Travel Extra Sunday Supplement: Friendly cats, buses and bomb scares

Thomas Cook hosted Irish agents on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth ship visit to Dún Laoghaire. Even the most blasé were impressed by the elegance and opulence of the ship’s interior – a blend of old-world graciousness and modern style and comfort. And even the lower end looked very five-star.



Inigo Ayuso (right), Voyage Sales Specialist, Cunard, welcomed the party of travel agents and travel writers to view one of the world’s famous ships on a gloriously sunny morning. He mentioned that one guest at present on board had travelled with Cunard for some 2,900 days – and that the ship had many repeat bookings. Prices for the staterooms ranged from approximately €3,500 to €35,000 for a 7-day cruise.

Sharon Harney

Sharon Harney, Head of Sales and Marketing with Thomas Cook (right) said the Irish company has quite a few regular cruise clients. Two upcoming voyages on board the Queen Elizabeth include a 10-night Mediterranean cruise, departing August 31 from €1,189 per person, while a 7-night Northern Adventure cruise from €1,019 per person. Picture above shows Dawn Conway of Thomas Cook, Paula Coughlan of Dawson Travel, Lisa Croke of Marble City Travel, Linda Jones of Travel Boutique, Sharon Harney Sales & Marketing Manager of Thomas Cook, Tommy the Ball and minder, Shirley Woods of O’Hanrahan Travel, Will Walsh of Travel Broker, Frances Grogan of Grogan Travel, Niki Stanford of Thomas Cook and Mairéad Hogan of Roscrea Travel. See more photographs here or connect with the album on Facebook.

colin ahern

Condé Nast readers voted Kilkenny the friendliest city in Europe, 9th in the world with Dublin 12th and Cork 20th, Colin Ahern (right), the chairman of Kilkenny Tourism said this achievement “was no accident” and attributed it to the recently launched ‘Visitor Welcome Ambassador’ programme. Florianopolis in Brazil (where even the airport staff were described as “courteous”) was voted the world’s friendliest city, while Newark, New Jersey, was voted the most unfriendly. The full list, Friendliest: 1 Florianopolis, Brazil; 2 Thimphu, Bhutan; 3 Queenstown, New Zealand; 4 Charleston, South Carolina; 5 Paro, Bhutan; 6 Margaret River, Australia; 7 Mandalay, Burma; 8 Kilkenny, Ireland; 9 Ubud, Bali, Indonesia; 10 Chiang Mai, Thailand. Unfriendliest; 1 Newark, New Jersey; 2 Islamabad, Pakistan; 3 Oakland, California; 4 Luanda, Angola; 5 Kuwait City, Kuwait; 6 Lome, Togo; 7 New Haven, Connecticut; 8 Detroit, Michigan; 9 Atlantic City, New Jersey; 10 Tangier, Morocco.

Not everyone is as impressed, Global Travel News picked up Kitty Holland’s Irish Times story this week where she quotes a jewelery shop owner saying that aggressive beggars and drug dealers are driving tourists away from Dublin. An English visitor was quoted saying he really liked Ireland but he would never be back in Dublin because of the aggressive begging and the junkies.

Irish Travel Agents Association members say consumers “are returning to travel agents for expert advice and booking” and the level of bookings has increased for the second quarter of the year, or stayed the same for 72pc of members compared with the same period in 2012. In 2012, ITAA members sold €967m worth of travel. In addition to this, outbound travel created €150m to the Irish economy with holidaymakers pre-holiday spends in airports and retail outlets.

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Pat Dawson, Chief Executive of the ITAA said “the most important statistic of all is that most of our members feel positive about the business year ahead. This is a very confident result for the travel industry, our members and clients.” The ITAA has reported another weekly increase in traffic to their new web site ( with weekly travel agent deals for the public to view. This site claims to be unique in that it offers the Irish public a variety of every type of package holiday on.

