Headlines this week:
- Etihad’s new suite in the sky
- Australian Tourism goes to Cairns for first time
- Busiest & most widespread week of year for travel events
- Visit Florida come to Dublin
It was jetlag week for travel media, including the hard working team at Travel Extra. Seven major travel trade events rumbled into action on different continents this week: Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, Australian Tourism Exchange in Cairns, Fitcuba in Havana, Germany Travel Market in Bremen, Indaba in Durban, and Tianguis Turistico in Mexico. Not to be outdone Travel Counsellors held their gold conference in Orlando.
Australian Tourism Exchange came to northern Queensland to balmy Cairns for the first time in its history and sprouted a little sister International Media Marketplace organised by Nick Wayland’s Sydney based Travmedia which made a hugely successful debut in its own right. It gathered together 79 of the world’s leading travel media from 20 countries including, of course, Travel Extra (pictured below on Palm Cove beach) to meet state and national tourism organisations and 65 tourism products, Picture shows Bruce Wallace of Queensland Tourism speaking at the event. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook. Sellers at ATE focus on selling to buyers, this new event gave them an opportunity to deal directly with media, Nick says. Craig Squire chef and owner of Ochre restaurant spoke at Saturday’s media lunch about Tourism Australia’s new Restaurant Australia initiative, launched on Tuesday with an inspiring video (watch here).
Bringing ATE to Cairns was a brave move and the logistical difficulties have melted away amid the huge welcome accorded by the local people, as acknowledged by new Tourism Australia CEO John O’Sullivan (pictured speaking at the welcome reception). ATE heads to Melbourne next year but a devastating cut in the Australian federal tourism budget is forecast for Tuesday. Previous ATEs have rotated between Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Arabian Travel Market seems to have the desert wind at its back as it grows, with 40 first time exhibitors. Millennium & Copthorne Hotels announced plans to expand within the region with three new brands, Studio M, M Hotel and Millennium Executive Apartments.The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference overlapped with ATM on one of the days, also had its most successful conference to date. Dubai ‘s plans to become the world’s most visited city were unveiled, based on ambitious construction projects.
At Fitcuba in Havana Cuba’s bearded tourism minister Manuel Marrero who gives the longest speeches in the industry was back on the podium again as he kicked off Feria Internacional de Turismo Cuba 2014 with the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization, Taleb Rifai. FITCuba 2015 to Take Place in Jardines del Rey. The Commercial Director of the Cuban Ministry of Tourism, Maria del Carmen Orellama, told Travel Extra‘s Anne Cadwallader that her government is to expand tourism in the island outside the capital and the signature beach resort of Varadero (which staged last year’s Fitcuba). She said all the people of Cuba would benefit as well as the increasing numbers visiting the country (listen here). See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto opened Tianguis Turistico on Tuesday when it came to Cancun for the first time. The event attracted 492 buyers from 40 countries, 359 of them from the USA and 58 from Canada. The city has 32,000 hotel rooms (70,000+ if you include the Riviera Maya) which guaranteed there would not be a repeat of the beds crisis which haunted Tianguis in Puebla last year. The increased European airlift into Cancun has demonstrated to all of Mexico how it could diversify somewhat from its dependence the American market. The opening of Boeing 787 routes to Pacific coast of Mexico from Europe has brought revolutionary change to the Mexican holiday market. The running story in Mexico is the increasingly hysterical hispanophobic reports emanating from the USA, individual states and cities leading the state department in this regard. Notwithstanding this, Fernando Olvera Director of the Department of Tourism said that the dialogue with the US national and state authorities was at its highest level ever (listen here). Tianguis returns to its spiritual home in Acapulco next year, a welcome return to Acka.
Delegates are arriving this weekend for Germany Travel Market in Bremen. Unfortunately, Ireland’s only trade representative at GTM this year had to cancel. Ireland is showing the highest rise in overnight stays to Germany in five years, the latest figures released by the German National Tourist Office showed Irish overnights are up 7.5pc in January-February 2014, compared to the same period for 2013. GTM Is traditionally one of the best run events on the calendar, if you ignore the failure of the last bus to pick up delegates on a rainy night in Potsdam in 2007 and the transfer mix-up in Rostock in 2009.
