Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Cook Exits the Kitchen

Readers of Travel Extra’s Sunday supplement are being offered a 2 for1 ticket for Holiday World on January 24-26 in RDS Simmonscourt. Just click on the link.

At 11 am on Wednesday four executives from Thomas Cook headquarters in Peterborough arrived in Parkwest and went upstairs for talks with their Irish counterparts. Thomas Cook had promised a review of their entire Irish operation last February. Everyone expected it would be bad (summer 2013 was a bad season for any tour operator to have an accountant looking over their shoulder) and rumours began circulating the night before of just HOW bad. The Summer 2014 brochure had still had not been launched and was nearly a month behind schedule in the busiest booking period of the year, which was not a good sign. By way of comparison, the 2013 brochure had launched on December 12 2012. A holiday sale was launched in England on St Stephen’s Day with no corresponding sale in Ireland. Although they expected bad news, the staff who were told they were being called into a meeting at 3pm still did not expect the meltdown they were to hear.

The management of the closure was untidy. The last of the staff members was taking a booking when they were interrupted in mid phone call to come into the meeting. Thomas Cook dramatically disappeared off Viewdata at 3pm, before the meeting had started. The first messages went out on social media and on one London-based media outlet almost straightaway. One staff member read a text of commiseration just as the meeting commenced.

The 866-word media statement issued simultaneously in London and in Dublin was a master work in obfuscation. It talked about the transformation of the business and the benefits to Irish customers of new buy to order (Dynamically Packaged) holidays. Only in the fourth paragraph did it mention that Thomas Cook’s entire Irish operation was being closed down. It mentioned a small number of customers who had already booked a summer 2014 charter holiday, not the several thousand that had been made, with hundreds of bookings in some individual travel agencies. The statement talked about a 30-day consultation process with colleagues in Dublin with a view to closing the business support function based in Ireland, (as reported here) glossing over the fact that 44 staff would be out of work, up to and including Irish CEO John Kinane. For four of the staff members it is their second time in four years to be laid off by Thomas Cook. It stressed that the winter charter programme would continue until the end of April.

The implications of the decision took 16 hours to impact. More than 80,000 charter seats had been taken out of the Irish market, bringing availability for summer 2014 below 160,000 charter seats. Two destinations, Menorca and Antalya, had disappeared off the departures board altogether. The iconic brands Panorama and Sunworld were no more (Direct Holidays and Airtours had apparently passed without a funeral note). Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry and ITAA CEO Pat Dawson both appeared on Morning Ireland to explain the implications of the closure (listen here). Pat Dawson and Eoghan Corry appeared on RTE’s on the six-one news (watch here). Éist anseo le Eoghan Corry ar Nuacht a hAon.

Pat Dawson, chief executive of the Irish Travel Agency Association, warned that giving companies access to reams of flight-purchasing information could lead to price hikes. Agents worked to rebook the affected passengers and some had to close their shop doors to cope with the mess. Cassidy Travel had staff working after hours to rebook affected customers.

Thomas Cook’s accommodation portfolio is still available to the Irish market if you can get there. The tour operator will continue to operate out of Belfast from where it offers 71,000 seats. Picture shows the Thomas Cook team in happier times, in April 2012: Sharon Lynch, John Grehan, Fiona Foster, John Kinane, Sharon Harney, Helena Coughlan, Chris Merriman and Linda Moloney.

thomas cook team apr 2012The vultures did not take long to circle over Parkwest. Although cruise bookings were not to be impacted by the decision one cruise line cut off the supply line.  The most blatantly predatory messages appeared on social media. Each of the tour operators issued polite and restrained statements reminding consumers of their credentials and while there was criticism in the trade of the timing of the decision, in the middle of peak booking season, the only statement to be publicly critical was quickly withdrawn.

The business of replacing the capacity had begun as soon as the rumours began circulating the evening before the closure. Both Sunway and Wings Abroad are negotiating with airlines about extra flights to Turkey, with different operators and airports, including Antalya under consideration, but there has been no move to replace the flights to the three Greek islands operated by Thomas Cook. Aer Lingus talked cautiously about taking up capacity (we’ll be looking for other growth opportunities), perhaps a second flight to Izmir on its existing license. Ryanair does not have the new craft that it will receive from next September. Travel Extra was among those who sympathised with the staff who are caught up in a situation not of their making. What was once a profitable brand and Ireland’s second largest tour operators has come to a halt. Only a few days before the closure, ITOF spokesman Flan Clune said the number of packaged holidays will rise in 2014 from 350,000 to 380,000 (a figure that includes holidays that use seats on scheduled flights).

While the Irish operation was bleeding the group looks like it is going to survive. In November, it was reported that the travel agent had posted its first full-year operating profit since 2010. For the year ending September 30, Thomas Cook’s operating profit was £13m.

An unexpected outcome: a boost in summer holiday bookings on Friday morning. Bookings may have been boosted by fears of a seat shortage, or just the resultant publicity that the package holiday had not gone away.

