp, departs March 15.  7 nights Rosen Inn at Pointe, Orlando from €639pp, departs March 15. 3 nights Jumeirah Creekside, Dubai from €845pp, departs March 15. All prices include flights, taxes and accommodation. See
  • Sunway is offering 7 nights B&B Sea Pearl Hotel, Turkey from €299pp or 14 nights B&B from €359pp, departs April 11, 18 and 25. Sunway is offering 7 nights Rock Lago Park Apts, Menorca from €1,769 for two adults and two children incl. access to Aquarock Waterpark. Sunway is offering 7 nights self catering in Morocco from €299pp, see
  • Sunway All Inclusive river cruise offers: 7 nights cruise through Holland and Belgium from €1,529pp, departs May 6. 7 nights cruise on the Seine River from €1,429pp, departs May 28. 7 nights Mekong River Curise, Vietnam and Cambodia  from €2,019pp, departs June 29.
  • Abbey Travel is offering free family half board meals at Disneyland Paris. Sale ends March 31, travel April 10 to October 31. To book, call 01 804 7150 or visit
  • Falcon Holidays offers: 7 nights All Inclusive Dublin to Xperience St George, Sharm El Sheikh from €529pp, depart April 10. 7 nights self catering Shannon to Sun Beach, Santa Ponsa from €269pps, depart May 2. 7 nights self catering Dublin to Marian Apartments, San Antonio Town Ibiza from €309pps, depart May 7. #NRG offer: 7 nights Dublin to Ilios Malia, Crete from €459pps based on four sharing, depart May 24. Visit to book or call 1850 45 35 45.
  • Natural Retreats Castelmartyr is offering a new gold package from €204pp for a group of three. Package includes 2 nights’ self catering accommodation, a round of golf at the Castlemartyr Golf Club, one 3-course meal at Franchini’s restaurant and a breakfast hamper on arrival. Visit to book, or call 01 685 3013.
  • Thomson Holidays Platinum offer: 7 nights half board Dublin to Kos Impreial, Psaldi, Kos from €949pps. Visit to book or call 1850 45 35 45.
  • Hastings Hotels offer of the week: 1 night B&B Stormont Hotel, Belfast from £70pps incl. dinner in La Scala bistro. Call 048 9065 1066 to book.
  • Irish Ferries is offering a +1 Free deal to Britain on all car, motorhome, van and motorcycle bookings made before March 17 for travel up to December 17, meaning every car driver’s first passenger travels free. For more info, visit  or call 0818 300 400.
  • Disney Paris’s latest promotion features free half board meals for the family.


Central Statistics Office figures for November 2014 to January 2015 confirmed visitor numbers to Ireland were up 9pc and growth from North America (up 10pc), England (up 10pc), Germany (up 8pc), Italy (up 32pc) and France (up 22pc), with mainland Europe up 10pc. Arrivals from Australia and Developing Markets flat.

TARGETING BIG BUSINESS FOR IRELANDTourism Ireland attended this International Confex event in Olympia, London. The two-day event was attended by 5,500 corporate meeting and event planners. Picture shows Sandra Fahy, Tourism Ireland; Aoife McHale, Visit Derry; Karen Brosnahan, Shannon Regional Sports and Conference Bureau; Michelle Murphy, Kerry Convention Bureau; Joyce McElroy, Tourism Ireland; Caragh Curran, Fáilte Ireland; and Donna Brogan, Dublin Convention Bureau at the event.

250 international buyers from 37 countries attended the inaugural ExploreGB event. Tourism INTERNATIONAL TOUR OPERATORS GIVE IRELAND THE THUMBS UP!Ireland and 16 Irish tourism companies took part in the event at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire. Picture shows Deirdre Wells, CEO of UKinbound, with Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, at the two-day workshop.

Registration opened for the   Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia cycling event. The race takes place on June 21, starting and finishing at Titanic Belfast. The 177km Mourne Route (see map) is aimed at experienced riders, while beginners are invited to ride the 58km Strangford Route (see map). Stephen Roche will be an event ambassador and will ride the Gran Fondo. Individual entry £45/£55. Moy Park Team Giro entry £67.50pp. Register here.

Tourism Ireland kicked off the 2015 series of Jump into Ireland sales blitzes with events in Washington DC, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Similar events will be held in Altanta, Charlotte and Tampa in March; Minneapolis, Denver and Dallas in September; and in Los Angeles, Sana Barbara and San Francisco in November.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Where will Stephen steer the Shamrock?


Neil Jones representing New Orleans speaking at the Visit USA roadshow event in No 1 Pery Square, Limerick

Neil Jones representing New Orleans at the Visit USA roadshow event, No 1 Pery Square

The headlines this week:

  • Stephen Kavanagh takes the hot seat
  • Visit USA hits the road
  • Secret’s out at The Strand Hotel
  • Plain sailing for Brittany Ferries – Cork to Roscoff bookings up 5pc
  • NITB snake along the trail of St Patrick

Travel Extra TV

Video of week Feb 22Our video of the week comes from footballer turned Hollywood tough guy Vinnie Jones, who teaches us a few words en español in this promo for Three England. Includes useful phrases such as Alright sunshine, ‘ow you keeping? Watch here.

  • Boeing  showcases the 777 Signature interior. Watch here.
  • Business life in Kuala Lumpur with British Airways. Watch here.
  • The Irish cricket team talks Ireland with Tourism Ireland. Watch here.
  • Voices of Ireland sing for St Patrick — Tourism Ireland‘s video showcases the spiritual locations around Down Cathedral in Downpatrick. Watch here. Performance of ‘You Raise Me Up’ (watch here) and ‘Be Thou My Vision’ (watch here).
  • A celebration of love with Emirates. Watch here.
  • NITB chatted to defending Irish Open champion Mikko Ilonen ahead of this year’s event in Co Down. Watch here.
  • Aer Lingus relives its Mega Seat Giveaway in Liffey Valley Shopping Centre and the Blanchardstown Centre last summer. Watch here.
  • Ryanair introduces its communications partnership with Vodafone. Watch here.

Headlinesstephen Kavanagh speaks_6502

Stephen Kavanagh was the unsurprising choice as new CEO of Aer Lingus, unsurprising as he was at the heart of the airline’s recent trans-Atlantic policy. The surprise was the timing, indicating a new owner will now inherit a CEO as well. If IAG’s reassurance that the Aer Lingus game-plan will stay in place is real, this is an appointment that will suit everyone, giving Lingus stability and the prospective new owners continuity of a CEO who previously worked with Willie Walsh. The bid has not been launched yet, highlight in the soap opera this week was the Colm Barrington and Aer Lingus presentation (statements here, report here) to the Oireachtas Transport committee. Aer Lingus case was:

  • The market between Europe and North America is 75m people per annum. Increasing Aer Lingus’s share of this traffic from 2pc, to 4 or 5pc would mean bringing an additional 1 to 2m passengers per year through Ireland.
  • Aer Lingus is doing well on its own and will grow but it will be better and grow faster if sold to IAG.
  • IAG’s proposal can enable Ireland to become a central hub for European traffic across the Atlantic,
  • There is an immediate prospect of accelerating plans to open two new destinations in North America, one on the east coast and one on the west coast [in 2016].
  • Aer Lingus carried 1.3m customers across the Atlantic last year and 1 in 3 of those customers [430,000] was travelling between Europe and North America.
  • Being part of IAG will enhance Aer Lingus’s European growth. Aer Lingus short-haul services,  will benefit from the sales and marketing of IAG and Oneworld partner sales, strengthening the positions of the Cork and Shannon to Heathrow routes

The travel trade exhibition which takes place in conjunction with the AGM of the Irish Travel Agents Association in Citywest on Apr 23-24 is over subscribed, and the organisers, Business Exhibitions, are seeking extra space. “It is an overwhelming response considering the event is still two months away,” Edmund Hourican of Business Exhibitions says.

Seven sponsors accompanied the Visit USA roadshow to Limerick, Cork and Dublin. Visit USA Ireland is 25 years old this year and now has 80 members, up from the low of 27 three years ago. Agents gathered in Number One Pery Square in Limerick to hear presentations from Greg Evans from Atlantic City and Philadelphia (listen here), Neil Jones from New Orleans (listen here), Isabel Harrison from Shannon airport (listen here), Duncan McCubbin from North Carolina (listen here), Fiona Noonan from American Airline (listen here) and Patricia Purdue from Massachusetts (listen here). The event in Hayfield Manor and the residence in Dublin were best attended with 30 agents at each. They heard presentations from Greg Evans from Atlantic City (listen here) and Philadelphia (listen here), Neil Jones from New Orleans (listen here), Duncan McCubbin from North Carolina (listen here), Fiona Noonan from American Airline (listen here), Declan Power from Shannon airport (listen here) and Patricia Purdue from Massachusetts (listen here). See here the Philadelphia National Geographic visitors guide, see here the What’s New in Philadelphia presentation, see here a link to the Atlantic City visitors guide. Picture shows Ciara Foley of Platinum Travel chair of Visit USA Dublin, and Finola Cunningham of the US embassy. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.


IMG_0019Sean Lally hosted 150 guests to the opening of the Secret Garden at the Strand Hotel in Limerick. An evening of casino games followed helpings of Guinea Fowl and other delicacies prepared by chef Tom Flavin in Chinese style. Sean has been GM at the Strand since joining from the Clarion in 2008. Pictures show Sean Lally speaking and events manager Ciara Hanley and Sean Lally at the event. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

The storyboard giving the history of the hotel is worth checking out. Strand Hotel marketing manager in London Jim O’Mara’s daughter Connie O’Mara was a governess in Vienna who married Werner von Trapp, brother to George on whose own governess wife, Maria, the Sound of Music was based.IMG_0005

IMG_0015Brittany Ferries bookings on Cork to Roscoff are 5pc ahead of last year, Mike Bevens told travel media at an event this week. This is on the back of a 7pc increase last year. Group bookings are up 2pc and the big news is that the Pont Aven will go into dry dock for three months in January to have scrubbers fitted at a cost of €12m. “The drop in fuel price means don’t have to put up prices,” Mike Bevens says. Other enhancements during refit include the installation of Nespresso coffee machines in the high end Commofore cabins and lounge areas. Picture shows Mike Bevens and Hugh Bruton of Brittany Ferries with Celine Badde Liynage of Brittany tourism. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

IMG_0038Mercedes Sianchez of Madrid Tourism and Oliver Benalal of the Inter-continental Hotel in Madrid (pictured)  hosted irish trade in the Intercontinental Hotel Dublin. Mercedes says she wishes to boost the Irish visitor numbers to Madrid from their current levels which are too low. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

IMG_6221 copy

IMG_6213Northern Ireland Tourist Board hosted travel media on the trail of St Patrick. Mark Mohan explained how St Patrick’s Trail will eventually form a camino style trail from Louth to Armagh and across Down to Downpatrick and the nearby ancient pilgrimage site of Struell Wells. Picture shows the group at the reputed grave of Patrick in Downpatrick where local guides Joy Wilkinson and Loretto Coyne explained the significance of local Patrician and ecclesiastical sites. Tim Campbell revealed that St Patrick’s centre in Downpatrick was never officially opened – the opening was postponed because of foot and mouth disease and never took place. Dean Henry Hull said that the refurbishment of Downpatrick Cathedral would be complete for the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury on March 17. Pictures show Kirstin Smith of NITB, Áine O’Connor of the Star, Joy Wilkinson from Downpatrick Cathedral, John Low of Senior Times, Mags Gargan of the Irish Catholic, Rebecca Brennan of Ireland of the Welcomes, tour guide Leretto Coyne and Eoghan Corry, editor of Travel Extra, at the reputed grave of St Patrick in Downpatrick, Dean Henry Hull, Tim Campbell and Joy Nicholson in the cathedral undergoing refurbishment and Kirstin Smith of NITB at the famous pilgrimage site the wells of Struell. The group were hosted at the seaside retreat, Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle (see here).

Travel Trade

elaine o'brien has appointed Elaine O’Brien (pictured) of the Travelbookers to head up their Irish operation.

The ITAA has announced Emirates as an ITAA Affiliate Partner.

Caroline O’Toole of Fahy Travel in Galway is celebrating a speculative wedding enquiry that turned into a €85,000 cruise booking for 90 people. Colm Ó’Flatharta and Nóirín Ní Chonghaile were in search of suggestions when Caroline recommended a seven-night western Mediterranean cruise aboard MSC Preziosa from Marseille in July.

Four agents will fly Business Class with Emirates to Dubai to enjoy a live performance from One Direction. Email details on the number of Emirates bookings you have made between Feb 23 and March 20 inclusive, and the travel consultant who has made the most Emirates bookings could be jetting off to Dubai. Return – not one direction only.

  • Lowcostbeds and AlSol resorts are offering a prize of seven nights’ accommodation in the 5-star AlSol Tiara at Cap Cana in Dominican Republic. All bookings made in February will be automatically entered into a draw.
  • Holly Mason has started as the new Marketing & PR executive with the Travel Corporation.
  • Sunway is offering €5 per passenger on Club Med bookings before Feb 27, ands a chance to win , in association with Club Med, has launched a promotion for Irish travel agents. Just book a Club Med villa and receive a free Club Med holiday for two.
  • Wendy Wu Tours is offering free upgrades on its China tour programme until tomorrow, Monday Feb 23
  • BookaBed has a job vacancy for a Product Assistant. Reporting in to the Product Manager.
  • Funway Holidays will run a joint campaign with SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment in March.
  • Skål International Dublin‘s AGM will be held at 12.30pm, March 10 in the Conrad Dublin Hotel. Lunch costs €30 for members, €35 for guests.
  • Funway Holidays will launch its Marital March campaign next month, offering engagement breaks to New York, wedding packages to Mexico and honeymoons in Barbardos.
  • Skål Ireland National Convention takes place March 27-29 in Rochestown Park Hotel,. A coach tour of East Cork will include a visit and lunch in Cobh Heritage Centre and visit to Ballyseedy Centre. Convention packages from €120pps for 1 night and from €245pps for 2 nights. Email Mary Browne, national treasurer before March 15.
  • MSC Cruises appointed Luca Biondolillo to the newly created post of chief communications officer.
  • Fastbooking selected Christine Tan as SVP Sales & Marketing.
  • Camino Ways competition: Win a 7-day Camino do Santiago trip for two plus a Hi-Tech Camino gear kit. Enter here. Winners of the Camino Ways Holiday World Show 2015 draw: Paula Lindstrom, winner of 3 nights on the Wild Atlantic Way and Dee O’Mahony, winner of a €250 voucher for 53 Degres North.
  • Marie Greevey, former President of the Skal Club, passed away on Sunday, February 15. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.


jp kavanaghJP Kavanagh takes over as GM of the Intercontinental Hotel in Ballsbridge tomorrow Monday. He arrives from Dubai and previously was GM of the Fitzwilliam, Sheraton in Edinburgh, the Turnberry, the Connaught in London and Mandarin Oriental. He replaces acting GM Paul downing who oversaw the changeover from its former identity as Four Seasons. “It was a seamless change,” says Gillian De Lacy of Intercontinental. “The new sign was erected at 8.30am on new Year’s Day and we completed what is normally an 18-month process in ten days.”

Ireland’s hoteliers gather at the Slieve Russell in Ballinamore this week for the annual IHF conference (see programme here). Speakers include Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody, Michael Cawley, Pat McCann, Howard Hastings, Bobby Kerr, Alan Waite, Jim Dollard, Alan Ahearne, Sarah Duignan, Aiden Murphy, Alan O’Neill, Warren McDonald and David Zamitt. The gala ball takes place Tuesday night and the President’s dine around will offer a Swedish dining in the Conall Cearnach Restaurant and a Basque menu in the Setanta Restaurant.award pic

John Burke’s Armada Hotel in Spanish Point won the Wedding Venue of the Year award at the weddingsonline 2015 Awards. They also won awards for website and waterside venue. Bellinter House in Navan won the Exclusive Venue of the Year and Lough Rynn in Mohill the Castle Hotel of the year. The four provincial winners were Clayton Hotel in Galway, Four Seasons Hotel in Carlingford, Garryvoe Hotel in Castlemartyr and Solis Lough Eske in Donegal. Picture shows Susie Conroy, Marita Morrissey and Fiona Buckley-Kitt from The Armada Hotel with Jonathan Bryans or and Lisa Cannon of Xpose.

Revenues at the Marker Hotel were up 10pc year on year. Accumulated losses at Lough Rynn Castle fell from €1.31m to €1.286m. Further hotel sales are expected in the coming months following the sale of Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort to  JP McManus for an estimated €30m at the beginning of February.

  • Chesapeake Lodging Trust announced two new Vice Presidents, Nishil Patel and Nicholas Jette.
  • Starwood opened Element Vancouver Metrotown, the second Element hotel to open in Canada. Hyatt Place Tijuana opened in Baja California, Mexico.
  • Marriott sold The Miami Beach EDITION hotel for $230m Loews entered San Francisco with the purchase of Mandarin Oriental.
  • STR Global Construction Pipeline Report reports 912 hotels totalling 144,374 rooms under contract in Europe, according to the January 2015. Istanbul leads with 4,981 rooms followed by London with 4,470, Amsterdam with 2,368 Baku with 1,654 and Berlin with 1,642 rooms.
  • Hotel News Now reported hotel room piracy is increasing with 73.1pc of hoteliers claiming events had been targeted by piracy.
  • Dalata Hotel Group completed its acquisition of Whites Hotel, Wexford and Pillo Hotel, Galway, on Monday.
  • Red Carnation Hotels, the firm that operates Ashford Castle hotel resort, recorded pre-tax profits of €724,983 in its first year of operation.
  • Travelodge will launch a £15m marketing campaign later this year. The budget hotel chain is undergoing a £100m investment, with 87pc of guest rooms featuring the new look, king size Dreamer bed.
  • Melia Hotels International will open the 20-story Melia Paris La Défense, which boasts 369 rooms, which includes 29 suites, three restaurants and bars and is located adjacent to the Esplanade de la Défense metro station.
  • Ard na Sidhe Country House was listed as one of Conde Nast Traveler’s most affordable hotels in the world.
  • Hilton Worldwide will open the first Doubletree property in Egypt in 2017. The 197-room hotel will be located in Ain Al Sokhna.
  • Premier Inn in England is now offering free WIFI at all its hotels.


Madeira is backMadeira is back on the destinations board for 2015 after a hiatus of 8 months and a false start in 2014. Concorde Travel will operate direct flights from Dublin to Funchal every Thursday from the May 7 until Sept 17, their own charter with Europe Airpost.

WorldEscape founded and built by siblings Emmett and Deidre Brady (also responsible for building Ireland’s largest legal services firm,, offers over 10,000 lofts, houses, cottages, and even houseboats in over 50 cities around the world. WorldEscape lists four advantages over competitors such as Airbnb, it does not charge a booking fee, tcompared with 6-12pc by competiros, WorldEscape only charges 15pc at the time of booking compared with 100pc by competitors, it visits and vets every property it offers and 24 hour real person customer support, transport to and from the airport, and luggage storage.

  • The Passport Office has apologised for delays in processing passports, which it says is partly due to increased demand on services, following the most recent naturalisation ceremony for 3,000 foreign nationals.
  • Filmmaker Reinhard Radke will be personally conducting tours of the Serengeti Siobhan Learat‘s Adams & Butler this summer.
  • Mundy will be giving an exclusive live performance of the Copper Face Jacks Topflight ski trip to Arinsal. Topflight have added 20 places to the trip. The Copper Face Jacks wristband gives access to Coppers events for €899 March 1-8.
  • Irish businesses trading with Hong Kong and China are invited to enter the Cathay Pacific China Business Awards 2015 from Friday, February 6.
  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car has launched in Denmark through a new joint venture between two well-established Danish businesses.
  • Two Chinese taxi hailing apps, Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache, plan to merge.
  • Vanessa Ledesma-Berrios became the first female COO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.
  • VisitScotland is giving the chance to win 2 nights B&B at Cambo House to celebrate the Snowdrop Festival in Fife. Enter here.
  • Airbnb settled its long standing tax bill with San Francisco.
  • Enterprise Holdings acquired Triangle Rent A Car.
  • Visit Florida announced that 97.3m tourists visited the state in 2014.
  • The 400ft high Orlando Eye will open on May 4.
  • Airbnb-etiquetteRead Debrett and Airbnb‘s guide to homesharing etiquette.
  • 2,345 complaints were made against a TV and cinema ad by Many of the complaints were against the substituion of the word ‘booking’ with a certain swear word. It doesn’t get any booking better than this. Look at the view, look at the booking view. This is exactly what you booking needed.
  • Travel group CTT bought tour operator Pettitts Travel.
  • 50 people were injured after two trains collided in Rafz, Switzerland.

Food and Wine

  • Nominations close tonight Sunday at midnight for tithe seventh annual Irish Restaurant Awards 2015.
  • GMIT students won eleven titles and eight gold medals at the CATEX awards in the RDS, Dublin.
  • Nespresso latest chef collaboration is with Irish Michelin starred Chef Kevin Thornton.
  • 25 restauranteurs in Waterford have put together Eat Waterford, a guide to eating out in the city. The guide is available free at hotels, restaurants and attractions in Waterford or it can be downloaded at
  • The gin room at Tankardstown House in Slane is offering a whopper sharing platter of ham, salami, coppa, spiced beef, brined ox tongue, smoked duck breast, celeriac remoulade, pickled vegetables, fermented cabbage and preserved chillies for €35. See for more info.


fiona noonanFiona Noonan of American Airlines (pictured) confirmed at the Visit USA roadshow that American are increasing their aircraft size to  a brand new A330 on Dublin services to both Philadelphia and Charlotte, with fully lie flat in business for the first time and seatback entertainment in economy, and extending their Shannon-Philadelphia service to October.  Dublin JFK returns on March 26 with a retrofit 767 and the seasonal service from Dublin to Chicago.

Emirates Cabin Crew Group Shot amilwEmirates has reached the top 200 of the world’s biggest brands for the first time. The airline is to hire 11,000 new staff, more than the entire staff in Ryanair.

An online survey of more than 9,000 people nationwide by the AA showed 43pc of 17-24 year olds will go directly to a price comparison website when pricing flights, compared with 14pc of over 65s. The AA says over 65s probably pay more for their flights when booking online.

Lufthansa became the first airline to select Amadeus’ patent-pending Altéa Corporate Recognition, a tool which allows the airline to better recognise corporate customers at the time of booking.

Etihad launched daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Kolkata (Calcutta), the airline’s 11th destination in India on its own, and its 15th destination in combination with network partner Jet Airways.

Ryanair reported record bookings from American customers following the launch of its new United States Ryanair website in December, which enables flight bookings to be made in dollars.

Qatar Airways is giving customers the chance to win a pair of return tickets to any of the 146 destinations on its network. A winner will be selected each week from customers booking online, the competition will run over a period of one month from Feb 22. Customers must use the promotional code “BOOKANDWIN” when purchasing their flights. Customers can take advantage of the long travel validity of the tickets, with 12 months to redeem their prize.

Air Lituanica has joined the European Region Airlines Association.

Aer Rianta International won a contract to operate a duty free concession at Auckland International airport, beginning in July.

Aircraft lessor Avolon installed a treasury management system from Salmon Software.

Belfast International Airport doubled its claim for damages against Aer Lingus to £40m for moving to Belfast City Airport in 2012.

Passenger assistance website AirHelp claimed that Irish passengers whose flights were delayed or cancelled in 2013 are due refunds of €52m.

A scorpion stung a woman on board an Alaska Airlines flight as it was taxiing on the runway.

Sanad Aer Solutions extended its leasing portfolio of spare engines with Etihad Airways.

Ryanair reached 7m passengers at Berlin Shonefeld Airport this week.

P_Ulf_HuettmeyerEtihad Airways appointed Ulf Huttmeyer (pictured) as senior vice president finance equity partner, effective April 1.

Kazakhstan’s Air Astana appointed Simon Rickman to Sales and Marketing Manager, Britain and Ireland.

  • Seven people were injured during severe turbulence on a United Airlines flight from Newark to Hawaii.
  • Qantas will enforce rules for smart casual dress in its airport lounges from April after receiving complaints from customers. Those wearing thongs, singlets and torn t-shirts will be issued a friendly reminder and may be denied entry.
  • Flights to an from Italy were disrupted due to a four-hour strike by Italian air traffic controllers.
  • Traffic at European airports increased 5.5pc in 2014, according to Moldova saw the biggest increase with traffic growing 34.9pc, while Ukraine saw the biggest decrease, down 14.3pc. Irish traffic was up 7pc.
  • Iceland’s low cost carrier WOW air purchased two new A321s on finance lease to use on its transatlantic routes.
  • From next month, Easyjet Plus passengers will be allowed take a second bag into the cabin.
  • Boeing reported that six B737s were ordered by unidentified customers.
  • American Airlines is considering larger aircraft to replace 20 E190s once they are phased out.
  • Lufthansa outlined plans for growth in fleet and staff numbers at its main airlines business in exchange for cost cuts as it tries to end a long-running labour dispute with pilots.
  • Air China took delivery of new B737-800, its 38th aircraft at its Chongqing Branch.
  • Etihad chief executive James Hogan resigned from the board of Virgin Australia Holdings. CFO James Rigney stepped down as well.
  • Lufthansa Technik will provide a Total Component Support for A320 and A330 fleet of the four airlines of Thomas Cook Group from February 2015 to 2021.
  • Low cost carrier Eurowings will have its first base outside Germany in Vienna.


Children up to the age of 15 can travel free on board Irish Ferries sailings to Britain until May 21.

