Travel Extra Sunday Supplement: Captcha if you can

The revised captcha on the Ryanair website has been extended to all markets after its trial on the Irish and English sites. Since captcha was introduced in November 2011, ostensibly to prevent screen scrapers, deciphering the code has wrecked many punters heads. Ryanair used a company called Solve Media to revise the captcha. Michael O’Leary wanted to have this change implemented months ago, but it took longer than expected.

Ryanair’s site has 1.2m daily users, more than any the biggest internet wholesalers, which suggests that the risky policy of keeping their inventory to themselves rather than releasing it to an OTA or GDS has paid off. Pictured left to right: the new captcha and the old one it replaced.captchas compared

Reading Ryanair’s results, released on Tuesday, is always an interesting experience, trying to decipher the O’Leary code to see what will happen next in the airline’s astonishing ascent to the elite of the world’s airlines. The headlines: traffic was up 5pc to 79.3m passengers, revenue up 13pc to €4.88bn, profit for the year €569m, up 13pc. What happens next? The headlines suggested he is prepared to grow from Dublin again.

Aer Lingus has cancelled routes to Bucharest (on 30 April), Bournemouth, Stuttgart and Verona from their 2013-13 winter schedule which was loaded this week (with the much-anticipated rest of the trans-Atlantic schedules to follow next week). There are increased services to Aberdeen 10w (up 3), Alicante 3w (up 1 ), Boston 11w (up 4), Budapest 5w (up 1), Cardiff 17w (up 4), Faro 4w (up 1), Geneva 9w (up 2), Hamburg daily (up 2), Lanzarote daily (up 2), Lisbon daily (up 2), Malaga 8w (up 1), Munich 12w (up 1), Nice 5w (up 1), Paris 4 daily (up 7), Zurich 9w (up 2). Services are reduced to Bristol 6w (down 10 ), Isle of Man 10w (down 2), Warsaw 3w (down 4), Southend 6w (down 15).

They have added capacity to Paris (Air France dropping a daily CDG flight in March). Flights to Alicante, Zurich, and Hamburg have been tweaked to offer better trans-Atlantic connections. Some Bristol flights have been transferred to Cardiff. Unlike 2013, there is no reduction to New York from Dublin in January 2014. The schedule from Belfast City Airport offering 84 weekly departures and arrivals, amounting to over 12,000 seats each week.

arabian nights

Etihad’s fam trip to Abu Dhabi was a high-temperature, high-adrenaline affair. They were strapped into an F1 cockpit on the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World, where they were accelerated to 100kph in 2 seconds (240kph in 4.9 seconds). They also visited Yas Waterworld, and Monte Carlo Beach Club on Saadiyat Isla while accommodation was at the Jumeriah Etihad Towers, Al Raha Beach Hotel and Centro Hotel. Pictured at Arabian Nights which included desert safari and camel rides, are Glenn Lowry from Selective Travel, Rachel Tracey from Travel Dept, Julie Nolan from Club HRG Travel, Fiona Lawless from Etihad Airways, Kelly Henderson from Corporate Travel, Michelle Burke from USIT, Yvonne Chaney from BCD Travel, Clair Delaney from FCM Travel and Hugh Staunton from Tropical Sky

tarom

Tarom Airlines hosted a lunch in the Westin Hotel on Wednesday to celebrate their return to Dublin Airport after a gap of twelve years. Speaking at the lunch the Romanian Ambassador, Iulian Buga, spoke about the strong ties between Ireland and Romania with Bram Stoker getting more than a couple of mentions. Tarom is now flying Dublin to Bucharest three times weekly on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Onward connections include Athens, Beirut, Belgrade, Cairo, Larnaca, Tel Aviv, & Sofia. Picture shows Ambassador Iulian Buga,  Georgeta Diniu, Head of Corporate Communication Tarom and Vincent Harrison, DAA.

