Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: The log book which shows why Aer Lingus think Dublin-SFO will work this time round

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Headlines this week

he arrival matched the sendoff, which was saying something. The Aer Lingus inaugural flight EI17 from Dublin to San Francisco pulled in to Gate 93 at SFO fifteen minutes early on Wednesday evening at the end of its ten and a half hour flight, taxiing past a fire truck salute and groups of passengers who waved furiously from the viewing decks. It was an altogether bigger occasion than its predecessor six and a half years ago (see gallery of pics from October 28 2007 here) and there was a strong sense that things would be different this time round – Aer Lingus pulled the route after two years in 2009.

aer lingus over san francisco 001 copyTo see how much the airline’s strategy has changed one need only look at the log-book. Of the 200 passengers on board, just 95 were from Ireland. The rest were from Amsterdam, Birmingham, Manchester, Paris and all over Europe, showing how the new Aer Lingus has turned Dublin into a hub. Christoph Mueller described the change when he spoke in San Francisco after Aer Lingus inaugural flight from Dublin (listen here). Prior to departure, Kevin Toland of the DAA said 600,000 people hubbed through Dublin last year, up 35pc (listen here).

Minister Richard Bruton invoked flower power as he sent the aircraft and its distinguished passengers from the world of travel and hi-tech industry on its way (listen here), while San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee welcomed the party at a reception in the SFO museum, he declared the day would be Aer Lingus day (listen here). Joe D’Allesandro of San Francisco tourism mentioned the strong connections between the countries (listen here)  John Martin of San Francisco airport outlined the importance of the route to SFO, which has three new international services this year (Taipei inaugural took place last Saturday (listen here). Irish honorary counsel Philip Grant paid tribute to Christophe Mueller on behalf of those who had waited for the return of the route for five years (listen here). Christoph Mueller talked of his surprise at the welcome to San Francisco (listen here). See here the gallery of pictures from Aer Lingus reception in San Francisco or connect with the album on Facebook. Prior to departure Christoph Mueller, speaking in Dublin, made two other significant announcements for Aer Lingus, gate to gate electronic device use and the new lie flat seat (listen here).

On Friday Aer Lingus hosted Barry O’Leary of the IDA  and others in the Four Seasons hotel in Palo Alto to celebrate the airlines’ links for the tech sector. Barry O’Leary of the IDA said 40pc of the foreign direct investment to Ireland from the US comes from the Silicon Valley area, the route boosts the offering Ireland can present to the vibrant Silicon Valley community, making Ireland even more visible to companies looking to internationalise.”

crew_5366 copyPicture shows the Aer Lingus Crew on the inaugural Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to San Francisco, Capt John Naughton, Donna Docherty, Glen Scheinar, Laura McCabe, Grace Mulcahy, Muriel Cooke, Kayleigh Dempsey, Gary Prendergast, Patricia O’Donohue, John Thompson and Dermot Johnston. Not in picture: Francis Glancy and Michelle Conlon. See more pics here of the Aer Lingus inaugural and receptions in Dublin and SFO or connect with the album on Facebook. See video of the departure event here.martin skelly seat copy

Micheál Gannon of Aer Lingus and Gary Montgomery of Thompson seats in Portadown were on hand to show off Aer Lingus new lie flat business class seat on Wednesday morning. The seats will be in a 2-2-1 configuration, with the single “throne” seats the most coveted. The first to be fitted with the new seats will be the 330-200 where the number of seats in Premier will be reduced slightly from 24 to 23. Christoph Mueller said the seats were long enough to accommodate the Charge d’Affaires at the American embassy in Dublin, the Maine colossus, Stuart Dwyer, all 6’7 of him, ITAA President Martin Skelly was on hand to try out the new seat. Listen hereto Micheál Gannon’s description of the new seat.aer lingus hanover

