Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: ITB or not ITB: DAT is the Question & Another Bedbank Breach

This week:

  • OHG OMG: Questions about bed banks as OHG goes under
  • Martin Skelly new ITAA president
  • Leo goes to Berlin as Arlene stays at home
  • Dun Laoghaire eyes up location for diaspora centre

dermot o'loughlinThere strikes and we are all out. Next Friday’s planned SIPTU triple-strike over the IASS pension fund has moved to the courtroom (Dermot O’Loughlin of SIPTU is pictured). Both DAA and Ryanair (who say 13,000 passengers are affected) sought injunctions to prevent the action on the grounds that it is not a trade dispute and SIPTU didn’t ballot all members of staff which is in breach of existing agreements. Aer Lingus cancelled 30 flights, rescheduled 42flights, hired aircraft, re-timed flights and re-booked passengers, more information on their website. Brendan McGinty and Laura Gallagher from KPMG and Peter McLoone and Eugene McMahon of Mazars have been appointed to investigate a resolution and report at the end of March.

Some big questions about bedbank security were brought sharply in focus on Thursday night with the failure of OnHolidayGroup and its related family of bed banks (Holiday Broker/Eurorooms). The questions do not reflect adversely on our bed bank operations, in fact the opposite. The vast majority of bed banks including (without exception) the 20-odd operating in the Irish market are reputable and sound businesses, but they emerged after the existing systems to protect consumers and agents were put in place.

The closure is a tragedy for Brendan Mallon who had worked hard to establish OHG in the Irish market place. The problems relate more to the model itself than OHG in particular. The very concept of a bedbank slips through the cracks of the bonding system. It means Irish agents will be out of pocket accommodating clients whose bookings have been cancelled as a result of the failure. Hoteliers who are owed an estimated €9m are now likely to demand payment from current guests. The company says that “All monies received from agents is held in ring-fenced client accounts and will be returned by the On Holiday Group to agents in the next few days”.

steve endacott.jpegSteve Endacott (pictured) blamed a judgment in the English courts on disputed VAT payments for the failure. This raises alarm bells as other bed banks are disputing the tax terms applied in London. Another bed bank won a landmark London Supreme Court decision, but it came too late to save the On Holiday Group.

Even worse, many bedbanks enhance their database by using other bedbanks, some of whom do not operate in the Irish market at all.

A failure by a third rank bedbank could end up costing Irish travel agents money and reputation.

The bonding system, devised in 1983 before bed banks, online transactions and widespread use of credit cards, has been creaking under the force of change for decades.

Even from the beginning, there were anomalies that airlines are outside the system, leaving agents open to the sort of havoc that accompanied the collapse of Malev. Two years later no compensation has been paid.

Disputes within the system were largely responsible for bringing down Eugene Corcoran’s Budget Travel (over the level of bonding required when capacity was reduced). Several business were forced from the market place because of the lean that bonding put on their cash flow.

A  chorus of industry individuals and organisations, including the ITAA and ITOF, have been advocating that bonding be abolished altogether and replaced with a flat tax on airline ticket sales.

Minister Leo Varadkar has parked a response to submissions on bonding until European legislation is complete, which appears intent on opening the market to companies licensed (but not bonded) in other EU countries.

In the meantime Irish agents who are being forced to rebook their clients this week could potentially be left high and dry. The London Indie featured a consumer Q&A on the crisis.

martin skelly h&s 1400As the only nominee for the post, Martin Skelly of Navan Travel will become the 18th president of the Irish Travel Agents Association for a two year period after the forthcoming AGM at Bewley’s Leopardstown on April 3. There are no nominations for treasurer which presents the ITAA with a dilemma. Martin is number 18 in 44 years. While two consecutive terms are not allowed by constitution, four previous presidents returned to serve a second term.

The Spanish Tourist Board has launched a new Twitter account @spaininireland. Spain attracted a record 60,661,073 inbound visitors in 2013. 
Passenger numbers from Ireland were 1,270,038 up 6.8pc, making Ireland the 14th most important inbound market into Spain, according to the Instituto de Estudios Turisticos.

