TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Anthem on Song while Agents are in Danger of Missing the Boat

Holiday-world

Pat Dawson, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association speaking at the Travel Industry Business Show golf tournament at Citywest, April 23 2015

Pat Dawson, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association speaking at the Travel Industry Business Show golf tournament at Citywest, April 23 2015

The headlines this week:

  • Michael Bayley: Dynamic dining is here to stay
  • Explorer of the Seas back from refurbishment
  • Canary Islands launch new trade website and products
  • A week of firsts: Industry Trade Show and Industry Awards

Travel Extra TV

OVideo of week April 26ur video of the week shows the elevator ride to the World Trade Centre’s 102nd floor. During the 47 second ride to the top floor, screens installed in the lift display time-lapse images of lower Manhattan, charting its history from the year 1500 to the present day. Watch here.

  • A paraglider crash lands on sunbathers in Bulgaria. Watch here.
  • Behind the scenes of Ryanair’s new TV ad. Watch here.
  • Tourism Ireland’s ad for the Irish Open. Watch here.
  • Emirates surprises a German girl with two new Fly With Me monsters. Watch here.
  • A decade of the A380. Watch here.
  • Emirates crew member Don Godamunetalks about his 20 year career with the airline. Watch here.

Headlines

ITAA BoardMartin Skelly of Navan Travel was re-elected as president of the Irish Travel Agents Association and Des Manning of Manning Travel was re-elected as treasurer. Other appointments to the board were: Cormac Meehan of Meehan Travel, Ben Greene of Arrow Tours, Valerie Metcalfe of FCM, Rory McDyer of Rory McDyer Travel, Jim McGonigle of Clondalkin Travel, Angel Walsh of CTM, Joe Tully of Tully Travel and Clare Dunne of The Travel Broker. Picture shows the new ITAA board. 

Sarah FischerIn a hard hitting statement to the AGM of the ITAA Sarah Fischer of the Commission of Aviation Regulation noted that in the current round of agent licensing 48 out of 125 applications were late, 13 were protracted and three may not renew.

Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Anthem of the Seas, was named as Sunderland travel agent Emma Wilby sang Katy Perry’s “Firework” with Welsh boy choir Only Boys Aloud, who were preceded by the Anthem on boardReading Scottish Pipe Band. They were joined on stage by ship’s captain Claus Andersen and Michael Bayley before the godmother named the 4,180-passenger ship with the words: “I name this ship Anthem of the Seas. May God bless her and all who sail on her,” before pressing the button to release a bottle of Perrier Jouet Champagne to smash against the hull. Two groups of travel agents toured the ship on separate two day mini cruises, and sampled activities such as the North Star and Virtual sky dive. Stuart Leven of Royal Caribbean said Anthem of the Seas is six weeks ahead of schedule, while Quantum of the Seas was four days behind scheduled when it hosted the ITAA Conference last October. Picture shows Don Shearer of Worldchoice with Bernie and Dominic Burke of Travel Centres on board Anthem of the Seas. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Dynamic dining is here to stay. Royal Caribbean has delayed plans to roll out the concept (no set dining times and no formal nights) across the fleet, but Royal Caribbean’s Michael Bayley said it is proving popular with new to cruise passengers, in reply to the very first question at the Anthem press conference from TRAVEL Extra’s Eoghan Corry: “Dynamic Dining is a good idea, and everything has to change. This incredible choice and flexibility is the future. We are seeing new to cruise customers who love the idea, and this is the way cruising is changing.”

Pat DawonTravel agents and tour operators from all four provinces and suppliers from 32 countries converged at Citywest for the inaugural Travel Industry Trade Show, the first show to bring all aspects of the travel trade in Ireland under one roof. The exhibition was moved to a larger hall with two weeks to accommodate a waiting list. Picture shows Pat Dawson, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association, with Carole Smith of Synneo. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

volker plays from water copyThe team golf tournament on the day before the show featured a shotgun start and a vigorously contested team event. Rescue shot of the day (pictured) featured Volker Lorenz of Amadeus whose decision to play from the water helped his team win by two points: Noel McAuliffe, Jonathan Millar and David O’Hagan. Declan Power of Shannon Airport committed to sponsoring the event again in 2016, and gave Peter O’Hanlon a run for prize for the speech of the night. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

The 15-year-old Explorer of the Seas arrived back from its 40-day refurbishment with 86 added cabins, increasing passenger capacity from 3,114 to 3,288. The new cabins include 24 new “panoramic ocean view” cabins occupying a new section of superstructure added to Deck 12. Symphony, Explorer’s three-deck-high main dining room, has been re-fitted with stylish black and white chairs. Virtual balconies, a feature of Quantum class has been added to 81 inside cabins. The FlowRider surf simulator and a 220-square foot cinema screen above the midship pool. The upper level of The Chamber nightclub, on Deck 4, has been converted into a 62-cover Giovanni’s Table. Windjammer Marketplace has new table tops; a Chops Grille steakhouse has replaced the Portofino restaurant on Deck 11, and the port side of the Viking Crown Lounge now accommodates an Izumi Japanese sushi restaurant. Aquarium Bar is now The Tavern and the Champagne Bar on Deck 5 has been renamed the R Bar. The ship is the latest Royal Caribbean ship to emerge from a fleet-wide $300m revitalisation programme. Navigator of the Seas went through the exact same refurbishment programme in February last year. Explorer sails from Southampton this summer to the Canaries, Norway and the Mediterranean. In October, the ship leaves for a season in Australia before taking up residence in Alaska for summer 2016. Stuart Leven, Royal Caribbean’s two country MD for Ireland and Britain, said: “We’re on a mission to change holidaymakers’ expectations, and just as Anthem of the Seas set sail this week on her maiden voyage, a newly refurbished Explorer of the Seas arrived in Southampton. We are constantly working to bring the innovation of our newest ships to existing ships across the fleet, ensuring that every ship is our best ship.”

Awards- Paschal Donohoe keynoteThe inaugural Irish Tourism Industry Awards attracted 525 people to the Doubletree by Hilton. Award winners on the night included Shannon Airport for its marketing initiative. See the full list of winners. Picture shows MC Mary Kennedy watching Minister Paschal Donohoe deliver the keynote speech.  See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

canary workshopCanary Island hoteliers updated Irish agents in Limerick and Dublin outlining in a market that attract 400,000 Irish tourists a year. The tourism authorities have launched a new trade website and products. Picture shows Marian Benton of Map Travel and Bernie Colgan from Majorca with Jacinta McGlynn and Laura McCormack of Click and Go at the workshop in Dublin. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Travel Trade

J Barter Travel is celebrating 150 years in business with an exhibition in Cork Vision Centre, which will run for three weeks starting May 7.

xITAA_05ITAA’s quarterly survey found that Spain remains the most popular holiday destination for Irish holidaymakers, followed by Portugal and Italy, which climbed two places YOY and pushing the USA down to fourth place. Agents said that all inclusive cruise and river cruises are one of the biggest trends in 2015 so far.

The ITAA Conference in Jerez on October 1-4 will be served by an Aer Lingus charter flying out on Thursday and back on Monday.

Audrey HeadonAudrey Headon’s Deciso is to leave World Travel Centre after 23 years sees her move into a new role in representation, although she says she has not established a name of the new company yet. Watch this space.

Arrangements for the Amadeus golf day are under way and it is likely the tournament will take place on Sept 24 at Lough Erne.

Red Sea Holidays is offering agents the chance to win a 7 night holiday to Sharm el Sheikh on Facebook.

Hotels

chairperson-manorIrish Country Hotels and Guaranteed Irish invited local suppliers to pitch their goods and services at a Meet the Buyer event at Fitzgerald’s Woodlands House Hotel in Adare on Monday, April 27. Buyers from the group’s 24 hotels are looking to spend €3m on artisan food and drink items, toiletries, flowers, garden supplies, candles, furniture, cleaning products, gift shop items and other products. Irish Country Hotels will also be running a masterclass for small business owners on how to pitch their products to the hospitality industry. Picture shows Mary Fitzgerald, Chairperson of Manor House Hotels and Irish Country Hotels.

Hilton Worldwide opened its first Hilton Hotels and Resorts property in Rio de Janeiro.

Accor will manage two new build resorts in the Maldives: the all-villa Mercure Maldives Kooddoo resort, due to open in 2016, and the 120-villa Pullman Maldives Maamutaa Resort, to open in 2018.

Hotel chain Red Roof plans to open 40 new hotels in Canada over a 20 year period. The first four properties are expected to open in 2016.

The Aston Aloha Beach Hotel Kauai, Hawaii agreed a franchise deal with Hilton Worldwide to rebrand as a Hilton Garden Inn. The property will be renovated and is expected to reopen in early 2016.

DoubleTree by Hilton opened its first property in Chile, DoubleTree by Hilton Santiago.

The PortoBay Group opened a five star hotel in Lisbon, PortoBay Liberdade.

International

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Tanzania Tourist Board is promoting nine cultural tourism sites: Bujora, Ukerewe and Kisesa in the Lake Zone region of Mwanza; Kiliman, Rau and Lyamungo on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro; and Liuli- Pomonda and Mbamba Bay in Ruvuma.

Tourism Malaysia and 32 Malaysian travel agencies launched the Discover Malaysia by Bicycle Guidebook.

Cascais Tourism Board is offering the chance to win one of six places to watch the Millennium Estoril Open. The winners will also be given the chance to play a point with the finalists of the tournament’s quarter finals and semi finals. The competition closes tomorrow (April 27), see Cascais’ Facebook page for more.

A study by GoEuro found that Sweden has the most powerful passports in the world. The top ten: 1 Sweden, 2 Finland, 3 Germany, 4 Britain, 5 USA, 6 Denmark, 7 Canada, 8 Spain, 9 Belgium and 10 The Netherlands.

Sabre’s travel management app TripCase is now available on the Apple Watch.

Security researcher Chris Roberts was prevented from boarding a United Airlines flight from Colorado to San Fransisco because of a tweet that suggested the airline’s onboard systems could be hacked.

Marking the anniversary of The Surgeon’s Photograph hoax, Google installed Street View cameras in Loch Ness.

UNESCO predicts that half of the world’s languages will no longer exist by the end of this century.

The World Happiness Report listed Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada as the world’s happiest nations.

The Shroud of Turin went on display for the first time in five years. 1m people are expected to visit the city in the coming weeks.

Russia’s tourism ministry launched an open competition to design a new logo for Russia.

Leger Holidays in England launched an online tour of its new Luxuria coach.

Universal Orlando celebrates its 25th anniversary with a series of concerts in the Music Plaza: May 23 Prince Roys, May 24 Shawn Mendes, May 30 Pitbull, June 6 Kellie Pickler, June 13 Huey Lewis and the News, June 20 Goo Goo Dolls.

Screens were installed at Heathrow T2 to show updated time and price comparisons between taxis and train services bringing passengers into London.

  • Expedia launched its app for the Apple Watch.
  • Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park in the Judean Lowlands were named Israel’s eighth UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Sub Sea Systems completed construction of the Clear Lounge underwater oxygen bar.
  • Six passengers and one pilot were killed in a small aircraft crash in the Dominican Republic.
  • Online shopping giant Amazon will enter the travel business with Amazon Destinations.
  • Booking.com launched an app for the Apple Watch.
  • US casino operator Mohegan Sun announced it will develop a casino resort on the grounds of Incheon International Airport in South Korea.
  • An air ambulance was called to teat a woman for head injuries after she fell 11ft from one of the bronze lion sculptures in London’s Trafalgar Square.
  • A fire broke out in The Randolph Hotel in Oxford, England because a chef put too much cognac into a saucepan, causing potentially millions of pounds worth of damage.

Food & Wine

  • Neil and Mary McEvoy’s Kilkenny Cookery School is hosting a One Chicken, Five Recipes class on May 23, costs €65. See asliceofheaven.ie for more.
  • Listowel Food Fair takes place June 18 to 21.
  • Olivier Meisonnave of Dax restaurant in Dublin 2 collected €11,000 in donations for the Dublin Simon Community.

Aviation

aer-lingus-jetA decision by the Government on the future of Aer Lingus now looks set to be delayed until May.

Aer Lingus‘ on-line timetable is showing Dublin-Jersey next winter, Friday and Sunday.

Belfast International Airport began its legal claim at the Belfast High Court for £20m damages from Aer Lingus.

Ryanair’s Knock-Las Palmas route will not operate this summer due to “shortage of aircraft”.

Ryanair said it is recording a load factor of 90pc on its initial services from Copenhagen to Dublin.

DAA will spend €14m on doubling the size of its T2 short-term car park. The extension will add four floors and 1,400 spaces to the multi-storey car park. Work is expected to finish in December. 

Cityjet has partnered with Dublin-based aviation training company Simtech to train 22 new pilots this year.

Point mergerThe IAA extended the Point Merger arrival management system to Runway 10 at Dublin Airport.

Avolon announced the completion of a $675m 8-year secured debt facility, which will finance 21 aircraft at a margin of 1.65pc.

Ryanair launched its Scotland 2015 winter schedule with 32 routes.

Malaysia Airlines will expand its codeshare partnership with Etihad on April 30.

Boeing is experiencing problems with seat production from Zodiac Aerospace, but the aircraft maker insists that this will not alter its ability to meet targets for aircraft deliveries in 2015.

  • Finnair will offer hand luggage only Light Ticket fares on flights from Ireland from May 5.
  • Aer Lingus Cargo appointed Network Airline Services as its GSA in France.
  • Alitalia expanded its codeshare with Delta Air Lines for summer 2015.
  • Emirates announced a $9.2bn order for Rolls-Royce engines for the 50 A380s ordered at the Dubai Airshow in 2013.
  • Ryanair launched a new blog called Into The Blue.
  • Boeing reported Q1 net earnings of $1.33bn on revenue, up 8pc to $22.1bn.
  • Qatar Airways will replace the A330 aircraft operating the Doha-Heathrow route with a, A380 from July 1.
  • The London Telegraph’s guide to stress-free flying with children: iPads not I-spy, sedate them with Jaffa Cakes and, if all else fails, simply strap a pillow to your head using a belt.
  • Alaska Airlines will trial a premium economy service next month.
  • Emirates president Tim Clark said the airline will to continue its partnership with Qantas beyond the initial five-year period.
  • Iberia and TAM Airlines extended their codeshare agreement.
  • Shannon airport launched its summer service, with routes to 35 destinations.
  • Members of Delta’s Skymiles loyalty programme will be offered bonus miles and 40pc savings each time they rent a car from Hertz at participating airports until July 31.
  • Rail capacity at London Gatwick is expected to double in the next five years.
  • Flybe Finland was rebranded as Nordic Regional Airlines.
  • Emirates received its 60th A380, with another 80 pending delivery.
  • CityJet plans to continue operating its Avro RJ85s, recently sold under sale/leaseback to Falko.
  • FLY Leasing acquired a B737-800 aircraft manufactured in 2008.
  • Boeing donated an original B787-8 FTV, serial 40691, to Pima Air & Space Museum.
  • An Austrian Airlines flight en route from Vienna to Newark was diverted and cancelled after smoke came from a faulty coffee machine.
  • A Cathay Pacific pilot was arrested at Heathrow for alleged possession of knives.
  • President Michael D Higgins opened The Potato Farmers of East Africa photo exhibition at Dublin Airport.

Afloat

Uniworld-ad

MSC Meraviglia (“wonder” in Italian) is the name of MSC Cruises 4,500-passenger first Vista project mega-ship. Bookings for the ship will open in June 2016 and after launch in 2017 it will spend its first summer in three homeports: Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona. The ship will feature MSC’s signature water park connected to a double-deck indoor amusement park and a double-deck aft lounge and entertainment space. A two-deck interior promenade styled like a Mediterranean village covered by an LED dome ceiling that will serve as a “digital sky” showing images and visual shows with the shops, bars and specialty restaurants underneath, Interlinked cluster cabins offer up to three linked cabins for family groups. The MSC Yacht Club “ship with in a ship” features duplex suites, its own solarium, lounge and restaurants.Wristband technology will be used to make payments, book spa treatments and specialty restaurants, and allow parents to geo-locate their children. Scrubber technology to neutralise carbon dioxide emissions. The ship will also be water emission free. Details were announced at its steel-cutting in the STW France shipyard, A sister ship to MSC Meraviglia, also on order from STX France, is scheduled for delivery by 2019.

Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain said the ship was extraordinary because Royal Caribbean, Meyer Werft, the architects and contractors had taken a design and turned it into this masterpiece. Bayley described Anthem as the most innovative ship in the industry.

CKO Kickboxing is hosting a kickboxing cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas.

All Inclusive guests on board Norwegian Sky will have unlimited beer, wine and spirits up to $11 included in their fare from January 2016.

Passengers onboard Carnival Spirit were forced to wait out a storm because it was unsafe for the ship to dock at Sydney Harbour due to strong winds and high seas.

Royal Caribbean will no longer offer last minute discounted cruise deals in the USA.

Royal Caribbean has changed Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant on its Quantum class ships from a cover charge of $15 for lunch and $25 for dinner to a la carte pricing.

Brian Abel, Vice President Food & Beverage, said the move had been driven by Jamie Oliver’s restaurant group. Anyone who pre-booked the restaurant as a cover charge restaurant would have their booking honoured.

MSC Cruises Divina is to return to Miami for year-round sailings.

Celebrity Cruises has fitted a new cocktail-oriented venue for its Solstice-class ships.

Azamara is to promote local restaurants in a New Destination programme.

Australian author Kathy Lette launched the 85-cabin Scenic Jasper in Vienna, with a higher-than-average amount of space in public areas. Sister ship Scenic Opal will join the fleet in June, bringing Scenic’s fleet to 12

Disney Dream is to add a Star Wars spaceship-themed area will be added to the Oceaneer Club, the play space for kids ages 3 to 12, when it goes into dry dock in October 2015.

MSC Cruises cancelled sailings to Egypt and Ukraine.

Deal Watch

Travel Department opera holidays in association with RTÉ Lyric FM’s Marty in the Morning: 7 nights Grand Hotel Liberty, Riva Del Garda, Verona from €1,149pp incl. all transfers, guides, ticket to Verdi’s Nabucco at the Verona Opera, lunch with Marty Whelan pre-departure, taxes and charges, depart July 14. 3 nights B&B Hotel Holiday Inn, Prague from €499pp incl. all transfers, guides, a ticket to Puccini’s La Boheme, taxes and charges. Visit traveldepartment.ie or call  01 637 1600 to book.

Click and Go offers, travel in May: 2 nights Mercure Dusseldorf Hafen Hotel from €195pp incl. flights ex Dubin, taxes and charges. 2 nights Dodo Hotel, Riga from €259pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges. 2 nights Hilton Hotel, Warsaw from €279pp incl. flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges. 7 nights self catering Mirachoro 1 Apartments, Albufeira from €499pp incl. flights ex Dublin and transfers. 7 nights All Inclusive Complejo Calas de Mallorca Hotel, Calas de Majorca from €489pp incl. fights ex Dublin, transfers, taxes and charges. Call 01 637 1699 to book.

Thomson offers: 7 nights B&B Helena Sands, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria from €499pp, depart June 1. 7 nights All Inclusive Portobello Royal, Helona Resort, Kos from €969pp, depart June 13. 7 nights half board Barcelo Santiago, Tenerife from €559pp, depart June 12. 7 nights full board Thomson Spirit cruise, Dalaman from €659pp, depart May 25. To book visit thomsonholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.

Falcon offers: 7 nights All Inclusive Aqua Nevis Club, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria from €1,719 for two adults and one child or from €2,239 for two adults and two children, depart June 1. 7 nights half board More Hotel, Alcudia, Majorca from €439pp, depart June 4.

Lowcostbeds offers of the week, based on 7 nights, two sharing, depart May 14: 3* Las Terrazas del Puerto, Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote self catering from €11pppn. 4* Hotel Suite Fariones Playa, Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote B&B from €38pppn. 3* Alexis Pool Apartments, Sidari, Corfu self catering from €6pppn. 4* Govino Bay Resort, Gouvia, Corfu room only from €16pppn. 4* Palmin Hotel, Kusadasi, Turkey All Inclusive from €32pppn. 4* Hotel Plam Garden, Gumbet, Turkey All Inclusive from €17pppn.

Classic Resorts offers: 3 nights Amwaj Rotana Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai from €689pps, travel May 15 to June 16 or August 11 to September 15, book by April 30. 5 nights Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees, Hong Kong from €929pps, travel May 1 to August 20, book by April 26. To book, call 01 874 5000 or visit classicresorts.ie.

Topflight Adriatic Riviera La Notte Rosa festival offers, depart June 27: 7 nights half board 3* Hotel Bagli, Rimini from €659pps. 7 nights half board 3* Hotel Golf, Riccone from €749pps. 7 nights B&B 4* Plus Hotel Milton, Rimini from €899pp. All prices include return flights ex Dublin, return transfers, luggage allowance and rep service. To book, call 01 2401 700 or visit topflight.ie.

Sunway offers: 7 nights B&B Princesa Baiza Suite Hotel Resort from €899pp, depart May and September. 7 nights B&B Sofitel Agadir Royal Bay, Morocco from €749pp, depart June 20 or 27. 7 nights B&B Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea & Spa Hotel from €819pp, depart June 6 or 13. 7 night Caribbean cruise onboard Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas from €1,569pp incl. 1 night pre stay in New York, depart December 11.

Click and Go is offering 7 night full board cruise onboard Cunard Queen Mary 2 from €1,279pp incl. 1 night pre or post cruise in 4* Row Hotel, Manhattan, port taxes and 20kg baggage pp, depart July 14.

Red Sea Holidays Sharm El Sheikh offers: Ghazala Beach Hotel B&B from €469pp, depart May 21. Sharm Plaza Hotel All Inclusive from €797pp, depart May 21. Siva Sharm Resort & Spa All Inclusive from €535pp, depart May 28. Ghazala Beach Hotel B&B from€599pp, depart May 28. Sharm Resort Hotel All Inclusive from €531pp depart June 4. The Grand Hotel All Inclusive from €899pp, depart June 4.

Wendy Wu Tours is offering 18 days All Inclusive tour of Vietnam from €3,090pp incl. free stay in Cambodia, flights, transport, accommodation, English speaking guide, entrance fees and visa fees with valid passport. Tour highlights include Saigon and Hanoi, Hoi An, Higlands and Halong Bay cruise.

Natural Retreats Castlemartyr is offering up to 15pc off self-catering breaks in May and June.  For more info visit naturalretreats.ie or call 01 685 3013.

Riviera late offers, limited availability: 5 nights B&B Loire Valley and Monet’s Garden from €769pp incl. three meals, depart May 14. 7 nights half board Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples from €979pp, depart May 15. 3 nights B&B Paris from €469pp, depart May 22. 4 nights B&B Venice from €969pp, depart May 25. 7 nights half board Lake Garda, Venice and Verona from €1,144pp, depart May 25. 4 nights B&B Normandy from €689pp, depart June 13. 3 nights B&B Bruges from €509pp, depart June 14. 3 nights B&B Paris from €489pp, depart June 19. 7 nights half board Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples from €999, depart June 26. All prices include flights ex Dublin and 15kg checked in baggage pp.

Tourism NI offers of the week: 1 night B&B The Merchant Hotel, Belfast from £330 per couple incl. champagne and chocolates on arrival and access to spa rooms, available until Dec 30, call 028 9023 4888 to book. 2 nights B&B Beech Hill Country House Hotel, Derry from £129pps incl. one evening meal in the Ardmore restaurant, available until November 30, call 028 9023 4888 to book. 1 night B&B ladies golf retreat at Lough Erne Resort Enniskillen from £190pps incl. lunch on arrival, half day gold school and gala dinner, call 028 6632 3230 to book. 1 night B&B Slieve Donard Resort & Spa, Newcastle from £70pps incl. 3 course dinner in the Percy French Restaurant, available until January 30 2016, call 028 4372 1066 to book.

Ireland

NO FEE BELMOND GR HIB LCH TOURS MX-3The Belmond Grand Hibernian luxury train was launched on Wednesday. Two, four and six night itineraries will be available from August 2016.

Limerick company Visitorflix launched a library of 30-second video clips created for Irish tourism companies to showcase visitor experiences on the WAW. 

Tourism Ireland’s strategy for growth of tourism from Australia to Ireland set a target of 20pc growth by the end of 2017. The aim is to position Ireland as the ideal starting point for a European trip, emphasising that it is easy to reach, with frequent, one-stop flights.

Upcoming events in Limerick: Riverfest, May 1-4. Ballyhoura International Walking Festival, May 2-4. Barrington’s Hospital Great Limerick Run, May 3. Ireland v Barbarians, Thomond Park, May 28. Culture & Chips, May 28 to June 1. Limerick Sings International Choral Festival, June 26-29. Foynes Air Show, June 26.

3rd Doolin Folk Festival launch at DoolinThe line up for Doolin Folk Festival was announced. Stockton’s Wing, Declan O’Rourke, Sharon Shannon, Mick Flannery and O’Sahara, Luka Bloom’s band, will headline the festival, June 12 to 14. Picture shows musicians Mick Flannery, Christy Barry and Sharon Shannon.

TourismIreland3Tourism Ireland and Minister Paschal Donohoe launched a three-year strategy to attract 220,000 Australian visitors to Ireland by the end of 2017, a growth of 20pc. The plan is to position Ireland as a destination that complements other European destinations which are the main draw for Australians.

A group of tour operators participated in Tourism Ireland’s annual Meet the Buyer workshop in the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle. The group visited the Mourne Seafood INTERNATIONAL TOUR OPERATORS SAMPLE MOURNE SEAFOOD AND MORE …Cookery School in Kilkeel, the Soak Seaweed Baths, Kribben Cottages, Hanna’s Close, the Narnia Trail, Causeway Coastal Route and Sketrick Island. Picture shows the tour operators with tour guide David McAnirm and Roger Moynihan, head chef at the Mourne Seafood Cookery School.

The Lough Derg Nature Trail will be launched at a seminar in The Workhouse Centre, Portumna, Co Galway this Thursday, April 30, 10.30am.

The line up for the Gospel Rising Music Festival in Ennis was announced. The event takes place May 8-10.Ennis to host Ireland's biggest gospel music festival

Tourism Ireland’s central marketing director Mark Henry was elected as vice chair of the European Travel Commission.

Game of Thrones props, including dragon eggs and ravens, appeared in surprise locations around Belfast as part of a Tourism Ireland and HBO partnership.

MINISTER JIMMY DEENIHAN LENDS A HAND TO BOOST TOURISM FROM SCOTLANDMinister for Diaspora Affairs Jimmy Deenihan visited Scotland this week. He met with members of the Irish Diaspora and the Tourism Ireland team in Glasgow. Picture shows the minister with Elaine Murray, Caroline Mulligan and Linda Duncan, all of Tourism Ireland.

Shannon Region Conference & Sports Bureau held an awards ceremony for 40 participants in SRCSB Ambas Awards 147the sports and business ambassador programme in Clare and Limerick. Elfed Lewis of UL was named Ambassador of the Year for bringing international conferences to Limerick.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: A Giraffe’s grace notes for Anthem of the Seas

Industry trade show ad

Gigi the Giraffe keeps watch of things on board Anthem the Seas as it gears up for its launch in Southampton, April 16 2015

Gigi the Giraffe keeps watch of things on board Anthem the Seas as it gears up for its launch in Southampton, April 16 2015

The headlines this week:

  • ITAA wants Tour Operators category
  • Getting around Portugal is now easier
  • Travel Counsellors Ireland Turns 10
  • The East’s Awake (at last)
  • TIGS record turnout & a trophy for Ray

Travel Extra TV

Video of the week Apr 19Our video of the week is Fáilte Ireland’s showcase of Ireland’s Ancient East. Watch here. See footage from the launch of the initiative: Watch here.

  • Ryanair’s new TV ad: Watch here. See Kenny Jacobs introduce the campaign. Watch here.
  • Take a look at Aer Lingus’ lounge at JFK. Watch here.
  • Indian prime minister Narendra Modi visited the Airbus factories in Toulouse. Watch here.
  • Promo for Food on the Edge with JP McMahon. The conference for chefs and food industry professionals takes place in Galway on October 19 and 20. Watch here.
  • A fresh start for discarded bars of hotel soap: Watch here.
  • A day in the life of easyJet. Watch here.

Headlines

The AGM of the Irish Travel Agents Association this week will hear of a drive for new members and proposals for a new tour operator category membership of the association. The Irish Tour Operators Federation did not hold an AGM last year, partly reflective of the withdrawal of Thomas Cook from the Irish market and decline of the tour operator sector from nine tour operators at peak to the current five. ITOF served a purpose when it was founded in September 2002 with Niall McDonnell as its first president, as charter business out of Ireland was at near-peak, to defend the interest of the package holiday sector, tour operators would argue that it has accomplished most of those goals and will serve a different role in the future.

ireland's ancient east_0091Meitheal in Dublin hosted 220 buyers from around the world and was the stage for Irish tourism’s big ticket launch for 2015: The long awaited launch of Fáilte Ireland’s new Ireland’s Ancient East by two ministers, Paschal Donohoe (listen here) and Michael Ring (listen here) had the air of “let’s do something for the east” about it. Unlike the Wild Atlantic Way, Ancient East is a confluence of routes and communities from Meath to Cork. The initiative is based on four themes:

  • Ancient Ireland – The Dawn of Civilisation (including Boyne Valley in Newgrange and sites like the Brownshill Dolmen in Carlow)
  • Early Christian Ireland (including Clonmacnoise, Glendalough, Mellifont abbey, Jerpoint Abbey, St.Canice’s Cathedral and Holycross Abbey)
  • Medieval Ireland (including Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile, the Viking Quarter in Waterford, Hook Head Lighthouse, Trim Castle and the Rock of Cashel)
  • Anglo Ireland (including Ireland’s Great Houses and Gardens as well as sites such as the Dunbrody Famine Ship and Wicklow Gaol).Meitheal 2015 in the RDS, Dublin, April 14 2015

Elsewhere at Meitheal, the US sent 32 buyers for the first time. Delegates were hosted at events in Carton House and the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham and a group went to the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle for an NITB event on Tuesday. In reply to a question from Travel Extra Paul Keeley said €500,000 had been set aside for marketing the project (listen here). Éist anseo le Eoghan Corry ar Raidió na Gaeltachta where he suggested suggested the domestic impact might be more important than aboad. See more pictures here from the launch and from Meitheal or connect with the album on Facebook. tigs winners_5953The Travel Industry Golf Society president Audrey Headon and sponsors Etihad hosted their largest golfer’s gathering in recent years at Druids Glen, with 84 golfers taking the field. Tributes were paid to Ray Treacy and Sean Daly at the event. Winners were Oliver McCann and Nicola Burns, pictured with Audrey Headon President of TIGS and Beatrice Cosgrove, Ireland country manger of event sponsors Etihad. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook. cathy burke steve byrneTravel Counsellors Ireland looked back at their ten year history at their conference in Carton House where 55 out of the 62 travel counsellors and 29 partners convened. It was the first conference since last November’s management buy out of the home working group, which turns over €22m in Ireland. The supplier workshops featured 11 airlines, 12 tour operators, six tourist boards , seven cruise lines, three bedbanks, a GDS and DMC from Asia, a car hire company, insurance and attractions. Pictures shows Cathy Burke, newly appointed as international business development manager for Travel Counsellors as well as Ireland country manager, and Steve Byrne Group Managing Director of Travel Counsellors. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook. eileen o'mara wlash speeches_0178Representatives of the inbound and outbound trade gathered to see Ruairi Quinn launch Eileen O’Mara Walsh’s book, The Third Daughter, at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. Three chapters of her book relate to her career in the travel industry. Picture on right shows Eileen O’Mara Walsh and Anthony Farrell of Lilliput Press listening to Ruairi Quinn speaking at the event See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook. Citywest Leisure Centre - Front copyThis week’s Irish Travel Industry Trade Show at Citywest on Thursday and Friday offers an opportunity to meet face-to-face with over 120  brands including airlines, tour operators, cruise lines, technology suppliers, destinations, insurance companies, car hire suppliers, bed banks, international hotels and hotel chains, airports, ferry operators, rail and travel related services. Delegates can book face-to-face appointments with existing and new suppliers and participate in a social activities including a golf day, and a BBQ, win prizes on offer every hour during the Trade Show. Transport is being supplied from Cork, Limerick and Dundalk. Enthusiasts turned out in Shannon to see the world’s largest aircraft, the Antonov 225. The jet has a wing span wider than the pitch at Croke Park and is one and half times the length of an Olympic swimming pool and previously visited Shannon in 2013. ray treacy copy Good idea from a sad occasion. One outcome of the funeral gathering celebrating Ray Treacy in Stillorgan last week by his soccer and travel colleagues could be the revival of the Trinity Cup. The tournament, once played by travel agents and suppliers between Ireland, Portugal and Spain may be revived as the Ray Treacy Memorial Trophy. Wouldn’t it be nice to eavesdrop on the conversation between Ray Treacy and Ján Popluhár in the afterlife this week: the most extraordinary event in the extraordinary life of Ray was when he turned Popluhár’s clearance back into the goal to put Czechoslovakia out of the 1968 European Championship. May the story be retold for many the year to come.

