The removal of the €3 travel tax in the Budget quickly turned into a circus. Airlines and airports rushed to welcome the move. The ITAA added that airlines should reduce some of their own charges in response, such as the Ash Crisis Protection and administration fees. Ryanair called a press conference at short notice at which Michael Cawley (pictured) promised to deliver a million extra passengers and base an additional four aircraft in Ireland, (more visitors in 2014, Ryanair claimed, than the Gathering in 2013). Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that unless there was an increase in services the tax would be reintroduced (after four years and after the tax had already been found to be in breach of EU regulations). Dublin airport’s response to Ryanair’s response ran to just 90 words and was phrased very carefully indeed (“we are fully supportive of any airline that plans to grow in the Irish market”), in advance of what can be expected to be tough talks with the notoriously avaricious airline. What happens next? Ryanair invited Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Knock and Kerry to meetings in Dublin on Thursday and Friday of this week to discuss how the growth plans can be split between the airports. Roll on the high wire act of negotiations between airports and airlines, with oompah music, face paint and a few appearances from the clowns as well.
Pádraic Óg Gallagher’s Restaurants Association and Michael Vaughan’s (pictured) Hotels Federation welcomed Michael Noonan’s decision to retain the 9pc VAT rate for the hospitality sector rather than increase it to 13.5pc as threatened last month. Spain’s El País highlighted the retention of the reduced VAT rate in its coverage of the Irish Budget while it was mischievously pointed out by Dublin TD Maureen O’Sullivan that the lower rate also applied to lap dancing clubs.
The Travel Industry Golf Society elected a new captain, Volker Lorenz from Amadeus, who succeeded Eileen Penrose as captain while Audrey Headon took over as President from Graham Aldren. Travel Extra hosted TIGS at the Castle golf course in Rathfarnham on a fine Thursday sandwiched between two very wet days in Dublin. TIGS has grown its membership from 70 to 120 in the past year under Eileen and Graham’s stewardship. Competition winners were Martin Dempsey and Mary Stillman, pictured here with Maureen Ledwith of Travel Extra and incoming TIGS captain Volker Lorenz of Amadeus. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Rebecca Kelly launched the new MSC brochure in Dublin, highlights include the new Dubai season of MSC Lirica (lead in price €839 cruise only), the Canaries season for MSC Armonia (lead-in price of €349 cruise only, €689 including flights, Thomas Cook have great offers on their charter service) and MSC Divina’s first season in the Caribbean (lead-in price €299 cruise only). The brochure offers 168 global itineraries and a Mediterranean summer cruise promotion with lead in prices of €399 cruise only. Rebecca said the MSC drinks package of €23 per day per person is proving popular with customers. Picture shows Rebecca Kelly with Isabella Shadaya of MSC and Emma Howard Smith of BGB at the launch.
Martin Penrose of Ifonly was in Scotland this week as the company geared up for its Irish launch. Ifonly is hosting a private dinner for agents in Dublin on October 30 and Cork on October 31 and will be the headline sponsor at the Travel Centres conference in Cork on November 8-9. The operator specialises in the luxury market to Arabia, the Indian Ocean and Asia, offering all-inclusive packages, tours, family holidays, cruises, honeymoons and weddings. The web site (ifonly.ie) offers 150 non-brochure hotels , extra tour itineraries and booking incentives. From November 1st agents can make reservations on 0I 447 5275. You can contact Martin here.
Northern Ireland Tourist Board is expecting 140,000 overnight visitors for the start of next year’s Giro d’Italia cycle race in Belfast. Stephen Roche joined the NITB for a launch of the event in Dublin. Fiona Cunningham manager of the NITB Dublin office and Naomi Waite Director of Marketing in NITB are pictured at the launch in Dublin’s Chapter One restaurant.