With the rand at 14 to the euro, South Africa’s tourism should be booming but the Tourist Board has no idea what to do next with its showcase tourism event, Indaba. For the first time in many years Indaba in Durban had no representatives of the Irish trade at the event. The first ten months of 2013 (the most up to date figures) saw 22,297 Irish visitors, a slight decline of 0.4pc. It has been suggested that Indaba should rotate from city to city as happens in America, Australia, Germany, France, Ireland and most recently, in Mexico. Two other events have emerged this year to challenge Indaba for its inheritance position as Africa’s self-claimed travel event. Tourism to South Africa should be booming with the exchange rate weighted in favour of tourists but the cash strapped tourist board have nowhere else to turn. Other problems to be addressed include the cost of airlift to the country, it is prohibitively high with most of the traffic coming through the underserved Johannesburg corridor. Both British Airways and South African Airlines say that Cape Town is a seasonal route viable for just four months of the year. A long haul low-cost operation similar to those that opened up North America and Asia would do wonders for South African tourism, but don’t hold your breath.
Picture shows Jennifer O’Brien, Cathy Burke, and in the front row Mary Foyle, Sarah McCarthy, Rosemary Chawke and Geraldine Martin attending the Travel Counsellors Gold conference at Universal Orlando.
Colin Brodie and Sue Marshall of Visit Florida hosted a thank you lunch for the travel trade in Chapter One in Dublin. Nine representatives of the top Florida attractions attended and each gave a short summary of their attraction. Colin Brodie announced that over a hundred thousand Irish visited Florida in 2013.Visit Florida paid tribute to veteran travel writer Paddy Dignam for his service to the trade over his career. Picture shows Sirin Huffam of St Petersburg Clearwater, Pat Reede of United Airlines, Fiona Ryan of American Airlines and Karl Moen of Disney. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Skillnets and trade partners Amadeus, Lowcostbeds, The Travel Corporation and MSC Cruises hosted travel agents from the west at roadshows in Ballinasloe and Limerick. Picture shows Anne Donnelly of Keller’s Travel, Kirsty Costello of Grogan’s Travel and Fionnuala Carter of ITAA Skillnets at the agent event in Ballinasloe. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
The Travel Corporation are hosting an agents’ evening on May 27.
Travelsavers will roll out its rail product SilverAgent Pro to its team of agents in Ireland over the coming weeks. SilverRail’s web based booking application, allowing Travelsavers’ agents to search, book and pay for domestic and international rail travel for their customers. Travelsavers Global Conference takes place in Boca Raton in June. The group now has 60 agencies in Ireland and Britain and runs both operations from Co Clare.
The Air France, Alitalia, Delta, KLM group hosted 90 members of the travel trade at a travel trade evening supported by Cork Airport in the Bowery in Cork. Emma Hayes from Falcon Travel won two KLM tickets at the event. Picture shows Maria Murphy of CTM, Kevin Cullinane of Cork Airport, Martina Coogan of Air France-KLM, and Angela Walsh of CTM. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
- Travelport Q1 2014 Earnings reported net revenue up 4pc and adjusted EBITDA up 7pc.
- Abbey Travel launched a new brochure featuring Malta and Gozo. In 2013 30,224 Irish visited Malta, up 9pc from 27,731 in 2912.
- Brand USA say flight bookings doubled in advance of Brand USA Megafam.
- There were complaints that hotels are increasingly being held hostage to TripAdvisor blackmailers who threaten staff they will post negative reviews on the website if they are not given better service, meals or upgrades. Another writer described TripAdvisor as democracy for idiots.
- With another self-claimed seven-star hotel planned, this time a1,253-room development in Orlando, the question was asked what constitutes a ‘seven-star’ hotel? Orlando’s iSquare Mall & Hotel will cost $400m to build and will include two towers, a 31st-floor rooftop observation deck, a host of shops, restaurants and an ice-skating rink. Critics are already calling it a glorified shopping mall. The hotel’s developer, Blackmine Group, said the property would have “a swanky, irresistible vibe that makes each guest feel like a celebrity or billionaire”.
- Las Vegas and Orlando offered the best value in the USA according to the hotels.com Hotel Price Index as €150 secured a night in a four star hotel in 2013.
- The K Club has launched a Ladies Golf Series which will run over May and June.
- The Dorchester Collection said calls for a boycott of the 10 hotels over its links to the rulers of Brunei, have affected bookings. The London hotel is the venue for Travemedia events, where they hosted 177 travel media at their last event.
- Whitfield Court was listed as a building in danger as its development as a hotel by Alastair Jackson having been halted by appeals and delays.
- Investors have circled the €60m Westin hotel in Dublin city centre.