The signature North Star viewing pod on board Quantum of the Seas, Nov 1 2014Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas will float out February 21 at Meyer Werft’s Papenburg shipyard in Germany, Anthem and undergo thruster and stabiliser tests in the shipyard’s harbour before naming in Southampton in April. The ship will offer Mediterranean itineraries out of Southampton before redeploying to Cape Liberty in November 2015. It will feature the pod, virtual skydive and bumper car innovations introduced on sister ship Quantum of the Seas.

Three new CroisiEurope ships are to launch in April. MS Loire Princesse launches April 2 and will be the first boat with overnight cabins to operator on the Loire, thanks to innovative paddle wheel technology. MS Camargue launches April 1 will join the CroisiEurope fleet on the Rhone alongside the MS Mistral and MS Van Gogh. MS Gil Eanes launches April 17 and will ply the Douro joining three other CroisiEurope ships the MS Infante D Henrique, the MS Fernao De Magalhaes and the MS Vasco Da Gama. Alan Lynch’s Cruisescapes are GSA for CroisiEurope in Ireland.

Anthem of the Seas entertainment will an original Royal Theatre production show The Gift and a new show in Two70 Spectra’s Cabaret in addition to the Broadway musical, We Will Rock You, previously announced by the line, passengers on the ship will be treated to as “a musical journey of fantasy and illusion that begins one stormy night with the arrival of a magical gift.”

IMG_2447 copyThe fact that Europe has been able to boost demand for cruises by 43pc since the global recession hit when other tourism sectors were flat will be analysed at the upcoming Cruise Shipping conference in Miami. Speakers at the session include: Pierfrancesco Vago of MSC Chairman of CLIA Europe, Kerry Anastassiadis of Louis Cruises, David Dingle of Carnival, Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, of Silversea, Gianni Onorato of MSC, Dominic Paul of Royal Caribbean (pictured) and Michael Thamm of Costa Crociere. Speakers at the keynote session include Orlando Ashford, of Holland America Line, Roberto Fusaro of MSC, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo of Celebrity and Jan Swartz of Princess Cruises.

  • Oceania Cruises is overhauling the Culinary Centre onboard its O-class ships, Marina and Riviera, creating a new curriculum with 20 classes focusing on regional cuisine.
  • Quark Expeditions launch their Arctic 2016 season tomorrow Monday, Feb 23.
  • CLIA appointed Charles Sylvia as vice president of trade relations from March 2.
  • Carnival chairman Micky Arison sold 10m shares for $433.7m.
  • Passengers on board the Carnival Vista will be able to pedal around the top deck on the SkyRide.

Deal Watch

  • To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Spanish theme park PortAventura, is offering agents a 20pc discount on all multiday tickets for a limited time.
  • Lowcostbeds accommodation offers in Sharm El Sheikh: 5* Hilton Waterfalls All Inclusive from €43pppn. 5* Iberotel Il Mercato B&B from €14pppn. 5* Xperience Sea Breeze All Inclusive from €38pppn.
  • Discover Travel offers: 15-day tour of Burma B&B from €2,539p incl. flights ex Dublin and taxes, travel September 2015. 10 nights Koh Samet and Bangkok from €1,299pp incl. flights ex Dublin and taxes, travel between now and June 30. Visit or call 021 463 5440.
  • Topflight is offering 7 nights full board Villa Beach, Kuramathi Island Resort, The Maldives from €1,699pp incl. flights, taxes and sea plane transfers, travel in June. Upgrade to Water Villa with Jacuzzi and full board from €2,365. Visit or call 01 240 1709.
  • Book a holiday to Italy with Topflight before Feb 28 to save up to €300 per couple on selected properties. See for more or call 01 2401 700 for more info.
  • Sunway Lisbon City and Coast offers, depart May 30 and June 6, book before February 28: 7 nights B&B Sao Mamede Hotel from €554pp. 7 nights self catering Clube Do Lago Apartments from €594pp. 7 nights B&B Eden Estoril Hotel from €634pp. 2 nights hotel B&B Lisbon City from €699pp. 5 nights hotel B&B Cascais from €699pp. All incl. taxes, charges, 20kg baggage pp and Sunway rep service.
  • Sunway Easter offers: 7 nights B&B Sea Pearl Hotel, Turkey from €1,152 for two adults and one child or from €1,536 for two adults and two children, departs March 28 and April 4. 7 nights B&B Marabout Hotel & Aqua Park, Tunisia from €1,032 for two adults and one child or from €1,366 for two adults and two children, departs March 27 and April 3. 7 nights B&B Argana Hotel, Morocco from €1,462 for two adults and one child or from €1,626 for two adults and two cildren, departs March 28 and April 4. 7 nights self catering Oasis Apartments, Lanzarote ex Shannon from €1,399 for two adults and one child or from €1,796 for two adults and two children, departs March 28 and April 4. 7 nights self catering, Oasis Duna Apartments, Fuerteventura from €1,367 for two adults and one child or from €1,746 for two adults and two children, departs March 28 and April 4. 7 nights self catering MRC Maspalomas Bungalows from €1,549 for two adults and one child, departs March 28 and April 4.
  • Sunway Honeymoon offers: 5 nights Half Board Northern Lights Cruise from €1,149pp incl. flights ex Dublin, taxes transfers and baggage, departs March 18.  7 nights River Cruise, Holland and Belgium from €1,529pp incl. flights and transfers, depart May 6. 11-day All Inclusive Serengeti Safari to Zanzibar from €2,159pp incl. flights, transfers and excursions, depart September 3.
  • Classic Resorts‘ St Patrick’s Day offers: 5 nights B&B Ramada Plaza Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai from €999pps, travel March 12. 5 nights B&B JC Ocean View Hotel Dubai from €1,116pps, travel March 12. See or call 01 874 5000 to book.
  • Thai transportation company Limousine Phuket is offering a 2-night tour of Phuket from 2,130 Thai Baht incl. round trip airport pick up, Phuket orientation tour and overnight at hotel on room only. See for more info.


There were 330 entries for the inbound Irish Tourism Industry awards to be held in the Doubletree by Hilton, April 24.

Fáilte Ireland hosted the European Travel Commission’s Market Intelligence Group, some of Europe’s top tourism research professionals at the Grand Hotel, Malahide, Dublin for their AGM (Feb 18-20). European tourism is estimated to have grown by 4pc in 2014 and is projected to continue this upward trend in 2015.

The Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism Partnership has closed. The partnership was responsible for the out of state tourism marketing for the area covered by the local authority areas of Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine, Larne, Limavady and Moyle and represented 400 businesses.

The IATA Aviation Security conference has been confirmed for October 2015 in The Convention Centre, Dublin, one of four international conferences, totalling over 1,400 delegates which Fáilte Ireland say have been won for Dublin through its Conference Ambassador scheme, the others being the Conference of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education in February 2017;the International Equine Ophthalmology Consortium Symposium in June, 2016; and the Association of National Numbering Agencies in June 2015. The National Tourism Development Authority added that it would also soon be in a position to announce a further four conference wins, totalling over 2,000 international delegates.

frank corr bookMinister Michael Ring launched Serving the Caterer 1965-2015 by Limerick-born journalist Frank Corr, a book on the history of the Irish Hospitality Industry. The book tells the story of the evolution of tourism, the hotel industry, dining out and catering in industrial and institutional locations over the past 50 years. The book was commissioned by the Irish Foodservice Suppliers Alliance.

Shannon Airport Chairperson Rose Hynes, travel writer and winner of the Travel Extra Travel Writer of the Year Book category Mark Graham and Fáilte Ireland’s Fiona Monaghan are guest speakers at the Burren Tourism Story 2015 at the Pavilion, Lisdoonvarna on Wednesday Mar 4th at 6.30pm showcasing the activities, adventures, food and heritage of the Burren Region.

Car manufacturer Opel hosts 550 international motoring media representatives for the launch of two new engines, the Mokka and Insignia. This is the first international launch by any car manufacturer to take place in Ireland in over 15 years, was facilitated by Fáilte Ireland.

The first all Ireland responsible tourism awards will be presented at a ceremony following the Responsible Tourism in Destinations conference on March 11, the second responsible tourism conference for the Irish Centre for Responsible Tourism and the ninth in an international conference series. Conference speakers include Carol Gleeson, from Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark, Harold Goodwin, Professor of Responsible Tourism at Manchester Metropolitan University, Manda Brookman from the Cornwall Sustainable Tourism Project, Richard Tyler, from Brecon Beacons National Park, Xavier Font, from Respondeco, Cillian Murphy from Loop Head Peninsula, Rina Garrett from Erris Tourism, Siobhan Burke from Sheep’s Head Peninsula, Joanna Hayes from Co Cavan, Martin Carey from Mourne Heritage Trust, Paddy Mathews of Fáilte Ireland, Mary Mulvey, CEO Ecotourism Ireland and Annabel Fitzgerald, Coastal Programmes Manager of An Taisce.

Harbour2Harbour Walk St. Patrick’s Day-090 copyPictured at an event onboard Irish Ferries’ vessel ‘Ulysses’ to announce details of this year’s Harbour2Harbour walk on St Patrick’s Day, Fergus McFadden and Senator David Norris Amo Sayed of Aware, Irish Ferries’ Newly Appointed Managing Director Andrew Sheen and Irish Ferries Marketing Manager Daragh O’Reilly. The 10th annual ‘Harbour2Harbour’ St. Patrick’s Day walk from Howth to Dun Laoghaire in aid of the charity Aware.

A £4.9m grant will enable the Titanic Foundation to restore the derelict Harland and Wolff Drawing Offices where RMS Titanic was designed – unlocking plans to develop a luxury four star hotel in the shipbuilder’s former headquarters building. The building has been vacant since 1989 and has been considered ‘at risk’ for almost a decade.

Tripadvisor‘s top 10 Irish beaches: 1. Inchydoney, Clonakilty, Co Cork. 2. Derrynane, Caherdaniel, Co Kerry. 3. Inch Beach, Dingle, Co Kerry. 4. Lahinch Beach, Co Clare. 5. Rossbeigh Beach, Glenbeigh, Co Kerry. 6. Curracloe Beach, Co Wexford. 7. Banna Strand, Co Kerry. 8. Kulmurvey, Inis Mór, Co Galway. 9. Salthill Beaches, Co Galway. 10. Portmarock Beach, Dublin.

CALLING BRITISH ADVENTURE ENTHUSIASTS AND LOVERS OF THE GREAT OUTDOORS!A group of Irish tourism companies travelled to London with Tourism Ireland for the 2015 Telegraph Outdoor Adventure Travel & Bike show. 55,000 visitors will attend the four-day event. Picture shows Ian Cumming, Martin McMullan and Chris Scott, all Mountain Bike Northern Ireland; former Irish cyclists Stephen Roche and Darach McQuaid; Michael Beare, Finn Lough Lakeside Lodges; Jim Maher, Select Hotels of Ireland; and Craig McCullough, Mountain Bike Northern Ireland; Anne Phelan, Trailwalkers Ireland; Gearóid O’Meachair, Rural Irish Holidays; Maura Mullins, Trailwalkers Ireland; Carol Hinch, Ballynahinch Castle Hotel; and Mick Breen, Irish Centre for Cycling, on the Tourism Ireland stand.

TRY FOR TOURISM! RUGBY LEGEND RONAN O’GARA LENDS A HAND TO BOOST BUSINESS TOURISM FROM FRANCERonan O’Gara joined Tourism Ireland and six Irish tourism companies in France for a Meet in Ireland MICE event in the Irish Embassy in Paris. 100 members of Racing Métro’s Business Club attended the event. Picture shows Ronan O’Gara with Caroline Phelan and Monica MacLaverty, both Tourism Ireland.

Club Choice Ireland which provides tailor-made golfing holidays to the East and South East of Ireland, launched its 2015 programme at Mere Golf Resort & Spa in Cheshire, Manchester. New destinations for 2015 include Mount Juliet, Druids Glen, Carton House and County Louth Golf Clubs.

Defending champions Clare won the title of Pool Rescue Champions 2015 from a field of 250 competitors who took part in the nine-hour competition of swimming pool rescues in the University of Limerick 50 metre pool.

Tourism Ireland won a prize for best deals from a destination marketing organizstion at the 2014 Travelzoo Awards in the US.

Fishing tourism FranceSpecialist Irish fishing and tourism businesses joined Tourism Ireland in Nantes at the Salon Européen des Peches en Mer angling fair, which was attended by 18,000 people. Picture shows the Irish stand at the event.

Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia confirmed that they will take part in the 2015 Irish Open.

Inisfest launchThe inaugural INIS Fest takes place in Ennise from June 26 to 28. The line up includes Damien Dempsey, Delorentos, Nathan Carter, the Kilfenora Céilí Band, De Dannan and Finbar Furey. Nightly tickets cost €27 while a weekend pass costs €72. Tickets on sale now at Picture shows event organisers John McCarthy, Declan O’Grady, Carmen Cronin and Darren Purtill at The Friary Ennis.

The Burren Tourism Story 2015 will take place at the Pavilion, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare, on March 4, 6.30pm-8.30pm. Shannon Airport Chairperson Rose Hynes, travel writer Mark Graham and Fáilte Ireland’s Fiona Monaghan will be guest speakers at the event. Tourism providers and locals are invited to explore the visitor attractions and activities on offer in the Burren and sample food by local producers and restaurants. The event will also feature the launch of a new book on the geology of Co Clare, Banner Rocks.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Willie Won’t-he and his Don’t Shock-a-Lot Factory


Minister for Tourism Paschal Donoghue being interviewed at Tourism Ireland HQ

Minister for Tourism Paschal Donohoe being interviewed at Tourism Ireland HQ

The headlines this week:

  • Fancy a day trip to the titan’s embankment?
  • Lufthansa now carrying 377,000 to Dublin
  • Ryanair announces Dublin to Copenhagen and Lublin
  • Caribbean still beats Med 2:1 in cruise ship capacity
  • Willie’s rocky road to Dublin to meet rolling politicians

Travel Extra TV

Video of week Feb 15Our video of the week comes from brothers Georgy and Daniil Tarasov, who spent 45 days backpacking through Vietnam shooting footage for this beautiful montage. Watch here.

  • A team of artists paint the Northern Lights on an 757 Icelandair jet (check out the interior lighting as well). Watch here.
  • Go green for Paddy’s Day with Tourism Ireland: Watch here.
  • Do you snore like a jet? Watch here.
  • LOT Airlines‘ surprise for its 500,000th passenger. Fans of ABBA will appreciate this one. Watch here.
  • Infinium Robotics in Singapore showcases its drone waiters. Watch here.


Travel Extra March 2015The print edition of Travel Extra will be distributed in the coming days to travel agencies and tourism professionals throughout the country. The March 2015 edition profiles the champions of the Irish travel industry as selected at the Travel Industry Awards in Dublin’s Mansion House and the writers’ awards in Thomas Prior House. We take a first look at the new Stena Superfast X ferry in the shipyard in Poland, go behind the scenes with the visitor numbers from the industry in 2014, preview the upcoming Travel Agents conference in Jerez, and roundup our tireless travels of recent weeks on behalf of our readers. View online here.

What was IAG CEO Willie Walsh expecting from his will-he won’t-he visit to Dublin this week? The hardball took place behind closed doors on Wednesday. Before this game had begun Paschal Donohoe was talking on the sidelines of willie walsh_9312the Tourism Ireland St Patrick’s greening of buildings launch, changing the language slightly to emphasise access over the previous barely-understood politician’s mantra of connectivity (which has implications of non-connectivity, fewer direct routes from Dublin, and more feeding BA’s hub at Heathrow, like Dublin used to do in the 1980s). Paschal’s reply was hilarious when he was asked how likely politicians were to do anything about the Aer Lingus-IAG proposed sale a year out from an election. LIsten here to his answer.

Willie’s Thursday morning RTÉ radio interview with Sean O’Rourke (listen here) honed in on slots and jobs. The exchanges (see transcript here) at the Oireachtas Committee (transcript of Willie Walsh’s opening statement to the Oireachtas Transport Committee) with Sean Barrett and Timmy Dooley were not as raucous as might be expected. He attempted to move the debate back from the grey aprons of distant Heathrow back to somewhere more meaningful.

  • It is all about growth. It is about growing the Aer Lingus network and with that growth comes growth in jobs, which are quality jobs that would be based in Ireland.
  • We want to do this in a friendly way, if they don’t welcome us that’s the end of it.
  • Transatlantic services over the Dublin hub, represents a real growth opportunity. We can bring the strength of our joint business partner, American Airlines.
  • I spent a long time working in industrial relations in Aer Lingus and am very familiar with collective agreementsAll HR-industrial relations issues at IAG. are, therefore, managed within the operating companies. 
  • One must realise that where Iberia was during the period of reconstruction and where Aer Lingus is are two completely different places.
  • Aer Lingus would continue to operate into T2 at Heathrow and British Airways would continue to operate into T5, we would look at how we manage the flights through the day to ensure that we have a good selection of services both into T2 and into T5.
  • Aer Lingus left the oneworld alliance was because there is a cost associated, particularly related to the cost of IT, which has since been addressed by oneworld.
  • I would genuinely be very shocked if I discovered the operation of the Shannon–Heathrow and Cork–Heathrow services was not profitable for Aer Lingus. I know Dublin is profitable because we operate on the route.
  • Slots can have a value, but the value changes. It is dependent on somebody being willing to sell and equally on somebody being willing to buy.
  • We are unique in the industry in that we enable brands to continue to operate side by side unlike other airline groups where there is a dominant airline.
  • I do not believe one could develop a second hub in Ireland given that it is only now that they are setting about trying to develop Dublin as the first hub.  The 750,000 passengers who transferred through Dublin is a small figure, representing less than 5pc of the overall number of passengers. 
  • 229 of our slots were devoted to short-haul activities. That is ten times the number of slots we are talking about in the context of Aer Lingus. 
  • If people believe it would be better for me to say “Yes we will continue for a period to operate Shannon-Heathrow and Cork-Heathrow with the three from Shannon and the four from Cork”, yes I would be prepared to do that. 
  • This is not BA seeking to acquire Aer Lingus; it is IAG. The CEO of BA is part of my management team, just as the CEO of Aer Lingus would be reporting directly to me. They would have equal weight and equal votes around the management committee table.

Friday’s statement from the Aer Lingus board was timed to capitalise on Willie’s ground clearing existence. The advocacy that was absent from the debate of the first fortnight has finally togged out and entered the playing field..

Does Aer Lingus need IAG? Not at the moment. But a bit like the measles vaccination, we won’t ever know whether this bid is required to keep the slanty shamrock in the sky. Four times Aer Lingus has staved off bankruptcy, and there are no other bidders. Lingus has looked more like a Star Alliance than a Oneworld carrier in recent years but Christian Schindler of Lufthansa, in Dublin this week, told Travel Extra that his airline were not interested in acquisitions at the moment (listen here).

colm barrington 1400 copyThe Aer Lingus board statement raised one of the less glamorous aspects of the deal, the prospect of Aer Lingus accessing a global cargo network. Some surprise was expressed when commentators raised this dimension to the deal, especially as Willie Walsh was instrumental in closing down the Aer Lingus cargo operation in 2003 when he was CEO. Willie Walsh told the Oiureachtas committee; We do not have the equipment, and therefore are not in a position, to develop a cargo hub at Shannon. According to Colm Barrington: Aer Lingus’ cargo business will benefit from the global network reach and sales channels of the IAG Cargo business. This enhancement of the cargo network is expected to deliver significant benefits and additional options to Irish businesses, in particular the pharmaceutical and semi-conductor industries.kenny robin

Ryanair announced two new routes from Dublin, a daily flight to Copenhagen to commence on March 18 (even by Ryanair standards three week’s notice is a bit excessive, they had a 33c fare flash sale on launch day) and on Sept 25 will resume their route to Lublin – home to the only Irish language University department in Poland. Winter customers were up 14pc (listen here) and Ryanair will have 63 flights direct from Dublin next winter (listen here). Kenny Jacobs said Irish tourism would be boosted (listen here) by the new routes and increased frequencies between key city pairs (listen here) but expressed concern that Dublin hotel prices were creeping up (listen here).Ryanair_0004

Despite all the changes the focus on low fares is as strong as ever (listen here) and said fares are going to come down to €43 from the current average of €46 during 2015 as the benefits of the fuel price drop are felt (listen here). He repeated the familiar Ryanair mantra of lauding the business plus product (listen here) and said that the GDS arrangement with Travelport and Amadeus was “working well” (listen here).simon polito 74

The gathered media were more interested in Ryanair’s reaction to the London court decision upholding Simon Polito’s (pictured) commission direction that Ryanair should sell its Aer Lingus shareholding than in increased access to Lublin. Ryanair’s appeal goes to England’s Supreme Court next and is likely to end up in Brussels when Europe’s sages decided whether it has to sell its Aer Lingus shareholding, if it still owns it. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

lufthansa_0003Lufthansa said Dublin passenger numbers increased 5pc in 2014 to 377,000 with three-quarters of Frankfurt passengers flying on to transfer destinations. The country director Christian Schindler said the Dublin route was doing well for Lufthansa. He said that Premium Economy was a success (listen here) the fleet would be entirely refitted with upgraded first and business class by summer (listen here). See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.toourism irealnd_0011

Tourism Ireland’s annual press briefing on the latest St Patrick’s Day greenings has become a place to be seen for cabinet members with both Charlie Flanagan and Paschal Donohue joining Niall Gibbons to announce the latest icon to be greenlit: the Colosseum. Other first timers include he Sacré-Cœur Basilica, he Grand Ole Opry, Porte de Bourgogne in Bordeaux, John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge in Nashville, the Jumeirah Etihad Towers hotel in Abu Dhabi, the Town Halls of Munich and Bamberg, Cristo Rei in Lisbon, the Fram polar exploration ship in Oslo, and City Hall in Tbilisi. new sites will join old favourites Niagara Falls, the London Eye, the Allianz Arena in Munich, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai, the Sky Tower in Auckland, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Cibeles Fountain and Palace in Madrid and Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland in Paris. The board produced four-year growth figures for Britain (+12pc to 3.1m), Europe (+25pc to 2.51m), North America (+38pc to 1.19m) and the rest of the world (+58pc to 0.49m). Ireland is now fourth among national tourist boards on Facebook (2.65m fans), third in the world on Twitter (162,000) and second in the world on Pinterest (17m views),TOURISM IRELAND ANNOUNCES GLOBAL GREENING LINEUP FOR ST PATRICK

In reply to a question from Travel Extra Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said that Shenghen was not as big a deterrent in attracting visitors to Ireland as is commonly supposed (listen here). See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook. See also Tourism Ireland’s presentation.

IMG_0043Don’t mistake a local tourist attraction with an international tourist attraction. Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry gave the keynote address at the AGM of his native county’s tourist interest, Kildare Failte at Athy Heritage Centre (listen here to full address and listen here to interview on KFM). Speakers included Kildare’s new county manager Peter Carey (listen here), John Osborne chair of Kildare Failte (listen here), Phil Donnelly of Kildare Failte (listen here), Kevin Kenny of Athy Shackleton group (listen here), Eanna Rowe of Inland Waterways who talked about the Barrow Blueway (listen here, picture shows Eanna with Phil Donnelly in the background), and Margaret Walsh of Athy Heritage Centre (listen here), See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

An initiative to re-name places of interest by the Chinese people came up with three suggestions for Giant’s Causeway: 熔岩音阶 (Rong Yan Yin Jie) the musical scale lava, 泰坦之堤 (Tai Tan Zhi Di) the titan’s embankment, and 白浪玄石堤 (Bai Lang Xuan Shi Di) the embankment of white waves and strange stones. Send your votes in Mandarin on a postcard to Howard Hastings (only kidding). 

Travel TradeBookabed Lee & Heather €100 a day winners

Andrew Bolton, Celebrity Cruises Sales Manager for Ireland surprised Lisa Geraghty in Tour America with a Michael Kors handbag as part of their Wednesday Wins Campaign.

  • Agents who complete a minimum of two modules on Visit California and Virgin Atlantic’s online training programme can win a place on the Brand USA fam trip to California from March 4-8 2015.
  • Irish Continental Group appointed Andrew Sheen as Managing Director of its Irish Ferries division.
  • BookaBed’s final winners in its €100 a day draw were Lynne Casey of Fahy Travel, Rebecca Twomey of Lee Travel, Amanda Neeson of O’Hanrahan Travel, Amy O’Sullivan of Shandon Travel, and Michael Kelly of Keller Travel.
  • Aer Lingus has teamed up with Orlando Flexticket to offer agents the chance to fly to Orlando with Aer Lingus
  • is seeking a product assistant.
  • Sales Team FHFunway Holidays appointed Amy Drummond as their new business development manager for Scotland, North East, Northern Ireland & Yorkshire. Picture shows the Funway sales team: Anna Barnes, Andy Travis, Paul Mellon and Amy Drummond.
  • TUI appointed Jill Carter as its new director of retail, replacing Kathryn Ward who left the operator last October and has joined Thomas Cook.
  • GM - WelcomePicture shows Fergal O’Connell, GM of the FItzwilliam Hotel, greeting Skal president Margaret Cronin, International councillor Douglas Jordan and Leonie Thornton of Dunboyne Castle Hotel at the Skal President’s Lunch in the Fitzwilliam Hotel on Tuesday.
  • Funway Holidays reported a 12pc sales growth in January with revenue up 19pc.

