Travel Extra Sunday Supplement: Ships Big & Small Come to Call

The cruise ships passing through this summer reflect the changing nature of the business and Ireland’s relationship with the industry.

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When Azamara Quest embarked from Dublin last week, Travel Extra’s Gerry O’Hare (right) was on hand to sample the Black Bush and ensure that it docked correctly in Dublin and his native Belfast, which was being visited by Azamara for the first time. The visit continues the welcome Aza policy of bringing passengers into Dublin to embarking on a cruise, rather than just sailing in for a day. The fascinating five masted sailing ship The Wind Surf came to Dun Laoghaire. The apartment ship for the mega-rich, The World came to Galway a fortnight ago. On Wednesday of next week Cunard’s QE2 comes to Dublin. The next step? Cruise terminals in Dublin and Cork, and really establish a foothold for Ireland in the burgeoning cruise industry, rather than asking our day-trippers to climb down a rickety gang plank. A start: Belfast is getting a new wharf. Pictured below is Azamara Club cruise hotel director Philip Herbert with the Azamara Quest in Belfast.Azamara Club Cruises Philip Herbert. copy

Ryanair put its 29.8 shareholding up Aer Lingus up for sale but added a proviso that the only acceptable buyers would be European-based airlines (not equity holding groups) who had already purchased 50.1pc of the shares from other shareholders, although the Ryanair statement is not quite clear on this matter. This pretty much rules out anybody buying the shareholding, while muting one of two arguments coming down the tracks from the London based competition commissioners in a ruling due in September, that Ryanair’s share block would prevent anyone else buying the airline.o'leary mueller 150
Commentators, including Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry (listen to audio), were unimpressed. Donal O’Neill of Goodbodys said “Ryanair is just getting in ahead of time to say whatever arguments you put forward are inaccurate.” Cliff Taylor said that Ryanair’s move killed the argument that the Ryanair holding could act as a block to another acquirer of Aer Lingus. The Irish Times speculated that the London Competition Commissioner may publish its Ryanair-Aer Lingus findings in August, several weeks before the September deadline. On Friday, Justice Sean Ryan ruled that Aer Lingus had not established substantial grounds for a judicial review designed to delay a renewed Ryanair takeover bid because it had not shown that a reading of the takeover rules by the ITP was “wrong or even questionable.”

Next winter’s Trans-Atlantic schedules are taking shape. Delta will use a B763 instead of a B757 for the winter to JFK and a mix of B764 and B763 to Atlanta. Atlanta will be suspended between Jan 12 and March 9. When it returns a B764 will be replaced by a B763 until March 30 when the A332 is scheduled to start on the route, two months ahead of what happened this summer. United’s Washington service will go from five weekly to four weekly for four weeks in January and February, a week less than 2013. American Airlines will fly four times weekly to JFK.

Dubline app 3 copyA bemused looking Leo Varadkar launched a new mobile phone app for Fáilte Ireland’s Dubline tourism trail along a route from College Green to Kilmainham visiting Dublin landmarks. Pictures shows Laurence Foster who plays Dickens in Dublin, Deirdre Byrne of Fáilte Ireland, Lesley-Anne Carey of Christchurch; and Minister Varadkar. Stories along the trail include

  • Strongbow’s mini-me: Beside the colossal grave of Strongbow lies a peculiarity that has confused historians for centuries – a tiny grave of a man cut in half. leading to many tales about Strongbow’s sidekick in death.
  • The Lucky Stone: Within St Audeon’s church lies ‘the lucky stone’, a stone long thought to possess supernatural powers of good luck. It has almost been stolen several times,
  • Roland in the Deep: Deep in the vaults of St Audeon’s church lies the tomb of Roland FitzEustace, rogue among rogues in the 15th century whose corrupt exploits made him famous.
  • The fight for City Hall: In 1916 Sean Connolly lead a small detachment into City Hall to occupy the building. Hemmed in by snipers, the story of the occupation is one of drama and tragedy as the small group of rebels struggled against the odds.
  • Dutch Billy, the statue of William of Orange which stood on College Green. Looted, muddied, attacked, exploded, the statue had a very colourful life
  • Liberty Belles – Once a month 12 childhood friends from the liberties meet to reminisce and chat. about their childhoods in 1940’s Dublin – the church dances, discovering how babies are made, and their many misadventures.