Tourism Australia say 60,600 Irish short term visitors travelled to Australia in 2013 down 1.1pc on the 2012 figure of 61,300. Ireland has slipped to the 20th most important inbound market to Australia.

Canada is to increase working holiday visas for Irish people to 10,700 from 6,350 last year. The young professionals and international co-op categories will open for applications on March 11th, with the first round entries for the working holiday category to follow on March 13th. A second working holiday round will be announced at a later date.

sue udaSue Uda of A Touch of Ireland was elected new President of the Incoming Tour Operators Association Ireland at their Annual General Meeting in Druids Glen. Sue has over 30 years’ experience in the industry, based in London and Dublin.

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai opened tInternationale Tourismus-Börse, ITB Berlin which attracted 10,147 exhibitors from 189 countries. The organisers reported with growth in Gay & Lesbian Travel and Adventure & Sustainable Travel, a large increase in exhibitors from Asia, India and the Arab countries and big interest in the ITB Berlin Bloggers Speed Dating event.

The most interesting discussion was the panel discussion on tourism in “dark countries” with representatives from what Americans lovingly used to call the Axis of Evil.

  • North Korea: it’s more interesting than South Korea but you can still see everything in one visit, just don’t talk politics with your guides.
  • Iraq:  it’s perfectly fine to come to Iraq! We have working airports! There are millions of tourists each year and very few of them get killed.
  • Afghanistan: It’s not safe, don’t come.
  • Iran: I don’t know why I’m on this panel. Iran is not a dark country.

Loveleen Tandan, the co-director of Slumdog Millionaire, talked about the rise of slum tours in Mumbai after the movie came out and how she believes this is good for the people.

collins varadkar gibbonsThe post conflict version of Tiocfaidh Ar LA (Leo/Arlene) went to  in 2013. Leo returned it this year but Arlene was a late withdrawal. The 21 exhibitors on the Irish stand were: Abbey Tours, Aer Lingus, B&B Ireland, Causeway Coast & Glens, Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, Gaeltacht Irland Reisen, Guinness Storehouse, Groupleader.com, Irish Ferries, Irish Welcome Tours, Jameson Distillery Tours & Banquets, Killarney Hotels Ltd, Select Hotels of Ireland, Silver Line Cruisers, The Castle Collection, The Inn at Dromoland & Dromoland Estate, Titanic Belfast, Treacys Hotel Spa & Leisure Centre, Tullamore Dew Visitor Centre, Vagabond Tours and White Hotel Group/Irish & English Tours. Picture shows Michael Collins, Irish Ambassador to Germany; Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar; and Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, at ITB Berlin. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Next year, the opening ceremony of ITB Berlin will take place in the CityCube Berlin, which has currently entered the final stages of construction.

Next stop for Leo: Cruise Shipping in Miami, March 10-13, to argue for more cruise turnarounds out of Ireland. If Larry Pimentel of Azamara is anything to go by he could get a hearing.

what languagesVideo of the week is by 19-year-old Finnish Youtube user Sara Marié (smoukahontas) speaking gibberish with a sequence of impressive accents to show what languages sound like to foreigners, including American English (watch here). It has been getting 1m hits a day since it was uploaded on Sunday. Buzzfeed’s Travel Secrets video (watch here) is worth a watch, a breezy 90 seconds of Barnum style travel-tips (if flying from cities A to B its too expensive, try booking from A to C with a layover in B and get off in city B).