Deal Watch

  • Wendy Wu bannerWendy Wu is offering free flight upgrades on selected tours to China for bookings taken from Feb 16 to Feb 23 for travel between April 1 and June 18. Wendy Wu is offering 10 days All Inclusive tour of China (Shanghai, Zhujiajiaio Canal Town, Terracotta Warriors, The Great Wall) from €2,740pp incl. free flight upgrade, taxes, tour guides, entrance fees and visa, travel between April 1 and June 18.
  • Sunway offers: 7 nights river cruise on board The AmaSonata from €1,529pp incl. flights transfers, excursions, meals and drinks. 7 nights B&B Tanjong Jara Resort, Malaysia from €1,399pp incl. flights, taxes and transfers, depart September 2015. 5 nights International Palms, Orlando from €529pp incl. flights and taxes, depart May 2015. 5 nights Stratosphere Hotel Casino, Las Vegas from €1,189pp incl. flights and taxes, depart July 8. 5 nights Sandman City Centre, Vancouver from €865pp incl. flights and taxes, depart May 2015. See for more.
  • Cassidy Travel‘s Las Vegas offers: 4 nights Circus Circus from €655pps, 4 nights Luxor Las Vegas from €724pps and 4 nights MGM Grand from €804pps, travel May 19 with Virgin Atlantic via London. To book, visit or call 0818 332 800.
  • Topflight Austrian ski specials all including flights ex Dublin, transfers, luggage allowance, rep services and online discount: 7 nights Snow Pensions, Niederau from €299pps. 7 nights Pension Faistenauer, Soll from €419pps. 7 nights Gasthof Mauth, St Johann from €519pps. 7 nights Grand Hotel, Zell am See from €969pps.
  • QuickPark is offering 50pc off CityScape family tours, €25 for two adults and up to four children. Book online at by Feb 21 and enter the promo code QUICKPARK.


Hyatt is to offer free Wi-Fi to all guests worldwide, effective February 14. 

Microsoft Word - trivago feb’s February price survey shows that Athlone and Waterford are the only towns in Ireland where average hotel prices have fallen year on year. Limerick is still Ireland’s cheapest hotel beds at 74 with Waterford at €75 with the sterling price differential driving Belfast from mid range to second place in the charts for the first time in the history of internet comparison at €109 behind the high end cluster in Donegal town.

The conference and awards of the Irish Accommodation Services Industry (the breaking bed people?) took place at the Slieve Russell Hotel with Bernie Fitzgerald from Southcourt Hotel winning the three-star hotel award, Maria McNamara of the Raheen Woods Hotel the four-star award and Anna Gaweda of Adare Manor the five-star award IASI President Ines Guerra told guests: “the rooms division generates the most profit for a hotel, and the cleanliness and condition of the bedrooms are the most important factors in customer satisfaction ratings.”

hotel rooms by countyLongford is the least hotelled county in Ireland at the end of 2014: its one hotel and 11 rooms standing out at the bottom of the accommodation list. Ireland has lost just over 100 hotels since the beginning of the Lehman recession. Most of the casualties have been in the lower grade ratings: currently there are 39 five Star, 312 four star, 397 three star, 126 two star, 29 one star and a total of 938 counting those ungraded or awaiting grading. Dublin is experiencing a shortage of hotels, as it is down to 151 hotels and 18,718 beds, leaving it a bit below the benchmark against its European city break competitors. Galway ranks second by number of hotels and Kerry second by number of rooms.

Rory O’Sullivan has moved from The Park Hotel in Kenmare to become GM of Glenlo Abbey Hotel in Galway. He is joined there by Head Chef Gary Burke. Jill O’Hare, opening Director of Sales & Marketing for the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt has moved to the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London as Director of Sales & Marketing. Dan Roche has been appointed as Director of Finance at the InterContinental Dublin. Christina Deeny former Director of Sales & Marketing in the Merrion Hotel is now Group Head of Global Sales with Aman Resort group in London.

  • The first two Hyatt Centric Hotels will open in Chicago and Miami in April.
  • Expedia’s Dara Khosrowshahi said antitrust issues are unlikely to halt the Expedia/Orbitz merger.
  • JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts opened its first property in Austin while DoubleTree by Hilton opened at Oklahoma City Airport. The 330 room Knickerbocker Hotel reopened in the heart of New York City.
  • Chinese insurance company Sunshine Insurance Group will acquire the 114-room Baccarat Hotel in New York for $230m.
  • Ascott opened the 112-apartment Citadines Suites Arc de Triomphe Paris.
  • Marriott International opened the 122-room, 4* AC Hotel Paris Le Bourget in the grounds of Parish Le Bourget airport. This is Marriott’s second AC Hotels property in Paris.
  • The Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay, the hotel that inspired Fawlty Towers, will be turned into a retirement home after local councillors rejected a rescue plan.
  • The 12-story Clarion casino-hotel in Las Vegas was levelled this week. A soundtrack of Frank Sinatra was played before the property was destroyed.
  • Marriott’s Kameha Grand Zurick, part of the Autograph Collection, will open on March 1.
  • Melia Hotels International will open Innside Glasgow and Innside Birmingham in 2017.
  • Travelodge plans to open 15 new hotels in 2015, creating 400 new jobs.
  • Reps at Virgin Hotels Chicago will drive guests to a city destination of their choice in an electric-powered Tesla Model S car.


BIT 2015BIT Milan 2015: Borsa Internazionale del Turismo attracted 2,000 exhibitors from 100 countries to Rho Fiera Milano to meet 1,500 hosted buyers from 70 countries, 50pc up from last year. Italy’s section increased by 60pc with 20 new local exhibitors including Ostuni, Forte dei Marmi and Venaria Reale while the return of Friuli Venezia Giulia meant all Italian regions were there for the first time. . Italian buyers (17pc) were hosted for the first time. BIT organisers made a big play of their MICE, Digital, Leisure and Luxury and Destination Sport sections and a brand new area dedicated to Art, Culture and food and wine “aiming to promote Italian excellence in the world.” There were 70,000 professional visitors to the show by close of business yesterday with general approval for the new meet and match formula that includes a personalised, pre-arranged agenda of appointments that have been set up with buyers directly in the stand. New countries present this year include Chad from Africa and Vietnam from Asia while Albania, Peru, Sudan, Azerbaijan and Lithuania have returned. Italy sent 240,000 visitors to Ireland last year, up 4pc.

A group of Chilean mountain climbers found the wreckage of a LAN flight which disappeared in the Andes in 1961.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC is considering a ban on selfie sticks. A host of museums in the US have already banned the gadget for health and : The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC; the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC; the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in NYC; the Dallas Museum of Art; and the Rhose Island School of Design Museum.

  • The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado — the inspiration behind Stephen King’s horror classic The Shining — is adding a hedge maze similar to the one used in Stanley Kubrick’s film version.
  • The Ministry of Tourism in Haiti launched a TV ad campaign targetting visitors in New York.
  • Tourism Australia and Virgin Australia launched a $4m joint advertising campaign targetting US visitors this week.
  • Travelport signed a deal with Virgin America for rich content and branding.
  • Take a look at French artist Léonard Combier‘s passport drawings.

Food and Wine

The Dublin Chinese New Year Festival runs from now until Feb 28. To celebrate, the Asia Market at 18 Drury St is hosting a free tour of the shop on Friday, Feb 20 (5.30pm-6.30pm). Book your place at The shop will host cooking demos, Feb 19-22, 12pm-5pm.

The chefs at Aniarx restaurant in Galway, JP McMahon and Ultan Cooke, launched a new ordering system at the Michelin-star restaurant: Customers can choose to have 2, 6, 8 or 10 courses, from €35/€50 with wine pairings. The 10-course tasting menu is €100/€150 with wine pairings.


CoindrumCoindrum has installed machines in Dublin airport where customers can deposit unwanted euro to convert the cash into a shopping voucher, with 10pc added to the final sum, to spend in Dublin Airport’s shopping area, The Loop.

  • Europe Airpost appointed ATTS Travel Representation Solutions as its GSA in Ireland.
  • Ryanair said they will carry 15,000 Cheltenham fans and schedule 30 extra flights. Ryanair has grown 14pc in Dublin, Kenny Jacobs told media this week (listen here). We got a hint of the 30th anniversary celebrations to come when Kenny Jacobs described Ryanair 1985 as the pirate airline that everyone wanted to close down (listen here).
  • LOT Polish Airlines appointed CarTrawler as Exclusive Car Rental Partner.
  • Turkish Airlines is adding Abuja in Nigeria as well as previously announce Manila and Taipei to its route network.
  • Humorous moment at the Ryanair press conference. When the start was delayed the journalists present queried: I thought Ryanair always started on time. Robin Kiely replied: the conferences started ten minutes ago; there just hasn’t been any questions. (listen here). Kenny Jacobs answered another question: Aer LIngus is like Glenroe, big in the eighties but not that important anymore.
  • Dublin-based Fly Leasing will purchase two A320s on lease to an Asian airline.
  • Flybe appointed former BA executive Luke Farajallah as COO from April 1.
  • Air Canada Rouge will add four weekly flights to its Dublin-Toronto route this summer from June 13 to September 16.
  • Irish air traffic grew in January with total flights increasing 4.9pc. There were 1,026 daily flights on average. The busiest day was January 4 with 1,418 flights. En route traffic was up 5.7pc. IAA’s North Atlantic Communications service was up 1.1pc. Commercial flights at the three state airports was up 4.8pc. Dublin, up 7.2pc with 424 average daily movements. Cork, down 16.3pc with 40 average daily movements and Shannon, up 6.4pc with 40 average daily movements.
  • IT Carlow opened its Centre for Aerospace Engineering. It will offer undergraduate programmes in pilot studies, aerospace and aircraft systems engineering.
  • Former executive of Korean Air, Cho Hyun-Ah, was sentenced to one year in prison over the “nut rage” incident.
  • Delta Air Lines is now serving Starbucks coffee on all flights.
  • One passenger was injured after a US Airways flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Houston after the wheels under the Embraer 190’s nose failed to come down.
  • The EU General Court ruled that Ryanair and Aer Lingus do not have to pay €16m in air tax, ordered by the European Commission.
  • British Airways launched its new business class amenity kit. The redesigned washbag can also be used as a shoe bag or can hold loose items. It contains Elemis products, an eye mask, socks, a pen, earplugs, toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • United Airlines is testing a new website design, likely to be rolled out during the summer.
  • From next week, passengers flying with US lowcost carrier JetBlue will be able to make in-flight purchases using their iPhone 6 via Apple Pay.
  • Malaysia Airlines is changing its Enrich frequent flyer programme. From Feb 16, the airline is introducing earn-ad-burn rates to prioritse high-spending members over those on a budget.
  • Qantas launched an upgrade bidding system called Bid Now for members of its frequent flyer club.
  • Delta Air Lines‘ Facebook page was hacked on Tuesday.
  • Air Seychelles signed a codeshare agreement with Etihad to include routes to Casablanca.
  • Iberia launched a self service check-in and baggage drop centre at Terminal 4, Madrid Airport.
  • Dublin is London City Airport‘s busiest route.
  • Emirates plans to hire 11,000 new staff this year.
  • Germanwings pilots called a two-day strike this week. It cost the low cost carrier $11m.
  • A computer glitch on United Airlines‘ website offered transatlantic fares from $51 round trip in economy and business class. The bookings will not be honoured.
  • A Thomson Airways steward was disciplined after posting a photo of a passenger on Facebook calling her “an absolutely barking mad nutter”.
  • Boeing said it will not consider reviving the 757 jetliner with new engines.


  • CLIA_Infog_Jan2015_02The Caribbean (35.5pc) will lead global cruise ship capacity in 2015, followed by .the Mediterranean (19.5pc), Baltic (10.6pc), Asia (6pc), Australia (6pc), Alaska (4.6pc) S America (2.6pc) and other markets (15pc). Maria Miller of Norwegian Cruise Line briefed media on CLIA’s survey of cruise trends for 2015 noting that seven out of 10 cruisers use a travel agent to plan and book cruise vacations, that the movement toward larger and larger ships is less important as the 22 launches in 2015 include river and smaller specialty ships and the growth of niche cruising. A record 23m passengers are expected to sail this year, up 4pc from 21.2m last year (see infographic)
  • Norwegian Cruise Line is raising its daily service charge from $12 to $12.95 per person, per day in all cabin categories, and $14.95 per person, per day in suites.
  • Fred Olsen Lines Braemar will call at Rosslare in 2016 on July 16 next year. This follows last year’s announcement that the cruise ship Phoenix Reisen’s MS Albatros will visit Rosslare Europort on August 5.
  • Carnival Cruise Line’s newest and largest cruise ship Carnival Vista will sail three to seven nights and include Eastern, Western and South out of Miami starting November 2016
  • Holland America’s 2,650-passenger Koningsdam to launch next February, will offer a new French seafood brasserie Sel de Mer: the Culinary Arts Centre, Grand Dutch Café and Lido Market, as well as options available elsewhere in the fleet Pinnacle Grill, Tamarind and Canaletto.
  • Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the sinking of the ship off the coast of Italy in 2012, killing 32 people. A panel of three judges found Schettino guilty of manslaughter and other charges, including abandoning ship.
  • Emerald Belle will launch in early 2016, Europe’s newest river cruise line will build its fifth new ship in three years.
  • Crystal Cruises is to allow passengers to use onboard credit for casino play from next month.
  • Royal Caribbean will announce the name of Oasis 3 in late February with the betting on Harmony of the Seas.
  • Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas returned from a 24-day dry dock with new features: Italian restaurant Giovanni’s Table, Mexican restaurant Sabor; American Steakhouse Chops Grille complete with dry-aged steak options and 50s-style hamburger, 1960s themed R Bar Lounge, milk shake joint Johnny Rockets, an additional 67 cabins and panoramic ocean view cabins on the front of the ship. Freedom sails seven-night Caribbean roundtrip itineraries.
  • Tauck will name its two new Inspiration-class river vessels Grace and Joy, to join its European fleet in 2016. Grace and Joy will have 22 300-square feet suites.
  • The star of the English-version of Bake Off, Mary Berry, will host cooking lessons on board P&O Cruises’ new ship Britannia. Berry will be travelling on a 12-night cruise, departing July 6. 10 other celebrity chefs will be on other Britannia sailings throughout the year.
  • The 27th annual Yacht and Brokerage Show is under way in Miami. the pre-show launch party which was sponsored by Haute Living, Land Rover and Fast Flight Group, organised by Show Management and hosted at prestigious Miami venue the Sienna Tavern. The event was bustling with industry professionals who enjoyed fine cuisine prepared by the team at Sienna Tavern and speciality cocktails from Lucky Player Vodka, Blackwell Rum and Embryo Wines.


New Tourism Office for Dublin Officially Opened (1)The new high tech Dublin tourist office opened in Suffolk Street. Innovations include free Wifi, a video wall with photographs from around Dublin, interactive Pods a digital display with social media posts and tweets tagged with #lovedublin, a wall where key smartphone apps are promoted, an events, concerts and special exhibitions what’s on area with daily updates, and a smaller video wall dedicated to locations around Ireland. Picture shows inside the office.

  • Meitheal 2015 takes place in the RDS Dublin on Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 15th April.
  • The line up for the 2015 Limerick Literary Festival was launched on Monday. The festival takes place Feb 20-22 and takes place at 69 O’Connell St and the Lime Tree Theatre. Line up includes: Edna O’Brien, Niall Williams, Mary O’Donnell, John Montague, Audrey Magee and Joseph O’Connor. Visit for the full line up. Call 061 7747 774 or visit to book tickets. Tickets also available at the door for individual sessions.
  • Doolin Writers’ Weekend takes place March 27-29, organised by Hotel Doolin, and featuing Donal Ryan, Peter Sheridan, Dave Lordan, Christine Dwyer Hickey, singer John Spillane, Hennessy Award winning writer Madeleine D’Arcy, writer Anthony Glavin, author Catherine Dunne, and novelist Marion Reynolds.
  • IRISH TOURISM COMPANIES DO ‘THE BUSINESS’ IN PARISA group of Irish tourism companies joined Tourism Ireland at the MICE Connect business tourism workshop in Paris. 1,000 French conference and meeting professionals attended the event. Picture shows Caroline Phelan, Tourism Ireland; Alessio Monterosso, Aer Lingus; Orla McCabe, Killashee House Hotel; Niamh Burns, The Convention Centre, Dublin; and François Tessier, Abbey Incentive and Events at the workshop.
  • The 13-metre Diving Bell at Dublin Port will be refurbished into a tourist attraction.
  • Paschal Donohoe announced €320,000 in second phase funding for festivals and events in 2015
  • Wild Atlantic Way briefings have been taking place this week for members of the trade along the route to further develop the Wild Atlantic Way. Tomorrow Feb 16th is the closing date for the Inaugural Irish Tourism Industry Awards:
  • There are four weeks to go until the Responsible Tourism in Destinations Conference and Awards taking place in Dublin.

NEW YORK LAUNCH OF TOURISM IRELAND’S MARKETING PLANS 2015Tourism Ireland launched its 2015 US marketing campaign in New York on Friday. 100 members of the travel trade and media attended the event. Picture shows Alison Metcalfe of Tourism Ireland, Nico Zenner of DH Enterprise & Associates and Consul General of Ireland, Barbara Jones, at the launch.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: A sad end to the high speed dream


Boarding the Stena Superfast X in Gdynia

Boarding the Stena Superfast X in Gdynia

The headlines this week:

  • Superfast X: the first pictures
  • End to the high speed dream and Dun Laoghaire’s Irish Sea service
  • How IAG can encircle island-vision Enda
  • ConCATination brings Travel Centres Conference to Kilkenny at late date

Travel Extra TV

Video of week Feb 8Our video of the week shows the Stena team and Travel Extra inspecting the Stena Superfast X by basket ahead of its launch on the Dublin-Holyhead route on March 11. Watch here.

  • EasyJet uploaded a video showcasing its new livery. Watch here.
  • See Aer Lingus Regional‘s Fastest way to the USA promo from Bristol Airport. Watch here.
  • Captain van Dorst of KLM explains how autopilot works on a flight from Amsterdam to London. Watch here.
  • Martin Corr of Sound Moves shows his support for Heathrow expansion. Watch here.
  • Dramatic footage of the TransAsia ATR 71-600 jet crashing into a bridge in Taiwan received lots of media attention this week. 40 people were killed in the crash. Watch here.
  • Watch here Bloomberg’s contention that the Ryanair charm offensive is working.


IMG_0095 copyThree weeks to go to Stena’s launch of Stena Superfast X on March 11 and the ship was undergoing its final stages of refurbishment, in Gdynia, in the midst of transformation from the DFDS Calais to Dover vessel to the latest fleet flagship for Stena on the Dublin-Holyhead route. The key changes: decks eight and nine and most of ten are devoted to passenger facilities instead of the confined single deck facilities on Stena Nordica, which currently serves Dublin-Holyhead. It will have four times the passenger facilities, 1,200 instead of 300 and two kilometres of lane space. The new ship includes a signature spa but will not be open for the summer season until a specialist spa operation is established, similar to the spas on sister ships Stena Superfast VII and VIII which currently serve on Belfast routes.

IMG_0061 copyStena’s team called by Gdynia (is it just us at Travel Extra or does that sound like a Conal Gallen song?) this week to check on progress and found the passenger service areas in the final stages of preparation. Travel Extra was there to experience the delight of a transfer to the ship by basket. People fly to Orlando for lesser experiences.

She previously plied Hanko-Rostock, Rosyth-Zeebrugge, Patras-Corfu and Dover-Dunkerque. We look forward to her naming ceremony in Dublin on March 11.Picture shows  Orla Noonan of Stena, Kerry Prentice of Prentice PR, Diane Poole of Stena and Siobhan Jacobs of Yellow Door. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Stena HSSHigh speed ferry services started with the 425 passenger, 88 car Stena Sea Lynx in summer 1993. During her first six months in service on the Dun Laoghaire crossing the total market grew by over 200,000 passengers and 40,000 cars. Nineteen years ago this week Travel Extra’s editor was among a team of journalists who visited Lysekil to see the ice bound future of ferry travel: the Stena Explorer HSS (High Speed Service): like a giant frozen paper airplane, looming from the fog in a harbour of floating broken ice, it could have been a prop from a Sci-fi film, swans and geese waddled along the ice and waiting for the sun to rise or the ice to melt. Stena president Bo Lerenius was looking nostalgic. This little port was one of the first used by Stena ferries thirty years ago. captain Andy Humphries from Holyhead showed how he was able to dock the ship without looking out the window. The craft was set to cut the journey time to Holyhead from 210 to 99 minutes and was the largest of the new generation of fast craft. She was preceded by Sea Containers Ferries Scotland SeaCat (which operated Dublin to Liverpool 2001-4) and was joined by Stena Voyager and the still operating Irish Ferries vessel Jonathan Swift. Slow ferries were passé, left to their own freight (apologies to bad pun police).

Stena HSS 004When fuel prices rose HSS proved thirsty, too thirsty for the fuel prices of recent years and the running costs turned Stena’s central corridor from a profit point to a break even situation. It was hoped that with falling fuel prices it would have returned for this year. It did not help that there were no senior personnel in Dublin in a position to argue the case after a restructuring over the past two years. The bean counters in Sweden could take the decision on a pure monetary basis. Internet speculation suggests the sale of Stena Explorer is unlikely due to her unique berthing requirements and it is likely she will be sent to be scrapped by Stena Recycling like her sister ship Stena Voyager.

dun laoghaire ferryportDun Laoghaire Harbour say expressions of interest are being sought from suitable providers to operate a seasonal ferry service on the Holyhead route. Local politicians carry much blame for all that went wrong. When the HSS first arrived the councillors put a limit of no more than 12 trucks per sailing through the port. This forced the company to look at Dublin Port for their freight and discovered that port dues were way cheaper than they were being charged in Dun Laoghaire, which led to the gradual transfer of all ships into Dublin Port. When Dun Laoghaire eventually changed their rates, it was too little too late.

On RTÉ television on Wednesday  Dun Laoghaire’s Harbour spokesman stated that they wanted the harbour designated as the cruise port. Dun Laoghaire delegates travel to Cruise shipping Miami every March but its problem is that none of the normal sized cruise ships can get into the port and taking people in by tender can lead to complications. 1822 Kingstown opens Apr 25 copy

A lengthy era comes to an end. How lengthy? Dun Laoghaire’s scheduled sailings with that commenced with the first sailing of the St Patrick under Captain JP Phillips on May 1 1822 (notice pictured). Dun Laoghaire was initially used for the Liverpool mail boats which were too large to enter Howth harbour and after 1824 the post office’s steam packets, the Aladdin, Harlequin and Cinderella moved their base to Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead (eight hour journey, 12 berths in the men’s quarters, eight in the ladies). The Howth service ended on Jan 22 1834.

15836704533_9e848bdab8_nEthiopian Airlines, to launch Dublin-Addis and Dublin-LAX on June 19, will bring their Dreamliner to Dublin on March 20. To celebrate the new route Ethiopian ambassador Lela-alem Gebreyohannes Tedla hosted Irish travel media at the ambassadorial residence in Dublin this week. Picture shows Teehaye Gebrekiden Mekonnen, ambassador Lela-alem Gebreyohannes Tedla, Michael Yohannes of Ethiopian Airlines and Hailu Neri Beza. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

willie walsh_9312It was a highly confusing week for anyone attempting to follow the slanty shamrock-shenanigans of the IAG-Lingus bid. IAG is keeping its cards close to its chest but may be moving towards a position where they would be content to buy holdings other than the government’s 25pc, leaving it with de facto control of the airline (despite some suggestions to the contrary last week). It makes sense for Ryanair to sell their 30pc holding to IAG to keep predators such as EasyJet at bay and make back the money they spent. Drury was engaged by IAG to help with their efforts to acquire Aer Lingus. Briefings will emphasis the IAG plan maintain connectivity from Ireland and deliver significant growth for customers (and cargo traffic), benefiting tourism and trade. The first meeting took place between IAG and the coalition advisors.

In public, portents are not promising. Bloomberg declared it an Irish Rebuff. Michael O’Leary said that the Government should adopt a more intelligent approach to the  sale of Aer Lingus stake. The F-word even entered the debate when the entire exercise was declared a fiasco in an editorial in the Irish Independent (who stringently oppose the bid). They editorialised that the debate signalled a return to populist politics as usual. Enda Kenny‘s interview on RTE’s This Week kicked for touch (listen here)

If IAG might have expected a more positive reaction to their guarantee not to sell Heathrow slots and not to cease using them on Irish services within five years (a better guarantee than slot-sensitive souls enjoy at present), they were wrong. This was not enough for most of the cacophony of protest. One North Dublin newspaper went all Kelvin McKenzie with their front page protest.eve o'driscoll michael keaveney

British Irish Chamber of Commerce voiced its support for the bid. Eve O’Driscoll and Michael Keaveney  joined Gina Quin as some of the few alternative voices  in the debate.

Pat Byrne, back as CityJet chairman (pictured speaking at the ITAA conference in 2006), said Ireland would be nuts not to accept the IAG offer for Aer Lingus, it would lead to job expansion and Enda Kenny is currently engaged in a strategy of protectionism which is harming Ireland’s business reputation and the contribution last Sunday suggested that the Taoiseach has an island mentality.pat byrne

Travel Extra pointed out (again) that Heathrow slots are yesterday’s news (listen here to Eoghan Corry on Morning Ireland) and that the government is in danger of being trapped into seeking guarantees that do not represent the interest of Irish consumers and tourism.

No representatives of the travel trade have been heard by the Transport committee nor any consumer groups — instead we saw more trade unions trotting out alarmist analysis and business groups some of whose analysis of aviation comes from the last century. Interestingly IAG’s statement was phrased to include Chambers of Commerce.

And the best quote of all? Back to Michael O’Leary. The country has much more things to discuss that the future of a small regional peripheral airline.

