Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Michael’s puppy steals the show

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This week:

  • Michael’s puppy gives paws for thought at Ryanair web launch.
  • 25 new routes in one week.
  • Belfast goes pink for the Giro.
  • Travel Centres conference for Nov 14-15.
  • The return of Europe’s rollercoaster rides.

This is the picture that had the international media talking this week (see Bloomberg video). Look at those puppy dog eyes. That cute creature would NEVER charge you €70 to print out a boarding pass, right?

200211576-001Ryanair staged a show and tell at the London Design Museum on Wednesday, flying in 70 journalists for the occasion (itself a landmark). Kenny Jacobs and Michael O’Leary talked up the new website, due for launch April 10 with the phone app to follow in May, but it was the puppy that stole the show. Michael never met the puppy, he told the press conference, so could the photograph, which first appeared in September be photo-shopped? Whatever about the prospects of getting the puppy and the Mullingar mastiff into the same studio, all the signs are that the cuddly rebrand worked. Michael O’Leary said that advance bookings for May, June and July, are running 5pc ahead of where they were in 2013. Ryanair’s chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said the aim was to: “Become as liked as we are useful.”

michael o'leary demo 016 copyHell has frozen over,” Michael O’Leary said. “Ryanair is doing TV advertising, distributing through travel agents and nice to customers.” He spent some time slagging off a website that was clunky and infuriating for the user, the opposite of the new Ryanair website which looks a lot like Skyscanner. Which enemy of Ryanair’s website, perhaps the Department of Transport he once claimed should be shut down, the DAA, Easyjet’s or the “useless” regulator’s? His own, apparently. The old Ryanair website is now the subject of O’Leary’s withering ire since he encountered (or didn’t encounter) the puppy. O’Leary said he marvels at the fact that, despite a decade of treating customers like cattle and handling complaints with combativeness, Ryanair still has triumphed. “There’s no more conflict,” he said. “This will be a revolutionary change. It’s all about de-stressing the passenger. We’re going to stop being nasty to people about the size of their bags. “We have been needlessly irritating people, from our creaking old website to our interrogation of passengers over the size of their purses. For 20-odd years, our focus has been to stack the product high and sell it cheap. We’re still going to do that, but we’re going to let the customer relax in the process. Just imagine how many more people we’re going to carry and how much more money we’re going to make when we give customers more of what they want.”

Ryanair will unveil new family fare offers in April. Other initiatives may include offering free checked-in baggage and free allocated seating for kids. The airline will also offer an on-board milk-warming service for babies.

kenny jacobs 001 copyO’Leary said Ryanair’s no-frills business model was recession-proof but as the continent slowly returns to growth the airline can expand more rapidly by rewarding its customers with targeted discounts using a new personalised loyalty program. “You’re a business person, you have different needs. You may want to fast-track through security. We’re going to have a product that’s going to allow you to do that.” He wants to reach 110m passengers by 2019, and plans to expand his all-Boeing 737 fleet from 300 to 400 in the process. “We’ll grow to 110m increasingly from business and travel agency distribution,” he said. “The travel agents will put together very low cost packages and Ryanair will become a key part of that pricing.” Although Ryanair is back on GDS (exclusively with Travelport until October) and flights can be packaged by travel agents, agents should be wary. The press conference was told Ryanair intends to capture customer data – and seek to get as much as possible.” “When I go around saying mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, I’m sorry for what I’ve done wrong, well, this generates huge publicity. Is it just a PR stunt? I’m no longer going to be dressing up in silly costumes to generate free publicity.” But, being Michael, he reverted to type when someone asked if they would be carrying puppies as part of the new policy. “We tried it, but we lost a snake in Sicily and a cat at Milan Bergamo.”

  • Michael O’Leary said Ryanair are in talks with primary airports in Czech Rep, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway and Spain. Four of eight new bases are primary cities.