Travel Trade

IMG_5965 copyNiall McDonnell of Red Sea Resorts says that the All inclusive Grand Hotel Sharm is the top seller of his product, newly launched in the Irish market. It is very popular with families with a child price of €479, all season, all durations. The ITAA is to join with other EU Travel Agent associations to sue the refund of Malev payments, which have not been repaid. Shannon Airport and Falcon Holidays launched a joint advertising campaign for direct flights from Shannon to Majorca, Lanzarote and Costa Dorada. British Airways are to downsize the Irish sales office by two people. o'mara travel group Picture shows the former O’Mara Travel team at the launch of The Third Daughter by Eileen O’Mara Walsh at the RIA, Dublin: Niamh Burns, Eileen Kelly, John Healy, Eileen O’Mara Walsh, Susanne Monks, Fiona Herald and Grainne Cryan.

  • The ITAA is drawing annual attention to the Benevolent Fund which provides confidential relief to current or past members of the Irish Travel Trade. The Benevolent Fund Trustees are Audrey Headon, Barry Walsh, Bepi Gaidoni, John Galligan.
  • Voyages-sncf is celebrating its 15th birthday by paying an extra 2pc commission to travel agents until July 15.
  • Turkish Airlines hosted the trade at a private screening of Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner. Turkish will host several groups visiting the battle fields of Gallipolli.
  • Sarah Lindsay formerly of DG Ventures is to head up JacTravel’s new Irish operation.
  • British Airways are offering free upgrades to First one-way on us, when you book them on an eligible Club World return fare from April 13 2015.
  • turkish group copyPicture shows a press group en route to Korea pictured visiting the Turkish Airlines simulator in Istanbul: Onur Gul of Turkish Airlines, Mary Kate O’Flanagan of the Sunday Business Post, Katy Docherty of the Scottish Sun, Jamie Blake Knox of the Sunday Independent, Tom Kelly of the Irish Times and Ramy Salameh of the Korea Tourism Organisation.
  • Malaysia Airlines is giving agents shopping vouchers worth up to €50 for every return first or business class ticketed sale booked before April 24 for travel before December 7, and vouchers worth up to €10 for every economy class sale. Register at malaysiaairlinesgiveaway.co.uk.
  • Sunway reported that online bookings were up 15pc from January to March and conversion rate for online bookings increased 53pc.
  • portuguese workshopThe Portuguese Tourist Board hosted their National Portuguese Workshop in Dublin’s Westbury Hotel and the Clarion Hotel in Cork this week. Antonio Padeira (listen here) welcomed the return of the Madeira route and the increase in flights to Lisbon, saying that improved road connections had opened dup regions of the country not previously associated with large-scale tourism from Ireland. Picture shows Antonio Padeira of Turismo de Portugal and Clare Dunn of Travel Broker at the workshop in Dublin. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
  • Bobby Healy’s car hire software firm CarTrawler is set to acquire US rival Auto Europe.
  • Camino Ways uploaded an interactive Camino de Santiago map.
  • Mgt, Joe, Ang, Mary, DarPicture shows Margaret Cronin, Joe Collins, Mary Bowe and Skål Dublin president Daragh O’Neil with Cronins Coach which transported Skål members on the coach tour to Marlfield House & Woodenbridge Hotels in Wexford.

Hotels

ashford castleAshford Castle Hotel has reopened following a €47m restoration that involved repointing the stone walls to tackle heat loss in the hotel. Stanley and Beatrice Tollman’s Red Carnation Hotels purchased the 82 bedroom for €20m in June 2014 and the Ashford Lodge in January 2014 for €1.8m. A new spa and swimming pool will open in July. An old coal bunker in the basement has been converted into a wine cavern. The nine hole golf course, fishing, shooting, and archery facilities have all been restored.

  • Michael McElligott’s Tetrarch Capital purchased the Clonmel Park Hotel in Tipperary.
  • world book launch1Manor House Hotels is the official partner of World Book Night (April 23). Guests staying at any of the group’s 29 properties will receive a copy of Dead Man Talking by Roddy Doyle, which they are asked to pass on to someone else after reading. Copies will also be left in the hotel staff rooms, at reception and in bars for guests to pick up, read and pass on. Picture shows Mary Fitzgerald, Chairperson of the Irish Country Hotels and Manor House Hotels group, and Maire O’Connor, Manor House Hotels brand chairperson, with Ferdia, the Irish wolfhound.
  • Hotel Doolin won the Green Tourism and Entertainment award at the 2015 Green Awards. Picture shows Cara Augustenborg, MD Impact Research Management, Bord Iascaigh Mhara presenting the award to Lisa Fearon and Raquel Noboa of Hotel Doolin.
  • Starwood Hotels will launch a new brand called the Tribute Portfolio.
  • Marriott International will open the first of two Edition properties in New York next month, located in the city’s clock tower building opposite Madison Square Park.
  • German group Maritim Hotels announced plans to build  the 34-story Maritim Hotel Amsterdam in the Overhoeks neighbourhood, scheduled to open in 2018. The property will contain 579 rooms and suites, three restaurants and two bars. 
  • Hotels.com said one in five of a survey of 1,000 Irish people claimed they would use a guilt free day to go on holiday.
  • Accor Group say Q1 revenue increased by 5.6pc.
  • Apa Group is looking to build Japan’s biggest hotel, the 2400-room hotel will be in Yokohama, for the 2020 Olympics.
  • The March 2015 STR Global Construction Pipeline Report says are 868 hotels totalling 139,057 rooms Under Contract in Europe, according to with 59,194 rooms in 364 hotels under construction, England has 11,542 rooms in 80 hotels, Russia (9,735 rooms in 51 hotels); Turkey (8,970 rooms in 52 hotels); and Germany (6,183 rooms in 37 hotels).
  • Loews Regency San Francisco joins the Loews Regency New York, creating a distinct Luxury Brand, Loews Regency
  • The 585 room JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar opened. Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad opened in Western India.
  • London’s Ace Hotel in Shoreditch was sold for £150m on behalf of Starwood Capital Group, £580,000 per bedroom.
  • HG Rewards Club are to add a new top membership level in July 2015. This new membership level can be reached by earning 75,000 qualifying points or staying at IHG hotels for 75 qualifying nights, over the course of a year.

International

wttc global summitTim Kitchin of Euromonitor International told the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit in Madrid that 15 of top 45 economies will be cities in 2030, New York will be larger than Spain and Chicago bigger than Poland.

  • TripAdvisor announced that it is launching an app for the Apple Watch.
  • Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection officers travelled to Dublin in February to discuss immigration and border protection issues with their Irish counterparts after they expressed concern over the use of Irish names on Irish passports.
  • APH surveyed the different rules and regulations across the top 20 European holiday destinations. The research can be found in the Know Before You Go section of the APH website. Motorway speed limits vary from 62mph in Cyprus and Latvia to 80mph in Austria, France and Greece. Germany, on the other hand, currently imposes no legal speed limit on motorways.
  • Majorca will host an international Business School specialised in Tourism in September 2016
  • A GoEuro.com survey showed European business travellers prefer rail over flights.
  • Brand USA launched a new website on America’s Great Outdoors.
  • NightSwapping is the latest peer to peer web travel initiative, inviting members to swap nights with other members.
  • To celebrate the release of Ron Howard’s film In The Heart of the Sea, Nantucket Island Resorts will launch an In The Heart of The Sea experience from May 2015 from $370, which includes a two night stay and two tickets to the Nantucket Whaling Museum.
  • Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown-Findlay (Sybil) provides the voiceover for Secret Escapes new TV ad campaign.
  • The Israel Ministry of Tourism announced a tourism directive to encourage airline operators to fly to Eilat. From October 6 2015 to April 22 2016, the ministry will reimburse airlines operators €45 for every passenger flying to Ovda airport up to the total amount of €1m per annum per airline.
  • TUI group HR director Jacky Simmonds will leave the company after 15 years following the merger of the English and German businesses.
  • New York City’s One World Observatory will open to the public on Friday, May 29.
  • ONYX Hospitality Group announced that it will operate at least 10 properties in India by 2022.

Food & Wine

Sage Restaurant won best Emerging Irish Cuisine in Munster at the Munster finals of the Irish Restaurant Awards. susan lavelleSusan Lavelle (pictured) has been appointed Business Development Manager across Cork International Hotel and Cork Airport Hotel.

  • Galway Bay Brewery are to open a new premises on High Street near Dublin’s Christchurch area on Wednesday, April 22.
  • The Morrison Hotel, on Dublin’s Lower Ormond Quay appointed Sushil Kumar as new Executive Head Chef, who has specially created brand new menus for the Spring/Summer season.
  • A coffee kiosk at the junction of Lansdowne Road, Pembroke Road and Northumberland Road in Dublin 4 has been sold for €250k, €50k above the asking price.
  • Cully & Sully are launching a competition, Give Peas a Chance, to encourage workers to grow peas on their workplace windowsill, rooftop or breakout area. The competition runs from June to August with a €4,500 prize, €3,000 of which will be donated to provide a food garden to a worthy cause. The winners will also receive a €300 voucher each to spend at Ballymaloe House and Cookery School. Enter your team at cullyandsully.com/ourgarden to receive a start pack of seeds, soil and containers.
  • howth festival launchThe fifth annual Dublin Bay Prawn Festival takes place in Howth on April 24-26.
  • Crown Paints Ireland launched the PaintMyPub Campaign, whereby members of the public are given the chance to nominate a pub in their area that’s in need of an exterior makeover. People are being asked to post photos o Crown Paints Ireland’s Facebook page, or by tweeting it to @CrownPaintsIRL with the hashtag #PaintMyPub.
  • James Winans of Vanguard Beer Collective is to host a series of beer appreciation courses at the Dublin Bar Academy at 70 Francis St Dublin 8. Participants will sample over a dozen different beers, including a variety of Irish craft beers from breweries such as Eight Degrees Brewing, Reel Deel Brewery, and Bo Bristle. The four hour course covers everything from beer styles and ingredients to history and food pairings.
  • Carlow Brewing Company, best known for its O’Hara’s range of beers, is to create 12 new jobs in Bagnelstown
  • May is Whisky Month in Scotland, with events taking places across the country
  • The Noosa International Food and Wine festival takes place in Queensland from May 14 to 17.

Aviation

It was an exciting week in Irish aviation with rumours that Ethiopian were to transfer their Rome European outbound fuel stops, daily B777 to Washington, 3 per B787 week to Toronto, eastbound only and necessitated by the elevation of Addis Adaba, initially to Shannon before being quickly superseded by the news that the fuel stop would move to Dublin. Negotiations with DAA included the possibility of fifth freedom passenger pick up in years to come. Delta plans to reduce 2015-16 winter international capacity by 3pc “to address currency headwinds’ resulting from strong dollar. London’s Competition and Markets Authority said there was no material change in circumstances or special reason for it not to reduce Ryanair’s shareholding in Aer Lingus to 5pc. The shortlist for the 2015 Aviation Awards, sponsored by the IAA, was announced. The gala awards black tie event takes place on May 28 at the Double Tree  by Hilton on Burlington Road, Dublin:

  • Aircraft Operator Aer Lingus, Air Contractors, Emirates, Etihad, Stobart Air, Turkish Airlines
  • Aviation Academic Education Dublin City University, Dublin Institute of Technology, Intitute of Technology Carlow, University of Limerick
  • MRO Achievement Aero Inspection International, Dublin Aerospace, Eirtech
  • Aviation Leasing Achievement AerCap Ireland, Avolon, GE Capital Aviation Services
  • Aviation Sustainability & Environment Cork Airport, Shannon Airport Authority,
  • Aviation Export Aero Inspection International, Airbus Helicopters International Services, Airtel-ATN, CAE Parc Aviation, Datalex, Eirtech Aviation, Gerard Daniel Worldwide
  • Aviation R & D Centre for Innovative Human Systems – Trinity College Dublin Fluids, Vibration & Acoustics Research Group – Trinity College Dublin Tyndall National Institute Vocavio
  • Aviation Innovation Airconics, Coastway Surveys, DAA, GE Capital Aviation Services & Milestone Aviation Group, International Aviation Services Centre (IASC) – Shannon Group, Registair, Ryanair, Versadrones, Waterford Institute of Technology & CHC
  • Airport Achievement City of Derry Airport , DAA, Ireland West Airport Knock, Shannon Airport Authority,
  • Aviation Training Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Apprenticeship Scheme – Aer Lingus, Cadet Pilot Training – Aer Lingus, DIATA, National Flight Centre, Ryanair, Simtech Aviation Training, Trident Safety Group,
  • Up & Coming Aviation Professional Niall Duggan – Part M Aviation Ireland, Mark Dwyer – National Microlight Association of Ireland & Flying in Ireland, Capt Julie Garland – National Flight Centre, Ellie McGimpsey – Belfast City Airport,
  • Safety Promotion City of Derry Airport , DHL Express Ireland, DAA, General Aviation Council of Ireland, Shannon Airport, Shell & Topaz Aviation, Stobart Air, Swissport Ireland
  • Aviation Support Services Aero Inspection International, Part M Aviation Ireland, Piercom, Simtech, Swissport Ireland, TEG
  • General and Sport Aviation Executive Helicopters, Foynes Air Show, National Flight Centre, National Microlight Association of Ireland, Simtech Aviation,
  • Customer Service Cork Airport, DUB HUB – DAA, Project Free Runner – DAA, Ryanair, Signature Flight Support, Swissport Ireland
  • People Development Transforming Security Programme – DAA, Certified International Management Programme – DHL Express Ireland, Certified International Specialist Programme – DHL Express Ireland, National Flight Centre,

Iberia and British Airways left the lobby group Association of European Airlines over demands by Air France-KLM and Lufthansa to limit access to Europe for Gulf carriers.

Aer Lingus reported its €13m increase in sales last year was thanks to the ill-fated Little Red deal with Virgin to lease aircraft and crew,. Trade union sources have ramped up their campaign against catering reorganisation issues and are claiming they are causing on-board shortages on Aer Lingus flights.

  • newsarticle-248343-scaled-560x0The DAA introduced a revised branding for Dublin Airport with a new logot.
  • The European Regions Airline Association hosted 180 senior executives including representatives from 29 airlines,
  • Ryanair and Aer Lingus went back to battle on Twitter.
  • SITA reported a tenfold increase in passenger adoption of Wi-Fi when it is free
  • Singapore Airlines new SilverKris Lounge opened in Heathrow T2.
  • Ryanair promoted its new Instagram account with a competition for free flight vouchers.
  • A Germanwings jet bound for Milan was evacuated at Cologne-Bonn after the flight received an alleged bomb threat.
  • The air freight division of Emirates has become the number one air cargo carrier for Irish exports since the start of the year, according to figures compiled by the IATA.
  • An Alaska Airlines jet bound for LA had to return to Seattle after a ramp agent was trapped in the  cargo hold after falling asleep. The pilot detected banging noises. Watch a video of his rescue here.
  • star wars anaJapanese carrier ANA unveiled plans to paint one of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners in a Star Wars livery that features the likeness of R2-D2.
  • A Ryanair steward was fired after trying to sell a €500 camera on eBay after it was left behind on a flight.
  • Quickpark.ie is offering the chance to win €1,000. To enter, pre-book your parking at Dublin airport before midnight, April 30.
  • United Airlines will launch a new inflight menu for economy passengers on June 1.
  • A Loganair flight carrying 30 passengers fell into a steep dive after it was struck by lightning. The pilot regained control and restored full power after the flight fell to 1,100ft.
  • Virgin apologised to passengers on a flight from Las Vegas to London Gatwick that was delayed for 33 hours. The passengers set up a Facebook page demanding compensation.
  • Authorities launched an investigation after an Asiana Airlines jet skidded off a runway as it landed at Hiroshima airport, injuring 20 people.
  • Heathrow announced the appointment of T5’s independent lounge, Aspire. Located near Gate 18, it will be open to customers this summer, regardless of their class.
  • colm barrington 1400 copyColm Barrington’s (pictured) FLY Leasing acquired a B737-800 manufactured in 2008. The Dun Laoghaire based lessor announced it has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per common share.
  • A fourth year Transaero apprentice, Ros Wynne has been selected to represent Ireland in the 2015 world skills competition in the category of Aircraft Maintenance in Sao Paulo Brazil from Aug 11-16.
  • Malaysia Airlines is the launch customer for SITA On Air’s AIRCOM FlightTracker.
  • Singapore Airlines subsidiary Silk Air launched a new uniform design.
  • Airbus will offer an 11-abreast economy-seat configuration in the A380.
  • EasyJet is to appoint Andrew Findlay to replace Chris Kennedy as CFO, effective October 2015.
  • Airbus and Germany’s Recaro Aircraft Seating plan to offer a “supplier-furnished-equipment” Economy Class seat option, named “3530Swift”, for A320 operators.
  • A passenger was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight after poking a fellow passenger with a pen because she was bothered by his snoring.
  • Embraer delivered 20 jets to the commercial market and 12 to the business market in Q1.
  • Ireland West Airport Knock is to upgrade security with two new devices to detect explosive and a new security scanner.

Afloat

Anthem of the SeasThe first delegation of 50 Irish trade and media flew out yesterday to join Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas with a further 170 travelling out tomorrow. Anthem arrived in Southampton, its homeport for the summer during the week. A sister ship to Quantum of the Seas, Anthem will sail out of Southampton until October, before redeploying to Bayonnet. Stuart Leven, two country Managing Director of Royal Caribbean based in London said: Ships like Anthem of the Seas will help attract new groups of people and build the future of cruising. Ireland and Britain is our second largest market and with 1.7m from the two countries taking a cruise every year it has huge importance for our business. So we’re over the moon that our latest Quantum-class ship is arriving for the summer season. The 4,180-passenger ship will be formally named on tomorrow Monday (April 20), by 27-year-old travel agent Emma Wilby from Sunderland. Picture shows Emma sampling the flowrider on Anthem. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

  • Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley is offering repeat Quantum-class passengers an onboard credit if they choose the controversial Dynamic Dining concept, on the line’s newest ship, Anthem of the Seas.
  • Princess Cruises’ Dawn Princess is to host a first-ever Beer & Wine Garden Festival after its multimillion-dollar refurbishment May 11-24.
  • Ponant cruise line has taken delivery of the latest in its fleet of ultra-luxury ships, the 260-passenger Le Lyrial.
  • L’Austral, Le Boreal and Le Soleal, were delivered in May 2010, April 2011 and June 2013.
  • Thomson Cruises will name its newest ship Thomson Discovery when it joins the fleet in 2016. Thomson has acquired Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas. Thomson Discovery will homeport in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, when in launches in June 2016, and the ship will undergo a rebranding and refurbishment.
  • Hurtigruten’s Northern Lights Promise, has been re-introduced for next Winter. There will be a direct departure form Dublin on March 22 following the success of the director charter flights from Dublin to Tromso in 2014.
  • Azamara Club Cruises is to use virtual reality to allow passengers to experience life on the ship and shore excursions.
  • Disney is introducing new shore tours in Alaska for summer 2015, to a mining camp in Juneau and the White Pass Summit in Skagway.
  • Carnival cruise ships have added Perry, Boston, Lionel Richie and Heart to the roster of musicians slated to perform on this summer and fall.
  • Norovirus hit Celebrity Infinity, with 106 of 2,117 passengers falling ill (about 5pc) and Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas affecting 114 of 1,763 passengers (about 6.5pc).
  • Norwegian Cruise Line has waived cover charge and a la carte pricing at selected Asian restaurants fleetwide.
  • Disney announced a partnership with AmaWaterways. Tour operator Adventures by Disney will operate family river cruises using AmaWaterways’ 170-passenger AmaViola ship when it launches in 2016.

Deal Watch

Malaysia Airlines spring sale, book between now and April 30 for travel from now until December 7. Return economy fares from Dublin Cork and Shannon: Bangkok from €570. Phuket from €570. Singapore from €650. Ko Samui from €655. Manila from €670. Hanoi from €675. Ho Chi Minh City from €675. Kauai Lumpur from €700 Penang from €700. Bali from €700. Perth from €790. Darwin from €810. Auckland from €835. Adelaide from €850. Brisbane from €850. Melbourne from €850. Sydney from €850. Malaysia Airlines and Tourism Malaysia are offering a free one-night stopover in Kuala Lumpur at either Berjaya Times Square Hotel or Sama-Sama Hotel. For bookings and more info visit malaysiaairlines.com or call 01 6761561.

  • Classic Resorts is offering 10 nights Mexico and Las Vegas from €1,799pps incl. 7 nights All Inclusive 4* Occidental Grand Xcaret, Mexico, 3 nights 4* Luxor Resort & Casino Las Vegas, flights and taxes, book by April 30, travel May 1 to June 24 or September 1 to October 31. To book visit classicresorts.ie  or call 01 874 5000.
  • Sunday G Adventure Tours offers, prices include accommodation, adventure itinerary and most meals: 10 days Nepal from €949pp, depart August 9. 10 days Cambodia from €649pp, depart May 28. 3-day African safari from €869pp, depart May 30. 8-day India Golden Triangle from €499pp, depart June 28. 8 days Bali from €749pp, depart August 21. 8 days Cuba from €699pp, depart September 5. 12 days Vietnam from €649pp, depart August 1. 7-day Peru Inca Trail from €899pp, depart September 8. 9-day Amazon riverboat adventure from €1359pp, depart July 25. 9 days Galápagos 9 Days from €1599pp, depart June 19.  7 nights self catering Tamaimo Tropical Apts, Tenerife from €399pp, depart May 23. 7 nights B&B Sheraton Fuerteventura Beach, Golf & Spa Resort from €749pp, depart May 23. 7 nights self catering Tilila Studios, Morocco from €299pp (flight only €294pp).
  • Sunway Bodrum, Turkey offers: 7 nights self catering 3* Summer Garden Apts from €359pp, depart June 7. 7 nights B&B 3* Baba Beach Hotel from €429pp, depart June 7. 7 nights B&B 4* Ambrosia Hotel from €599pp, depart June 7. 7 nights All Inclusive 3* Sami Beach from €739pp, depart June 7.
  • Keith Prowse Experience Wimbledon packages begin at €513 per person
  • Thomson offers: 7 nights full board Dublin to Sensatori, Lyttos beach, Crete from €1,139pps, depart June 14. 7 nights full board highlights of the Med cruise, Shannon to Majorca from €939pp. To book visit thomsonholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.
  • Falcon offers: 7 nights All Inclusive Dublin to Arminda, Hersonissos, Crete from €699pp, depart June 7. 7 nights self catering Dublin to Mika, Piskopiano, Crete from €369pps, depart May 31. 7 nights full board Dublin to Sensatori, Lyttos beach, Crete from €1,129pps, depart June 14. Visit falconholidays.ie or call1850 45 35 45.
  • Travel Department offers: 5 nights B&B Hotel Novotel Montfleury, Cannes from €359pp incl. flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and excursion to St Paul de Vence, depart April 17. 7 nights B&B Valamar Club Dubrovnik Hotel from €299 incl. flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, depart April 20. 7 nights B&B Hotel Arnolfo & Aqua Laetitia, Montecatini, Tuscany from €349pp incl. flights ex Dublin, transfer on arrival, taxes and charges, depart April 23 or 28. 3 nights Reykjavik city break from €259pp incl. 3*/4* accommodation, fights ex Dublin, transfer on arrival, taxes and charges, depart April 23. 7 nights Tuscany and the Italian Riviera from €499pp incl flights ex Belfast, option of coach transfer from Dublin airport or free parking at Belfast airport, 3 nights in San Remo and 4 nights Montecatini, taxes and charges, depart May 19. 7 nights Tuscany from €459pp incl. flights ex Dublin, option of coach transfer from Dublin airport or free parking at Belfast airport, taxes and charges, depart May 19 or June 9. To book visit traveldepartment.ie or call 01 637 1600.
  • Click and Go offers: 2 nights B&B 3* Van Belle Hotel, Brussels from €149pp incl. flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, travel in May. 7 nights All Inclusive 3* Complejo Calas de Majorca Hotel from €449pp incl. flights ex Dublin, transfers taxes and charges, travel in May. 7 nights half board 4* VIK San Antonio, Puerto del Carmen from €599pp incl. flights ex Dublin, transfers, taxes and charges, travel in June. 7 nights B&B 5* Volcan Lanzarote, Playa Blanca from €599pp incl. flights ex Dublin and transfers, travel in June. 3 nights 3* Arctic Comfort Hotel, Reykjavik from €259pp incl. flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, travel in April. To book visit clickandgo.com  or call 01 637 1699.
  • Topflight, agents for The Rocky Mountaineer in Ireland, are offering a 9 day Canadian Rockies trip from €3,680pp incl. 4 days onboard The Rocky Mountaineer, rail station transfers in Vancouver, Kamloops, Jasper and Banff, luggage handling, National Park pass, 8 nights hotel accommodation, excursions, flights, private airport transfers and RedLeaf, travel in May.Topflight is also offering 7 nights Lake Garda from €599pps incl. flights, transfers and rep service, travel in June, add tickets to the Verona opera festival from €78pp (June 19 to September 6). For more info see topflight.ie or call 01 240 1709.
  • Stena Line is offering a 7 night family break to Centre Parks Les Bois Francs, Normandy from €1,199 for two adults and two children incl. return travel by car Rosslare-Cherbourg, accommodation and access to Aqua Mundo, book by April 27, depart June 18.
  • Tourism NI offers of the week: 2 nights B&B Canal Court Hotel & Spa, Newry from £129pp incl. one evening dinner, available until April 30, call 028 3025 1234 to book. 1 night B&B Templeton Hotel, Ballyclare from £69 per couple incl. main course and glass of wine, call 028 9443 2984 to book. 2 nights Beech Cottage, Lisnakea, Enniskillen from £285 (sleeps 8 people) incl. kayak, paddles and life jackets, available May 1 to June 30, call 028 6772 2240 to book.

Ireland

www.keewiphotography.comThe inaugural Clare Wellness Festival takes place at The Falls Hotel, Ennistymon from May 11 to 17. There will be workshops on Mindfulness, yoga, chakra dance and homeopathy, as well as a guided Burren walk, Cliffs of Moher cruise, trip to the Aran Islands, heritage trail and a foraging walk. For info on 2, 3 or 4-day packages and activities from €185pp see fallshotel.ie  or email reservations@fallshotel.ie.

  • ???????????????????????Irish tourism organisations joined Tourism Ireland in Spain for this year’s B-Travel fair in Barcelona. B-Travel attracted 200,000 visitors. Pictures shows Oscar Gutiérrez Mecias of Irland en español, Jenny Armstrong of Tourism Ireland and Miriam Barrios of Irland en español at the event.
  • The CSO household survey for the end of 2014 showed that domestic trips increased 3pc to 4m and domestic holidays increased 4pc to 6m. Revenue grew 7pc to €1.5bn and domestic holiday expenditure increased 1pc to €852m. Domestic trips with hotel stays increased 4pc with nights in hotels increasing 2pc.
  • Fáilte Ireland’s Visitor Attitudes Survey 2014, conducted by Millward Brown, show 54pc of visitors saying that they found good or very good value in Ireland – up from 51pc the year before. Last year only 6pc of visitors found value for money to be poor or very poor, in 2007 the equivalent figure was 41pc. This year 55pc of respondents said that their trip met all their expectations and a further 44pc of visitors said their holiday exceeded all expectations. The most popular word used to describe their experience was “relaxed,” Domestic trips grew by 3pc to 6m last year and domestic holidays increased by 4pc last year. Trips involving stays in hotels increased by 4pc with nights in hotels growing by 2pc.. The Irish people ranked the highest reason for exceeding expectations, followed by the scenery and history. Travel agents and operators accounted for 12pc of sources that influenced the choice to visit Ireland. See the survey here.
  • What is happening the National Diaspora Centre? Two of the bidders appear to be going ahead with plans for the project. Minister Paschal Donohoe told Travel Extra this week (listen here) that he thinks it is going to re-emerge. “I think we are going to see a number. I believe that the Diaspora story is one that is best told locally, through local communities and businesses and that the taxpayer was not in a position to support it through additional funding and investment. I believe that we are going to see local authorities and initiatives deliver that in their own capacity and their own localities.”
  • Scans of 130 monuments and buildings went online at 3dicons.ie.
  • Burren Cycling Club’s 32 members will attempt to cycle the entire length of Wild Atlantic Way in just five days.
  • Landscape2US Open champion Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald and Patrick Reed have added their names for the the Irish Open. Following the addition of Dubai Duty Free as title sponsor, the prize fund increased to €2.5m, up 25pc. The winner will take home €416,660.
  • JestfestThree festivals are taking place in Wexford this May bank holiday weekend: The inaugural JestFest comedy and street theatre festival, line up includes David McSavage, Andrea Farell and Al Porter, May 1-4. Hook Lighthouse Maritime Matters Festival, highlights include live music, Irish Coastguard display and talks from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, May 1-4. ZorroFest to celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Lamppost and the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mexico and Ireland, May 2-4.
  • CLEAN2The Burren Ecotourism Network is rolling out the Adopt a Hedgerow Scheme to keep the Burren litter free. Thirty business have signed up to the scheme, which is supported by Clare County Council and the Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark.
  • Twenty travel agents from group travel specialiser Euro Moselle Loisirs visited Ireland this weekend. The itinerary, organised ???????????????????????????????????????????????by Tourism Ireland in Paris in conjunction with Irish Welcome Tours, included visits to the Guinness Storehouse, the Irish Whiskey Musem, the Book of Kells, Glendalough and Powerscourt Hotels & Gardens. Picture shows the group with tour guide Hubert Servignat.
  • A group of travel and lifestyle journalists from Italy visited the north this week, as guests of Tourism Ireland and Jet2.com. Representing ?????????????????????????????????????????various online and print publications including Italian Vogue, as well as a popular radio station, the journalists flew to Belfast on the new Jet2 flight from Rome. Picture shows the group at Titanic Belfast with Fabiana Marraccini of Tourism Ireland.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Roger’s €261m Headache for Europe’s Airlines

HWS 2016 ad

Easter skiing this week in Espace Killy above Val d'Isere, France

Easter skiing this week in Espace Killy above Val d’Isere, France

The headlines this week:

  • Thailand moves to reassure tourists
  • French ATC creates €261m headache
  • Anthem of the Seas gets a giraffe
  • Easter skiing in the Alps some of the best in years
  • Dublin airport gets 20 new summer routes

Travel Extra TV

Video of week April 12Our video of the week takes Sunday Supplement readers on a ride of the Slip N Fly water ride at Ohio Dreams in Butler, Ohio. Brace yourselves. Watch here.

  • Tourism Ireland’s US ad for golfing in Ireland. Watch here.
  • Etihad’s new ad campaign: Behind the scenes with Nicole Kidman. Watch here.
  • Boeing has patented a backpack-style sleeping aid that allows passengers to sleep upright. It’s called a cuddle chair. Take a look. Watch here.
  • Spanish band Sidonie’s ode to Ryanair. Watch here.
  • To mark 60 years in business, Disney Parks uploaded an archive time-lapse of Disneyland’s construction. Watch here.
  • Qantas celebrates 50 years of services to New Zealand. Watch here.
  • British Airways’ communities an conservation programme presents Surfers not Street Children. Watch here.
  • How Emirates prepares a newly delivered A380 for its first commercial flight. Watch here.