Elisabeta 'Lizzy' Cutka from Vienna in Sportgastein ski resort, Dec 16 2014The sun made an appearance this week across the Alps and the heavy snow finally let up giving some fantastic skiing conditions. In the last 48 hours we have seen at least 60cm of new snow across the Alps and French resorts enjoying a retour d’est. Snow is still falling in the Pyrenees, with the French, Spanish and Andorran resorts all reporting yet more snowfall. Norway and Sweden resorts have been enjoying sunny skies and good snow. Fresh snow is reported across the USA. Lis Cutka reports from Bad Hofgastein that Topflight’s Today FM trip was great: Really good fun with the Irish, they are partying sooo hard. The Coronas were brilliant really great band. By Thursday after the coronas there were not many people in the lessons, all in all we had a great week with great people.

Travel TradeIMG_2049

Travel Centres conference will take place in Lyragh, Co Kilkenny on Dec 3-5, a late date than has traditionally been the case.

  • The Tourism Authority of Thailand road show will visit Belfast on Feb 24, Cork on Feb 25, and Limerick on Feb 26. Three travel agents will each win fam trip places to Thailand.
  • Egle Godliauskais is to become Sales & Events Co-Ordinator and Holly Mason for The Travel Corporation team. Egle studied Tourism Marketing at DIT. Holly Advertising and Marketing Communications at ITT Dublin and since worked with The Irish Hotels Federation, Credit Union Ireland and DSPCA.
  • Hurtigruten appointed Cecilia Abert as Director for Ireland and Britain.
  • Thai Airways introduced their A380-800 on the London route.
  • Padraic Keogh from Padraic Keogh Travel is the fourth and final winner of Lowcostbeds’ ‘High 5’ trade promotion.
  • Air transport IT specialist, SITA named Murray Smyth VP Sales for Northern Europe, based in London.
  • JacTravel is planning to open an office in Dublin .
  • The Young Skål Symposium 2015 takes place in Rome March 11-14.
  • Air France KLM is recruiting for an Account Manager based in Dublin.
  • Ryanair is recruiting a Head of Corporates & Groups.
  • Lowcostbeds is recruiting an Ireland-based Purchasing Manager.stephen davitt missing
  • Stephen Davitt of Emirates has now been missing for two weeks. Laytown Gardai +35341 9827074. Here’s hoping.
  • Travelport and Abercrombie & Kent agreed a new long-term partnership.
  • Funway Holidays’ Valentines Day competition continues until Feb 14, winner announced Feb 16. To enter, agents must tweet why they love Funway using the hashtag #tweetheart.
  • Lowcostbeds are giving away five €100 vouchers. All bookings made between now and Feb 10 will be automatically entered into the draw. Winners announced this Wednesday, Feb 11.

Deal Watch

  • Uniworld Boutique River Cruises offers: 8 day all inclusive Bordeaux river cruise along the Garonne, the Dordogne and the Gironde from €1,629 incl. flights, transfers and taxes, depart March 29. 8 day all inclusive river cruise along the Danube, starting in Budapest, ending in Passau from €1,999 incl. flights, taxes and transfers, depart April 12.
  • Sunway offers: 4 nights Excalibur Hotel & Casino Las Vegas from €1,129pp incl flights ex Dublin, depart July 8. 3 nights B&B Fairfield Inn and Suites St Johns, Newfoundland from €699pp incl. flights ex Dublin, travel May 2015. 7 nights half board Ocean Paradise Resort honeymoon in Zanzibar from €1,259pp incl. transfers, flights ex Dublin, travel June 2015. 7 nights half board Sarova Whitesands, Mombasa Beach, Kenya from €1,099pp incl. transfers, flights ex Dublin and taxes.
  • Sunway offers to Agadir, Morocco, depart May 2, 9 or 16: 7 nights self catering 3* Intouriste Apartments from €349pp. B&B 3* Argana Hotel from €454pp. B&B 4* Kenzi Europa Hotel from €499pp. All Inclusive 4* Founty Beach Hotel from €699pp. B&B 5* Sofitel Agadir Royal from €999pp. All prices include flights, transfers, 7 nights accommodation, taxes, 20kg checked baggage and Sunway Reo service.
  • Sunway 7-night Junior Suite yoga surf and spa breaks to Paradis Plage, Morocco from €949pp incl. flights, transfers, taxes, 20kg checked baggage and Sunway Rep service.
  • Topflight 7-night ski specials: Austria — Niedarau from €339pps, Zell am See from €369pps, St Johann from €709pps. France — La Plagne from €835pps, Mérible from €569pps. Andora — Arinsal from €899pps. Prices include return flights, transfers, luggal allowance and rep service. To book, call 01 2401 700 or visit
  • Lowcostholidays Beach offers: 7 nights Rio Apts Algarve from €169pp, depart March 6. 7 nights THB Corbeta Lanzarote from €290pp, depart March 6. 7 nights Africamar Apts Majorca from €225pp, depart May 11. 7 nights Club la Costa World, Costa Del Sol from €225pp, depart May 11. 7 nights La Carabela Apts Tenerife from €289pp, depart May 11.
  • Lowcostholidays long haul offers: 7 nights Ramada Gateway Hotel from €689pp, depart March 8. 7 nights Hecienda de Castilla Cancun from €895pp, depart March  8. 7 nights Centra Ashlee Hotel Patong, Phuket from €878pp, depart May 9. 7 nights Harrison Hotel, Miami from €969pp, depart May 21. 7 nights Hotel Primaveral, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic from €922pp, depart May 8.
  • Lowcostholidays city break offers: 2 nights B&B Kavalir Hotel, Prague from €149pp, depart March 5. 2 nights B&B HUSA Pedralbes, Barcelona from €145pp, depart March 5. 2 nights B&B Hotel Amstel Botel, Amsterdam from €198pp, depart May 6. 4 nights Seton Hotel, New York from €829pp. 5 nights Arabian Park Hotel, Dubai from €589pp, depart May 6.
  • Topflight Tuscany options: 7 nights B&B Hotel Versilia Palace from €599pps incl. return flights, transfers, taxes and checked in bags. 7 nights Tuscan Countryside from €1,495 for two adults and one child incl. return flights, car rental, taxes and checked in bags. 7 nights Hotel Versilia Palace from €959pp incl. return flights, taxes, checked in bags, excursions with wine tasting, 3 course dinner on 3 of your nights. Call 01 2401 701 or visit to book.
  • Celebrity Cruises announced the 7-night Take Me Out to the High Seas 2016 Red Sox Fan Cruise, departing Miami January 9, 2016, with calls in San Juan, St Thomas and St Maarten aboard Celebrity Reflection.


Preferred Hotel Group launched a worldwide collection of exceptional villas, bungalows and condominiums.francis brennan john brennan

  • launched a new campaign promoting Thailand called Wai Thailand.
  • Wyndham Hotel Group bought Dolce Hotels and Resorts for $57m.
  • The 72-room Hen-na Hotel at Huis ten Bosch theme park near Nagasaki, Japan will open this summer. The hotel will be mostly staffed by robots. The uniformed robots — which will man the check in desk, clean rooms and serve meals — can speak Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English.
  • A hotelier is to be commemorated in an Irish ballad elevating the hospitable profession to the level of the patriots, lovers, sportsmen, and highwaymen. Or rather, two hoteliers. A song called the Brennan Brothers (listen here) will feature on the Corrigans’ new album called If your’re leaving walk out backwards so I’ll think you’re comin in. The lyrics? Now John and Francis Brennan/are two lads who know the game/the Park hotel in Kenmare/is where they made their name/they’ll go through every detail/on that there is no doubt/and when the boys are finished/you will find yourself booked out/ˇFrancis he will scour the place/and he will be frustrated/if your carpets are too shabby/or your curtains are outdated/it all about the little things/no detail is too small/you’ll be changin all the headboards/and paintin all the walls.


Irish visits to Spain were 1,291,434 in 2014, slightly up 1.7pc from 1,270,038 in 2013. The Canaries were again the most popular region with 32.7pc of total visits, 422, tourists to spain

  • Irish visits to Germany increased 21.1pc to November 2014.
  • Irish visitor numbers to Sri Lanka increased by 14.4pc to 5,163 last year, compared with 4,512 in 2013.
  • New York City was visited by a record 56.4m in 2014.
  • Las Vegas was visited by a record 41.1m in 2014, 1.4m more visitors than the previous high of 39.7m set in 2012. Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace is set to open its doors Thursday March 12.
  • Registration opened for the International Health and Wealth Conference on Oct 15 – 17, 2015 Portugal. Register here.
  • Tourism Malaysia predicts 30m arrivals in 2015.
  • Harbin city in China will construct a theme park dedicated to Russian culture. The Sino-Russian Friendship Park is expected to open in 2017.
  • Bloomberg reported that Google is considering launching a ride-hailing app to rival Uber.
  • Disney Parks and Resort promoted chairman Tom Staggs to chief operating officer.
  • Kirsten Dimond was appointed vice president of operations at Sands Expo Convention Centre in Singapore.
  • The Eiffel Tower is the top spot in the world for selfies. Analysing posts to Instagram, AttractionTix found that 219m selfies have been taken in front of the tower, that’s 1m a day.

Food and Wine

Miele has added chef Lucio Paduano of Manifesto restaurant to its line up of cooking demos in its show kitchen at Citywest. Paduano will be giving demos on Monday events, May 18 and 25. Other additions are Nora Cleere of the Journal of a French Foodie blog, Nikki Walsh; and Butler’s Pantry chef Niall Hill. See for the full programme.


Aer Lingus replaced Flybe on PSO routes between Dublin and Donegal and claimed they would increase passenger numbers on the route.

  • Ryanair reported Q3 profit of €49m,  raised its profit guidance to €840m-€850m, will pay a €512m dividend this month and announced a €400m share buy-back programme starting in February. Watch here. Q3 saw a 14pc increase in passengers and a 17pc increase in revenue.  Load factor was up 6 points to 88pc.
  • Dublin Airport numbers were up 14pc over last January. England grew by 10pc, mainland Europe was up 18pc, transatlantic was up 5pc, Middle East and North Africa was up 39pc and domestic up 29pc (to 69,000 passengers).
  • Aer Lingus reported what Merrion Capital called a mixed start to 2015. It confirmed a pattern of weak short haul and strong long haul. Aer Lingus carried 614,000 passengers in January, down 5.7pc compared to 2014. Load factor was up 2.4pc to 68.9pc, 2.4pc on long haul and 1.7pc on short haul. Long haul passenger numbers were up 22pc on January 2014
  • CityJet founder, Pat Byrne, is to rejoin the Board as Chairman.
  • Publicity coup of the week was WOW Air’s €149 flights to the US via Iceland. Skúli Mogensen appeared on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland to publicise the fares to Boston and Washington on his 3w flights. They are not the lowest ever (lowest direct was €99 from Continental to Newark in February 2010, lowest indirect was a €79 Air India via London) or even the lowest trans-Atlantic for this year (€129 direct to St John’s from Westjet, a Dublin Holiday World Show promotion). They are only €80 lower than Aer Lingus’s cheapest promotional fares. But it landed on half a dozen radio shows including the regional station news feed and got lots of online publicity.
  • Airtaxback established to recover tax fees and charges from unused flights is being merged with the international refund chasers claiming refunds for delays or cancellations under EU Reg 261. Brian Whelan who has taken up the role of their country manager for Ireland and Britain says there is “a treasure trove being overlooked by Irish air passengers and to a certain extent the industry. Wouldn’t travel agents and tour operators rejoice if even half of the €52m in uncollected refunds was recycled into more holidays?
  • Dublin Airport and Aer Lingus launched a roadshow promoted Dublin as transfer hub in nine English and Scottish cities w over the next two months, highlighting connectivity offered by Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport and the ease of transferring through Dublin.
  • Shannon Aerospace Ltd was changed to Lufthansa Technik Shannon Ltd. The wholly-owned subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik AG has thus joined Hamburg, Berlin, Budapest, Malta and Sofia as one of the six European base maintenance facilities in name as well as in practice.
  • Passenger numbers at Europe’s airports grew by an average 5.4pc in 2014 according to the Airports Council International Europe,
  • The Aireon Alert Global Emergency Tracking Service Response Centre is to be located in Ballygirreen, Shannon, Co. Clare, The Aireon ALERT service, a global emergency tracking solution that will be provided as a public service to the aviation community, free-of-charge, will allow rescue agencies, air traffic control providers or airlines to request the location and last flight track of any 1090 MHz Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS–B) equipped aircraft in distress. It is expected that approximately 90 percent of the world’s commercial fleet will be ADS-B equipped in the near future.
  • Closing date for entries is Mar 19 for the second IAA Awards Ceremony will take place on May 28 at the Double Tree by Hilton on the Burlington Road (formerly the Burlington Hotel) in Dublin.
  • Aer Lingus reopened their voluntary redundancy scheme, which it expects to cut 150 jobs in its latest redundancy scheme.
  • SAS sold a Heathrow slot pair for $60m.
  • Flybe will add another daily flight from the airport to London City from next week. Newham Council greenlit an extended terminal at London City, a new taxi-way, an increase in the number of stands for aircraft from 18 to 25,an increase in take-offs and landings at the airport from 70,000 a year to 111,000, an extension of the airport’s reach from destinations in western Europe to Russia and North Africa.
  • Iberia launched a free service that allows passengers to check in online as soon as they have purchased their tickets.
  • The DAA raised €210,000 for Special Olympics Ireland, Jack & Jill Foundation and Cystic Fibrosis Ireland in 2014.pr98505_[2]_Walkingballoonspic2
  • Swiss International Air Lines renamed its Swiss European Air Lines subsidiary as Swiss Global Air Lines.
  • Singapore Airline’s new Premium Economy Class went on sale on Tuesday.
  • EasyJet unveiled new livery more orange with a bigger logo, and the dot com has been dropped.
  • Etihad reported 14.8m passengers in 2014. The airline’s cargo fleet carried 568,648 tonnes of freight and mail, up 17pc. Etihad acquired a majority stake in alitalia’s millemiglia flyer programme. Etihad Guest introduced a new payment feature onto its membership card. walletplus, powered by Visa, allows members to load travel money onto their Etihad Guest card and convert it to 11 different foreign currencies to spend whenever they are travelling abroad. Etihad offered a peek inside their private apartment with butler, double bed and en-suite bathroom in the sky and also began 787-9 operations. Etihad has appointed Linda Celestino as the airline’s Vice President Guest Services, taking over from Dublin born Aubrey Tiedt who has moved to a new role as Chief Customer Officer at Alitalia. Etihad reported that inflight Wi-Fi usage was up 80pc last year. There was a 60pc increase in the use of Etihad’s mobile network, and 50,000 hours of Live TV were viewed every month. Etihad will introduce a new payment feature to its Guest membership card. Walletplus by Visa allows members to load money onto their Guest card and convert it to 11 different currencies.
  • Ryanair ground handling staff were caught acting the mickey after drawing a penis in the snow at Dublin Airport. Robin Kiely quickly reacted, saying: “While our ground crew excel at industry leading 25 minute turnarounds, art isn’t their forte, as they’ve clearly forgotten to draw wings on their snow airplane.”
  • Having postpone plans last June, Wizz Air said it intends to float on the London Stock Exchange this year and raise €150m in the first quarter.
  • There was further comment on Qatar Airways purchase of a 10pc stake in IAG, showing it wants a serious relationship.with the new IAG.
  • The first Eurowings Airbus A320 takes off today.
  • Swiss is expanding its Business Class culinary offering on long-haul routes alongside its convenient “quick meal” option. New lounges will be opened in Zurich towards the end of the year. Business class travellers on European services will soon be able to enjoy more privacy and comfort, while an exclusive bus transfer will be available at selected airports.
  • Emirates’ President Tim Clark hit back at an effort by the three US mainline carriers to lobby the US government to roll back open skies with some Gulf nations, calling the airlines’ allegations sweeping and unfounded. He said reversing open skies would be s shame.
  • The Commission for Aviation Regulation published the Quality of Service reports for Q4 (October to December) 2014.
  • Air France CEO Alexandre de Juniac told Bloomberg that the entire European air transport industry is facing challenges of unprecedented magnitude.
  • Stockholm Arlanda is seeking US preclearance facilities.
  • Ryanair Pilots Group replied to Ryanair in an Open Letter. Danish unions threatened to drag Ryanair into labour court.
  • Ryanair and Aer Lingus won a court challenge against an EU state aid ruling on departure tax.
  • Ryanair reported strong passenger numbers carried in January set against declining fares. Ryanair reported record bookings on Brussels summer schedule. Ryanair’s summer bookings were up 12pc in Slovakia. Ryanair reported record bookings on Liverpool Summer 2015 schedule. Bucharest in April was the death knell for Tarom on the route. Ryanair conceded defeat in a planning row over the erection of a massive banner at its new HQ at Dublin airport. A London court will rule on Thursday on the Simon Polito direction to Ryanair to sel its stake in Aer Lingus. The decision is likely to be appealed further. Ryanair’s pan-European creative brief went to Dare. Travelution designed an infographic charting Ryanair’s online journey from take-off to cruising altitude.
  • Aer Lingus board is effectively down to 11 members from 13.
  • This will be the biggest March ever for the US travel Industry.
  • Saudia deployed an app for easy Wi-Fi access.
  • SITA unveiled new automated passport control kiosks at Abu Dhabi airport.
  • India said it plans to build a new airport in the India will build a new international airport in Dholera capable of handling A380 super jumbos, in the .western state of Gujarat as Modi targets Middle East traffic.
  • Bertie Ahern was appointed Non Executive Chairman of Seefin Aviation Ltd.
  • Pensioners mounted a challenge against Aer Lingus-DAA proposal
  • Ulster Aviation Society bought a Phantom jet to put on display
  • Former DAA PR executive (and previously business editor of the Irish Independent and RTÉ) Vincent Wall was announced as Newstalk business editor and presenter of Business Breakfast Show.
  • Michael McGrath raised questions about the future of Cork Airport (watch here).
  • The ERA opined that the new EU Juncker Commission lacks a vision for airline industry
  • Gulf banks are helping to underwrite region’s aviation boom.
  • An Aer Lingus flight landed safely at O’Hare after report of landing gear issue
  • French business-only airline La Compagnie launched with Ryanair as its role model.

Afloatsteel cutting

Construction on Royal Caribbean’s fourth Oasis-class ship officially began with a steel cutting at the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire.

  • Royal Caribbean will add a classic dynamic dining option to Anthem of the Seas when it launches in April, following criticism of its new Dynamic Dining concept. The new option will allow cruisers who prefer a set-time experience to have dinner with the same tablemates and waiters each night. Royal Caribbean are offering all inclusive experiences with a free Select Drinks Package (worth €35pp per day).
  • MSC Cruises launched a new wedding programme which allows couples to legally get married onboard the MSC Divina. Prices start at $1,600 for a shipboard event and $2,200 for a shoreside event. MSC released images of MSC Sinfonia in dry-dock (watch here).
  • The inaugural sailing for the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line was canceled due to a fault with the ship’s PA system.
  • Carnival Cruise Line will homeport Carnival Vista, its newest and largest cruise ship, in Miami.
  • A Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas cruise was cut short after 10pc of passengers were struck by norovirus.


Bus Eireann’s Expressway fleet launched with over €9.2m investment in 20 new coachesExpressway coaches luxury fleet launch -4 copy

  • The Restaurants Association said that government proposals for calories on menus in restaurants are impossible to implement.
  • The European Golf Tour has appointed Duffy Rafferty Communications to handle the all-Ireland PR contract for this year’s Irish Open golf tournament.
  • Four Canadian travel writers visited pic 1 - CANADIAN TRAVEL WRITERS AT GLENDALOUGHIreland this week as guests of Tourism Ireland and Air Canada Vacations. The group’s itinerary, which was prepared by Fáilte Ireland, included a walking tour of Dublin, a tour of Glasnevin Cemetery, Temple Bar Tradfest and visits to Glendalough and Powerscourt House and Gardens.
  • Three Belgian journalists visited Wicklow this weekend as guests of Tourism Ireland and PEN PALS – BELGIAN JOURNALISTS VISIT WICKLOWRyanair. The group’s itinerary was designed by Fáilte Ireland and included a visit to Powerscourt House and Gardens, a guided tour of Glendalough, a tour of the Sally Gap and lunch in Laragh village. Picture shows Elaine McPartlan of Tourism Ireland with the journalists at Powerscourt House and Gardens.
  • A group of Irish and French tourism companies travelled to Lyon to meet 25 French agents and operators based in Lyon and the Rhône-Alpes region. The B2B event was organised by Tourism Ireland in conjunction with Lyon Airport. The Irish Ambassador to France, Geraldine Byrne-Nason, and the Honorary Consul of Ireland in Lyon, Bruno Boccard, IRELAND SAYS ‘BONJOUR’ IN LYONattended the event. Picture shows Florence Plantier, Lyon Airport; Monica Ramchandani, Aer Lingus; Mylène Campalto, Abbey Tours; Anaïs Leboeuf, Quartier Libre; Gillian Beare, Finn Lough Resort, Enniskillen; Mairéad O’Reilly and Grégoire Hermann, both Tourism Ireland; Elisa Souchard, Atlas Travel Solutions; and Gilles Fourgeron, Premier Travel.
  • The February/March edition of National Geographic Traveler features a cover shot of Ross Castle in Killarney under the headline 9+ MILLION AMERICANS TO READ EXTENSIVE TRAVEL FEATURE ABOUT KERRY‘Return to Ireland — A Journey Home’. The magazine features an 11-page feature on Kerry with words and pictures by travel writer and Hollywood actor Andrew McCarthy.
  • Former World Number One Lee Westwood, reigning champion Mikko Ilonen, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Rickie Fowler confirmed that they will participate in this year’s Irish Open in Co Down, May 28-31.
  • The Literary Pub Crawl, Dublin features at number two on Lonely Planet’s top 10 literary walking tours of the world.

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



TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Don’t be sentimental – this 2.55 departure is good for Aer Lingus


Head banner - Feb 1 2015

Dignitaries preparing to speak at the UNWTO event at the opening of FITUR in Madrid

The headlines this week:

  • What will IAG do next?
  • Our view: Heathrow slots are yesterday’s news
  • German court turns hotel pricing on its bed
  • Turkish to go triple daily within three years
  • Europe Airpost’s Canadian surprise (and 11w from Air Canada)
  • The passport card conundrum
  • World tourism fighting fit at FITUR

Travel Extra TV

video-of-week-feb 1Our video of the week showcases the Wild Atlantic Way from above in a video by Raymond Fogarty. Using a drone and GoPro, the video travels from the Old Head in Kinsale to Malin Head in Donegal. Watch here.

  • See how Portland International Airport’s famous teal-coloured carpet (hilariously) became an internet sensation and spawned a craze of merchandise. The carpet – which has its own Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts – is being removed this year. Watch here.
  • Vintage footage of a Ryanair BAC 111 at Knock Airport, filmed in 1990. Tom Ryan, who uploaded the video, writes: “Note the hush kits on the Rolls Royce Spey engines. Plenty of noise as it takes off on the 8.500ft runway.” Watch here.
  • Monocle magazine uploaded a video about three high-risk hotels: Hotel Intercontinental in Kabul, Peace Hotel in Mogadishu and the Corinthia in Tripoli where nine people were killed in an attack this week. Watch here.
  • Ryanair’s 10-second Superbowl ad: Watch here.
  • Ireland by numbers, from Discover Ireland: Watch here.
  • Qatar Airways showcases Oryx IFE for Feb 2015: New releases (watch here), English-language films and TV shows (watch here), and Indian films and TV shows (watch here).


willie walsh_9312Aer Lingus’ board decided on a 2.55 departure on Monday, accepting the bid of Madrid based International Airlines Group for the airline. The shrinking share price of €2.24 shows that the market feels this bid has a long way to go. They are right. A formal offer has not been made. The news prompted a backwash of recycled nonsense amongst Ireland’s politicians and vested interests about slots and connectivity.

Iberia_2727 copySpeaking to a group of travel media, including Travel Extra on the margins of FITUR in Madrid, Iberia CEO Luis Gallego (pictured with Spanish Tourist Board director in Dublin Gonzalo Ceballos) said he was hopeful that the IAG bid would succeed and was excited about the addition of Dublin as a hub to the airline. Within Spain he confirmed IAG’s strategy is to keep Barajas as the major Iberia hub and Barcelona as a Vueling hub, with the hub-cap set at two. So with Heathrow for British Airways and Dublin for Aer Lingus, a four-hub IAG strategy is emerging: more akin to the multi-hub strategy of American airlines (and what is developing in China) than what we see in Europe or the Middle East.

pashal_donohueThen the debate, or rather the group-think, started, with a chorus line of opponents to the bid busy agreeing with each other about slots and connectivity without any real comprehension of what they were talking about. It made for depressing reading as a mini consensus developed that selling the government 25pc was a bad thing, while politicians seemed anxious to promulgate the notion that they have more power than they really have to prevent the sale.

Gina Quinn

Gina Quin

The move was supported by the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation but the few proponents such as Gina Quin of Dublin Chamber (pictured) met vociferous opposition from an unlikely coalition of sceptics. They included both the Irish Independent and The Irish Times and the debate quickly became cyclical and repetitive: resistance among back-benchers including Labour’s Aer Lingus seven, resistance among Shannon business people, resistance among the Heathrow-obsessed Shannon group, resistances among the staff, resistance in the regional fiach kelly tweetairports, resistances in Corkresistances in Belfast, hoteliers talking about catastrophe if Heathrow slots are not protected, and enough talk about slots to make a Vegas resort manager envious. Before a Labour PP meeting @fiachkelly tweeted there was “more chance of Aer Lingus being renationalised than the government selling its share.” Paschal Donohoe kicked for touch (how we miss Leo Varadkar, or even Ivan Yates). Dan White was almost alone among media in declaring that selling Aer Lingus will be good news for DublinÉist anseo le Eoghan Corry ar Adhmhaidin ar Raidió na Gaeltachta saying that all the obsession with Heathrow slots is misguided.