Passengers were warned of possible strike action by Italian air traffic controllers today Sunday Mar 30th between 12.30 and 16.30 Italian local time. Lufthansa cancelled 600 flights, a third of its services Thursday due to a strike by airport public-sector workers.

tourism irelandTourism Ireland hopes increased air access will boost inbound visitors from Italy when Giro d’Italia comes to Ireland this May. Niall Gibbons said that “the capacity is there” to entice Italian tourists to Ireland. “Europe as a whole will see 9 pc more seats into Ireland,” he said. “But if you look at markets like France, there are 14 pc more seats. Germany has 16 pc more seats and Italy has about 9 pc more seats.”

tourism ireland 2Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar (listen here) said that the Government is confident 2014 will be a good year for Irish tourism thanks to “the very significant increases in air access”, and hopes Giro d’Italia will help promote Ireland to Italian tourists. “If you look at the Italian market, when Italians are asked where they want to go on holidays, Ireland consistently appears in the top 10,” he said. “So I think the Giro will help us to support our general marketing of Ireland in Italy.” Looking at figures for the Danish leg of the 2013 race, Tourism Ireland hopes to attract an estimated 40,000 visitors to Ireland. It is also hoped that Giro d’Italia 2014 will attract widespread international media coverage. Last year’s event was broadcast in 165 countries and reached a claimed 125m households. Tourism Ireland will plug the race at several consumer, trade and media events over the coming weeks, including le Monde à Paris and at Jump into Ireland events in the US. The Grande Partenza leg of Giro d’Italia starts in Belfast on May 9 and ends in Dublin on May 12. The race is being promoted in nine countries: Britain, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, the Nordic region and Australia. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

arthurThe 12th rollercoaster at Europa-Park (between Strasbourg and Freiburg) opens next Saturday featuring indoor and outdoor elements, on board audio, rotating ride vehicles and a raft of special effects. Located near the Enchanted Forest area of the theme park, Arthur in the Minimoys Kingdom (also known as Arthur – The Ride, watch video here) is based around the film series Arthur and the Invisibles. Other new attractions at Europa-Park include family drop tower rides, a carousel, slides, a themed village, retail outlet and a catering establishment.

ratatouillevisuel.jpgoriginal-610x683Europe’s theme parks are cranking up the roller coasters for the summer season ahead. Disney’s two parks in Paris (website, their big new attraction for 2014 will be dark ride Ratatouille, pictured) and Futuroscope in Poitiers (website) remained open throughout the winter. Legoland Windsor opened March 15, Prater Vienna opened March 15, Thorpe Park opened March 20, Alton Towers reopened last Saturday (the new CBeebies Land will follow in May, replacing the Old MacDonald’s Farmyard and Storybook Land areas of the park) and Chessington World of Adventures near London reopened on Thursday.

  • Yesterday saw Blackpool Pleasure beach move to its summer season yesterday and Heide Park near Hamburg reopen for summer. Other opening dates:
  • April 1: Phantasialand near Cologne reopens. Gardaland in Verona reopens.
  • April 4: Efteling in Rotterdam summer season begins.
  • April 5: Duinrell/Attraktiepark between Amsterdam and Rotterdam reopens, Legoland Billund reopens, Legoland Deutschland reopens, Lightwater Valley in Yorkshire reopens, Mirabilandia in Ravenna reopens, Pleasureland Southport reopens, Tivoli Friheden in Aarhus reopens.
  • April 10: Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen reopens,
  • April 11: Portaventura in Salou reopens (new ride Angkor is due this summer, a boat ride in the China Area which sets a record as the longest circuit in Europe, while Cirque du Soleil show Kooza joins the entertinament lineup), Puy du Fou in the Vendee reopens, Parque Warner in Madrid’s summer season begins, Terra Mitica in Benidorm reopens, Oakwood in South Wales reopens.
  • April 12: Parc Asterix in Paris reopens. Holiday Park in Nuestadt reopens.
  • April 19: Isla Magica in Seville reopens.
  • April 26: Gröna Lund in Stockholm reopens, Liseberg in Gothenberg reopens.