Last Sunday represented the start of the northern hemisphere’s summer season when airline schedules are significantly adjusted to cope with the seasonal changes in demand, and when European airlines typically launch the bulk of their new routes for the year. Anna aero said the number of new airline services being launched in the first three weeks of the summer season is almost identical to last year, at around 460. These new services will be operated by almost 120 airlines operating to airports spread across 90 countries, led by Ryanair (again) with 65, Germanwings 43, Easyjet 34, Air One 19, Vueling 14, American Airlines 11, and jetairfly, Norwegian and SAS 10 each. Germany had the most new routes with 94, Italy 89, Britain 77, France 62, Spain 55, USA 49, Greece 36, Japan 28, Ireland 28, China 27, Mexico 22, and Poland and Portugal 17 each. Most of the Irish routes were launched in an eight day period from Thursday (Cork to Newcastle, Aer Lingus regional) to Friday and route launches continue next week with Toronto (Aer Lingus), and Pula (Aer Lingus, April 19) Picture shows the firehose greeting for the new Aer Lingus service to Hanover last weekend . Listen here to Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry commenting on the new routes on RTÉ’s News at One.group photo 005 copy

Skibeat, the chalet specialist that belongs to the Topflight suite of companies, hosted a press group in La Plagne. Pictures shows Rebecca Lee of Q102/Sunday Mail, Eoghan Corry of Travel Extra, Tony McCullagh of Northside/Southside People, Aileen Eglington of AE Consulting, Derek Keogh of the Sunday World and Kevin Flanagan of the Sunday Independent. Silvia Moser Eoghan Corry_9035 copyTravel Extra’s Eoghan Corry is pictured with Italian world cup ski racer Silvia Moser, with Mont Blanc peeping over their shoulders on a sunny day in the 450km Paradiski region.

It was a hot and sunny week in the Alps, with high temperatures but excellent spring snow on offer in France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. Some light fresh snow is expected at higher altitudes over the weekend to freshen things up a bit. Fresh snow fell in the Pyrenees on Thursday, giving an overdue and welcome top up to the pistes. Strong winds kept some of the links closed. Resorts in Colorado receiving more than 50cm of fresh snow and Californian resorts received a metre in a few places. Canada saw excellent snow bases topped up by recent snowfall, with more expected over the weekend and into next week.

Consumer research group Exponential Interactive released analysis of how skiers and boarders differ, claiming the results “dispel the stereotypical notion that boarders as a whole are skiers’ more ‘alternative’, grungier, younger, poorer, less responsible, laidback cousins”. It was reported that skiers drop €40m worth of valuables off ski lifts.Croatia event apr 2 2014 copy

Croatia Tourism came to Dublin to brief Irish travel media in advance of the launch of the Aer LIngus Dublin to Pula route on April 19. Picture shows Svemir Radmilo, CEO of Pula Airport, Tonko Rilovic, Ireland and Britain Director of Croatia National Tourist Office, Jasna Ognjanovac, Croatian Ambassador to Ireland, Valter Flego, President of the Istrian Region, and Denis Ivosevic, Director of the Istria Tourist Board.

Travel Extra joined a press trip to Lisbon. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

The 6,000 delegates from 70 countries, including more than 14 travel buyers and six travel writers from Ireland, descended on the Chicago Convention Centre in McCormick Place (named for the Antrim publishing family) for IPW 2014, the artist formerly known as Pow Wow. The major events take place in the John Hancock Centre, Cinespace Chicago Film Studios and the Museum of Science and Industry.