869189-kenya-airport-fireAnybody who has travelled through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi will know it had difficulties coping with passenger numbers BEFORE Wednesday’s disastrous fire. Nairobi airport reopened a few hours after the fire and the domestic terminal will be used for some international flights. The fire happened at peak tourist season, just when those seeking to view the great wildebeest migration would have been arriving. Kenya Airways diverted 1,080 passengers to Mombasa on Wednesday morning while 200 were taken from Mombasa to Nairobi by road. BA is to provide free re-bookings up to August 31. As air passengers, agents and tour ops quarrelled about who is responsible for compensation the business of quelling the more extravagant theories that the attack was the work of South Somalia militant group al-Shabaab, with their implications for travel insurance cover, fell to the Kenyan government. Travel commentator Simon Calder asked if Nairobi is the right hub for East Africa?” while travellers pointed out the upside: Nairobi will be rebuilt to a higher standard. The airport, which was built for 2.5m passengers but now handles 4m passengers a year, had three fire engines instead of the recommended eight and only two were in working condition when the fire started. Fire fighters took more than five hours to extinguish the inferno that started around 5am. Nairobi County’s chief fire officer Brian Kisali said the fire was the most intense he had ever fought but “We had a lot of water and our engines were perfectly in shape.” It was also alleged responders stole electronics and money from an ATM and seven police were investigated.

us airways landing

There was widespread coverage of US Airways Flight from Shannon to Pittsburgh, US777’s emergency landing at Philadephia airport after a false bomb alert. Rather than following the usual landing procedure, the 171 passengers and eight crew members were evacuated and taken to a secure area where they were isolated and the luggage was screened. Philadelphia Police Department said on Wednesday: “there was some type of threat made, but nothing specified, We were aware of a possible security issue with the flight and out of an abundance of caution taxied the aircraft to a remote location, where it was met by law enforcement and emergency personnel,” See pictures.

t2 sign

Dublin airport numbers were up 7pc in July to 2.2m passengers, first seven months up 5pc to 11.5m. July figures included Europe up 6pc to 1.2m, UK up 5pc to 653,000, US/Canada up 16pc to 221,000, Africa/Middle East up 19pc to 54,000, domestic up 14pc to 7,000. Shannon airport passenger numbers were up 9.4pc in July. Cork Airport figures for July show passenger numbers down 1.6pc and first seven months down 1.2p

The publicity material for English Channel 4 TV programme Secrets from the Cockpit promises that serving Ryanair pilots reveal their worries over fuel policy and working conditions. The programme will be screened on Monday August 12th at 19.30. A silhouetted Ryanair pilot tells one of the programme makers that “it’s just a matter of time before we have other emergencies“.

  • Spanish safety investigators renewed a claim that “market competition” is forcing airlines to carry less emergency fuel. A Ryanair pilot claimed the routine carriage of 300kgs of extra fuel is discouraged. Ryanair responded: “The EU’s fuel requirements work fine for all EU airlines. If pilots want fuel over and above our prescribed extra fuel, they take it.” Ryanair also suspect the Spanish campaign is politically motivated.
  • The Ryanair Pilot Group, a group claiming to represent Ryanair pilots, says it has had its Facebook and Twitter accounts removed over the past ten days.
  • The Daily Mail reported what it describes as a new Ryanair money making ruse: flight attendants are asked to claim they have ‘no change left,’ the instruction allegedly comes from an official airline handbook.
  • Paul Hogan of Anna Aero pointed out many of Ryanair’s planned winter frequency increases from Dublin (Stansted from 7 to 8 daily, Manchester from 4 to 5 daily, Birmingham and Edinburgh from 3 to 4 daily, Bristol from 2 to 3 daily) are simply adding back rotations which Ryanair previously culled. Dublin to London Stansted schedule was 10 daily in winter 2005 and 11-daily in summer 2005, Dublin-Birmingham was 5 daily in winter 2006, while both Dublin to Bristol and Edinburgh were 4 daily in winter 2007.

TUI Travel’s Q3 results reported bookings were down 2pc, with France down 22pc and Germany down 5pc. Irish figures are not stripped out but are believed to have been flat, with some growth anticipated in 2014 with the return to two destinations Ibiza and Rhodes. TUI says 47pc of its sales were now made online, up from 45pc a year ago, 84pc of mainstream summer programme is now sold. The company also said it had made an encouraging start to the 2013-14 winter season, with 21pc of its winter programme already sold. Britain and Germany both account for around a third of TUI Travel’s annual revenues while France and the Nordic region each account for roughly 10pc of sales and Ireland 4pc. TUI Travel third quarter results download (1.2megs). See also press statement.

The London Office of Fair Trading forced, Expedia and InterContinental Hotels to give a formal commitment to relax restrictions so that online travel agent competitors to discount hotels. There was some speculation that prices could fall as a result. Similar investigations are under way in Germany and France.