Headlines

page 001 cover May 2015 300The hard working team of Travel Extra have been circumnavigating the globe once again to bring you the May 2015 edition, to be delivered to travel agents in the coming days. This month’s edition features Australia, with visits to Cairns, Port Douglas and the Whitsunday Islands on the Queensland coast, a bridge climb in Sydney and a camel trek in Western Australia. We look at  theme park developments for 2015, with a focus on the new attractions in Orlando and the advanced technology to help bypass those long queues. We report on Aer Lingus’s A350 plans, Royal Caribbean‘s latest cruise ship launch and Alan Joyce shares his favourite holiday experience. Read the online version here.

Trade show logoRegistration is now open for the Irish Travel Industry Trade Show. Programme of events:

Thursday, April 23

  • 10.00 Golf Lesson for Beginners (register here)
  • 12.00 ITAA Golf Classic, sponsored by Shannon Airport (entry form)
  • 18.30 Pre Dinner Drinks, Dinner and Presentation of Prizes

Friday, April 24

  • 10.00 ITAA AGM
  • 11.00-13.00 Workplace Wellness Presentations (register here)
  • 14.00-19.00 Irish Travel Industry Trade Show (register here)
  • 19.30 BBQ with entertainment, sponsored by Sunway and Mark Warner. Tickets €25. (book here)

Suraphon SvetasreniTourism Authority of Thailand moved to reassure holiday makers after Friday’s car bomb in Ko Samui. No Irish tourists were affected by this incident. The incident is currently under police investigation. Initial reports suggest this is a result of civil political tension. The explosion was not aimed at tourists. In a separate incident the ferry travelling between the town of Krabi and Phuket island caught fire causing the death of a 12-year-old Israeli tourist. Picture shows Suraphon Svetasreni of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Roger Rousseau’s air traffic control union SNCTA went on strike on Wednesday, causing the cancellation of 40pc of flights in French airspace. SNCTA deferred their strike initially planned for March 25-27 because of the Germanwings crash. Further strikes are planned April 16-18 and April 29 to May 2, during school holidays, with Gauthier Sturtzer’s USAC-CGT waiting in the wings. Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland (listen here) that passengers could face tag-team strikes over the summer from the three main unions representing the 3,800 French air traffic controllers. About 2,000 flights were cancelled in total, costing airlines €261m. Ryanair lost 500 flights, including Irish services to Spain and Italy as well as France. Cityjet lost two of their six daily services to CdeG and Aer Lingus lost one. Easyjet lost 331 flights after cancelling 248 on Wednesday.

Ciaran Mulligan’s Blue Insurances took the opportunity to highlight its optional ‘Travel Disruption’ cover which includes extended cover for flight disruption, delayed departure, missed departure and accommodation sections, should your travel flight be cancelled or delayed including as a result of strike and other circumstances such as volcanic ash. Cover includes additional accommodation and travel costs up to €1,000/£1,000 if your flight is cancelled or delayed for more than 12 hours. A seven day moratorium applies from the time of adding this cover, and cover is excluded for any existing strikes publicly announced at the time of taking out insurance.

dimitri killy eoghan corry copySnowstorms last week led to excellent snow conditions throughout Easter week especially in high altitude resorts. Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry spent a week skiing the 300km of Espace Killy under blue skies. Picture shows Dmitri Killy (a nephew) with Eoghan Corry in Val d’isere. The Alps offered classic spring skiing with blue skies, icy conditions in the morning turning soft as the day progressed and lots of goggle tans as resorts are winding down towards the end of the season. Some low level runs are suffering but on the whole, great spring skiing is to be found across France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. Norway and parts of Sweden are struggling with some bare patches on the lower slopes. Bulgaria’s season continues to go from strength to strength, with almost half a metre of snow falling this week. Scottish resort Cairngorm is offering great conditions for the time of year and some new snow is forecast. Up to 25cm of new snow has fallen in Utah, and a nice top up in Colorado. New snow has improved the conditions in California, where Squaw Valley got 20 inches and extended the season until April 19, but some resorts have already closed for the winter.

Travel Trade

bernie whelan cathy burke ciara mcconnellIreland’s 62 Travel Counsellors will celebrate their tenth anniversary with its biggest conference to date on Thursday and Friday next April 16-17 at Carton House Hotel in Maynooth. Travel Counsellors recorded a turnover of €22m in Ireland in 2014. Delegates will hear from a number of key management staff about future plans and developments to help support them and grow their businesses. Agents will be recognised at an awards ceremony and gala dinner. A dedicated supplier Pow Wow session will enable agents to meet directly with representatives from tourist boards, hotels and airlines. Picture shows Bernie Whelan, Cathy Burke and Ciara McConnell of Travel Counsellors.

The Travel Fun Day will take place on Sunday August 16 2015 at Wanderers RFC, once again. The new target for 2015 is set at €70,000 after the 2014 Travel Fun Day raised €60,000 for various charities. Five-a-side football and bubbleball will return subject to entry fee, bash the boss and other events. The committee want more Travel Industry Companies to get involved in sponsorship, including Travel Industry companies from the north.

antonio padeiraThe Portuguese Tourist Board, hoteliers and trade suppliers are hosting a Portuguese Workshop at the Westbury Hotel on Grafton Street, Dublin on April 14 (this Tuesday) and at the Clarion Hotel, Lapps Quay, Cork on April 15 (Wednesday). Both workshops  start at 5.30pm and are followed by a dinner at 7.30pm, which António Soveral Padeira will attend. RSVP tmason@aeconsult.ie. Picture shows Antonio Padeira, the two-country director of the Portuguese Tourist Board for Ireland and Britain.

Spanish Tourist Board is hosting the Canary Islands Roadshow in the Strand Hotel, Limerick on April 22 and in The Dean Hotel, Dublin on April 23. RSVP dublin@tourspain.es.

lee osborne karl tyrrell copyBookabed have finalised details of their white label website product which it says will be an exact copy of our own website but rebranded with all the agents logos and contact details. Lee Osborne said the iframe option is for agents that want to have their own website and populate with their own offers. it will feature a search box on the website which will then drill into the Bookabed system and everything that Bookabed has at the moment including low cost airlines, long haul airlines fares via the GDS, and our filtering systems including the new Tripadvisor filter. Picture shows Lee Osborne and Karl Tyrrell of Bookabed.

Emirates one direction 001 copyEmirates took four Irish travel agents to see One Direction in Dubai. Picture shows Lorraine O’Connor of Travelfox, Donna McGann of Eimer Hannon Travel, Stella Grant of O’Hanrahan Travel, Lynne Casey of Fahy Travel and Rob MacDonald of Emirates. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Silversea appointed Lisa McAuley as two-country Commercial Director for Ireland and Britain part of a strategy in which the cruise line say they are focusing “team expertise on individual markets.” Mafalda Barreto moves to the newly created position of Head of Expedition Sales, Natasha Donovan and Maarten Tromp also reporting directly to Lisa McAuley.

Celebrity Cruises is offering a range of booking incentives a part of the ‘Modern Luxury Giveaway’ agent giveaway and sales blitz on April 10-20.matt corcoran H&S

Matt Corcoran’s King Travel, based in Malahide, has joined Mary King’s Travelsavers having had its membership of Dominic Burke’s Travel Centres terminated.

Travel Management Company Portman Travel created eight permanent new jobs at their European Centre of Excellence in Monavalley Business Park in Tralee and announced that another eight are planned to come on stream before the end of the year.

topflight eventTopflight’s 5 Day Italian Sale commences today. Topflight and Cork Airport, hosted an agent training day in the Imperial Hotel in Cork to highlight products such as the Topflight charter from Cork to Verona. Picture shows Maurice Shiels of Topflight, Kathleen Walshe, Communications of Cork Airport; Ciaran Carton, Head of Operations at Cork Airport and Simon Daly of Topflight. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Places are still available on Thursday’s Skål Dublin club’s day trip to Skålleague Mary Bowe’s Marlfield House in Co Wexford for lunch and then on to Skålleague Esther O’Brien’s Woodbridge Hotel. Skålleagues can park in The Stillorgan Park Hotel and enjoy a complimentary coffee while awaiting the coach. Price €35 for members and guests.

The Travel Broker in Clontarf is seeking an experienced, Travel Professional to drive sales and increase market share in a niche markets.ray treacy copy

Sad news: Ray Treacy, international soccer player, travel agent, singer and long standing friend of Travel Extra has died. Ray opened his travel agencyin Store Street with a staff of three on May 8 1979 and quickly became a popular member of the trade, a hilarious after dinner speaker and former captain of TIGS.

Once Irish travel agents book a room at one of the three Adrian Hoteles’ properties in Tenerife, guests can make the most of their stay by booking a spa treatment, a Balinese bed and a romantic dinner, for instance, via the brand new online shop – something not very usual on hotels’ websites.

British Airways‘ seat sale is now on. Sell between now and April 30 for travel from April 19 to June 25 and from August 20 to December 5. Fares starting from Beijing €150, Shanghai €170, Abu Dhabi €104. See your GDS for more.

Hotels

Paul Collins CBREPaul Collins of CBRE expects 2015 to be the busiest year ever hotel sales after the first quarter saw the highest ever volume of transactions including high profile sales such as Adare Manor: 25 individual properties in 17 transactions totalling €500m. Last year’s total was 63 transactions totalling €341.7m.

  • Worldhotels has opened five hotels in Europe and two in Asia.
  • Geraldine Dolan, formerly of Jury’s Doyle, was appointed GM of Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa.
  • st regis istanbul copyOpenings this week included the St Regis Istanbul, designed by Emre Arolat, offering floor-to-ceiling views of the Bosphorus from each of the 118 guestrooms and suites, 298-room Hilton Barra hotel in Rio de Janeiro, the 64-room Ramada Almaty in Kazakhstan, 15km from Almaty International Airport, the 304-suite Embassy Suites Louisville Downtown and the Holiday Inn Express Cartagena Bocagrande in Colombia. St Regis has tripled its global footprint in the last decade to 34 hotels and is set to open three more hotels this year.
  • InterContinental Hotels Group said the Hotel Indigo Bath will open at the end of 2016.
  • The 107-room JW Marriott Bodrum will open on May 15 in Yalikavak town on the Bodrum Peninsula. Park Inn by Radisson Hotel Apartments Al Rigga will open next month in Dubai, with 149 studios and apartments an all-day dining restaurant, a speciality restaurant, a banquet hall, a health club, and an outdoor pool.
  • Carlson Rezidor will open Park Inn by Radison hotels in Bucharest and Onitsha.
  • The Grand Hyatt Taipei will reopen later this month following a renovation.
  • The 391-room Sortis Hotel Spa & Casino in Panama City joined the Autograph Collection
  • Marriott International Asia Pacific launched a new MICE product: Meetings Imagined and its Meeting Services App intended to assist the planner, from inspiration through execution
  • Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group launched the Radisson Red Hotel Brand in India. Carlson Rezidor has 74 hotels in India and 43 more in the pipeline.
  • Saudi SWF bought Malaysian DoubleTree and Dubai’s SWF acquires 3 properties.
  • Delta Privilege and Hilton HHonors were ranked highest in the JD Power 2015 Hotel Loyalty/Rewards programme satisfaction report.
  • Hotel management company White Lodging reported that it suspects a data breach of POS systems at food outlets in 10 hotels occurred from July 3 2014 to February 6 2015.

International

The number of wild rhinos killed in South Africa last year jumped by 21pc with one rhino killed on average every seven hours.

orlando eyeOrlando became the first US destination to surpass 60m visitors. Picture shows the Orlando Eye due to open on May 4.

The number of people in their forties signing up to try their hand at travel dating has increased from 4,000 to 16,192 in the past six months, according to travel dating website and app tourbar.com.

Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio plans to open a luxury eco-resort on a private island off the coast of Belize by 2018, The New York Times reported.

The US Transportation Security Administration collected $675,000 in loose change discarded by travellers at airport checkpoints in 2014.

Food & Wine

Stephen Toman and Alain Kerloch’s OX restaurant in Belfast (website) won the award for Best Restaurant and Best Wine Experience at the Ulster Regional Final of the Irish Restaurant Awards having won the Best Newcomer and Best Chef Award in 2013, Best Restaurant, Best Wine Experience and Best Chef in 2014, in The Titanic Belfast. Ardtara Country House won best emerging Irish cuisine and Saul McConnell of Deanes won best restaurant manager in the province.

Food Festival Saturday Social Media-22 (1) copyGalway Food Festival 2015 (pictured) recorded a record 78,000 visitors at its food festival, up 10pc on 2014. 

Gareth Clements Sales Director of food service company, Brakes, and his 22-strong team of Sales Representatives attained certificates in the Principals of Nutrition in Food Production from City & Guilds, in conjunction with Unilever Food Solutions.

Ross Lewis of Chapter One restaurant will take part in a cooking demo at the Burren Slow Food festival in the Lisdoornvarna Pavilion Theatre. The event takes place May 16 to 24.

Birgitta Hedin-Curtin, Burren SmokehouseThe Burren Smokehouse in Co Clare will feature in the first episode of ‘Wild Ireland‘, a new ITV series on the Wild Atlantic Way. The programme airs on UTV Ireland and ITV tomorrow (April 13), 8.00pm-8.30pm. Picture shows the restaurant owner, Birgitta Hedin-Curtin.

Gary Burke is the new Head Chef at Glenlo Abbey Hotel, Galway

Aviation

shannon-ad

Taking Off For The Holliers!Dublin airport launched their summer schedule with the news that they now have 20 new services due to commence in 2015: Copenhagen, Ryanair, March; Helsinki, Finnair, March; East Midlands, Aer Lingus Regional, April; Agadir, Aer Lingus, April; Nantes, Aer Lingus, April; Doncaster, Aer Lingus Regional, May; Bournemouth, Flybe, May; Gothenburg, SAS, May; Washington DC, Aer Lingus, May; Paris Orly, Transavia, May; Newquay, Aer Lingus Regional, May; Geneva, SWISS, June; Chicago, United, June; Reykjavik, WOW Air, June; Cardiff, Flybe, June; Los Angeles, Ethiopian Airlines, June; Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Airlines, June; Paris CDG, Europe Airpost, July; Halifax, Europe Airpost, July; Lublin, Ryanair, October.

Dublin Airport passenger numbers are running 17pc ahead of last year with March figures up 19pc to 1.8m, meaning the airport is on course to break 23m passengers again. Europe – was up 21pc to 858,000, England Scotland and Wales up 17pc to 760,000, Transatlantic up 8pc to 131,000, UAE/Africa up 45pc to 63,000 and domestic up 52pc to 6,000.

There are 9pc more seats on air services to Ireland for summer 2015 to 340 flights each day across all major international routes, England, Scotland and Wales up 6pc to 140,000 seats per week, mainland Europe up 8pc to 204,000, trans-Atlantic up16pc to 45,000 seas per week and middle east up 27pc to 9,000 seats per week. Frequency and capacity on a number of routes is up on last summer, with Aer Lingus, Ryanair, Lufthansa, SAS, Luxair, Delta, United and Air Canada Rouge adding capacity.

In response to the withdrawal of Flybe from the Dublin to London City route British Airways is to add a sixth daily service from June 1 for a month leaving Dublin at 17.15 and London at 14.40, which will become permanent from September 1. British Airways customers flying between London City Airport and Edinburgh, Dublin and the Isle of Man can collect double Avios points during the months of April and May.

Another huge jump for Ryanair’s load factor in March, up 10 points to 90pc, and seats sold up 28pc YOY to 6.67m. Aer Lingus passenger traffic was up 2.3pc YOY in March. Load factor was up 4.4 percentage points to 79.1pc.

Aer Lingus Regional launched their service from Dublin to East-Midlands.

The name US Airways will soon be just a memory, after the US Federal Aviation Administration granted American and US the authority to operate as a single carrier on Wednesday. American Airlines which is using an A330 to both Philadelphia and Charlotte this summer has dropped plans to use a Boeing 763 on Dublin to JFK, Delta will switch from a 208 –passenger B763 to a 246 capacity B764 for winter partly because Dublin-Atlanta will cease in November/December.

Cityjet appointed Cathal O’Connell as commercial director.

Ireland’s Aviation Authority was ranked joint first out of 29 European States for the measure of Effectiveness of Safety Management.

ryanair touchingThe IAA said that it had implemented the recommendations of the Air Accident Investigation Unit into an incident involving two Ryanair aircraft on taxiways at Dublin airport as well as “some additional significant safety enhancements by withdrawing Taxiways A and B2 from service”. At around 7.25am on April 1, one aircraft reported that there may have been contact from the plane taxiing behind.

Air Canada diverted an aircraft to Shannon saying that a 79-year-old first class passenger on flight ACA-877 from Frankfurt to Toronto had become disruptive. The crew dumped aviation fuel over the Atlantic to ensure they could touch down within safe landing weight limits. The crew reported a problem with the fuel dumping procedure that they appear to have resolved later.

It was reported that the steering group on the IAG bid for Aer Lingus will not finish its report in time for next Wednesday’s its cabinet meeting. An Irish Independent editorial showed the newspaper may be changing its mind on the issue once again.

Confiscated food items from LCY 2 copyLondon City Airport said the most common food items confiscated from passengers: Jam or marmalade, marmite, golden syrup, Nutella chocolate spread and Heinz baked beans.

Stormont Trade Minister Arlene Foster has asked officials to consider a new air route development fund to promote connections from Derry and Belfast to focus on Germany, Scandinavia, Milan, Brussels and Madrid.

Features on display at the Aircraft Interiors Expo held in Hamburg, Germany April 14-16 will include overhead lockers that take 50pc more suitcase than conventional lockers, faster WLAN at every seat, cabin windows that store sunlight and convert it directly into energy for the passengers’ smartphone batteries, on-board films with Dolby Surround Sound and 3D and first-class seats that are as comfortable as a winged chair at home and yet can withstand 16G force. The Airport Interiors Expo shows the future of aviation. Many of the innovations presented in Hamburg at the world’s largest trade fair for aircraft cabins will soon be everyday features of air travel. Three halls are dedicated exclusively to in-flight entertainment this year. The 600 exhibitors from 40 countries will be visited by 10,000 international industry specialists, including 800 airline representatives.

The IAA is investigating an incident where two passengers, believed to be off-duty crew members, were allowed into the cockpit during a Ryanair flight from Dublin to Shonenefeld airport.

The US government says it will review claims by three US airlines that their state-owned Gulf rivals received more than $40bn in alleged subsidies.

The European Cockpit Association expressed concern that international standards for investigation and the release of information were not followed for the Germanwings Airbus A320 crash on March 24. The Association  said it accepts that the information released suggests the co-pilot probably acted deliberately to destroy the aircraft, but maintains that the failure to respect agreed accident investigation protocols is damaging the process of investigation itself and endangering aviation safety.

EASA came closer to permitting capacity on the A320 to increase from 180 to 195 seats, six more than the 189-seat capacity for which Airbus recently sought approval.

Airbus patented interactive windows that allow passengers to learn about the landmarks they fly over using touch screens.

Lufthansa_Technik_dishwashairLufthansa Technik has developed a dishwasher — called The Dishwashair (pictured) — which allows cabin crew to wash dishes inflight.

Inflight Dublin was appointed as Egyptair’s IFE provider.

Avolon added 28 aircraft, increasing its fleet by 24pc YOY to 143 aircraft at the end of Q1.

Security staff at 11 regional airports in Scotland held a 48-hour strike this week.

Boeing beat Airbus in net new aircraft orders and deliveries for Q1: 110 orders for Boeing, 101 for Airbus.

Qatar Airways introduced Giorgio Armani branded amenity kits for business and first class passengers. Missoni branded sleeper suits and slippers are also available for first class passengers flying overnight.

The FAA awarded a single operating certificate to American Airlines, which allows it to legally operate as a single carrier with US Airways.

Virgin Atlantic rolled out a new ad campaign targeting US business customers.

SAS video tourSAS uploaded an interactive Google Street View video tour inside the upgraded A330 and A340 aircraft cabins.

Mitsubishi Aircraft has delayed the Mitsubishi Regional Jet as a rsult of static strength tests on the airframe butstill expects to deliver the first of the regional jets in April-June 2017.

An Air India flight was grounded after a pre-takeoff argument between the pilots escalated to a fistfight. 

Copenhagen Airport is upgrading Pier C to allow handling of Emirates daily Airbus A380 service.

Qatar Airways expanded its codeshare agreements with Oneworld partners Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines.

A 21-year-old man stowed away in the wheel cavity of a Garuda B737-800 survived the flight from Pekanbaru to Jakarta.

Wizz Air announced plans to introduce allocated seating on selected routes from May 4 with a full roll out to follow on May 19. 

Miami International Airport is to roll out 44 more SITA kiosks.

Emirates now offers free wi-fi on 106 aircraft, with two to three more being installed with wi-fi connectivity every month.

Michael O’Leary took first, second and third in the Irish Grand National, won by Thunder and Roses at 20-1.

Aer Lingus re-advertised a vacancy for a Retail Product Specialist. The IAA has vacancies for an ICT Programme & Business Intelligence Manager and an Aviation Security Inspector.

Afloat

giraffe on anthemIn the same place as Quantum of the Seas launched last November with a 30-foot magenta polar bears on its 12th deck, Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas will have a massive multi-coloured giraffe. Meyer Werft officially handed Anthem of the Seas over to Royal Caribbean in Bremerhaven, Germany on Friday. The cruise ship is Royal’s second Quantum-class ship and will be joined by Irish agents and travel media on a pre-launch cruise from Southampton on Monday April 20. It will spend summer based in Southampton. Anthem will have a puzzle room, where people need to solve brainteasers as a team within an hour in order to get out, free for all cruisers.

AIDAprima smileThe new flagship of AIDA Cruises, AIDAprima, received its signature smile at the Mitsubishi shipyard in Nagasaki, Japan.

Carnival will start charging for room service later this month, Items featured on the menu will include chicken wings, fried shrimp, quesadillas, sushi, and personal pizzas ($4-$7). Last week Norwegian announced it will charge for room service orders on Breakaway and Getaway.

Norwegian Cruise Line passengers can book land extensions in Argentina and Chile when they cruise onboard Norwegian Sun beginning November. Cruises range from three to five days and allow cruisers to participate in experiences such as tango dancing with professionals in Argentina and an archaeological adventure on Easter Island.

Costa Cruises is offering a guaranteed refund to passengers not satisfied with a Mediterranean cruise up to 14 nights booked by the end of May.

Princess Cruises are to circumnavigate South America from Australia, visiting 28 ports in 18 countries on an 84-night cruise, with overnight stays in Buenos Aires, Lima and Rio.

P&O are to increase their cruise fleet in Australia to five ships, enabling them to extend seasons from Victoria and Queensland and increase options from Sydney.

Deal Watch

ITAA cycling offers: 7 nights All Inclusive Bordeaux River Cruise from €1,649pps incl. transfers, depart April 26. 8 days Tour de France, Vercors from €1,299pp incl. flights, transfers, range of meals and excursions, depart July 19. 4 nights B&B Guided Mountain Bike Holiday, Spain from €500pp incl. return flights, bike and helmet rental and guided excursions, depart October 14, November 4 or November 18. 7 nights B&B Guided French Camino Cycling Tour from €940pps incl. airport transfers, baggage transfers, pilgrims passport and cycling equipment. 14 nights Cycling Tour Vietnam from €1,330pp incl. English speaking guide, 13 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 2 dinners. 7 nights B&B Puglia Self Guided Cycling Holiday, Italy from €759pps incl. flights, transfers, luggage transportation and bike rental.

Abbey Travel is offering free half board family meals on trips to Disneyland Paris. Travel April 15 to October 31, book before April 28.

Topflight’s 5 Day Italian Sale, book April 15-20, all prices above include return flights from Dublin, return resort transfers, luggage allowance, all taxes, and rep service: 7 nights half boardHotel Bristol, Sorrento from €799pps, depart May 10. 7 nights Bella Italia, Peshiera, Lake Garda from €1,392 for two adults and two children, depart May 16. 7 nights half board Hotel Majestic Palace, Torbole, Lake Garda from €569pps, depart May 9. 7 nights half board Hotel Majestic Palace, Malcesine, Lake Garda from €569pps, depart May 9. 7 nights B&B Hotel Eden, Torbole, Lake Garda from €499pps, depart May 23. 7 nights half board Hotel Trevi, Lido Di Jesolo from €499pps, depart May 23. 7 nights half board Hotel Cambridge, Lido Di Jesolo from €769pps, depart June 6. 7 nights half board, Hotel Bagli, Rimini, Adriatic Riviera from €619pps, depart June 27. 7 nights half board Hotel Sporting Baia, Giardini Naxos, Sicily from €669pps, depart June 14. To book, visit topflight.ie  or call 01 2401 700.

Lowcostbeds offers of the week, based on 7 nights, 2 adults and 1 child, departing May 10: Self catering 3* Palmeras Garden, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote from €9pppn. Self catering 2* Oura Branco, Playa de las Americas, Tenerife from €12pppn. Self catering 3* Puerto Caleta, Caleta de Fuste, Fuerteventura from €11pppn. Self catering 3* Riosol, Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria from €13pppn.

Sunway offers: 7 nights All Inclusive Club Med Kamarina, Sicily from €1,059pp incl. return flights and transfers, depart June 4. 7 nights B&B Sea Pearl Hotel, Kusadasi, Turkey  from €259pp incl. return airport transfers, taxes and charges, 20kg checked in baggage pp and Sunway rep service. 7 nights self catering Los Lomas Village, La Manga from €499pp incl. flights, return airport transfers, taxes, charges and 20 kg checked in baggage pp, travel in May.

Thomson offers: 8 nights All Inclusive Morromar, Puerto Del Carmen from €589pp incl. flights ex Dublin, depart Dublin May 17. 7 nights All Inclusive Helona Resort, Portobello Royal, Kos from €899pp, depart Dublin June 7. 7 nights half board Son Baulo, Ca’n Picafort, Majorca from €599pp, depart Cork May 9.

Falcon offers:  7 nights self catering Bitocra Apartments, Puerto Del Carmen, Lanzarote from €489pps incl. flights ex Dublin, depart June 4. 7 nights self catering Royal Sun, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria from €379pp, depart May 25. 7 nights self catering Sun Apartments, Marmaris, Turkey from €379pp, depart May 25.

Lowcostholidays May and June offers: 7 nights All Inclusive Luna Clube Brisamar, Algarve from €264pp, depart May 13. 7 nights All Inclusive Club Bellevue Apartments, Majorca from €423pp, depart June 5. 7 nights The Inn at Jack London Square, San Francisco from €965pp, depart May 17. 7 nights Blue Sea Cancun Plaza, Mexico from €956pp, depart June 1. 2 nights B&B Les Jardins de Montmartre, Paris from €206pp, depart May 7. 2 nights Salles Hotel Pere IV, Barcelona from €198pp, depart May 12. All prices include return flights from Dublin and taxes. See more offers here.

Click and Go offers: 7 nights Cape Town Lodge Hotel, Cape Town from €855pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in June. To book visit clickandgo.com  or call 01 637 1699.

Tourism NI offers of the week: 2 nights B&B The Mourne Lodge, Cnocnafeoia, Kilkeel, Newry from £80pp based on four people sharing a 4-bed room incl. lunch and transport to Newcastle for the Irish Open, available May 27 to 31, call 028 4176 5859 to book. 2 nights B&B Hilton Belfast from £150pps incl. a 3 course dinner on the first evening in Sonoma Restaurant and passes to the Game of Thrones tour, available until December 31, call 028 9027 7000 to book. 1 nights Treetop Apartment, Lisnakea, Enniskillen from £80 incl. two sit-on top kayaks, paddles and buoyancy aids to explore Upper Lough Erne, available April 26 to June 30, call 028 6772 2240 to book. 2 nights B&B Maldron Hotel, Derry from £99pps incl. a 2 course evening meal and 2 cocktails pp, available until Dec 31, call 028 7137 1000 to book.

Ireland

birr diaspora centreTransport and Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe axed the planned €26m National Diaspora Centre after being told there was no capital funding for the project. Eight companies were short-listed for the centre including Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, the CHQ building and another in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Birr Workhouse (pictured) and Rockhill House barracks in Letterkenny. Seven did not have funding in place but all claiming they had the financial capacity to deliver, with a mix of Government funding, public and private sector borrowing, philanthropic, corporate donations, and local authority funding. A Fáilte Ireland report proposed a centre would be viable and self-financing and would enhance Ireland’s tourism offering.SALES BLITZ TO BOOST AMERICAN TOURISTS

Tourism Ireland’s 2015 Jump into Ireland sales blitz saw 11 Irish tourism companies and five American tour operators visit Atlanta, Charlotte and Tampa last week. Tourism Ireland’s ‘Jump into Ireland’ programme will visit 12 different cities in the US this year, including Minneapolis, Denver and Dallas in September; and Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Francisco in November

ITALIAN TRAVEL AGENTS GIVE GALWAY THE THUMBS UP!Tourism Ireland in Milan hosted Italian tour operator Cocktail Viaggi and 12 of its top-producing travel agents, all specialists in coach tour and group travel, to visit Clonmacnoise, Galway city and Connemara, as well as the Aillwee Caves and the Cliffs of Moher. The group undertook a walking tour of Dublin and an evening at The Irish House Party. Ireland’s Italian inbound market grew 39pc for the December 2014 to February 2015 period according to Niamh Kinsella, Tourism Ireland’s manager in Italy.

Minister Simon Harris announced free entry to Dún Aonghasa on Oileán Árainn. Last year 120,000 visitors came to Dún Aonghasa

A 13th English language school catering for international students has closed in Dublin.

eoghan ballynafeighSa phictiur: Eoghan Corry eagarthóir Travel Extra agus Keith Grainger ó TG4 ar suíomh ag déanamh clár ar loganimneacha na hÉireann do TG4. Beidh an sraith le feiceáil ar an teilifís ó mí Méan Fomhair ar aghaidh.

Powerscourt Gardens hosts its Annual Tulip Festival April 20-May 3, with 12,000 tulips in bloom.

Trinity Library, Belfast and Giant’s Causeway featured in Condé Nast’s 50 things to do in Europe before you die.

The Irish Cycling Show takes place in the RDS on April 18 and 19.

Upcoming events in Limerick: Ballyhoura International Walking Festival, May 2 to 4. Riverfest, May 1 to 4. Fleadh by the Feale, Abbeyfeale, April 30 to May 4. European Sports Tourism Summit, Thomond Park, May 14 to 15. Culture & Chips Food Festival, May 28 to June 2.

Irish Open Trophy Tour#1 copyPicture shows Katie Curran and Daniel Jennings from St Mary’s Primary School in Newcastle, Co Down, joining Antonia Beggs from The European Tour and Kevan Whitson, Head Golf Professional at Royal County Down, to launch the inaugural Irish Open Trophy Tour competition organised by The European Tour and the Rory Foundation which will give four schools across Ireland an opportunity to host a visit from the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Trophy and the Claret Jug which, Ireland’s Rory Mcilroy holds as reigning British Open Champion. Schoolchildren between the ages of 9 and 15 should simply send an email outlining in no more than 250 words why their class or school deserves to win.

Camino Ways is hosting a Sunday Walk in Glendalough on Sunday, April 26. Register here.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Is that a Viking on the waves?

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HEADLINESAVIATIONAFLOATFOOD & WINEHOTELSINTERNATIONALIRELAND –    DEAL WATCHTRAVEL TRADE

The headlines this week:

  • France expects recovery in Irish visitors
  • Centerparcs plan to come to Longford
  • ITAA’s best figures since global recession
  • Viking enters the ocean

Travel Extra TV

Video-of-week-April-5Our video of the week is English ferry company Condor’s cringe-worthy rap safety video. Three crew members showcase their rapping skills and dance moves to the tune of ‘Rapper’s Delight’ by Sugarhill. So far, the video has gained 57,000 views. Watch here.

  • Check out WestJet’s hilarious Smart Seats gag from April Fool’s Day. Watch here.
  • Aircam Ireland gave Cork city the drone treatment. Watch here.
  • YouTube user World Aviation HD captured this footage of a near wingtip strike by an Aer Lingus jet attempting to land in strong winds. Heart in mouth stuff. Watch here.
  • Air France uploaded behind the scenes footage of the film France is in the Air. Watch here.
  • Tourism Ireland motorsport promos: Circuit of Ireland (watch here), North West 200, May 10 to 16 (watch here), and Ulster Grand Prix, August 3 to 8 (watch here).
  • EasyJet TV ads for allocated seating(watch here) and mobile boarding (watch here).