Walls are starting to come down around the new Seven Dwarves ride at Walt Disney World giving park goers a peek of Disney’s big summer opening in Orlando.

itaa presentation
The Irish Travel Agents Association AGM in Bewley’s Leopardstown on Thursday, will be preceded by the announcement of a major deal with a media partner, the first (and one of the largest sponsorships) in the history of the Association. The AGM is sponsored by Travelport and there will be a presentation on HR Skillnets (see Fionnuala Carter and Sinead Reilly’s presentation here). Ryanair’s return to GDS is likely to be discussed at the meeting, as will the fraught relations with tour operators the improved relations with the Commission of Aviation Regulation. All member agents are likely to be included in the new round of bonding on May 1, as attempts to change the licensing system long term continue. Martin Skelly of Navan Travel will be elected unopposed as the 18th president of the Association for a two year term (while two consecutive terms are not allowed by constitution, four previous presidents returned to serve a second term). There are no nominations for treasurer. The association made a small profit last year after years of losses. Refunds from the IATA trust are being processed.

Aoife Walsh_Clare Mc Coy2 copyThe ingenious antipodean originated idea of turning icons green for St Patrick’s Day has inspired Northern Ireland Tourist Board, who intend turning Northern Ireland pink in anticipation of Giro d’Italia. Clare McCoy (Listen here) told the press gathered in the Shelbourne Hotel to look out for “a tractor in Ballintoy that is completely spray-painted pink” and said that Ulster Museum, Belfast City Hall and the Lagan Towpath will be turning pink for the occasion as well. The first three stages of the cycle race will take place in Belfast, the Causeway coastal route and Armagh from May 9-11 before heading to Dublin on May 12.

  • The Game of Thrones exhibition returns to the Belfast Waterfront from June 11-15. Last year’s event attracted “19,000 visitors over 10 days,” according to Clare McCoy, and “it is only held in eight cities across the world, two in Europe are Belfast and Oslo”.
  • Brian Boru festival in Armagh from April 22 (the millennial of the Battle of Clontarf) until May 4 will host a warrior re-enactment, Viking long-boats and a Viking village.
  • Derry will host the Jazz and Big Band Festival from May 1-4 for the 35,000 jazz fans expected to watch 200 musicians play across 70 venues.
  • The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race will stop off at the Foyle International Maritime Festival in Derry from June 21-29.
  • The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival will bring live music, comedy, spoken work and visual arts to Belfast from May 1-11. Picture shows Aoife Walsh and Clare McCoy at the briefing.san francisco five

It is a big week ahead for aviation, led by the inaugural San Francisco flight by Aer Lingus on Wednesday, resuming a route the airline flew in 2007-9). Picture shows Joe D’Allesandro, President/CEO of San Francisco Tourism, Kandace Bender, Deputy Airport Director, SFO Airport, Tom Kiely, Exec VP San Francisco Tourism, Angela Jackson, Director, Media Relations, International and Hubertus Funke, Director, International Tourism, Europe in Dublin recently to promote the route. It is just one of 22 new routes, 17 of them from Ryanair, taking to the skies from three Irish airports. Three further routes are already up and running: Cork-Newcastle (Aer Lingus Regional) commenced on Thursday and Dublin-Hanover (Aer Lingus) and Dublin-Luxemburg (Luxair) commenced yesterday. Ryanair launch their new Dublin routes over three days:

  • Tuesday: Almeria (2 pw), Basel (2 pw), Chania (2 pw), Lisbon (7 pw). Prague (5 pw).
  • Wednesday: Bucharest Otopen (4 pw), Marrakech (2 pw)
  • Thursday: Comiso (2 pw),
  • Friday: Bari (2 pw)

and their new Shannon routes over four days:

  • Tuesday: Beauvais (1 pw). Faro (1 pw), Munich Memmingen (1 pw)
  • Wednesday: Krakow (1 pw), Warsaw Modlin (1 pw)
  • Friday: Berlin Schonefeld (1 pw), Nice (1 pw)
  • Saturday: Fuerteventura (1 pw)

Aer Lingus Regional commence Shannon-Bristol on Tuesday and Jet2 commence Belfast-Malaga on Wednesday. Ryanair’s Krakow and Warsaw routes to commence Wednesday are effectively replacing Cork flights to Krakow and Warsaw which finished on Friday last.

The new routes should improve Ryanair’s market share at both airports. Aer Lingus overtook Ryanair in 2010 when Ryanair’s market share at Dublin airport declined from 41pc to 39pc, while Aer Lingus saw its market share increase from 37pc to 39pc. Anna aero did a recent August v August snapshot of traffic at Dublin airport which indicated Aer Lingus at 42.6pc and Ryanair 37pc, whereas the summer slot information indicated a market share of 32pc for Ryanair and 44pc for Aer Lingus. Dublin airport will have 29 serving scheduled carriers this summer, as it did last year, according to Diio Mi data.