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Aer Lingus passenger figures (transatlantic up 17.2pc after a big jump in capacity) failed to impress the stock market as the airline reported the heat wave had affected forward bookings. Passenger numbers increased by 2.9pc to 1.14m in July 2013 compared to twelve months previously. Donal O’Neill of Goodbody’s (which counts Aer Lingus among its clients) said the figures showed the airline had made some “very savvy decisions.”

BA_380_SNN_300713_GXLEA_9701British Airways has confirmed Shannon Airport as its preferred option as a diversionary airport for the Airbus A380. This follows a visit by the craft last week, at which Simon Daly hosted the travel trade. British Airways is bringing its new Airbus A380 to Dublin’s Flightfest event on September 15 where it will join other aircraft in the two-hour fly-past of Dublin City Centre.

ba man v planeVideo of the week: British Airways pits man versus Plane as South African rugby player Bryan Habana races against their new A380.

heathrow map

England’s Airports Commissioner is wrestling with 120 proposals for dealing with London’s air traffic problems, including a “drive-through airport,” an East London hub on the unloved Isle of Grain, and a Severn Estuary hub. Howard Davies has promised to whittle down the options to just a “handful” by December. Heathrow’s owners have proposed a three stage development to find room for another 100m passengers a year by 2030, a new runway to the south west, a revised northern runway, and a fourth runway to follow to the north where the M4 motorway is today.

Tim leunigMichael O’Leary (predictably) wants more competition with EACH of London’s three airports getting a new runway each, saying it was a “unique opportunity to finally introduce effective competition and excess capacity in London’s runway infrastructure. Travel Extra is no fan of Heathrow, as Eoghan Corry’s listeners down the years will testify, but we feel the solution is to concentrate expansion in one hub (not, as some propose, two), and move the existing Heathrow airport slightly westwards and build four runways as per an idea proposed by economist Tim Leunig (right). This would benefit passengers and help the sleep-deprived residents of West London.

mullaghmore surf copyMullaghmore Head in Sligo was included in a list of USA Today’s “world’s most surprising surf spots.” The newspaper commented: The countryside isn’t all that’s green in Ireland. Enormous emerald waves pound Mullaghmore Head during the winter, making this treacherous Atlantic break on Ireland’s west coast a favorite for surfing daredevils. You don’t have to have a death wish to surf western Ireland, though: several breaks support the nearby city of Sligo’s multiple surf shops and surf schools.

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Announcing details of the third Westport Food Festival are Mayo food producers Eddie O’Malley from Jack & Eddie’s, Redmond Cabot from Red’s Sauces; Anne Campbell from Westport Beekeepers Association and Jack O’Malley from Jack & Eddie’s. The third Westport Food Festival takes place September 6th-8th and includes a Best of Westport Tasting Tour, A Gourmet Greenway Picnic along the Greenway cycle path (on the route of the old Achill railway), The Chowder Challenge (Westport are current All-Ireland champion for best chowder), a Covey Cocktail demo event, a Westport Dessert competition and Come Dine With Me with local chefs producing a fine dining meal from local produce. The Octagon and Clock will be transformed into a food village and food producer’s fringe. A discussion, Recipes for Success: The Business of Food will be facilitated by TV food critic John McKenna designed to exchange ideas and devise a strategy for marketing Mayo as one of Ireland’s great food counties.

Eoghan Corry in the Beauce region, northwestern France, August 4th 2013

Pieux what a scorcher. Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry took the Irish Ferries overnight ferry service to Cherbourg on the Oscar Wilde and spent some time baking (in the sunsoaked, not the patisserie sense) in the Loire Valley, stopping for a plunge in the fabled (and surprisingly fast moving) river Loire and meandering the plains of Beauce. He stayed on the Château des Mairais, a campsite that comes with a spectacularly deep (2.5m) pool, where Canvas Holidays has 30 pitches. Visits included the Chateau city of Blois, and the city of Orléans with its Joan of Arc connections. The many explorations on the visit included some of the 21 chateaux of Loire Valley, the Orleans regions, the Blois districts, the Loire Valley, (with a short taste of the Loire à Vélo cycle route). Castle visits included Royal Château of Blois, Château of Chambord, Château of Cheverny, Château of Chaumont-sur-Loire. Château of Chamerolles, Château of Sully-sur-Loire, Château of Meung-sur-Loire. Parc & Château of Beauregard, and the Italianate 16th century Château of Talcy with the fabulous Auberge de Chateau restaurant opposite, where they don’t speak much English but afford one of the warmest welcomes in France. Other visits included House of Magic in Blois, Chocolate maker Max Vauché in Bracieux and a boat trip on the Loire river. Gardens included Arboretum des Grandes Bruyères, Arboretum National des Barres and Parc Floral d’Orléans La Source. Vineyards in the region include Domaine de Montcy, The picture postcard town in Beaugency featured restaurants such as Le Martroi and Chez Henry. Blois restaurants included Hôtel Restaurant Côté Loire, L’Orangerie du château, Au rendez-vous des pêcheurs, Orleans restaurants included Chez Eugène, Restaurant Les Toqués, Restaurant La Dariole, and La Parenthèse.