  • Temple Bar Murders – On the foggy streets of 19th century Eustace Street, two policemen were killed by unknown assailants. Barry Kennerk recounts the tale of mystery and murder.
  • St Werburgh’s ‘From riches to rags’: Once the wealthiest of churches and the place of worship for the ascendancy, everything changed suddenly for St Werburgh’s in the 1798 rebellion and it swiftly fell from grace to become one of the poorest parishes in Dublin.
  • The Final speech of Robert Emmet: The passionate and fiery final speech from the docks by Robert Emmet, as performed at the place of his execution on Thomas Street.
  • The Liberties Whiskey Fire: The Liberties was ravaged by a great flaming river of whiskey in the 1870’s, which caused massive confusion and drunkeness throughout the area.

aer lingus regional london trip lo resA trip to see Once and a visit to the London Eye were among the highlights for first anniversary press trip to Southend this week with Aer Lingus Regional, operated by Aer Arann. The trip was designed to showcase the airport’s ease of access to London city centre and turned out to be more west end than east end. Since its launch in May 2012, 55,000 passengers have used the Dublin to London Southend service, scheduled to facilitate a day return for business passengers, departing Dublin at 7:15am, arriving in London Southend at 8.50am and returning from London Southend at 19.30pm. Aer Lingus Regional aims to grow the route by 20pc in the next 12 months. The trip also featured a National Gallery tour with Tracy Jones including the Vermeer Exhibition and lunch at the National Dining Rooms in the National Gallery. The group dined at Browns restaurant, Covent Garden and stayed in the Westminster Park Plaza. Picture shows Joanne Ahern of the Metro Herald, Marie Carberry of Travel Extra, Laura Coates of the Leinster Leader and Elaine Rockett of the Irish Daily Star. The photo was taken by Sarah Regan of PR360. Not in picture: David Coleman of the Irish Daily Mirror.

awkward passengerWhat to do with a drowsy air passenger next to you? Steve Cullum filmed himself gently but unsuccessfully attempting to move the drowsy woman and posted the footage on YouTube, where it has been viewed 300,000 times

Irish hoteliers, particularly those resentful of clauses in some OTA contracts, are watching this week’s developments in Germany with interest. Germany’s antitrust watchdog renewed its complaint on Thursday that Hotel Reservation Service Robert Ragge GmbH’s pricing agreements with hotels may harm competition and violates European and German competition law. The best-price clause in HRS’s agreements with hotels guarantees that the company would get the best hotel price, the highest room availability and the best cancellation policies. michael vaughan 150 lo resThe Federal Cartel Office originally issued a statement of objections against HRS in early 2012 and said Thursday that the new complaint would give the company a chance to reconsider its position on its best price clause, which bars hotels from offering better deals to customers who book directly through the hotel or competing websites. Earlier this month French hospitality workers union UMIH (L’Union des Metiers et des Industries de l’Hotellerie) accused Expedia and Booking.com of unfairly blocking hotels from offering lower rates through other reservation services, asking the French antitrust watchdog to investigate. The British watchdog is monitoring ICHG for similar anti-competitive practices with OTAs. Irish Hotels Federation President Michael Vaughan (above right) says the IHF are currently examining OTA contracts with a view to following suit.
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Taiwanese youths Lin Ping-Yi and Wang Wei-Tung had a rousing send off last Sunday on their 90-day motorcycle journey through 24 countries across Europe. Lin got the opportunity to travel to Ireland under the Ireland-Taiwan Working Holiday Program, in effect since January 1st. Their trip takes them through Ireland, England, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Morocco, France, Spain and Portugal. See who we met at the event or connect with the album on Facebook.

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How often do we see it? Passengers carried their hand luggage with them when they evacuated from the Southwest 737-700 which landed nose first before the front landing gear broke in LaGuardia airport, skidding on its belly and injuring nine people. It is speculated he accident occurred because of a hard landing rather than an equipment or maintenance failure. The nose was pointed at an angle of 3 degrees downward when it struck the runway. The crash forced 500 flights to be cancelled at LaGuardia, 350 on Monday and 150 on Tuesday and average delays of 90 minutes throughout Monday. The landing was captured on video by one of the passengers and the stewardess can be heard saying: “we are not there yet” in response to calls for crew to open the door.