The third week in January is traditionally the busiest booking period of the travel year. All of the tour operators contacted by Travel Extra say bookings are ahead of last year by double digits. Sunway’s bookings were 13pc ahead of last year up to Friday 10th with unexpected growth in areas like December Lapland flights. Cassidy Travel reported a record number of post Leaving cert holidays and long haul, golf and retail business up more than 14pc. Falcon, whose TV campaign concentrated on their all inclusive product rather than the traditional January sale, said they were very pleased with their position and have since seen an additional spike thanks to the Thomas Cook closure. Trailfinders say long haul booking have been strong since early December and are more than 10pc ahead of last year.

Trade union SIPTU has agreed to start balloting on Monday for industrial action at Aer Lingus, the DAA and Shannon Airport which could affect St Patrick’s Day and international rugby fixtures.

Aer Lingus is bringing forward the launch of the Dublin-Toronto route to April 14 which puts it first into the field ahead of Air Canada Rouge (May 1) and Westjet (June 15). Spotters are eagerly awaiting the first sight of the green liveried Boeing 757 in Shannon.

Turkish Airlines team_1119

The two day total visitor numbers for Holiday World in Belfast has been the highest for ten years. Belfast Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir found unexpected gap in his schedule to attend the opening, his ten minutes turning into thirty. Picture above shows the Turkish Airlines team Nizam Bulut, Ann Marie Dalton, Onder Gencer and Onur Gul,jennifer baby

A lively Friday, when early numbers were fuelled by celebrity designer David Emmanuel, was folllowed by strong numbers on Saturday with traffic backed up to the M1 at one stage. Picture show Jennifer Callister of Royal Caribbean meeting Margaret and Ron Davis and their great grandson Brodie Gibson at the Oasis Travel cruise theatre.

louis and alska the eagle_1145There was a big home holiday presence led by Alaska the American bald headed eagle with Louis F Muschketat of Eaglesflying in Sligo. Botswana was among the more exotic exhibitors and there was a sizeable camping and caravan delegation. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

gonzalo speaksGonzalo Ceballos of the Spanish Tourist Board office in Dublin and Agustin Garcia of the Spanish Tourist Board office in London hosted the travel media in Dean’s Restaurant for lunch. Later, in the evening, the tourist board hosted members of the trade for dinner, when Gonzalo, looking very distinguished with a new beard (pictured) told tour operators that 250,000 people had traveled from NI to Spain in 2013 (listen here) and thanked the trade for their support (listen here), while Pere Granados, mayor of Salou explained how Salou had earned the reputation as the beach of Spain (listen here). It was the day that the iconic Belfast pub the Crown reopened after a licensing oversight so many of the delegates adjourned there to celebrate the reopening. margaret shannon

Emiratessecond flight from Dublin to Dubai  to launch Sept 1 will be a B777-300ER with 360 seats in 3-class configuration 8-42-310 . EK164 will depart Dublin at 2220, arrive in Dubai 0855. EK163 will leave Dubai 1600 to reach Dublin at 2050. Anita Thomas and Ireland manager Margaret Shannon (pictured) hosted the travel media at House in Leeson Street this week. Margaret said Emirates would be recruiting new staff beginning in May for the new double daily. The service was far more successful than they hoped, exceeding expectations much faster than was predicted and we need more seats to satisfy demand. The airline inaugurated a daily flight between the two cities on January 9, 2012 using a three-class, 237-seat Airbus A330-200 but reported loads of more than 90pc on many of the services making it one of its most successful route launches ever. A larger Boeing 777-300ER was introduced from July 2012 increasing capacity by 52pc with each rotation providing seating for 360 passengers – 310 in Economy, 42 in Business as well as eight First Class Private Suites. There are quite a few surprises in many of Emirates top twenty destinations flying from Dublin: 1 Dubai 56,701; 2 Perth 28,505; 3 Sydney 12,208; 4 Melbourne 9,001; 5 Bangkok 8,588; 6 Manila 7,576; 7 Brisbane 6,900; 8 Hong Kong 6,005; 9 Singapore 5,706; 10 Cape Town 4,743; 11 Cochin 4,511; 12 Johannesburg 4,407; 13 Kuala Lumpur 4,120; 14 Adelaide 3,878; 15 Beijing 3,314; 16 Dhaka 3,191; 17 New Delhi 3,130; 18 Mauritius 2,952; 19 Auckland 2,762; 20 Chennai 2,696.

ryanair-groupRyanair took another big step in from the outer apron this week when it launched a group booking facility. On closer examination the terms are only slightly less rigid than before. The minimum number for a group is 20 (no maximum), quotes are valid for seven days, payment must be made in full at time of booking, 50pc of names are due halfway between booking date and outbound departure date, the balance due 14 days in advance of outbound departure date and name changes within 14 days of outbound departure will cost €50 per person per sector

John Mulligan reported that Ryanair will launch a new service for business travellers in the coming weeks. Expected innovations include flex-fare option that would include features like fast-track through airport security, reserved seating and checked-in bags all built into the seat price.Jacobs

Ryanair appointed their first marketing chief, Corkman Kenny Jacobs (pictured) joins from English price comparison website He is the only external appointment of nine in Ryanair’s first significant senior management reorganisation since they joined the stock market in 1997, that saw Michael Hickey, director of engineering, promoted to group head of operations and David O’Brien, previously director of operations to chief commercial officer..

Barry O’Halloran reported that the appointment of its first chief marketing officer is likely to see Michael O’Leary step back from spokesman role.