140305_M3_051Long before cultural tourism became a buzzword, a tall academic from St Paul in Minnesota, Eoin McKiernan, created a programme of cultural tours to Ireland. He abhorred the imagery of shamroguery and shillelagh and brought his American visitors to cultural and historical icons in the days before interpretative centres and discovery points. Irish America Reawakening, a biography of Eoin McKiernan, the reticent figure behind the Irish American Cultural Institute by his daughter Deirdre McKiernan (listen here) was launched in Dublin this week by Cathal Goan (listen here), with a spectacular oráid in his memory by Dónla Uí Bhraonáin (éist anseo). Picture is of Deirdre McKiernan with Cathal Goan and Eamonn Ó Hargáin. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Dun laoghaire conference_4195Fitzpatrick’s Castle hotel in Killiney hosted a conference on tourism for the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown FG TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor at which Leo Varadkar (listen here) suggested Dublin could get more tourists (report here). He mentioned Dun Laoghaire as a possible location for the National Diaspora Centre which will cost between €5m and €26m depending on the approach taken with the capital cost likely to be considerably less if an existing building can be found. A  study by Fáilte Ireland found that a centre could be viable and self-financing, but it was improbable that it would be able to meet its own building costs (Minister’s statement here).

martime trio mar 6 2014Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry (listen here) warned delegated not to confuse local attractions with tourist attractions that had international significance, but that Dun Laoghaire had an opportunity to promote itself as the jewel of Dublin and lead the country in maritime tourism. Gerry Dunne of the harbour board (listen here), Liz Ferris (listen here), Grainne Miller (listen here) and Kevin Moriarty (listen here) of Failte Ireland also spoke. There were separate question and answer discussions for the minister Leo Varadkar (listen here) and at the end of the conference (listen here). Picture shows Jeff Brownlee, Bref Kennedy and Paal Hanson at the Dun Laoghaire tourism conference. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

margaret shannonThe Emirates team of Margaret Shannon, Anita Thomas and Valerie Murphy (pictured) hosted the Irish travel trade for a rugby pre-match panel discussion at Il Posto on Thursday. Margaret Shannon (listen here) said the second Emirates flight would be the last out of Dublin in the evening and opened up new connections that were not previously available to Irish customers. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

simon polito 74The Ryanair appeal against the Simon Polito (pictured) decision that they reduce their shareholding of Aer Lingus from 29pc down to 5pc was rejected by the next stage of the English legal system on Thursday. Ryanair will now bring their case to the London Court of appeal. John Mulligan suggested Ryanair is running out of legal runway on the issue. In Spain, a Ryanair air steward dismissed for eating a sandwich on duty without paying was told to take his case to Ireland. A report from the International Labor Organisation estimating an 0.1pc profit margin for the aviation in general prompted the Guardian to ask with world’s airlines eager to cut crew costs, is life as a flight attendant getting worse?

IMG_4222Caracas is among the unusual top twenty transfer destinations through Frankfurt that were reported by Lufthansa in their briefing for the Irish travel media this week. With 40pc of their traffic going on to further destinations, Moscow is their number one transfer, followed by Vienna, Beijing, Lagos and Tel Aviva. Lufthansa’s Dublin to Munich service will increase to 4w and further to 5w in July. Two thirds of the tickets on Lufthansa’s Irish routes are sold in Germany. Last year Lufthansa saw record load factors on their Irish routes and are looking forward to more growth in 2014. Just over 50pc of the tickets sold in Ireland are sold through the trade and London-based Irish and Britain manager Christian Schindler of Lufthansa says he will continue to support the trade in Ireland. Picture shows Gudrun Gorner and Christian Schindler of Lufthansa in Dublin’s Westin Hotel. In addition, Lufthansa’s low cost subsidiary Germanwings have four services from Dublin to Dusseldorf, four to Cologne and a service from Dusseldorf to Knock. Lufthansa have 300 aircraft on order.

Lufthansa unveiling its new Premium Economy Class at ITB Berlin with a 38″ seat pitch. The seats can be booked from May onwards and will be available from November 2014, initially on the Boeing 747-8. While the seat will be branded as premium economy, it will be classed as economy within the booking system and will not carry benefits such as a dedicated check-in.