INDIAN INCENTIVE GROUP VISITS KILKENNY

Tourism Ireland hosted a group from one of India’s largest conglomerates, Godrej, to Kilkenny. The group included 80 of the company’s senior management team and their families, who travel to a different overseas destination each year on an incentive trip.anna livia lounge_1713 copy

  • DAA will open the refurbished Anna Livia lounge (above) in Terminal 1 tomorrow. The lounge, located beside the Security Screening area in Terminal 1, has increased in size with a new business and children’s area, an enhanced food offering with cereals, fresh fruit and soup on offer (following customer feedback).  Entry for economy passengers remains at €20.
  • More participants have been signed up for the FlightFest international aviation flypast through Dublin city centre on September 15th designed to celebrate the 26,000 jobs and €4.1bn contribution of the aviation industry to the Irish economy. Large commercial aircraft from Ireland and abroad will take part in the fly past, including the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320, A321, A300, A330 and A340 aircraft The Irish Air Corps and the England’s Royal Air Force will participate as well as a variety of helicopters and vintage aircraft such as the Vulcan XH558, B-17 Flying Fortress and Catalina PBY-5A Flying Boat. All of the major Irish airlines are supporting FlightFest, including Aer Lingus, Ryanair, CityJet, Air Contractors, and Aer Arann (Aer Lingus Regional), as well as international airlines such as Ethiad Airways. Large section of the quays will be pedestrianised, with many family attractions and festivities available, contributing to a carnival atmosphere that will showcase Irish aviation.
  • CSO figures released on Wednesday showed that the number of Irish people going abroad was up 1.4pc between April and June. The stats also showed that inbound tourism is almost back to 2009 levels, but is still 15pc short off the 2008 record. While British inbound tourist numbers, source of most of the decline, were once again down 1.1pc, the biggest volume growth (69,000 visitors) was from N America (+15pc), with growth from Australia/NZ (+17pc), Nordics (+13pc), Benelux (+10pc), France (+16pc), Germany (+7pc) and Eastern Europe (+7pc), with Spain up 2pc and Italy down 4pc.
  • Leo Varadkar popped up, predictably, to claim credit for the growth on behalf of The Gathering, saying it was now responsible for an extra 162,000 visitors (the target is 325,000 extra visitors, so you can see a pattern here). Jacinta Doolan of Trident Holiday Homes told Rosita Boland in a separate interview that the Gathering is working, selling “things that we’re very good at; meeting up with people.” Christophe Mueller said a fortnight ago at the San Francisco/Toronto launch that he also believed the Gathering had been a success (listen to audio). There have been 2,459 Gathering events so far, with 1,801 still to happen. The counties with the most summer Gatherings organised are Dublin with 318, Cork with 179, Mayo with 158, Donegal with 126, Galway with 119 and Kerry with 111.777 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER
  • Etihad Airways launched Raise The Bar 2013-14, offering GAA clubs who play a crucial role both on the pitch and in their community the chance to win a year’s sponsorship package with the Abu Dhabi-based airline, a €10,000 cash sponsorship fund, new branded playing and training kit, mentoring, coaching and social visits from hurling celebrities, and regular fundraising prizes such as Etihad Airways flights and Hurling All Ireland Final tickets. The winning club will be decided by a public vote and the votes of the judging panel, Tipperary’s Nicky English, Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh and Des Cahill. Last year’s competition (2012-13) was won by Na Piarsaigh from Limerick. Picture shows previous winners of Etihad Airways’ Best Club Under the Sun competition, Paul Callanan of Clarinbridge in Galway (2011-12 winners), Ollie Canning of Portumna in Galway (2009-10 winners), and Fintan Clandillon of Lucan Sarsfields (2008-09 winners). Clonlara in Clare were winners in 2010-11.
  • Lowcostbeds has expanded its reach into Canada, India, South Africa, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland and is now live in 45 countries having added Brazil and the Middle East earlier this year
  • Travelport launched Search Control Console to give travel agents control over 35 variables in an itinerary, fine tune the relevant search results and “to capture business opportunities.”
  • The Titanic centre Belfast is hosting the Into The Deep Marine Festival this week at Titanic Belfast from July 27 to August 11.