Kevin Moriarty (pictured) will speak about Dublin Now Project in the first in a series of early evening networking events organised by Skål Dublin club next Thursday in the Shelbourne Hotel. The project is aimed at attracting urban adventurers from Britain. Skål Dublin club President Denis Kane hopes the evening networking events will reverse a decline in Skål membership. “We can attract new members provided we give them the opportunity to network and to experience the special Skål welcome that I enjoyed when I joined the Club. I urge members of the Club, particularly those who are working in the industry, to support the first event.”
As the ITAA conference in Granada ended and the delegates returned home, the Director of the Spanish Tourist Board in Dublin Gonzalo Ceballos and a group of Irish media visited the ancient town of Almunecar on the Costa Tropicala and its sunwashed hinterland of 18 beaches. The municipality has 6,500 beds offering lower prices than those to the east in Nerja and the 60km of coastline towards Malaga. On a pleasant walking tour conducted by Felipe Puirtas, Gonzalo displayed his talent on the guitar for sale in a little shop owned by Jose Luis Hernandez. Afterward Alicia Guerrero entertained the group at the Hotel Helios, supposedly a three-star but with very four-star facilities including a rooftop bar with a view along the coast (pictured). See more conference pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Mervyn McNeely of Stena (pictured) was honoured with the Industry award at Jonathan Adair’s and Brian Ogle’s Northern Ireland Travel News awards in the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Co Down. Winners included several repeat successes over the 23 years of the awards (yes, 23). The all-night revelries of the 430 guests helped the event live up to its name as one of the social highlights on the calendar.
Travel Extra’s print edition for November 2013 will be in the post to agents this week. This month features cruise and long haul news and reviews, a guide to how to sell a cruise holiday, an update on winter cruising noting the dramatic changes since winter 2012-3, destination guides to the Caribbean with an extensive look at the Dominican Republic, how once off-limit downtown Johannesburg can now be seen by walking tour, the new Royal Caribbean Oasis class cruise chip steel-cutting ceremony, a visit to Bath and Bristol comprehensive reportage of the ITAA conference, Air France’s new economy seat and an update on the transfer process at Charles de Gaulle airport since the opening of Hall M in Terminal 2E.
- Video of the week was the footage of a passenger landing a plane, John Wildey who had never flown a plane before, was guided down by two instructors at Humberside Airport after the pilot became ill. This video was given a close run by dramatic footage of the collapse of a tourist footbridge in Jiujiang City, in east China’s Jiangxi Province which was caught on CCTV.
- The travel farce of the week featured a 37 stone Welshman who was forced to pay for two seats on a flight out of Ireland and then found that one seat was in row 17 and the other in row 19,
- From next Saturday all Aer Lingus flights will pre-clear customs and immigration in Ireland. Currently afternoon flights EI125, EI137 and EI139 do not preclear in Dublin.
- United Airlines is to extend its seasonal Shannon-Chicago service by five weeks in 2014, operating from May 22 to September 14.
- Ryanair has asked customers to submit their opinions to Michael O’Leary.
- Its name and membership is not yet confirmed, but the Friend Operators in Spanish Tourism, a specialist group of tour operators working with the larger agents who send tourists to Spain, is to be chaired by former ITAA President Con Horgan, and will hold its first event on December 12 in Dublin.
- CSO reported the number of trips by Irish residents overseas in April-June 2013 increased by 1.4pc from Q2 2012 to 1.752m trips. Expenditure increased 3.7pc to €1,093m. Tourism earnings increased 8pc for the first half of the year and growth of 8pc in holidaymakers.
- Website sleepinginairports.net named Manila as the world’s worst airport for the second year running, with Bergamo named worst in Europe and Ryanair’s Paris airport Beauvais second worst in Europe. Singapore Changi was voted as the world’s best airport for the 17th year in a row with Amsterdam voted best in Europe.
- Holiday makers in tropical Africa and South America were warned they may encounter a shortage of yellow fever inoculations. Yellow fever disease is endemic in 44 countries, 23 countries in Africa and 11 countries in South America.
- Dave Walsh is leaving Dublin to become Etihad’s manager in Malaysia. Dave communicated his desire to work abroad when joining Etihad as Ireland manager two years ago.