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P&O Adonia came to Dublin this week for its first ship visit. It sails typically from Southampton to Fjords / Baltics. The P&O Adonia is the smallest ship in the line up taking 710 passengers, giving a more intimate cruise experience and because of the smaller size 75% of staterooms have balconies. It’s also exclusively for adults. Picture shows Julie Hanna, Niki Stanford and Emma Bunbury of Thomas Cook.arizona combo

The Arizona Office of Tourism hosted an evening in Dublin’s Morrison Hotel to spread the latest news from the Grand Canyon state. Representatives spoke about some of the newest attractions in Arizona including the American Indian Veterans National Memorial (Phoenix), Yume Japanese Gardens (Tucson) and Butterfly Wonderland (Salt River Reservation). Pictures show Gioia Goodrum (Williams Chamber of Commerce), Heather Ainardi (Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau) and Mary Rittman (Arizona Office of Tourism), and Douglas MacKenzie (Visit Phoenix) with Laura McMurchie (Scottsdale CVB).

eoghan dom rep

Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry joined Air France’s popular flight AF3563 to Punta Cana, a comfortable eight hours 12 minutes journey on a B777, to take stock of the considerable changes in the Dominican Republic holiday circuit.

With 40,000 beds (and growing) the four resort districts of the south-eastern corner are now four times the size of the original holiday playgrounds of Puerto Plata on the north coast.

Dom Rep is not all beach and all-inclusive. Some fascinating new upscale hotels have been added to the inventory, including the boutique Tortuga Bay, so close to the airport it has a private transfer from the aircraft.

The trip featured swims with the turtles in a fresh water reserve and under the Cascada del LImon, hikes and horserides through natural parks, canyons,, visits to colonial cities and religious shrines, several renditions of Juan Luis Guerra’s Bachata Rosa and a merengue dance lesson from the endlessly patient professional ballerina at Iberostar Higuey, Liliana Montilla Guerrero, with some plantain, Presidente beer and an odd glass of Atlántico rum to help along the way. It is mango season there, and doubts if anyone can beat the Mangls served by Riccardo Frigeri at La Palapa.

Host Pruddy Fernando of Dominican Republic tourism fondly remembers hosting an Irish agents group in November 2009 that included Denise Breen, Rebeccas Dudley, Marie Kiely, Gordon Penney, Robbie Smart and Deirdre Sweeny. That trip included a boisterous excursion to Saona. Saona and the stop by the natural pool on the way back remains the area’s most popular attraction with 500,000 excursionists annually.

A welcome development is the growth of “meet the locals” tours to visit local farms and plantations and sample Dominicana food and drink. Another big change is the prevalence of Russian visitors, they now have eight charters a week to Punta Cana.

Any of the journalism students in DIT all those years who were instructed during Eoghan Corry’s introduction to travel writing “NEVER use the word turquoise in an article” should keep a close eye on the next print edition of Travel Extra.

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Jesse Davis, international PR director of Las Vegas Convention and Visitors’ Authority says delegates to International Pow Wow 2013 on June 8-12 will be surprised at the level of change since the event was last held in the city in 2008,. “If you think you know Las Vegas, think again,” Davis, who is busy getting ready to host 400 international travel journalists at the US travel trade fair, told Irish journalists on a fam trip led by John Donohue of Aereps and Gillian Culhane of Aer Lingus.

“Since 2008, we’ve added 10,000 bedrooms. And we’re a culinary capital now, and a shopping destination.” Davis insists that that’s not just marketing strategy, there is data to support it. The data shows that only eight per cent of visitors to Las Vegas actually come for the gambling. The others are more interested in other things the venue has to offer – fine dining, entertainment, shopping, and the 60 golf courses and 45 spas. International travellers make up 17pc of and 29pc of the spend. He says Pow Wow media delegates should miss the press brunch, at the Smith Center, a stylish new venue for the performing arts. The Las Vegas team have ramped up the annual welcome for journalists, with performances from Cirque du Soleil, Jersey Boys, Rock of Ages, La Reve and the Nevada Ballet Theatre with 45 acts in all. It promises to be one hell of a brunch. Picture shows Jesse Davis of Las Vegas CVA and Shant Apelian of MGM resorts.

s africa composite

South Africa Tourism’s media and trade guests regrouped in Johannesburg after their post-Indaba fam trips, including the 68-member American mega-fam (“herding cats” was the phrase one of the officials used). Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry returned to Soweto, a place familiar from his days as a news correspondent in the early 1990s, for his first tourism visit since being shown around by the legendary Jimmy Ntintilli, and did something we would not have thought possible: a walking tour of inner city Johannesburg. Maybe it is time to rethink the mantra that Johannesburg is the most dangerous city in the world. Pictures show travel writers Ed Robertson, Kgomotso Ramothea of South African Tourism in London, Eoghan Corry and Emma Gregg, in the Drakensberg mountains, and on right, Lucky Zhou entertainments manager and Gordon Smith manager of Chaf Pozi in Soweto, Kgomotoso Ramothea of South Africa Tourism and Eoghan Corry editor of Travel Extra.