- An Irish consortium that bought a poor-performing hotel in Leipzig three years ago have seen their investment treble in value.
- Travelodge’s new CEO Peter Gowers said the group’s room revamp was gathering pace and 80pc of rooms would be fitted by 2015.
- Worldhotels signed its first frequent flyer partner in the Middle East: Qatar Airways Privilege Club.
- Pat McCann of Dalata Hotel Group was among 24 businesses shortlisted for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award.
- Nama said it was neutral on court protection for Naas hotels Killashee House and Lawlor’s Hotel. Parent company Faxhill owes €77m to Nama.
- Hilton Worldwide’s Waldorf Astoria hotel group has opened Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam in the UNESCO area of Herengracht,
- Sean MacPherson, Ira Drukier and Richard Born will open the edgy Ludlow Hotel in NYC’s Lower East Side this June. The Lexington NYC has reopened after a $46m renovation.
- The Ritz Carlton is to debut in Mumbai.
- Shane Prendergast was announced as manager of the fitness centre at Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel.
- The 124-room AVANI Seychelles Barbarons Resort will re-open in the fourth quarter of 2014 following a USD 8m refurbishment.
- NYC & Company, New York City’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organisation, announced Red Hook in Brooklyn as the next destination to be featured in Neighbourhood x Neighbourhood.
- Travellers were asked to vote for the best holidays for wildlife conservation, disabled travel and beach tourism as part of this year’s World Responsible Tourism Awards.
- A man was billed €3,000 in data roaming charges by Vodafone.
- Sherpas demanded better conditions after Mount Everest‘s deadliest avalanche killed 16 Sherpas last month and brought Nepal’s climbing season to a standstill.
- The first travel app to North Korea offered travellers to North Korea tips on what to see and where to eat and drink in the largely off-limits country. Dissident Isobel Yeung picked out 10 things it won’t teach you. Alan Lynch’s Travel Escapes is planning an escorted trip later in the year.
- Syria’s tourism minister’s forecast a bumper tourism season despite three years of conflict that has flattened much of its country.
- Egypt‘s Antiquities Ministry said archaeologists had discovered an 1100BC tomb south of Cairo. Egypt opened their new facsimile Tutankhamen tomb just as visa costs rose.
- World Migratory Bird Day 2014 will be celebrated in 70 countries on May 10-11.
- Kuoni launched a business-to-business accommodation website for UEFA’s Euro 2016.
- Rudimental and Disclosure will headline the EXIT music festival in Serbia July 10-13.
- Veteran travel writer Simon Calder complained that passport checks border on the ridiculous.
- WTM 2014 launched a new website.
- The ski resort of Petzenbahnen, in Austria’s Carinthia region, which was once worth millions is now being sold for €1.
- Extracts were published from the six book short-list for the Ondaatje Prize each of which “evokes the spirit of a place.”
- Hundreds of disused Tube stations and empty tunnels under London‘s streets could be turned into retail and leisure attractions. Most of the Tube’s three million passengers are unaware of the ghost world that exists far underground.
- The era of luxury-for-less was celebrated by one newspaper.
Royal Caribbean announced at the keel laying ceremony for the third Oasis-class ship at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire (pictured) that they would move forward on the order of a fourth Oasis-class ship for delivery in 2018. The ship which will measure 90 metres in height, 47 metres in width and almost a quarter of a mile in length, will be the biggest cruise ship in the world when she is launched in 2014.
Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean,who hosted the ceremony with Adam Goldstein and STX France Chief Executive Officer Laurent Castaing, said that Oasis ‘resonates with the public because there is a choice for everyone on board and something for every whim.” The cost of Oasis 3 comes in at around a billion Euro and while he explained that making these spending decisions was ‘intense’ and ‘a little scary.” Travel Extra’s Marie Carberry is pictured at the event.
- AIDAluna left the Blohm and Voss shipyard in Hamburg after extensive maintenance work.
- A trend has emerged for Cruise and stay holidays.
- Norwegian Cruise Line has partnered with Gabriel Orta of Bar Lab Cocktails in Miami to create five destination themed cocktail drinks menus focusing on local ingredients that celebrate Bermuda, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska and Europe.
- Irish Ferries is offering €55 discount on 7 night packages to seven popular UK Haven Holiday parks this Summer.
- Norwegian Cruise Line‘s new South America sailings are available to book.
Etihad promised something special at their product launch in Abu Dhabi last weekend and they delivered it: a new onboard suite on the A380 which it says is the only three-room cabin in the sky called the Residence.