Headlines

speed-cameraHoliday makers driving abroad will be subject to speed fines caught on camera from May. A revision states that all countries in the European Union must comply with cross-border rules and all 28 EU member states will be able to share information on drivers, enabling them to pursue fines for eight driving offences including speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, using a mobile phone, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, jumping a red light, not wearing a helmet on a motorbike and driving on the hard shoulder. Currently 15pc of EU speeding offences are committed by non-residents. Estimates suggest up to 4,000 offences a year are committed by Irish drivers in France alone.

Martial law has been lifted in Thailand, except for the southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, the Sadao district of Songkhla province and some border areas which are not known and visited by British & Irish tourists. Joanna Cooke of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said The removal of Martial Law this month is a positive step and does not impact on tourists planning a visit to Thailand in 2015. They should continue with their travel plans as normal, all tourist resorts are ready to welcome visitors. Since Martial Law was imposed, Irish tourist arrivals have remained consistently good and we are pleased to report a particularly positive start for the Irish market in January 2015 (+2.21pc).

The Irish Travel Industry Trade Show (April 24-25) is to be served by four bus routes operating to the exhibition and social events from Dundalk, Cork, Galway and Waterford, with an offer of subsidised travel for agency staff from other parts of the country. The show is set to be the biggest Travel Trade Show ever staged in Ireland and the only B2B event on the island guaranteed to bring together travel professionals from every aspect of the industry. The show will coincide with the ITAA AGM and front line staff will be bussed in from all parts of Ireland for a programme of social events and networking over two days.

Fresh snow has fallen in huge quantities across the Alps. Austria has been carpeted with snow this week. French resorts have seen wet weather, heavy snowfall and very strong winds at eoghan espace killy copyhigher altitudes. In the Espace Killy only 37 out of 79 lifts were operating. Strong winds caused the closure of some of the higher lifts in the Northern Alps. Italian resorts were curtailed by strong winds which limited lift operations. After quite a wet and cloudy start to the week, Andorra’s skies cleared and brought plenty of sunshine for spring time skiing. Norway had sunny skies followed by a mixture of cloud and light snow. America saw sunny skies although cloudier weather moved in over the western resorts for the weekend. The more Southerly Alps and Pyrenees are sunny so skiers can expect slushy slopes and variable conditions off piste.

agnes angrand groupAtout France is anticipating a recovery in the Irish market this year after four years which saw visitor number decline below 600,000. Speaking at Rendez Vous 2015 Agnes Angrand said that the Toulouse area had seen a particular increase and there was more interest in the Irish market from the french regions, ten of which participated in a recent roadshow. The 44 media who participated in the event programme saw the stunning new €400m Philoharmonie, the big-ticket opening in Paris this year. Delegates were hosted at events in the Pompidou centre and Galleries Lafayette and given a preview of the Lido’s new show, lighter on the feathers and can-can than its predecessor. Next year’s Rendez Vous will take place in Montpellier. Picture shows Christian Mantei, Director General of Atout France, Agnes Angrand of Atout France in London responsible for the Irish market, Matthias Fekl, Minister of State at the French Dept of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for Tourism and Francois Huwart, Chair of Atout France, at Rendez Vous de France in the Porte de Versailles convention centre in Paris. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

ITAA CEO Pat Dawson and President Martin Skelly.The AGM of the Irish Travel Agents Association will see its healthiest set of figures for many years when it convenes at Citywest on April 24. The Association has a surplus of €25,000 “Funds will be ploughed back into improving services members,” Pat Dawson says. “Significant reductions in fees have been achieved over the last three years that has been made up by more commercial projects including PR.” As is customery half way through his two year presidential term, Martin Skelly will be returned unopposed as ITAA President and Des Manning unopposed as treasurer. Picture shows Martin Skelly with Pat Dawson.

Bookabed hosted an agents’ lunch in Sophie’s Restaurant at Dublin’s newest hotel, The Dean, on Harcourt Street. Picture shows Lee Osborne bookabed-eventand Bev Fly, representing Bookabed, with Adam McKnight, representing the co-sponsor, A2B Transfers. Over drinks on the rooftop bar, Lee Osborne thanked the trade for their support and briefly introduced Bookabed’s White Label Booking System. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

The Garissa University attack in north East Kenya could be a blow to the Kenyan tourism sector especially after Westminster’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond accused Kenya of sitting on intelligence information, making it difficult to review travel warnings, as President Uhuru Kenyatta repeated Kenya was safe. President Kenyatta was apparently incensed after several governments advised its nationals from visiting the Coast unless they were on ‘essential travel.’ “We want to send a clear message; that they will not intimidate us with these travel advisory threats. President Kenyatta disputed the claims: “That is not true and the challenge is on them now. There is nothing that they can claim not to be aware of.”Turkish double daily

Turkish6 cockpitTurkish Airlines increased their service from 7w to double daily this week. Vice President of Turkish Airlines Murat Bas (pictured) said the Dublin expansion was based on a model Turkish started to use in 2005 when they launched more than 20 new routes and started increasing frequencies. “First we start a daily flight to offer a service every day otherwise there is a huge advantage, daily gives you a bigger market share, more than three times what three weekly would give you. We worked that model and found it feasible for eight years and we have experience of this growth. Sometimes we made it 8 or 11 from seven. Or double daily from daily in four or five years. Dublin has grown faster than other destinations, it is a medium haul route more than three hours. Therefore we had to be much more careful. The risk is greater on longer routes.” Picture shows Ann Marie Dalton and Murat Balandi of Turkish Airlines, passengers Marie O’Regan, Áine O’Malley and Annette Meany from Limerick and Tipperary and Dublin Airport team members Daragh Hanratty and John Hurley.

Center Parcs CEO Martin Dalby said he plans to create a €100m holiday village close to Ballymahon, Co Longford with capacity for 2,500 holidaymakers.The group signed an option agreement with Coillte for a development on 375 acres in Newcastle wood which will create 1,000 permanent jobs if it goes ahead. Taoiseach Enda Kenny urged the local authority to “get it right” when the planning application comes before them. Between 10-12pc of trees would be removed from Newcastle Woods to build the resort.

Air Canada Rouge reported strong bookings ahead of its four additional weekly flights to its Dublin-Toronto route this summer from June 13 to September 16. The additional Dublin-Toronto flights will be operated by 280-seat wide-body Boeing 767-300ER in 24-35-221 configuration. These are in addition to the year round Dublin-Toronto service operating daily from 28 June 2015 and means there will be up to eleven flights a week. The additional flight will depart Dublin at 9.00 and return from Toronto at 18:55, the existing service departs Dublin at 12:25 and returns from Toronto at 23:10.

Good news from Egypt. Recently introduced visa rules and requirements which due to be introduced on May 15, have been annulled. Current visa requirements remain the same for both individuals and groups travelling to Egypt. Discussions are underway to introduce a new electronic visa system, no exact dates have been set yet.

The annual round of April fool stories bewildered the travel industry: Apparently Aer Lingus added a fourth leaf to the Shamrock, converting the Gherkin into the largest helter-skelter in the world, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is to be turned into a luxury hotel and Dubai Airports made an approach to DAA Plc to purchase the IATA code DUB for an undisclosed sum to use DUB as the airport code for Dubai instead of DXB. Oh dear.

Travel Trade

Travel Department is offering free car parking at Belfast City Airport for customers travelling to Italy via Belfast.

audrey headonAudrey Headon’s Presidents’ Day outing for the Travel Industry Golf Society is fully booked with 80 golfers registered to play. The event at Druids Glenn on April 16 is sponsored by Etihad airlines.

The Travel Centres expulsion saga continued with meetings with some expelled agents. King Travel and Killiney travel will not be rejoining Travel Centres.

Duffy Rafferty Communications was appointed to handle jet2.com and Jet2holidays’ PR activity in the north.

Sunway Holidays’ weekly Dublin to Mahon, Majorca route commences May 30 on British Airways.

Fashion, jewellery and interiors designer Jade Jagger has created a limited edition range of kaftans for Thomson to celebrate the launch of the Sensatori Resort Ibiza, which will open this May.​

Air Transat appointed Lesley Kane, formerly of Ryanair, as Director of Sales in Britain and Ireland.

Camino Ways’ next Camino de Santiago talk takes place at 53 Degrees North Carrickmines on Tuesday, April 7, at 7pm. Register here.

George byrneSad news, a long standing press trip companion of Travel Extra’s. George Byrne of the Irish Independent has died at the age of 57, rock and roll (and later film) writer who tended to live the lifestyle and broke the heart of many tourism PR people.

Former TUI executive Chris Mottershead was appointed business development director for Thomas Cook in England.

Four agents won tickets to see One Direction perform in Dubai on Saturday: Stella Grant of O’Hanrahan Travel, Donna McGann of Eimer Hannon Travel, Lynn Casey of Fahy Travel and Lorraine O’Connor of Travel Fox. The competition, run by Emirates, included Business Class travel.

TravelCube is offering the chance to win a €50 One4all voucher for any sightseeing, attraction or transfer booked online in April.

Travel Professionals Skillnet is offering a 2 day Finance for Non Finance Professionals programme at the Professional Development Training Centre in Blanchardstown, May 21 and 22, 9.30am-5.30pc. Cost €299. More info/bookings.

Agents who book a United flight from Dublin to Chicago can win a place on a fam trip. Dublin to Chicago operates from June 5th to August 18th departing Dublin at 9.50 and Chicago at 16.05.

Azamara Club Cruises has joined Royal Caribbean International’s trade loyalty scheme, Club Royal. For every Azamara booking, a £10 credit will be loaded onto their Club Royals’ rewards Mastercard for immediate use

Irish interest in IPW in Orlando on May 30-June 3 is up on last year with seven journalists and 16 buyers signed up.

Eileen O’Mara Walsh’s memoir The Third Daughter will be published by Lilliput Press on April 16th. The memoir features her parents and growing up in Bohemian Dublin of the 1950s and 1960s with two chapters focussing on her business career in tourism and travel.

topflightTopflight hosted the trade at an event in the Old Oak in Cork city. Picture shows Tony Collins, Chairman Of Topflight; Peter Chatham, Online Marketing Of Topflight; Linda Tiernan, Worldwide Dept Of Topflight; Maria Pazienza, European Dept Of Topflight; Mauricce Shiels, European Sales Manager of Topflight. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

  • Stephen Sands’ Riviera Travel launched their 2016 River Cruise products, lead in price for eight days are €1,239 and 14 days from €1779 . Medieval Germany, The Main to the Danube is a new itinerary for 2016.
  • brian stauntonVirtual card issuer Optal became the primary issuer of eNett Virtual Account Numbers. According to Brian Staunton, eNett has increased revenue to the travel trade by 49pc in 2014 and Optal’s new role as primary issuer will allow eNett to take Virtual Account Numbers into new markets.
  • Travel technology publication Tnooz noted how data can help uncover the hidden treasure in travel agencies
  • Correction: an unfortunate caption transposition in some releases of last week’s Sunday Supplement assigned Brian Hughes of United Airlines to another organisation, Brian is still at the heart of United’s team in Dublin. Travel Extra would like to apologise for any confusion caused.

Hotels

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 00.01.24

For the first time five Irish destinations featured in the Hotels.com top ten searches by Irish customers over the past three months; 1 Dublin, 2 London, 3 Galway, 4 New York, 5 Cork, 6 Killarney, 7 Paris, 8 Kilkenny, 9 Amsterdam, 10 Rome

  • Hotel group Dalata is to acquire the Maldron Hotel Wexford for €3.53m.
  • Trivago launched a new feature: #trivagoMatch, once they have found their ideal hotel, single travellers can find their ideal travelling partner.
  • Slieve Donard Resort in Newcastle, County Down was named as Official Host Hotel for the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by The Rory Foundation.
  • Starwood opened the 141 –room Sheraton Samui Resort in Koh Samui.sheraton koh samui room
  • Declan Ryan sold his €40m shareholding in Irish-headquartered apartment letting company Staycity.
  • 25 hotels with a combined value of €500m were sold since the start of the year, the highest quarterly volume of hotel sales on record, according to commercial property consultants CBRE.
  • Designs for a tower hotel in the alpine resort of Vals were unveiled this week. With room rates from €925 to €22,000, the proposed 107-bedroom hotel is 381 metres tall and has a spa, restaurants, a sky bar, swimming pool, library, ballroom and art gallery.
  • Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces opened its second Dubai property in the Downtown district near the Burj Khalifa.
  • Le Club Accorhotels members can earn 500 bonus points on stays at participating Mercure properties in Britain and Ireland. Stay between now and September 6 and book at least 30 days in advance by June 22.

International

Airbnb was appointed alternative accommodation services supplier for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The Egyptian Museum in Turin reopened fully on Wednesday following a €50m renovation over five years.

avios-apple watchAvios will launch a loyalty programme app for the Apple Watch, available to download for free from April 24 when the device goes on sale.

NYC & Company introduced South Bronx’s Grand Concourse as its latest NYCGO Insider Guide.

  • Spanish Tourist Board upcoming events: Canary Islands Workshop in Limerick on April 22, Canary Islands Workshop in Dublin April 23, Andalucia Sol Golf Cup May 6 and Let’s Talk about Andalucia in Dublin May 7.petra hedorfer 300
  • Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the German National Tourist Board said that Irish visitor numbers are up substantially, overnight stays are up 34.1pc.
  • Irish visitor numbers to Oman grew 3.6pc in 2014.
  • Whistler mountain is to remain open until May 18.
  • Optal Financial now issues eNett Virtual Account Numbers.
  • Upcoming events supported by the Israel Tourism Office: Eilat Pride Festival, May 7 to 9. Tel Aviv Pride Week, June 4 to 14. The International LGBT Sports and Cultural Festival, Tel Aviv, October 15 to 19. The Jerusalem Festival of Light, June 3 to 11. Guitarist Robert Cray in concert, Heichal HaTarbut in Tel Aviv and Shuni amphitheatre, April 12.
  • Turkey gave the go ahead for a $224m Ritz Carlton resort in the Grace Bay area on the island of Providenciales.
  • The Liechtenstein Treasure Chamber museum opened in the Alps on Tuesday.
  • Thomas Cook unveiled plans to open its own theme park in Loughborough, near Birmingham.
  • A sandstorm warning has been issued to travellers heading to Dubai for the easter break.
  • Airbnb announced it will offer accommodations to pre-approved US consumers traveling to Cuba.
  • Check out the world’s most futuristic caravans, according to The London Telegraph. The list included: The Walking House, the caravan that is — you guessed it — able to walk; the deceptively spacious Mica; and the Volkner Mobil 800 C, which has a compartment to store a supercar.
  • Selfie sticks have been banned from the Coachella and Lollapalooza music festivals in the USA this summer.

Food and Wine

Aldridge Lodge and Billy Whitty won the Best Restaurant and Best Chef award for Wexford for the fourth consecutive year at the Leinster Regional Final of the Irish Restaurant Awards in the Clyde Court Hotel, Ballsbridge

  • The Restaurants Association of Ireland said the alcohol ban on Good Friday is costing the restaurant sector €15m in revenue.
  • Kilkenny Cookery School opens on Friary St at 6pm, April 15.
  • Reeds Restaurant at the four-star Ferrycarrig Hotel in Wexford has been re-designed and unveiled following an extensive renovation.
  • The Kilkenny Café at Shanagarry Design Centre has scooped the prestigious title of Best Restaurant in East Cork at the Chernobyl Children’s Trust Fundraiser.
  • Ballygally Castle in Antrim is offering a Game of Thrones Afternoon Tea.
  • ORSO Kitchen & Bar on Pembroke Street, Co Cork is offering 3 hour barista skills classes on May 11 and June 8. See orso.ie to book. Cost €70.

Aviation

Ireland West Airport Knock is offering a new service for families. The ‘Little Flyers Club’ is Ireland’s first airport crèche facility for families. See video.

  • Ryanair’s summer 2015 schedule includes four new routes to Brussels Zaventem, Cologne, Copenhagen and Glasgow as well as increased frequencies on 13 other routes (including Manchester 5 x daily). There are ·82 Dublin routes and 350 weekly flights. delivering 9.7m customers.
  • Belfast summer schedule includes new Wizz Air routes to Katowice and Vilnius and new Jet2 routes to Prague and Rome. Easyjet’s winter schedule for 2015-16 from Belfast International sees increases in seat numbers to Gatwick, London Luton and Stansted by more than 125,000, bringing the total number of seats to over 500,000 up to the end of February, 2016. EasyJet will add seat capacity to Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester, bringing the total to 160,000 seats.
  • dublin airport hall_4353Dublin airport will handle 285,000 passengers over the Easter bank holiday weekend, 10pc up on last year. The airport advised passengers be in the terminal building at least 90 minutes before their flight departure time irrespective of whether they are checking in at the airport or have checked in online.
  • Virgin pressed for IAG interline commitments as part of any successful takeover of Aer Lingus.

Speakers at the ERAA conference in Rome, on April 15-16 will incude Patrick Ky, executive director, EASA; Margus Rahuoja, director of aviation & international transport affairs, European Commission; Mark Hughes, EVP corporate finance, Falko; and Jean Louis Colson, head of unit for consumer rights, European Commission.

  • Finnair launched its 6w Dublin to Helsinki service on Monday. The airline extended the service to the winter months.
  • Luxair appointed APG as its GSA in Ireland.
  • Jet2.com and Jet2holidays launched a new service from Belfast International Airport to Rome on Thursday and a service from Belfast to Prague on Friday.
  • Easyjet opened its 26th base at Amsterdam Schiphol airport on Tuesday.
  • Avolon delivered a B737-800 to Pegasus Airlines.
  • Wizz 2Wizz Air launched its service from Belfast International Airport to Katowice, Poland on Tuesday. The airline will launch its Belfast-Vilnius, Lithuania route on April 22.

British Airways is offering double Avios points to Executive Club members on all tiers when they book flights from Dublin to London City Airport before April 27 for travel before May 31. Bonus points are available on an unlimited number of flights.

ICTS 2Tomorrow (April 6), five members of ICTS security at Belfast International Airport will cycle 900 miles over nine days along the west coast of Ireland to raise £10,000 for Cancer Focus. Click here to donate.

  • South African Airways launched its daily Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi service with codeshare partner Etihad Airways this week.
  • Ryanair will add services from Bucharest to Bologna, Milan Bergamo, and Rome Ciampino on October 25.
  • Shannon Airport open an exhibition of memorabilia in the transit lounge.
  • British Airways Executive Club members get double Avios points when they book Dublin to London City. Booking Period April 1-27, Travel Period Apr 1-May 31.
  • Aer Lingus reached a tentative agreement with IAM for US staff.
  • Balfour Beatty was awarded the contract to build a €14m Dublin Airport car park extension.
  • Ryanair issued a clarification following its Irish app update.
  • Aer Lingus in-flight magazine Cara has increased its business content to 16 pages and named the new section On Business. Read here.
  • Ryanair overtook Alitalia in Italy.
  • Ryanair are to lease in two Latvian A320s this summer.
  • Lufthansa cancelled its 60 year anniversary celebrations and will instead have a memorial service for the victims of the Germanwings disaster. Lufthansa has set aside $300m to cover possible costs rising from last week’s crash.
  • Dalmac, official training and recruitment partner for Ryanair, is recruiting in Ireland April 2015.
  • Willie Walsh told the #MercSeminar leadership summit: Be true to yourself and true to people around you. Etihad’s James Hogan said the only major airline group not against us is Willie Walsh’s IAG. He just accepts competition and gets on with it.
  • Yemenia suspended all flights for safety reasons till further notice.
  • China Southern will use an Airbus A380 on the Amsterdam-Beijing route from June 20.
  • Eurolot ceased operations.
  • An incident involving two Ryanair planes which clipped wings at Dublin Airport was under investigation.
  • Cityjet appointed BMI Regional chief executive Cathal O’Connell as commercial director.
  • Stobart Air launched its new route from Dublin to East Midlands on Friday.
  • IATA announced the global passenger traffic results for February 2015, with RPKs up 6.2pc, ASKs up 5.6pc, and load factor up 0.5 points to 78.5pc.
  • Austrian Airlines re-launched with a new identity with changed colours on the ‘My’ livery. The airline will sell short-haul tickets under a revised four-tier tariff structure from October.
  • Aer Lingus gifted former chief executive Christoph Mueller lucrative long term share rights.
  • Irish lessor Aergen Leasing and Avioserv hope to raise additional equity funding after raising $200m capital from a group of financial investors led by Greenbriar Equity Group.
  • After its inaugural flight from Atlanta, Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Beauty Queen’ Airbus A330-300 was grounded after a water cannon salute in Manchester Airport went wrong — the airport firefighters accidentally sprayed foam instead of water and the engines got clogged up.
  • Schiphol airport experienced delays, cancellations and diversions on Friday after a power cut hit Amsterdam.
  • Ryanair is to wet lease two A320-200s, serial 244 and 662, from SmartLynx Airlines during summer 2015.
  • Lufthansa Germanwings noteA note given to a Lufthansa crew member was retweeted 4,700 times. The message, penned in light of last week’s Germanwings crash, read: I understand an event so horrific as this one affects those with your responsibility more than others, and maybe sometimes a kind word, random but heartfelt, can make a difference. Thank you for taking me home. Thank you for doing so safely.
  • The Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation approved Etihad’s 33.3pc investment in Swiss regional carrier Darwin Airline.

British Airways confirmed that its frequent flyer accounts have been hacked but insisted that no personal details were stolen.

Twenty-three passengers and crew were injured after an Air Canada A320 aircraft crash landed in snow at Halifax international airport. The aircraft sustained substantial damage after hitting a utility line, causing a power outage in the air terminal and airport. Air Canada paid out $5,000 for each of the 133 passengers involved in the crash landing.

Etihad - Alitalia Venice Milan Launch - PHOTO 1Etihad Airways and codeshare partner Alitalia celebrated the inaugural flights from Venice and Milan to Abu Dhabi this week.

Alitalia and Etihad are offering a 15pc discount on return tickets to Italy for those enrolled in the Made of Italians programme for expatriates heading to Italy for EXPO Milano.

Aviation enthusiasts were out to welcome the arrival of a 73 year old Douglas DC-3 at Shannon Airport. The twin turboprop flew 8 hours across the Atlantic from St John’s, Newfoundland, making an overnight stop at Shannon on Wednesday.

  • Avolon issued a White Paper containing updated and expanded analysis of key factors that influence the economic life of commercial jet aircraft.
  • Etihad expanded codeshare coverage in Europe, as additional Aer Lingus and Flybe operating routes carrying EY code. Majority of these new codeshare routes began on March 29.
  • The inaugural Dublin Aviation Air Ball in aid of the Darndale Belcamp Children’s Centre will take place Thursday, June 4 in the RDS Concert Hall.
  • How to spot a terrorist according to a  leaked Transportation Security Administration document: Throbbing neck arteries. Whistling. Exaggerated yawning. Excessive laughter. Verbally expressing contempt for the screening process. Excessive fidgeting. Cold penetrating stare. See more here.
  • Remember the famous teal carpet at Portland International Airport that became an internet sensation? (See Sunday Supplement, February 1) It made its final appearance as grand marshal at the annual Starlight Parade on Thursday.

Afloat

Celebrity Cruises drinks package will increase from $49 to $55 per passenger per day on Monday April 6. The premium package rises from $59 to $65. Soft drinks ($8 to $9) and water ($16 to $18) packages also increase.

  • This week saw that rarity, a new cruise line. Viking Ocean Cruises, a wing of Viking River, took delivery of its first ship. The 930-passenger Viking Star built by Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard. Viking Star sails its first passenger cruise on April 11 from Istanbul to Venice.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line added a room service charge of up to $7.95 per order. Norwegian recently imposed an automatic 18pc gratuity on all specialty and entertainment dining.
  • Quark Expeditions has chartered Russian icebreaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov, for four back-to-back voyages that circumnavigate the Arctic in 2016.
  • anthem godmotherRoyal Caribbean has selected 27-year-old travel agent Emma Wilby from Sunderland as Godmother for the 4,180-passenger Anthem of the Seas to launch in Southampton on April 20.
  • Princess Cruise Lines will offer sailings on Diamond Princess in 2016 and introduce two maiden ports, Miyazaki and Yatushiro.
  • CroisiEurope named a paddlewheel vessel the 96-passenger Loire Princesse, which is the first hotel ship to sail on the Loire River. Dual engine technology enables it to continue sailing in the Loire’s shallow waters.
  • Disney Cruise Line is to introduce an original musical onboard Disney Magic.
  • Crystal Symphony introduced two new shows in its Galaxy Lounge.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it will be offering legally recognised weddings at sea performed by the ship’s captain on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, and on Norwegian Escape when she launches later this year. The Weddings At Sea package includes a bridal bouquet with matching boutonniere, champagne toast cake and more. Norwegian will also offer bespoke weddings in one of the line’s ports of call. The cruise line is also offering honeymoon packages and deals for those who wish to renew their vows at sea. For additional information, availability and package pricing for weddings, contact Royal Ocean Events at 1888 475 5511 or email NCL@royalwed.com.
  • Rivera Travel’s 2016 River Cruise products are on sale now, including a new Danube itinerary. Lead price is from €1,239 for eight days and €1,779 for 14 days. The newest 5* ship, MS Jane Austen, will commence operations on April 29.
  • Princess Cruises is celebrating its 50th anniversary by hosting Sound of Music events on-board. The musical also celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Activities include sing-a-longs, trivia nights and the film will be screened once on every sailing during 2015.
  • Two passengers were found dead inside a stateroom on a HAL cruise ship as it docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The cause of their deaths are unknown, but murder-suicide is suspected.
  • French luxury cruise line PONANT became CLIA’s 28th member.
  • A passenger died in an accident as she was trying to board the Cunard ship Queen Elisabeth by tender boat in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

Deal Watch

Lowcostbeds city break B&B deals, prices based on 2 sharing for 3 nights, arrive May 14: 3.5* Park Inn by Radisson, Berlin from €54pppn. 4* Turner Hotel, Rome from €70pppn. 3* Excelsior Hotel, Lisbon from €37pppn.

Falcon Holidays is offering 7 nights self catering Elisa Aparthotel, Playa De Muro, Majorca from €489pps/ €1,182 for two adults and one child/ €1,599 for two adults and two children, departing Dublin June 4. See falconholidays.ie to book or call 1850 45 35 45.

Topflight Easter offers, book before midnight April 8: 7 nights B&B 3* Dorisal Florisal, Funchal, Madeira from €399pps, depart May 7. 7 nights B&B 4* Alta Lido, Funchal, Madeira from €469pps, depart May 7. 7 nights 4* Bell Italia, Peschiera, Lake Garda from €1,476 for two adults and two children, depart May 16. 7 nights half board 4* Hotel Majestic Palace, Lake Garda from €569pps, depart May 9. 7 nights B&B 3* Hotel Eden, Torbole, Lake Garda from €599pps, depart May 23. 7 nights half board 4* Hotel Splendid Palace, Limone, Lake Garda from €829pps, depart May 23. 7 nights 4* Hotel Bristol, Sorrento from €899pps, depart May 10. 7 nights B&B 3* Hotel San Pietro, Sicily from €669pps, depart July 19. 7 nights half board 4* Naxos Beach Hotel, Sicily from €999pps, depart July 5. All prices include return flights ex Dublin, return resort transfers, luggage allowance, all taxes and rep service.

Thomson offers: 7 nights All Inclusive Hotel Haiti, C’an Picalfort, Majorca from €569pps, depart Dublin June 4.  7 nights on Thomson cruise from Palma, Majorca from €899pp, depart Shannon May 9. See thomsonholidays.ie to book or call 1850 45 35 45.

Click and Go offers of the week: 3 nights Sunotel Aston, Barcelona from €269pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, travel in May. 7 nights self catering in the Central City Apartments, San Antonio, Ibiza from €449pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in June. 7 nights self catering Forte do Vale Hotel, Albufeira, the Algarve from €399pp incl. flights ex Dublin and transfers, travel in April. 7 nights All Inclusive in the Occidental Grand Punta Cana, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic from €973pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in June. Visit clickandgo.com to book or call 01 637 1699.

Globe Hotels is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Gloria Palace Royal Hotel and Spa, Puerto Rico from €484.50, depart May 1. See globehotels.ie for more.

Sunway offers: 7 nights at the Binimar Aparments, Calan Forcat, Menorca from €2,499 for two adults and two children, depart June 13. 7 nights at the Vistablanes Apartments in Calan Forcat, Menorca from €399pp, depart September 12 or 19. 10 days Trafalgar Escorted Tour from €1,399pp incl. escorted tours, accommodation and flights, depart October 9.

Sunway Lake Garda offers: 7 nights B&B 3* Meridiana Hotel from €684pp, depart May 30, from €774, depart June 27. 7 nights self catering 4* Belvedere Hotel from €689pp, depart May 30, from €899pp depart June 27. 7 nights full board 4* Antico Monastero Hotel from €734pp, depart May 30, from €824pp, depart June 27. 7 nights B&B 4* Portici Hotel from €744pp, depart May 30, from €824pp, depart June 27. 7 nights B&B 4* Sole Hotel from €774pp, depart May 30, from €854pp, depart June 27. 7 nights B&B 4* Savoy Palace Hotel from €1,104pp, depart May 30, from €1,224pp, depart June 27. All prices include return flights, return transfers, taxes, charges, 20kg check in baggage pp and Sunway rep service.

Riviera Travel late offers: 5 day escorted tour of Rome from €799pp incl. flights, depart April 23. 8-day half board escorted tour of Lake Garda Venice and Verona from €859pp incl. flights, depart April 27.

Lowcostholidays’ May and June offers: 7 nights self catering 3* Rio Apartments, Algarve from €169pp, depart May 6. 7 nights self catering 4* THB Corbeta, Lanzarote from €335pp, depart June 11. 7 nights 3* Days Inn Kissimmee, Orlando from €612pp, depart May 19. 7 nights B&B 4* Andaman Cannacia Resort & Spa, Phuket from €789pp, depart June 1. 2 nights B&B 3* Best Western Hotel Piccadilly, Rome from €210pp, depart May 7. 2 nights B&B 4* Salles Hotel Pere IV, Barcelona from €185pp, depart May 5. All prices include return flights ex Dublin and taxes. Visit lowcostholidays.ie to book or call 01 485 3835. More offers here.

Tourism NI offers of the week: 1 night B&B couples retreat in Finn Lough Lakeside Lodges, Leggs, Enniskillen from £150 incl. one 3-course evening meal, Easter picnic hamper, luxury suite room with roll top bath and amenities, available until April 12, call 028 6863 1957 to book. 2 nights in Ferry Lodge, Portaferry from £100, available until April 30, call 07771 890 973 to book. The Boat House, Ballygally, Larne from £120, availbale until April 30, call 028 2858 3158 to book.

Ireland

The shortlist for the Best Design category for the Irish Tourism Industry Awards: Cliff House Hotel – Ardmore. Equipage Shoes – Shoeniversity – Bantry. Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites. Spirit of Place Discovery Points – Mayo County Council. Trail Kilkenny – Connected Communities.

Loop Head Lighthouse in West Clare re-opened on Friday. It is open daily, 10am-6pm, until October 4. Last year, the lighthouse attracted 20,368 visitors.

SALES BLITZ TO BOOST CANADIAN VISITORS TO IRELANDTourism Ireland and ten Irish tourism companies travelled to Canada this week for a four-city sales blitz, meeting with travel professionals in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver and Victoria. Looking to build on 2014’s performance —  visitor numbers up 30pc — the key messages included the WAW, the Causeway Coastal Route, Yeats 2015 and ID2015. Picture shows Alison Deegan, Manor House Hotels & Irish Country Hotels; Mary Hartnett, Killarney Plaza Hotel & Spa; Eamon McEneaney, Waterford Museum of Treasures; Fiona Delahunty, Griffin Hotel Group; Jim Deegan, Railtours Ireland – First Class; Dana Welch, Tourism Ireland; Steve Royston; Irishtourism.com; Tanya Johnson, Royal Irish Tours; Katie Daly, Specialized Travel Services; Paul Shortall, Lough Eske Castle Hotel; and Suzanne Meade, Edward Hotels, taking part in Tourism Ireland’s Ireland Always in Season group travel organisers’ workshop in Toronto.