  • Hotel prices have increased by an average of 56pc for the Galway Races, according to trivago.ie to an average of €162 per night. The most expensive day to book during this period is Thursday 1st August, when one night will cost an average of €211.
  • Ryanair responded to a Spanish fuel policy investigation by saying that the final decision on how much fuel to take ‘rests with the pilot.’
  • Aldergrove airport Belfast was sold to Texas-based ADC & HAS Airports. The move could mean new investment for the airport, which badly needs a new terminal.
  • BA’s Airbus A380 comes to Shannon Airport on Tuesday, the first A380 in full llivery to visit Ireland
  • The only newcomer in Fáilte Ireland’s chart of the most popular attractions in Ireland in 2012 is Tayto Park (9th overall). with 391,000 visitors. Shaun Quinn CEO of Fáilte Ireland said tourism is in a good place compared to five years ago. Separate pdfs are available for the top 25 fee-paying attractions and top 20 free attractions and the Irish Times reported on the figures. The overall top ten: 1 Guinness Storehouse 1,087,209, 2 Dublin Zoo 1,029,417, 3 Cliffs of Moher 873,988, 4 National Aquatic Centre 813,406, 5 National Gallery 660,486, 6 Book of Kells 561,259, 7 Botanic Gardens 544,685, 8 National Museum Kildare St 409,275, 9 Tayto Park Ashbourne 391,000, 10 St Patrick’s Cathedral 385,000
  • Jimmy Deenihan will perform the official opening of the Cush Interpretive Centre celebrating the Iron Age agricultural community overlooking the fertile plains of East Limerick, one mile from the prehistoric site at Cush.
  • The latest Flightstats report gave three Asian airports, three European airports and four North American airports top-ten scores for their punctuality. Tokyo’s Haneda International (HND) takes the top slot, with 95pc of flights arriving on-time.
  • Paris expects 2m visitors to attend the annual four-week Paris Plages event which began last weekend with the opening of a 1.8-mile double stretch of beach along the banks of the river Seine, made with 5,000 tons of sand offering free concerts, beachside cafes, ice cream parlors and street performers. One runs the Louvre to Pont Sully, and the other on the Bassin de La Villete in the 19th arrondisement.
  • Dublin Airport’s busiest day so far this year was June 30th with just over 78,000 passengers. This will likely be surpassed this weekend with the record for the year expected next Saturday. kevin nolan lo res
  • Kevin Nolan of Topflight (right), former ITOF President, told the Irish Independent that early year bookings had been strong but the prolonged hot spell had taken its toll on last-minute trips abroad.
  • Air Canada have enabled the Navan2Navan group to bring a Navan and Boyne valley promotional tourism trade stand at a fair in the “other” Navan in Ontario this week, August 8-11th.
  • Brittany Ferries has installed free Wi-Fi on its weekly Pont Aven sailing to Roscoff. www.brittanyferries.ie or +35321 427 7801.
  • MSC Cruises has cancelled MSC Armonia’s 2013-2014 winter itineraries in the Red Sea and replaced it with itineraries departing from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
  • Leo Varadkar says the consultation phase of the Aviation Policy has just concluded and the Department is considering the responses received. A consultation document and a call for submission on the Tourism Policy Review will be published within the next two weeks.
  • The report on the feasibility of an Irish Museum of Sport has been received by Minister of State Michael Ring and is currently being considered.
  • In excess of 10,000 Leap cards were registered in June bringing the total cards in circulation to approximately 280,000. Additional products are being added and capping across all modes for users of the Leap Card is being worked with an intention to have it implemented in late 2013/early 2014.
  • Irish Ferries is cutting their late summer motorist fares on their Ireland to France route by 20pc off normal rates for travel anytime from Thursday, 8th August up to 19th December the offer comes with the condition that new reservations must be made before 6th August next.
  • Leo Varadkar’s mid-year review of priorities for 2013 includes plans to encourage cycling and walking and bring the Mullingar to Dublin section of the proposed coast-to-coast greenway to “shovel-ready status,” “launch a new Active Travel Towns competition,” establish bike-sharing schemes similar to Dublin Bikes in other regional cities and establish Shannon NewCo “the independent Shannon Airport,” and “restore the airport to passenger growth.”
  • Turkish Airlines Comfort Class now offers seat pitch of 45.7 inches (116 cm) and the seat width is 19.5 inches (49 cm). Each row has a 2-3-2 seating configuration.