These suites come complete with private butler and a separate reclining lounge seat and full-length bed,the suites follow Emirates in providing showers on the A380. The airline launched new contemporary living spaces on both the A380 and B787 Dreamliner which it says will transform air travel. Cabin classes are being renamed: first apartment, first suites, business studio, and economy smart seat. The investment in a new economy seat, oft forgotten in the chase for business passengers, is welcome, an ergonomic fixed-wing headrest, giving passengers a place to rest their head for added comfort and relaxation. The latest Panasonic eX3 personal entertainment system, of which Etihad Airways is a launch customer, is installed across all cabins. For images of the new product watch here and video of the new cabins watch here. For press releases see here. The coverage was almost totally positive: Etihad Airways flies the flag for sky-high luxury with airborne suites.
WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky said demand is so strong on St John’s-Dublin service they are extending it by three weeks to Oct. 25 (watch here). Westjet are now considering buying widebodied aircraft.
- Dublin Airport plans to grow transfer traffic to about two million passengers per year in the near term, CEO Kevin Roland said. Dublin Airport’s transfer passengers increased by 36pc last year to 548,000 and have increased by a further 30pc so far this year.
- Ryanair’s load factor in March increased 3pc to 84pc due to the Easter holiday. Aer Lingus’s traffic was up 12.2pc for April 2014, also due to Easter.
- A new paperclip-shaped armrest promised to settle for good the battle over elbow room in the sky.
- Christoph Mueller’s boosted package was approved at Aer Lingus AGM despite protests.
- US airlines’ bag fees bolstered their bottom line according to government league table. Unwrapped: the coat that beats baggage fees.
- BA have an ‘upgrade to first’ offer on one leg of an eligible Club World flight before May 23, subject to availability.
- Philippine Airlines introduced new lie-flat seats on Airbus A330s with iPad IFE system as part of airline’s revamp.
- Air France unveiled its new First Class cabin offering more personal space and privacy.
- A newspaper offered a new airline rating list: a peek at the luxury products in 10 airline washbags.
- A campaign is to launch in the coming weeks that to open up a direct scheduled service between Ireland and Israel targeting the business passenger.
- Liquid restrictions are likely to remain in force despite new scanner technology.
- Southwest Airlines and Amadeus IT Group signed a contract to implement a single reservation system for carrier’s operations.
- Cork airport launched a €100,000 summer advertising campaign. Anita Gackowska has been appointed Head of Aviation Marketing while Kevin Cullinane will take up the new role of Head of Communications for Cork Airport.
- BA and Corsair signed a partnership including Open Skies flights to give transatlantic connection from Paris
- Qantas urged passengers to doodle on their sick bags for the chance to win airport lounge access, turning sick bags into art.
- The GAA unveiled a museum box in the Etihad first and business class lounge at Dublin airport
- Bloomberg opened a media hub and info centre in the departure lounge at London City Airport in a three-year deal.
- Quelle surprise? Praise for Willie Walsh as Iberia flies high 15 months after the Spanish airline’s staff tried to fight off restructuring.
- Malaysia Airlines bought back its Spring voucher giveaway. Travel agents say there has been some resistance against using the airline in the Irish market since the disappearance of MH360, particularly among corporates.
- US Airways flight 715 which was travelling from Venice to Philadelphia was diverted to Dublin Airport, after a number of crew members became ill. BA was told to pay compensation to those delayed by an emergency landing in Heathrow last year.
- The latest innovation from Turkish AirlinesIs the Sky Illusion sleeping set designed by Zorlu Textiles Group.
- Journalist Amanda Craig argued that aeroplanes should be child-free zones: Why should we accept the hell of other people’s kids?
- There was debate as Manston Airport‘s closure loomed near London in Kent.
- EasyJet is testing drone technology to help engineers inspect its 220-strong fleet of aircraft and check for faults.
- Qatar bought the 50pc stake held by private investors headed by former prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani.
- Emirates announced their 26th consecutive year of profit showing the airline is still filling seats despite continued rapid expansion with lots of new routes.
- Boeing showcased its new concept spacecraft hoping to replace the Space Shuttle by 2017. Sierra Nevada Corporation also hopes its Dream Chaser shuttle will secure a NASA contract and take astronauts into space.
- Changing money at international airports can cost €17 more than elsewhere.
- Aer Lingus cabin crew threatened industrial action for the third time in six months as IMPACT assistant general secretary Michael Landers complained the airline had imposed “ridiculous” working conditions on staff. Meath-based columnist Sinead Ryan argued that Leo Varadkar must act now to stop airline strikes.