Turkish Airlines CEO Temel Kotil told Barry O’Halloran that is company regarded Dublin Airport as a potential “gateway to the entire Atlantic” despite the failure of talks with Aer Lingus regarding a possible partnership that would involve Turkish feeding passengers to transatlantic services.

united fam

United Airlines, California Central Coast Tourism Council and San Francisco Travel hosted eight travel agents who won a place on the trip from a recent booking incentive, flying from Dublin with United to its New York/Newark hub and then onward to San Francisco. The group spent two nights in San Francisco before commencing their journey down the Pacific Coast Highway through Hearst Castle, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Solvang, Ventura, and Cambria. Picture shows Mary McGovern, Karen Condon, Lorraine Roche, Edel Clune, Aoife Gregg, Cara Barry, James Mead, Bernie Roche, Fergus Burke and Stephanie Nagle. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

TARGETING THE DIASPORA AT GENEALOGY EVENT IN LONDONPicture shows Irish tourism companies and genealogy experts at the Who Do you Think You Are show in London. Luke Portess of Glasnevin Cemetery Museum; Nicola Treanor of Ireland’s Blue Book; Margaret Mellor of Tourism Ireland; Helen Kelly, genealogist; and Aideen Ginnell of Lough Owel Lodge representing B&B Ireland.

  • The Anner Hotel in Thurles and the Midleton Park Hotel in Cork were sold for €3m. Minister Michael Ring said Nama receivers are in danger of turning rural towns into deserted villages. The Indo property section said new developments totalling €890m, many of them concerned with tourism, are planned for Dublin’s Liberties.
  • Sean Kelly said Tourism Ireland’s lack of promotion for the Giro d’Italia was a scandal.

IRELAND’S BIG ‘DRIVE’ AT GOLF PROMOTION IN TORONTOPicture shows Jayne Shackleford of Tourism Ireland; Paul Collins of North & West Coast Links; John Murray of Golf Travel ETC; Breffne Costello of Castlemartyr Resort; and Jonathan Millar of Irish Golf Breaks, on the Tourism Ireland stand at the Toronto Star Golf & Travel Show.

IRELAND SCOOPS “BEST POTENTIAL DESTINATION” AWARD IN CHINAPicture shows Iris Wang, Tourism Ireland, with the award for “best potential destination” at the fifth annual Ctrip ‘best tourism destination’ awards ceremony in Shanghai. Tourism Ireland wants to grow Chinese tourism from 17,000 visitors in 2012 to 50,000 per year over the coming five years.

  • A woman in labour caused an Air France A340 from Paris to Detroit to divert to Belfast on Thursday and the French passenger gave birth to a baby in Antrim Hospital.
  • The aircraft carrying Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy en route home from the EPP conference in Dublin was forced to make an emergency landing at Dublin Airport
  • It turns out what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas after all. California man Mark Johnston sued the Downtown Grand casino Las Vegas because he was blackout drunk when he lost $500,000 during a trip over the Super Bowl weekend, and the Downtown Grand should have cut him off and certainly should not have loaned him the $500,000. The Downtown Grand is countersuing Johnston for trying to shirk his debt. Nevada law bars casinos from allowing visibly drunk patrons to gamble and from serving them comped drinks.
  • Mohammed al-Shaibani, Dubai’s finance chief, said Emirates could be partially floated on the London Stock Exchange.
  • Aer Arann owner Stobart is to sell off half its core business.
  • Etihad increased its stake in Aer Lingus from 2.987pc to 3.01pc. Chief financial officer James Rigney said Etihad has already recouped its investment. Etihad is creating of the Etihad Aviation Group, a new structure marking the transition from a single entity airline to a wider global aviation group. Eithad reported profit up 48pc from US$42m to US$62m. Eitahd is to fly its first A380 from Abu Dhabi to Heathrow in the first week of December and then roll out the aircraft to New York, Sydney and Melbourne.
  • BA included Dublin in a list of six cities with cheaper ‘day trip’ fares for under £100, if you fly out and back on a Saturday or Sunday.
  • Norwegian Airlines Dublin-headquarter trans-Atlantic flights were described as dangerous in the latest development in a campaign by US carrier and labour unions to stop the service. US pilots are asking Washington to block the proposed flights, describing the airline as a “sketchy foreign competitor”. ALPA’s president, Captain Lee Moak, said: “Norwegian Air International was clearly designed to attempt to dodge laws and regulations, starting a race to the bottom.”
  • Sao Paolo topped a list of the ten worst airports in the world, followed by 2 Chicago Midway, 3 JFK New York, 4 N’Djamena Chad, 5 Paris Beauvais, 6 London Heathrow, 7 LaGuardia NY, 8 NinoyAquino Manila, 9 Jomo Kenyatta Nairobi, 10 Tribhuvan Kathmandu.
  • Ryanair’s passenger traffic grew 7pc to 4.5m in February. Traffic grew by 300,000 to 4.5m customers (up 7pc). Load factor increased 1pc to 78pc. Annual traffic to February 2014 rose to 81.9m customers (up 3pc). Short haul traffic at Aer Lingus dragged down passenger figures in February. Long haul passengers increased by 7.0pc from 43,000 to 46,000, Load factor in February 2014 was 67.3pc compared to 68.3pc for the same month in 2013.
  • David O’Brien, Ryanair’s new CCO, told Anna Aero: You can’t do too many Ireland-Russia flights – maybe three or four a week to St. Petersburg and three or four to Moscow. He said Ryanair will grow to 110m passengers within the next five years. On trans-Atlantic for a tenner, he said All the long-haul orders are sewn up for a long time to come. We’re not going to do this with old aircraft. If an order collapses somewhere, we’ll nip in.
  • Ryanair is seeking to appoint an agency partner to develop its data and customer relationship marketing as part of its revised customer strategy. Ryanair announced a new collaboration with Paypal.
  • Boeing checking 40 planes still in production found hairline cracks. There was confusion over reports of Boeing 777-200ER crash on flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing as the plane mysteriously disappeared.