There were also some self-indulgent diversions along the trail of South Leinster saints Fiachra/Fiacre (see Wikipedia open source summaries in English and in French and Canon John O’Hanlon’s Lives of the Irish Saints reference for August 30,) and Saint Osmana (see Canon John O’Hanlon’s Lives of the Irish Saints reference for September 9th, Article ii). Okay, we will stop talking saints now.

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Pictured visiting Waterford’s Spraoi Festival: Liam Horan of Strand Travel; Marie McCarthy of Irish Ferries; Gary Breen of Fáilte Ireland and Richard Hurley of Granville Hotel. Under Irish Ferries’ patronage, Waterford’s Spraoi Festival, held over the August bank holiday weekend attracted 60,000 visitors.

  • Hertz are offering a weekly draw for €250 One4all Voucher with every agent booking made for collection during August. Name and booking number to The more bookings you make with Hertz the more times you can enter the weekly draw. Login at or call 01 676 7476 to register.
  • The calendar of Heritage Week events August 17-25 is available at
  • The Irish Independent reported that a Dublin Airport worker was allegedly caught stealing money from a passenger’s wallet at a security point. The alleged theft was spotted by another passenger and reported after the victim had moved towards his gate. CCTV was being examined of the incident.
  • Flightfest will bring 30 aircraft through the city of Dublin on September 15, passing at five minutes intervals over a two hour period as part of the Gathering Ireland 2013. The aircraft will set off from Dublin Airport, into Dublin Port and up along the River Liffey, as far as the Customs House. Other 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. Participants will include the Irish Air Corps, England’s Royal Air Force, all of the major Irish airlines including Aer Lingus, Ryanair, CityJet, Air Contractors, and Aer Arann (Aer Lingus Regional), international airlines such as Ethiad Airways, and a variety of helicopters and vintage aircraft such as the famous Vulcan XH558, B-17 Flying Fortress and Catalina PBY-5A Flying Boat.
  • The Catalina G-PBYA, the oldest seaplane still flying in England, will return to Loughshinny Harbour near Skerries on August 24 as part of a five day flight to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the 1913 Circuit of Britain and Ireland Race. Ulster Aviation Society will be holding an Open Day at Long Kesh on August 24. Atlantic AirVenture’s annual aviation gathering will take place on August 25.
  • donal-minihaneDoolin Craft Beer Festival in County Clare from August. 23rd to 25th will bring together 15 domestically produced craft beers. Participating Irish microbreweries include The Carlow Brewing Company (Carlow), 8 Degrees Brewing (Mitchelstown), The Dungarvan Brewing Company (Waterford), The White Gypsy Brewery (Templemore), The Franciscan Well Brewery (Cork), Galway Hooker (Galway), Trouble Brewing (Allenwood) and Stonewell Cider (Kinsale). Hotel Doolin will partner with Seamus O’Hara of the Carlow Brewing Company who has been instrumental in the re-emergence of craft brewing in Ireland. Hotel Doolin General Manager, Donal Minihane (right) said almost every small town in Ireland had a microbrewery at one point before the rise to dominance of the larger beer companies. At the beginning of the 19th century there were over 200 breweries in the country. Local food suppliers will join BBQ specialist and Hotel Doolin Head Chef Peter Jackson by hosting stands each day from midday to 10pm. Tickets cost €10.00 each & include a free commemorative festival glass.
  • maeve kelly martin adare hs copyAdare Heritage Centre manager Maeve Martin-Kelly (right) said that the centre’s new pitstop menu, a picnic basket full of handmade sandwich, quiche and salad, tea and coffee, can be telephoned or emailed in up to three hours before collection. The menu will be available to view and download at
  • Guests were evacuated after a fire in the Burlington Hotel in Dublin on Tuesday night.
  • DUTCH JOURNALISTS DISCOVER CO CORK BY E-CARDutch journalists Rosa Groen and Ruben Stern have been touring Cork and the South West this week at the behest of Tourism Ireland, they are pictured in their electric car in Kinsale.
  • Tony Judge (right) of Clubstohire estimates the company has saved more than 70,000 travelling golfers in excess of €3m during its three-year existence. He says a 20kg luggage charge for a golf bag on a Ryanair flight can be up to as much as €140 and his product allows golfers to rent sets of golf clubs
