Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: The 1m Visitor Club & Sales Start the Season

THE INDUSTRY geared up for its biggest booking week of the season, led by big airline sales. Both Aer Lingus (book by Jan 14, travel by Apr) and Emirates (book by Jan 10, travel by June) said that response to their sales was ahead of last year. Others on sale include Air France/Delta/KLM (book by Jan 22, travel by June), BA (book by Jan 22, travel by Sept), Qantas (book by Jan 24, travel by June), SAS (book by Jan 15, travel by Sept) and United (book by Jan 22, travel by June). Abbey Travel and Breakaway are both offering Disney Irresistible Month packages until Jan 31, Topflight’s three-day sale starts Monday, Ryanair have their €12 promotion to Monday (it was €10 this time last year).

Malev aircraft at Shannon Feb 2 2011A YEAR after the collapse of Malév, agents are no nearer getting compensation payments from IATA. The Irish Travel Agents Association CEO Pat Dawson says that this is in contrast with the speed with which IATA has moved against travel agents in the past, and that people who had booked by credit card have already been compensated.

Cliffs of MoherIRELAND’S VISITOR ATTRACTIONS raced to announce year-end results. Most of the bigger attractions reported increases in visitor numbers of 3-5pc. Guinness Storehouse (1,087,209, up from 1,025,677) reported its best year ever, ahead of Dublin Zoo (1,030,000 up from 1,001, 083) while an 8pc increase helped the Cliffs of Moher (pictured, 873,988 up from 809,474) jump ahead of the National Aquatic Centre (813,987, 1pc down from 825,049). A discussion on Morning Ireland produced some peacocking by the participants, Lisa Fitzsimons of Guinness Storehouse, Leo Oosterweghel of Dublin Zoo, and Katherine Webster of Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, little was said of consequence but it raised awareness of the overall product.

DELTA became the latest airline to announce a capacity increase, moving from 7 to 10 weekly on Dublin-JFK and using a slightly larger craft on their morning flights. Delta are the 11th airline to confirm new routes or capacity increases from Dublin next year. Etihad are to confirm a much-leaked increase in capacity on 6 of its 10 weekly flights this weekend. We are a far cry from the 30-35 new routes that were announced annually in Celtic Tiger days but have moved away from a position when Ireland’s route network was contracting to one where it seems to have stabilised.

FIRST BROCHURE of the new year came from Wings Abroad, closely followed by Topflight’s Italy brochure. More brochure releases are planned  this week.

TRAVELODGE reported a bizarre list of items left behind by guests at their hotels last year, including breast implants, a box of live crabs and a winning euromillions lottery ticket. Travelodge’s sale continues until Feb 14.

ORGANISERS OF THE GATHERING: say 2,500 events were registered by Christmas week – 700 more than the official launch at the beginning of December

SHANNON airport celebrated “independence day” as it emerged from under the auspices of DAA. Chair of the new Shannon Airport authority, lawyer Rosie Hynes said she spected transatlantic passenger numbers to increase by 22pc this year.

BEIJING: Since New Year’s day Irish citizens have been able to make three-day visa-free visits to Beijing and Shanghai

FALCON HOLIDAYS, who are 25 years in Ireland this year, stormed the airwaves with their biggest ever marketing campaign, Disney aired their “irresistible month” marketing campaign, and Lowcost beds also hit the airwaves. RTE’s new travel programme, Getaways is presented by 2005 Rose of Tralee winner Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin and Belfast broadcaster Joe Lindsay. Produced by Maggi Gibson for Holywood based Jannine Waddell, the first of six episodes aired on Thursday on RTE1 and a version will air on Monday on BBC NI, which is six minutes longer due to the absence of commercial breaks. The Holiday Show on TV3, presented by Ciara Whelan and Jon Sweeney aired the first of this season’s six episodes on Friday. It is concentrating on home holidays this season.

THE AER LINGUS PENSIONS DISPUTE shuffled towards resolution when the Labour Court accepted the airline’s proposals. Predictably heavily-spun accounts of events appeared in the various newspapers.

RYANAIR rejected allegations about fuel management as it announces it is suing the Sun newspaper, stating “fuel policy allows all its pilots to take as much fuel as they wish to take, which in all cases is more than minimum reserve fuel.”

THE DEADLINE for entry to the Travel Extra travel writer of the year awards is Tuesday. There are twelve categories this year: broadcasting, city break, home market, long haul, new media, Northern Ireland, Ski & snow, Sun holiday, Spanish holiday, travel book, young journalist/newcomer & overall. Entries by post or courier to Travel Writer Awards, 6 Sandyford Office Park, Dublin 18. The awards will be presented at a ceremony in Thomas Prior House, on Friday January 25th.

THREE WEEKS to Holiday World. Can’t wait.

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