Qatar Airways Debuts New A380 First Class Seats at ITB BerlinQatar Airways unveiled their A380-800 First Class seats at ITB Berlin with Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit first to test the product. Qatar is upgrading its business class seat and IFE systems on select A330-200 and A320 aircraft

  • Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines have agreed a major expansion of codeshare ties, covering destinations beyond both Istanbul and Singapore.
  • Garuda Indonesia became the 20th Member of SkyTeam Alliance.
  • Aer Lingus Regional said it is on target to fly 300,000 passengers on its Cork routes having allocated its two newest aircraft to service the expanded Cork routes and a new route to Newcastle to launch March 28.
  • Airberlin is the only German airline with FullFlat seats on every Business Class flight, with increased frequency to Greece, Turkey and the Canaries, as well as to Abu Dhabi, the Caribbean and the USA.
  • Turkish Airlines is revamping its Miles&Smiles frequent flyer programme, with new rules that include earning Miles from all tickets including promotional tickets.
  • Finnair will begin operating aircraft with fully-flat business class seats to Tokyo and New York from April 1, and to Beijing and Seoul from May 1.
  • Simon McNamara, director general of the European Regions Airline Association says Europe’s regional aviation sector is slowly returning to growth. A return to month-on-month passenger growth in September of last year bucked a trend of 18 months of negative growth.
  • BA Gold Executive Club members will now receive two upgrade vouchers for one person, instead of a single upgrade voucher for two, when they earn 3,500 tier points.
  • Emirates is offering two members of the travel trade, plus their guest, a Business Class holiday to Dubai, enter the draw by booking before March 31st, for travel during 2014.
  • Brazil upgraded air traffic technology for the World Cup and Olympics.
  • Sri Lankan will join Oneworld on May 1 having been a member elect of the alliance since mid-2012.