Michael O’Leary said in an interview that Ryanair’s partnership with Google would change the way people buy air tickets forever.

The Ryanair chief executive delivered what he calls his “caring and cuddly” new message in a television ad that debuted on TV3 last week. O’Leary described TV3 as “the perfect advertising partner” for Ryanair as it turned away from print ads that promote its message on price, often with dashes of humour and controversy. A ‘thank you for flying’ campaign reflects a new marketing strategy a year after Michael O’Leary said on the Late Late Show that the customer was almost always wrong. Michael O’Leary told Nick Webb “We own the 81m price-sensitive people or the people who live around our airports in Europe. We now have to go after the 20m or 30m people, the people who’d say ‘I’d rather pay an extra €20 or €30 more to fly with Aer Lingus’,” he said. “With another 175 aircraft coming from next September, we need to move into this space.”

Ryanair launched a new group booking service similar to that employed by other airlines. The service allows travellers to block book at least 20 seats on a flight with the person booking not required to included the names of all the passengers at the time of booking. Half of the names have to be submitted halfway between the booking date and departure date with the remainder of the names due 14 days before the departure. The total payment is required at the time of booking.

An even more revolutionary step for Ryanair is being planned: a return to the GDS. Watch those screens.

florida huddle liz wright 2014Florida Governor Rick Scott told guests at Florida Huddle he would recommend increasing Visitflorida’s funding to a record $100m. Will Seccombe, President & CEO of Visit Florida and Chris Thompson, President & CEO of Brand USA hosted 200 buyers from 20 countries in Palm Beach County from Tuesday to Thursday, including Liz Wright from Tour America (pictured) and Dee Burdock from American holidays Numbers were up 12pc on 2013. A total of 345 companies with 595 delegates attended. The opening night gala was held at The Breakers Palm Beach and the closing event in downtown West Palm Beach. Universal Orlando Resort will reveal details about its big opening of 2014: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, on Thursday. The new area will feature shops, a restaurant and an innovative, marquee attraction based on Gringotts bank.

Moncef BattikhTunisia’s Tourist Board is considering opening an office in Dublin. Visitor numbers from Ireland are currently around 14,000 down from 27,000 some years ago but all this may change with a new government in Tunisia which is committed to open skies. Tunisair will meet with Dublin Airport Authority next week. Currently 407,000 holiday makers travel from Britain to Tunisia each year and the tourist board sees much more potential in the Irish market. Justsunshine, headed up in Ireland by John Grehan, will run a new charter service from Dublin to Hammamet this summer joining Sunway on the route. Picture shows Moncef Battikh at Belfast Holiday World show.

Shannon Airport has completed negotiations and is awaiting a decision on what will be one of the airport’s most exciting new routes, a service to an American city not currently serve direct from Ireland from an airline that is a long-standing customer at the airport. Keep an eye on that departures board.

There has been lots of speculation concerning Ryanair’s proposed Dublin-St Petersburg route with suggestions it could commence in April and fly three times a week departing (6:00 – 6:30 AM), and arriving in Petersburg just after 13:00 local time. Ryanair are actively pursuing the route but there are still regulatory hurdles to be overcome and the airline is restricted to serving Dublin from St Petersburg.

The most important sales period of the year continues this week with various airline and retail travel sales. Sales include Aer Lingus (book by today Jan 12 Travel by April, Britain €20, Europe €40, USA €200), British Airways (book by Jan 28, travel by Sept 30), Virgin Atlantic (book by Jan 31), Air France (book by next Wednesday Jan 8). Disneyland Paris are continuing their a new 30 yes days promotion. Flynn.hotel group room sale starts on January 17th. have decided to extend the €1 deposit sale until January 31st C&G have five star luxury offers in the Algarve for €1,700 for 2+2 in June. Topflight have announced a sale for 27th January to take advantage great ski conditions. Tour America announced what it calls its biggest sale day yet, January 23. Tropical Sky are offering savings of up to €470 on tropical holidays booked during January. Carrick Craft have a 10pc discount on cabin cruise rentals booked during January. Falcon’s May Holiday Sale is now on with holidays staring from only €319 per person.

The Holiday World Show Dublin 2014 Media & Trade Morning takes place from 10am to 1pm on Friday 24th January in the RDS Simmonscourt. This year’s show will see some 2,000 travel experts from 70 countries on hand to provide expert advice and the opportunity to discuss the 2014 season with members of the travel media and travel trade who can pre-register here.

Eoghan Corry’s expert travel clinics at Holiday World 2014 January 24-26 at RDS Simmonscourt will feature more than 40 industry experts and professionals who will answer questions from consumers on subjects such as aviation (separate forums for Flying East in 2014 and Flying West in 2014), hotel prices, holidays in Spain, holidays in the USA, solo travel, ski and snowboard, cruise holidays, walking holidays, luxury for less, visas and vaccinations, and home holiday deals. No booking is required and the advice clinics will take place at 45-minute intervals over the three days of the show. The running order is

  • Friday: Opening session, hotels, Spain, cruise.
  • Saturday: Walking, Ski, America, Flying east, luxury for less, great travel experiences.
  • Sunday: Visa & passports, Ryanair’s new customer service, active holidays, flying west, home holidays and closing session.