At least Jack O’Connor of SIPTU was just doing his job when he joined the fray with alarmist comments about 1,000 jobs lost: it is likely that Aer Lingus cost base will create more concern amongst his brother-unions in BA and Iberia than the other way round.

Most people avoided the point that the EU Commission will have the final say on Aer Lingus sale, not the Irish government who have hired IBI Corporate Finance, Credit Suisse and McCann Fitzgerald solicitors to advise it on the sale. Willie Walsh has a record of getting his complicated mergers and acquisitions over the line in Brussels. Unlike Lufthansa and Air France’s more acquisitional approach, IAG is a holding company that maintains the brands as they were.

So what’s to play for? All the talk about Heathrow slots a throwback to an older, less confident Ireland. Heathrow slots have become a political cliche. Why should we fear that we are no longer in a position to feed somebody else’s hub? Is this the best that Ireland’s politicians can come up with? Constrained by stock exchange rules, IAG has been silent about its intentions but if sources are to be believed the airline group is going to develop Dublin as a hub, as IAG’s escape valve, taking some trans-Atlantic traffic to relive overcrowded Heathrow and moving Dublin to become the fifth most important airport in Europe for westbound passengers, after Heathrow, CDG, Frankfurt and Amsterdam ( analysed some of the possibilities). Are Ireland’s politicians the only people in the country that still believe in flying through Heathrow to get to our key destinations such as Australia and Thailand? Everyone else is going through Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Speaking in advance of IAG’s acceptance of the offer of €2.55, Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry said that the price was still too low and the board should hold out until €2.70. The importance of the Heathrow slots is overstated, consolidation is always bad for airline customers and the fact that decision making would no longer be in Dublin was going to be a long term concern, hubs get closed and flights cancelled at times of pressure. (Listen here). Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry wrote In the Irish Examiner that the bid was a big step in the transformation of Europe’s aviation culture from a market dominated by traditional flag carriers to something more complex, a point made by The New York Times amongst others.

Representatives before the Oireachtas Transport Committee were universally hostile to the bid: the Irish Airline Pilots Association, The Central Representatives Council of union groups within Aer Lingus, IMPACT, SIPTU, Shannon Group PLC, Chambers Ireland, Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Cork Chamber of Commerce, Shannon Chamber of Commerce and Limerick Chamber of Commerce. There was no representation from consumer groups or the Irish travel trade. Some of the data quoted to the committee was 13 years out of date, when the majority of transfer passengers through Heathrow were travelling on European routes now served direct from Dublin. On a previous occasion Willie Walsh has said the slots would remain on Irish services because they are profitable with high load factors and high yields.

pat dawson itaa sign 150ITAA CEO Pat Dawson said travel agents would have some reservations, “It is crucial that the existing slots between Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Heathrow Airport are protected and maintained. The ITAA would see value for money and greater choice for Irish consumers as being a vital part of the negotiations and central to any agreement reached. It is our opinion that the Aer Lingus brand and all that it encompasses is worth more than the €1.35bn proposed. Aer Lingus is a worldwide brand viewed by many as providing a friendly and safe service both at home and abroad”.

Antonio Martin Gonzalo CeballosFITUR opened on Wednesday with the usual pre-registration chaos, queues merging into queues to get past the security. There were 40 tourism ministers and the king to protect at FITUR’s opening day, but a few extra security channels would have helped. Tourism proved fighting fit at FITUR, both in Spain (a record 65m visitors) and worldwide, as UNWTO reported figures up 4.7pc to 1.1bn tourists. The fair brought 9,000 exhibitors from 165 countries scattered across nine pavilions. Picture shows Antonio Martin from Andalucia and Director of the Dublin office Gonzalo Ceballos, who came by to greet the small Irish media delegation, including Eoghan Corry, Jacinta Maglynn, Neil Steedman and Dermot Synnott. Listen here to Spain’s Minister of Tourism Jose Manuel Soria speaking at the opening.

unwto_2741 copyThe UNWTO is based in Madrid and took its annual opportunity to showcase its activities. Listen here to the opening address by CEO Taleb Rifai (pictured), Listen here to Luis Eduardo Cortés welcoming delegates to Madrid.

The regions of Spain occupy three large pavilions. Andalucia filled a pavilion and a half on its own, covering 5,300 square metres, Costa de Sol, Huelva, Sevilla, Granada, Cordoba, Jaén, Cadiz and Almeria lined up symmetrically with matching stands.

Beach period at Fitur_2795 copy

Malaga, Torremolinos and Valencia spilled over into the next pavilion, alongside Costa Blanca, Castellón, Catalonia, Extremadura, Majorca, Menorca/Formantero, Melilla, Murcia, Navarro, Castilia La Mancha and in the next hall Madrid, Galicia, a smallish Canarias, the Basque Country. Cantabria, Asturias, (Paradiso Natural, follow the sound of the pipes), Castlla y Leon, Caminos Naturales, and a simple and effective Tourspain stall giving an overview of how the country is marketed. Quite a few irish ex-pats were there representing hotels in the Canary Islands, a few of them returned from Holiday World Dublin the previous weekend.

columbia stand_2791 copyOne of the principle delights of FITUR is the treasury of South American product on display. Mexico was most prominent, followed by Argentina and Colombia land of Garcia Marquez es realismo magico as they reminded us. The African surprise is that the DR Congo stand was three time the size of Congo Brazzaville.

A new product emerged at the show: Spain Cares and health tourism including major hospitals and health resorts geared to foreign patients was particularly prominent. Shopping had a separate area. There is a rapidly growing hotel section and a hotel supplies pavilion in another hall that has become an exhibition in itself. Functions and launches punctuated the three days and there was a poco lago of vino tinto to be consumed, at which task the Irish media were fearlessly represented by Travel ExtraIMG_2880 copyPicture shows Gonzalo Ceballos on the Tourspain stand with Tourspain director Marta BlancoListen here to Gonzalo Ceballos describing how Spain remains Ireland’s favourite holiday destination by a wide margin, how the addition of nine cities to Spain’s high speed rail network in 2015 will give the country more high speed rail kilometres than France and Germany combined and make it second in the world to China (listen here), the emergence of Spain as a shopping destination with individual stores offering 20pc discount schemes for foreign passport holders (listen here); the family holidays on offer (listen here); increased capacity in 2015 (listen here); the year of Theresa of Avila, saint and feminist icon (listen here); the potential of genealogical tourism to Spain (listen here). The office will continue to promote the real Spain (listen here).

Eoghan Corry Arantas MadariagaThe Basque party is regarded as the best on FITUR’s social circuit (picture shows Eoghan Corry with Basque country tourism director Arantza Madariaga). Asturias gave it a close run for its money with traditional gymnastic cider pouring. With local elections upcoming in May there was no shortage of politicians to pop up whenever a camera moved into view. Costa del Sol Turismo hosted a boisterous shindig in the tapestry museum Real Fábrica de Tapices, from which a few distracted media absconded to take in the joys of Athletico and Barcelona in the Copa del Rey, not mentioning any names. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

A court in Dusseldorf may just have turned hotel internet pricing upside down. In a devious under-the-duvet deal, Online Travel Agencies have been able to insist on “best price” contracts with hoteliers, meaning that hoteliers cannot undercut the middlemen to offer better deals on their own website, as well as subjecting them to the indignity of paying 15pc commission to the OTA’s. The result is that OTA’s have grown more powerful down the years, replacing traditional travel agents and taking control away from the hoteliers of their own bed stock. Irish people booking home holidays through an OTA were sending 15-20pc of the cost of their rooms to corporations in Connecticut and Seattle. An appeals court in Dusseldorf declared that the practice is anti-competitive, something hoteliers, especially the German hotel federation have long argued. Could it be that the rapacious contracts with the OTAs no longer apply and are all now subject to challenge? Read the judgement here.

david-collinsDavid Collins of Great National Hotels commented: “It remains to be seen as to what the net impact of this will be. Clearly removing rate parity enables hoteliers to implement greater rate flexibility depending on channel costs and the industry has been lobbying for this for some time. The reality is however that over 50pc of OTA site traffic converts to direct traffic so removing this ‘transparency’ may in effect end up confusing clients and impact on third party and ironically direct on-line revenues. Personally I would rather OTAs were prevented from bidding against hotels for their own brand name search terms since this has accelerated the cost of paid search and has been compounded by Google’s efforts to make it increasingly difficult to secure organic rankings. In my mind this is as critical an issue for independent hoteliers if not more so.”

Murat Bas Mustafa DoganTurkish Airlines plans to increase to triple daily their Dublin-Istanbul service within three years all going to plan with increases in frequency to three on certain days as early as next year to test viability. Murat Bas (pictured with Mustafa Dogan) gave an insight into the workings of the Turkish Airlines business model to a group of Irish travel and business journalists in Istanbul this week. He said that under a plan implemented in 2005 services grow to double daily services on different days of the week (rather than concentrating on daily) and then to double and treble daily if the market responds. Listen here to Murat Bas describing the business model and listen here to his comments on the Dublin service. Dublin is a medium haul route because it is more than three hours. We have to be much more careful, to compare Dublin with destinations other than Kiev and Athens which take less risk than Dublin. The response to Dublin was over the average and we have shortened the time for increased services.

patrick ann marie copyMurat Balandi said that Irish traffic on the route had grown by 38pc and 41pc in the previous two years and the airline is targeting 40pc expansion again in 2015. Discussions are under way with both Shannon and Belfast to open a second Irish service. Tel Aviv is currently the most popular connection through Istanbul, and Turkish expect the connection options to grow the coming months particularly in the Balkans as they open more services. Picture shows Ann Marie Dalton and Patrick McKinney of Turkish Airlines in the airline’s Istanbul headquarters. Istanbul celebrated the opening of a high speed railway link to Bulgaria. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Air Canada are increasing their service to 11 weekly, increasing connection options through Toronto for the only wide body and the only year round service to Canada. Calgary and Vancouver are the two most popular connection choices from Dublin, followed by Edmonton.

Europe AirpostAnother surprise in a week of Canadian surprises: Europe Airpost is to operate a 737-700 service direct to Halifax between July 9 and Sept 11outbound on Thursdays 2:25pm and back on Fridays landing 8.05pm, originating in Paris Charles de Gaulle and continuing on to Halifax. This was a route considered by Aer Lingus at discussions during the Routes conference in Las Vegas in 2013. Halifax is Dublin Airport’s fifteenth North American destination.

new passport cardWould you travel with this card instead of your book passport? Apparently the Irish passport card which is to be introduced in June is valid for journeys within the EU. But being left at the mercy of an immigration official at a non-Schenghen gate might be more stress than most of us can handle. The DFA says the Passport Card will be particularly useful for young people who use their Passport Booklet as identification, especially on nights out. Those travelling within the EU and EEA will also be able to use the Passport Card and frequent travellers will find this particularly useful if their Passport Booklet is with an embassy as part of a visa application process. The new card will also provide a useful backup travel document within Europe in the event that someone loses their passport while travelling.

holiday world queue copy Edmund Hourican of Business Exhibitions said the 2015 Holiday World Show Dublin was more successful than ever before with 50,000 attending not just to make enquiries, but to book their holidays. Exhibitors have seen increases in business as people feel more confident when it comes to booking holidays for the year ahead. The increased attendance figure reflects the new buoyancy the travel trade are seeing in their business.” Jamaica, Brazil, Lithuania, Sudan and China who were among the new editions to the Show and popular exhibitors included Ethiopian Airlines who are launching direct routes to Addis Ababa from June and the ever-popular España stand where 17 regions of Spain were present.

Brian Stack says CIE tours booked 400,000 bed nights across Ireland in 2014 but remarked that the 2015 season is proving to be challenging. The 94 awards allocated at the 25th CIE International Tour award ceremony in Dublin castle were delivered with great efficiency on Tuesday night. The awards are based on feedback from 30,000 CIE Tours customers. The national hotel categories all had new winners, the Westbury, Cabra Castle and Benner’s (both Manor House properties) while Davitt’s Pub, Kenmare won the new lunch award. Merry Ploughboy, Killeen House, the sheep dog trials and legendary Derry walking tour guide Ronan McNamara were back on the podium. A Hall of Fame Award was presented to Liam Murray from Blarney who has provided guiding services for CIE Tours for fifteen years. 10516791_10152626832452727_851714727958397655_nLifetime/Outstanding Company Awards were presented to John Lovell, CEO, of Texas based, CIE Tours largest customer in the United States and John Madden, Travelworld, Pennsylvania, the largest group producer. The full list of award winners is at the end of the bulletin. Picture shows Madeline Riley of Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Cork (centre) receiving the best hotel accommodation award from Peter Malone, Director and Vivienne Jupp, Chairman, CIE Tours International. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Lizzy Cutka Today FM sign_0870 copyPicture shows Lizzy Cutka, once a popular waitress in Francini’s in Trim and now a ski instructor, outside the temporary Ian Dempsey Today FM studio in Bad Hoffgastein before her interview. The resort was taken over by 600 Irish skiers for Topflight’s annual ski excursion week which has acquired something of a cult following among snow-heads. After last year’s trip the Kirchberg ski instructor Hans “Sem” Steinkasserer summed up the week: lessons full on Mondays, only a handful make it down to the start on Fridays.

Destinations in London was held in Olympia as the Earls Court venue is closed and attracted 350 exhibitors. There were fewer Spanish and USA Regions than Holiday World in Dublin but Destinations had more specialist small Asia and Oceanian Tour Operators. The Stanfords Travel Writers Festival 2015 was held in a purpose built auditorium in conjunction with the show and saw a large attendance turn out to hear is Kate Adie, Simon Armitage, Ned Boulting, Frank Gardner, Tristram Hunt, Griff Rhys Jones, Tim Moore, Richard Parks, Simon Reeve, Chris Stewart and Levison Wood. . Grape Escapes launched a one-off, exclusive Premium Scheduled Bordeaux Tour from September 8-12.

Travel Trade

The Irish Travel Agents Association hopes to have a direct flight to Jerez for its annual conference on October 1-4, to be hosted by Antonio Martin of Andalusia Tourism. Irish Travel Agents Association last week who reported a 10pc increase in business at travel agents across the country during January.

TIGS captain Volker Lorenz of Amadeus playing at this week's captain's prize in Bray

TIGS captain Volker Lorenz of Amadeus playing at this week’s captain’s prize in Bray

The Travel Industry Golf Society plans to have two shot gun starts at Dun Laoghaire and on Captain’s Day at Carlow in their 2015 schedule: Mar 11 Portmarnock Team Event – Sponsor Turkish Airlines, Apr 16 Druids Glen Presidents Day sponsored by Etihad Airways, May 21 Fota Island sponsored by – Travel Corporation, May 22 Douglas sponsored by Cork Airport, June 19 Dun Laoghaire Golf Club sponsored by Amadeus, Sept 3 Carlow Captains Day sponsored by Travelport, Oct 22 Castle sponsored by Travel Extra.

Picture shows Don Shearer of Worldchoice, Joe Tully of Tully Travel, Tom O’Donohoe of Strand Travel and Michael Doorley of Worldchoice, Anna May of East West Travel Roscommon and Paula Coughlan of Dawson Travel at the Worldchoice members update sponsored by Royal Caribbean in the Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin.

Don Shearer updated members on an increased centrally negotiated override commission to members of 35pc and Worldchoice’s communication joe tullyhub along with a new consumer facing website and digital strategy which is free of charge to members. “We are now in the process of a website build for all members linking directly to our communication hub and web sites with our technology partners Granite Digital in Cork. This advancement in our technology base enables all of our members to create new customer and supplier portals to their business in an innovative and creative fashion.”

michael doorleyWorldchoice moved to their new Headquarters in the Dublin Airport Business Park in 2014. All accounts, administration and marketing functions are now centralised in Dublin enabling members and trade partners immediate access to commercial and support initiatives for their business. Planned developments for 2015 include the new Worldchoice partners bedbank, what it calls a carousel of local marketing collateral for in store and virtual brandingcustomer relationship management information tools, and a new look retail and trade partner event schedule for 2015. Worldchoice say they will be announcing new trade partners across the business over the coming weeks.

Paul Weir new GSA copyLuxair has appointed Paul Weir’s APG as GSA in Ireland. Picture shows Benoit Berger VP Sales and Revenue Management-Luxair, congratulating Paul Weir Director APG on his appointment as GSA for Ireland. Luxair will fly Dublin to Luxemburg four times a week until Mar 27 and then daily at 13.20.

The Travel Corporation January and February Agent Incentive offers the trade the chance to win €1,000 each for both agent and client by booking an Insight Vacations escorted tour, a Uniworld luxury boutique river cruise, a Contiki trip, or a Red Carnation hotel stay for clients before February 28. The more bookings made the more chances of winning. Send booking references to Rosanna Leary.

Upcoming courses from Travel Professionals Skillnet: Blogging for Travel webinar, Fri 4, 9.30am-11am, more info/bookings. Pimp Your Presentation Skills (selling skills), Feb 5, 9.30am-11am, Dublin, more info/bookings. FETAC Level 5 Payroll Skills, 10-week course, Mondays Feb 9 to Apr 13, 10am-1pm, Limerick, more info/bookings. Twitter for Your Travel Business webinar, Feb 11, 9.30am-11am, more info/bookings. Microsoft Publisher Level 1, Feb 16, 9.30am-5pm, Dublin, more info/bookings. FETAC Level 5 Digital Marketing Diploma, 12-week course, Mondays Feb 16 to Jun 1, 6.30pm-9.30pm, Dublin, more info/bookings. Full calendar here.

  • After participating in Eoghan Corry’s expert advice clinic at Holiday World representatives of Malawi, Zambia and Ethiopian Airlines agreed that they are going to push our governments to allow us to promote Ireland as stand-alone destination instead of being attached to London.
  • Travel Counsellors are starting a radio advertising campaignon Today FM on Monday. The homeworking network says they have had a great January again.
  • Kieran Collins from Heffernan’s Travel is the third winner of the €500 lowcostbed sHigh 5 trade promotion.
  • The winners of the €100 Bookabed promotion were Rebecca Franklin of Gohop, Dublin, Grace Collins of Bowe Travel, Thurles, Brenda Quirke of Cassidy Travel, Blanchardstown, Darren Yeats of Midland Travel, Tullamore, Margaret Fitzgerald of Killiney Travel, Dublin and Heather Cummins of Phoenix Travel, Greystones.
  • DoSomethingDifferent’s Dubai fam trip incentives is open to agents who make any DSD worldwide ticket sale and email with Come on holiday with DSD in the subject line with bookings up to Mar 31. The DSD Holiday-FAM takes place in May. DoSomethingDifferent’s Book & Bank incentive rewards agents with €10 ion every €300 worth of DSD sales, also valid to Mar 31. Claims with all order numbers must be submitted by April 17.
  • Click&Go appointed Ian MacArthur formerly with Falcon Holidays as Product Administrator.
  • Quadriga Worldwide named James Cannon as Regional Director for Britain and Ireland.
  • Fitzwilliam Hotel GM Fergal O’Connell will host the Dublin Skal Club on Tuesday February 10th.
  • Travelport and SAS signed a new multi-year full content agreement
  • Registration is open for WTM Latin America
  • Travel Professionals Skillnet and ITAA are offering free training for jobseekers who wish to take part in the 2015 Travel Professionals Essential Skills Programme. The programme begins on March 9 with 20 days of training followed by 20 days of work experience. Those interested should send their CV and cover letter to or call 01 417 9696 before Thursday, Feb 12.
  • ITAA members reported a 30pc increase in bookings at this year’s Holiday World Dublin. stephen davitt missing
  • Skal’s February lunch takes place at the Fitzwilliam Hotel, Stephen’s Green on Feb 10 at 12.30pm. Tickets €30 for members, €35 for guests.
  • Travelport announced a full content agreement with SAS.
  • Funway Holidays’ Chill vs Thrill sales campaign has been extended until Feb 28.
  • Contiki Holidays’ 2015 worldwide brochure was launched. The brochure includes new destination Japan and eight new European trips to cater for young people.
  • Stephen Davitt of Emirates has now been missing for a week. Laytown Gardai +35341 9827074. Here’s hoping.

Deal Watch

  • Classic Resorts offers: 7 nights B&B Patong Merlin Hotel Phuket, Thailand from €849pp incl. tax and flights, travel May 1 to June 30, book by Feb 9. 4 nights B&B Ocean View Hotel, Dubai from €969pp incl. transfers and flights ex Dublin, depart March 16, book by Feb 28. 10 nights Kuramathi Island Resort , Maldives and JA Ocean View Hotel, Dubai from €2,219pp, travel May 1 to July 10, book by Feb 13. 12 nights Mahe, Praslin and Le Digue island hop, Seychelles from €2,749pp incl transfers and ferries, travel May 1 to June 15, book by Feb 13.
  • Travel Counsellors is offering 5 nights Dublin to The Riviera Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas from €880pp incl. one 23kg checked bag, return transfers and taxes, depart March 11.
  • Falcon is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Dublin to Coral Sea Waterworld, Sharm el Sheikh from €2,009 for two adults and one child, and from €2,959 for two adults and two children, depart May 28.
  • Thomson is offering 7 nights half board Dublin to Gran Vista & Spa Hotel, C’an Picafort, Majorca from €529pp, depart June 2.
  • Click and Go offers: 3 nights Dublin to the Mediterran Hotel, Budapest from €199pp incl. flights, taxes and charges, travel in April. 7 nights on board MSC Splendida from €299pp incl. all meals, key destinations: Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa, Rome, Sicily and Tunisia, depart Feb 27, call 01 637 1699 to book. 7 nights self catering Dublin to Esperia Beach Apartments, Crete from €299pp incl. flights, taxes and charges, travel in April.
  • Air France is offering Business Class fares to China for €999 for sale until Feb 28. Destinations: Wuhan, Xiamen and Chengdu. 1 month apex, 7 day minimum stay. Business Class to Hangzhou is €1,299.
  • Wicklow County Tourism offers: 2 nights B&B at Esplande Hotel, Bray from €99pps incl. a 3 course dinner for one evening and a complimentary glass of wine each; call 01 286 2056 to book. Sugarloaf Adventures Bray’s Wicklow Mountains hiking package – 2 nights B&B at Martello Hotel from €500 for two adults and two children incl. dinner, two hikes, café lunch each day and transport; valid until June 30; to book, email or call 086 840 9413. 2 nights B&B at Woodenbridge Hotel from €160 incl. 4 course meal and 3 rounds of golf, see for more info.


  • airbnb-cable carAirbnb and Courchevel ski resort are offering the chance to win 1 night stay in a Saulire cable car, 9,000ft above sea level (the highest point in the resort). The cable car can accommodate up to four people, but doesn’t have a bathroom. See here for more info.
  • Lone Star Funds is to buy the Jury’s Inn hotel chain for €910m.
  • Marriott International will buy Canadian hotel brand Delta Hotels & Resorts for US$135m.
  • Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny was voted the number one hotel in the country for families


Food & Wine

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Sheedy’s Country House Hotel & Restaurant in Co Clare will debut its 2015 a la carte menu on March 13, when it opens after its annual winter break. A member of Manor House Hotels, the hotel is offering 2 nights B&B and one evening dinner for €155pps incl. entry for two to the Cliffs of Moher Visitors Centre, call 01 295 8900 to book.  Picture shows chef John Sheedy.

  • Renvyle House’s Italian Flavours Food & Wine Weekend takes place Feb 20-22. Hosted by Catherine Fulvio, the event includes antipasti and wine tasting on Friday, a cooking demo and banquette on Saturday, with a Prosecco reception and wine pairings at dinner. 2 nights B&B costs €215pp. Call 095 46 100 to book.
  • Four chefs working in Ireland have qualified to the second round of the San Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 competition: Mark Moriarty of The Culinary Counter, Sarunas Godovan of Tankardstown House, Stephen Holland of Lough Erne Resort and Maria Elena Martinez Otero of InterContinental Dublin. The final takes place in Milan in June.


  • David Franks said Irish Rail is planning a new €300m line that will allow intercity trains to travel direct to Dublin airport from Cork, Galway and Belfast.
  • Shares in Flybe dropped 20pc on Monday after the airline said it would break even before tax in its financial year ending March 2015.
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport reported a 20pc increase in inbound, outbound and transfer passengers last year (20m passengers). The airport handled 154,821 movements, up 14.5pc.
  • US airports handled 197.3m passengers last year, up 7pc.
  • Qatar Airways bought a 9.99pc stake in IAG.
  • American Airlines 787 (1)American Airlines took delivery of its first B787 Dreamliner (pictured) on Thursday.
  • Iberia will resume flights from Spain to Havana from June 1, operating 5 weekly flights. The airline will also launch a new route from Madrid to Cali and Medellin from July 3.
  • Ryanair will extend its Business Plus fast track security service to London Gatwick from Feb 2, Rome Ciampino from March 2 and Eindhoven from April 1.
  • Menus designed by Finnish chef Matti Jämsén and Kari Aihinen, head chef at Nokka, are available to Flybe Business Class passengers flying long haul from Helsinki.
  • British Airways extended its sale fare to USA and Canada until Feb 4.
  • Etihad Flight College is now authorised to provide the Multi Crew Pilot Licence.
  • Aer Lingus launched its summer seat sale to North America from €249 one way for travel from April 1 to Oct 31, book by Feb 9.
  • Grammy winning band Imagine Dragons will perform an in flight concert on a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Atlanta on Feb 24.
  • Alaska Airlines will offer Microsoft IFE tablet rentals on long haul flights from Feb 1.
  • A Delta Air Lines flight had to make an emergency landing after a pilot was locked out of the cockpit because of a door malfunction.
  • British Airways’ long haul pre-order catering option in First, Club World and World Traveller Plus cabins is now available on flights from Heathrow to Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Houston, Austin and San Diego for travel after Feb 5. The option will be available on flights to Atlanta, Denver, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary from Feb 1 for travel after March 1.
  • €9m was spent on unused landing strips at Inishbofin and Cleggan from 2004-09.
  • Kenya Airport Authority announced it will expand Diani Airport by constructing a new terminal and lengthening the runway from 1.1km to 2km. It is hoped that a scheduled service to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi will be launched to allow international visitors a direct connection to the coast, avoiding a road transfer across Nairobi to Wilson Airport.
  • Aer Lingus appointed KesselsKramer as its new creative agency
  • Profits were down at Parc aviation.
  • Ryanair introduced fast-track for business fliers at Gatwick.
  • Avios, the BA air miles scheme downgraded its offering for economy class passengers to give business and expense-account flyers enhanced rewards.
  • SkyTeam formally opened Sydney Exclusive lounge.