DC 200214 AIRPORT 14Picture shows Aoife Buckley, Aviation Marketing Officer, Cork Airport and Graham Hennessy, Topflight Business Development Manager launching Topflight’s summer 2014 service from Cork to Verona. Cork Airport Development Council held its inaugural meeting at the airport. The board consists of Pádraig Ó Ríordáin, Chairman and Chairman DAA, Corporate Partner, Arthur Cox, Fiona Buckley, Head of Operations, Fáilte Ireland, Conor Healy, Chief Executive, Cork Chamber, Niall MacCarthy Managing Director, Cork Airport, John Mullins, Chairman, Port of Cork, Dr Michael Murphy, President, University College Cork, Eric Nolan Director, DAA, Anne-Marie O’Brien, Ballydoyle Racing Stables, Emma O’Brien, Director and Vice Chairman of the Clonakilty Chamber of Commerce, Joe O’Flynn, General Secretary, SIPTU, Ann-Marie O’Sullivan Director DAA, Director of H+A Marketing + PR, Bob Savage, Vice President and General Manager, EMC, Cork, Kevin Toland, Chief Executive, DAA, Jim Woulfe, Chief Executive, Dairygold Co-operative Society, Gerry Walsh Director DAA, Director Spruce Consulting.

PROMOTION WITH A DIFFERENCE FOR THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY!Picture shows Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland and David Corbett of the Absolute Hotel, Limerick presenting newly-weds Roxanne Wilson and Frank Kennedy with Claddagh rings in Tourism Ireland’s ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ garden at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

  • Ireland became the first country in the Hailo global network to get complete country wide coverage. Irish taxi drivers can connect to over 430,000 customers and growing on the Hailo network.
  • Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan said we can do better on St Patrick’s Day. The London Telegraph listed some places to toast Irish heritage and checked out the prospects for a break in Dublin for a an English tourist.
  • Donald Trump said he was hoping to rebuild Doonbeg and take on the Vertigo angustior snail. British designer Martin Hawtree will either enhance the existing course or completely redesign a new links couorse.
  • Winter was the wettest on record with Valentia Observatory recording 848mm of rain over three months, 183pc of average,
  • Guest speakers for the Restaurants Association Conference in the Shelbourne Hotel, on Wednesday March 26th include: Peter Kreiner of NOMA Restaurant Copenhagen, Joe Warwick Founder of World’s Top 50 Restaurant Awards and Author of Where Chefs Eat, John Teeling of Cooley Distillery, Ami Hovstadius of the Swedish tourism and Andrea Coffey of Google Ireland.
  • The year has begun very strongly for the lowcosttravelgroup, headed up in Ireland by Clem Walshe, with traffic to their international websites up 50pc, overall sales up 40pc and Irish sales up 54pc.
  • Mary McKenna’s Tour America won the service award at the Small Firms Association annual awards.

Hurtigruten fam trip feb 2014_0058Hurtigruten will operates a direct charter from Dublin in 2015 with highlights including a trip to the North Cape – the Northernmost point on Mainland Europe as well as a visit to the Snowhotel in Kirkenes and a Midnight concert at the Arctic Cathedral in Tromso. Hurtigruten hosted Irish travel agents on a trip deep into the Arctic Circle, on-board MS Trollfjord. Pictured here at the North Cape (from left to right) are: Danny Giles, Hurtigruten; Mark Davidson, Oasis Travel Belfast; Emma Bunbury, Thomas Cook Dublin; Carmel Aylward, King Travel Malahide & Raymond Parker, Feherty Travel Bangor.

  • Celebrity Cruises 2015 sailings will go on sale on March 18, five ships sail in Europe, with Celebrity Equinox based in Barcelona, Celebrity Reflection based in Rome, Celebrity Silhouette based in Amsterdam, Celebrity Constellation based out of Venice and Celebrity Eclipse based out of Southampton. New for 2015 will be the new Suite Class experience with a suites-only restaurant, VIP lounge and complimentary premium drinks.
  • AIDA Cruises grew by 20pc in 2013. The German market for ocean cruises grew by 9.2pc in 2013 to 1.69m passengers.

IMG_4287The voyage as a destination is the new campaign by Royal Caribbean for this summer. Their Irish campaign will focus on Liberty of the Seas itineraries out of Barcelona. Royal Caribbean have allocations on Aer Lingus flights to Barcelona. Royal Caribbean are offering balcony staterooms for the same price as an outside stateroom with Royal Caribbean on select holidays before March 31. Picture shows Jennifer Callister, Surinder Manku and Matt Chandler of Royal Caribbean on their visit to Dublin.