Guerlain Chicherit crashVideo of the week is a car crash, literally. Guerlain Chicherit crashed on his attempt on the longest gap leap world record in Tignes (watch here). His previous attempt last year was more successful (watch here).

Eoghan skis_8883 copySnowy weather over last weekend and into this week dramatically improved conditions at most European skiing locations, temperatures rose midweek to bring a return to spring riding conditions, especially on lower and sun exposed south facing slopes. Brighter skies in the second half of this week provided excellent visibility to take advantage of the fresh snow. Passo Tonale in Italy reported an upper base depth of 6 metres. Colorado and California reported dumps of 25cm on Wednesday.

Alex Stojanovski Eoghan Corry copyTignes was where Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry spent the week to check out the big snowfall that hit most of the Alps last weekend, and the changes brought to the resort by the addition of the new télécabine de Tovière. The sun emerged Tuesday to turn the 350km of Espace Killy into a brightly lit playground. Picture shows Alex Stojanovski who represented Macedonia at the Navano Winter Olympics and Eoghan Corry in Tignes.

Eoghan Ice Diving Mar 25 2014_5104 copyTignes more sporty and sprightly and less stuffy than its neighbour, pretentious and pricy Val d’Isère. The two resorts shares the same ski terrain although Tignes has ended up with some of the better bits (try to find a better red than the Double M run in the morning sunlight) as well as a livelier night scene . There is lots of potential for Tigne-ager kicks. Off-piste activities include some creative new ones, such as ice diving, the chance to scuba dive to the lake floor and look back at the shafts of light coming down through the ice mantle. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Eoghan Ice pool_5108 copyThere are cheaper places to ski than Tignes, but the ease of access to the slopes, and free amenities (the lift pass gives free access to an extensive aquatic and wellness centre, Lagon) and free bus service between the various social hubs mean unexpected savings. And if that’s not enough, you can dig a hole in the ice to investigate the original Tignes, drowned by a 1950s hydroelectric project. Tignes-agers are a lively bunch, with 40 bars to chose from (including the iconic Loop and Couloir) and four disco-nightclubs (including the Melting Pot). On the second night in Tignes, the ATM nearest the hotel has run out of money. It is that sort of place. Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry travelled with Crystal Holidays on their charter to Chambery, and was accommodated by Crystal at the Hotel Diva, a hotel 30m walk from the Val Claret lifts but with above-average restaurant and facilities (sauna and hammam).

Medical Tourism Seminar at the Polish Embassy Mar 27 2014-002Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, Marcin Nawrot and Boguslaw Becla, Acting Director of the Polish National Tourist Office in London, hosted a medical seminar, ‘Asthma Treatment in Subterranean Conditions’, in the Polish Embassy. Speakers included Dr Krzysztof Czarnobilski who spoke about the rehabilitation of patients with chronic respiratory diseases in the Wieliczka Salt Mine Health Resort near Krakow, Poland. Magdalena Kostrzon gave details about travel, accommodation and attractions within the resort as well as the health and medical treatments available. Wieliczka Salt Mines were placed on the original UNESCO list of the World Heritage Sites in 1978. Picture shows Boguslaw Becla, Acting Director of the Polish Tourist Office in London, Joanna Wojciechowska-Tatar, Krzysztof Czarnobilski, Polish Ambassador Marcin Nawrot and Magdalena KostrzonSee more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Josie Self_Amy Scott_Jenna Osbourne copyThe Hills Balfour team came to Dublin on behalf of their tourism and travel clients and hosted afternoon tea with the travel press in the Westin’s Atrium tearoom. Josie Self, Amy Scott and Jenna Osbourne (pictured) detailed a number of new products.