DRIVE TO WOO BRITISH TOURISTSTourism Ireland and a number of tourism partners from Ireland attended the 2015 Goodwood Member’s Meeting in Chichester, England, showcasing Ireland’s car touring routes. Picture David Cleary, Manor House Hotels & Irish Country Hotels; Gretchen Ridgeway, Barberstown Castle; and Tom Randles, Randles Hotels, Killarney, on the Tourism Ireland stand at the event.

CLARE SAYS ‘HOLA’ TO SPANISH TRAVEL PROFESSIONALSSpanish tour operator Panavisión Tours and ten agents were invited by Tourism Ireland in Madrid to visit Ireland. The group’s itinerary included a walking tour of Dublin with Pat Liddy, visits to the National Stud and Japanese Gardens in Kildare, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, the Cliffs of Moher, Connemara and Kilbeggan Distillery in Westmeath. Picture shows the Spanish agents at the Cliffs of Moher.

PUTTING IRELAND ON THE ‘MAP’ IN PARISTourism companies and Tourism Ireland travelled to Paris for the le Monde a Paris (MAP) holiday fair. 10,000 visitors attended the event, including French tour operators, agents and travel writers as well as holidaymakers. This year’s event took place alongside the hiking and adventure travel fair, Destinations Nature. Picture shows Caoimhe Ní Mhuilleoir, Tourism Ireland; John Hughes, Randwick B&B, Ballyshannon; and Martine McKenna, Irish Ferries, on the Tourism Ireland stand at MAP.

  • TOURISM IRELAND’S WEBSITE, IRELAND.COM, WINS TOP AWARD IN FRANCEIreland.com was the joint winner of the prize for best tourist board website at the Les Travel d’Or awards in France. Tourism Ireland and Reunion Island Tourism’s sites were both voted number one. Picture shows Séverine Tharreau of Tourism Ireland accepting the Travel d’Or award.
  • US Ambassador Kevin O’Malley is to launch an exhibition on the Famine in Westport House on April 14.
  • Trump International invited participants in the Great Irish Links Challenge.
  • Ireland’s Content Pool developed jointly by Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland was launched as a new, online library of free promotional images, video footage and other marketing assets. To register, log on to irelandscontentpool.com.
  • Russborough launched their very first fairy trail on Lady’s Island.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: 7 Could Be IAG’s Lucky Number

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Yutaka Ito of All Nippon Airways, Adel Ali of Air Arabia, Conor McCarthy of Dublin Aerospace, Zhihang Chi of Air China and Alan Joyce of Qantas at the CAPA Airlines in Transition conference in Dublin.

Yutaka Ito of All Nippon Airways, Adel Ali of Air Arabia, Conor McCarthy of Dublin Aerospace, Zhihang Chi of Air China and Alan Joyce of Qantas at the CAPA Airlines in Transition conference in Powerscourt.

HEADLINESAVIATIONAFLOATFOOD & WINEHOTELSINTERNATIONALIRELAND –    DEAL WATCHTRAVEL TRADE

The headlines this week:

  • IAG prepares for end of the beginning
  • Gold circle scheme to be revamped
  • Re Joyce: Alan Joyce’s triumphant return to Ireland
  • Flybe explain why Dublin-London City was dropped
  • Aer Lingus confirms plan for nine A350s
  • Bad pun alert: Finnish won’t finish, 3w added for winter
  • JFK gets a new Aer Lingus lounge
  • River-run: 12 Vikings, a Uniworld and an Avalon named in one week

Travel Extra TV

Video-of-week-March 29Our video of the week captures a spontaneous performance of Beer! The Musical in New York City Beer Hall. Confused customers look on as Improv Everywhere comedy group perform an ode to brew. Watch here.

  • 279 aircraft later, Boeing pieces together the Last C-17. Watch here.
  • To celebrate the maiden flight of its first Airbus A380, Etihad profiled some of the key crew members. Here is the pilot: Watch here.
  • Tourism Ireland rounded up its 2015 Global Greening with this video: Watch here.
  • Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr talked about the Germanwings Flight 9525 tragedy shortly after the crash. Watch here.
  • Rapper Jamal Edwards’ guide to east London with British Airways. Watch here.
  • KLM destination showcases: Havana (watch here), Vancouver (watch here), Bueno Aires (watch here), New York City (watch here) and Rio de Janeiro (watch here).
  • Emirates invited Arsenal football team and Saracens rugby team to swap skills. Watch here.

Headlines

willie walsh_9312Seven is the magic number in the latest phase of IAG’s bid to take over Aer Lingus. Negotiations with government advisers are drawing to a close with a seven year guarantee on Heathrow slots likely to seal the deal with the government and the formal bid to follow (despite all the heat, no bid has yet been made). Minister Paschal Donohoe says that he expects negotiations to be concluded “in the coming weeks” (listen here).

It is the end of the beginning and not yet the beginning of the end (to quote Sean O’Casey,  his lines famously filched by Winston Churchill), given the union and regional opposition to the bid, but several influencers, including major media, seem to have moved from outright opposition to the bid. Would anyone except Willie Walsh have brought the bid this far?

ascent descentAfter tragic events in the Alps this week the IAA confirmed that it is required of Irish airlines to have two people in the cockpit at all times and when one of the pilots leaves a cabin crew member will stand in. Air Berlin, Air Canada, EasyJet and the Lufthansa group all adopted the two persons in the cockpit rule immediately. Norwegian also adopted it but will await regulatory approval. Air France-KLM group said it was monitoring the situation. One of the more melancholy retro-reads of the week can be found here (from 2013), the Federal Aviation Administration recognising Andreas Guenter Lubitz with the prestigious FAA Airmen Certification Database. A torn-up sick note was reported to have indicated that the crash pilot should have been grounded. Picture shows speed and altitude graph of the Germanwings flight.

alan joyce hands_8635One of several bad timing awards for this week goes to the parents of Alan Joyce who went to visit him in Australia while the Qantas CEO took time off an investor’s roadshow to show up in Co Wicklow, two mountains and a small hill away from his native Tallaght, and give the keynote address at the CAPA airlines in transition conference. His speech was brief and insightful (listen here) and he came up with what must be the phrase of the conference: the “intellectual property of working in partnerships”.

Alan joyce anton daltun_4512Alan is pictured with his former boss Antóin Daltún, to whom he paid tribute in his address. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

This is the third year that David Webster’s Powerscourt hotel has hosted CAPA’s event and the group reported that they were happy with the three events and will be seeking another three year deal to host their CEO-heavy event in Ireland.

kavanagh speaksbrian havel_8544Star performers included Sebastian Mikosz of LOT Polish Airlines (“airlines shouldn’t blindly react to low cost airlines entering their market: follow your own strategy“) and the characteristically frank Pat Byrne of Cityjet, who said the entrepreneurial spirit and survival instinct of a regional carrier can be destroyed if partially owned by a major carrier (listen here). Stephen Kavanagh of Aer Lingus (pictured above) gave the most concise summary on record of how Aer Lingus avoided bankruptcy by cut their cost base by 52pc in 2002 (listen here) and stressed: Ireland doesn’t need Aer Lingus, Ireland needs competition, which is what Aer Lingus provides. The wolf at the door was a great enabler, Michael O’Leary was our greatest support. Kevin Toland of DAA outlined Ireland’s contributions to world aviation (listen here) and other notable contributions came from Saad Hammad of Flybe who advised airlines “stay true to your stage length. Flybe is the 90-minute airline – if we stray beyond that we get into trouble.” He said Flybe has signed up for seven codeshare partner airlines so far and wants to double that number, Aidan Brogan of Datalex, Conor McCarthy of Dublin Aerospace, Adel Ali of Air Arabia, Martin Gauss of AirBaltic, Cath Lynn of easyJet, Xiuzhi Zhang of Spring Airlines, Zhihang Chi of Air China and Dubliner Jim Callaghan of Etihad. Brian Havel of De Paul University of Law (pictured) was the most animated moderator. Rigas Douganis outlined a gloomy scenario for legacy carriers operating in Europe (listen here). Jonathon Wober of CAPA explained how airlines had never regained the peak profitability they achieved in 1966 (listen here) Minister Paschal Donohue outlined his new government transport policy (listen here) and answered questions on open skies (listen here) and connectivity (listen here). He said the government is now finalising a National Aviation Strategy and will publish it soon and then set up a National Aviation Forum.

sinead kenny_8774Affinity founder Sinead Finn was first in the exotic Powerscourt Hotel swimming pool early on Thursday morning before moderating the coolest session of the programme, when Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs and Bobby Healy CEO of Cartrawler (resplendent in red sneakers) talked apps and travel, at one stage sending a shiver down the backbones for their audience by lumping airlines and GDS’s in the same category. David O’Brien of Ryanair said the new website, planned for end of 2015, will be more like a retailer’s website than an airline website while Kenny Jacobs said travel as a retail category needs a shake up.

Ian Heywood of Travelport was almost a lone voice defending the interests of the travel agent.

There was further activity in the exhibition area where Travelport were showcasing their Smartpoint product which provides travel agencies with real-time access to more than 400 airlines (lo-cos included) and 600,000 hotel properties. Travelport celebrated the 100th airline to sign up for its rich content product, only launched in November last year. And yes, there was cake.

IMG_8826Visit Florida hosted travel media in Dublin where they outlined new events across the length and breadth of the state from Panama Beach to Amelia Island and down to Oonagh McCullough’s southern coast. Picture shows Kenneth Morgan-Schleuning of Visit Florida, Hope Sarzier of Amelia Island, Brooke Fleming of Pensacola, Rochelle Siegel of Kissimmee, Dan Rowe of Panama Beach and Oonagh McCullough of Naples, Marco Islands and Everglades. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

finnair team_4424Before Finnair’s new service from Dublin to Helsinki has even started, Sales Director Fredrik Charpentier, announced that the service is to be extend to the winter three times weekly (listen here). Dublin Airport Authority hosted a reception at the Royal Hibernian Academy for the trade where Charpentier and his team outlined their plans for the service. Heidi Ahonen said it had been 2007 since Finnair served Dublin (listen here) Vincent Harrison of Dublin Airport said there were six new airlines in Dublin this year and 20 new routes (listen here) while Martin Skelly replied on behalf of the Irish Travel Agents Association describing the quality of the FGinnair product as “a race to the top” (listen here). Separately Joni Sundelin of Finnavia outlined plans to build Helsinki into Europe’s fifth largest hub in Europe (listen here – brushing aside a question about whether Istanbul was in Europe). Finnair A350 flights start on Apr 9, with long haul services to start in the autumn to Shanghai, then Beijing, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Dublin to Helsinki inaugural departs tomorrow Monday to Helsinki where VisitFinland’s Riita Balza will host a group of travel media. Picture shows the Finnair team at the event: Ana Gibson, Anssi Partanen, Heidi Ahonen and Frederik Charpentier. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

europe airpostJean-François Dominiak, CEO of Europe Airpost, stopped by to celebrate the new route from Dublin to Halifax in Canada at Dublin’s Brasserie Le Pont restaurant. Europe Airpost’s a 737-700 service originates in Paris CDG and continues via Dublin direct to Halifax once weekly between July 9 and Sept 11, outbound on Thursdays 2:25pm and back on Fridays landing 8.05pm. Lindsay Champion introduced Nova Scotia. The province is home to the bald eagle, moose and North Atlantic right whale, which migrates to higher altitudes from May to September. Nova Scotia, which has the same land mass as Ireland, boasts 15 wineries, making it the third largest wine province in Canada, and is one of the largest exporters of lobster. Back in the day, Lindsay said, lobsters were in such an abundance that the poor kids brought lobster sandwiches to school while the rich kids scoffed on corned beef. Lighthouses are iconic with Nova Scotia — there are 160 along the coastline — but so too are shipwrecks. There are 27,000 on record, and Nova Scotia was the first to dispatch rescue boats after the Titanic sank. 150 bodies that were recovered are buried in Halifax cemetery. If maritime disasters are not your thing, Nova Scotia also boasts a strong pub culture, and offers golfing and winter surfing experiences. Picture shows Jean-François Dominiak, CEO of Europe Airpost, Catherine Grennell-Whyte, MD of ATTS, and Martin Skelly, President of the ITAA. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

tianguisThe 40th Tianguis Turistico Mexico returned to Acapulco, where local planners showcased their US$200m infrastructure spend including plans for a new transportation system known as ACABus and extensive hotel renovations. Activity was 7pc ahead of target, although slightly down on last year’s Tianguis in Cancun, 50pc up on when it was held in Acapulco: 30,000 appointments, 2,500 exhibitors and 266 local and 424 international buyers. Cancún hosted 8,000 more appointments and 157 more buyers last year. Last time Acapulco hosted Tianguis the guests, including Travel Extra, were trapped at a party in the fabulous art deco Boca Chica hotel for an extra few hours because of a drug-related shoot out on the only approach road. No such drama this time: highlight of the event was the Las Brizas party on Terazza El Tulpán. Tianguis moves on to Guadalajara next year, after it won a bidding process against Guanajuato and Quintana Roo.

visit englandWe barely had time to regain our breath from Saturday’s rugby drama (is this the last time international teams will be allowed know exactly what they need to score to win a major competition) when Visit England hosted a rugby world cup event on Monday evening. Gayle Molloy finishes up as Visit England’s representative in Ireland on March 31st. Picture shows Jeremy Brinkworth, Visit England Project Director, Rugby World Cup and Gayle Molloy of Visit England. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Ciara Foley Kevin O'Malley Pat ReedePicture shows Ciara Foley of Platinum Travel, chair of Visit USA in Dublin, Kevin O’Malley the USA ambassador in Dublin, and Pat Reede of United Airlines who represented Visit USA Dublin the annual St Patrick’s Day function in the White House, Washington DC. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

trailfinders etihadEtihad, Trailfinders and the Tourist Authority of Thailand were hosts at a Trailfinders staff evening in the Red Torch Ginger restaurant. Trailfinders is the leading Irish operator to Thailand which attracted 62,727 Irish last year.  Joanna Cooke from TAT and Shannon O’Dowd from Etihad gave presentations to the Trailfinders staff and invited guests. Shannon O’Dowd showcased Etihad’s new TV ad starring Nicole Kidman (featured in last week’s Sunday Supplement), The Residence on the A380 and the Economy Smart Seat’s fixed wing headrests. Joanna Cooke reiterated how the junta has had no impact on Thailand’s tourism industry and noted how the military government has helped regulate taxis, clean up beaches and improve visitor safety (a new tourist hotline was launched this week, dial 1111). The over 45s remain the primary market, but there is a growing trend in family holidays and MAMILS, middle aged men in lycra, who are interested in adventure breaks. Picture shows Karen Maloney of Etihad, Shannon O’Dowd of Etihad, Dave Hyeems of Trailfinders and Joanna Cooke of Thai Tourism Authority. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.Ethiopia 002

Ethiopian Airlines hosted a group of Irish media in advance of the launch of their direct route on June 15. Picture shows Irish media and their hosts in Addis Adaba. Reuters repotots that Ethiopian is considering proposals to help set up national airlines in Nigeria and three other countries to expand its operations on the continent.

snow hotelDefinitely Travel Extra’s coolest call of the week was to the snow hotel in Kirkenes, where three time zones meet, (like the words of a Brendan Shine song), where a group of travel writers were hosted by Astrid Lund. Why the fire extinguishers? “We are still a hotel and subject to hotel regulations,” Astrid says, “the politicians in their wisdom require us to have them.” A worrying development, coolers have had to be used to keep the snow hotel at the required temperature in recent years due to global warming. The second of the two direct charters to the Northern Lights had some spectacular stormy and snowy weather, although the view of the lights was not as good as the February charter. No word yet on whether Hurtigruten will have direct charters from Dublin to Tromsø again in 2016 but here’s hoping. It is a great product. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Travel Trade

ex continentalSome ex-cons spotted at the CAPA Airlines in Transition conference in Powerscourt; not that they have a criminal past, rather that they once worked for Continental Airlines: Yvonne Muldoon (now with Cartrawler), Brian Hughes of United and Beatrice Cosgrove (now country manager for Etihad in Ireland).

Ten agents won a place on Topflight’s VIP Italian Trip to Sorrento and Lake Garda on April 28: Sinead Hearne of East Cork Travel, Emma Black of Thomas Cook, Lisburn, Caitriona Duffy of Cassidy Travel, Blanchardstown, Marie Grenham of Grenham Travel, Karen Kelleher of Barter Travel Group, Marc Lynch of Abbey Travel, Michelle Lyons of Fahy Travel, Patricia Ryan of Limerick Travel, Stella Grant of O’Hanrahan Travel and Sean Healy of Lee Travel.

rory mcdyer martin skelly_4370Rory McDyer Travel will be 25 years in business this week. Picture shows Rory McDyer of Rory McDyer travel and Martin Skelly, president of the Irish Travel Agents Association at the Finnair event.

Stella Grant of O’Hanrahan Travel (Ulster), Donna McGann of Eimear Hannon Travel (Leinster), Lynne Casey of Fahy Travel (Connacht), and Lorraine O’Connor of Travel Fox (Munster) were the winners of the Emirates trade competition to see One Direction live in concert on April 4 in Dubai with Emirates.

audrey headonTIGS president’s (Audrey Headon) Prize, sponsored by Etihad Airways, will take place on April 16 at Druid Glen. Tee is reserved from 1050 to 1340, cost to members: €50 and guests €75. Timesheet is now open.

Travel Centres’ trip to China concluded, a busy jaunt supported by Turkish Airlines and the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development.  Pamela Brownlee of Flyaway Travel reported it was an amazing trip: the Great Wall, Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, although she is not sure how one would manage without an interpreter. And she can nearly agree with the song there are 10m bicycles in Beijing. Connect here with Flyaway Travel’s picture of China on Facebook.

Vision Cruise Debbie copyPicture shows Martin Graham from the Celebrity Cruises ‘Modern Luxury Squad’ visiting Debbie Hartley at Vision Cruise to present her with a two-night cruise getaway. The Celebrity Cruises’ team has been offering agents the chance to bid for a place on the Celebrity Eclipse sailing in May by using their Celebrity Rewards points as part of the Spring Into Luxury March campaign.

  • On the Beach based in Cheadle in England has been issued a travel agents license by the Commission for Aviation Regulation.
  • Lesley Kane, formerly with Ryanair, has joined Air Transat as Director of Sales for Britain and Ireland.
  • Ryanair unveiled its new advertising on the lifts in Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2.
  • Air Canada has appointed Margaret Skinner as Director of Sales Europe. She was previously Sales Manager Ireland and Britain for American Airlines.sandra corkin award
  • Picture shows Sandra Corkin from Oasis Travel being presented with Business Person of the Year Award by award sponsor Ian Nelson of the Progressive Building Society at the Lisburn City Business Awards.
  • Globe Hotels and Best4Travel is seeking an Agency Support Executive for its Dunshaughlin head office and Travel Consultants for its branches in Athlone and Navan (maternity cover from July to November). Closing date for applications is Tuesday next, March 31st.
  • Richard Greenaway’s Mercury Holidays launched programmes to Antigua & Barbuda.
  • Insight Consultants is merging with Bill O’Herlihy Communications. Both agencies have managed several major tourism accounts.
  • Maddy Morgan has Visit California / Black Diamond after eight years (to take on the role of PR Director at Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
  • Air France KLM is seeking a sales support executive for maternity cover.
  • Visit Orlando’s complimentary half-day sightseeing tours and media tours for IPW 2015 went online. The general IPW schedule can be found here and the media-specific schedule here.
  • Irish travel software company Datalex reported a 69pc increase in profit after tax to $2.7m for the year ended Dec 31 2014.
  • Alila Hotels & Resorts appointed Patrick Pahlke as vice president of sales and Doris Goh as chief marketing officer.
  • Reminder: Be sure to register your American Airlines and British Airways bookings to the USA made before April 3 to be in with a chance of winning one of 100 places on the USA MegaFam trip, May 14 to 21.
  • Lowcostbeds trade promotion in association with Malta Tourist authority: Earn €5 one4all voucher on all bookings made to Malta until April 30.
  • Travel Professionals Skillnet is offering a 2 day Finance for Non Finance Professionals programme at the Professional Development Training Centre in Blanchardstown, May 21 and 22, 9.30am-5.30pc. Cost €299. More info/bookings.

Hotels

STR Global reported Ireland had the third highest RevPAR increase in February among European countries (+23.2 pc to €63.12) behind Lithuania (+35.6 pc to €26.50) and Croatia (+24.3 pc to €15.99) and ahead of Malta (+23.0 pc to €46.23); Hungary (+20.8 pc to €31.49); and England (+20.7 pc to €81.40). Hotel occupancy in Europe rose 3.1pc to 62.6pc for February 2015. Vilnius occupancy rose 21.5 points to 49.4pc. Moscow occupancy continues to fall, down 5.7 points to 58.2pc.

André Vietor from the International Association of Professional Conference Organisers and Kevin Kelly of BigBuzz Marketing Group were among the speakers at the AIPCO Business Tourism Conference 2015 in Powerscourt.

Falls Hotel, Enistimon, Clare, IrelandPaul Smyth’s Galgorm released images of its £10m 48-room extension and spa village is to open in September. Themes in the spa village include Snow Paradise, the Orangery, a riverside sauna, plunge pool, sheltered relaxation area with open fire and private Dutch Tubs, heated by their own log fires.

Kinvara’s 32-room Merriman Hotel is on sale with a guide price of €695,000.

HOTREC, the European association representing the European hospitality industry, warned that the EU Council of minister’s current position on the Package Travel Directive will damage the hotel industry by making ancillary services, such as arranging taxi transfers from the airport, spas in the hotel, bicycle renting and tickets to events subject to the new Package Travel Directive.

A Hotels.com survey claimed that visitors to Ireland from Argentina had the highest average spend of €128 per room per night in 2014. This is up 19pc on last year and 24pc above the Irish national average of €103.

Analysis by Highland Group offered answers to a ten-year-old conundrum: how to define boutique, lifestyle and soft brand hotel sectors. The definitions are:

  • Boutique: Unique in style, design-centric, either independent or affiliated with a smaller brand system, with 40 to 300 guestrooms.
  • Lifestyle: Prescribed franchised products that are adapted to reflect current trends.
  • Soft brand: Individualised hotels that give owners and operators the opportunity to affiliate with a major chain distribution while retaining their unique design, name and orientation.

select hotelsPicture shows hoteliers at a Select Hotels event: John Ryan of Ardilaun Hotel, Jo Denby and Caitriona Murphy of Whites of Wexford, Martha O’Connor of Royal Marine Hotel, Andrew Greenslade of City North Hotel, Aidan Ryan of Royal Marine Hotel, David Goode of Actons Kinsale, Amy Duggan of the Trident Hotel, Front Row: Una Young of Select Hotels of Ireland, Deirdre Twomey of Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel and Maria Kelly of the Ardilaun Hotel.

  • CEO of Best Western in England Richard Lewis has resigned and will be replaced by Rob Payne in an interim capacity.
  • JW Marriott’s 191-room Venice Resort had its soft opening ahead of its grand opening celebration on June 24.
  • Design Hotels opened the 10-suite G-Rough in Rome, from the creators of PalazzinaG housed in a 17th century bourgeois building.
  • Horwath HTL reported that the extended-stay segment not only has performed well and is gaining popularity among developers and investors.
  • AMResorts announced five new resort contracts in Dominican Republic (Secrets Cap Cana and Dreams Dominicus La Romana), Mexico (Breathless Riviera Cancun), Costa Rica (Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica) and Aruba for the first time (Zoëtry Isla Di Oro Arub).
  • Trivago in England says searches to Tunisia have fallen 22pc following the Bardo Museum attack.

International

The Egyptian visa requirement for individual tourists are still no clearer (beyond a clarification that package holiday travellers such as Sunway and Red Sea Resorts are not affected), two weeks after they were hastily announced. Egypt’s Tourism Office says that talks are currently in effect between Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant entities to discuss details on tourists’ individual visas travelling to Egypt. We are still awaiting a clarification for the queries in question.

photographing lion 588Kenya has called foul after several governments, including Ireland, said its coastal region was unsafe and there are reports that it will follow Thailand’s lead last year in setting up its own travel insurance scheme for tourists who still wish to visit. The Department of Foreign Affairs imposed an “all but essential” travel ban to Lamu County and Archipelago, Mombasa Island and within 5km of the coast from Mtwapa Creek north of to include Malindi, Watamu, and Kilifi, and even Tiwi, not including Diana and Moi International Airport. The update came after an incident which was not related to Kenya, the attack on Maka al Mukarama hotel in the Green Zone corridor of Somalian capital Mogadishu, by Al Shabaab insurgents who stormed a meeting attended by officials of Omar Sharmarke’s new Somali government. Kenya’s ire turned on its former colonial oppressor, citing London’s stricter blanket travel ban as a response, not to any threat, but to Nairobi’s refusal to renew a troop training deal unless London agreed to have its troops deployed to Kenya subject to Kenyan law. An unnamed tourism source thundered: I think there can be no doubt left now that they are using such advisories to browbeat Kenya into submission over so many contentious things. The London government is not a friend of Kenya. Tourists are still visiting even though travel to Kenya is made very difficult with no charters operating. Travel insurance is no longer extended in England to people who want to come to Kenya, so we are now offering such cover, either in advance or on arrival. This is a deliberate act of hostility, and it coincides with the upcoming Easter travel when many of their own High Commission staff had booked holidays at the coast. It is time to stand together as a region to counter such negative publicity and can only be categorised as hostile propaganda against us all here in East Africa.”

  • The Department of Foreign Affairs updated its travel advisory on Yemen to advise against all travel to Yemen and strongly urge all Irish nationals to leave Yemen immediately.
  • Bardo museum curator Moncef Ben Moussa says the museum will reopen today Sunday after a symbolic opening ceremony for select guests on Tuesday.
  • Universal Studios Hollywood said that Fast & Furious—Supercharged is to open on June 25.
  • Ski conditions were changeable across the Alps this week, heaviest snow was been southern Switzerland and western Italy. Unsettled weather is expected to continue through the rest of the week and into the weekend, with the potential for some good falls of snow in the northern Swiss and Austrian Alps.
  • Canary Islands is to host some of the toughest events on the world calendar, including: Magma Bike Marathon, El Hierro, April 18. TeideXtreme, Tenerife, April 19. Challenge Fuerteventura, April 25. Transvulcania, La Palma Ultramarathon from Fuencaliente lighthouse to Los Llanos de Aridane, May 9. Ironman, Lanzarote, May 23. Gomorra Paradise Trail, La Gomera, June 27.
  • Reuters reported private equity firm Centerbridge Partners is to buy US indoor water parks operator Great Wolf Resorts for $1.4bn including debt.
  • Enterprise Holdings and Redspot joined forces in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Travelport announced a new long term agreement with Polish travel management company First Class.
  • Austria will host the International Ski Travel market on March 14 and 15 2016 in the Aqua Dome complex, Otztal.
  • The Tunisian prime minister, Habib Essid, dismissed six police commanders, including one in charge of tourist security, following last week’s museum attack in Tunis.
  • The Italian National Tourist Board’s spring newsletter includes details on upcoming art exhibitions, music and opera events, sport and historical re-enactments. Read here.

Food & Wine

FIRE Restaurant and Lounge on Dublin’s Dawson Street is to remain open on Good Friday offering non-alcoholic cocktails, and non-alcoholic wines. The no alcohol on Good Friday rule which applies in Ireland has been the subject of complaints from the hospitality industry but is supported by current Tourism Minister Paschal Donohue.

  • Mel McNally’s Irish pub design and build Fadó group added the Fadó Midtown, Atlanta, to its portfolio.
  • The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine on May 15-17 held its first US launch at Studio 1 on Broadway in Manhattan. Speakers will include April Bloomfield, David Lebovitz, John Bowman, Patrick Holden, Tom Doorley and Valli Little.
  • Michael Riordan was appointed Executive Chef at Conrad London St James.
  • Galway Food Festival takes place April 2 to 6.
  • Italy selected Neapolitan pizza as its candidate for protection under UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Aviation

Flybe at London City copyDublin routes to Southend and London City are both being dropped by Flybe from April 13, but Flybe’s route from Belfast City to London City is being expanded from four to five daily. Saad Hammet CEO of Flybe speaking to Travel Extra on the margins of the CAPA Airlines in Transition conference in Powerscourt said that “it was a fast moving environment, BA launched after us, City weren’t hedged with all the benefits that brings, it was a crowded market. We are re-calibrating but we are still committed to London City, We have increased frequencies from double daily to triple daily on Aberdeen, from four to five daily on Belfast and four to six daily on Edinburgh, You have to react to the changing environment. (listen here)” Paul Simmons, Chief Commercial Officer said passenger numbers “are below our projections and there are no signs of this situation changing, which has led to us taking this decision. Passengers who have booked to fly on this route are being contacted and offered an alternative flight or a full refund. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause our customers.”

Aer Lingus’s new lounge at JFK Terminal 5 will open this week. The airline has been using a temporary facility since moving from Terminal 4 to offer faster connections with Jetblue.

aer lingus business class_0034Aer Lingus new business class seating is now available on four of the eight A330s (four 200s and four 300s) to be fitted with the new cabin with the further four being completed over the coming weeks. Current lead in fares valid until April 7 for travel from May 1 to October 31 include Dublin to New York €899 each way, Dublin to Boston €999 and Dublin to San Francisco €1759. Irish suppliers include seat manufacturers Thompson Aero, Botany Weaving for soft furnishings, Voya for the amenity kits and In-flight Dublin for in-flight entertainment including movies, box sets, TV, radio and music. Food suppliers include Burren Smokehouse Salmon from Birgitta Curtin, goat’s cheese from Siobhán Ní Ghairbhith of St Tola, Co Clare, Coopers Hill venison from Coopershill estate an 18th century manor house in Co Sligo, lamb and beef from Lambay Island and Toonsbridge mozzarella from Johnny Lynch. Picture shows Claire Sutton and Micheál Gannon showcasing the seat. View online the seat (see video here), materials (see video here), food (see video here) and lounge/ground enhancements (see video here). Business class load factor has increased to 72pc in 2014 from 67pc in 2013 reflecting the continued strength of our service and competitive pricing. The annual report  notes that time sensitive business passengers comprise circa 17pc of the total Dublin airport market, 3pc lower than the percentage of time sensitive passengers travelling on Aer Lingus services.

Donald Trump wrote a two page letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny saying: “Aer Lingus, like the Irish shamrock and Guinness, is essentially Irish with a strong national identity which is very important to your country. It should not be given away to the highest bidder.”

alan joyce screen_8510Asked about the IAG bid for Aer Lingus, Alan Joyce said that he was in favour of consolidation but would not comment on the specifics of the Aer Lingus case: “We are big fans of consolidation. We think it is the right way for the air industry in general. It is way too fragmented. It will be good to bring certainty the future of Aer LIngus. One of the things that is clear here is how Aer Lingus, when you think of all the people who are working around the world in the industry. I don’t think you could say that of any other airline (listen here).” He also spoke about the turnaround at Qantas meaning that all units of the airline are now profitable for the first time ever (listen here) and the decision to divert European routes through Dubai (listen here).

Aer Lingus annual report listed five consequences for Aer Lingus if the proposed transaction  does not proceed:

  • As a stand-alone airline, Aer Lingus would not have the same growth opportunities and would be exposed to a greater degree of risk than in a combination with IAG
  • Reduced growth prospects and possible detrimental changes to Aer Lingus’ commercial partnerships could lead to lower than expected passenger traffic.
  • This may require additional restructuring measures, including reducing staff costs, beyond the savings currently anticipated in the-current CORE programme.
  • Aer Lingus’ share price may decline to a price below that offered by IAG.
  • In case the transaction fails because of the Irish Government’s decision to not sell its shares on grounds other than price, this may have a negative impact on the ability to attract shareholding.

stephen kavanaghAer Lingus’s annual report confirmed the airline’s Airbus A350-900 order for delivery of nine new aircraft between 2018 and 2020 (A350XWB or Regional variant) to replace existing A330s and expand capacity. From May an additional A330 aircraft will be leased for the peak 12 week 2015 summer season increasing long haul seat capacity by 13pc.

Aer Lingus’annual report noted that short-haul market is becoming increasingly seasonal, highly competitive on price and vulnerable to Euro-Sterling developments. The airline benefits from holding 55pc of the prime slot times including peak business 7 am slots and short haul capacity will be up 2.4pc in summer 2015 season. Share of the Irish short haul market including Aer Lingus Regional is 41pc.  Transatlantic continued to perform very positively throughout 2014 while increasing capacity by 23.8pc. Aer Lingus is to seek annual cost reductions of €40m and grow ancillary spend to a target of €23 per passenger.