  • There are four days left to place a favourite family holiday snap to the Falcon Holidays Facebook page before July 31st and explain in 50 words or less why a family deserves to be the Falcon Family to win a holiday and participate in a photo-shoot to feature in Falcon Summer Holidays 2014 brochure.
  • Wicklow Food and Garden Festival starts on Thursday July 25 from 6pm with the Summerfest Street Party on Friday evening. Some 30 exhibitors from all over Ireland will showcase their food and garden produce over Saturday and Sunday July 27-28 at the Food and Garden Pavilion on the seafront with talks, tastings, tips and canapés under a canopy from local delicacies, top class chefs and green thumb genius for a door charge of €2 and free entry for those aged under 12.boots dublin airport_1726 copy
  • Boots in Dublin airport’s The Loop shopping area has moved further up the street towards Butlers.
  • Dublin-based aircraft leasing group Avalon has delivered nine new aircraft valued at $540m.
  • The Palma de Majorca Mayor is planning a blitz on Ballermann to clean up the town. We’re not turning away from mass tourism, far from it,” Alvaro Gijon, deputy mayor of Palma said.
  • There were rumours that Lonely Planet publishers, co-founded by Irishwoman Maureen Wheeler, will not commission any more printed content.
  • Alton Towers new £18m Smiler ride was shut down by a loose bolt
  • Leo Varadkar said that adopting the Cape Town Convention will boost Ireland’s €19bn-a-year aircraft leasing sector
  • Travel tax lawsuits against Ryanair, Aer Lingus and Aer Arann are listed for mention on Monday.
  • Irish Water Safety pointed out that The majority of drownings, 62pc, occur inland “where river and lake beds can be difficult to see and therefore extremely difficult to determine if you are swimming within your depth.”
  • The debate heated up about the cool Lauterbrunnen Valley bungee jump, a 250 metre drop from the Isenfluh cliff, in Switzerland. Locals fear their village could earn a reputation as “death valley”.
  • Celebrity Cruises is introducing 30 new craft cocktails exclusive to Celebrity’s ships, developed through an alliance with artisanal cocktail developers Hawthorn Beverage Group, founded by noted cocktail creator Josh Durr.
  • All international flights to and from Tunisia were cancelled on Friday, due to a nationwide general strike in protest against the assassination of an opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi.
  • The third annual Hotel Week NYC is scheduled for January 3-12, 2014, a ten day event celebrating some of the City’s most prestigious hotels, at a fraction of the cost $100, $200 and $300 per night.
  • Ryanair announced extended direct coach connections to and from Stansted Airport with National Express.
  • A London-based survey suggested that 29pc of holiday makers hide their valuables under clothes at the sea or poolside.ekthanewstills-16
  • Five Indian movie location managers have spent the week in Ireland eyeing up the possibility of a successor to Ek Tha Tiger, Bollywood’s first major Irish production.
  • Silversea cruises was cited for removing 15 trolleys of food from the ship’s galley to crew cabins to avoid inspection on Silver Shadow in Skagness in June. Health inspection officers found a variety of both raw and uncooked food and ready-to-eat food on decks and on and under beds in a number of cabins used by crew. Silversea Cruises CEO Enzo Visone said “additional training is being provided for all food handlers and supervisors, butlers, cooks, waiters and bar staff to reinforce company procedures.” Visone also says the line has introduced an anonymous call system where any member of staff can report failings of procedures to senior managers without fear of reprisals.
  • An English travel agent Alan Steel of failed agency Russian Gateway was jailed for fraud for two and a half years after falsely claiming that he had ABTA (the equivalent of ITAA) recognition and falsely claimed he was bonded before going bust last year.
  • Stena Line has extended its children go free sale on Stena Line’s Dublin Port / Dun Laoghaire – Holyhead and Rosslare – Fishguard routes for travel every day until January 5, 2014 when booked by August 13, 2013.
  • Fáilte Ireland are calling on those working in Adventure Tourism, outdoor activity operators together with accommodation providers, who network with local businesses offering outdoor experiences to visitors, to register for the annual Fáilte Ireland Get Out There, Adventure Tourism Conference over two days on September 9th & 10th in the Falls Hotel, Ennistymon, Co Clare
  • Celebrity Cruises has released behind-the-scenes footage of the ship build process of its Solstice-class ships in a new documentary – “The Making of Celebrity Reflection.”