  • Radisson Blu is to open a new hotel in Nairobi, south of the city centre.
  • Kenya: Gamewatchers Safari Group is to open a new camp in Ol Kinyei Conservatory in June. The park measures 17,000 acres.
  • Mauritius: The Outrigger resort and spa is to re-open after a six-month renovation.
  • A new conference centre is to open in Qatar, which is preparing for the 2022 World Cup. Architect Jean Nouvel will unveil the National Museum of Qatar in December.
  • Tahiti will host the first International Graffiti Contest in Papeete in May and the Billabong Pro Surfing Contest in Teahupoo Tahiti in August. In July The Brando luxury resort on the island of Tetiaroa will open to guests.
  • Brisbane will launch free WiFi in April ahead of the G20 summit.
  • Five-star Hotel Mastinell, a new hotel that specialises in wine tourism, has opened in Vilafranca del Penedes. L’Ó restaurant in Barcelona was awarded a Michelin star.
  • Greece’s first diving parks will open this summer near Pylos. They will be the first underwater archaeological sites open to the public.
  • Various museums and sites in Vienna including the Austrian National Library, Leopold Museum and Wien Museum Karlsplatz will be staging exhibitions to mark the centenary of World War I.emirates 600

P Picture shows Margaret Shannon of Emirates celebrating the half millionth passenger through Dublin airport. She is in the middle with Amanda Scully, Airport Supervisor for Emirates, Shane Folan from Roscam, Galway, (Margaret Shannon), Elaine Folan from Roscam, Galway and Alex McDonald, Airport Officer.

Ingrid Aagesen Stephen DavittStephen Davitt who co-hosted travel agents at the Dubai-Emirates event last week, works for Emirates and not the airline suggested in a line of last week’s report. We are happy to correct the report (as we always are at Travel Extra). Stephen is pictured with Ingrid Aagesen of Dubai Tourism. Listen here to Stephen Davitt’s presentation on behalf of Emirates. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

  • Singapore Changi Airport was, once again, named best airport in the world at the 2014 World Airport Awards. The glittering ceremony was part of Passenger Terminal EXPO 2014 at the Fira de Barcelona in the heart of Barcelona’s new business area. Changi was followed by
: 2 Incheon International Airport, 
3 Munich Airport, 
4 Hong Kong International Airport, 
5 Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, 
6 Tokyo International Airport, Haneda, 
7 Beijing Capital International Airport, 
8 Zurich Airport, 
9 Vancouver International Airport
, 10 London Heathrow Airport.

sean brogan 001 copySean Brogan (pictured) said Stobart Air (the artist formerly known as Aer Arann), which operates Aer Lingus’s regional services, may have to expand its fleet after signing a franchise deal with Flybe similar to that with Aer Lingus. It is likely to exercise options on four more aircraft. Sean Brogan said the target of 2m passengers by 2016 is achievable. Since last May, it has taken delivery of six out of eight ATR 72-seat craft. The next ATR 72-600 (number seven) EI-FCY is due to arrive in Dublin from Toulouse on Friday next, which will allow a second -600 to move to Cork on April 14. Two aircraft will be permanently based at Southend.

  • Etihad brought their share holding in Aer Lingus to over 5pc. Etihad’s 49pc stake in Air Serbia was approved.
  • Flight Search on Google launched in Ireland.:
  • Ryanair has scheduled an extra return flight from Dublin to Dortmund for Ireland’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Germany on Tuesday October 14.
  • Aer Lingus is to seek further savings totalling €30m under a new round of cost reduction measures including job cuts and increased productivity under a programme called CORE (Cost Optimisation and Revenue Excellence), according to the company’s annual report. Aer Lingus appointed Emer Gilvarry to its Board of Directors. Christoph Mueller earned €1.521m last year, up from €1.293m in 2012, including an annual bonus of €420,000, a special 2013 bonus of €400,000 and pension contributions of €175,000. SIPTU has accused Aer Lingus of showing contempt for workers by awarding almost €1m in bonuses for its CEO.
  • The new Lufthansa lounge to be unveiled at Heathrow Terminal 2, where Lufthansa move in October, will be the largest Lufthansa lounge facility outside the airline’s home-base in Germany. Lufthansa are increasing summer capacity from Dublin by 16pc from April with the summer service to Munich going from 3w to 4w and 5w in July. Earlier this month, Lufthansa unveiled its new premium economy seating.