  • Tony Judge -, Wilson Staff and Mizuno) from €35 per set per week at 16 European locations including Faro; Lisbon; Murcia; Alicante; Barcelona; Girona; Malaga; La Linea/Gibraltar; Palma in Majorca; Tenerife; Gran Canaria; Belek; Aphrodite Hills in Cyprus; Isle of Man, as well as Edinburgh and Dublin. It is backed by European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley.Queue at Pier D for immigration
  • It wasn’t the happiest bank holiday weekend for travelling folk. The Herald reported 2 hour queues for immigration at Dublin Airport over the bank holiday weekend. Aircoach went from 89 daily trips to 134 daily during the bus strike, Swords Express and Finnegan Bray buses also increased services. Tourists stood in the rain at a bus stop in Sandyford for 45 minutes before a passer-by told them about the bus strike.
  • Ireland West Airport in Knock processed 10,000 passengers over bank holiday weekend, 80 flights to and from 17 destinations keeping the airport on course for its target of 670,000 passengers in 2013, although there are fears that Birmingham, Bristol and Edinburgh have been dropped for winter.
  • taromTarom’s Dublin-Bucharest service is to increase from 3 to 4 weekly for Winter 2013/14. The Romanian airline reports a successful start to its Irish operation.
  • The peak summer travel season brought out the heat in some people. A man was arrested on Friday after allegedly becoming violent on board Thomas Cook CX8765 flying from Dalaman to Belfast. Spanish police boarded a Ryanair flight on arrival in Ibiza to remove passengers who allegedly threatened crew and fellow passengers during the journey from Prestwick.
  • Michael O’Leary said the takeover situation could change if Aer Lingus gets into financial trouble, which he says is “inevitable”.
  • All flights to and from Trang airport were cancelled on Tuesday after a plane slid off the runway while preparing for takeoff.
  • Passengers were evacuated from Terminal A at Gatwick airport after a coach caught fire.
  • eithne scott lennonEithne Scott-Lennon of Fitzpatrick’s Hotel said turnover at her Killiney hotel will be around €7.25m this year and is finally coming back into profit, but is still very tough. She said hoteliers are under intense pressure from “key-jangling operators” running hotels on behalf of Nama and the banks. One of the harshest things she had to hear in recent years was from a financial adviser to put herself in the shoes of a potential receiver.
  • Dublin’s Thomas Street activist Killian O’Higgins said that although Thomas Street Business Association’s 90-day plan to improve the appearance and the perception of the street ended this week, work will continue and a public meeting will be held later this month to discuss the future for the street. Grafton Street is meanwhile undergoing a major makeover, published a gallery on how it has looked down through the years from 1913 to 1991.
  • leo varadkar 002 copyLeo Varadkar said he was likely to make a recommendation on a proposed diaspora centre in the autumn. Elsewhere it was reported tourism is the best-performing sector in the Irish economy.
  • As the Dublin Horse Show opened, Michael Duffy of the RDS said that there were no plans to revive the Spring Show as it would find itself competing with events such as the National Ploughing Championships, the Tullamore Show and the Bloom gardening festival. Falcon Holidays brought selected members of the travel trade by stretch limo to Ladies Day, after a champagne reception in the Shelbourne Hotel.
  • The Irish Consumer Price Index indicated air fares were 12.2pc up on last year in July and travel by sea up 11.3pc.
  • American Airlines/US Airways got the go ahead from Joaquin Almunia, EU vice president for competition policy to create the world’s largest carrier. The two airlines have agreed to give up one slot at both London Heathrow and Philadelphia when their merger goes ahead. They have also promised to make other “commitments”. The merger now has to be cleared by the US Department of Justice, which is reviewing whether the merger will impact on competition in the aviation market.
  • JETBLUE AIRWAYS LIE-FLAT SEATJetblue announced a new first-class cabin that will feature lie-flat beds, suites and hot food. The new lie-flat seats are expected to be fitted on new Airbus A321 aircraft beginning in the second quarter of 2014. Critics complained that JetBlue Airways will cut one inch of legroom from economy seats on transcontinental flights to make room for the new features. JetBlue also launched Bags VIP, a new concierge service option, provided in partnership with Bags Inc.
  • European passenger traffic was up by 1.8pc during the first half of the year. Overall passenger traffic at the continent’s airports registered an increase of +1.8pc during the first 6 months of the year, compared with the same.