  • brittany ferries new gas powered ferryBrittany Ferries has extended their early inclusive holiday offer with 20pc off land accommodation and 15pc off ferry for customers who book one of their holiday packages.
  • Fred Olsen Cruise Line flew passengers from cruise ship Boudicca back home on Thursday after being forced to cut short a cruise when the 880-passenger ship caught fire last weekend while on the way to the Canary Islands.
  • Seabourn revealed the names of its next two cruise ships, Seabourn Encore due to launch in late 2016, and Seabourn Ovation to launch in spring 2018.
  • Carnival Corporation is to combine with China Merchants Group to develop the cruise industry in China.
  • Luxury cruise line Seabourn will launch Seabourn Encore in late 2016 and Seabourn Ovation in 2018.


Final Central Statistics Office figures for 2014 confirmed visitor numbers to Ireland were up 9pc and 2014 was the best year ever for visitor numbers from North America (up 15pc), England (up 8pc), Germany (up 15pc), Spain (up 11pc), Italy (up 10pc) and France (up 5pc), with mainland Europe up 15pc and Australia and Developing Markets up 9pc.

shaun quinn presentation_0745 copyShaun Quinn (pictured), Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland, reacted to tourism figureswith further development of the Wild Atlantic Way, a rebranding of Dublin and the new and exciting project for the south and east of the country, tourism looks set to go from strength to strength in 2015 and to deliver more jobs and revenue throughout the island.’ Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “ambitious targets have been set to ensure that tourism growth continues. Following last year’s success, we will be pulling out all the stops this year, to keep the momentum going and ensure that 2015 is the best year ever for Irish tourism when we aim to welcome 7.74m visitors – surpassing the previous record year of 2007.”

MasterChef Italia - Ireland on the menu on Italian TVAn episode of MasterChef Italia, which was filmed in Cork and Kinsale last summer, was broadcast to an audience of 1.1m Italians on Thursday evening. Tourism Ireland in Milan and Bord Bia secured the talent show for Ireland, and Fáilte Ireland prepared the itinerary. Picture shows the judges of MasterChef Italia Bruno Barbieri, Carlo Cracco and Joe Bastianich, during filming at Kinsale Rugby club.

  • Guinness Storehouse opened a 360˚ virtual tour of its seven storey visitor centre through Google’s Business View.
  • May 2 has been declared Mayo day.
  • Clare Tourism Forum has been renamed Clare Tourism. A steering group has been established featuring representatives of five geographical areas, Ennis, West Clare, North Clare, East Clare and South Clare. Among the actions outlined in its Structure and Implementation Plan is the distribution of a Festival & Events Guide and the removal of membership fees and greater engagement with key stakeholders.
  • NITB say tens of thousands of tickets have already been sold for this year’s Irish Open at Royal County Down on May 28-31, 17pc of tickets in the 26 counties. The 2012 tournament at Royal Portrush, was the first European Tour event to sell out in advance.
  • Fáilte Ireland held a Destination Dublin networking session and workshop in the Aviva Stadium with 200 Dublin trade attending.
  • Fáilte Ireland’s first Visitor Attraction Management Development Programmhosted 26 managers of visitor attractions from the East and South in York, England’s former capital.
  • The Wild Atlantic Way was awarded the National Impact Award at the 2015 Community and Council Awards, hosted by the Local Authority Members Association in association with IPB Insurance.
  • Tourism Ireland sent out a final call for entries for the Irish Tourism Industry Awards 2015. Closing date  is Feb 16. Enter here.
  • Fáilte Ireland won three awards at the annual Ireland e-Government Awards held in Dublin Castle

TARGETING BRITISH COACH AND GROUP TOURS BUSINESS FOR IRELAND13 tourism enterprises joined Tourism Ireland at Excursions, the annual group travel show in London. 1,300 coach and group tour operators from Britain attended the event. Picture shows John Callely of Teeling Whiskey Company and Debbie Moran of Tourism Ireland at the event.

Shannon Airport Group appointed Treacy Consulting to examine Shannon Heritage to see “how we can maximise on the upswing in tourism”.

The full list of CIE Tours International 2014 Awards of Excellence; Best 5 star hotel Westbury Hotel; Best 4 star hotel Cabra Castle Hotel; Best 3 star hotel Benners Hotel; Best Hotel Accommodation Radisson Blu Royal Hotel; Best Hotel Dinner Dromoland Castle Hotel; Best Hotel Service & Hospitality Granville Hotel; Best Event Dinner / Entertainment The Merry Ploughboy Pub; Special Dinner Feature Killeen House Hotel; Best Tour Feature Robert Power Sheep Dog Trial; Best Walking tour Derry Walking Tour – Ronan McNamara; Best Visit Rathbaun Farm; Best Lunch Davitt’s Pub, Kenmare; Heritage Award Cliffs of Moher; Hall of Fame Liam Murray; Lifetime/Outstanding Contribution John Lovell, John Madden; Special Accolade Hotels Leinster: Academy Plaza Hotel; Alexander Hotel; Ashling Hotel; Clontarf Castle Hotel; Conrad Dublin; Croke Park Hotel; The D Hotel; Davenport Hotel; Doubletree by Hilton Dublin; Dunboyne Castle Hotel; Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel; The Fitzwilliam Hotel; Herbert Park Hotel; Maldron Hotel Cardiff Lane; Radisson Blu St Helens Hotel; Royal Marine Hotel; Sheraton Athlone; Stillorgan Park Hotel; Special Accolade Visits Leinster: Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre Clonmacnoise; Dalkey Castle Heritage Centre; Dublin Castle; Dunbrody Emigrant Ship; Glasnevin Museum; Glendalough Visitor Centre; Irish National Stud & Japanese Gardens; Jerpoint Park; Kilmainham Jail; Malahide Castle; Greta Power; Special Accolade Hotels Munster: Actons Hotel; The Brehon; Hotel Europe; International Hotel Killarney; Killarney Avenue Hotel; Killarney Park Hotel; Killarney Plaza Hotel; Killarney Towers Hotel; Limerick Strand Hotel; The Malton; Old Ground Hotel; River Lee Hotel; Special Accolade Visits Munster: Blarney Castle; Brendan Ferris Sheep Dog Trials; Caherconnell Sheep Dog Trials; Cliffs of Moher; Foynes Flying Boat Museum; House of Waterford Crystal; Killarney Horse & Carriage Tours; King Johns Castle; Marine Bar Waterford; Muckross House; Kissane Sheep Farm; Tangney Tours – Jaunting Car; Special Accolade Hotels Connacht: Ashford Castle; Clew Bay Hotel; Galway Bay Hotel; Hotel Westport; Kilronan Castle Hotel; Radisson Blu Hotel Galway; Special Accolade Visits Connacht: Boyle Abbey; Cnoc Suain, Connemara; Dún Aonghasa Fort; Westport House; Kylemore Abbey; Special Accolade Hotels Ulster: Ballygally Castle Hotel; Europa Hotel; Harveys Point Country Hotel; Hilton Hotel Belfast; Kee’s Hotel; Merchant Hotel; Mill Park Hotel, Donegal; Special Accolade Visits Ulster: Down Cathedral; Giants Causeway; Glenveagh National Park; Sheans Heritage Farm; Slieve League Cliffs; Titanic Belfast; Ulster American Folk Park.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Action Packed Show at Simmonscourt & Ryanair Pushes up Pax Target to 100m


Martin Skelly of the ITAA, Minister Michael Ring and Maureen Ledwith opening the Home Holiday Pavillion at Holiday World Show Dublin

Martin Skelly of the ITAA, Minister Michael Ring and Maureen Ledwith opening the Home Holiday Pavillion at Holiday World Show Dublin

The headlines this week:

*Ryanair plan to carry 100m passengers for the first time

*Fuel’s Gold causes leasing industry to think again

*Louise wins Travel Agent of the Year

*Ethiopian Airlines may use pre-clearance after all

*A busy Holiday World show in Dublin


Travel Extra TV

video-of-week-jan-25Our video of the week comes from YouTube personality Louis Cole, who takes his selfie stick extreme zorbing in Christchurch, New Zealand. Watch here.

  • Huntley Film Archives uploaded stock shots from the 1970s of an Aer Lingus B747 jet at Shannon Airport. Footage includes good aerial shots of take-off and landing, as well as taxiing and an area shot of the Irish countryside. Watch here.
  • John Coughlan Catering provided the food for Aer Lingus’s Business Class Service Launch. Watch here.
  • Video of the week: To promote its wedding packages, Hotel Doolin commissioned filmmaker James Skerritt to put together a five-part drama based on a relationship that blossoms at the hotel. The first episode of Say I DOolin was uploaded on Monday. Watch here.
  • HBO’s Game of Thrones – which was filmed in Belfast, Sandy Brae, Castle Ward, Saintfield Estates, Tollymore Forest, Cairncastle, Magheramorne and Shane’s Castle – will be the first TV series to be screened in IMAX Cinemas. Watch here.
  • Inside the Aer Lingus IT graduate programme. Watch here.
  • Camino Ways launched at the Holiday World Show: Watch here.
  • Anoop Kapitan from Yorkshire is reunited with his brother in Melbourne after 44 years in this video by Qatar Airways and Manchester Airport. Watch here.


US AmbassadorVisitor numbers on the first two days of the Holiday World Show at RDS Simmonscourt were up on last year. The action continues all day today with the third day of the show. The aisles were awash with ambassadors, including American ambassador Kevin O’Malley who hosted the trade at a reception on Friday and then took time to call by the Mayo stand to check out his ancestral home. Minister Michael Ring paid tribute to the energy of the home holiday sector when he gave a rousing speech when he opened the Ireland pavilion. Picture shows Kevin O’Malley, Maureen Ledwith, Lothar Mushketat and Alaska the bald headed eagle at the opening of the US Exhibits at the Holiday World Show. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

16169735719_db8c8b4e72_nThe last leg of Eoghan Corry’s expert travel clinics at the Holiday World Show Dublin kicks off at 12pm today. Today’s line up:

  • 12pm Visas & Passports – what you need to know with Fiona Penollar from Department of Foreign Affairs, US Consular Office
  • 12.45pm Golf holidays with John Spollen of John Cassidy Travel and Ann Marie Dalton of Turkish Airlines
  • 1.30pm The new Ryanair Q&A session with Robin Kiely of Ryanair
  • 2.15pm Flying West
  • 3pm Home holidays with Paul Carty of ITIC
  • 3.45pm Solo travel with Sharon Jordan of Insight Vacations/Uniworld River Cruise/ Contiki Holidays and Jenny Rafter of Royal Caribbean

The annual conference of the Irish Travel Agents Association will take place in Jerez on October 1-4. Andalucia Tourism’s Antonio Martin, recipient at an award in the Industry Awards for his services to irish tourism, previously hosted the ITAA at conferences in Malaga, Grenada and Seville.

15724547863_5878b254b1_nRyanair have raised their passenger target from 97.5m to 102.2m for 2015. Michael O’Leary said that the finalised 2015 summer schedule and the makings of the winter schedule should give us over 100m, there will be more capacity growth next winter as we take delivery of 40 of Boeing’s finest 737 NGs which give us more capacity again to increase frequencies and fill out more of our business schedule during the winter (listen here).

16157006188_481323f443_nRTÉ’s Operation Transformation attended the Irish Travel Industry Awards as part of their series documenting Louise Brennan Ormsby of Club Travel, who won the travel agent of the year award. Rebecca Kelly of MSC (pictured) won the prestigious supplier of the year award. Club Travel and Navan Travel won the travel agency of the year awards. The prize draw raised €13,800 for the Shane Grogan fund at the awards. The party spilled out of the Oak Room in Mansion House and on to Sands where the last stragglers were still standing at 5am. The full list of award winners were:

Corporate Travel Professional: Catherine Monaghan of FCm Travel Solutions; Leisure Travel Professional: Louise Brennan Ormsby of Club Travel; Most Innovative Marketing Campaign: Tour America; Corporate Travel Agency: Atlas Travel Group; Travel Agency of The Year Under 10 Employees: Navan Travel; ITravel Agency of The Year Over 10 Employees: Club Travel;; Airline To Europe: Aer Lingus; Business Class Airline To Europe: British Airways; Airline To North America: Aer Lingus; Long Haul Airline: Etihad Airways; European Sun Tour Operator: Sunway; Escorted Tour Operator: Insight Vacations; Specialist Tour Operator: Sunway; Ski Tour Operator: Crystal Holidays; Long Haul Tour Operator: Sunway; General Cruise Company: Royal Caribbean; Ultra Luxury Cruise Company: Celebrity Cruises; Specialist Cruise Company: Uniworld; Ferry Company: Irish Ferries; Technology Provider: Amadeus; Car Hire Company: Hertz; Travel Insurance Provider: Blue Insurances; Tourist Board: Spanish Tourist Board; Supplier Support Team: MSC Cruises; Accommodation Only Provider: Lowcostbeds; Supplier Representative: Rebecca Kelly; Worldwide City Destination: New York; European City Destination: Barcelona; Ski Destination: Austria; Summer Sun Destination: Spain; Winter Sun Destination: Lanzarote; Worldwide Theme Park: Universal Orlando; Worldwide Hotel Chain: Marriott. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

If you were looking for a parking bay for your private jet at Dublin airport this week you were in bad luck. Two aviation leasing conferences were in town. The Global Aviation Finance Conference in Dublin Conference centre brought some high rollers and high fliers to town, 1500 delegates from 268 cities. The smaller Growth Frontiers conference took place in the Shelbourne Hotel. The message was that the pendulum activated by Tony Ryan and Steven Udvar-Hazy continues to swing Ireland’s way and the towards leasing rather than traditional airline ownership.

More than half the aircraft in the sky will be owned by leasing companies in five years, up from 40pc today, Thomas Cahill of Morgan Stanley told delegates. John Wojick of Boeing suggested that this was down to the way aircraft are financed (listen here). Adam Pilarski explained why fuel prices fell (listen here) leading to windfall profits for the airlines. Aengus Kelly, CEO of AerCap argued that lower fuel prices have made older aircraft useful again and he was leasing older 767s, A340s and 747s again. It was argued that the approximate $10m differential between an A320ceo and an A320neo cannot be justified at current fuel prices. Elsewhere the conference was told that at least four non-US airlines are planning to do a EETC in 2015 Warwick: I think Boeing would admit they’re struggling to keep the 747 program running at an economic rate. European carriers have the highest break-even load factor at 64.7pc. Richard Owen Walker of Airbus declared “India is a frustration for everyone, including India. Bureaucracy and regulation is stopping growth.” Wizz Air CFO Mike Powell called for more consolidation among EU flag carriers. Nirmal Govinda Das of Emirates said there is no other choice than diversify funding base because of the large aircraft fleet.

The legendary Bill Franke of Indigo Partners predicted there will be mergers among American low cost carriers, similar to the consolidation which has left just four major legacy carriers in the USA.  It was a frenetic week, with Bombardier hosting the best of the many parties across the city on Tuesday evening for the Global Aviation delegates.

At Growth Frontiers 2015 in the Shelbourne Hotel Paul Horsnell of Standard Chartered said the tactic of OPEC is to keep the oil price down until around Q2 this year, then to let it climb gradually to what would be $80-100.

Two impromptu press conferences arose out of the conference. Ethiopian Airlines. Tewolde Gebremariam said a decision had not been made on whether to use US pre-clearance at Dublin airport when Ethiopian’s 787 Dreamliner service stops over on its Addis-Dublin-Los Angeles route starting June 19, and the key factor was whether it would delay the stopover. Tewolde Gebremariam explains how the Dublin route came about (listen here).

16344474895_da8774503d_nMichael O’Leary, gregarious and generous as ever, declared the conference a bull-shitter’s ball when he hosted a press conference with Boeing’s John Wojic at Swords. For a man who declared he was not going to talk about Ryanair’s Aer Lingus shares he managed to generate a lot of publicity about Aer Lingus, saying it would be broken up “no matter who owns it.” Michael O’Leary outlined the impact the aircraft deliveries would have on Ryanair’s growth strategy (listen here). John Wojick gave a sales presentation on the advantages of the craft (listen here). One of the slides featuring a bright and airy 2-2 configuration which Michael O’Leary was quick to point out would not be available in the Ryanair version.  Michael O’Leary said that Ryanair paid a premium for their NG craft (listen here) and conceded that the list prices we all use in the headlines when reporting these orders are meaningless (listen here). The new craft can use shorter runways such as Derry without blocking off seats (listen here). john Wojick of Boeing said most of the savings in the new NG are down to operating cost (listen here).  Ryanair declined having extra seats because it would mean a shorter seat pitch (listen here). Picture shows Michael O’Leary presenting John Wojick with an Irish rugby jersey. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Most headlines were generated by his comments on the Aer Lingus takeover bid and the suggestion that Ryanair’s trans-Atlantic brother airline could offer transatlantic at under €100 (listen here), Michael O’Leary discussed the airline’s changing business model and goal to become the Amazon dot com of travel (listen here), about how he was Inspired by Lidl and Aldi move to mid market (listen here), how customers can no longer be forced to drive up ancillaries (listen here), about how there was no need to be discourteous if price and cost advantage is maintained (listen here), the challenge of maintaining that advantage (listen here), how Ryanair’s average fare is down from €52 to €46 (listen here) and, in response to a question, what might halt Ryanair growth (listen here). He depicted the future of ancillaries (listen here) is by personalising the customer experience (listen here). He said the airline will interact with customers (listen here) in real time (listen here) and respond more quickly to complaints (listen here).

He reminisced on the dividends that came straight out of Tony Ryan’s pocket (listen here) and into the black hole of the old unprofitable Ryanair and how he told Tony Ryan to shut the airline down (listen here) but said he was not, despite appearances, particularly loyal to Boeing (listen here). Asked about Cork he said the challenge to the airport is the cost base (listen here) and the erosion of their hinterland by improved road connections. He justified his decision to continue to pursue screen scrapers (listen here).

He reiterated that Ryanair will be one of the big five European airlines as a result of consolidation in European aviation (listen here) and listed some places Ryanair would like to fly with the new craft (listen here).

15716687733_88f13be4fe_nIndian Ambassador Radhika Lokesh revealed the inbound tourism had increased by 40pc since the launch of the e-visa facility on November 27. “We were surprised and delighted when our Prime Minister Narendra Mod announced the e-visa on his visit to Washington in Surprised and that it was introduced a few weeks later.” At a function where Incredible India hosted the travel trade at Ananda Restaurant in Dundrum, ambassador Lokesh said she expected the 12,000 annual visas granted to visitors from Ireland to India to increase as a result of the scheme. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

wendy wu John Warr and the new Ireland manager of Wendy Wu Tours John Booty (pictured) revealed two brochures dedicated to the Irish market at the launch of its Irish programme in Dublin.  Wendy Wu are offering €200 off bookings until May and if you travel through London with Air China the return leg of your flight will be in business class.  John Warr gave an introduction to the Wendy Wu product, revealing that Wendy Wu is a real person (listen here).

travel extra awards winnersPól Ó Conghaile of the Irish Independent won the Travel Extra Travel Writer of the Year award for the fifth time at a ceremony sponsored by the Spanish Tourist Board on Friday night. The event was compered by Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry and speakers were Spanish ambassador Javier Gariguez, ITAA President Martin Skelly, Maria Targa of Salou Tourist Board, Oriol Garcia of Portaventura and Gonzalo Ceballos of the Spanish Tourist Board. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook. Category winners were:

  • Broadcasting: Mary Fanning of Nationwide (sponsored by TTC)
  • Digital: Winner – Pól Ó Conghaile of (sponsored by Clickandgo)
  • Home market: Madeleine Keane of the Sunday Independent (sponsored by Fáilte Ireland)
  • Long haul: Winner Deirdre Mullins for (sponsored by Sunway)
  • Newcomer/Young Journalist: Deirdre Conroy of the Sunday Independent (sponsored by Turkish Airlines)
  • Northern Ireland: Ros Drinkwater of Sunday Business Post (sponsored by Northern Ireland Tourist Board)
  • Short break: Conor Power of Sunday Independent (sponsored by Cassidy Travel)
  • Skiing: Isabel Conway of Metro Herald (sponsored by Topflight)
  • Spain: Winner – NIamh McSweeney of Business and Finance (sponsored by Spanish Tourist Board)
  • Sun holiday: Ros Drinkwater of the Sunday Business Post “(sponsored by Falcon Holidays):
  • Travel Book: Mark Graham for A Year of Festivals in Ireland published by New Island (sponsored by Lowcostholidays).

16323050591_be25428222_nKildare Fáilte launched their food tourism strategy in Newbridge. Phil Donnelly (pictured) introduced the food tourism strategy (listen here) and updated delegates on the workings of Kildare Fáilte (listen here)

Michael Osborne said 10pc of the jobs in Kildare now come from tourism (listen here) Helen McDaid spoke about Failte Ireland’s food tourism toolkit (listen here) Tina O’Dwyer spoke about the first three years of the Burren Food Trail (listen here) warning tourism interests embarking on similar projects to “get the objects clear and measure those objectives, don’t set an objective midway through the campaign.” See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Travel Trade

  • paul rickardETOA appointed Paul Rickard (pictured) as a research consultant.
  • Sunway is to operate a charter from Shannon to Izmir this summer.
  • Brand USA, American Airlines and British Airways will host the USA MegaFam on May 14-21, 2015.
  • Carole Smith of SynNeo is hosting two webinars in February covering how to use Blogging and Twitter to grow a travel business.
  • Dublin-based Travelleaders is seeking a corporate travel consultant with fluent French.
  • Royal Caribbean’s Paris trip winners were Alice Swords of Sunway, and Rachel McAnaspie of American Holidays.
  • TravelCube January incentive winners were Alan O’Doherty of Independent Travel Consultants, Eva Jancichova of John Cassidy Travel and Kathryn McCarthy of Abbey Travel.
  • Travelport Ireland has moved to Building 2, Swift Square, Northwood Demense, Santry, Dublin 9. Telephone numbers remain the same.
  • The ITAA’s January survey found that 66pc of agents reported that Spain was their most popular destination in 2014.
  • RCL Cruises announced a new reservation system, Espresso, for travel agents selling Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. The new system will launch in March.
  • The Skal Kerry Club’s president’s dinner takes place Jan 31 in the Malton Hotel, Killarney. Drinks reception at 7.30pm, followed by dinner at 8.15pm. Tickets €65pp. The Malton is offering single B&B for €70, or €100 for twin/double B&B. Booking to made direct with the hotel.
  • 240 travel reps visited Prague for GTA’s first annual European Sourcing Sales and Operations conference.
  • MC If Only JoinLuxury operator If Only… joined the MoneyCard travel agent loyalty scheme. Picture shows MoneyCard partners Nick Wilkinson, Norwegian Cruise Line; Stephen Rhodes, MD Funway Holidays; Peter Traynor, Collette; Brendan Maguire, If Only…; and Graham Sadler, Norwegian Cruise Line.
  • Funway Holidays is running a competition with agents from Feb 2 to Feb 14: Tweet Funway a message why you love Funway using the hashtag #tweetheart. The winner will be announced on Feb 16 and will receive a bouquet of flowers or chocolates.

Deal Watch

Stena Line 1Stena Line’s January Sale runs from now until January 28 for travel until June 15. Hotel breaks to England start from €119pps for 2 nights incl. ferry travel by car. Picture shows Neil Fingleton, Europes tallest man (at 7’ 7” ¾) launching the Stena Line sale in Ireland.

  • Falcon is offering 7 nights self catering Dublin to Revoli Playa Apartments, Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria from €1,229 for two adults and one child or from €1,749 for two adults and two children. To book, visit or call 1850 45 35 45.
  • Ferrycarrig Hotel Valentine’s Weekend offer: 2 nights B&B from €165pps incl. one evening meal at Reed’s Restaurant with complimentary glass of Prosecco each, available Feb 13-15.
  • Thomson couples offer: 7 nights half board Dublin to Timanfaya Palace, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote from €749pps, depart May 25. To book, visit or call 1850 45 35 45.
  • Riviera Travel is offering 4 nights/5 days B&B Dublin to Iceland from €1,039pp incl. tours and transfers. To book, call 01 9056 300.
  • Sunway offers: 7  nights self catering in Bella Italia, Lake Garda from €2,146 for two adults and two children, travel in June. 7 nights self catering in Roc Lago Park Apts, Menorca from €1,699 for two adults and two children incl. water park tickets, depart May 30. 7 nights B&B in Florisol Dorosol Hotel, Madeira from €539pp, travel May and Sept. 7 nights in La Manga Club, Los Lomas Village, La Manga from €2,999 for two adults and two children, depart June 27. To book, visit or call 01 2311 800.
  • NITB Valentine’s weekend offers: 2 nights in Ballymultimber Cottages, The Garden, Limavady, Co Derry from £125 per unit incl. complimentary logs for the fire, champagne and chocolates, available Feb 13-15, call (07734) 154 835 to book. 1 night in Windsor Townhouse, Belfast from £180 for two people incl. logs for the open fire, bottle of Prosecco and chocolates, available until Dec 30, call 078 9104  1899 to book. 2 night in Lough Erne, Dulrush House, Leggs, Co Fermanagh from £129pps incl. boat trip on Lough Erne and complimentary picnic basket, available Feb 13-15, call 028 6865 8942 to book. 1 night B&B in Hilton Templepatrick, Ballyclare, Co Antrim from £69.50pps incl. Chef’s Valentine’s Menu, available Feb 13-15, call 028 9443 5500 to book.
  • Hastings Hotels is offering couples retreat at The Spa, Slieve Donard from £60pp for a private spa room incl. smoothies on arrival and a fresh fruit platter, additional £15pp to upgrade to a glass of Prosecco and nibbles. To book, call 048 4372 1066 or visit
  • Natural Retreats Castlemartyr offers of the week: 3 nights’ accommodation for a group of 6 from Feb 13 in a 3 bed mews from €25pppn or 2 nights from Sat 14 from €38pppn. 3 nights’ accommodation for a group from Feb 13 in a 2 bed lodge from€35pppn or 2 nights from €41.50pppn.


hpi trivagoAverage hotel price in Ireland in January was €88, according to Trivago’s Hotel Price Index. Kinsale was the most expensive location at €106. Kenmare was second most expensive at €101, followed by Dublin at €96. The cheapest locations were Waterford (€73), Limerick (€78) and Wexford (€80). The usual suspects top the European index: London (€179), Paris (€158) and Munich (€139). And the bottom: Prague (€83), Lisbon (€87) and Berlin (€87).