- Royal Caribbean is inviting the trade to a product update on Wednesday November 6 with news of what it calls “opportunities which will convert everyone into Royal Caribbean brand experts.” As part of the restructuring within the organisation, Stuart Leven has been appointed MD of Royal Caribbean International Ireland and UK. Dominic Paul has been appointed vice president international.
- In a hangover from last week’s planned air traffic control strike, Italian unions ATMPP, AAPP, ANPCAT, LICTA and CILA-AV staged a brief scioperi aerei of their own on Friday, bringing Italian air traffic to a half for six hours.
- Italian transport minister Maurizio Lupi said he is confident that the EU will allow an Alitalia rescue plan. Other media commentators are not so sure, suggesting Alitalia is again staring into the abyss.
- John Grehan (pictured) is leaving Thomas Cook and joining a Tunisian specialist operator Just Sunshine, the tour operating division of the El Mouradi hotel group in Tunisia. The Irish division will operate from an office in Merrion Square Dublin and plan a weekly charter from Dublin to Enfida.
- Concorde Travel launched their 2014 Croatia & Montenegro brochure offering holiday packages to Croatia and Montenegro, Schooner Holidays, Escorted Tours, Weddings Abroad, Pilgrimages and two Centre Holidays. Early Booking Discount is €100 per person, agents who book online will get up to €10 One4All vouchers per passenger booked.
- Eileen Penrose is leaving Emirates. She is pictured here handing over a cheque from TIGS to the Travel Trade fun day fund, accepted by Philip Airey of Sunway.
- An Oireachtas Committee on Transport warned that draft legislation to allow the new group to borrow up to €100 million should not be altered in favour of a lower figure.
- United Airlines and California’s Central Coast are giving away eight seats on a Fam Trip to California in February.
- GAA clubs across the country have until midnight tonight to submit their entries to the Etihad Airways Raise The Bar competition via etihadgaa.ie.
- Hotel Casa San Agustin, Cartagena, Colombia was named best new hotel in the world by Tripadvisor, Kempinski Hotel Cathedral Square, Vilnius in Lithuania was named best in Europe.
- John Donohue hosted a group of journalists on a visit to the Beacon Hotel in New York, well known to the Irish trade through the activities of Tom Travers and Gerry Traino (pictured), and also to the jetblue facilities in Long Island.
- John Goss’s Ryanair Pilots Group is to hold its first press conference in Brussels on October 29th.
- Irish born Lisa Murray’s Quintessentially Aviation is to open a new lounge for private jet fliers at Shannon designed by Cohn Rhattigan
- British Airways trialled new smartphone bag tags for use by customers.
- Dutch charter airline Transavia cancelled flights to the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh due to an alleged threat of a militant rocket attack.
- Bjorn Kjos of Norwegian launched a Gatwick to JFK service (3w) with lead in prices from €176, Fort Lauderdale (2w) and, Los Angeles (2w), to be operated by Norwegian’s Irish headquartered trans- Atlantic division. Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport, threatened to resign if the airport is not short-listed for another runway.
- Etihad Airways is to organise new recruitment open days across the country.
- Frequent flier Avios points earned on BA flights and otherwise are now redeemable on Aer Lingus transatlantic flights,
- TradFest 2014 was launched at St Werburgh’s Church, the festival takes place January 22nd-26th in Temple Bar. European journalists attended the event and were also hosted by Helen McLoughlin and Bodhran at 2 Henrietta Street (pictured).
- Madrid was reported to be seeking to improve its image after a tourism slump.
- Shannon Airport passenger numbers grew 7pc in September to 276,289, the fourth successive month of passenger growth. Transatlantic routes were up 21pc and European services up 4pc.
- Expedia formulated its plan to grow a no-queues travel experience while avoiding crossing the creepy line (sharing information about their trips).
- The visa process for Chinese visitors entering Britain is to be simplified, Ireland recognises visas issued in London.