  • Norwegian Epic will homeport year-round in Barcelona and will sail Canary Islands & Morocco and Western Mediterranean itineraries during the 2015/ 2016 winter season. Cruises will go on sale in Ireland in early April.
  • Irish Continental Group the parent of Irish Ferries results reported passengers are down 4pc so far in 2014, but roll-on-roll-off freight volumes are up 18pc. They said 16pc of budgeted sailings have been cancelled since the start of the year, resulting “in some loss of discretionary passenger business and a disruption to freight business”.
  • Stena HSS Fastcraft will return for its seasonal service on its Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead route from Wednesday April 9 until Tuesday September 9.
  • Chapman Freeborn and EYOS Expeditions announced a collaboration to offer yacht voyages to what it says are some of the most remote places on Earth.
  • Legoland will close its hotel this weekend after militants allegedly threatened the resort for agreeing to host a Muslim fun day.
  • The Backpack, Cape Town, South Africa was rated the best value place to stay by Lonely Planet.
  • The mysterious boutique hotel positioned at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard has been officially christened ‘The Cromwell.
  • Starwood Aloft brand plans to debut in Sarasota, Florida in August 2015.’
  • Worldhotels launched a loyalty programme: Peakpoints, members can earn two points for every euro spent on their room at 500 hotels. The first yoo2 hotel in Worldhotels’ portfolio is Yoo2 Taksim Square in Istanbul.
  • Abu Dhabi’s 149 hotels and hotel apartments got 2014 off to a flying start with guest arrivals up more than a third against January 2013.
  • The Shannon College of Hotel Management says it delivered 100pc graduate employment rate for 63rd year in succession. Of the 92 students who graduated last week, the 38 Irish graduates coming from counties Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Sligo, Wexford, Dublin, Kildare, Westmeath, Galway, Waterford and Mayo.
  • Relais and Chateaux has added six new members to its international hotel and restaurant collection: Maison d’Uzes in Gard, France; Hotel Restaurant Mammertsberg in Freidorf, Switzerland; Chasa Montana Hotel & Spa in Samnaun, Switzerland; Myconian Utopia Resort on the Greek island of Mykonos; Mihir Garh in Jodhpur, India; and Brilliant Resort & Spa in Kunming in China’s Yunnan province. Relais & Chateaux was established in France in 1954, its mission is to spread its “art de vivre around the world by selecting outstanding character properties” it now has 520 hotels and restaurants in 64 countries.
  • According to Get Safe Online, 30pc of holiday fraud victims in 2013 were scammed by the fraudulent advertisement of holiday villas and apartments, while 21pc were for airline ticket booking fraud and the problem is growing. Get Safe Online have published advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of holiday booking fraud.
  • A 20 year old snowboarder, Michael Handley 20, died after a crash in Les Deux Alpes while training. Michael Schumacher’s family were told that only a miracle can bring him back now.
  • Warmer, sunny weather arrived in the Alps on Thursday and looks set to stay with no new snow in the forecast for the next nine days. Over 100cm of new snow landed at Cauterets in France, forcing the resort to close on Tuesday to reopen Thursday. The Milky Way area in Italy was covered in half a metre of powder. Saas Fee in Austria received 40cm of new snow. It has been a great week for skiing in California with over a metre in the last seven days at Mammoth. Whistler is still enjoying regular heavy snowfalls. Squaw and Alpine have added Sugar Bowl Access to their Season Pass.
  • The world’s highest zip wire opened at an altitude of 3,200m from the top of the Bouchet Chair Lift in Orelle to the summit of Val Thorens.