Expert speakers will include Clare Dunne President of the ITAA, Pat Dawson CEO of the ITAA, John Devereux President of ITOF, Michael Vaughan President of the Irish Hotels Federation, Paul Gallagher former President of the IHF, Margaret Shannon Ireland manager of Emirates, Murat Balandi Ireland manager of Turkish Airlines, Eamon Flanagan Ireland manager of Air Canada, Gonzalo Ceballos director of the Irish office of the Spanish Tourist Board, Jenny Rafter of Royal Caribbean, Rebecca Kelly of MSC Cruises, Brendan Breen CEO of Travel Department, Martin Skelly of Uwalk, Chris Lee of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and other experts from more than 20 countries and form closer to home. Uniquely these high profile participants are making themselves available to the general public to answer questions.

Snow season means go-pro season, so video of the week is some adrenaline rush ski flying footage with Ringerike (Norway) ski jumper Anders Jacobsen.

While you have your woollies on, check out the trailer for the Sochi Winter Olympics from BBC sport. And on the subject of flying, see CNN Reporter Randy Kaye getting stoned while doing a story on the legalisation of cannabis in Colorado.SKI FRANCE 2013 5 copy

Topflight hosted an agent fam trip to the Three Valleys in France. The group stayed in Meribel and Val Thorens and participated in Topflight’s annual toboggan race which was won by Tom O’Donoghue of Strand Travel. Apparently there is a pending stewards enquiry as some travel agents decided to jump the gun and take off before the whistle. Picture shows Niamh Quinlan, Travel Counsellor, Tricia Mitchell of Topflight, Graham Hennessy of Topflight, Liz McVeigh of Century Travel, Caroline Kelly of Creation Travel Waterford, James Burke of Thomas Cook Newtownbreda, Claire Farmer of Century Travel, Tom O’Donoghue of Strand Travel, Andrew Shaw of Thomas Cook Newry and Jacinta Newman of Cassidy Travel Dundrum. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Today is world snow day. After a drought in Europe that, it was reported, was sending skiers to Canada, the skies opened and the snow came. There are great snow conditions across the Alps at the moment after good snowfall this week in France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. Austria is reported powder conditions in 25 resorts and snow is forecast all next week. There was 20cm of snow at St Anton on Wednesday and clear skies the following day. Colder temperatures in the Ski Welt area made for good skiing all week. Obergurgl again boasts the best conditions in Austria after more powder days this week. In France the Three Valleys, Tignes, Val d’Isere and resorts in the Portes du Soleil all saw conditions improve this week with heavy snowfall on Tuesday and Wednesday. Switzerland and Italy also enjoyed great snow conditions this week. Leysin and Madesimo were hit the hardest with around 60cm falling at both resorts. Andorra is reporting fresh snow and great conditions. Scotland was able to participate fully in World Snow Day for the first time thanks to good snow conditions in four of the country’s five ski resorts the Lecht remains closed). It has been a relatively dry week in Canada and the USA after a very snowy weekend. Colorado still boasts the best snow in America after a good start to 2014.

The Michael Schumacher crash site has become a tourist attraction in its own right. Swiss-born English based snowboarder Jamie Barrow is to attempt a record on a jet-powered snowboard. CNN named The Stash as the top skiing destination in the world.ireland visitors to thailand

Thailand reported 26.7m visitor arrivals in 2013, exceeding targets. The number of visitors from Ireland was 62,924, up 4.34pc. Tourists were warned to avoid all protests in Bangkok after a grenade attack near a major shopping centre injured 36. Joanna Cooke’s blog has been updated reporting that tourists are unaffected by the protests. Premier Holidays, Travel 2, Hayes & Jarvis and Gold Medal reported that bookings to Thailand for the 1st week of January 2014 (1st – 9th) are up between 20-40pc.Dublin departure gates new

Dublin airport passenger numbers for 2013 were 20.2m up 6pc according to the DAA who said they were rebating €5.6m in charges to 40 airlines who grew traffic. Carriers to benefit were: Aer Arann, Aer Lingus, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Turkish Airlines, Ryanair, SAS, Tarom, and United. The DAA have extended the scheme by three more years to 2016. Last year saw the highest pay out of the three years it’s being active. Transatlantic traffic reached 1.9m up from the 1.8m estimate back in August.

Shannon airport reported 1,400,032 passengers flew through the airport over the course of the year, up from 1,394,781 in 2012, growth of just 5,351, but growth nonetheless. The Clare people reported the increase was achieved despite a difficult start to 2013 as month-over-month passenger numbers continued to decrease in the immediate wake of the airports de-coupling from the Dublin Airport Authority. Chairwoman Rose Hynes predicted that growth will accelerate from March when airlines such as Ryanair and Aer Lingus Regional launch a series of new services.

Belfast International airport said passenger numbers were down 6.7pc to 4,022,479. Belfast City airport reported passenger numbers up 13.2pc to 2,541,721 and 36,867 flight movements. City of Derry was down 3.3pc to 384973.

Cork have not yet announced figures for 2013 but are anticipating 2.3m passengers for 2013 and growth of 4pc in 2014.