  • Anna Aero declared KLM ‘possibly Europe’s “most stable” airline’ with just four routes dropped and five started in last 12 months.
  • Air Canada delivered its best ever second quarter financial performance.
  • Wheelchair Association lo resThe Irish Wheelchair Association was awarded the EIQA Able Tourism Award, the Q Mark for Accessibility . IWA’s National Holiday Centres are Cuisle which is located in the grounds of Donamon Castle, outside Roscommon town, the Carmel Fallon Holiday Centre which is situated in Clontarf, Dublin and Claddagh Court Holiday Centre in Kilkenny, were presented with the awards by Irene Collins, Managing Director of EIQA, the Irish National Quality Association. Picture shows Kathleen McLoughlin, CEO of Irish Wheelchair Association with Liam Saunders, Manager of Claddagh Court Holiday Centre, Kilkenny and Irene Collins, Managing Director of EIQA.
  • Colm Barrington’s Dublin based FLY Leasing acquired a 2013 Boeing 737-800, its sixth.
  • “I’ve got it, I’ve got it, don’t worry.” Tiredness and fatigue led to stall alert on Irish-owned Air Contractors ATR-42-300 turboprop in Glasgow on February 23rd.
  • Around 100 passengers were stranded at Shannon Airport for two days when an Aer Lingus A330 went tech, while 170 others were rerouted.
  • US Airways said that a hacker gained access to 7,700 Dividend Miles accounts, the airline’s second data breach reported within a month.
  • Places chosen by Michelle Obama for her Irish visit: Glendalough, Dalkey and Finnegan’s pub said they are all benefiting substantially from the media coverage that resulted.
  • Air France said it will increase the number of A380 flights on the Shanghai route from three weekly to four from October 28th.
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand launched its “Find Your Fabulous” Campaign and an Array of Exclusive Deals for Medical Travelers.
  • The Baring family disagreed over the prospect of opening Dublin’s offshore Lambay Island for tourism, Alex Baring has sought planning permission to upgrade the castle and several outbuildings “to restore, as far as is practical, the original pattern of usage”.
  • Cathay Pacific teamed up with The Langham, Hong Kong to launch a new inflight menu featuring 16 dishes inspired by T’ang Court, the Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant at the luxury hotel.
  • Virgin passengers are to be entertained with live comedy and music on board Aer Lingus crewed flights from Heathrow to Manchester and Edinburgh.
  • The oil spill off Koh Samet continues to recede with the situation almost back to the normal, TAT and the Ministry of Tourism say.
  • Ukraine was reported as the cheapest tourist destination among UNWTO’s Top 20.
  • reported the number of shark attacks is on the rise due to human and seal population increases, shark migration and warming temperatures.
  • An 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit southern Greece, with jolts felt in Athens.
  • In a worrying trend, it was reported that some firms in America banned travel to the Middle East after last week’s unprecedented blanket travel advisory from the US government and closure of US embassies. The US are to reopen most of their embassies although the embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, will remain closed. Not everyone is being put off, apparently. Peter Tarlow, of Tourism and More Inc, Texas compared the frequent travel alerts as “like calling Fire 15 times.”
  • A group called Zuwar al Imam Reda claimed responsibility for the kidnap of Turkish Airlines pilots Murat Agca and Murat Akpinar near Beirut. The event has sent a shudder through the industry, even at times of deep conflict air crews are traditionally not regarded as legitimate targets for militants.
  • An English tourist suffering from bipolar disorder spent €170,000 during a week-long shopping spree in Spain.
  • Thomas Cook reported its first third-quarter profit since staving off bankruptcy in 2011 and said it had sold 85pc of its planned capacity for the summer 2013 season. Thomas Cook Airlines is to use the German Condor model to restructure operations.
  • England’s airport security staff confiscated an estimated £11.5m of beauty products this week from passengers’ hand luggage. The Irish equivalent is reckoned to be just over €1m.
  • The reservation system of Sabre used by many carriers went down at 12:20am on Tuesday morning causing flight delays worldwide.
  • Ryanair reported 92pc of 53,000 flights arrive on-time with less than 1 complaint per 1,000 passengers and less than 1 bag complaint per 2,000 passengers.