UnitedUnited has started installing 500 charging stations in customer seating areas across American airports. Chicago O’Hare International airport will be fitted with 110 charging stations in Concourse B and C to be completed tomorrow. Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, Washington Dulles, New York LaGuardia and New Orleans airports will be also be installed with the power points over the coming weeks.

  • Wizz Air’s flight from London’s Luton Airport to Budapest has become known as the flight that never leaves on time, it has not left on time since last summer was nominated as the world’s most unreliable flight having taken off ‘late’ 293 times in a row. Wizz Air said the departure times do not qualify as delays however, industry standards define flights departing within 15 minutes of the scheduled departure time, as on time.
  • Dubliner & IAG CEO Willie Walsh is the new chairman of Oneworld. BA’s second A380 service from Heathrow to LAX has been postponed again, originally from April 10 to May 7, and now again to May 19. Under a new joint venture, BA, Finnair and JAL will share revenue and cooperate on scheduling and pricing from Tuesday.
  • World Airways ceased trading. The carrier leased an MD11 N272WA to Aer Lingus for summer seasons between 1998-2001.
  • Virgin America reported it is in profit for the first time.
  • Dublin Airport was named world’s Best Airport Twitter Feed in the Moodies awards for airport digital communications for the second year in a row.
  • Aer Lingus Regional launched their 4w Cork to Newcastle service, the airline’s eighth regional route from Cork.
  • IATA called on governments to close legal loopholes that allow unruly passengers to escape consequences for offences committed on board aircraft.
  • The long drawn-out sale of Cityjet was reported to be imminent.
  • Qatar Airways launched a double-daily B787 direct service from Edinburgh to Doha, effectively ending speculation it would join Emirates and Etihad in Dublin.
  • Atlanta airport is to offer new international route incentives Until Apr 8.
  • British Airways in Ireland launched a World Traveller and World Traveller Plus sale.
  • SAS are offering seats from Dublin from €45pp one-way to Copenhagen, Oslo or Stockholm.
  • Aer Lingus’ third B757 EI-LBR has returned with its livery completed in Maastricht.
  • Slot information for Dublin airport summer 2014 confirms Ryanair lease in of B737-400s. Four 170 and 168 seat craft will be based in Dublin.
  • Ryanair‘s planned Russian flights continue to be delayed by visa questions for flight crew and are not going to make the proposed April 30th start-up date: proposed times Dublin 7am (arr14.25) & Vnukovo 14:55 (arr16.20).
  • City of Derry airport was used by 384,973 passengers in 2013, down 3.3pc, making it Ireland’s seventh busiest airport.
  • Customs officers at Dublin airport seized 266,880 cigarettes with a retail value of €126,768.
  • Aer Lingus said it was confident about its £100m investment in Belfast.
  • SiTA said that the 2013 figure of 6.96 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers in 2013 was the lowest ever recorded, 81pc of these were delayed bags.
  • Malaysia Airlines texted families of the 239 people on board to say assume “beyond any reasonable doubt” that craft is lost. Kim Bielenberg reported on fear of flying and its impact in the wake of the disappearance of MH370 for the Irish Independent.
  • Etihad Airways is to increase its stake in Air Berlin to 49.9pc, and the airline will be delisted from the London Stock Exchange,
  • Thirty two people were injured after a train derailed and hit a platform at O’Hare International airport in Chicago
  • Heathrow sees one emergency landing a week leading campaigners to claim plans for a third runway should be scrapped, according to campaigners. Gatwick bosses say air traffic to and from south London would be transformed if the airport is allowed to expand to two runways. Emirates airline president Tim Clark (and part time Lismore resident) said Dubai’s growth as a global airport hub is taking business away from London helped by inaction over airport capacity.
  • Australian authorities report “unprecedented” increases in turbulence. The London Telegraph asked if turbulence is becoming more common?
  • Luxair resumed their 4w Dublin to Luxemburg service from yesterday, using DHC8-Q400s.
  • EasyJet’s winter was better than expected as the airline reported a pre-tax loss of £55m less than the £70m originally forecast.