The IAA said Irish airport traffic rose 5.4pc in December. Dublin Airport saw 390 daily flights, an increase of 6.6pc, with Shannon Airport up by over 10pc to 42 flights. Cork Airport, however, was down 7.4pc to 46 flights. The head of the IAA Eamon Brennan says that the growth is encouraging and that they are expecting 2014 to be a year of growth at Irish airports.Doreen McKenzie & Lauren Vallelly onboard NCL Getaway

The Norwegian Getaway, NCL’s new baby sailed out of Rotterdam in to Southampton before embarking on the journey to Miami. Unusually, 2,000 paying guests were hosted on the pre-launch cruise around the Isle of Wight, high winds blowing the vessel into Welcome to France mobile phone message territory at one stage. Getaway is the first of four brand new super-sized ships which will launch in 2014. It will be based in Florida, and among its signatures is the Broadway show Legally Blonde playing in the theatre. Picture shows Doreen McKenzie and Lauren Vallely who were among the agents hosted on board.value retail

Kildare Village hosted the Value Retail Global Marketing and Tourism conference in Dublin and Kildare, the 100 delegates came from the nine Chic Outlet Shopping Villages in Europe, travel trade and PR agency representatives from around the globe including Europe, China, Russia, the Middle East, North and South America, The annual event has moved from London for the past three years to Barcelona, Milan and now Dublin. We al got a timely reminder of the impediments facing Ireland in emerging markets when visa problems meant that an Indonesian tour operator missed the first two days of the conference. Ian Stazicker Tourism Director of Chic Outlets outlined to Travel Extra the incentives that have been put in place for travel agents (listen here) and complimented the mix in Kildare, saying that it had a balance of local and regional tourists that is hard to find (listen here). While Bicester near London is the group’s number one store and Paris number two (listen here). Kildare village is seeing pick-up (listen here). Kildare Village is not yet established as a stand alone brand (listen here) although its recognition is strongest in the USA (listen here) and this American market and MICE business will drive growth in the future (listen here). He predicted that planned expansion at Kildare will bring higher level of branding (listen here) and pointed out that expansion is as much about getting existing customers to pay more (listen here) as increasing footfall. He said the 2.2m footfall at Kildare village should be counted among Irish tourism statistics (listen here). He noted that Ireland is one country where number of tourists match number of locals (listen here). People don’t come as tourists for two or three brands (listen here) and a lot of brands never go out of fashion (listen here) He said that he noticed that the Chinese have become more discerning (listen here). Indonesia is the new China and India was still underperforming as a market (listen here). We need more mandarin speakers (listen here). Visa issues mean we are not maximising the Chinese market (listen here) as even delegates to the Value Retail conference had visa issues (listen here) “The demand for what we do never ceases to surprise me” (listen here). He also gave a description of Value Retail conference (listen here). Picture shows Sabine Asimus marketing manager of Chic Outlets’ two German villages, Ian Stazicker Tourism Director of Chic Outlets and Aoife Chamberlayne of Kildare Village at the Retail Value conference in Dublin Conference Centre.Irish Ferries - Epsilon - Dublin to Holyhead

Irish Ferries launched their Dublin to Cherbourg direct service with the no-frills ferry Epsilon, the second new ferry route to launch in two weeks. Eoghan Corry discussed the new ferry routes on RTÉ‘s Morning Ireland (listen here).

Embarquement004LD Lines launched a fortnight ago from Rosslare to St Nazaire with return fares for a car and two passengers of €199 without a cabin or €249 including cabin.

  • Brittany Ferries say the Cork-Roscoff route will be served by their new gas-powered €270m ferry when it enters service in late spring 2017. The ferry is to be built by STX France in St Nazaire
  • Cork-Roscoff traffic was up 13,2pc in 2013 to 41,655 passengers, Ouest France reported. Rosslare-Roscoff served by Irish-Ferries carried 33,903 passengers.
  • Celtic Link Ferries have amended their schedule to allow more daylight sailing time at weekends. The ferry departs Rosslare an hour earlier and Cherbourg two hours earlier.
  • Scotland’s visitor attitudes survey reported that Dutch visitors were the most social with eating and drinking in restaurants. Ireland was Scotland’s 5th largest international market in terms of volume to trips in 2012, making an estimated 149,000 visits and spending £54m.
  • MSC offer the cheapest drinks at sea according to a survey by online community . A bottle of beer on Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian cruise lines and Royal Caribbean will cost $5.50 but only €2.90 on MSC. Voyages of Discovery have the cheapest glass of wine at £3, Fred Olsen the cheapest soft drink at £1.15 and Swan Hellenic the cheapest cup of coffee at £1.20. Royal Caribbean have the most expensive wine at $8 a glass, Windstar Cruises the most expensive soft drinks at $3.25 and Carnival the most expensive coffee at $5.
  • Expedia is to share any registered accommodation’s star Fáilte Ireland rating and accommodation descriptor (e.g. Guesthouse, Hotel, B&B) as it appears on Fáilte Ireland’s consumer site
  • Fáilte Ireland confirmed funding of €36,000 to support next week’s Temple Bar TradFest from January 22-26. Fáilte Ireland announced St Patrick’s Festival is getting €1m in festival funding, The festival for the first time in its history has created a three year theme and narrative for the Festival Parade: Past, Present and Future in the festivals of 2014, 2015 and 2016. Around 500,000 people turned out to watch the 2013 parade which included 6,000 participants from 45 countries.
  • Fáilte Ireland launched a new Corporate Ambassador Programme to the delegates attending the Pendulum Summit in the Convention Centre Dublin, Ireland’s first international business and self-empowerment summit.

dolphinAmong the great pictures of the week was this dolphin pup caught by photographer Myles Carroll swimming alone and in the company of its older ‘school-mates’.