mana-dolphin_2868402bApril 1st brought its annual share of pranks and jokes throughout the travel community. The best was from Clare FM, which claimed Shannon airport as to be renamed in honour of Davy Fitzgerald. St Petersburg/Clearwater coastal region of Florida have claimed the “long-extinct manaphin” has been found on its shores – a hybrid mammal that apparently sports the nose of a manatee (sea cow) and the body of a dolphin. Northern Lights in Holland copyCMV said cruise passengers had seen the Northern Lights during the day on a daytime visit to Amsterdam. Thorpe Park declared it was the world’s first theme park to allow dogs onto rollercoaster, presumably doing away with its height restrictions in the process. Wightlink Ferries revealed a new submarine, named SubLink, it said will “provide an exciting yet efficient means for foot passengers to explore the waters between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.” Club 18-30 announced a new Beer Goggles augmented-reality app which allowed users to save the images to their phone “in order to assist with the ‘memory recovery process’ the following day.” LastMinute.com has opened bookings for a new Top Secret, art deco-style hotel in the MI5 Headquarters, which has “direct Thames access” and “is so hush-hush, guests wishing to stay in its rooms are required to sign the Official Secrets Act prior to check-in.” Hotel website Mr & Mrs Smith, in cahoots with “private-jet firm Heaven & Back”, was proud to announce a package that offers couples “a discreet and romantic atmosphere in which to celebrate their relationship mid-flight.” A Virgin press release about futuristic new hotels. Gerry Benson’s Travelbiz announced a new tour operator in the Irish market, causing at least one existing tour op to nearly choke on his shredded wheaties. The London Telegraph rounded up the best and worst April Fools’ Day travel stories. The most incredible story of all, Michael O’Leary’s jibe about having sex with the Queen of England, turned out to be true.

group_5650Picture shows Irish travel media and their host on an urban hike through San Francisco, Katie Byrne of the Irish Independent, Martin Breen of the Sunday Life, Yvonne Gordon of the Irish Mail on Sunday, JJ Worrall of the Irish Times, Eoghan Corry of Travel Extra, Fionn Davenport of the Irish Times, Katie Petrucci of San Francisco travel and Gillian Culhane of Aer Lingus. Alexandra Kenin led the walk through the landmarks of the city, the hidden paths and stairways. The group were accommodated at the Intercontinental San Francisco in Howard St. Meals were at the famous Scoma’s Restaurant where they were hosted by Maryann Costello, Chair of San Francisco Travel, Ferry Building Marketplace and the splendidly lit Garden Court at the Palace Hotel, a splendid art deco landmark that was once the world’s largest hotel.

Travel Extra joined a press trip to Lisbon. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Aviation

  • Video of the Week is The Dream: 3D Printing an Airplane (watch here).
  • Ryanair launched its new website which allows check in from up to 30 days in advance and up to 2 hrs before flight. Ryanair said during the show around of the airline’s new headquarters that it will create 200 IT jobs to develop an improved digital platform including a new mobile app.
  • The Cityjet/Intro Aviation deal was finally signed. The European Regional Airline Conference was told that the first thing on Intro’s agenda is fleet renewal. Intro will take control of CityJet and VLM in four weeks time. Intro Aviation said: “we are talking to all manufacturers” on Cityjet fleet replacement.
  • Windavia cancelled their proposed Dublin to Funchal summer programme. The charter was to be shared by Concorde Travel, Sunway, Topflight, and Travel Department.
  • Aer Arann/Stobart’s seventh ATR72-600, EI-FCY arrived in Dublin from Toulouse on Friday, a second -600 will move to Cork on April 14.
  • Quickpark introduced a new barcode booking system to its Dublin airport car park. Existing customers need to re-register they first time they use the new system.
  • Aer Lingus got clearance for passengers to leave electronic devices on from gate to gate last Tuesday night and new rules were effective from Wednesday.

Ryanair HQRyanair‘s new headquarters in Swords comes complete with a slide and ‘welcome to the madhouse’ slogan.

  • Delta brought in new economy sleep kits including individual eye shades and earplugs.
  • Willie Walsh said at Aviation14: The idea that we need to regulate customer service is ridiculous consumers recognize valueeraa conference_3375 copy

The annual ERA Regional Airline Conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Lisbon, opened with an airline and airport CEOs’ breakfast. Simon McNamara, director general of ERA reported that the financial community has reacted very positively to the rationale for investing in or lending against regional jets and turboprops. Picture shows Chris Surgenor, publisher, Christine Ourmières, CEO of Swords-based CityJet, Alan Epstein of Pratt & Whitney, and Foeke Noppert, EU policy analyst of DeHavilland EU. Christine Ourmieres says Cityjet will install smart tablets for flight decks. Been busy finding new shareholders. Next project will be buying a new fleet.