The sun came out as Ireland’s current bricks and mortar celebrity, Strokestown Park House, hosted a group of journalists this week. The newly designed Irish National Famine Museum. offers an interactive archive of original documents and images which was discovered during the restoration of the House and commemorates the lives of almost one-quarter of the entire Irish population that either died or emigrated. Travel writers  walked in and out of the many authentic old glasshouses, fruit walls and fernery and were invited by Curator and General Manager, John O’Driscoll, to return in a couple of months to taste the homemade jams.

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  • Celebrity Infinity stopped by in Belfast where cruise specialist Sandra Corkin of Oasis Travel (above), entertained some of her clients.
  • Paris replaced London at the top of the Tripadviser Traveller’s World choice destnations with New York holding second spot. 1 Paris, France (+3); 2 New York City, New York (0); 3 London, England (-2); 4 Rome, Italy (-1); 5 Barcelona, Spain (+3); 6 Venice, Italy (New); 7 San Francisco, California (-2); 8 Florence, Italy (+4); 9 Prague, Czech Republic (+7); 10 Sydney, Australia (+4); 11 Berlin, Germany (-1); 12 Istanbul, Turkey (-5); 13 Bangkok, Thailand (New); 14 Chicago, Illinois (-3); 15 Tokyo, Japan (New); 16 Cape Town, South Africa (+7); 17 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (New); 18 Buenos Aires, Argentina (-5); 19 Marrakech, Morocco (-13); 20 St Petersburg, Russia (New); 21 Beijing, China (-6); 22 Shanghai, China (-3); 23 Siem Reap, Cambodia (-14); 24 Chiang Mai, Thailand (0); 25 Queenstown, New Zealand (New).
  • United Airlines say they will offer lie-flat seats on every long-haul international flight from New York. All 182 international aircraft with United Global First and United BusinessFirst cabins will have the 180-degree flat-bed seats. Each seat will also have a personal on-demand entertainment system.
  • The Aer Lingus website got a welcome makeover. They are also reportedly developing a new app.
  • The luxury Red Carnation group, represented in Ireland by One Stop Travel Shop, have acquired five-star luxury hotel Ashford Castle. The property was in the hands of receivers. The move saves 160 jobs.
  • As yet another report showed near-record high air-fares on trans-Atlantic routes, Carnival Cruise LInes announced cuts in its European itineraries because of the cost of transporting Americans here..
  • The new CEO of Shannon Airport is Neil Pakey, former MD of Liverpool John Lennon Airport
  • A passenger flying from Los Angeles to New York had the aircraft diverted and was removed for singing a Dolly Parton song.
  • Delta, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey have opened their new $1.4bn terminal 4 at JFK International Airport
  • Insight Vacations have launched their 2013/14 Winter Europe brochure, that includes tours and cruises of the Eastern Mediterranean and Christmas Markets. The brochure features 35 premium autumn, winter and spring escorted journeys. New to the collection is the 9-day Alpine Christmas Market itinerary which travels through the winter landscapes of Germany, Austria, France & Switzerland.
  • Royal Caribbean International unveiled Quantum of the Seas’ first 18 Caribbean sailings, ranging from seven to 12 nights, with the official inaugural sailing taking place on 23 November 2014.
  • The newly re-developed National 1798 Rebellion Centre in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford was officially re-launched after a €178,000 revamp this weekend.
  • Playwrights, musicians, poets and writers are descending on the North Clare village of Doolin for the launch of the inaugural Doolin Writer’s Weekend.
  • There were long delays at Heathrow on Friday following the emergency landing of an Oslo-bound British Airways airbus 319. Another incident which involved a PIA aircraft diverted from Manchester to Stansted is not believed to be militant-related.
  • Dublin Airport was ‘highly commended’ and Tourism Ireland nominated at the Routes Europe awards.
  • Volker Lorenz thanked al his colleagues in the trade for all their help, encouragement and sponsorship for his half-marathon run today Sunday in Enniscorthy,, which raised more than 1000 for the Travel Fun Day and the Irish Cancer Society,