  • Aer Arann informed Servisair the Cork operation will be operated by ATR72-600’s from April 2014.
  • Fáilte Ireland’s Discover Ireland campaign will include three printed supplements which will be distributed in the national press and reach 4m readers.
  • In England a couple Stewart and Natasha Sutherland were fined £630 and ordered to pay £300 in costs in court for taking their three children out of school to holiday to Rhodes in September 2013. Under new rules, children can only take days off for holiday in ‘exceptional circumstances’ people who make these laws don’t live in the real world. They’ve never been put in the situation where they’ve got young children, trying to bring up a family, and they’re not shift workers.
  • A Scottish hotel manager who decided to reply in kind to his Tripadvisor critics lost his job. His replies included: If you want a good breakfast go to the Hilton and pay £100.00 a night. You pay little you get little. Writing under the name of ‘georgianhouse1000, Owner at The Georgian House’, the unapologetic member of staff, named as Virginia Giovanni, hurled back retorts to the disgruntled customers. The manager has left the hotel, which charges from £29.99 a night, after being dismissed by owner Elizabeth Morris.


Genealogist Karel Kiely (left); Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland; and Facebook promotion prize-winner Mary Powell from Churchville in New York, plan Mary’s visit to the homestead of her ancestors in Co Wexford, before she set off on her journey.