  • Leo Varadkar said: Aer Lingus and the DAA will not be allowed to take a financial hit over the pensions dispute (listen here).
  • Forbes pondered why UAE and Qatar have the ‘World’s Best‘ airlines
  • Emirates is to open a lounge in Glasgow in June. Is Dublin next?
  • Dublin based cabin crew are being trained for Ryanair’s 737-400s which the airline will lease for the summer.
  • TAM and US Airways joined Oneworld.
  • Lufthansa cancelled 3,800 flights due to a three day pilots’ strike, including Irish flights, disrupting the travel plans of 425,000 passengers.

Ryanair varadkar Apr 14 copyIreland’s €3 air travel tax ended on Tuesday. Picture shows Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs and cabin crew Daniela Sopkova and Federico Galli celebrating the start of Ryanair’s Dublin summer season with Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar, in commemoration of the event.

  • Air France launched a Brasilia route joining the French carrier’s services to Rio De Janeiro and Sao Paolo.
  • Lufthansa A380s now have fully-flat business seats.
  • Manchester and Zurich are expected to be added to the Cathay Pacific network from winter 2014/15
  • BA brought in a Gold Executive Club cancellation fee. BA introduced a breakfast card as one of several sleep-saving measures the airline for Club World passengers on overnight flights from New York to London.
  • United launched a service from San Francisco to Taipei and is also launching a second daily flight between Houston and Tokyo.
  • Experts revealed the secrets of aviation, how long would you have if all four engines failed, how often are planes struck by lightning and other trade secrets.
  • Ryanair passenger numbers were down 4pc in March and Aer Lingus down 5.6pc, both blamed on timing of Easter. Aer Lingus long haul was down 9.6pc for the month.
  • Aer Lingus new in-flight shopping brochure launched, the price of 200 cigarettes available for purchase on flights to and from non-EU destinations rose from €34 to €35.
  • The London Telegraph highlighted 10 obscure destinations served by Ryanair as they launched their first services into Osijek, Croatia: gateway to Slavonia.
  • The Aer Lingus Charitable Foundation Dragon “Iolaropened its 2014 season with a flight to Weston on Thursday and it was over the city on Friday.
  • Siim Kallas’s office in the European Commission is examining
  • Etihad‘s stake in Germany’s Air Berlin and other foreign holdings in European airlines, to see if they comply with rules for operating an airline within Europe, including Delta Air Lines’ stake in Britain’s Virgin , Korean Air’s stake in CSA Czech Airlines and Chinese investment vehicle HNCA’s 35 percent stake in freight carrier Cargolux.
  • Norwegian Longhaul craft Boeing 787-8 designated EI-LND has been affixed with the portrait of Grete Waitz (photo here), nine time New York Women’s Marathon winner and silver medalist at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and a gold medal at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki.
  • Christoph Mueller was asked about the aborted Halifax route in an interview to George Hook in San Francisco (listen here).
  • Michael Greally will leave Aer Lingus on 30 September 2014 to pursue new opportunities outside Aer Lingus. The company has commenced a search for Michael’s successor as Chief Human Resource and Change Officer.
  • A US pilot was arrested at Canadian airport with loaded handgun.
  • Delta is joins Virgin at Heathrow T3 as the partners plan to launch new Detroit service.
  • Flybeannounced a rebrand or what it calls a refresh, with new purple uniforms, and a new slogan: The Fastest Way from A to Flybe.
  • A fly.comsurvey shows 89pc of fliers felt it was wrong to charge checked baggage fees, but people are willing to pay for leg room and dedicated hand luggage space: 45pc of respondents would pay for extra legroom, 26 would pay to have an empty middle seat next to them, 34pc would pay to prevent the seat in front of them from reclining, 36pc said they would purchase a fast pass to speed through security, and 35pc would be willing to pay for their bags to arrive first at baggage claim.
  • TAM and US Airways both joined the oneworld alliance.
  • Ryanair announced new bases in Athens and Lisbon. Kenny Jacobs tweeted: 5m Portuguese passengers will save 830m this year. That’s ten Cristiano Ronaldos.
  • Aer Lingus launched a summer sale with 20pc off fares to 100 destinations across Britain and Continental Europe.
  • The surprise resignation of Heathrow CEO Colin Matthews left the airport searching for new chief executive to make its case for a third runway.
  • Jet2.com celebrated its 10th Anniversary of operating out of Ireland.
  • EasyJet entered into a 10-year deal with Luton, the airport where it was founded.
  • London Mayor Boris Johnson published a report showing how Heathrow could be closed down and re-developed to create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
  • Chicago unveiled the new International Terminal 5 at O’Hare International Airport, a $26 million project featuring 24 new retail and dining destinations including 11 local Chicago brands.
  • Sri Lankan have extended their Dublin-Colombo sale fareof€30+€253 taxes Valid for travel April 18 to June 15.