Harvey’s Point was the winner once again in TripAdvisor’s top 10 Irish hotels: 1 Harvey’s Point, Donegal; 2 The Merrion, Dublin; 3 Hayfield Manor, Cork; 4 The Killarney Park Hotel, Co Kerry; 5 Ballygarry House Hotel & Spa, Tralee; 6 Adare Manor, Co Limerick; 7 The Dunloe, Beaufort, Co Kerry; 8 River Lee Hotel, Cork; 9 Ashford Castle, Cong, Co Mayo; 10 International Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry.

Top 10 international: 1 Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives; 2 Nayara Hotel, Spa & Gardens, Costa Rica; 3 Shinta Mani Club Siem Reap, Cambodia; 4 Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, Budapest, Hungary; 5 Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, Cusco, Peru; 6 Cocoa Island by COMO, Maldives; 7 Hotel Alpin Spa Tuxerhof, Austria; 8 Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai; 9 Hotel Estalagem St Hubertus, Brazil; 10 Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Peru

  • HPO003Hilton Paris Opera (pictured) officially re-opened this week, following a $50m renovation.
  • Proper Hospitality announced the launch of new brand Proper Hotels. The first Proper Hotel, opening later this year, will be a 135-room boutique property in San Francisco’s Mid-Market area.
  • Hilton Worldwide launched Meet with Purpose, a MICE programme aimed at promoting healthy habits and sustainable options for events.
  • Marriott International forecasts 1m rooms open or under development by the end of 2015.
  • A new Hard Rock Hotel will open in Cancun in 2017.


  • Today FM’s Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show will be broadcast live from Bad Hofgastein Austria 7am to 9am every day this week.
  • Keith Whyte, a 33-year-old father of two from Ennis, won the Antarctic marathon in 9 hours, 26 minutes and two seconds. Another Irishman, Kevin McGeene was second.
  • TripAdvisor signed a content deal with CNN to feature its content and price comparison search on
  • Forte dei Marmi resort in Tuscany hopes to use drones to assist lifeguards this summer.
  • Europcar acquired a majority stake in French car-sharing start-up Ubeeqo.
  • The Italian National Tourist Board published a calendar of upcoming carnivals in Italy.
  • Tasmania released a draft plan to put remote areas like Centurion near Hobart, where the tallest flowering tree was discovered in 2008.
  • Flights to and from Keflavik International Airport in Iceland were cancelled on Monday because of high winds and rain.
  • 12,000 passengers were affected by delays to Eurostar services after a truck fire caused the Chunnel to close.
  • Google added the Palacade of Pena, Sintra, Queluz and Monserrate to its Indoors Maps function.
  • We Are Golf announced the 8th National Golf Day will take place in Washington DC on April 15.
  • Haven launched its first TV and cinema ad campaign in England, targeting families.
  • North Korea launched a new volunteer programme at Pyongyang Tourism College looking for qualified English speakers to teach English language skills and tourism studies to North Korean students. The scheme is organised by Juche Travel Services and costs €1,000 for each volunteer, which includes accommodation, travel expenses and excursions.
  • Upcoming events in Israel: Eilat Chamber Music Festival marks its 10th anniversary from Feb 2 to 7. The Sounds of the Old City Festival takes place in Jerusalem from March 9 to 12.
  • Bloomberg TV presenter Owen Thomas posted a 30 second clip showing the poor condition his British Airways First Class cabin was in. The footage received over 1.2m views on YouTube. Watch here.
  • Dollywood will host a new Christian music festival, Rock the Smokies, on Sept 5.
  • A new anti-jet lag drug is being developed by McGill University and Douglas Mental Health University in Canada. The tablets synchronise blood cells to “trick” the body into thinking night is day and vice versa. It was tested successfully on 16 volunteers.
  • Pacific Crest Trail Association credits a surge in walking holidays on the Pacific Crest Trail following the release of the film Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon.
  • Archers were called in to get rid of a deer on the runway of Sandpoint airport in Idaho.

Food and Wine

Restaurant Forty One is offering a New World Wines v Old World Wines menu on Tuesday, prepared by chef Graham Neville and sommelier Victor Nedelea, for €85. Call 01 662 0000 to book.


As the IAG-Lingus soap opera continues, Sky News and the Financial Times initially reported that the board of IAG had authorised an improved all-cash offer of €2.50 a share. However the share price fell from €2.48 to €2.35 and the Irish Times reported that confidence in a third approach for Aer Lingus by IAG seemed to be waningMichael O’Leary told Bloomberg that the regulatory authorities will fall over themselves to encourage an IAG takeover. The IAG bid demonstrates that Aer Lingus has no viable independent future, the only question is, which partner? Our stake has been for sale for about an 18-month period. We’ve gone to most of the leading airlines in Europe, including IAG, all of whom turned us down. Clare TD Timmy Dooley said: “IAG’s pursuit of Aer Lingus is becoming more aggressive with every passing week, and I am gravely concerned by the Minister Paschal Donohoe’s silence on the issue.” Michael O’Leary claimed that the IAG bid suggests that Aer Lingus does not have a long term future (listen here) and that Heathrow connectivity was over stated (listen here). Michael speculated on a fourth bid for Aer Lingus (listen here) and said the Ryanair board will decide what to do with the Aer LIngus shares (listen here). He suggested Ryanair would be interested in the Heathrow slots that may have to be sold off (listen here)

  • In response to a question from Travel Extra, Michael O’Leary said that Munich would not be in the immediate plans of Ryanair as they planned to grow from 8m passengers to 30m passengers in Germany in the next five years (listen here).
  • A group of 12 recruits will begin the Aer Lingus cadet pilot training programme at the end of the month with FTEJerez in Spain. 3,000 applicants applied for the 14-month course, the third Aer Lingus pilot cadetship programme since 2011.
  • Thomas Cook Airlines is adding another three flights to Florida for Summer 15 direct from Belfast International Airport on June 26, July 3 and Sept 4 in addition to the existing flights from Belfast to Orlando on June 30 and July 7.
  • FlyBe is increasing its Belfast City to Liverpool route to 4 daily from March 30.
  • Emirates Ireland manager Enda Corneille was asked about the prospects of the airline bringing the A380 to Dublin during Eoghan Corry’s travel advice clinics at Holiday World. Listen here to his reply.
  • Murat Balandi, Ireland manager of Turkish Airlines told the advice clinics that “the Irish were global before globalisation.”
  • Silvano Cassano of Alitalia and James Hogan of Etihad have announced a new three-hub strategy for Alitalia: long haul services will be based in Rome Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa, while Milan Linate will serve partner airline hubs.
  • American Airlines reported December 2014’s total revenue passenger miles was down 0.4pc to 18.1bn. Total capacity was up 3.7pc to 22.5bn available seat miles. Load factor was down 3.4pc to 80.4pc.
  • The former Korean Air executive who caused a flight to be delayed because she was served nots in a bag instead of a dish appeared in court in Seoul on Monday. She pleaded not guilty to violating aviation security law.
  • A major runway collision was averted at JFK Airport last Saturday after a JetBlue aircraft had to abort its take off suddenly after a Caribbean Airways jet crossed the runway.
  • American Airlines will operate a daily service from Dallas to Beijing Capital International Airport from May 7.
  • Iverness Airport was closed on Monday after a jet carrying 47 passengers and two crew members came off the runway.
  • Avolon had a fleet of 137 aircraft at the end of 2014, a 26pc YOY increase.
  • Belfast International Airport runway was used for a hare headcount.
  • David Houlihan was promoted to Chief Marketing Officer of DAE Capital.
  • Dublin airport celebrated its 75th birthday on Monday. There was musical entertainment from the 1940s and 50s in both terminals, and an exhibition charting the airport’s history was installed in T1. The John Murray Show met some of the airport personalities (listen here go to 9 minutes 50 seconds).
  • The impact of the fuel price fall was reflected in Delta Air Lines record $4.5bn profit, $3.7bn in free cash flow, $1.35bn returned to shareholders through stock repurchases and dividends, and a 20.7pc return on invested capital.
  • Ryanair received delivery of five 737-800s, the first of i180 737-800 NG aircraft on order.


Norwegian Escape will feature a series of branded dining and entertainment experiences: two new speciality restaurants from chef Jose Garces; the Food Republic emporium from The Pubbelly Restaurant Group; the District Brew House; The Cellars Michael Mondavi Family wine bar; new Supper Club; two Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals; and the musical Million Dollar Quartet.

  • Copenhagen will become the first airport in Europe to let cruise ship passengers check bags for their flights before leaving the ship from March.
  • The 3,954-passenger Carnival Vista will feature the first IMAX at sea when it launches May 1, 2016
  • Regent Seven Seas held its keel-laying ceremony for Seven Seas Explorer which it claims is the “most luxurious ship in the world.”
  • Avalon Waterways announced launch dates for two suite ships, Avalon Imagery II and Avalon Passion, to its fleet next spring. AmaWaterways will offer passengers interconnecting rooms and larger suites, as well as a heated swimming pool on two 158-passenger ships AmaViola and AmaStella next spring.


FORGING CELTIC CONNECTIONS FOR DONEGAL IN GLASGOW31 members of the Irish trade travelled to Glasgow to take part in a B2B networking event organised by Tourism Ireland ahead of the Celtic Connections festival, which kicked off on Jan 15 and continues until Feb 1. Picture shows Michael Naughton, Clanree Hotel, Letterkenny; Siobhán Barrett-Doherty, Station House Hotel, Letterkenny; Linda Duncan, Tourism Ireland; and Philip McGlynn, Great Northern Hotel & Leisure Centre, Bundoran, at the event.

  • Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh officially launched the Clare Festivals and Events Guide 2015 in Glór Ennis. More than 150 events feature in the new guide, produced by the Clare Tourism Forum with support from Shannon Airport. The new guide will visitor attractions, accommodation providers, tourist offices, libraries and Council Area offices. Some upcoming events include of the event and festival highlights during the coming weeks include the 3rd annual Concertina Cruinniu in Miltown Malbay,Feb 13-15; Bunratty Chess Festival, Feb 19-22; Corofin Traditional, March 2-8; 54th West Clare Drama Festival in Doonbeg, March 7-16, Killaloe/Ballina St Patrick’s Festival March 16-17; and the Doolin Writers Weekend, 27-29 March 27-29.
  • GMAC SWINGS INTO ACTION FOR IRISH TOURISMGolfer Graeme McDowell visited the Ireland stand at the PGA Golf Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida this week to support Tourism Ireland’s 2015 promo drive. 40,000 golf professionals and fans are expected to attend this year’s show, as well as 1,000 golf journalists. Picture shows Graeme McDowell with Alison Metcalfe of Tourism Ireland and golf tourism partners.
  • The programme for the Ennis Book Club Festival 2015 was published on Tuesday. Line up includes: Joe O’Connor, Niall Williams, Des O’Malley, Mary Costello, Val McDermid, Paul Carson and Colin Barrett. See the programme here. The festival takes place March 6-8, tickets are on sale at Glór in Ennis from January 26. Book on 065 6843103 or Picture shows Liz Kelly  and Mary Donnelly of the Ennis Book Club Festival pictured with Cllr James Breen, Deputy Mayor of Ennis, at the launch of the Festival programme in glór, Ennis, Co. Clare.
  • IRELAND BITTE! GERMANS TARGETED AT HOLIDAY FAIR IN STUTTGARTTourism Ireland in Germany and a group of Irish travel professionals attended the Caravan, Motor & Tourism Fair in Stuttgart this week. 240,000 visitors are expected to attend the nine-day travel fair. Picture shows Thomas Ryan, Irish Greyhound Board; Siobhán Corridan, Lake Hotel Killarney; and Michelle Tigue, Irish Greyhound Board, on the Tourism Ireland stand.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: The busiest week of the year for travel bookings


Doreen McKenzie being interviewed by Siobhan McGarry of Downtown Radio at Holiday World in Belfast.

Doreen McKenzie being interviewed by Siobhan McGarry of Downtown Radio at Holiday World in Belfast

The headlines this week:

*Holiday haul at the King’s Hall

*Awards fever

*From parody to reality for a crisp sandwich restaurant

*Record year for National Museums

*300,000 people travel to Spain from the north

*Consumers wooed by Wendy Wu

Travel Extra TV

video-of-week-jan-18Our video of the week shows what it’s like to be in Candide Thovex’s ski boots. Thovex, a professional skier, straps a GoPro to his head and takes you on a tour of Le Relais du Val Blanc’s slopes. Watch here.

  • Kenny Jacobs of Ryanair lectures on the digital transformation of an airline. Watch here.
  • Robert Hays and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reprised their roles in the film Airplane! for a Travel Wisconsin ad: Watch here.
  • RTÉ uploaded a video from Michael O’Leary’s Late Late Show appearance last week. ‘I don’t like to go on holidays – I prefer to go to work.’ Watch here.
  • Jet vs Train vs Car. Flybe’s promo video shows Jonny, Tom and Rachel racing from Exeter to central London. Tom takes the train, Rachel takes the car and Jonny flies with Flybe. Who will win? (Who do you think?) Watch here.
  • Crosswinds at Birmingham Airport (an Aer Lingus jet lands at the 47 second mark): Watch here.
  • Ryanair feature in Google Flight Search’s promo video. Watch here.
  • Crosswind landings at Dortmund Airport: Watch here.
  • An unusual quirk in the Swedish language: Watch here.
  • Traveling Australia’s Great Ocean Road by campervan: Watch here.


oasis groupHoliday World Belfast got off to a busy start on Friday, kicking off the busiest week of the year for holiday bookings. A fascinating cords-section of exhibitors from five continents included newcomers such as Serife Cetin and Yasemin Kaya from Agne Tours who have operated for 24 years in Antalya but are exhibiting in Ireland for the first time. Old favourites were back, such as Sandra Corkin’s Oasis Travel cruise forum. Picture shows Sandra with the Oasis Travel staff and speakers at the forum. Edmund Hourican of Business Exhibitions reported that tour operators and airlines were especially busy. “We are very confident that tomorrow will exceed today’s attendance.  There is great excitement here.” Listen here to Siobhan McGarry’s coverage of Belfast Holiday World on Downtown Radio. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Holiday World Dublin takes place at the RDS Simmonscourt next week over three days, Friday to Sunday. Admission charge is €5, children €2 and families €10.  This is the link to a downloadable Travel Extra branded 2 for 1 Holiday World ticket for Travel Extra readers or subscribers. Friday morning is reserved for members of the trade and media.

awards Miriam O'Callaghan speaks_1494Tourism minister Paschal Donohue will be among the guests at the Irish Travel Industry Awards which will be compered by Miriam O’Callaghan on Thursday evening. All 520 tickets have sold out at the Irish industry’s most prestigious awards function in the Round Room at the Mansion House. Which of the nominees will succeed Declan O’Connell’s Lee Travel as Travel Agency of the Year and Katrina McMullen of Navan Travel as Travel Professional of the Year? See more pictures here from the event last January or connect with the album on Facebook.

IMG_2378“This is where Holiday World starts,” Doreen McKenzie of ABTA declared at the Spanish Tourist Board function for the trade on the eve of Holiday World Belfast. Kathryn McDonnell, Paco Guttierez and Anna Perez of the Spanish Tourist Board hosted one of the most enjoyable events on the calendar at Deane’s Restaurant with Castili de Raimat wine from Catalonia. Kathryn McDonnell reported that 300,000 people currently travel to Spain from the north each year, a total of 1.6m from the island, and Maria Targa of Salou Tourist Board reported on the developments in the “beach of Spain” region. Picture shows Natalia Bel of Salou tourism, Kathryn McDonnell of the Spanish Tourist Board, Paco Guttierez of the Spanish Tourist Board and Maria Targa of Salou Tourism. Listen here to Kathryn McDonnell. Listen here to Maria Targa. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

John Warr and John Booty of Wendy Wu Tours at Belfast Holiday World Jan 16 2014Wendy Wu tours appointed John Booty to head up its Irish operation, to launch on Wednesday. John Warr and John Booty, pictured exhibiting at Holiday World in Belfast, were colleagues at Thomas Cook before John Booty came to work with Ryanair and Innstant Travel in Dublin. Wendy Wu are the largest operators to China from England and will be watching with interest the prospects of a direct flight from Dublin to Beijing, a high priority target for both the DAA and Enterprise Ireland.

Tewolde IMG_1377Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines (pictured with Michael Yohannes), is among the speakers at the 17th Annual Global Airfinance Conference in Dublin next Thursday, which will bring to the podium: Martin Graham of Oaktree; Aengus Kelly of AerCap; Robert Martin of BOC; David Power of ORIX Aviation; Ray Sisson of AWAS; Domhnal Slattery of Avolon; Steven Udvar-Hazy of Air Lease Corporation; Ron Wainshal of Aircastle; Steven Webber of Terra Firma; and Rich Wiley of Jackson Square Aviation. Airline CFO’s participating include: Maciej Dziudzik of LOT; Erno Hilden of Finnair; Göran Jansson of SAS; Coşkun Kilic of Turkish; Mike Powell of Wizz Air; John Rodgerson of Azul; and Neil Sorahan of Ryanair. Senior executives Jude Bricker of Allegiant Air; Nirmal Govinda of Emirates; Gerry Laderman of United; Andy Nelson of Delta; and Tom Weir of American Airlines are among participants. 1,250 delegates from 65 countries will attend the event at Dublin Conference Centre on Thursday, Jan 22.

Topflight launched their 188-page Italy brochure for 2015 offering an extra flight from Dublin to Verona, two new options in Puglia and Sardinia among 10 stay and explore programmes. There will be extra capacity to Naples for Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, and at family destinations along Lake Garda and the Venetian Riviera resorts.Pat reede

United Airlines appointed Pat Reede (pictured) as Sales Manager, Ireland. Prior to the merger between United and Continental Airlines in 2010, she was Continental’s Airport Business Manager at Dublin Airport, having joined the airline in 1998 as Supervisor for Airport Services.

More much-needed snow has arrived in the Alps for World Snow Day (Sunday Jan 18); a metre in the southern Alps and 15-20cm elsewhere, when there are plenty of family friendly activities planned for the weekend across Europe’s resorts. Fresh snow has fallen on Austria, which has improved many pistes and topped up the powdery conditions. Snowfall was recorded on Wednesday/Thursday for most French resorts, with 5-10cm falling over quite a widespread area.

Forecasters say the mild westerly airflow that has been so dominant will give way to colder weather from the northwest. Some light snow has fallen this week, improving conditions both on and off piste. Weathertoski says rain/snow limits (which we much prefer to freezing levels in this situation) may start as high as 1,600m in the north-western Alps today (e.g. Chamonix) but will be lower in the Italian Alps and fall below 1,000m everywhere by Saturday. Badly needed snow is also forecast for the Pyrenees. Scandinavia has some of the best conditions with more snow to come. All resorts can expect further snow over the weekend too. All of Scotland’s five mountain resorts have new facilities for this winter season but remained closed all week because of the Atlantic storm Rachel. The storm brought big snowfalls for yesterday’s reopening of the lifts at CairnGorm, which feature in its own BBC TV series. Thanks to the wind from Siberia the snow is terrific in Uludağ, Kartepe, and Kartalkaya for those who want to sample Turkey as a ski option. In the USA the best conditions are now in Utah, while Californian resorts continue to struggle.

Tomás Ó Conbhuí.poc fadaThe 16th Topflight Today FM Ski Trip, driven by the travel industry, will see 520 people travel to Bad Hofgastein next Saturday, which we visited only last December, for a week of skiing, snow sports and live music. Ian Dempsey will be broadcasting live every day from  January 26 to 30 from 8am to 10am. There will be a Poc Fada competition, and music from the Coronas, the Harleys and Unique.

jimmy murphy feb 2003 (2)Members of the trade from both sides of the Atlantic paid tribute to Jimmy Murphy on Monday. There was a poignant moment during interment in Dardistown Cemetery, Santry: an Aer Lingus plane flew very low over the mourners in the middle of the prayers. Jimmy spent many years as sales manager for Aer Lingus in New York before founding Brendan Tours and AMA Waterways in turn.

The charity raffle proceeds at the Irish Travel Industry Awards will go to the Shane Grogan fund. Shane, nephew of Frances Grogan, Grogan Travel Tuam, suffered a severe brain injury he was struck on the head with a brick on the Milltown Road, Tuam in August 2012. He is in a minimally conscious state. The ITAA are seeking 12 prizes of a value of €500 or more for the draw.

press room girls 000Not one but two former and current Miss Northern Irelands were on hand to man (woman?) the press room at Holiday World in Belfast. Picture shows the charming Rebekah Shirley and Megan Green who looked after X Factor singer Jake Quickenden and the media entourage who flocked to the King’s Hall on Friday.

The programme of travel advice clinics at Holiday World Dublin in RDS Simmonscourt next weekend will feature panels of two or three speakers chaired by Eoghan Corry. Picture shows Caroline Green of Ryanair speaking at the travel advice clinics in 2014.

caroline green 002

  • 3.00pm Opening session
  • 3.45pm Ski and snow, Aileen Eglington of Topflight, Orla Markey of Crystal
  • 4.30pm 2015 an American odyssey, Ciara Foley of Visit USA, Reginald Charlot of New York, Greg Evans of Pennsylvania and Atlantic City
  • 5.15pm How to get the cruise deals: Jenny Rafter RCCL, Lorraine Quinn of Celebrity,Julie Hanna of MSC, Clare Dunne of Cruise Broker
  • 6.00pm Hotels: Stephen McNally President of the Irish Hoteliers Federation, David Collins of Great National Hotels, Fionnan Nestor of Failte Ireland

Saturday Jan 24

  • 12.00pm Travel Insurance
  • 1.30pm Get active in 2015
  • 2.15pm Family holidays
  • 3.00pm Flying east in 2014, Murat Balandi of Turkish, Enda Corneille of Emirates
  • 3.45pm Africa Michael Yohannes of Ethiopian, Dawn Parr of Botswana Tourism, Felicia Kuda Munjaidi of Zimbabwe Tourist Authority
  • 4.30pm Far East: Joanna Cooke of Thailand, Jim Vaughan on Australia, Isabel Oiviera of Malaysia, Darina Nakagawa
  • Unique Japan Tours

Sunday Jan 25

  • 12.00pm Visas and passports, what you need to know
  • 12.45pm Golf holidays
  • 1.30pm The new Ryanair: Q&A session with Robin Kiely from Ryanair
  • 2.15pm Flying west in 2015
  • 3.00pm Home holidays
  • 3.45pm Solo Travel

editorsThe Irish Independent appointed two editors to flagship titles last weekend, Fionnán Sheehan to the Irish Independent and Colman Bourke to the Sunday independent. Next editorship to be filled is the Belfast Telegraph where one of the north’s leading travel writers is among a trio of front runners. Pól Ó Conghaile, editor of online travel, is acting travel editor of the Irish independent. Leslie Anne Horgan took over from Katie Byrne as editor of the Irish Independent’s Weekend Magazine at the beginning of December.

Travel Trade

Dominic Burke_1654NI Travel News#4Travel Centres is organising an educational to China for eight agents on March 12-19 in conjunction with Turkish Airlines and Bedsonline, eight agents can win a place on the trip to Beijing and Istanbul, courtesy of Bedsonline and Turkish Airlines. Dominic Burke (pictured) says every Travel Centres agency has a slightly better than 1-in-10 chance of winning a place on the trip. All you have to do is to make bookings before February 26 with Turkish Airlines and/or Bedsonline.

Jonathan Adair and Brian Ogle’s Northern Ireland Travel News celebrated 25 years in existence on Thursday. The monthly newspaper videoed some reminiscences from members of the trade at their stand at Holiday World in Belfast.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation has updated its online licensing system for the spring 2015 round of licence renewals for travel agents and tour operators. February 11 is the deadline for receipt of completed licence applications at standard fee, decision-in-principle letters will be issued by March 11 and April 14 is the deadline for receipt of applicant’s bonds for licence to be granted by May 1. The full text of CN1/2015 is available here. LCS can be accessed here. CAR says the new interface looks slightly different from the previous one but “should result in faster processing and interaction for applicants.” The Commission for Aviation Regulation currently has a vacancy for an economist with details available here.

low cost beach partyLowcost says visits to its website doubled in January and they have drafted in extra staff to deal with the unexpected increase in customers making bookings through its call centre which is now open daily from 8am to 11pm. Picture shows the Lowcost beach party at Pearse Street railway station last week.