  • There are three days to go on the Disney Stars Play and Win competition with the prize of a stay at Disneyland Paris, a Samsung Galaxy Tab or a MP3 Player.Minister Club mems and Sport Illustrated'sjohn Garrity.  copy
  • Fáilte Ireland’s Eva Dearie and a group of top US golf media attended the opening of the new Kilmore nine hole course at Carne Golf Links in Belmullet, Co Mayo. Pictured with Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring and Fáilte Ireland Client Services Manager Eva Dearie are John Garrity of US Sports Illustrated, Club Captain Chris Tallott, Secretary Mary Walsh and Eamonn Mangan.
  • Etihad Airways has signed an agreement with IAE International Aero Engines AG to upgrade the airline’s current and future fleet of 35 V2500 engine-powered Airbus A320 family of aircraft to the V2500 SelectTwo engine standard.
  • Visitor numbers from Ireland to Dubai are up 22pc in quarter two of 2013 in comparison to the same period in 2012. 11,000 Irish stayed in Dubai in quarter two of this year versus 9,000 over the same period in 2012,
  • Jimmy Deenihan launched an exhibition on Tuesday, Exquisite & Rare: Bookbindings from the Library of Benjamin Guinness at Archbishop Marsh’s Library.
  • A survey by Travelsupermarket.com singled out Ryanair and Easyjet for applying the biggest mark-ups in food and drink.The Oak at The Loop copy
  • The Loop’s 27 food and beverage outlets at Dublin Airport will host a week-long celebration honouring Irish producers and suppliers from September 27th to October 4th, with tastings, quick fire cookery demonstrations, celebrity guest chefs and food festival menus. One of the tender requisites for all restaurants and cafés at The Loop is a commitment to supporting local producers and suppliers. products on offer include Derry Clarke’s sausages, Wright’s of Howth Salmon, Frank Brady’s Pork from Cavan, O’Flaherty’s of Wexford fish, Walshe’s Farm juices and jams from Carlow and Wicklow Beef from Thomas Short. Outlets such as The Oak at the Loop (pictured above on right) cater for an average of 34,000 people every day.
  • Virgin Atlantic offering economy and premium economy passengers the chance to upgrade on the ground on flights from Heathrow to New York JFK, Newark, Boston, Washington and San Francisco. £340 buys two travellers limo transfers, fast-track security, Upper Class-tagged bags and access to the Clubhouse lounge.
  • Ryanair shares shed 2.45pc on Friday as investors took profits ahead of the group’s first quarter results on Monday.
  • Thomas Cook has introduced two new brands, Sunwing resorts for families, Sunprime hotels for adults and a new range of smartline budget hotels and expanded SENTIDO and Aquamania hotels for summer 2014.
  • First Choice has launched a new all-inclusive budget hotel brand, SuneoClub.
  • Dublin Airport Authority is no more, DAA is their new name. The Irish Indo commented that “there are lots of changes that could help cut costs at Dublin and Cork airports, but a name change isn’t one of them.”
  • Google‘s new ‘digital innovation centre, The Foundry, developed by Google at its Dublin Headquarters near Grand Canal harbour is expected to bring up to 15,000 extra overseas business visitors to the city each year when it opens in September. It already has more than 70 conferences scheduled.eoghan corry peter hook lo res
  • It was a bad week for Tripadvisor who were eventually told by an English national newspaper that a top ranked restaurant, Oscar’s in Brixham, Devon, was non-existent and a fake, despite the anonymous review site’s widely publicised crackdown on false reviews. Accor Hotels publicity director Peter Hook (pictured on right in Scarlett Restaurant in Sydney earlier this year with Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry) recently admitted posting dozens of glowing reviews on TripAdvisor about his own firm’s properties and critical reviews about the company’s rivals. He describes himself on Twitter as “director of propaganda” for Accor hotels in Asia and the Pacific.
  • Fáilte Ireland’s creative writing tips webinar takes place on Wednesday July 31st at 11am, registration available online here.
  • Aer-Lingus-socialjet-300x200Aer Lingus has branded EI-FCC as its Facebook craft, the #socialjet. Picture shows Orla Harnett presenting the socialjet.
  • The Irish Coast Guard and Marine Survey Office are to merge.