Afloat

fred olsen cruiseescapes copyCruise line Fred Olsen has appointed Alan Lynch’s Cruisescapes as its ‘Preferred Partner’ for trade and direct business. Picture shows Kate Wooldridge, International Sales Manager of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines with Alan Lynch Managing Director and Celine Kenny General Manager of Cruisescapes.

Explorer of the Seas will substitute for Adventure of the Seas to homeport at Southampton, England from late-April through Sept. 2015.

Stena Line stena horizon copyCeltic Link Ferries Rosslare to Cherbourg will be operated by Stena Line since last Tuesday. Picture shows Ian Davies, Stena Line’s Route Manager Irish Sea South and John Lynch, General Manager Rosslare Europort as the leading ferry company commences its direct ferry route from Ireland to France.  The route will operate on an all year round service with three weekly sailings from Rosslare and Cherbourg accommodating up to 1 000 passengers, 200 cars and 120 freight units per sailing.

  • The Cruise360 conference in Miami provided a forum for opinions on how to sell more cruises: agents should mine existing database to identify new cruisers and upscale cruise clients.
  • Royal Caribbean‘s Splendour of the Seas will be based in Dubai for 16roundtrip sailings from December 2015 through March 2016, with calls to Oman’s capital of Muscat and Khasab and Abu Dhabi.
  • Hurtigruten launched its main 2015/2016 brochure and reduced voyage-only and inclusive packages. Explorer and Coastal voyages also appear in one main brochure for the first time in several years.
  • Celebrity Cruises offered guests $500 onboard spend as part of its ‘Celebrity Future Cruise Holidays’ programme, along with the added benefits of 123go! promotion for those choosing to book their next cruise whilst onboard.
  • P&O Ferries Express resumed between Larne and Troon.

Travel Tradetravel counsellors_9507 copy

 

  • Picture shows Winners of the Emirates sponsored Travel Counsellors competition pictured in L’Ecrivain, Andre Bedford, Sinead Daly, Sue Cahill, Bernie Whelan of Travel Counsellors head office, Geraldine Martin, Rosemary Chawke, Stephen Davitt of Emirates, Cathy Burke Ireland general manager of Travel Counsellors, Fidelma Brady and Ian Walsh.
  • Keith Chuter is the new acting sales manager for British Airways in Dublin. Keith replaces Simon Daly who according to the press release, has decided to leave.
  • Topflight have two Gondola cars from the French Alps in their new office which they revealed to invited guests last week.
  • The Irish Travel Agents Association announced a new deal with Irish Independent, worth €150,000 over 20 weeks. TravelPort and the ITAA launched a campaign to increase consumer awareness about the benefits of booking with a travel agent and reward Irish travel agents who are using technology to drive innovation within their businesses.
  • Distribution of the Summer 2014 Just Sunshine brochure has begun.
  • Attraction Tickets Direct are looking for a Country Manager, Ireland to manage the Dublin office with two direct report and improve sales to both direct and trade customers. Closing date is April 20th. Salary €35-37,000 per annum plus company bonus. Curriculum vitae, accompanied by a covering letter, to David Gawn – Sales and Operations Director.
  • The Irish Travel Agents Association has allocated a number of positions on their upcoming Travel Professionals Essential Skills Programme for jobseekers. The programme will begin on April 21, with twenty days of training and twenty days of work experience within a member company.
  • New Skal President Margaret Cronin & Vice President Darragh O’Neill will attend Tuesday’s Skal Dublin club function at the Westin Hotel, Westmoreland Street, 12.30 for 1pm, €30 for members and guests.emirates at back street boys