  • Fáilte Ireland added resources to the food pages on to help Irish tourism businesses to attract more visitors and bring the Irish food experiences to life.
  • The Irish-owned Doyle Collection will open the largest townhouse hotel suite in London later this month in a €500,000 expansion of its four-star Kensington Hotel. Three-bedroom suite in four-star hotel in Kensington will cost up to £2,700 a night.
  • The number of shipping hijackings has declined. A total of 12 vessels were hijacked, 202 were boarded, 22 were fired upon and a further 28 reported attempted attacks, with 264 attacks recorded worldwide — a 40pc drop since Somali piracy peaked in 2011.
  • A Southwest Boeing 737 destined for Branson, Missouri landed at the wrong airport with a dangerously short runway
  • Ryanair announced two new bases: Athens and Thessaloniki, starting from next April and 9 new routes including Stansted-Athens
  • Leanne Coddington was appointed Chief Executive of Tourism and Events Queensland. Alexandros Lamnidis has taken over as General Manager of the Greek Tourism Confederation, succeeding George Drakopoulos, who served as GM for 20 consecutive years.
  • Thomas Cook London and Brand USA announce multimillion dollar European Partnership Agreement
  • Aer Arann, operator of Aer Lingus Regional reported a record year. – 70 new jobs created in 2013, 10pc rise in Regional passenger numbers in 2013 and 6 new aircraft in operation on key UK routes
  • Thomson Cruises launched their Irish summer 2014 programme with four new ports of call including Zadar, Croatia – one of the oldest cities in Europe. Classic resorts is offering exclusive room upgrades for Mexico and Dominican Republic.
  • Leasing company AerCap which is headquartered in the Netherlands but has a significant presence in Shannon said it signed deals valued at $5.9bn (€4.3bn) last year.
  • Chaos was reported at the opening of the new £27m Stonehenge centre.
  • Jenny Lauren said that she only had one drink and “stood up for myself” because an air stewardess was being “rude and unkind”. ‘I wasn’t drunk on the plane and I called the flight attendant a witch, not a bitch. I was not intoxicated, I did not push anyone.
  • IPW Chicago released details of day sightseeing tours on Saturday, April 5, showcasing everything from fascinating art and culture to awe-inspiring outdoor scenery. The Press Brunch takes place in The Signature Room at the iconic John Hancock Center, followed by Media Only Tours.
  • Titanic II is to keep third-class cabins (check out the Titanic centre in Belfast just to see how small they are). A Chinese park is to get a life size Titanic replica.
  • Phoenicia Hotel announced a five star twin-centre honeymoon package that combines Malta and Gozo at j€1,904 per couple for seven nights.
  • The Armada in Spanish Point will host The Clare County Bridal Exhibition (1.00-5.30pm, Sunday 2nd February), featuring the West Clare Food Hall, Fashion Shows, Wedding Exhibitors and entertainment throughout the day.
  • Hoteliers in Rio de Janeiro agreed not to overcharge for rooms during the forthcoming World Cup. Two airlines agreed to cap prices of flights to Brazil during the tournament. According to Brazilian newspaper Estado de SP, Americans will have to fly more than 14,000km for the World Cup, Belgium less than 2,000km. Uruguay recently voted country of the year by the Economist launched full moon horseback riding at Punta del Este (100km from Montevideo).
  • Globe Hotels announced their January Flash Sale In association with Phase 1 of their new website.
  • Australia sizzled as record temperatures and bushfires swept across the country.
  • The London Independent asked if Ryanair was more likely to cancel flights than easyJet?
  • Google+ pages of hotels and guest houses across the globe including Ireland had their details, including the external web address for their pages, changed by an unknown third party.
  • Japan Airlines grounded a Dreamliner after white smoke was seen coming from the battery system, the latest incident to plague Boeing’s Dreamliner.
  • Padraig Gilligan and Patrick Delaney launched SoolElla boutique consultancy providing services in the areas of marketing, training and the creation and running of customer advisory boards.
  • New UNESCO events are scheduled for Germany in 2014 where the 38 UNESCO monuments are the focus of a themed campaign, The German National Tourist Office has launched a dedicated UNESCO Microsite.
  • The IAA said Ireland is to join with Sweden, Norway and Denmark to provide Air Traffic Control training to the global market. ATC technology providers will be launching a new Switching without having to think product at ISE in Amsterdam, February 4-6.Giro d'Italia Stephen Roche 2
  • The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has secured the services of legendary cyclist and former Giro d’Italia winner Stephen Roche to market and promote tourism in the lead up to the major cycling event.
  • Skål International Ireland AGM takes place in Killarney on Friday next. Nominations are: National President Nora Cronin of Skål Cork, National Vice-President Sean O’Driscoll of Skål Kerry, National Secretary Dave Kelly of Skål Galway and membership Development Officer Angela Dillon of Skål Dublin,
  • Luke Charleton and David Hughes of EY were appointed as receivers to Doonbeg resort on Monday. Joe Russell told Clare FM that the resort business last year grew with accommodation sales up by 20pc and golf revenues up by 12pc and said expressions of interest included Charles Darby who has said the links course has greatness in it.
  • Christophe Mueller told a corporate outlook produced by law firm McCann Fitzgerald,. “We already sell the majority of our seats in international markets, with domestic demand still some 30pc below the peak, despite the recent improvements. “We still have to resolve the legacy of debt issues, including Nama’s presence in the hotel sector and all that it means for tourism. A lot of tough decisions have been avoided or fudged. The cost of living in Ireland is still alarmingly high relative to many major economies.”
  • The Clarion Hotel in Dublin’s IFSC sold for €33m. The National Asset Management Agency said it is establishing a dedicated firm to manage some of its hotel assets and NAMA chairman Frank Daly suggested the residential property crash is over. Maureen Bayley of specialist property adviser Christie said hotel sale prices had recovered. Recent sales include: Morrison 22m, Fota 20m, Trinity capital 35m, Citywest 30m, Ashford 20m, Clarion 33m.
  • The Anner Hotel in Thurles was put up for sale with a price tag of €1.1m.
  • Airbus regained top spot in the aircraft orders charts with 1,619 commercial orders in 2013 but loses out to rival Boeing on aircraft delivered
  • It was reported that Italian airline Alitalia is to get a €280m bail-out.
  • Morocco is planning a new €9 departure tax that will take effect on April 1st. Prices for transport and accommodation rose in Mexico on New Year’s Day. The Recently-opened Fellah arts and culture hotel in the ancient village of Tassoultante at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, 14 kilometres from Marrakech’s Old Medina, launched a workshop series for opening weekend of Marrakech Biennale
  • Snowsports Week in the Gastein Valley, Austria with Topflight and Mountaineering Ireland will include one year’s free membership of Mountaineering Ireland for €889.
  • Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines announced a partnership with Amadeus to boost their merchandising offer to travellers. To date, 78 airlines have signed-up to the Amadeus Airline Ancillary Services solution, of which 22 are currently distributing their ancillary services through travel agents in 63 markets.
  • Exclusive Golf Breaks launched packages to English venues including Wentworth, Sunningdale and The Berkshire.
  • The USA National Travel and Tourism Office said US citizen international travel increased four percent in October 2013.