  • Amadeus launched their new Cruise Shop product, a business-to-business shopping application that builds on the long-standing success of Amadeus Cruise.
  • Travelport announced that Jet2.com and Norwegian are now live and bookable in Travelport Aggregated Shopping, part of the Travelport Merchandising Platform.
  • Aer Arann’s major announcement of the week proved to be no more than further details of their well-publicised expansion plans, they are to create 50 jobs bringing the company’s overall staff numbers to 370.
  • Enda Kenny, unveiled the newly-refurbished GAA Museum at Croke Park including the official GAA Hall of Fame, a modern-day heroes and legends gallery, eight exciting interactive skill zones and dedicated sound booths showcasing clips from the association’s oral history archive. The museum is close to our hearts, having been storylined by Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry.
  • Dutch airline, ArkeFly is to operate charter service from Cork Airport for Falcon Holidays this summer.
  • Fáilte Ireland hosted a Web Check Digital Conference for tourism businesses – Connectivity on the Move in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Santry, Dublin. Fáilte Ireland hosted a group of Swiss journalists who travelled to see Kells High Cross, the Neolithic monuments of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, the Bru Na Boinne Visitor Centre and a walking tour of Carlingford. Tourism organisations from Ireland met with Belgian conference and meeting planners at a networking ‘Meet in Ireland’ event in Brussels, organised by Tourism Ireland. Picture (below) shows Orla Kraft, Tourism Ireland; Susan Nolan, Odyssey International; Lindsey Williamson, Belfast Visitor & Convention Bureau; Sarah O’Sullivan, Trinity College Dublin; Sinéad Heneghan, Croke Park Hotel and Conference Centre; Séamus Heaney, Cork Convention Bureau; François Tessier, Abbey Incentive and Events; Azeta Seery, Fáilte Ireland; Christoph Haustein, TIFCO Hotels; Danielle Neyts and Karen Cronin, both Tourism Ireland,.business travel in Brussels copy
  • Flybe celebrated their inaugural flight on the Manchester route from Waterford Airport
  • Emirates has appointed Anita Thomas to the position of Key Account Manager for Ireland.
  • Fáilte Ireland have introduced a new free audio guide for Kildare and Wicklow which can be downloaded in MP3 format from http://www.grandtour.ie
  • Hotels.com reported the average Irish tourist spent €115 per night on hotel rooms when travelling abroad in 2012 and €85 per night on hotels at home.
  • The Aer Lingus pension deficit problem eased towards a solution, with the proposals merrily leaked. The proposal is €110M to pension fund as a final one off gesture, and a “stabilisation” figure for employees.
  • Castletown House announced an August Bank Holiday weekend festival (3rd-5th) offering arts and entertainment in what it calls “Ireland’s only palace.”
  • Qantas announced an extension of Select on Q-Eat, allowing Business customers travelling between London, Australia and Dubai, to pre-order their meal, designed by Qantas consulting chef Neil Perry, prior to flying.
  • Spotters turned out in force to see the world’s biggest plane land in Shannon on Wednesday
  • Worldchoice board member Colin Heal passed away last weekend at the Worldchoice Conference in Lake Bled, Slovenia. Colin as a great friend to the Irish Trade and a familiar face at Worldchoice conferences down the years, including the international conference when it was staged at Citywest in May 2004, attracting 652 delegates.
  • Travel Extra would also like to pay tribute to Sean Ward, penultimate editor of the Evening Press and one of the outstanding journalists of his generation, who passed away on Thursday night.
  • Belfast’s latest attraction, SS Nomadic opens for business at the Titanic quarter in Belfast on Friday next.

Dealwatch

  • 20pc off fares to Britain for travel right throughout the summer
  • Disney Paris and their Irish agents Abbey Travel and Breakaway Travel are offering free meals for kids and up to 25pc off.
  • Irish Ferries sale ends Tuesday

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