Picture shows Emirates team and guests dining in the Gibson hotel before a trip to the Back Street Boys at the O2: Emirates team and guests dining in the Gibson hotel before a trip to the Back Street Boys at the O2: Fiona O’Reilly of Abbey Travel, Roisín Carbery of Topflight, Caitríona Power of Club Travel, Olivia Byrne of Travelmood, Jane Masterson of Emirates and on right hand side of the table Kate Siddall of Abbey Travel, Stephen Davitt of Emirates, Yvonne Tully of Club Travel, Peter McKiernan of Travel Counsellors and Jane Murray of WTC.

  • John Galligan Travel have set a date for the 25th anniversary\ reunion party. Anyone who has worked in JGT at any time since February 1989 is asked to e-mail or call John on +3531 2076555 to join the trip down memory lane.
  • Rendez Vous de France was held in Clermot Ferrand. Next year’s Rendez Vous will be in Paris at a date yet to be decided.
  • Cork will host 80 international delegates from as far afield as Ecuador, Ghana and Japan on Monday at the General Assembly of Federation EIL, an international non-profit association whose members run youth educational and lifelong learning travel programmes throughout the world.
  • Visit Scotland Expo in Glasgow hosted 700 buyers who met with 250 Scottish tourism businesses.

Hotels

  • Savills said 13 hotels worth €85m were sold in the first three months of the year, an increase of 150pc on the same period in 2013, when just six hotels, valued at €34m, were sold. Significant hotel sales in the first quarter of this year included the Hilton Hotel Dublin for about € 30m, and the former Clarion Dublin Hotel Airport Hotel and Doonbeg Golf Resort for €15m each. Dublin properties for sale include the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links (€ 20m) and the Pearse Hotel (€9m), with the Westin Hotel due to come to the market shortly.
  • The Marker Hotel on Grand Canal Dock celebrates its first birthday.
  • Dublin’s Gibson hotel launched their new Artist in Residence 2014, urban artist Fin Dac,

International

  • The world’s highest Ferris wheel opened in Las Vegas, offering tourists views of the city from 550 feet. The London Telegraph listed at some previous record holders and the world’s tallest structures.
  • A plenary sitting of parliament in Brussels voted to ban mobile phone surcharges, which hit users as they cross national borders in the European Union. The change could take effect by December 2015.
  • The price of a tourist visa to Jordan was doubled with 24 hours’ notice, in a move that will affect small groups, tailor-made and independent travellers
  • Universal Orlando’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort opened to guests.
  • GTI announced three new destinations for 2014, Slovenia, Canada and Majorca.
  • Tour operators said they have seen a rise in bookings to Iran, despite European countries advising against travel to the country.
  • From mobsters to hippies, the London Telegraph listed other unusual American tour options
  • Fears were expressed that the end of the road is nigh for paper maps as the London Ordnance Survey became one of the first national mapping agencies to discontinue their printing.
  • There were proposals to ban love locks in Paris where the bridges are groaning under the weight of an estimated 700,000 padlocks scrawled with lovers’ names (Dublin’s Millennium Bridge has its own share already).
  • Frank Cullotta, a former hitman, started working as a tour guide in Las Vegas.
  • Airbnb, the San Franciscan home-sharing startup lost a case in its home city and will begin collecting hotel taxes, ending a two-year long fight against the practice.
  • HomeExchange CEO Ed Kushins said house swaps will grow by 17pc in 2014.