  • To mark the centenary of the battle of Clontarf Dromoland Castle will offer several castle experiences to all O’Briens visiting Ireland in 2014. Overnights at the castle packages are available from March 1 to May 31 at €195.00..
  • Titanic Belfast will host the monthly Belfast Friday night experience After Hours – on Valentine’s Day Feb 14 with what it calls a romantic twist and exclusive menu.
  • Women in Travel & Tourism International (witti) is hosting its third annual meeting, reception and dinner January 30, 2014, in conjunction with the One Travel Conference for Shopping, Dining and Cultural Tourism in Minneapolis/St Paul. The conference will discuss the recent Cultural Tourism and Experiential Tourism packaging innovation case study Wellness Tourism and its impressive impact on all of us.
  • Cruise Shipping Miami launched an enhanced cruise events Mobile App, free CSM Mobile App is available for iOS and Android operating systems in their respective app stores under the title Cruise Events. For those not on iOS or Android devices, a desktop version of the app is available.
  • The Cranleigh Boutique hotel in the Lake District reported a record number of engagements over the new year.
  • Worldhotels has launched a hotel recommendation for each star sign among the group’s portfolio of 500 hotels worldwide.
  • Carr Golf Travel is celebrating 25 Years in business in 2014,
  • To celebrate the 25th anniversary the Swiss peak pass is on offer for Summer 2014, offering eight of Switzerland’s most scenic summit rides.
  • Kempinski Hotel Bahía, Marbella-Estepona, launched packages providing access to the Costa del Sol’s most famous venues – including Valderrama, host of the 1997 Ryder Cup.
  • As part of the merger with American, US Airways will exit Star Alliance On March 30, 2014 to join the oneworld alliance. Customers can continue to earn and redeem miles on Star Alliance partner airlines until that date. US Airways operations at Kansas City International Airport (MCI) have moved from Terminal A to Terminal C. On February 12, they will move from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3 at LAX. US Airways are to offer 50pc more Dividend Miles for every American Airlines flight.
  • Conor Newman of the Heritage Council said the proposed Living Towns scheme would focus on the “maintenance and refurbishment of existing building stock to preserve the character of towns to keep them socially and economically viable. We need to allow people to realise their pride of place.”
  • An advert for a hotel booking website angered Birmingham residents for its depiction of the Brummie accent.
  • Travellers are urged to avoid mosquito bites following outbreak of chikungunya virus on several Caribbean islands.
  • Next month some 30 men and women will compete in the Naked Sledding World Championship in Germany.
  • Dubai Tourism research on holiday habits indicated most people take two short breaks a year (two to four nights) and two annual holidays of four nights or more, 49pc of consumers choose to book their break via an Online Travel Agent, 21pc book direct with accommodation and transport providers. 16pc direct with the tour operator and 12pc with a travel agent. Consumers regard local flight departures (89pc) as the most important factor when it comes to the journey to their holiday destination, followed by ease of journey to the airport (88pc), airline and baggage allowance (86pc), flight times and total journey time (50pc). value for money (99pc) and price (85pc).
  • Powerscourt Golf Club warmly welcomes the news that it has been voted the best Parkland Venue in Ireland for 2014 by the Golfers Guide to Ireland.
  • Mark Scott Lennon’s has been appointed as General Manager / Director at Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, Killiney.
  • The USA Federal Communications Commission has formally published the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding its proposal to lift the ban on cellphone usage in flight. The NPRM allows 30 days for public comment, through February 14, 2014. The rule change would give airlines the option to decide if they want to introduced inflight cell phone services in the US
  • Kuoni Group Travel Experts reveals that room nights booked for group travel rose by 9pc last year as the ASEAN Tourism Fair (ATF, 16-23 January 2014) opens in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.
  • A new partnership was announced between THOR a Travelport company, and CIBT, the world’s largest expeditor of international travel visas and passports.
  • The Mardi Gras celebration begins in Las Vegas Bellagio on February 9th
  • United Airlines expects to record special charges of $158m for the fourth quarter of 2013 when it announces results on Thursday.
  • Irish Rail tours are launching a new high end Rail touring product limited to 50 guests with just one departure on Sep 29 2014: a rail cruise through Ireland in your own special heritage train and overnighting in five star Irish Castle, City and Country Hotels through Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Cobh, Killarney, The Ring of Kerry, Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet, Cliffs of Moher, Connemara and Galway Bay.
  • Around 34pc of travel insurance claims made by holidaymakers in 2012 were for costs related to cancellations with an average claim value of around £700, second only to the average medical costs claim of £900, according an online survey by Vision Critical.
  • An oddity in the travel business; an agent promotion which does not require any bookings. Agents who want the chance to win a place on a trip with adventurer, Ben Fogle on an ‘Exclusive Excursion’ should head to the Celebrity Travel Agents Facebook page. Air France, KLM and Delta Air Lines launched a booking incentive for the trade from now until February 7. Travel agents will have a chance to win two Air France Economy tickets to any Air France A380 destination in the USA. To enter agents need to log their AF/KL/DL bookings on Travel Corporation is offering a chance to win a holiday for two to agents who book any Insight Vacations, Contiki Holidays, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises or Red Carnation Hotel during January or February 2014 and who email your booking reference to Travel Corporation (formerly 1STS) is also running a Facebook Friday giveaway. Denise Connaughton of, 1 Stop Travel in Galway, and Colette Desmond, Manning Travel in Kilkenny were the winners of €100 in BookaBed’s booking incentive for agents.
  • Following the introduction of 16pc VAT on tourism activities in Kenya, as per the VAT Act 2013, conservation fees for entry into National Parks, Reserves and Sanctuaries have risen. Amboseli and Nakuru now cost $90, Tsavo $75 and Nairobi $50.
  • Belle Air holidays Winter Sun offers to Malta, include regional departures for departures up to 31 March 2014. Prices from £275pp.Etihad Regional Photograph (UAE)
  • Swiss-based Etihad regional launched in Switzerland and expanded its network to 34 destinations, operated by Darwin Airline headquartered in Lugano. Airberlin and Etihad Airways announce their expansion of partnership and unveil joint livery aircraft. Etihad Airways announced golfer Martin Kaymer as its latest brand ambassador.
  • VivaAerobus, the Ryanair of Mexico backed by the Ryan family, plans to float on the Mexican stock exchange,
  • Adrian Weckler argued that it was time for Irish airlines to reverse the “pointless laptop ban.”
  • Ed Power took a cue from Visitbritain’s suggestions on how not to offend tourist guests and wrote: Try not to take umbrage when guests from across the water refer to “the Mainland”, “Southern Ireland” and so on. Chances are they are not actively trying to be insulting. Travellers from certain foreign parts — specifically Cork — may have an innate hostility towards Dublin and will consider every moment spent in the “capital” a heinous waste of time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s