  • Iceland (30pc) and Slovakia (20pc) as top performers in terms of foreign tourist arrivals growth through March-June. Montenegro, Latvia and Croatia follow with a growth around 9pc, Hungary and Poland with a growth of 7pc. On the other end of the spectrum, Cyprus was down 12pc, due to negative publicity received at the beginning of the year.
  • Passengers have been sharing their most unusual flying experiences on website wego.com including the pilot who pointed out his ex-wife’s house (and the car of the man she’d been having an affair with parked in his driveway) while bringing the aircraft in to land.
  • United reported a profit of $469m, a 38pc increase over the second quarter of last year. Southwest reported a second-quarter profit of $224m.
  • India‘s aviation regulator are investigating an oven that overheated on a B787 Dreamliner aircraft operated by Air India. Qatar Airways said on Friday it had taken one of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners out of service following what it described as a “minor” technical issue.
  • Glasgow launched a new tourism campaign focusing on the sporting and cultural events taking place in the city.
  • Dr Geoff Rolls from Southampton University researched what families regard as an idyllic day and concluded the ideal trip was a car journey of no more than 100 miles to a destination that appeals to the whole family.
  • The London Independent was among the media quick to remind people that rail travel remains the safest form of transport in the wake of the Santiago de Compostela tragedy. The tragedy happened on the eve of the traditional fiesta de Santiago, and while victims are still being identified it has emerged than pilgrims from Europe, USA and Latin America were among the dead. The burning of the Obradoiro and other fiesta activities were immediately cancelled.
  • Topflight are an official partner for the 2013 All Ireland Poc Fada Finals in the Cooley Mountains on August 3rd.
  • A survey by global workspace provider Regus said 54pc of Irish business professionals plan to work during their summer holiday and one in ten will spend over three hours of each day of their holiday working. EXIT FESTIVAL 2013
  • Pictured at Krusedol Monastery in Sremski Karlovci on the Serbian Tourism Board fam trip: Dennis van der Avoort Serbia’s PR representative in the Netherlands, David Coverdale of The Sun, Guido Verburg of Spits newspaper in Amsterdam, Ruth Scally of Scotland on Sunday, Mario Wisse of Metronieuws Netherlands, Tour guide Tanja Djurkic, Welsh travel writer Andrew Morris, Russell Stenhouse of Serbia Tourism. Front row: Eoghan Corry of Travel Extra, Italian travel photographer Pasquale Modica.
  • CNN named Africa’s top ten golf courses selected from 828 courses in 50 countries, 450 of those located in South Africa. Egypt, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia and Zimbabwe are all gaining reputations as good destinations for a golf holiday. The top ten were: 1 Cascades course at Soma Bay, Hurghada, Egypt
, 2 Heritage Golf Club, Bel Ombre, Mauritius,
 3 Le Touessrok golf course, Ile Aux Cerfs, Mauritius
, 4 Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort, El Jadida, Morocco,
 5 Windhoek Golf & Country Club, Namibia
, 6 Lemuria Resort golf course, Praslin Island, the Seychelles,
 7 Fancourt Links golf course, George, Western Cape, South Africa,
 8 Gary Player Country Club course, Sun City, South Africa,
 9. Flamingo golf course, Monastir, Tunisia,
 10 Leopard Rock Golf Resort, Mutare, Zimbabwe.
  • Crystal Cruises selected its Top 10 European shore excursions1 A black truffle hunt in the Morella countryside in Castellon de la Plana. 2 Backstage tour at the iconic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. 3 Cycle tour of the Lustica Peninsula, past olive groves and the Adriatic coastline, to a lunch of Montenegran local specialties. 4 Classical strings in the Versailles-like ballroom of a Baroque ancestral palace during an exclusive Crystal-only concert in Palermo:. 5 Making French bouillabaisse and a French impressionist art show deep inside a limestone quarry in Marseille. 6 Learning to sail in Cartagena, with the magnificent Spanish coastline as backdrop. 7 A private, off-hours view of Tintoretto paintings adorning one of six medieval Venetian “great schools.” 8 Salt flats of Lanzarote by dune buggy and scuba diving in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. 9 Lunching and wine-tasting Explore Cinque Terre in La Spezia. 10 Behind the scenes from locker room to dugout at Futbol Club Barcelona’s famous Camp Nou Stadium.