- The 24-year-old James Asquith from England claimed to be youngest to visit every country.
- The inaugural PURE Awards will be held in partnership with Tourism New Zealand on Thursday November 14 in Marrakech. Air New Zealand appointed Antony Price (pictured) as new general manager Europe.
- Lonely Planet launched its Beautiful World landscape photography book. Bradt issued the first guide to the world’s newest country South Sudan.
- Aer Lingus said it is not going to offer more than €140m towards the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme deficit of €800m.
- The European Commission is investigating the incentives offered by Girona-Costa Brava and Reus airports to airlines (Ryanair). La Repubblica claims Ryanair is receiving €10m of the €15m made available to low cost carriers by Italian airports.
- The EU has proposed an amendment to the controversial EU emissions trading system (so that aviation emissions would be covered for the part of flights that takes place in European airspace.
- A loan restructure helped save €42m at CG Hotel group which operates the Radisson hotels at the country’s three state airports. Loans had been costing €60,000 per week to service in 2011. Druids Glen recorded profits of €1m after a €7.2m debt write-off. K Club holding company revenue was up 10pc in 2011 from €10m to €10.9m, losses were down to €6.59m from €7m while €54.8m in bank loans were refinanced by shareholders (the company now has no external bank debt). Westport’s Carlton Atlantic Coast Hotel has been sold to the operators of the Westport Plaza and Castlecourt Hotels, Joe and Anna Marie Corcoran and Anne Corcoran. A guide price of €200,000 has been set for 20 holiday homes in Carlow. Paul Collins of CBRE said 20 hotels were sold in the first nine months of this year totaling €106m in value.
- CBeebies Land is to open next spring at Alton Towers, with rides, play areas and characters such as Bob the Builder and the Teletubbies.
- Air France will launch three flights a week from Paris to Brasilia from 31 March,, with connections from Dublin. Air France is to provide €12m to Cityjet and has committed to continue funding until August 2014. Air France has already provided €180m in capital. CityJet made a €21.3m operating loss in 2012. The accounts show total loss of €209m in 2012, including exceptionals of €185m.
- Transaero Airlines CEO Olga Pleshakova said the airline is planning to install a record 652 seats in 12-24-616 configuration when it takes delivery its first Airbus A380 in 2015.
- Matthew Crummack, CEO of lastminute.com said that a record 84pc of mobile customers booked a hotel on England’s Bank Holiday Sunday for check-in that night.
- A report on how your job shapes your holiday suggested bankers go to Tuscany, accountants to the Côte d’Azur and media people to the Greek Islands.
- Thursday evening’s edition of X Factor Italia featured Slane Castle and Temple Bar as the musical hopefuls (pictured in Temple Bar) were hosted.
- EasyJet claimed that austerity was driving businessmen to use the airline.
- CityJet will continue as the official airline for Leinster Rugby until 2015.
- Australian airline Jetstar apologised for an ‘I am gay’ message slapped across a passenger’s suitcase.
- “Nobody told us there’d be so many foreigners.” An Australian website compiled a list of the most bizarre complaints from holidaymakers from sources such as Thomas Cook and Novotel hotel group (our favourite, “when do they turn on the Northern Lights?” is not among them).
- Describe your moustache and other unusual questions to have appeared on a visa form were collected by the London Telegraph.
- Alan Joyce spoke about his five years as CEO of Qantas .
- Tattoo fans were offered the opportunity to be permanently branded with the name of a hotel.
- Free-skier Candide Thovex had a near miss with a charging cow while skiing the first major snowfalls of the season in the French Alps.
- Upcoming festivals: Open House Limerick Oct 18-20, Ennis Fashion Week Oct 21-27, World Ghost Festival Oct 25 in Cork, Virginia Pumpkin Festival Oct 25-28 and Oireachtas na Samhna Oct 30-Nov 4 in Killarney.
- The ITAA Annual Conference in Granada generated more coverage in the local media than any previous conference abroad. See more conference pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.