  • Minister Paschal Donohoe said that the government would be renewing a round of funding for Ireland’s regional airports, in reply to a question from Irish Travel Trade News at the CAPA Airlines in Transition conference in Powerscourt (listen here).
  • Aer Lingus is to launch a new loyalty, recognition and reward programme later this year to replace the current “Gold Circle” frequent flyer programme, to be fully implemented from Q1 2016).
  • American and US Airways are to combine operations on April 8. The merged American Airlines resumed seasonal services from Dublin to New York JFK last week. American will also resume the former US Airways seasonal service from Shannon to Philadelphia on May 7th and from Dublin to Chicago O’Hare and to Charlotte on May 8th. Dublin-JFK (Boeing 757-200) departs at 8.55am while the return departs JFK at 6.50pm. From May 8 Dublin-Chicago (Boeing 767-300) will depart at 9.40am and the return departs at 6.10pm. Dublin to Charlotte (Airbus A330-200, the first time a widebody has been used on the route ) will depart at 9.30am and depart Charlotte at 6.10pm. From May 7th Shannon-Philadelphia (Boeing 757-200 ) will depart at 11.35am and depart Philadephia at 9.10pm. American Airlines also operates a year-round A330 service from Dublin to Philadelphia, with fully lie flat in business for the first time and seatback entertainment in economy.
  • The number of airline passengers carried annually will double to 6bn by 2030, Secretary General of ICAO, Raymond Benjamin told the 400 delegates from 71 countries who attended the Global Aviation Training Symposium in Malahide.
  • Stobart Air is to recommence services from Shannon to Birmingham from  June 18.
  • Citywing will recommence flights between Belfast City Airport and the Isle of Man and Blackpool from April 1st .

Shannon Delta March 2015 003Delta restarts its seasonal flight between Dublin and Atlanta tomorrow March 30 using a 225-seat B767-300. The daily flight, which complements Delta’s existing service between Dublin and New York-JFK, departs Dublin at 11:40am until April 6 and 11:10am from April 7 until October 24, returning from Atlanta at 8:36pm. Delta business class offers flat-bed seats with full 180 degree recline and direct aisle access, using Westin heavenly inflight bedding from Westin Hotels Delta offer 200 onward connections to destinations throughout the US and popular Mexican and Caribbean destinations such as Cancun. Picture shows Delta event for travel agents to make the return of seasonal flights from Shannon to New York-JFK, Siobhan Scanlan of Delta, Isabel Harrison of Shannon Airport, Sheila Brazil of Limerick Travel, Teresa Murphy of Delta.

  • SITA’s 2015 Baggage Report showed that the rate of mishandled bags in 2014 was 7.3 bags per thousand passengers, down 61.3pc from a peak of 18.88 bags per thousand passengers in 2007 and contended that the air transport industry has saved US$18bn despite a significant rise in passenger numbers to 3.3bn. Another SITA survey showed 63pc of passengers prefer to use their own smartphone, tablet or laptop for inflight entertainment.
  • The London based Balkan Holidays is adding an extra Sunday flight from Belfast to Bourgas between June 21 and August 2, using BH Air.
  • The free travel offer on Heathrow Express for children under 16 accompanied by a parent or guardian was made permanent and a sale fare introduced of £10 per adult ticket over Easter weekend.
  • SkyTeam were recognised as Alliance of the Year 2015 by Air Transport News.
  • Outgoing Ryanair CFO Howard Millar was appointed chairman of BDO accountancy firm.
  • Avolon announced the delivery of its first B787-9 to Virgin Atlantic, the first of four aircraft scheduled for delivery. This week, Avolon also delivered a B737-800 to Aeromexico, an A321 o Philippine Airlines and a B737-800 to Pegasus Airlines.
  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to increase annual revenue to $10bn over the next 10 years and increase the number of international destinations from 84 to 120. The carrier also hopes to expand its fleet from 80 aircraft to 140.
  • Travelport announced a new Travel Commerce Platform agreement with Greek carrier, Ellinair.
  • Etihad - Alitalia Graduate Management Program - PHOTOAlitalia launched a new graduate programme.400 candidate applied this year. 24 were selected for enrolment in the programme, which commenced in Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub on Tuesday. Picture shows the first participants with Wissam Hachem, Etihad Airways Vice President Learning & Development, and Fatma Al Ali, Etihad Airways Head of UAE National Development.
  • Flybe begins operating its summer schedule today, with 27 new routes and two new bases at Bournemouth and Cardiff.
  • American Airlines stopped selling duty free merchandise on international flights after a disagreement with inflight retail partner Duty Free Air and Ship Supply.
  • Finnair’s board of directors approved a €30m investment to add Wi-Fi to most of the airline’s wide body and narrow body fleet.
  • WCA announced that its 2016 global conference will take place in Abu Dhabi, from March 10 to 16.
  • Air New Zealand and Air China’s proposed alliance could see services commence as early as December this year.
  • Airbus celebrated the delivery of its 9000th aircraft — the first A321 to be delivered to VietJet Air.
  • Air France signed Jolco for the refinancing of one 2009-vintage A320.
  • Amedeo is rumoured to be in talks with two customers for some of its A380s in 2015.
  • SpiceJet settled out of court with five Irish lessors — B&B Air Acquisition, Steddell, Torodell, Xavierdell and Virgodell — over $16m in claims from unpaid dues relating to aircraft leases.
  • The refurbished viewing gallery at Belfast International Airport has received lots of social media attention from self-professed #AvGeeks. Hundreds of aviation enthusiasts have visited the gallery since it opened last month, enjoying the panoramic views of the apron and main runway. It is also possible for visitors to hear communications between Air Traffic Control and the cockpit, and there is a flight tracker displaying aircraft activity.
  • Quick Park is offering customers the chance to win €1,000 in cash: Book parking at Dublin airport online at quickpark.ie before March 31 to be entered into the draw.

Afloat

Carnival Corporation, who already has 10 new cruise ships on order before 2018, is to add nine more ships to its fleets over 2019-23. Five ships will be built by Fincantieri at its shipyards in Monfalcone and Marghera, while four will be built at Meyer Werft’s shipyards in Papenburg and Turku. Carnival owns nine cruise brands: Carnival, Princess, Holland America, Seabourn, Cunard, AIDA, P&O, P&O Australia and Costa.

  • Stena Line completes a £6m refit investment programme of its Irish Sea northern corridor fleet this week when Stena Precision finishes its upgrade at Belfast’s Harland & Wolff shipyard. Seven ships have been upgraded by Stena Line over the last five months including Stena Line’s flagship vessels Stena Superfast VII and VIII which operate on the Belfast-Cairnryan service.
  • Rivercruise ship-launch champions Viking splashed back into action with another mega-launch day: naming 12 new river vessels in one day, eight in Amsterdam and four in Rostock, bringing its fleet to 60. Amsterdam was the venue of the naming of eight 190-passenger Longships while two more were named in Rostock as well as two scaled-down 96-passenger vessels customised for the shallow Elbe River. Godmothers were some of the longest-serving Viking employees. Viking, which launched 10 vessels in 2013 and 16 in 2014, has six new river vessels on order for 2016, with the option to build more based on demand.
  • Uniworld asked a descendent of Maria Theresa Princess Anita von Hohenberg, to name its newest river ship, the 150-passenger Maria Theresa at a ceremony in Amsterdam. Amenities include a swimming pool with floor-to-ceiling modesty glass that frosts over when passengers walk through the door to have a dip, the line’s signature Leopard Bar next door with its animal print interior, cinema, spa, fitness room and complimentary bicycles and Nordic walking poles. The Maria Theresa will cruise the Danube River with itineraries including the 14-night European Jewels voyage from Budapest to Amsterdam, springtime Tulips & Windmills and winter Christmas market cruises.
  • Avalon Waterways named the 128-passenger Avalon Tapestry II in the Normandy village of Les Andelys, one of four launches for the group this year. Tapestry II will join the 140-passenger Avalon Creativity on the Seine River. Avalon will launch two further river vessels in 2016, the Avalon Passion on the Danube and Avalon Imagery II on the Rhine, and new itineraries in Holland and Belgium.
  • China is to get a second of Royal Caribbean‘s three Quantum-class ships, Ovation of the Seas, when it homeports in Tianjin from June 2016. Currently under construction, Ovation will join Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas in four different cities: Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong and Xiamen.
  • AmaWaterways will build two more ships in 2017 and will begin operations in Bordeaux in 2016, basing AmaDolce there for 20 food and wine-based itineraries. AmaWaterways has ceased operations in Russia in 2015 and 2016, but launched its first ship in Burma and its second ship on the Mekong.
  • MSC Sinfonia has left Genoa to resume service following enlargement and enhancement at Fincantieri’s Palermo shipyard. Features include new clubs dedicated to younger guests, including the outdoor Spray Park with exciting waterfalls and water slides, more balcony cabins, more spacious public areas and a greater choice of restaurants. MSC Cruises, which has grown by 800pc in capacity since 2004, carried 1.67m guests and reached a turnover of €1.5bn, is forecasting an additional 10pc growth in 2015.
  • Norwegian Star, just out of dry dock has been retro-fitted with O’Sheehan’s pub (and 24-hour complimentary restaurant), despite the departure of Kevin Sheehan as CEO. Moderno Churrascaria, the Brazilian-style steakhouse, has moved to Deck 13 and an adjacent Sugarcane Mojito Bar added. Additions include a first at-sea Jimmy Buffet Five O’Clock Somewhere Bar while Ginza, formerly $15 per person, is now a complimentary dining venue. Enhancements include digital touch-screen signage; updates to the casino, photo gallery, pool deck and galley areas; window replacements; and new carpeting and flooring in passenger areas. Safety updates include a lifeboat and tender boat release systems upgrade; thrusters and stabilizer maintenance; and ballast and bilge piping replacement. Technical upgrades include silicone paint on the hull, along with an Azipod hydrodynamic upgrade to reduce fuel emissions and energy consumption. Norwegian Star will sail seven- to 14-night itineraries from Copenhagen throughout the Baltics and Norwegian fjords.
  • Disney Magic’s summer 2015 in Europe features “Frozen”-themed events, and the movie’s characters will be onboard doing meet-and-greets and taking roles in Disney’s original onboard shows. Disney Magic is to come to Dublin in 2016 as part of a 12-night Britain and Ireland cruise. Disney Magic will return to Norway and Iceland, as well as to destinations in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Dublin is to get 86 cruise ship calls this year with three further calls to Dún Laoghaire. A further 17 ships will dock in the bay and passengers will be tendered off.mark evans award

Ireland was represented by a winner at the CLIA cruise journalism awards at the Ham Yard Hotel in London. Mark Evans of , The Herald won the best river cruise feature for his Travelling like royalty on the River Queen.  Picture shows Mark receiving his award from Andy Harmer, CLIA  Director for Britain and Ireland and Kathryn Beadle, Managing Director of Uniworld.

  • Stena’s Car Holiday Report 2015 says one in four Irish holidaymakers are planning to take the car with them on holiday with France, England and Spain the top three destinations. Irish holidaymakers like to fill up their boots during the trip buying local delicacies, souvenirs and clothes to take home.
  • Crystal Cruises is introducing two itineraries for 2016 inclusive of flights from Belfast International, an 18-night Hawaiian Serenade fly/cruise round trip from San Francisco onboard Crystal Serenity. Departing May 28, 2016, and a ten-night fly cruise round trip from New York departing on October 2, 2016.
  • Two crew members working on board Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas were detained after customs officials discovered 15kg of cocaine worth $1m while the ship was docked at Buenos Aires.
  • Virgin Cruises appointed Stuart Hawkins as senior vice president in charge of new builds.

Deal Watch

  • Click and Go is offering full board on board the Queen Mary 2 New York to Southampton from €1,999pp incl. entertainment from Crosby, Stills and Nash on September 4 sailing or entertainment from the Blue Note Jazz Club on October 29 sailing. Prices include return fights from Dublin to New York, 7 nights transatlantic crossing, interior stateroom, daily white gloved afternoon tea, white star service, taxes and port charges, 1 night in a 4 star hotel pre or post cruise in New York and 20kg checked bag pp. Call 01 6371699 to book or visit clickandgo.com.
  • ITAA offers of the week: 8 nights Oceania Italian Cruise from Rome to Venice from €1,289pp incl. free gratuities, depart May 3. 7 nights Half Board Valamar Zagreb Hotel, Croatia from €794pps incl. return flights and transfers, depart May 19. 7 nights B&B Kalofer Hotel, Bulgaria from €399pps incl. return flights, transfers, 20kg baggage and resort rep service, depart May 30.
  • Irish Ferries is offering 3 nights B&B in the Best Western Tillington Hall Hotel from €429 for two adults and two children incl. return car ferry crossing and one full day at Alton Towers. Call 0818 300 400 to book.
  • Lowcostbeds offers of the week, based on 4 sharing, 7 nights, arriving June 25: 4* Baia Cristal Beach & Spa resort, Carvoeiro, Portugal from €11pppn B&B. 3* Ourasol apartments, Albuferia, Portugal from €12pppn self catering. 3* Siesta 1 apartments, Alcudia, Majorca from €17pppn self catering. 3* Golf Centre apartments, Roquestas De Mar, Costa De Algeria from €12pppn self catering. 4* Hotel Hesperia Sabinal, Roquestas De Mar, Costa De Algeria from €26pppn half board.
  • Sunway Lisbon coast offers: 7 nights B&B 3* Villa Gale Estoril from €649pp, depart June 20. 7 nights B&B 4* Vila Gale Cascais Hotel from €699pp, depart June 20. Prices include flights, return airport transfers, taxes, charges, 20kg checked in baggage pp and Sunway rep service.
  • Click and Go offers: 3 nights in the Mediterran Hotel, Budapest from €239pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, travel in April. 7 nights self catering Panorama Apts, Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote from €399pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in May. 7 nights B&B Corfy Holiday Palace, Kanoni, Corfu from €459pp incl. return flights ex Dublin and transfers, travel in May. 7 nights Bhundhari Spa Resort & Villas Samui Hotel, Koh Samui, Thailand from €999pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in June. To book visit clickandgo.com or call 01 637 1699.
  • Travel Department Supersaver offers, all include transfer on arrival, return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges.:  7 nights B&B in 3* accommodation, Sorrento from €499pp, depart March 31 or April 14. 7 nights B&B in Hotel Arnolfo & Aqua Laetitia, Montecatini, Tuscany from €499pp, departs various dates in April. 3 nights at a 3* or 4* accommodation in Reykjavik from €349pp, departs various dates in April. 5 nights B&B 3* Best Western Hotel Astoria or 4* Hotel Novotel Montfleury, Cannes from €429pp, depart April 3 or April 17. 7 nights B&B Le Patio Des Artistes, Cannes from €499pp, depart April 2. 4 nights Valamar Club Dubrovnik Hotel from €499pp, depart April 20. 7 nights B&B Hotel Londres, Estoril, Portugal from €399pp, depart April 8. 5 nights B&B Hotel Vila Recife, The Algarve from €259pp, depart April 23 or from €299 depart April 8. To book visit traveldepartment.ie or call 01 637 1600.
  • Travel Department is offering 7 nights in Istanbul with Turkish Airlines from €999 incl. 4 nights B&B at 4* CVK Taxim Hotel and 3 nights half board at 5* Suhan Hotel in Avanos. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, depart May 8.
  • Falcon is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Parque Cristobal & Siam Park, Playa de Las Americas, Tenerife from €2,099 for two adults and one child incl. flights ex Dublin, depart June 5. To book visit falconholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.
  • Thomson couples’ deal to Tenerife: 7 nights half board Los Gingantes, Playa De Arena from €599pps incl. flights ex Dublin, depart May 22.
  • Globe Hotels is offering 5* Sandos San Blas Resort, Tenerife from €465 on All Inclusive basis, depart May 5. See globehotels.ie for more info.
  • Powder White late Easter ski deals: 7 nights The Locarno, Verbier from £349pp based on six people sharing on a fully catered basis, depart April 4. 7 nights La Grange de Marie, Maribel from £399pp based on 10 people sharing on a fully catered basis, depart April 4. 7 nights Chalet Fitzroy, Courchevel 1650 from £349pp based on eight people sharing on a fully catered basis, depart April 4. 7 nights Chalet Fritz, St Anton from £399pp based on 20 people sharing on a fully catered basis, depart April 5. Call +44 20 8877 888 to book.
  • Galgorm Resort & Spa in Ballymena offers: 1 night B&B Spring Escape from £99.50pp incl. a 3 course evening meal with bottle of house wine in one of three restaurants and use of Thermal Spa facilities. 2 nights B&B Spring Retreal in Superior guest room from £160pp incl. a 3 course evening meal, Afternoon Tea and use of Thermal Spa facilities. Valid from March to May 2015. Visit galgorm.com for more info.
  • Tourism NI offers of the week; 1 night La Mon Hotel & Country Club, Belfast from £79.50pps incl. two-course meal in The Mill Restaurant and use of country club facilities, available now until April 12, call 028 9044 8631 to book. 1 night B&B Lough Erne Resort, Ross Inner, Enniskillen from £118pps incl. a round of golf or Thai spa experience, available until December 31, call 028 6634 5766 to book. 1 night B&B Derry City Travelodge from £69 incl. two tickets for Cholmcille Walking Tours of Derry, available April 9 to 30, call 0870 1911 733 to book. 1 nights B&B Ballygally Castle Hotel, Larne from £65pps incl. 4 course dinner in the Garen Restaurant, available until June 30, call 028 28581 066 to book.

Ireland

The Irish government’s tourism strategy proposes plans to grow overseas visitors to 10m per annum by 2025 (listen here), in theory increasing annual revenues from overseas visitors to €5bn* and result in an additional 50,000 jobs, bringing total employment in the sector to over 250,000. Currently 12 countries in Europe attract more than 10m tourists annually.

IRELAND GOES UNDERGROUND – TO INSPIRE MILLIONS OF PARIS COMMUTTourism Ireland launched a joint promotional campaign with online French travel agents Go Voyages to deliver 1,000 billboard ads in metro stations in Paris.

  • L’Irlande à Paris in the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris saw 35 Industry representatives from the Irish Tourism Trade meet face to face with French group tour operators, retail travel agents who book directly with Industry, French business tourism agents and corporate MICE buyers.
  • Clare Wellness Festival will place on May 11-17 in the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon.
  • Fáilte Ireland hosted 40 international golf buyers and media this week to attend the 2015 Golf Ireland Convention.

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

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Huskies in Tromsø

The headlines this week:

  • Bardo Museum blow for Tunisia – and for cruise industry
  • Breaking news from Cruise Shipping Miami
  • Sneak preview as Ethiopian bring the Dreamliner to Dublin
  • Tromsø direct from Dublin, a Northern yights special
  • Another spin on the publicity merry-go-round for Ryanair’s T/A for a Tenner
  • Three’s a crowd: Flybe departs from Dublin route to London City
  • Trouble at Travel Centres

Travel Extra TV

Video of week March 22Plenty of videos uploaded this showcasing St Patrick’s Day celebrations around the world this week, including our video of the week, which shows a time-lapse of the annual dyeing the Chicago River green. (Watch here). Meanwhile, Tourism Ireland celebrated the occasion with songs from Downpatrick (Watch here), and WOWAir marked Iceland’s inaugural greening (Watch here).

  • Bath time is tricky for this baby elephant at Ayutthaya Elephant palace & Royal Kraal in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Watch here.
  • New York City captured through 3,000 images in one minute. Watch here.
  • See Aer Lingus’ promo video for the Dublin-Washington DC direct service. Watch here.
  • Ryanair posted a video of its new on-time jingle. Watch here.
  • A man armed with a machete tried to storm a checkpoint at an airport in New Orleans. Watch here for Euronews’ report.
  • The Emirates A380 performs a hat trick in Auckland. Auckland is the only destination other than Dubai with three Emirates A380s arriving daily within an hour. Watch here.
  • The latest instalment in Airbus Blue5’s humorous videos promoting environmental issues explores water conservation – stopping the drop. Watch here.

Headlines

Dublin airport new apron march 2015 copy

It was NOT the start to the summer schedules we wanted. Protesters blocked the first Ryanair departure from Copenhagen. The flight took off very late, after a delay blamed on trade union activists but said by Denmark’s trade unions to be due to normal procedures. Most of the summer schedules roar into action next weekend with some exciting developments including Finnair’s return to the Dublin-Helsinki route. Dublin’s other routes include Agadir and Nantes with Aer Lingus, Barcelona with Vueling, Bournemouth with Flybe, Copenhagen and Lublin with Ryanair, Newquay with Aer Lingus Regional and Paris Orly with Transavia, with more to follow in May and June: Addis and LA with Ethiopian, Cardiff with Flybe, Chicago with United Airlines, Doncaster with Aer Lingus Regional, Geneva with Swiss, Gothenburg with SAS,  Halifax (Canada) with Europe Airpost and Washington DC with Aer Lingus, Shannon’s new routes are Kaunas and Manchester with Ryanair, Cork’s new routes are Prague with CSA from May 14 with Cardiff with Flybe and Ibiza with CSA to follow in June, Belfast’s new routes are Rome, Prague, Las Palmas and Zakinthos with Jet2, with Las Vegas and Orlando from Virgin and Reyjavik from WoW to follow in June. Picture shows ten new aircraft parking spaces and three new aircraft taxiing lanes being prepared at Dublin Airport. Listen here to Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. 

Michael O'Leary conducts a press conference Aug 21 2014Another first for the new Ryanair: a statement to the Stock Exchange attempting to calm a storm created by their own (albeit historical) publicity machine: “In the light of recent press coverage, the Board of Ryanair Holdings Plc wishes to clarify that it has not considered or approved any transatlantic project and does not intend to do so”.  It came about because the Ryanair trans-Atlantic for a tenner media circus was started anew. Michael O’Leary described Monday’s statement that Ryanair’s board gave the green light for transatlantic flights as “a miscommunication”. This particular miscommunication generated 1,200 news articles and ended up on prime time television and radio across most of the TV and radio stations despite the fact there is nothing new to report except a reminder of how Ryanair does business. The board gave the CEO the freedom to jump into the market if the price of wide bodied craft falls, which it shows no sign of doing. Nothing has changed. Trans-Atlantic remains a long term goal. Ryanair will not be offering the service themselves, but will establish a sister airline to link 12-15 airports in Europe with 12-15 in North America. Industry reaction included Routesonline’s Ryanair one step closer to going long-haul and Airline Reporter’s Ryanair to fly across the Atlantic? Using which aircraft. Even The Economist joined the discussion. To go to the main source himself, listen here to Michael O’Leary’s thoughts on how Ryanair’s trans-Atlantic sister airline could offer transatlantic at under €100. Listen here and éist anseo to Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry on the subject, and also on The Irish Times Inside Business podcast.

Ethiopian_B787_ETASG_DUB_depart_200315_7589There was lots of excitement at Dublin airport’s Runway 28 on Friday as Ethiopian AirlinesB787 Dreamliner made its first visit to the capital ahead of its inaugural Dublin-Addis Adaba flight in June. Trevor Buckley’s tweet shows a group of aviation enthusiasts gathered on the mound to take snaps of the jet. Travel Extra‘s Michael Kelly took this picture after touchdown as well as shots of the interior. CEO Tewolde Gebremariam and crew were on board flight ET700 from Copy of Ethiopian_B787_ETASG_DUB_200315_Onboard_Economy_9986 (1)London Heathrow, while Minister Paschal Donohoe and Kevin Toland of there DAA were at the other end to welcome them. Ethiopian Airlines fly from Addis Ababa to LA via Dublin this summer, connecting Ireland to 49 destinations in Africa. It will be Ireland’s first direct service to sub Saharan Africa. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce returns to Dublin to speak at the CAPA conference on Tuesday to Thursday at the Powerscourt Hotel. The conference will alan joycebe opened by Ireland’s Minister of Transport, Tourism & Sport, Paschal Donohoe on Wednesday morning with Alan Joyce up to speak on the Evolution of a “hybrid airline group at 2pm on Wednesday. Other speakers at events (moderated by Richard Quest of CNN) include Ryanair CCO David O’Brien and CEOs Stephen Kavanagh of Aer Lingus, Kevin Toland of DAA, Aidan Brogan of Datalex, Conor McCarthy of Dublin Aerospace, Eamonn Brennan of the Irish Aviation Authority. Participating CEOs include Kurt Knackstedt of ACTE, Athar Husain Kahn of AEA, Adel Ali of Air Arabia, Martin Gauss of AirBaltic, Kresimir Kucko of Croatia Airlines, Saad Hammad of Flybe, Sebastian Mikosz of LOT Polish Airlines, Xiuzhi Zhang of Spring Airlines, Sean Brogan of Stobart Air and Mattijs ten Brink of Transavia. Other participants include Chief Revenue Officer of Aer Lingus Mike Rutter, Sinead Finn of Affinity, Zhihang Chi of Air China, Albert Casanova of Air Europa, Bobby Healy of CarTrawler, Cath Lynn of Easyjet, Maxime Marembaud of CWT, John Slattery of Embraer, Jim Callaghan of Etihad, Joni Sundelin of Finavia, Ciro Camargo of Gol, Murray Smyth of SITA, Derek Sharp and Ian Heywood of Travelport.

tunisia attackIrish citizens in Tunis were advised to avoid the city centre, remain indoors and monitor closely the local media after a militant attack on the Bardo Museum (the world’s best collection of mosaics) that killed 20 tourists, including 12 MSC Cruises shore excursionists. Tunisia’s tourist industry is responsible for 15pc of GDP and 14pc of all jobs and has already been crippled due to the collapse of its main inbound market, Libya. Five cruise lines have cancelled port stops to Tunisia for the rest of the year. Costa Fascinosa departed on Thursday and passengers were given the opportunity to disembark in Palma and be flown home by Costa. MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises cancelled all stops. MSC Splendida will call at Valletta, Malta, for the rest of the season. MSC Fantasia will call at Palma, Mallorca. MSC Preziosa will call in at Caglia. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises cancelled Europa’s port stop in Tunis on April 6. Star Clippers cancelled port calls in Hammamet in April and October 2015 for Star Clipper. AIDA cancelled all port calls in La Goulette for AIDAblu, AIDAsol and AIDAvita. True to form, Ireland has proven more resilient than other markets in the face of an attempt to target the country’s tourist industry. Sunway report only about 3pc of Irish people who had booked have cancelled and they have had “quite a few new bookings since the attack”.  John Grehan of Just Sunshine, who also run a summer programme to Tunisia, reports no cancellations and “business as usual”. The DFA updated its travel Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 13.14.58advice on Tunisia and advised people concerned about the welfare of any Irish citizen in Tunis, please contact our Consular Assistance Unit in Dublin on (01) 478 0822 and suggested those visiting or planning to stay in Tunisia should register your details with the Department. Social media users promised to visit Tunisia this summer with the hashtag #JeSuisBardo, a reference to the Charlie Hebdo attacks back in January.

Big announcements at Cruise Shipping Miami Included features and itineraries for MSC’s MSC Seaside, due in November 2017. MSC Cruises’ chief executive Gianni Onorato said the first Seaside-class vessel will offer what it calls “the most original and interactive aqua park at sea” including the latest in high-tech slides, a sea-level promenade that circumnavigates the ship with outdoor spaces, shops and an extended MSC Yacht Club area. MSC claim Seaside class ships are “the iPhone of the cruise industry’ for their radical design. The 4,140 passenger Seaside will sail year-round from an expanded and renovated terminal and berth in Miami to the Caribbean.

richard-fainParticipants at Cruise Miami included Carnival’s Arnold Donald, MSC’s Pierfrancesco Vago, Norwegian’s Frank Del Rio, and Royal Caribbean’s Richard Fain (pictured). Norwegian’s Frank Del Rio said that a fare hike of $5 per day would result in more profitable cruise lines. Richard Fain said Royal Caribbean had “not managed to raise pricing in six years. The old myths of cruising are persistent and they’re holding us back.”

Claus Bodker, director of Cruise Baltic said cruisers are searching for “authentic” and “exclusive” shore excursions and tours – and they’re willing to pay more for the experience. Gianluca Suprani of MSC said that while many cruise lines are decreasing the number of ships in South America, MSC’s bookings there are up. There were some jokes. When MSC’s Pierfrancesco Vago suggested teaming up with Norwegian’s three lines, NCL, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania, Carnival’s Arnold Donald retorted: “once you guys do that, we’ll buy you.” And there was some new jargon in a jargon-filled industry: Norwegian’s Frank Del Rio talked about the “quality of the fill,” which apparently describes passengers who want value more than deepest discounts.

Nialll McDonnell red seaRed Sea Holidays‘ first ever Irish brochure was launched featuring direct flights from Dublin to Sharm el Sheikh. Red Sea Holidays is headed up in Ireland by Niall McDonnell (pictured).  Red Sea will operate direct flights to Sharm El Sheikh this summer utilising 40 seats on the Falcon charter commencing May 21 and continuing until October 22.

More quibbling between the yanks and the Gulfers at the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 14th Annual Aviation Summit in Washington, DC. James Hogan CEO of Etihad said Open Skies has been “a model of success, generating enormous benefits for travellers and for airlines in the US, the UAE and around the world.” He said: Etihad is a David, a james hogan etihad screenDavid who’s been facing Goliaths since 2003, when we started.  In virtually every market we’ve entered, we’ve had to face existing competitors, with established businesses, established infrastructure, established sales and marketing, established brands, and established customer bases. In many cases, those established airlines were gifted amazing infrastructure – airports, terminals, slots, landing rights – over decades. To take them on, we’ve had to work harder and we’ve had to work smarter. That’s called competition.” In the discussion Hogan added that Gulf airlines are separate, very different, we don’t lobby together, Etihad’s fiercest competitor is Emirates. Emirates Airline President and part time Lismore resident Tim Clarke said American consumers, tim clarkeinternational gateway airports, local and regional economies, and businesses will be the ultimate victims of the protectionist campaign being run by Delta, American, and United Airlines. In Dubai Boeing’s Jeff Johnson said he did not think there will be a change in Open Skies. Boeing’s Kevin Conner said aircraft demand is not slowing down due to growth in Asia. Arabian Business asked: did Mr Bean compile the US airlines report into subsidies? Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos said “obviously they are trying to block competition.”

eoghan cassie Tom Patric copyTravel Extra‘s editor went all the way to Tromsø to see the Northern Lights, and there they were, hiding out in Donegal, all along. Hurtigruten hosted a trio of intrepid Irish writers and if the eclipse, scenery, and periodic sightings of the aurora borealis didn’t take your breath away, the storms and the cold would. “Bracing doesn’t do it justice,” Patric Baird said after a visit to Nordkapp, the northernmost point in Europe. “The ink in my pen froze,” said Tom Sweeney, “writer’s block.” Picture shows Eoghan Corry, Cassie Leibinger, Tom Sweeney and Patric Baird in Tromsø. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Matt Corcoran’s King Travel and Richard Cullen’s Killiney Travel have had their membership of Travel Centres revoked after a meeting in Dublin last week. Travel Centres currently have 74 members, Worldchoice 54 (including 12 in the north) and Travelsavers 47.