 

Ireland

  • The European Commission proposed to make it quicker and easier for tourists to apply for Schengen visas, which allow entry to 26 countries excluding Ireland and Britain. Application processes will improve, reducing the maximum amount of time to process a visa from 15 days to 10 and simplifying the application form, repeat travel will be facilitated, and a new visa allowing stays longer than 90 days will be introduced. Ireland and Britain are in the process of phasing in a common visa for both islands and are considering a pilot programme that allows selected Chinese travel agents to apply for Ireland and Britain visas using the Schengen form.
  • It was announced Royal County Down Golf Club will host next year’s tournament May 28-31 2015 and Lough Erne resort in 2017, Cork’s Fota Island is front-runner to stage the event in 2016.

LONDON LAUNCH OF LIMERICK CITY OF CULTUREPictures shows Mike Fitzpatrick, interim head of Limerick City of Culture; Coman Kenny, Tourism Ireland; and Sheila Deegan, Limerick Arts Officer, at the launch of Limerick City of Culture 2014 at the Embassy of Ireland in London.

The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation look ‘behind the data” noted a shift in the purpose of visit of tourists to Ireland, holiday/leisure visits have declined as a share of total visitors from just over 51pc in 2008 to 47pc last year, as Ireland has become relatively more dependent on VFR and business visitors during the economic downturn. Last year VFR visits increased by 12pc to just under 2m (1,967,000), representing 31pc of the total.Meitheal Westport copy

Tour operators started arriving from around the world for Fáilte Ireland’s annual inbound tourism event, Meitheal, which takes place this week with sessions in Enniskillen and Dublin. Biddy Hughes Sales and Marketing Westport House, Brian Quinn of Failte Ireland, Kay Cleary, Martin Lettice of EireBus, Paul Harmon of Electric Escapes Bike suppliers, and Jonathan Powell of Bike electric Connemara are pictured with Travel Buyers from Italy, France, Denmark Belgium and Germany, at Westport House Co Mayo before their cycle on the Greenway. meitheal Charles Fort copyThis group are experiencing a soft day thank God in Charles Fort, Kinsale.

When microstates such as the Vatican and Andorra are excluded, Ireland comes third in the list of European countries where tourists outnumber residents: 1 Austria 8,462,446 residents, 24,151,000 tourists 285.39pc, 2 Iceland 320,137 residents, 673,000 tourists, 210.22pc, 3 Ireland 4,588,798 residents, 7,550,000 tourists, 164.33pc (France 126.37pc, Spain 124.85pc, Norway 101.72pc, Sweden 116.8pc).

  • Donal Fallon gave the inaugural Green Mile walking tour of Stephens Green.

‘CONNECTING’ CANADA AND IRELANDPicture shows Claire Myler, River Lee Hotel, Cork; Francis Brennan, Park Hotel, Kenmare; Carol Hinch, Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Connemara; Tony Keane, IrishTourism.com; Jim Deegan, Railtours Ireland First Class; Jayne Shackleford, Tourism Ireland; Dermot O’Neill, Abbey Tours; Siobhán Byrne Learat, Adams & Butler; Jason Powell, Causeway Coast and Glens; and Tanya Warren, Tourism Ireland, in Toronto during Tourism Ireland’s Connect Canada sales blitz.

  • The Game of Thrones Exhibition will be returning to Titanic Centre Belfast from June 11- 15.
  • The twin towns of Killaloe and Ballina are planning battle re-enactments, Viking boat tours on the River Shannon, theatre, walking tours and music for the the Brian Ború Millennium Weekend from April 11-13th.
  • Mayo leads the reader nominations for Irish Times Best Place to Go Wild in Ireland.
  • Killarney Convention Centre invested €300,000 in upgrading its Wi-Fi network.
  • Irish HGVs faced a charge of £10 (€12.10) a day when entering Northern Ireland and Britain from last week.

washington-dc-dorothy-henggelerSad news: The death occurred after a short illness of Dorothy Henggeler (27) from the New York office of Tourism Ireland came as a shock to everyone in the travel and tourism community. Dorothy was the Washington DC Rose in the 2011 Rose of Tralee competition. Travel Extra extends our sympathy to Dorothy’s family.

Email editor@travelextra.ie to have your say or it is @TravelExtraIre on Twitter if that’s your bag

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