  • Irish Ferries Summer offers to Britain and France end Tuesday August 13th. Summer sailings to France are available at 20pc off.
  • Stena Line has extended until August 20 a FREE hotel night promotion for motorist return fares for a car and two passengers for travel on an Irish Sea route up to September 30.
  • It was reported that Meridian Aviation, a flight broker with links to former XL Leisure CEO Phil Wyatt, has gone into liquidation.
  • Lufthansa Technik Airmotive Ireland Holdings reported that profit was down 37pc to $21.9m.
  • Emirates said they will launch a private jet service served by an Airbus A319 that can seat up to 19 passengers.
  • Delta aircraft flying from Milan to Atlanta made an emergency landing at Shannon.
  • CityJet has selected airRM to manage its seat inventory.
  • Another survey showed why Tuesdays are the cheapest day to fly. The comparison site Momondo tested 40 of popular flight routes and found for 58pc of them, the cheapest departure day was a Tuesday. For 28pc of the routes, it was cheapest to depart on a Wednesday. And for the remaining 14pc of routes, it was cheapest to depart on a Monday, or Thursday. Momondo found that by departing earlier in the week, on the cheapest day of travel (between Mon – Thurs, depending on route), momondo found travellers can save 18pc on an average flight, this saving went up to 36pc on some routes. Departure on Friday, Saturday and Sunday costs 22pc more than the cheapest day’s price. Momondo is unique among price comparison sites in that it is allowed by Ryanair to display their prices, but not a booking facility. Momondo’s mobile applications are available for free for iPhone, Android and Blackberry.
  • Specialist late deals holiday brand said last minute holiday passenger bookings are up 12pc and that the average time between booking and departure is now 22 days on their site. They predicted that European beach resorts will dominate the last minute holiday scene for late summer holidays. For bargain hunters Greece and Turkey will be the big sellers (end of September/beginning of October); Cyprus will have amazing offers (especially the fabulous Holiday Village Aliathon, Cyprus) and Italy. Long haul luxury holidays are tipped to be more popular than ever this winter and Cape Verde will be a big seller. Goa will become a hot late deal holiday favourite in October.
  • Middle Eastern airlines celebrated the end of Ramadan with the ʿĪd al-Fiṭr festival on Friday.
  • Searches for Riyadh rose 365pc in July according to Hotels around the Universal Studios in Orlando were up 35pc, Chicago up 31pc and Manhattan up 28pc. Caherdaniel, in the Ring of Kerry up 119pc compared to July last year, Ballina saw searches rise by 84pc, Carrickmacross in Monaghan was up 61pc and Ballincollig in Cork was up 54pc compared to the same time in 2012.
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs was concerned about the disappearance of Michaella McCollum Connolly in Ibiza until she turned up in Peru allegedly in possession of 5.8 kilos of cocaine.
  • AFP visited Mawsynram in Meghalaya state, the wettest village on Earth complete with indoor clouds and 467 inches of rain.
  • It was speculated again that the Northern Lights will be best for a decade in December. Scientists predict a solar peak that will boost the chances of witnessing them this December.
  • Stephen Fuery of PAB Tours is organising a night out in Dublin for next October in aid of the Irish Cancer Society and would welcome prize donations from the travel trade.
  • Twitter-themed hotel in Majorca will ask guests to use Twitter to order room service and check out who is checking in.
  • US Media Golf 2 copyChristy O’Connor Senior pictured with US golf journalists and broadcasters and Rory Mathews of Fáilte Ireland on a recent visit to the Royal Dublin Golf Club. The group also played Carne Golf Links, Belmullet; Enniscrone Golf Club and The European Club at Brittas Bay.
  • Emerald or Sapphire cardholders will be able to fast track through security on any flight departing Heathrow operated by BA, American Airlines or Iberia
  • The London Independent commented that with more large ships on the Mediterranean to fill than ever, there is a far better choice of last-minute cruises than the cruise lines would have us believe.
  • Nine out of 10 travelers around the world can’t leave home without a gadget, Visa claimed. The weight of the gadget (39pc) and internet capability (34pc) are important factors when deciding which gadgets to bring on holiday.
  • An Expedia survey indicated an increase in mobile travel bookings reflecting what it calls “a more spontaneous lifestyle.” Expedia were promoting a free app that gives users the chance to win a free trip.