Travel Trade

16814501081_888e63b891_nTravel Centres agents continued their fam trip to China in conjunction with Bedsonline and Turkish Airlines. Pictured at the Forbidden City in Beijing: Thomas McNally of Bedsonline, Ann Marie Dalton of Turkish Airlines, Tara Szafranek of Travel Broker, Elaine Massey of Killiney Travel, Liana O’Shea of East Cork, Caroline O’Connor of Creation Travel, Erica O’Reilly of King Travel, Lisa Cusack of Midland Travel, Catherine Bowe of Bowe Travel, and Pamela Brownlee of Flyaway. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

  • Amadeus say the launch of Amadeus Ticket Changer Refund and Amadeus Ticket Change Involuntary will be supported by an educational campaign offering interactive e-learning tools to help travel agents learn more about the product suite. The an automated suite of products enables travel professionals to manage re-pricing, re-issuing or refunding requests in a matter of minutes.
  • Neil Burns launched journ.ie “to help users in the Hospitality Industry connect with their customers quickly and easily, identify high quality online conversations and the originators of this content, highlight upcoming opportunities, conduct market research, and manage reputation.”
  • Enquiries for trips to Cuba are up150pc since January, as Irish holidaymakers rush to visit the pristine Caribbean island before the Americans arrive. Abbey Travel has joined Cuba Travel in the market and is promoting two group holidays. Cuba cruise announced weekly cruises from December 2015, featuring two days in Havana.
  • Amadeus appointed Champa Magesh to as new MD for Amadeus Ireland and Britain.
  • Emirates are seeking additional Sales Executives based in Dublin and Munster.
  • Champa Magesh was appointed managing director of Amadeus for Ireland and England.
  • Cronins Coaches will sponsor Skåll’s next event on April 16. Skålleagues will enjoy lunch in Mary Bowe’s Marfield House in Co Wexford and then coffee and scones in Ester O’Brien’s Woodbridge Hotel. Tickets cost €35 for members and guests. Guest places are restricted to two per member. Coach pick-ups: 10.30 Connolly Station, 11.00 Stillorgan Park Hotel. Return: 17.45 Stillorgan Park Hotel, 18.15 Connolly Station.
  • Early bird booking for Travel Professionals Skillnet’s Excel courses closes at 6pm tomorrow (March 23). Excel Level 1 takes place in Dublin on April 7 and Level 2 takes place on April 21. Cost €150. More info/bookings.
  • Balkan Holidays will add an additional weekly flight from Belfast to Bourgas, Bulgaria, operating every Sunday from June 22 to August 2.

Hotels

JP Kavanagh - GM InterContinental Dublin copyJohn Malone Partnership will invest €5m in the 197-room five-star InterContinental Hotel in Ballsbridge (known as the Four Seasons until January) after purchasing it for an undisclosed sum from London & Regional Property. JP Kavanagh (pictured) recently returned from Dubai to become GM of the hotel. The partnership owns the five-star Westin Hotel on College Green as well as the Trinity City Hotel, the Hilton Dublin and the Limerick Strand Hotel. 73-year-old John Malone, who is North America’s largest land owner, recently bought properties including Humewood Castle in Co Wicklow for €8m, Ballylinch Stud near Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, and Castlemartin, the 750-acre Kildare estate formerly owned by Tony O’Reilly, for €28m.

Abbeyglen Castle Times Square Movie 1Footage of Manor House Hotels member Abbeyglen Castle were broadcast on the big screen in Times Square, New York. A four-minute video entitled I’m a Celebrity Get Me in There featured appearances from Ryan Tubrity, Brendan Grace, Mary Kennedy, Sharon Shannon, Tony Tormey and the late Tony Fenton. Picture shows owner Brian Hughes in front of the screen.

  • The average room rate for business travellers in the USA is $306.91 according to Business Travel News’ 2015 Corporate Travel Index. San Francisco was the most expensive city followed by New York City ($494.95); Boston ($465.52); Honolulu ($398.83); and Seattle ($389.11).
  • A Sheraton Hotels survey found that 60pc of respondents reported increased wine consumption when traveling and 54pc said they’d be willing to pay more for a premium glass or bottle of wine when on the road. Respondents would be most likely to give up their smartphone for a day (29pc), sex for a week (23pc), or their social media accounts for a week (23pc), in return for a premium highly rated glass of wine
  • Openings this week included the adults only Memories Jibacoa halfway between Havana and Varadero in Cuba, 173-room Raffles Jakarta, 273-room Four Seasons in Bahrain Bay, Hyatt Place in Columbia, South Carolina, Baccarat Hotel & Residences in New York, the Hilton Mississauga Meadowvale in Ontario, Canada and Holiday Inn Express in Fargo, North Dakota. Mövenpick Hotel Istanbul Golden Horn is to open March 31. Hyatt Regency Tbilisi Hotel is to open in 2017. Embassy Suites San Antonio International Airport Hotel was sold for $29.5m. Boscolo Exedra Nice joined the Autograph Collection.
  • MarBella Corfu will expand their family offering when the hotel re-opens on April 24.
  • New CEO at Loews Hotels Kirk Kinsell plans an asset-light growth strategy, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
  • Tony Capuano of Marriott said soft brands are becoming more widely accepted by owners and guests alike and, although intended primarily as a conversion platform increasingly are purpose-built. Seven of Marriott’s 76 Autograph are purpose built and the company has a further 18 new-builds in the pipeline.
  • Butlins will invest £2.4m in renovating the Bognor Regnis resort, The Shoreline Hotel.
  • Revenue at the K Club in Kildare was up 10pc to €13m last year.

International

polar bear signSolar bear? A polar bear attack on among the sky-watchers who went to Svalbard to watch Friday’s eclipse, Jakub Moravec from the Czech republic, had a happy ending when Moravec lived to tell the tale. Mayor of Svalbard’s main settlement Longyearbyen Christin Kristoffersen was among those who cautioned that the eclipse influx to a region which has 3,000 polar bears was not going to end well.

A new survey from SnowTrex highlighted ski areas which cater specially to women’s needs: Orcières Merlette (FR), Carezza (IT) of Carinthia (AT) on the southern side of the Alps are best for a spring tan, Schladming (AT), Les Deux Alpes (FR) or Livigno (IT) are best for shopping, best for child-care offers, Val Cenis (FR) and Obsteig (AT), Kitzsteinhorn, Quatre Vallées and the Small Matterhorn (all in Switzerland) for power ladies.

Eoghan six one news March 16 2015 copyRTE revealed correspondence between three government departments that suggested that queues at passport control in Dublin airport reached 45 minutes during August bank holiday last year. Watch here Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry commenting on the issue on RTE six-one news.

  • Europe’s first snowball fighting competition took place in Avoriaz,
  • Egypt tightened visa rules for individual travellers. Khaled Ramy, Egypt’s new tourism minister targeted 20m tourists by 2020.
  • Namibia Tourism is looking to Irish and British tourists to host unbounded numbers.
  • Tourism Fiji launched a competition for international day of happiness on Friday inviting four instagrammers to Fiji to show case Fiji and encourage others from all over the world to share their own images of things that make them happy to enter a competition to win an eight-night trip for two people to the happiest country on earth.
  • New York’s Mayor de Blasio and NYC & Company announced a growth programme: Road to 10m more visitors.
  • Heidelberg Marketing launched holiday packages for cyclists and offers guided tours for groups
  • Emirates will be flight partners for the World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) 2015 is taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in South Africa Sept 22-25 2015.
  • The International Health and Wealth Conference takes place October 15-17 in the Algarve.
  • SeaWorld launched a new print and TV campaign called Meet the Animals in a bid to improve its public image following the Blackfish documentary controversy. Meanwhile, SeaWorld appointed Joel Many as the new chief executive from April 7.
  • The 63rd Reindeer King’s Cup Championships reindeer race will be held in Inari, Finland on March 28 and 29.
  • 35,000 runners participated in the 2015 Tel Avi Marathon. Meanwhile the Bible Marathon takes place April 9 from Rosh Ha’ayin to Shiloh.
  • The National Tourism Service in Chile plans to stimulate tourism on Easter Island by offering marketing and tourist services support to local organisations.
  • An American tourist was bitten by a shark while snorkelling at Hapuna Beach Park on Hawaii’s Big Island.
  • The economic observatory of Parisian tourism found that the number of inbound visits were down 1.4pc, while the domestic market remained stable.

Food and Wine

Michelin-star chefs confirmed for Burren Slow Food Week FestivalThe Burren Slow Food Week Festival takes place May 16 to 24. The theme of this year’s festival is Land and Sea. The festival will feature 34 food events, including cooking demos by Michelin Star chefs Derry Clarke and JP McMahon. Other highlights include a talk by John and Sally McKenna, a Food Producers Forum and a family-friendly grow it yourself workshop. Picture shows John Sheedy of Sheedy’s Restaurant, Birgitta Hedin Curtin of Burren Smokehouse, Jason Horner of Leen Organics and Gerry Sweeney of Burren Seafoods.

Take a look at USA Today’s spiciest eating challengers in America, some of which you need to sign a waiver before consuming. Read here.

Steven Lamb of River Cottage is hosting a one-day class at the School of Food in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny on April 11, 10am-5pm. Steven will be cooking a pig in a day, teaching the basics of butchering, making sausages, air-dried ham, braw, bacon, chorizo and salami. Participants will be cooking devilled kidneys and paté. Costs €120. Book at townoffood.com or call 056-7754397.

Aviation

Three’s a crowd. The number of operators on the over-served Dublin to London City route has gone from three to two, Flybe are cancelling their service from May leaving BA and Cityjet on the route.

CityJet_RJ85CityJet has extended its Dublin-London Service with the launch of an additional flight on Sunday’s from April 19 brining Sunday flights to four, serviced by 95 passenger AVRO85 Regional Jet.

Ryanair launched its Winter 2015 schedule three months earlier than 2014 with 1,600 routes across its European network, reminding consumers of the consumer product upgraded to allocated seating, a free second carry-on bag, reduced fees, a new website, a new app with mobile boarding passes, and Ryanair’s Family Extra and Business Plus services. Ryanair took delivery of nine Boeing 737-800’s increasing its fleet to 306 aircraft.

Richard Branson’s Virgin, BA’s only English competitor at Heathrow, wrote to the Oireachtas Transport Committee to express concern that that connecting flights it offers to Aer Lingus passengers to destinations such as Barbados, San Francisco, Vancouver and Hong Kong will not be protected.

Launch of the 32 Signed County Jerseys exhibition in Terminal 2, Dublin AirportDAA unveiled an exhibition of signed jerseys from all 34 teams, Ireland’s 32 counties plus New York and London, that compete in the GAA All-Ireland football and hurling championships.

Etihad said it is willing to sell Aer Lingus stake to IAG.

As a pilot’s union strike caused the cancellation of services on Wednesday, the Lufthansa CEO said the airline needs a deeper overhaul. An Air France meeting with trade unions on savings plan was cancelled.

  • Belfast’s troubled Shorts plant was given a lift by a £1bn CSeries aircraft order.
  • Alan Joyce is the second most mentioned businessman in Australian Media, according to a profile of the Tallaght man in the Financial Times.
  • Avios unveiled the Apple Watch wearable-friendly BA and Iberia loyalty programme app
  • Qantas warned of a fake Facebook scam offering a free first class flight.
  • Kenny Jacobs of Ryanair told the Retail Week Industry Conference: Stand for one thing as a brand. You can’t dance at every wedding. We started off as Robin Hood but we did become the Sheriff of Nottingham.
  • Finnair A350 flights start on Apr 9, with long haul services to start in the autumn to Shanghai, then Beijing, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • KLM will cancel some flights to Bangkok, Chengdu, Rio, Hangzhou, Nairobi, Shanghai, Xiamen & Toronto in May due to ongoing union talks. KLM halted their 787 order and plans for an Edmonton route.
  • Etihad’s investment in Air Serbia has revived Belgrade Airport, and challenged the hub order in Central/Southeast Europe.
  • Turkish Airlines added Bari and Porto to its route network Aer Lingus Shannon to New York flights returned early to satisfy St Patrick’s Day demand.
  • Austrian Airlines launched a medium-haul fleet renewal programme.
  • The Aer Lingus & G-Mac Foundation partnership was renewed.
  • Aengus Kelly’s AerCap was reported to be studying the 737 Max meaning Boeing has achived a near sweep of jet lessors.
  • Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos was reported to fear domestic competition from Ryanair.
  • Belfast-based Lagan Construction won two contracts for runway works at Heathrow worth an estimated £10m.

ETIHAD AIRWAYS AND UNIVERSAL PICTURES UNVEIL NEWLY-DECALED FAST & FURIOUS PLANE 2Etihad Airways and Universal Pictures unveiled the Fast & Furious 777 aircraft at LAX. The seventh instalment in the film franchise is in cinemas April 3. Picture shows actor Vin Diesel after arriving from Abu Dhabi.

  • Tribs the first restaurant of the new Nice-Côte d’Azur Airport opened.
  • Flynas from Saudi Arabia signed with SITA.
  • LOT Polish airlines signed with Travelport.
  • Europe’s Regional Airlines called for a European plan on airport capacity that focuses on building new runway and terminal capacity.
  • Steven Udvar-Hazy of aircraft lessor Air Lease Corp speculated that Airbus and Boeing are facing bubble trouble, saying the massive backlogs at the two dominant airframers are not as solid as they once were, citing orders placed by over-ambitious low-cost carriers and struggling airlines in markets such as Russia and Indonesia. Airbus has a backlog of 6,400 jets and Boeing 5,790,
  • Aer Lingus has rejected an allegation by Andrew Haines of the London CAA that Aer Lingus is in breach of consumer law in their handling of passengers hit by disruption to flights: “procedures, relating to the provision of information to customers affected by operational disruption, are fully compliant with all the relevant regulations. We have provided a number of documents to the CAA in recent months to substantiate this point and we continue to engage with the CAA to address their concerns.”
  • EL AL announced its 50th Boeing aircraft arrival.
  • Cannes air show for light aviation and business aviation on June 4 – 6 is moving to Lyon-Bron airport more central and easily accessible airfield after eight years at Cannes-Mandelieu, bringing the event closer to a greater number of cities less than 1h30 flight away by single-engine.
  • Air Zimbabwe is seeking a $260m capital injection.
  • Red Arrows announced four displays for the north.
  • Photo 2Nicole Kidman is the face and voice of Etihad Airwaysnew Flying Reimagined brand campaign. Picture shows Peter Baumgartner, Chief Commercial Officer; Nicole Kidman; and James Hogan, President and CEO, at the launch of the new campaign. Watch the TV ad here.
  • Malaysia Airlines’ appointment of Christoph Mueller as CEO was brought forward to May 1.
  • A BA flight from Heathrow-Dubai was forced to return to London 30 minutes after take off because of an especially ghastly smell coming from the toilet.
  • American Airlines and US Airways will combine their frequent flier programs next month.
  • There a very brief delay at Dublin Airport on Monday after a dog was loose on the runway.
  • easy-eclipseEasyJet posted this photo of the solar eclipse taken on board Flight EZY6747 Belfast-Reykjavik. It was taken over the Faroe Islands.
  • Emirates opened a $6.2m lounge at Los Angeles International airport, the airline’s 34th worldwide. It is available to First and business class passengers and to Platinum and Gold members of Emirates Skywards.
  • Boeing started using Panel Assembly Line, a new automated system, which will build wing panels for B737s.
  • London City Airport said that the number of passengers using their phones to download their boarding passes has increased 7pc to 21pc. The number of passengers using manned desks in the terminal was down 7pc to 29pc, while 54pc of passengers now check in online.
  • The Malaysian government announced a new airline called flymojo. It is expected to start operating in October using Bombardier CS100 aircraft, which will operate from Koto Kinabalu and Johur Bahru.
  • Etihad Airways completed a Korean Finance Lease for its second new A380 aircraft.
  • Flybe will commence its daily Stansted-Isle of Man service on March 29, 3w Standsted-Newcastle service on March 29 and daily Stansted-Newquay service from May 16.
  • Both Delta and United Airlines are expected to launch an app for Apple Watch before its release on April 24.

Afloat

anthem-seasExcitement is building for the launch of high-tech Anthem of the Seas (part spaceship, part cruise ship, if Royal Caribbean are to be believed) on April 20-22 with a sizeable Irish contingent travelling for a pre-launch cruise. Travel Extra will be there, determined to be first in the pool, a pattern we have established at seven of the last nine Royal Caribbean ship launches.

Fred Olsen, headed up in Ireland by Alan Lynch’s Cruisescapes, offers nine different embarkation points on its Braemar cruise in October.

  • CroisiEurope says 60-passenger Princesse Apsara will sail the Mekong, while two new 24-passenger canal barges, MS Daniele will cruise on the Briare Canal, between Burgundy and the Loire Valley and MS Deborah will take a route along the Garonne Canal from Toulouse to Damazan.
  • CLIA research released at Cruise Shipping Miami that the average cruise traveller is 49 years old, married, and earns $114,000 per year.
  • Scenic Tours is adding more ships in 2016, Scenic Amber for the Rhine, and Scenic Azure for Portugal’s Douro River. In addition Scenic Spirit will cruise the Mekong and Scenic Aura will cruise the Irrawaddy.
  • Holland America’s new Koningsdam, due to launch April 2016, will feature a three-deck atrium and steel artwork sculpture meant to represent a string quartet.
  • Royal Caribbean teamed up with Florida International University to build a 132,500-square-foot facility dedicated to training students and entertainers for Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara.

Deal Watch

  • Lowcostbeds offers of the week, based on 7 nights 2 sharing, arrive May 17: 3* Silchoro apts, Albuferia, Portugal from €11pppn room only. 3* Ourasol acts, Albuferia, Portugal from €15pppn room only. 3* Ola Bouganvilla, Santa Ponsa, Majorca from €13pppn room only. 3* Sun Beach, Santa Ponsa, Majorca from €15pppn room only. 3* Hotel Kristal, Torremolinos, Costa del Sol from €17pppn B&B. 4* Hotel Sol Principe, Benalmadena, Costa del Sol from €35pppn B&B.
  • Hastings Hotels Tom Jones tribute offers: 1 night B&B in Slieve Donard Resort & Spa for £65pp incl. tickets to the Tom Jones Tribute Show, May 1. 1 night B&B in the Stormont Hotel for £52.50pp incl. tickets, May 2.
  • 1 night B&B in Brooks Hotel from €74.50pps incl. complimentary turndown service, free in-room Wi-Fi and a copy of this year’s One City, One Book choice, Roddy Doyle’s The Barrytown Trilogy. Valid April 2015 only. Book here.
  • Tourism NI offers of the week: 3 nights B&B Craig Cottage Bed and Breakfast, Dunseverick, Bushmills, Co Antrim from £30pppn, available until June 30, call 028 2073 1480 to book. 2 nights B&B The Valley Hotel, Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone from £75pps incl. one evening meal, available until March 13 2016, call 028 6862 2200 to book. 2 nights B&B Manor House Country Hotel, Irvinestown, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh from £65pps, available until April 30, call 028 6862 2200 to book. 2 nights B&B Clandeboyne Lodge Hotel, Bangor, Co Down from £122.50pps incl. cocktail on arrival, a bottle of Deakin Estate Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Merlot in the Coq & Bull Brasserie on the night of your preference, available until April 30, call 028 9185 2500 to book.
  • ITAA guided tours offers: 10 days All Inclusive Imperial Highlights of Central Europe tour with Corrib Travel from €1,429pps, depart June 5. 9 days All Inclusive India Golden Triangle Tour with Blackpool Travel from €2,290pps, depart September 5. 12 days Amazon to Andes Tour with Fahy Travel from €2,749pps incl. flights transfers, accommodation and sightseeing, depart June 15.
  • Falcon is offering 7 nights self catering Alcudia Pins, Majorca from €1,099 for two adults and one child incl. flights ex Shannon, depart May 9.
  • Pembroke Townhouse in Ballsbridge is offering 1 night B&B from €45pp until the end of April. Call 01 6600277 to book.
  • Thomson is offering 7 nights self catering Avenida Park, Reus, Salou from €1,279 for two adults and one child incl. flights ex Dublin, depart May 22.
  • Natural Retreats Castlemartyr is offering 7 nights for the price of 5 or 5 nights for the price of 4. Six people can stay 5 nights in a 3 bed mews from €30pppn, checking in April 6. Four people can stay 7 nights in a 2 bed lodge from €38pppn, checking in April 2.  Visit naturalretreats.ie to book or call 01 685 3013.
  • Travel Department is offering 10 nights B&B in The Legendale Hotel Beijing from €1,799 incl. flights, taxes, hotel transfer and excursions, depart September 6 or November 10. No single room supplement. Visit traveldepartment.ie to book or call 01 637 1600.
  • Topflight cruise offers: 7 nights Mediterranean cruise on board the MSC Fantasia from €1,495pps incl. return flights ex Dublin, direct transfers, 4 nights Grand Hotel La Pace Sorrento, taxes and luggage allowance, depart July 13. 7 night Eastern Mediterranean cruise on board the MSC Poesia from €1,499pps incl. return flights ex Dublin, return transfers, 2 nights in Hotel Amadeus in Venice taxes and luggage allowance, depart June 6. 7 nights Treasure of the Mediterranean cruise on board the MSC Preziosa from €1,299pps incl. return flights ex Dublin, meals and onboard entertainment, rail tickets to Rome Centre, 3 nights B&B in the Hotel Glori in Rome, taxes and checked in luggage. Visit topflight.ie to book or call 01 2401 701.
  • Sunway Bodrum, Turkey offers: 7 nights self catering Summer Garden Apartments from €399pp, depart August 30. 7 nights B&B Baba Beach Hotel from €429pp, depart August 30.
  • Travel Department Supersaver offers: 7 nights B&B Ascot Hotel, Sorrento from €499pp incl. return flight ex Dublin, transfers on arrival, taxes and charges, depart March 31. 7 nights B&B at Hotel Arnolfo & Aqua Laetitia, Monecatini from €499pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, transfer on arrival, taxes and charges, depart April 14 or April 23. 3 nights B&B Reykjavik Lights Hotel or Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavik from €349pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, depart April 23. To book visit traveldepartment.ie or call 01 637 1600.
  • Sunway is offering a 14-night full board Food Heroes cruise on board P&O’s Ventura from €1,230pp. Marco Pierre White will make a guest appearance, offering cooking demos, masterclasses, hosted dinners and book signings. Visits to Lisbon, Seville, Gibraltar, Cartagena, Malaga, Casablanca and Madeira. Depart May 6.

Ireland

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 20.34.27The finalists for the inaugural Irish Tourism Industry Awards were announced on Thursday. Sixty-eight finalists were named across 11 of the 12 prize categories (the finalists for Best Design in Tourism will be announced March 30). The Gala Awards Night takes place at Doubletree by Hilton Dublin, Burlington Road on April 24, book tickets here before April 15. The finalists:

  • Best Adventure Experience: CycleWest Ireland Ltd, Erris Beo, Gaelforce Events, Killarney Adventure Race, Unique Ascent, Vagabond Adventure Tours.
  • Best Business Tourism Innovation: CREATESMARTER 2014, MICE Focus Ireland 2014, One Young World Summit 2014, The Adventure Travel World Summit Killarney 2014.
  • Best Environmental Tourism Innovation: Bord na Mona Lough Boora Discovery Park, Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark, Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, Doolin Cave Co Clare, Inch and Foyle Wildfowl Project Donegal County Council, Top of the Rock Pod Páirc and Walking Centre in West Cork.
  • Best Festival/Event Experience: A Giant’s Journey 2014 in Limerick, Bram Stoker Festival 2014, Croke Park Classic 2014, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann Sligo 2014, Punchestown Festival 2014, Rose of Tralee International Festival, St. Patrick’s Festival.
  • Best Food Experience: Bike Buffet by Westport Smarter Travel, Fab Food Trails, Galway The Food Destination, Kinsale Good Food Circle, Shells Cafe and Little Shop in Strandhill, The Food Summit with Good Food Ireland, The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine.
  • Best International Access Initiative: Aer Lingus, Air Canada Vacations, Dublin Airport / daa, Irish Ferries, Shannon Airport, The Travel Corporation.
  • Best International Marketing Initiative: American College Football by Anthony Travel Inc, CIE Tours International, DERTour, Dublin Airport / daa, Expanding Distribution Channels by Abbey Tours, Odyssey International Trafalgar Australia.
  • Best Local Authority Tourism Initiative: Boyne Valley Destination – Meath and Louth County Councils, Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark – Clare County Council, Cavan County Council – Cavan Burren, Parkland and WWW 1 Trench Experience, Kerry County Council, Kilkenny County Council, Viking Triangle – Waterford City & County Council, West Mayo Municipal District – Westport.
  • Best Urban Experience: Dublin City Bike Tours, Dublin City of a Thousand Welcomes, Irish Whiskey Museum Dublin, Fab Food Trails, Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny, Wakedock – Dublin Docklands.
  • Best Cultural Experience: A History Past and Present – Abbey Tours, Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange & Knowth), CIE Tours Wild Atlantic Way Tour, Doagh Famine Village – Donegal, Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, Waterford Viking Triangle.
  • Best Leisure Tourism Innovation: Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, Guinness Storehouse, Irish Whiskey Museum Dublin, Sheep’s Head & Bantry Tourism Co-operative, Viking Triangle – Waterford, Wells House and Gardens – Co Wexford.

Mark Graham, who won the Travel Extra award for travel book of the year last year, is embarking in a new project: six trips during April, May and June (two each month) hitting a mountain, lake, beach or forest to enjoy some outdoor adventure activities He will then spend seven weeks in July and August cycling the full 2,750KM of The Wild Atlantic Way from Donegal to my front door in Tramore Co. Waterford. Seven weeks at an average of 70 – 80KM a day, five days a week (Saturday and Sunday off).

Ennis to host Ireland's biggest gospel music festival

For a chance to win a playing place at this year’s Irish Open Pro-Am, with overnight accommodation included, golfers should register on Tourism NI’s website.  Entrants must have a GUI Membership Card and the minimum handicap requirement is 18 for men and 20 for ladies.

  • Sixty international journalists were in Dublin last weekend to cover the St Patrick’s Day Festival.
  • Tourism Ireland hosted an evening reception at March Madness in London on St Patrick’s Day. 12,000 business appointments were made at March Madness over the two days.
  • The fourth annual Irish Cycling Show takes place in the RDS Main Hall on April 18 and 19. The event will feature a hose of stands, stunt teams, an indoor cycle track and seminars. For more information, visit irishcyclingshow.ie.
  • Ennis will host Ireland’s biggest gospel music festival from May 8 to 10.
  • Tourism NI is promoting a host of upcoming sporting events: Guinness Pro 12 Final, Kingspan Stadium, Beflast, May 30. International Youth Football Competition, July 26 to 31. Metzler Ulster Grand Prix Bike Week, Dundrod circuite, Co Antrim, August 3 to 8. Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia, Titanic Belfast, June 21. Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive road cycling event. The Irish Open, Royal County Down Gold Club, Newcastle, May 28 to 31.
  • Belfast won a place on a global Here & Now edition of Monopoly. Inga Norvilyte of LoveBelfast fronted the campaign.

And finally…

IMG_4093 copySomewhere beneath the bubbles is Travel Extra‘s Eoghan Corry, dunking in the very salty and snowy Barents Sea in Vardø, northern Norway, temperature was minus 4 with wind chill but the water was a balmy two and a half degrees above freezing: 70 degrees north and 31 degrees east, further north than the north coast of Alaska and further east that Istanbul, Kiev or St Petersburg. It is the easternmost stop on the Hurtigruten Nord Lys solar eclipse and northern lights cruise. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: 2020 vision at the launch of Stena Superfast Ten

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  • 2020 vision at the launch of Stena Superfast Ten
  • The Loop at Dublin’s T1 goes all curvy
  • Irish Tourism increases market share in Britain
  • Terry Pratchett’s lesson for Clare tourism

Travel Extra TV

Video of week March 15A lesson from our video of the week: If you’re on a family safari in South Africa, make sure you lock your car door. Here’s why: Watch here.

  • Each year, Graeme McDowell’s G-Mac Foundation and Aer Lingus bring a group of children from Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital on a trip to Orlando. Watch here to learn about the charity partnership.
  • Liam Neeson lent his voice to Tourism Ireland‘s 60-second promo to mark the Global Greening on St Patrick’s Day. Watch here.
  • It was announced this week that Dubai Duty Free will be the title sponsor of the 2015 Irish Open hosted by The Rory Foundation. Watch here.
  • Two years in the making, FilmSpektakel’s video showcases beautiful Austria. Watch here.
  • Kissing the Blarney stone with Cork Airport. Watch here.
  • US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley’s St Patrick’s Day message. Watch here.
  • To drum up some interest to fund a book of images from the Wild Atlantic Way, photographer Peter Cox uploaded drone footage showcasing the west of Ireland. Watch here.

Headlines

Travel Extra April 2015 300The April 2015 edition of Travel Extra arrives in agencies over the coming days, read here. The latest edition features developments in summer cruise including the new Royal Caribbean ship build, the dynamic dining debate and updates on Anthem of the Seas, the most technologically advanced cruise ship to operate out of Europe when it launches in Southampton in five weeks time. There are reports from events on travel events from four continents including the world’s biggest travel fair, ITB in Berlin, and the IHF conference in Cavan, a journey through storied Ethiopia, the most exciting new direct destination for Ireland this year, a pilgrimage through the Holy Land with Niall Glynn’s Marian Pilgrimages and destination reviews of Iceland and Dominican Republic. We cover the launch of Stena Line’s new Dublin to Holyhead ferry and he future plans at Dublin Port to boost ferry capacity even further, look at the debates over the three-tier pattern emerging in Ireland’s hotel prices and future of Cityjet, the implications of Ryanair’s next steps in their “getting better” campaign, the wine and whiskey products which are at the heart of the new-look Loop at T1 in Dublin, and the rapid progress in Istanbul’s new airport, the extraordinary number of trans-Atlantic routes available from Dublin this summer (163 in each direction), and we have updates on the Irish Travel Industry Business Show at Citywest on April 24-24 and the ITAA conference in Jerez which will be based in the Sherry Hotel on October 1-4. Chris Logan, the new Ireland manager of Falcon, is this month’s busman’s holiday contributor and Tony Kelly of Irish Ferries looks back at his years in the travel business. If you want to know how to sell a cruise holiday, check out this month’s issue.

the loop_1831I must be in the wrong terminal” was the reaction from one passenger when he waked into the new shopping area at terminal 1 in Dublin Airport. The area, which used the brand name The Loop, has been converted from a straight line walk past some jaded retail outlets into something curvier. The refurbishment was done overnight on Wednesday and opened at 4.30am on Thursday morning. Dublin Airport’s manager of retail services, Paul Neeson showcased the highlights. eu6000 bottleThey included a new sweetshop, the Irish Whiskey Collection which offers 400 whiskeys from around the world, and the Wine Goose Chase, stressing Ireland’s ancient connection with international wine (wine has been coming back on the ships exporting Irish butter to Spain from prehistoric times; listen here). The impressive opening party was organised by Zaryab Malik, familiar to the travel trade from his time with Con Murphy’s United Travel and Des Duggan’s over 50s shows. Guests were invited to experience the various senses at different stalls. Mary Byrne gave a short history of the relationship between Ireland and wine. Picture shows a €6,000 bottle of whiskey on sale at the airport. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Stena Supferfast X launch 005Dan Sten Olsson came to Dublin to name Stena Superfast X (pronounced ten) and inaugurate her service on the Dublin Holyhead route on Wednesday last. The ship had to go an operation transformation since she last saw salt as DFDS Dieppe Seaways operating between Dover and Calais. Kathryn Thomas of the honours, godmother to seven children and now a ship, an tAthair Pádraig Ó Cuill and Reverend William Black blessed the ship (listen here). Eoghan Corry, editor of Travel Extra, Eoghan kathryn thomas
was master of ceremonies interspersing his comments with a little Welsh and Swedish (in a heavy Piteå accent, don’t ask). Ian Davies, route manager spoke of the increased flexibility that the ship brings to the route (listen here), Dan Stena Olsson talked about his love of coming to Ireland and the ships he has inaugurated since his first trip in 1971 (listen here), and Eamonn O’Brien of Dublin Port talked about growth and expansion plans at the port (listen here): “Stena is exactly the type of customer we like.” Picture shows Kathryn Thomas and Eoghan Corry at the event. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Tourism ireland team London_1419A slight increase in Ireland’s market share from England’s outbound tourism was the big news from the annual Anglo-Irish CHAMP event at London’s House of Lords. British arrivals from Ireland grew in 2014, resulting in an increase of share of UK outbound from 4.2pc in 2013 to 4.3pc in 2014. Early indications for are positive, with CSO figures for the month of January showing an increase of 13pc in English visitors, following the trend of 2014 when holidaymakers from England grew by 9pc and revenue from holidaymakers by 8pc. Picture shows Mary O’Shea, Tourism Ireland’s head of Britain Vanessa Markey, and Vera Stedman who gave a briefing for travel media at the Tourism Ireland offices in London before the event. Mary O’Shea gave a detailed description of how Tourism Ireland has successful migrated its marketing focus to digital and hired in professional agencies to implement the campaign: “if we were to do it ourselves would look a lot like dad dancing.”

sean sherlock_1534The event was upbeat on a sunny day while traffic lined its way on the Thames outside. The brainchild of political lobbyist James Winston five years ago, the annual gathering of political, business and tourism leaders is designed to launch the St Patrick’s Day festivities and has attracted leaders from across the various political spectrums in three jurisdictions. Baroness Angela Harris introduced the event (listen here), Minister Sean Sherlock (pictured) talked about the growing links between the islands (listen here), Baroness Jenny Sanderson represented Theresa Villiers (listen here), Ivor Lewis spoke on behalf of the opposition (listen here) and Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons (listen here) talked about the extended tourism cooperation which will boost visitors to both islands from the BRIC marketsSee more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

tigs winning team_1694Niall McDonnell of Red Sea resorts and Audrey Headon of World Travel centre were the first champions of the Travel Industry Golf Society after the inaugural event in Portmarnock, sponsored by Turkish Airlines. Picture shows the first winning team of the season Peter O’Hanlon of Travelfinders, Clem Walshe of Lowcost Beds, Volker Lorenz of Amadeus, and Niall McDonnell of Red Sea resorts. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Margaret DaraghPicture shows Margaret Cronin handing over the Skål Dublin Club President’s chain to Daragh O’Neill at the AGM at the Conrad Hotel. Michael Byrne, ex-Stena, remains as Hon Sec for another year. See more pictures from Dublin Skål AGM here or connect with the album on Facebook.

ofpnly_8064Ifonly hosted travel agents in Glasgow. The agents met the Ifonly teams for the long haul tour operators’ various markets and were hosted by Martin Penrose in his home city. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

aer lingus business class_0034Irish Travel Industry Trade Show has burst its boundaries and taken over the downstairs area of the Citywest. Aer Lingus will be bringing their business class seats (pictured being showcased by Claire Sutton and Micheál Gannon) to demonstrate to the trade. Headline sponsors are the Travelport (GM), Shannon Airport (golf day) and Sunway (barbecue) and there will be four bus routes operating to the exhibition and social events for front line travel professionals from Dundalk, Cork, Galway and Waterford, with an offer of subsidised travel for agency staff from other parts of the country.simon greenbury

There was a very good Irish presence at the Best of Britain and Ireland show in Birmingham. Events director Simon Greenbury called for more support from the industry. “Let’s give the exhibitors the opportunity to achieve greater return on investment by potentially having industry events that co-located in Birmingham NEC as the same time of BOBI every year.”

clarion_1928The opening of Gusto’s Restaurant in the Clarion hotel in Liffey Valley was MCed by Marty Whelan and Nuala Carey. The hotel hosted 150 media and corporate customers at the event Italian pizza chef Erion Tao’s pizzas from the wood stone pizza oven, pastas, Italian cocktails and Italian wine. Marie Richardson of the Choice Hotels Group said that the Italian-themed restaurant would enhance the hotel’s features and boost local business. Picture shows Roisin O Hea, Nuala Carey, Bairbre Power and Julianne Galvin at the opening of Gusto Restaurant in the Clarion Hotel, Liffey Valley.