  • Celtic Horizons is launching a new tour Mustang Rally at the Holiday World in Dublin.
  • Florida Huddle claimed new records for participation across all sectors, with 668 delegates, representing 395 companies; up from 614 delegates and 314 companies last year. Of the 147 companies sending buyers from these 17 countries, 82 from USA, 20 from England, 9 from Germany, 7 form Canada, 6 from India in its first year of participation, 6 from China, 5 from France, 3 from Spain and one each from Bahamas, Brazil, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Switzerland, and UAE.
  • Worldchoice Ireland was awarded Ireland’s leading travel consortium by Celebrity Cruises in London.
  • Enterprise won a trademark battle with Europcar at the High Court in London.
  • SeaWorld extended their three parks for the price of two offer for 2015.
  • Travelport appointed Thomas Murphy as general legal counsel.
  • launched its cruise booking engine,
  • Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel in Sagres, Portugal have continued its free kids club for all children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years.
  • Registration has opened for the Thailand Travel Mart Plus in Bangkok on June 3-5.
  • Moira O’Donohoe from Avondale Travel, Arklow, Co Wicklow won €500 in One4all vouchers in the LowcostbedsHigh 5 trade promotion. Agents have three more chances of winning €500 in One4all vouchers from bookings entered into the weekly draw, the more bookings, the more chances.
  • Agents who make Do Something Different ticket sales and email with “Come on holiday with DSD” in the subject line before Mar 31 can win a place on a trip to Dubai. DSD have reintroduced their book and bank incentive until mar 31 offering cash in on every booking, either as an individual or agency branch. Every time you each €300 worth of DSD sales, €10 will be deposited into your DSD bank. Claims with all order numbers must be submitted by April 17.
  • Amanda MiddlerSilversea Silver Wave promotion has been extended until Jan 31, offering a shipboard credit of $1,000 per suite. Picture shows Amanda Middler and the Silversea team at Belfast Holiday World show.
  • Ian Manto, Harvey Travel, Waterford, and Noelle Twomey, Tom Mannion Travel, Ennis are the latest winners in the BookaBed €100 a day giveaway which runs until Jan 31.   Last week’s winners were Denise Winters, Garda Holiday Club; Nicola York,, Portlaoise and Siobhan Cotter, West Cork Travel.
  • Airbnb appointed James McClure as general manager for Britain and Ireland. James was Google’s head of emerging markets for Singapore and South East.
  • Monarch Travel Group fixed the Travelbox travel trade site after it suffered reduced access last week.
  • Funway Holidays and Virgin Atlantic are offering agents the chance to win one of ten £100 prizes to be paid on their MoneyCard. To enter, make a package booking to Barbados, Saint Lucia, Antigua, Grenada or Jamaica including Virgin Atlantic Flights from Feb 1 to 28.
  • megafamBritish Airways, American Airlines and Brand USA have 100 places available on their MegaFam trip to the USA, May 14-21. To apply, register your American Airlines, British Airways or US Airways bookings made to the USA from now until April 3. See to enter.
  • Upgrade your customers to First one-way (inbound or outbound) on British Airways when you book them on an eligible Club World return fare. See here for more info.
  • Travel Professionals Skillnet is offering a FETAC Level 5 Digital Marketing Diploma, Monday 16 Feb to Monday May 18, 6.30pm -9.30pm. Cost €850 (public price €1,450). More info/bookings.

Deal Watch

ITAA offers of the week: 10-night trip to Cuba – 7 nights All Inclusive in the Melia Las Americas in Varadero and 3 nights B&B in the Tryp Habana Libra Hotel, Havana – from €1,740pps incl. return flights, travel from May 1 to June 30. 7 nights All Inclusive Secrets St James, Montego Bay, Jamaica from €2,099pps incl. return flights, transfers and baggage, travel from May 1 to June 25. 12-night trip to Thailand – 5 nights B&B at Kantary Beach Hotel, 2 nights full board at Elephant Hills and 5 nights B&B at the Deevana Patong Resort and Spa – from €1,599pps incl. return flights ex Dublin, Cork or Shannon, transfers and rainforest safari.

Click and Go offers: 7 nights self-catering in the Puertocarment Aparthotel, Lanzarote from €849pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in May. 7 nights All Inclusive in the Kusadasi Golf & Spa Resort, Turkey from €359pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in April. 7 nights in the Iolida Beach Hotel, Crete from €369pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in April.

Hastings Hotels’ offer of the week: 1 night B&B in the 4* Stormont Hotel, Belfast from $85 per room incl. afternoon tea served with a glass of Prosecco on arrival. To book, call 048 9065 1066 or visit

Thomson Sensatori offer: 7 nights Full Board Dublin to Sensatori Resort, Analipsi, Crete from €1,149pps, depart September 5. To book, visit or call 1850 45 35 45.

Travel Department’s Mugello MotoGP Ride and Fly offer for bikers: 8 nights B&B from €1,199 incl. dinner each night, two ferry tickets to Wales, an overnight in England, ferry to France, overnight in Reims, overnight in Basel and arrive in Lake Como, followed by a ride to Tuscany for the Mugello MotoGP (tickets for qualifying and race day included). Price includes flight home form Nice to Dublin and shipment of your bike back with Click here for more info.

Click and Go is offering 12-night holiday including 9 nights MSC Grand Voyage Cruise on MSC Armonia from €899pp incl. flights ex Dublin, transfers, taxes and port charges, hotel accommodation, 3 free excursions and free beverages with meals on board. Highlights: Canary Islands, Maderia, Spain, France and Italy. Depart April 9. For more info, call 01 637 1699.

Sunway’s Food Hero cruise: 14 nights Full Board on P&O Ventura from €1,049pp, depart Southampton, ports of call: Lisbon, Seville, Gilbraltar, Cartagena, Malag, Casablanca and Madeira. Chef Marco Pierre While will make a guest appearance on the cruise, offering cooking demos, masterclasses, hosted dinners and book signings. Depart May 6.

NITB offers of the week: 2 nights B&B in a premier room at the Dufferin Coaching Inn, Killyleagh, Downpatrick, Co Down from £150 per room incl. complimentary bottle of wine on arrival; available March 1-31, call 028 4482 1134 to book. 3 nights at Cobblers Cottage, Sixmilecross, Omagh, Co Tyrone from £160 per unit, available until Feb 28, call 028 8675 1547 to book. 2 nights B&B at Mahons Hotel, Irvinestown, Co Fermanagh from £59pps incl. one four course dinner, Mist of Erne after-dinner cocktail, guided tour of the Celtic Garden and a guided walk around Necarne Castle, available until Jan 31, call 028 6862 1656 to book. 3 nights for the price of 2 at Dunluce Cottage, Bushmills, Co Antrim, available until March 26, call 028 9050 4926 to book.

Brittany Ferries early booking offer on 2015’s ferry-inclusive holidays to France ends on January 31. Additions to this year’s portfolio include more dog-friendly holidays, new sites in Alsace Lorraine and more themed car and motorcycle tours including wine-focused itineraries. To book, visit or call 021 427 7801.

Natural Retreats Castlemartyr is offering 5 nights self-catering accommodation in a two-bedroom lodge for a group of four from €235.50pp in July and August. To book, visit or call 01 685 3013.


  • Muchross Park Hotel and Spa in Killarney was sold to Cork-based hotel firm iNua Hospitality for €6.25m.
  • Virgin Hotels launched an app called Lucy that acts as a universal remote control for guests. Lucy allows guests to adjust the room temperature, order room service and plays music.
  • Marriott International said it will not block guests’ private Wi-Fi networks in its hotels and will find an alternative to ensure that internet security is not compromised.


  • NYC & Company launched a City Delegate Discount Pass for all MICE visitors. The pass, valid until June 30, offers discount prices and admission to 70 restaurants, tours, attractions and retailers in the city.
  • France mobilised 10,000 security personnel following last week’s Charlie Hebdo attacks. Travelmole reported that short break operators say that. rather than cancelling, some travellers believe going to the French capital will now be safer due to increased security. The DFA has advised visitors to France to take extra care.
  • Jamaica officially unveiled Jamaica Sport, a new initiative to develop the island as a sports tourism destination.
  • Travelport and India-based full service carrier Vistara announced a distribution and merchandising agreement.
  • Algarve visitor figures from Ireland are up 7.9pc.
  • Germany began their reunification anniversary celebrations with 25 new perspectives in the last 25 years.
  • Two-for-One theatre tickets went on sale for NYC & Company’s Broadway Week to 22 of Broadway’s top shows.
  • Winter Gardens in Blackpool, England are to house a £21m heritage museum documenting the story of how the town became a major tourist resort.
  • Salzburg announced plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music.
  • Jordan Axani, the man who took a woman called Elizabeth Gallagher on a round-the-world trip because she had the same name as his ex-girlfriend, returned home this week. The pair described the trip to eight countries as a “wild, whirlwind” but insisted there was no romance – Elizabeth has a long-term boyfriend.

Food and Wine

crisp sandwichMuch excitement was generated in international media following the opening of Andrew McMenamin’s pop up crisp sandwich store Simply Crispy in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. The café sold out in two hours, offering bread with crisps and ham or cheese to fill sandwiches for a planned four week period. The idea was partly inspired by the ‘Cereal Cafe’ opened in London in November by Belfast brothers Alan and Gary Keery and came from a spoof story by Billy McWilliams and Seamus O’Shea on their Ulster Fry website. Real life imitating art, indeed.

One of the oddest moments in Colin Teevan’s RTÉ drama Charlie was the inclusion of Seattle food writer Brendan Kiley’s fanciful description of dining on an Ortolan. Kiley who has never eaten an ortolan, wrote the description in 2006 was inspired in turn by a remark by Belgian critic Claude Souvenir. Teevan transposed the description back to Inishvickillane in 1982, portraying Charles Haughey in a Mitterandesque gourmet moment. Watch here.

  • Blue Boar Restaurant in Conrad London St James launched a new working lunch menu.
  • The Gambia Food & Beverage Festival takes place on Feb 20 and 21.
  • Antonio and Marion Cavaliere care celebrating 25 years in business at Rinuccini Italian restaurant in Kilkenny city on Feb 3 with a special tasting menu. It costs €60 incl. wine pairing for each course. Call 056 7761 575 to book.


turkish scheduleTurkish Airlines will be increasing its service from Dublin to Istanbul to double daily from March 29, an additional 2 flights per week. Murat Balandi, Turkish Airlines GM for Ireland, said we have had consistent growth in the Irish market which is directly related to the niche destinations we fly within our 267 destinations globally”. Passenger numbers were up 21pc in 2014 and 18pc in 2013.

Transatlantic traffic increased by 14pc at Dublin Airport last year to a record 2.1m. Overall numbers are up 8pc to 21.7m and direct destinations to 161, short-haul traffic was up 7pc. Dublin Airport expect further growth this year, with 14 new services. There were 24 new routes last year and additional flights on 34 existing services. The Irish Aviation Authority says commercial traffic grew 6.5pc in 2014 at the three State airports Dublin, Shannon and Cork to 215,783 movements, with 81pc of the volume at Dublin. Total flights in Irish airspace are up 2.7pc and en route traffic up 1pc to 301,331 movements. Europe to North America flights are up 3.8pc to 420,423.

Knock is to receive for the first dedicated transatlantic pilgrimage flight in the facility’s history in August, when a pilgrimage from New York will land. Monsignor James Horan’s plan for the airport in the 1980’s was that pilgrimages would play a significant role in generating business but this failed to happen.

Shannon Airport confirmed passenger numbers were up 17pc from 1,400,032 to 1,639,315, having ended five successive years of decline. Nine new European services, delivered a 70pc increase (from 251,813 to 427,887). The airport’s five US services (Boston, Chicago, Newark, JFK New York and Philadelphia) delivered growth of 10pc and England delivered growth of 5pc.

  • Ryanair launched the first celebrations marking its 30th birthday by releasing 100,000 seats for sale (until Thurs last) across its European network,  €19.99 for travel in Jan-Mar.
  • CityJet completed a refinancing programme which involves the sale and leaseback of seven Avro RJ85 aircraft from Falko Regional Aircraft and said its restructuring plans were progressing ahead of schedule. It said it continued to experience improving trading conditions and was emerging successfully from a challenging period following its divestiture from Air France, its previous owner, which left it “with an infrastructure which was inappropriate for a independent regional carrier.”
  • SITA launched OnAir, a supplier of in-flight passenger communications services.
  • Icelandic low-cost carrier WOW air announced details of its new direct service from Dublin to Iceland. Tickets available from €49, the service will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from June 2. Flight time is 2 hours and 20 mins.
  • Ryanair plans to trial inflight entertainment and possible Wi-Fi later this year.
  • Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport increased by 8pc last year to 21.7m.
  • Budget carrier Jet2 will operate a new service from Belfast International Airport to Verona this summer. The weekly flights will operate from May 20 to September 23.
  • Total flights in Irish airspace grew by 2.7pc during 2014. En route traffic increase by 1pc to 301,331 movements. North Atlantic Communications flights increased 3.8pc to 420,423. Commercial traffic grew by 6.pc to 215,783 movements.
  • Cork County Council hopes to organise a major push to convince Minister Paschal Donohoe and the DAA to cut a deal with Cork Airport to ease its €113m debt.
  • traffic-performanceTraffic at Dublin Airport increased 13.4pc YOY in December 2014, while Shannon Airport was up 8.5pc. There was an average 1,251 daily flights during December. The busiest day was December 5 with 1,503 flights.
  • Reminder: Emirates is holding its Cabin Crew open day on January 17 at 9am at the Hilton Dublin, Charlemont Place.
  • lingus-photobombAer Lingus slagged Ryanair on Twitter this week after the budget carrier supposedly used an image of an Aer Lingus jet on “Epic #photobomb by EI-DVM on Ryanair’s website! Even they know we’re Best for Business,” Aer Lingus quipped. Ryanair responded: “Even @AerLingus is talking about @Ryanair Business Plus. FYI, he’s smiling cos he saved a fortune & avoided another late @AerLingus arrival!” When Aer Lingus described the exchange as just some healthy rivalry, Ryanair snapped back with: “We stopped being rivals in the 90s @AerLingus. We’d have to treble our fares & lose 81m customers to be your rival #EuropesNo1.” “Okay, nevermind,” a disheartened Aer Lingus replied. Game over.
  • Lufthansa estimated a 2015 fuel bill of €5.8bn, 13pc lower than last year.
  • Ethiopian Airlines announced a codeshare partnership with Japan’s All Nippon Airways.
  • Finnair was certified as a Stage 2 operator in the IATA Environmental Assessment programme.
  • From now until Feb 28, premium passengers on United Airlines can earn up to 12,000 additional MileagePlus bonus miles on top of existing base accrual for long haul flights.
  • Gothenburg City Airport, which closed for repair work in November, will not reopen for commercial traffic, according to airport operator Swedavia, which said the cost of rebuilding the airport to make it viable again for commercial airlines was too high.
  • British Airways offered a reduced repatriation fare to Cyprus Airways passengers, which ceased flights last week.
  • Ryanair is still keen to sell its stake in Aer Lingus, according to chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs “We’ve been actively looking for people to make an offer,” Kenny Jacobs said. He said Aer Lingus “will need a partner…Something has to happen – be that IAG or someone else – to keep growing.” 
  • Diversion of the week was the Aer Lingus Regional flight from Kerry on Thursday which diverted to Belfast.
  • Kenny Jacobs told Dutch media that Ryanair intends to increase significantly its market share in the Netherlands from the current 4pc, flying business routes from Schiphol to Dublin, London and Eastern Europe, and leisure routes from Lelystad. He said a Schiphol base was not likely before 2016. He said Eindhoven Airport will continued to be important for Ryanair but the service to Knock would be cancelled.
  • Belfast International Airport have 14 new routes this year, including once off flights such as Havana. Copenhagen is expected to be added in the coming weeks.
  • delta-soloDelta passenger Chris O’Leary (pictured) unintentionally managed to get a 76-seater cabin all to himself: A flight from Cleveland to New York was delayed multiple times due to bad weather. It wasn’t until Chris boarded the flight that he discovered all the other passengers had been rebooked on other flights, meaning he was the only passenger.
  • A Ryanair B737-800 is up for sale on Done Deal (a joke of course). Asking price is €69m. “Tire pressure seems to be okay and by looking at the body it hasn’t much miles on her…Not sure if its petrol or diesel it could be solar panels too. Sunroof works perfectly, great for an explosive decompression. Comes with full size spare wheel, nuts are a bit tight though…Can’t find the brake lights or the steering wheel.” 
  • A profit is never recognised in his own land. Read here Eoghan Corry’s thoughts in the Irish Independent on IAG’s bid for Aer Lingus.


TC Northern Lights HurtegrutenHurtigruten has added an extra charter flight from Dublin on March 18 to support its Arctic Highlights Northern Lights programme.

  • Royal Caribbean has postponed expanding its dynamic dining concept to more ships in the fleet, including Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. Dynamic Dining does not have set dining times or formal nights and offers 18 dining options on Quantum of the Seas, including five free dining venues. Royal say Anthem of the Seas will feature Dynamic Dining but the concept is the subject of debate on internet forums.
  • Features on Norwegian Escape, to launch in November, include two restaurants from celebrity chef Jose Garces, a craft beer hall from Miami-based craft brewery Wynwood and two new Broadway shows — After Midnight and Million Dollar Quartet. International gourmet dishes will be available in Food Republic, located in former cabin space, now an extended Waterfront on Deck 8. Norwegian’s first swine bar will be the Cellars, a Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar.
  • New penalties have been revealed by the US authorities monitoring sulphur emissions by cruise ships operating to the Caribbean. Ships operating in the four Sulphur Emission Control Areas, including the Baltic and North Sea must use fuel containing less than 0.1 percent sulfur under new emission regulations that kicked in Jan 1. Cherbourg and Roscoff are within the E8urpean SECA zone.
  • MSC Sinfonia moved into dry dock for stretching, the second ship to undergo the Renaissance programme.
  • The Tribunale Amministrativo Regionale, Venice‘s regional court of appeal threw out the limit on large cruise ships (over 2,260 passengers) the city imposed in November 2014. Italy’s Transport Ministry said it would appeal the decision to the Council of State.
  • Celebrity Cruises introduced an add-on package for travellers looking to spend more time in their departure city prior to their cruise, available for booking on cruises departing as early as February 2015.
  • Royal Caribbean have dropped the $15 surcharge to ea the Quantum of the Seas healthy specialty restaurant Devinly Decadence. All dishes in the restaurant are 500 calories or less. Royal Caribbean is partnering with Google Maps to offer a virtual tour of Quantum of the Seas Allure of the Seas was mapped in July 2014.
  • Royal Caribbean’s Royal IQ app is now available to Android users.
  • Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy are offering six courses that feature white Alba and black Perigord truffles for $250 a head during truffle season, November to January. Passengers can purchase one-ounce tins of caviar, ranging in price from $99 to $360.
  • Carnival Cruise Line has ended its partnership with EA Sports. Ships that have EA Sports Bars will have the branding phased out.
  • Seabourn Sojourn is to cruise the Western Med in 2016, Seabourn Quest will cruise from the Western Med o Northern Europe. Seabourn Odyssey will cruise the Eastern Med, including a new 12-night Morocco and Canary Islands itinerary. Experiences include visits to UNESCO sites, shopping trips to local markets with the ships’ chefs, water sports in the Med and classical concerts under the stars in Ephesus.
  • Liverpool City Council approved an expansion project for Liverpool’s cruise terminal, which will allow ships of up to 1,800 passengers to dock.
  • American Cruise Lines said it plans to build European-style riverboats in a move away from the traditional paddlewheeler designs.
  • Prestige Cruises International withdrew plans for an IPO.


Annual Visitor Numbers released this week show the National Museum in Dublin’s Kildare Street was up 10.6pc to 447,137 making it the 11th most popular attraction on the island. The Natural History museum was up 6pc to 300,272 (25th), National Museum Collins Barracks down 3pc to 243,172 (37th) the National Country Life Museum in Castlebar up 9.7pc to 109,000 (64th). This is the fourth successive year that total National Museum attendance for the four sites passed 1m, to a record 1,099,581.

GALWAY TOURISM OPERATOR ‘GOES DUTCH’Tourism Ireland in Amsterdam was joined by nine Irish tourism companies at the Vakantiebeurs holiday and travel show in Utrecht this week. 122,000 visitors attended the six-day event last year. Picture shows Mícheál Ó Cíonna, Killary Fjord Boat Tours, with Ruairí Lehmann and Jacqueline Keogh, both Tourism Ireland at the fair.

Clare County Council accepted an invitation to visit the Yunnan Province in China in April or May 2015 with a view to twinning the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher Geopark with the Stone Forest Geopark in southwest China.

Wicklow - Glendalough DistilleryWicklow and Cork are showcased in two new episodes of TV3’s The Holiday Show. Episode 3, which airs this Wednesday (Jan 21) at 8pm, sees presenters Ciara Whelan and Jon Slattery stay at the Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa, surf in Maghermore and make gin at Glendalough Distillery. Episode four on Jan 28 sees the couple take a jogging tour of Cork City, explore the English Market and go pony trekking and whale watching on the Sheep’s Head peninsula.

  • One of Belfast’s favourite Winter festivals, Out to Lunch returns until Sunday next Jan 25 serving up over three weeks of theatre, music and comedy, during lunch hour and your food for £6.50.
  • Powerscourt estate reported 233,000 visitors in 2014, up 11.5pc and making it the 40th most popular attraction on the island.
  • Clare County Council has accepted an invitation from the People’s Republic of China to send a delegation to the country to explore a twinning link with China.

Award Nominations Travel Agency Awards


  • ITAA Leisure Travel Professional: Louise Brennan Ormsby of Club Travel, Jacynta Mullen of Abbey Travel, Caroline O’Toole of Fahy Travel,
  • ITAA Corporate Travel Professional: Olive Taaffe of Club Travel, Catherine Monaghan of FCm Travel Solutions, Louise Dunne and Karen Ray of The Travel Broker
  • Most Innovative ITAA Member Marketing Campaign: Navan Travel, Club Travel, Tour America
  • ITAA Corporate Travel Agency: Atlas Travel Group, Corporate Travel Management, FCm Travel Solutions
  • ITAA Travel Agency of the Year (Under 10 Employees): 1 Stop Travel, Blackpool Travel, Fahy Travel Worldchoice, Navan Travel, O’Hanrahan Travel, Rory Mc Dyer Travel, The Travel Broker, Travel Escapes
  • ITAA Travel Agency of the Year (Over 10 Employees): Abbey Travel, Club Travel, Corporate Travel Management, J Barter Travel Group, Shandon Travel, Tour America,

Air Travel Category

  • Airline to Europe: Aer Lingus, British Airways, Ryanair, SAS, Turkish Airlines
  • Business Class Airline to Europe: Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, SAS, Turkish Airlines
  • Airline to North America: Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic
  • Long Haul Airline: British Airways, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Virgin Atlantic

Tour Operator Category

  • European Sun Tour Operator: Sunway, Falcon Holidays, Topflight, Cassidy Travel, Concorde Travel
  • Escorted Tour Operator: Contiki, Cosmos, Insight Vacations, Riviera Travel, Sunway
  • Specialist Tour Operator: Discover Travel, If Only, Sunway, The Travel Corporation, Travel Focus
  • Ski Tour Operator: Crystal Ski, Topflight
  • Long Haul Tour Operator: Classic Resorts, If Only, Sunway, Topflight, Travel Focus

Cruise & Ferry Category

  • General Cruise Company: Celebrity Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruises, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean
  • Ultra Luxury Cruise Company: Azamara Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, MSC Yacht Club, Royal Caribbean, Silversea Cruises
  • Specialist Cruise Company: Ama Waterways, MSC Cruises, Riviera Travel, Royal Caribbean, Uniworld
  • Ferry Company: Brittany Ferries, Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries, Stena Line

Agency Services Provider Category

  • Technology Provider: Amadeus, Bookabed, Proactive Labs, Travelport
  • Car Hire Company: Affordable Car Hire, Alamo, Flexible Car Hire, Hertz, Your Car Hire
  • Travel Insurance Provider: Accident & General, Blue Insurances, KMT, My Travel Insurance, Viasure
  • Tourist Board: Dubai, New York, Spain, Tunisia, Visit USA
  • Supplier Support Team: Amadeus, Bookabed, MSC Cruises, Sunway, Travelport
  • Accommodation Only Provider: Arrow Tours, Bedsonline, Bookabed, Globe Hotels, Lowcostbedsfive suppliers
  • Supplier Representative of the YearJennifer Callister of Royal Caribbean, Rebecca Kelly of MSC, Thomas McNally of Bedsonline, Lee Osborne of Bookabed, and Jeanette Taylor of Sunway

Destinations Category

  • Worldwide City Destination: Dubai, Las Vegas, New York, Orlando, Sydney
  • European City Destination: Barcelona, London, Paris, Prague, Rome
  • Ski Destination : Andorra, Austria, France, Italy
  • Summer Sun Destination: Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Turkey
  • Winter Sun Destination: Dubai, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Morocco, Tenerife,
  • Worldwide Theme Park: Disneyland Paris, Portavantura, Siam Park Tenerife, Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World Resort,
  • Worldwide Hotel: Chain Hilton, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Marriott, Radisson.

The Irish Travel Industry Awards are an initiative of the Irish Travel Agents Association in association with Amadeus. Award categories are sponsored by American Airlines, British Airways, Cork Airport, DAA, Hertz, Port of Cork, and Turkish Airlines. Ancillary sponsors are Falcon, O’Leary Insurance Group and The Travel Corporation.

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