  • JD Power and Associates‘ annual survey of North American hotel guests says they are more satisfied with hotels than they’ve been in years, even as room rates and fees have gone up.
  • British Airways has picked Johannesburg as its third A380 route from early 2014.
  • Siobhan O’Donnell (aka Siobhan Moore of Dublin Airport) was featured in the Irish Independent on her preparation for the iron man triathlon in Frankfurt.
  • Christian Schmelter has been appointed Sales & Marketing Manager to The Inn at Dromoland.
  • male flight attendant who was sacked by Virgin Australia because his hair was too long has won a 15-month legal battle against the airline and is due to fly again next week.
  • A new Lithuania course for travel agents has been devised by Lithuania tourism.
  • DoubleTree by Hilton opened its first Polish property in the city of Łódź paying “homage to the golden age of Polish cinema” with rooms featuring film motifs, and its swimming pool forms a visual tribute to the works of Roman Polanski.
  • North Korea’s 11th annual Arirang Festival began, known for its meticulously choreographed displays of synchronised dancing.
  • A report from M&C states San Diego Tourism Authority has announced layoffs for 40pc of its 79-member staff.
  • Quito was named South America’s Leading Destination at this weekend’s World Travel Awards.
  • Lufthansa Group won first prize in the technology category of The Airline Strategy Awards conferred by Airline Business magazine,
  • Swiss have a double daily service from Dublin to Zurich on Saturday and Sun for July and August.
  • Chic Outlet Shopping launched a dedicated trade platform with new packages and partnerships with hotel booking companies.
  • Cathay Pacific has refreshed its first class, with a refreshed seat and new amenities.
  • Aeromexico will alter its Heathrow to Mexico City service from October 27. AM 008 will depart LHR at 2230 on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays and arrive in Mexico City at 0520 the next day.
  • TGV is reducing prices for rail travellers who book ahead with a first class, high-speed service at roughly the same price as “no frills” air travel.
  • Cathay Pacific has refreshed its first class, with a refreshed seat and new amenities. Turkish airlines photography competition copy
  • Turkish Airlines reports an enthusiastic response to its international photo competition launched last week by In-flight Skylife Magazine. Bridges and People invites photos telling of the bridges built between people, cultures, and civilisations. Prizes include Turkish Airlines’ flight tickets worth $15,000, $6,000, and $3,000, and 80 selected photos will be exhibited. Apply online over yarisma.skylife.com/en and upload their photos to the website before November 16th.
  • Dublin will host the independent Jack of Diamonds Rhythm and Roots Festival from August 16-18th for the second year running.
  • Spanish carrier Air Europa will start flying from Madrid to Sao Paulo on December 16 five times a week.
  • Carnival Vista is the name of the new Carnival ‘fun ship’ to be launched in 2016. CEO Gerry Cahill says the $155m makeover of the Carnival Sunshine (formerly Carnival Destiny) is to be repeated in other ships.
  • A Ryanair flight attendant claimed at the Employment Appeals Tribunal to have been demeaned and bullied by a supervisor.
  • South Devon’s Crab Month throughout August will raise awareness of the importance of sustainable fishing and showcase ways to prepare and eat crab meat.
  • Patsy Cline‘s former home has opened to visitors in Winchester, Virginia.
  • The USA’s Transportation Security Administration plans to get travelers through airport checkpoints faster by inviting them to pay $85 for voluntary background checks. Pre-check passengers can leave on shoes and jackets and keep laptops in their bags.
  • Kyrgyzstan has passed a law introducing electronic visas
  • Turkish Airlines is currently offer promotional fares to: Bangkok (from €638): Delhi (from €516): Male (from €702): Sharm El-Sheikh (from €536).
  • surfing dog brandy spanish pint july 19 2013 copyThis surfing dog called Brandy was spotted on Spanish Point strand in Clare last week.
  • Bad idea of the week is Heathrow’s new food guide with the unfortunate title Food On The Fly (did they think of the cognitive effect: fly on the food, especially for people for whom English is not the first language?). It is based on the recommendations of BBC Masterchef judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.
  • As the heat wave ended with a bang, we got to catch some footage of the lightning over Dublin that managed to close Clery’s for a few days from Thursday. See also video of Wednesday’s thunderstorm over Kilkenny.

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