Picture shows Tamie from Jordan serving passengers on the business class bar on bard the Emirates A380 from Dubai to Sydney.
Cavan County Council and Coillte launched five new trails near Blacklion in the Cavan Burren on Friday, through €900,000 in funding from the Border Uplands project. The site’s archaeological heritage includes 80 monuments, ancient hut sites and field systems that survive from prehistoric times. An unmanned interpretative centre was designed by Theo Payne’s Catalyst DNA officially opened on Friday. The project is part of the Marble Arch Geopark. An old smuggler’s route is being examined with a view to linking the Fermanagh and Cavan sides of the park with a greenway link. Picture shows historian Seamus Ó hUltacháin and Gráinne O’Connor of Cavan County Council leading a group of walkers (including Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry) through the Cavan Burren last weekend as part of the This is Cavan walking festival. For Travel Extra’s interview with Gráinne O’Connor about the tralls listen here, for Gráinne O’Connor’s discussion with the walkers on the new trails listen here. For a description by Seamus Ó hUltacháin of the Giant’s Grave which he describes as one of the finest passage tombs in Ireland listen here and for Seamus Ó hUltacháin’s talk at another marquee attraction of the Cavan Burren, the Calf House portal tomb, listen here. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
- Fáilte Irelandannounced their new Discover Ireland campaign for 2014 (watch TV ad here). Called #ThisIsLiving, the campaign will include TV, radio and print advertising as well as a new digital focus including a Facebook app to target three groups identified by the marketing research: “connected families”, “footloose socialisers” and “indulgent romantics” (we are not making this up). The number of domestic holidays taken in 2013 rose by 2pc, revenue was up 7pc and the number of bed-nights up 10pc.Former Fáilte Irelandchairman Redmond O’Donoghue spoke of his new role as chairman of a golf umbrella group.
- An event at Dublin’s IFSC showcased Clare tourism.
- Air links topped the agenda during tourism minister Leo Varadkar’s China visit. A tourism survey showed 62pc of Chinese travellers were reasonably familiar with Ireland according to an online survey by Tourism Ireland.
Picture shows of The River Lee Hotel, Cork meeting with travel agents at Tourism Ireland’s Meet in Ireland event in Newport Beach, California, where five Irish tourism companies and Aer Lingus joined Tourism Ireland in California in a bid to grow business tourism from the west coast of the United States. Fly.com showed Dublin and Ireland are at number five in the list of Top Summer Destinations for American travellers – that’s according to the airfare search engine owned by Travelzoo Inc.
Picture shows Dutch TV presenter and chef, René Pluijm, in Cork shooting an hour-long episode of Pluijms Eetbare Wereld (Pluijm’s Edible World) on RTL4 with Martin Shanahan, owner of Fishy Fishy Café in Kinsale (second right), and René’s production crew.
Picture shows Cafe Novo at the Westbury Hotel Chef Cathal Dunne, Actor Liam Cunningham, and Cafe Novo Manager, David Murray launching the restaurant’s bodybyrne fare.
Wexford Food and Wine Festival expects 15,000 visitors from May 23 to 25.
- Lusty Beg Island in Fermanagh launches its summer season on May 29-30.
- Féile na Tuaithe takes place in the National Museum Castlebar on May 24 and 25.
- Eada Hogan from Scoil Chriost Ri, Portlaoise and Jamie Keogh from Confey Community College, Leixlip won The Fine Dine at Mine All-Island Schools Cookery Competition.
- Mary Fanning of Nationwide was in Kildare yesterday to film a feature the canal section of Arthur’s Way between Castletown House in Celbridge and Oughterard in Ardclough.
- Senior figures from Irish and Mexican politics and business addressed the Mexico-Dublin Business Conference at a number of locations across Dublin.
- The start of the Giro d’Italia generated international coverage for Ireland with lots of references to wind, rain and narrow roads. Pictures shows Lorna Bolster, Karolyn Gaston, Pleasaunce Perry, Will Vicente, Nadene Alexander, Gillian Gilliland and David Livingstone, some of the 1,200 volunteers signed up to help with the race, outside the Titanic Centre in Belfast.
- Video of the week is for those who are spending too much time looking at their mobile phone (watch here).
- Sad news came our way with the death of the wife of ITOF Executive officer Flan Clune. Travel Extra extends our sympathy to Flan and all the family.
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