TOURISM IRELAND ANNOUNCES GLOBAL GREENING LINEUP FOR ST PATRICKThe final total of buildings going green for St Patrick’s Day reached 150 at tea time yesterday (Saturday, see full list of sites), considerably ahead of last year’s figure of 120. The Colosseum in Rome, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica Montmartre, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and the Town Hall in Tbilisi are among the newcomers for St Patrick’s Day this year. Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe and Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons are in San Francisco today for the city’s parade. Michael Ring is in Phoenix, Arizona and then in Los Angeles. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

biddy earley pratchettBridget Ellen “Biddy Early” Connors’ grave in Feakle is not among the banner county’s signature tourist attractions but should be. The late lamented author and ingenious wordsmith Terry Pratchett was among her fans, and sent a bottle of Irish whiskey to be poured over her grave. He told the astonished Clareman who was designated to deliver it that he did not mind if it passed through is kidneys first. It gives a whole new meaning to the little blue bottle. We will miss Pratchett’s work: The Lost Continent could safely have served as a travel guide to Australia if it was not mislabelled “fantasy.” And his quotes, oh his quotes:

  • There are things in life you have to hold on to hard, balloons are our way of teaching this to children.
  • All mushrooms are edible, some only once.
  • Time is like drugs, too much of it will kill you.
  • Death isn’t mean, just terribly good at his job.
  •  Build a man a fire and he will be warm for a day, set a man on fire and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.

paul druryJournalism paid tribute to Paul Drury, formerly editor of the Evening Herald and Ireland on Sunday who died at the weekend. There were not tributes at Wednesday morning’s funeral, at his own request, and colleagues included his old classmates at the Rathmines School of Journalism, classmates Jacinta O’Brien, Rosemary O Grady, PJ Cunningham, Maurice Gubbins, Tommie Gorman, Henry Bauress, Valerie Ryan and Mary Morrissey and from other years Áine Hensey, Maol Muire Tynan, Bernie ní Fhlatharta, Bairbre Power, Philip Nolan and Katherine Donnelly

Travel centres china_1451Travel Centres agents departed on a fam trip to China on Wednesday. Pictured at the Forbidden City in Beijing: Erica O’Reilly of King Travel, Thomas McNally of Bedsonline, Pamela Brownlee of Flyaway, Tara Szafranek of Travel Broker, Ann Marie Dalton of Turkish Airlines, Elaine Massey of Killiney Travel, Catherine Bowe of Bowe Travel, Caroline O’Connor of Creation Travel, Lisa Cusack of Midland Travel and Liana O’Shea of East Cork Travel who were guests on the Travel Centres fam trip to China in conjunction with Bedsonline and Turkish Airlines. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

dreamz_1745Dreemz wedding planners came to Dublin to inform the trade of their wedding planning facilities in Malta. Marie Anne Barthet Brown of the Maltese tourist board said one in three Irish visitors to Malta are wedding guests. Picture shows Mary Grace-Lynch and Stephen Chircop of Dreemz Wedding Planners with Marie Anne Barthet Brown of the Maltese tourist board in the Unicorn Restaurant Dublin.

waterford airportWaterford airport is to get scheduled services again. Flights on the Waterford-Luton route are set to resume at the end of next month with a four times a week service from Waterford to Birmingham to follow when Belgian-based VLM Airlines to fly 12 times a week in each direction. Desmond O’Flynn, CEO, Waterford Airport said VLM Airlines had a great track record of operating charter flights and providing air services to other airlines, and was now growing its own scheduled route network.

turkish airlines 4_7729Exciting news from Turkish Airlines. The scheduled twice weekly A330 freighter service serving Istanbul-Shannon-Chicago may soon be picking up freight for Ireland and, should demand arise, there are plans to fly a wide bodied craft for both freight and passengers giving Shannon a year round Chicago link as well as direct flights to Istanbul. Turkish Airlines now fly to 219 international and 43 domestic destinations and recently inaugurated a double daily service to Dublin. Picture shows Patrick McKinney, Onder Gencer, Murat Baland and Onur Gul of Turkish Airlines at Dublin Airport.

eoghan mark diarmaid marianPicture shows onetime UCD “pure history” (Group 8) classmates Eoghan Corry, editor of Travel Extra, Mark Duncan, Diarmaid Ferriter and Marian Richardson of RTE at the National Archives for the launch of Ferriter’s book, A Nation and Not a Rabble, the Irish Revolution 1913-23. Corry and Ferriter shared the Dudley Edwards Prize at UCD when it was awarded to them jointly and the bookshops of the country have not been safe since. Diarmaid’s book explores the treasury in the archives of military depositions and pensions correspondence. Caitríona Crowe gave an adulatory introduction (listen here) accompanied by a message from publisher Andre Franklin read by Cormac Kinsella Franklin (listen here). Ferriter’s 25-minute speech  (listen here) highlighted his 408 page book followed by another 100 pages of notes. He doesn’t do concision, but that is for the better. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Travel Tradekevin nolan

Carrick on Suir-born Kevin Nolan of Topflight said goodbye to his friends in the industry at Bridge 1859 Ballsbridge after 15 years in the business. Kevin was Topflight’s representative on the Irish Tour Operators Federation.

Celebrity Cruises Modern Luxury Squad visited Corie Heuston from John Cassidy Travel in Swords to present her with a bottle of Corie Heuston John Cassidy Travel Celebity Cruiseschampagne.  The Squad will be on the road during March to opportunities to agents to win prizes including free flights, team nights out, champagne, spa vouchers and an exclusive two night sailing on-board Celebrity Eclipse. Find out more at CelebrityRewards.com.

  • Tony Kelly of Irish Ferries is to retire at the end of March having worked in the company since 1973.
  • Joe Byrne has retired having spent 40 years with Tourism Ireland. Watch here his video interview with Eamonn McKeon.

The British and Irish Chamber of Commerce annual conference was one of the success stories on the circuit. mulhall chilcottThe body, which is less than five years in existence attracted 350 and never had less than 220 people In the audience. Both ambassadors, Irish ambassador in London Dan Mulhall and British ambassador in Dublin Dominick Chilcott spoke at the same event for the first time.

  • Lowcostbeds trade promotion: Book a flight with Emirates to Dubai, Bangkok, India, Mauritius, Maldives or China with accommodation by lowcostbeds before March 31 and earn a €5 voucher per book.
  • ETOA appointed Róisín Donnelly, formerly of Generator Hostels, as a head of accommodation services. Róisín has extensive experience in the accommodation sector, with senor roles in Jurys Doyle, Jurys Inns and Qhotels.
  • Travel Professionals Skillnet is offering an online Fetac Level 5 professional digital marketing diploma for €850. The 10 three-hour online lectures are spread out from March 23 to August 24 (take them at your own pace). Travel Professionals Skillnet is also offering early bird rates for its Excel courses: 2 courses for €150 if you pay online by 5pm, April 15. Excel Level 1 takes place April 7 (more info/bookings) and Excel Level 2 takes place April 21 (more info/bookings).
  • Travel agents have two more weeks to join the DoSomethingDifferent team for a once in a lifetime holiday experience to Dubai.  Make any DSD ticket sale and email win@dosomethingdifferent.com with “Come on holiday with DSD” in the subject line.  Bonus entries awarded for all Dubai ticket sales. Valid for bookings from 1 Jan – 31 Mar.  DSD Holiday-FAM will be taken in May.

Hotels

trivago ireland march 2015The Trivago price index for March shows the effects of the sliding euro with both Belfast (25pc) and Derry (10pc) among the high risers year on year, with Kenmare (14pc) and Killarney (12pc) also showing higher than March 2014. Hotel room rates are down in Athlone, Waterford and Wexford. Limerick and Waterford still offer Ireland’s cheapest hotel beds at €77. The average price in Ireland is €95, up 6pc.

According to trivago.ie, Dublin hotel prices are up 76pc for St Patrick’s Day to an average of €178. The night before the festival will cost an average €182.  The price comparison site said Limerick is the only other city that saw a price increase over the St Patrick’s period. The average cost between March 14 to 17 is €88, up 14pc on the monthly average of €77.

  • STR Global said there are 898 hotels (142,604 rooms) under contract in Europe, up 5.8pc year-over-year, although rooms under construction are down 5.3pc.
  • Galgorm Resort and Spa in Antrim has announced a £10m development of 48 luxury hotel rooms and a unique spa village which is says is the first in Ireland, to open September 2015. Themes in the spa village include Snow Paradise, the Orangery, a riverside sauna, plunge pool, sheltered relaxation area with open fire and private Dutch Tubs, heated by their own log fires.
  • The 108 bedroom Maldron Hotel in Wexford is for sale with a guide price of €3.5m.
  • The 92-room Clybaun Hotel in Knocknacarra, Galway is to get a €1m refurbishment after Tom O’Gorman purchased it for €3m.
  • Peter Wilson is to move from White’s Hotel in Wexford to Mount Juliet. Mount Juliet Conrad, a 58-room fine leisure resort situated on a 1,500 acre traditional Irish sporting estate. Antony Treston, GM of Mount Juliet is going to the Lyrath in nearby Kilkenny.
  • European hotels that set higher rates than their competitors benefit from higher RevPAR despite lower occupancy rates, according to Competitive Hotel Pricing in Europe: An Exploration of Strategic Positioning by Cathy A Enz, Linda Canina and Jean-Pierre van der Rest. The price positioning effect was stronger for branded hotels but was also found in independent properties.
  • As reported in last week’s Sunday Supplement, Qatar Airways purchased the Sheraton Skylin hotel in London. It is the first hotel Qatar Airways bought outside of Qatar, where it owns the Oryx Rotana Hotel in Doha and the Hamad International Airport Hotel.
  • Dalata bought the Holiday Inn in Belfast for €25.6m.
  • Z Hotels opened its fourth London hotel in Shoreditch.
  • Marriott International will allow guests to pay for stays at selected hotels with Apple Pay. Contactless readers will be installed at front desks and guests will be able to pay at check in using their iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or Apple Watch.
  • Guests who stay in any Dorsett Hotels & Resorts property in Hong Kong will receive a complimentary smartphone to use for the duration of their stay.
  • NH Hotel Group has added the NH Brussels Carrefour de l’Europe to its portfolio in Europe brining NH Hotels in Brussels to seven and is in line with the company’s five-year business plan announced in 2014.
  • Hilton opened the Hampton hotel in Newcastle upon Tyne, opposite Newcastle Central Station.
  • Park Hyatt Zanzibar opened, the first Hyatt on the Tanzanian island and the 36th Park Hyatt worldwide.
  • Aloft New Orleans Downtown opened.
  • Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas has announced that it will develop a resort in the southwest of Bali at Uluwatu, a 35-minute drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport.
  • Independent hoteliers should focus on local marketing and drive guests to their direct channels wrote Joshua Meehan in an article: the fight against the OTAs starts at check-in.
  • Brad Wilson of Ace Hotel group put their success down to picking “cool places.”

International

Irish visits to the USA were up 7.6pc last year to 395,037, according to the US Department of Commerce.

  • A report by the Westminster government recommended that Visit England and Visit Britain should separate, with Visit England focusing on domestic tourism marketing while Visit Britain delivering international campaigns.
  • Carnival Corp appointed Marie McKenzie as vice president of global destinations services and sourcing.
  • Members of the Lufthansa frequent flyer programme Miles & More can earn double award miles when renting a Budget vehicle up until June 30.
  • A skier was injured when a light aircraft hit her on the slopes. The single propeller aircraft experienced a difficult take off from a runway in Avoriaz, France.
  • The Global Travel Group will hold its 2016 overseas conference in Dubai.
  • Northampton based over 50s insurance specialist Staysure will launch a travel agency, Staysure Holidays, this summer.
  • To celebrate the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Kensington Hotel launched a Fashion Forward Afternoon Tea, which costs £35pp and includes handcrafted cakes, pastries and sandwiches inspired by McQueen’s designs. The hotel is also offering a 1-night B&B Fashion Forward package priced from £315 per room based on two sharing incl. afternoon tea for two and one copy of a book on the exhibition, available March 14 to August 2.
  • A group of 50 Belgian tourists were taken on a 750-mile detour thanks to a satnav error by a bus driver. The driver was supposed to bring the group to the French ski resort of La Plagne, but the driver accidentally selected La Plagne village in south west France. The skiers eventually arrived at their original destination – 24 hours late.
  • Tourists in Greece were invited make a little money on their holidays by going undercover and exposing tax dodgers.
  • Travelport announced a new content agreement with hotel group Accor.
  • Monaco Tourist Authority and British Airways launched the Passport to Monte Carlo offer. BA passengers will be offered a complimentary helicopter transfer from Nice to Monaco during the winter season and from Monaco to Nice during the summer season. The offer also includes entrance coupons to selected museums and attractions.
  • One tourist was killed and two injured when a grey whale crashed into a sightseeing boat near Mexico.
  • The 3km Caminito del Rey path, long considered the most dangerous walkway in the world, will reopen to the public this Easter after it closed 14 years ago.

Food & Wine

NI Year of FoodTourism Northern Ireland announced that 2016 will be the Year of Food. The announced was made by tourism minister Arlene Foster at Tourism NI’s annual conference, which was attended by 200 delegates. Picture shows Tourism NI chariman Howard Hastings, Tourism minister Arlene Foster and actor James Nesbitt.

Margaret Jeffares Good Food Ireland 2Margaret Jeffares the Founder of Good Food Ireland has been invited by President Obama to the White House for St Patrick’s Day Celebrations on Tuesday next, March 17th 2015.

The Irish Beer and Whiskey Festival in Dublin’s RDS continues until St Patrick’s Day on Tuesday offering a wide range of over 100 local craft beers and ciders, as well as a greater selection of Irish whiskey, and Irish artisan food stalls.muckross munier00006

Nick Munier, best known from Masterchef Ireland showcased his new Dublin Restaurant Avenue by Nick Munier at Muckross Park Hotel last weekend. The tasting Menu designed by Nick Munier. offered a cream of cauliflower soup, truffle oil with cheese straw, followed by tartare of salmon, spicy avocado with toast followed by celeriac remoulade with prosciutto, followed by poached cod with clams with herb butter nage followed by The Avenue 60 day aged rib eye burger by Higgins butchers, brioche bun, beef tomato, pickle, mustard aioli and fries followed by tarte fine of apples, butterscotch sauce with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Picture shows Nick with Nick Munier and Head Chef John O’Leary. The hotel also has the AA Rosette winning Yew Tree Restaurant as well as The Jarvey’s Rest Traditional Irish Pub.

Aviation

Dublin Airport is to spend €20m on 10 new aircraft parking spaces and three new aircraft taxiing lanes at the northern end of the airfield, the largest single capital investment at Dublin Airport since the opening of Terminal 2. Dublin processed 1.5m passengers in February up 17pc, figures for the first two months of year were 2.9m, up 15pc.

Ryanair’s long awaited entry to the German domestic market sparked a war. Ryanair announced a four-times daily service to Berlin Schönefeld among seven new Cologne routes. Germanwings reponded by initiating three daily services to Schönefeld from both Cologne and Stuttgart (they already operate seven daily flights to Tegel) and Ryanair then increased frequencies from four to five daily. Ryanair is to increase frequency on 23 Stansted routes and begin services to Castellon and Ponta Delgada in winter 2015-16.

  • KLM plan to raise baggage fees by a reputed 25pc for passenger who purchase tickets on or after April 1, the lowest charge rising from €15 to €20 per piece.
  • Aer Lingus are suspending Shannon to Boston service for 10 days over Easter. citing that their Boeing 752 is needed at Dublin.
  • Easyjet is to introduce fast-track security for Plus members from March 19, at 34 airports including Belfast.
  • Norwegian’s pilots’ strike ended having left 200,000 passengers unable to fly when the majority of tocal Scandinavian services were cancelled.
  • Cork Airport unveiled its new brand on Tuesday.
  • Traffic in Irish airspace was up 8.7pc in February 2015. En route air traffic was up 9.2pc. Dublin traffic was up 11.2pc with an average 449 daily commercial movements. Cork was down 6.2pc with 43 average daily movements. Shannon was down 8.6pc with 37 average daily movements.
  • A new report said that mobile boarding passes will account for a third or all flights in five years. 745m boarding passes were delivered on mobile devices in 2014.
  • Boeing  announced it has sold half of the current 777s it plans to build in 2017.
  • Swiss Air Lines will start a Dublin-Geneva service from June 26, operating 4w using A320 aircraft.
  • IATA reported that the 2014 global jet accident rate was 0.23, which was the lowest rate in history and the equivalent of one accident for every 4.4m flights.
  • Michael O’Leary was listed number 18 on the Sindo‘s rich list.
  • Dublin based lessor Fly Leasing acquired an A321-200 aircraft on Monday.
  • EasyJet designed an app for the Apple Watch, which was officially launched on Monday and goes on sale April 24.
  • Avolon sold an A320 to Aircraft Leasing & Management in England.
  • It was reported that Boeing is showing airlines an ideas for the B737-8ERX, a long range B737 MAX 8 to compete with the A321LR.
  • Air France KLM is to increase its summer schedule capacity by 1.7pc. Transavia wil increase its schedule by 7.8pc.
  • Irish lessor Fly Leasing said it expects most of its acquisitions in 2015 to come via sale or leasebacks. It is also contracted to sell eight older B757s in 2015 as the leases run out.
  • Qatar Airways is to expand its codeshare with Japan Airlines on 28 routes to/from Tokyo Haneda, beginning March 29.
  • Lufthansa said it expects consolidation to occur among European airlines and is ready to be part of it.
  • IAG is rumoured to be joining Qatar Airways on future joint purchases of aircraft and engines. The two companies may also widen their codeshare agreement.
  • Virgin postponed their B787-9 Dreamliner service to LAX from April 30 to a week later on May 5.
  • Aer Lingus Regional’s Kerry-Dublin route grew 59pc in February 2015 compared to the same period last year, the route’s 12th consecutive month of growth, fuelled in part by connecting traffic to North America via Dublin Airport’s transatlantic hub.
  • The Friends of Shannon Airport has formed with John Quinlivan as chairman, Sant Singh as vice chair, Joe Meaney as secretary; and Donna Marie O’Neill as treasurer.
  • Boeing is to upgrade the B777 to be delivered from Q3 2016 with room for 14 extra seats.
  • A flight attended is suing Korean Air and the imprisoned former executive, Heather Cho, over the nut rage incident.
  • Etihad Airways marked its fifth year of service to Japan with VIP cocktail receptions in Tokyo and Nagoya.
  • A suitcase set off an unknown contents alarm at La Guardia airport last Tuesday. What was inside? A 7 year old beige and tan chihuahua. The passenger said the dog must have crawled in while she was packing for a flight to LA.

Afloat

Dublin is to get 86 cruise ship calls this year with three further calls to Dun Laoghaire. A further 17 ships will dock in the bay and passengers will be tendered off.

Royal Caribbean’s newest and largest cruise ship Harmony of the Seas will spend the start of the 2016 summer season sailing from Barcelona and Rome, visiting Palma, Florence and Naples. Independence of the Seas will return to Southampton in 2016.

Anthem of the Seas started its journey to Eemshaven in the Netherlands on the North Sea from the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenberg where it was built The 26-mile trip on the Ems River backward, guided by two tugboats. The ship only has a few inches of clearance on either side, moving slowly at 2-3 knots, the same walking pace as a 40-year-old man. According to an Anthem Conveyance Infographic released by Royal Caribbean, wind speeds must be 20 knots or less, tidal barriers must be closed and there needs to be either a full or new moon. Bridges along the river were lifted out of the way by crane to allow the ship to pass. Anthem will undergo sea trials before its launch next month in Southampton.

  • Virgin is set to order its first two cruise ships, according to Richard Branson. Construction is expected to take five years at a cost of $1.7bn. Meanwhile, former Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Colin Veitch is suing Branson for allegedly stealing his idea to enter the luxury cruise industry.
  • Holland America Line has delayed the launch date for its newbuild ship Koningsdam by six weeks until March 31, 2016. Koningsdam will now depart on its first cruise, a seven-day round trip sailing from Civitavecchia, Italy (Rome), on April 8, 2016.
  • Gloria Hunniford renamed Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ newest ship, the 1,250-passenger Magellan, on Thursday, boosting the fleet size to four.
  • England’s Queen Elizabeth named P&O Cruises’ newest ship Britannia in Southampton speaking the customary words: “may God bless her and all who sail in her,” before pressing the button to release a Nebuchadnezzar of sparkling English wine (the equivalent of 20 bottles), to smash against the side of the ship. The Regimental Band of the Irish Guards and band of the Royal Marines then played as she departed.
  • Lindblad Expeditions has floated on the stock exchange and ordered two new ships to debut in 2017 and 2018.
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises will feature a French restaurant, called Chartreuse on its newest cruise ship to debut in summer 2016, Seven Seas Explorer.
  • Cruise Shipping Miami opens on Monday. Galway harbour host a St Patrick’s Day party at the event.
  • Princess Cruises announced a collaboration with the Oscar-winning Broadway and film composer, Stephen Schwartz. Schwartz will write four musicals that will be performed across the fleet over the next few year. The first is called Magic To Do.

Deal Watch

Tourism NI offers of the week: 2 nights B&B for two at the Atlantic Hotel, Portrush from £150 incl. one evening meal, available Sundays to Fridays only, May 1 to September 30, call 028 7082 3539 to book. 1 night B&B at Whistledown Hotel, Warrenpoint, Newry from £50pps incl. one 3 course evening meal in the Bistro restaurant, available Sundays to Thursdays until March 31, call 028 4175 4174 to book.Ramada Da Vinci’s Hotel in Derry is offering 10pc off 2-night stays and 15pc off 3-night stays until December 31, call 028 7127 9111 to book.

  • Lowcostbeds offers: Half board Hotel Hesperia Sabinal, Roquestas de Mar, Almeria from €25pppn, room only €18pppn. B&B Vila Gale Hotel, Cascais from €56pppn. B&B Hotel Cidela, Cascais from €34pppn. B&B Hotel Cavalieri Art, St Julian’s, Malta from €51pppn. B&B Il Palazzin, Qawra, Malta from €20pppn. Based on 7 night stay, 2 sharing, depart May 27.
  • Thomson is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Dublin to Iberotel Palace, Sharm El Sheikh from €879pp based on two sharing, depart May 28.
  • Falcon is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Dublin to Coral Sea Water World, Sharm El Sheikh from €2,109 for two adults and one child and from €2,959 for two adults and two children, depart May 28.
  • Topflight‘s Adriatic Riviera summer offers: 7 nights half board Hotel Bagli, Rimini from €729pps. 7 nights half board Hotel Panorama, Cattolica from €679pps. 7 nights half board Hotel Golf, Riccione from €659pps. All prices include return flights ex Dublin, return transfers, luggage allowance and rep service.
  • Topflight is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Secrets Silversands Riviera, Cancun, Mexico from €2,049pps incl. junior suite tropical view room, transfers, taxes and return flights. To book, visit topflight.ie or call 01 2401 788.
  • Travel Department city breaks offers: 4 nights B&B Dublin to Clip Hotel or Hotel Black Tulip, Porto from €379pp incl.taxes, guided city tour, transfer on arrival and wine tasting, travel on selected dates in May and September. 3 nights B&B Dublin to Bellevue Park Hotel, Riga from €349pp incl. taxes, transfer on arrival and guided city tour, depart April 20 or 27. 3 nights B&B Dublin to Hotel Gelmirez, Santiago from €379pp incl. taxes, transfer on arrival and city tour, travel on selected dates in April and October.  5 nights B&B Dublin to Sokos Hotel Olympia Garden, St Petersburg from €699pp incl. taxes and charges, transfer on arrival, half day guided tour of St Petersburg, half day guided tour to Catherine’s Palace and a guided visit to the Hermitage Museum, depart May 5 or October 22. Visit traveldepartment.ie to book or call 01 637 1600.
  • Click and Go offers: 3 nights in Residence du Park Hotel, Disneyland Paris from €959 for two adults and one child incl. double or twin room, return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, depart May 1. 3 nights B&B in Asmali Hotel, Istanbul from €389pp incl. double room, return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, depart May 1. 7 nights in Santana Hotel, St Paul’s Bay, Malta from €289pp incl. double room, return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in April. 7 nights in the Senator Banus Spa Hotel, Estepona, Costa del Sol from €399pp incl. double or twin room, return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in April. 7 nights self catering in the Estrela do Vau Aparthotel, Praia do Vau, the Algarve from €829 for two adults and one child incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in May. Visit clickandgo.com to book or call 01 637 1699.
  • Sunway offers: 4 nights in Circus Circus hotel, Las Vegas from €689pp, depart May 19. UFC Fight Night – 4 nights in the Stratosphere Hotel Casino, Las Vegas from €1,249pp, depart July 9. 7 nights in Fariones Hotel from €669pp incl. return airport transfers, taxes charges, 20kg checked baggage pp and Sunway rep service, depart Dublin or Cork, travel May and June.
  • Sunway‘s 5 day sale ends Tuesday (March 17): 7 nights Tunisia from €349pp, Morocco from €369pp, Bulgaria from €399pp, Lanzarote from €399pp, Gran Canaria from €399pp, Sicily from €399pp, Fuerteventura from €399pp, Tenerife from €399pp, Majorca from €399pp, Turkey from €399pp, Menorca from €449pp, Algarve from €429pp, Sorrento from €499pp and Lisbon Coast from €499pp. Travel in June, prices include flights, return airport transfers, taxes, charges, 20kg checked baggage pp and Sunway rep service.
  • Irish Ferries is offering 7 nights to Hafan Y Mor, Wales for €1,224 for up to six people staying in a Superior or Deluxe caravan inclusive of return car ferry travel, depart July 13, book before April 30.

Ireland

Fáilte Ireland has invited entries for the EDEN competition. Held every two years, this year’s theme is Tourism and Local Gastronomy. The winning destination will receive a promotional photo shoot to market itself as well as €5,000 to use to highligh its attractions. The winning entry will also represent Ireland at an exhibition in Brussels later this year. Eligible destinations: Small destinations with lower visitor numbers in comparison to the national average; destinations that offer authentic tourism experiences; and destinations that have a well-developed gastronomy that is characteristic of the region. To enter, email eden.helpdesk@failteireland.ie or contact the local regional tourism office. Closing date: Wednesday, April 8.

Atlantic Sea Kayaking and Wild Atlantic Walks in Cork was the overall winner at the inaugural Irish Responsible Tourism Awards. The full list of winners: Best Tour Operator — Connemara Wild Escapes. Best Small Hotel or Accommodation — Hotel Doolin. Best Transport Initiative — An Taisce Green Schools Travel and Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark Partnership. Best in a Marine or Coastal Environment — Dolphin Watch, Co Clare. Best Destination — Loop Head Peninsula. Best Cultural Heritage Attraction — Cnoc Suain, Co Galway. Best Local Food Initiative — Archways B&B, Wexford. Best Adventure Activity Provider — Atlantic Sea Kayaking and Wild Atlantic Walks.

  • New CSO figures showed that 7.6m overseas visitors came to Ireland in 2014, spending €4.68bn.
  • Fáilte Ireland announced that Dublin will host three international conferences: Life Cycle Assessment of Foods Conference, October 2016, 450 delegates. International Network of Basin Organisations European Conference on the Water Framework Directive, November 2017, 750 delegates. Fire Safety for All in Buildings Conference, April 2016, 200 delegates.
  • Minister Michael Ring announced funding is being sought under the Community Tourism Initiative for the Diaspora, launched last year, which aims to build on the legacy of The Gathering 2013.

4Clare County Council announced that it will lead an initiative to promote Clare as a county of culture for 2016 to coincide with Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, which takes place in Ennis in August 2016. Picture shows Rory Casey, Abbey Branch of Comhaltas, Gerard Dollard, Director of Service Clare County Council; Tom Coughlan, Chief Executive Clare County Council, Cathaoirleach, Cllr. John Crowe, Frank Whelan, Micheal O Riabhaigh and Joe Arkins all of the Abbey Branch of Comhaltas outside the headquarters of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann in Monkstown for the Ard Chomhairle vote on the Fleadh.

TOURISM EVENT (3) IN HOUSE OF LORDS KICKS OFF PROGRAMME OF ST PATRICK’S 2015 CELEBRATIONSMinister of State for Foreign Affairs Seán Sherlock hosted a Tourism Ireland sponsored reception in the Hotel of Lords in London on Tuesday to kick off the global greening on St Patrick’s Day.

St Patrick’s Cathedral is offering free entry to anyone named Patrick, Patricia, Padraig, Pat, Paddy — or any variation, we’re sure — on St Patrick’s Day.

SHOWTIME FOR IRELAND IN TORONTOTourism Ireland sponsored the opening film at the Toronto Irish Film Festival, Standby, and the closing film Rebuilding the World Trade Center, together with the Northern Ireland Bureau. A trailer promoting Ireland was showd ahead of all the screenings throughout the festival. Picture shows actor Brian Gleeson, star of Standby, with the TIRFF team and Dana Welch of Tourism Ireland, at the opening night of the Toronto Irish Film Festival.

TOURISM IRELAND WINS TOP AWARD FOR BEST LEARNING ORGANISATION – MEDIUM ENTERPRISESTourism Ireland  won the award for best learning organisation — medium enterprises at the IITD National Training Awards 2015 in the Killashee House Hotel, Naas.

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is offering free entry on March 17 for everybody named Patricks or Patricia.

The 2015 100 Best series by John and Sally McKenna were published in app format this week. The apps list the accommodation and food places in Ireland selected by the McKennas (somewhat controversially), available on iTunes and Google Play for €2.99 each.

Russborough House reopens this Saint Patrick’s Weekend.

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