Afloat.

uniworld namingThe new Uniworld river ship SS Catherine was named by French actress Catherine Deneuve in Lyon. It has been a big fortnight for river cruise. On St Patrick’s Day Viking River Cruises surpassed its own Guinness World Record for “The Most Ships Inaugurated in One Day by One Company” with the simultaneous naming of 16 new Viking Longships over 24 hours in Avignon. See video report here.

cruise trailfinders copyPicture shows Roie Mamane of Trailfinders, Trayphavana Cross of Celebrity Cruise and David Hayeems of Trailfinders, as Trailfinders were recently presented with an award for best independent Agent for Celebrity and Azamara 2013

  • Richard Branson said he is to launch Virgin Cruises.
  • Disney cruise itineraries for 2015 include Norwegian fjords, Iceland and Baltic Sea. Disney Cruise Line is to change its internet charges from time based to the amount of internet data used.
  • Cruise industry group CLIA says Irish and British market grew by only 1.5pc last year.
  • Thomson Celebration will be based in Dubrovnik from May 2015 with four new ‘adult-only’ itineraries.
  • Carnival Cruise line said bookings are up, but prices are down as it reported a first-quarter loss.
  • Quark Expeditions announced that the ship 50 Years of Victory will retire as an expedition vessel after the 2015 Arctic season following three final voyages to the North Pole in June 2015.
  • Grand Circle Cruise Line will launch a new European river cruise tour next year, after buying a new ship, River Cloud II from Sea Cloud.

Hotels.

  • Globe Hotels now have directly contracted rates with PortAventura.
  • TravelCube’s Irish sales team say room nights booked through www.TravelCube.ie increase by 22pc last year.
  • Grand Canal Hotel in Dublin celebrated its tenth anniversary.

DUBLIN2 copyMinister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan will launch the Gibson hotel’s latest “artist in residence” programme on Tuesday. Picture shows Dublin senior football manager Jim Gavin and new general manager of The Gibson Hotel Nicky Logue at the launch of the renewal of their hotel (sleeping) partnership which will see the 2013 All Ireland Football Champions continue to use the hotel.

Eoin Likely-0030 copyEoin Likely (pictured) has been appointed Chief Financial Officer for O’Callaghan Hotel Group.

  • The New Yorker Hotel is to get an additional 172 rooms as part of a rebranding to a Wyndham property.
  • Holiday Inn Express is to introduce a prototype redesign following feedback about changing guest needs.
  • Meli Hotels International is to open a new INSIDE property in Manhattan financial district in 2016.
  • Millennium plans to open 20 hotels in Saudi Arabia.
  • Ritz-Carlton are to open a hotel in Perth in 2018. The city is notoriously short of hotel beds.
  • Element brand unveiled plans for a third Hotel in Florida.

Travel Trade

  • Travel Centres confirmed that their 2014 conference will take place in Killashee House, Naas, on Nov 14-15.

att9b061Sunway have set up a voluntary donation section on their website for Daffodil Day and and View Data. On the payment section of every booking page the option was made available to donate €3 for Daffodil Day. Sunway staffed posed for a SunwaySelfie to raise awareness for the Irish Cancer Society.

Sinead Cregan Hayes 150

Sinead Cregan-Hayes (pictured) has joined Travel Counsellors Head Office. Sinead most recently worked as Regional Sales manager for Falcon Holidays.

  • Will Walsh of The Travel Broker and Niki Stanford of Thomas Cook are moving to ClickandGo.com to look after the company’s long-haul and cruise business.
  • Brendan Mallon, previously with the Online Hotels Group, who has joined World Travel Centre: Roomteam by Thriftway as Sales Development Executive.
  • American Holidays hosted 60 consumers at a Florida information evening at the tour operators’ Duke Street premises.
  • GBT III BV in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, trading as American Express Global Business Travel, has been awarded a travel agency licence by CAR.
  • Amadeus launched lcloud-based platform for airlines and ground handlers Amadeus Airport Common Use Service.
  • AirAsia and Travelport signed a breakthrough distribution agreement
  • PhocusWright reported that less than a quarter of travel activity gross bookings in Europe happen online, 23pc of a €37bn Market.

Oasis travel 16 copyPicture shows Julie-Anne Vaughan (left) and Wendy Harper celebrating 25 years with Oasis Travel in Lisburn.

  • TUI predicted profits will be up 7-10pc as winter 2013/14 programme is almost fully sold and summer trading is “in line with expectations’. TUI Travel’s CEO called for schools to stagger their term time dates.