  • Tompkinsville as the next destination to be featured in NYC & Company’s Neighbourhood x Neighbourhood campaign. The free Staten Island Ferry offers some of the best views of the New York Harbour and Manhattan skyline, and is a great way to visit Staten Island. NYC & Company are headed up in Ireland by John Donohue.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit‘s Worldwide Cost of Living survey named the world’s costliest cities as Singapore, Paris, Oslo, Zurich, Sydney, Caracas, Geneva, Melbourne, Tokyo (all joint sixth) and Copenhagen. The world’s 10 least expensive cities to live in 2014 were Riyadh, Jeddah, Panama City, Bucharest, Algiers, Damascus, Kathmandu, New Delhi, Karachi and Mumbai. Dublin was rated 21st, up from 34th in 2013. Separately Expatistan rated the world’s costliest cities as Paris, Singapore, London, Oslo, Geneva, Zurich, New York, Lausanne, Singapore, Paris, San Francisco and Copenhagen. Immediately there were some helpful cost-cutting tips for residents.
  • Peruvian guards were asked to increase surveillance at tourist site Machu Pichu after a spate of stripping.
  • Nepal is asking climbers of Everest to take back 8kg of rubbish with them.
  • A German tourist disoriented by floods survived on flies in the outback for three weeks before being rescued by police near the township of Windorah in Queensland.
  • A loo-finding website called AirPnP was launched to help visitors needing to relieve themselves during Mardi Gras.
  • GTA renewed its distribution deal with Hilton Worldwide. GTA’s enhanced distribution deal with Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts went live.
  • Tour operators to the Ukraine are keeping an eye on events before cancelling trips to the region.
  • The first travel packages for to next year’s Rugby World Cup went on sale but not yet in Ireland where Club Travel are official Irish travel agent. Ireland play in Cardiff (Sept 19 and Oct 11) and London (Sept 27 and Oct 4) in their group matches.
  • The London Telegraph rated holiday packing apps and asked whether they’re worth the download.
  • Tourism authorities in York launched a scented travel guidebook. England main attractions hosted 6pc more people last year than in rainy 2012, the British Museum was top for the3 seventh year with 6m visitors, followed by the National Gallery (6.03m) and Natural History Museum (5.35m). Attractions with big increases last year included the Tower of London (up 18.4pc to 2.89m), the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, south-east London (up 27pc to 1.43m) and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where the opening of the Mary Rose Museum resulted in a 55pc rise in visitors to more than 674,000.
  • The home of Arnold Bennett, Stoke-on-Trent’s first Literary Festival will be held at the Emma Bridgewater Factory, on Lichfield Street, over the weekend of Friday, June 20-22.
  • A section of the Great Wall of China is being set aside for graffiti, in the hope that this will reduce the extent of scrawlings elsewhere
  • STA Travel and Brand USA unveiled American Road Trip videos. A study by Oxford Economics indicates that Brand USA’s marketing efforts generated 1.1m incremental international visitors to the destination – a 2.3pc more than would have occurred without Brand USA marketing initiatives.
  • State of Alaska tourism office launched a Spanish-language travel website.
  • Donna Kenny of Classic Resorts will join The Travel Corporation at the end of the month as Business Development Manager.
  • Kristin Intress was announced as new Chief Executive Officer of Worldhotels.
  • Amadeus announced it is partnering with the European Travel Commission to promote Europe as a tourism destination.
  • Customers who book parking online at QuickPark.ie, and tune in to Radio Nova can win free parking for a year, and an overall prize of an overseas holiday.
  • Celebrity Cruises is giving agents to confirm a new 2014 or 2015 booking between now and April 30 for the chance to win one of five £100 Ticketmaster gift cards each week, redeemable on events and concerts in Ireland and Britain, including GAA fixtures, Katy Perry and Robbie Williams.
  • Aer Lingus has launched what it calls its biggest ever seat sale with up to 50pc off seats.
  • Attraction Tickets Direct is offering receive a FREE 14 day unlimited LEGOLAND Florida ticket worth €59pp for purchases of Disney, Universal or SeaWorld Orlando tickets by March 31.
  • Innstant Travel is offering agents €5 worth of One4all vouchers with every booking made during the month of March confirmed on innstanttravel.com.
  • The Thailand Roadshow, Dublin takes place in the Doubletree by Hilton, Burlington Road, tomorrow from 16:30-17:30.
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