  • Travel booking portal listed holiday rip-off traps to avoid this season. The London Telegraph considered a burning question for all travellers: whether it is ever permissible to steal from a hotel. The London Independent offered a brief history and crash course in summer holidays as well as a list of celebrity holiday sightings.
  • International SOS and Control Risks unveiled what it called state-of-the-art features for TravelTracker 6, designed to handle stressful events. It provides clients with the ability to quickly pinpoint employees globally and contact them for status updates
  • Protesters used a double bed to block the entrance to the InterContinental Hotel in London, to publicise their objection to plans by InterContinental Hotels to build a luxury hotel in Tibetan capital Lhasa. The world’s highest civilian airport is being built in Tibet by the Chinese government, 4,410m above sea level,
  • It was claimed that a laser that detects air turbulence in the path of an aircraft could lead to smoother flights.
  • Henry Cavill received 45pc of the votes as number one celebrity women would like to have a holiday romance with according to
  • Lions International Liam LyonsAppropriately named Liam Lyons, retired bank manager from Mitchelstown who now lives in Thurles has been chosen to head the 2,500 Lions who are members of 112 clubs spread around the island of Ireland. Lions International claims to be the world’s largest humanitarian voluntary organisation which has 1.4m members organised in 46,000 clubs spread across 207 countries.
  • Searches for Riyadh rose 365pc in July according to Hotels around the Universal Studios in Orlando were up 35pc, Chicago up 31pc and Manhattan up 28pc. Caherdaniel, in the Ring of Kerry up 119pc compared to July last year, Ballina saw searches rise by 84pc, Carrickmacross in Monaghan was up 61pc and Ballincollig in Cork was up 54pc compared to the same time in 2012.
  • Good news for the disconnected: The Accor group is to offer free Wi-FI at all its Ibis Budget, Ibis, Ibis Styles, Novotel, Mercure, Pullman and M Gallery hotels. Munich Airport introduced 30 minutes a day of free W-LAN access. Chicago’s Mayor Emanuel announced the launch of high-speed Wi-Fi at five of Chicago’s biggest beaches, North Avenue, Osterman and Hollywood, Montrose, Roster and Rainbow beaches, following the launch of free Wi-Fi at Millennium Park in 2012. See
  • London’s hotel and hospitality industries need to be weaned off their addiction to low pay‘ and to pay its thousands of staff the ‘living wage,’ the UNITE union said in its submission to the Greater London Authority.
  • A Zeppelin took to the skies above Paris giving visitors a new way to see the sights of the French capital.
  • A new carrier launched at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, Asia Atlantic Airlines.
  • Travel and lifestyle social network WAYN named Reunion Island the “Top Dream Island of the World” in its Top Seven Island’s competition.
  • Saint Tropez was named the destination with the most expensive lodging rates in France in a survey by
  • A survey named North Island Lodge in the Seychelles as the most expensive hotel in the world.
  • Tourists from China were accused of throwing sweets at North Korean children “like they were feeding ducks”.
  • The mayor of Rome‘s plan to close the roads surrounding the Coliseum to traffic was met with both celebrations and angry protests.
  • The US House of Representatives voted to cut federal meetings spend by a third.
  • Tropical Storm Mangkhut bore down on Vietnam, putting outdoor tourism activities on hold, such as day trip boats and cruises in Halong.
  • It is that time of the year. The scatological department in trawled the map to find deeply unfortunate holiday destinations, and came up with: Brown Willy in Cornwall, Bumbang Island in Victoria Australia, Climax in Saskatchewan Canada, Delicate Nobby in NSW Australia, Dildo in Newfoundland. Fucking and Wankham in Austria, Mianus View in Connecticut. Poo in Asturias, Seymen in Turkey, Titz in Germany, Twatt in Orkney and Vagina in Russia. You can stop sniggering now.
  • Fógra; Guess what Mary Robinson’s final choice of music was on Desert Island disks? (not the Travel Extra version, but even better, Liam Clancy at his finest singing the Parting Glass).
  • Fógra Eile; Congratulations to Claire Grady on becoming editor of the Irish Independent. She has been a great supporter of the travel writing community ever since she survived an epic Club Med trip to Opio in 1994.
  • Fógra Eile Eile; Yes, we miss Con Houlihan, twelve months later, the anniversary was commemorated in Miltown last week.

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