Ireland

cormac coyne cliffs of moherCliffs of Moher Visitor Experience is to get a €550,000 upgrade for Centre’s exhibition and car park to provide additional coach parking. This is Cormac Coyne’s photograph this week of the Cliffs of Moher pictured from Inis Oirr.

PUTTING IRELAND ON THE ‘MAP’ IN PARISPicture shows Caitriona Butler of Irish Ferries; Vanessa Drew of Ballyroney Cottage B&B Banbridge, and Roisín Liston of Tourism Ireland on the Tourism Ireland stand at le Monde à Paris holiday fair in Paris.

  • Master It by Rory O’Connell published by Fourth Estate won the food category of the André Simon Awards for food and drink books. Rory O’Connell founded Ballymaloe Cookery School with his sister Darina Allen in 1985.
  • Astronaut Chris Hadfield promoted Ireland in a series of online clips, claiming ‘space is a doddle compared to hurling‘:
  • The inbound tour operators body ITOA reported that business was up 11pc in 2013.
  • The CSO reported overseas visitors to Ireland are up 11pc December 2013 to February 2014.
  • Keith McDonnell’s Extreme Event Ireland said a new €1.9m whiskey museum located at 119 Grafton Street and 37 College Green opposite the front gates of Trinity College hopes to attract 100,000 visitors in first year.

International Tourism.

  • Disneyland Paris free half board meals offer ends tomorrow Monday March 31st.
  • The French incoming tourist event, Rendez Vous France takes place in Clermont-Ferrand on Tuesday and Wednesday. The event returns to Paris in 2015.
  • Tourism New Zealand aims to earn $41bn in 2025 under its new development plan.
  • Croatia’s Tourist Board comes to Dublin in buoyant mood for a briefing on Wednesday. Visitor numbers from Ireland were 40,008 last year, up 31pc, if still short of its 45,920 peak in the early noughties. Minister for Tourism Darko Lorenicin accompanied the delegation last year and talks that day with Aer Lingus resulted the new route to Pula which commences April 19.
  • Turkey recorded 112,665 Irish visitors in 2013, up 1.63pc on 110,863 in 2012, making it Ireland’s 11th most important outbound market.
  • New York’s Memorial Museum devoted to the WTC attack on Sept 11 2001 has a confirmed opening date for May 21.
  • Switzerland reported 68,827 visitors from Ireland in 2013, up 8pc from 63,722 in 2012. Ireland have an 0.2pc share of all markets, nearly 4pc if the 44pc home market is excluded. Switzerland is Ireland’s 17th most important outbound market.
  • Dubai recorded 45,037 Irish visitors in 2013, up 9.21pc from 41,237 in 2012.
  • The CSO reported the number of trips made by Irish residents overseas decreased by 2.3pc, although expenditure increased by 2pc, and the average duration of overseas trips made by Irish residents fell from 6.9 nights in Quarter 4 2012 to 6.7 nights.
  • The Royal and Ancient Golf Club St Andrews is to vote in September on a motion to admit women as members.
  • China‘s weirdest tourist attractions were listed by the London Telegraph.
  • Authorities in Burma placed a ban on the construction of more hotels in Bagan, home to a vast plain of hundreds of temples and shrines.
  • Plans to restore the Camino del Rey means thrill-seekers have until May to tackle what is claimed to be the world’s scariest walk.
  • With La Beccherie, the restaurant in Rome that claims to have invented tiramisu closing, 12 establishments were listed by the London Telegraph that you can still visit where famous dishes were invented, such as the Waldorf-Astoria, New York, (birthplace of The Waldorf Salad, and Eggs Benedict), The Raffles Hotel, Singapore, (birthplace of The Singapore Sling),  Sharrow Bay, Lake District, (birthplace of sticky toffee pudding), Hotel Caesar’s, Tijuana, (birthplace of Caesar Salad), Caribe Hilton, San Juan, (birthplace of Pina Colada), and Hotel Tatin, France, (birthplace of Tarte Tatin). It is claimed that the Pavlova, a meringue-based dessert named after the ballet dancer Anna Pavlova, was invented at the now-demolished Esplanade Hotel in Perth.
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