Picture: Finn Jones with fans at the opening of the Game of Thrones exhibition, Belfast Waterfront. Credit: Press Eye Ltd. See more pictures here.
*Aer Lingus strikes off
*Westjet‘s inaugural St John’s-Dublin flight
*Overseas tourists grew 8pc
*Wild Atlantic “Stay”
*Thailand curfew lifted
Video of the week
What do you do if you find yourself stranded in a Las Vegas airport overnight? If you’re anything like Richard Dunn you pass the time by making a music video. While waiting to board a 6am Delta flight, Dunn, a lighting designer from Atlanta, put his iPhone (and the empty terminal) to good use by creating a dramatic, cinematic video for his lip-synched version of Celine Dion’s triumphant ballad ‘All By Myself’. He shot and edited the whole thing himself. Dunn explained how he did it through the comments section on his Vimeo account: “I had a person behind a ticket counter give me a roll of luggage tape before she left. I then used a wheelchair that had a tall pole on the back of it and taped my iPhone to that. Then I would put it on the moving walkway for a dolly shot. I also used the extended handle on my computer bag and taped the iPhone to my handle.” Watch the video below. It’s a tearjerker.
Following eight hours of talks at the Labour Court, the IMPACT union at Aer Lingus called off strikes planned for this Monday and Wednesday in advance of further talks. Aer Lingus promised to hire 20 extra cabin crew, and to work towards a 5:3 roster for short haul flights and Michael Landers claimed “sufficient progress” had been made to call off the stoppages. An estimated 35,000 people each day would have been affected had the strikes gone ahead. Aer Lingus had closed booking for flights on Monday and Wednesday, adding millions of euro to the estimated €10m cost of last Friday’s one day stoppage. Aer LIngus cut its earnings forecast over the industrial action, with reactions from Davys and Merrion concurring that the revision was based on the impact of threatened strikes. Listen here (starts 19 minutes into programme) to Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry’s commentary on developments on RTE’s Drivetime.
New CSO figures show that the number of overseas tourists grew by 8pc in the first quarter of 2014. Niall Gibbons of Tourism Ireland said he was “particularly pleased to see holidaymakers from the Great Britain market showing growth of +27pc. While it is still very early days …this is a strong start to the year.” The new figures show that there were 1.34m overseas visitors to Ireland in the first quarter of 2014. Mainland European visitor numbers was up by 1pc and North Americans increased by 6pc. All other long haul was up by 17pc. The number visiting friends and relatives went up by 12pc. Holiday visitors increased by 5pc, but business visitors were down by 2pc. Total earnings from all visitors to Ireland were €682 million – a drop of 1pc on the same period last year. More statistics are available here.
Fáilte Ireland launched a new campaign encouraging Irish holidaymakers to explore the Wild Atlantic Way. The campaign comes in the form of a 60-second TV and cinema ad, print advertising and social media plugging. Speaking about the new campaign, Fiona Monaghan of Fáilte Ireland said she “would like to encourage everyone to take the opportunity this summer to experience this fabulous attraction, right on their doorstep”.
Westjet‘s inaugural flight from St John’s to Dublin arrives tomorrow (Monday) morning with a hosting of VIPs, including Ireland’s ambassador to Canada, Ray Bassett, Newfoundland minister for tourism Sandy Collins, Newfoundland Minister for innovation Susan Sullivan and Gregg Savetsky President and CEO of Westjet (pictured). The flight returns later in the morning to St John’s and onwards to Toronto and a group of travel agents will depart on Wednesday on a famil hosted by Jeanette Yetman of Destination St john’s, Erin Skinner of the Newfoundland & Labrador Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Kim Jardine of Nova Scotia Tourism and Michele Bourgeois of Destination Halifax. Airlines have used a 737 to travserse the Atlantic before, notably Budget Travel’s famous charter to the Dominican Republic in 2008, but this is the first scheduled service using a 737 on what is effectively a short haul flight, just over four hours on the return leg from St John’s to Dublin.
Jim Deegan of Railtours launched the world’s first hop-on hop-off railway tour in Dublin, the Dublin Bay hopper. It takes place on a chartered DART passes through the south city of Dublin to Bray, with four departures on designated trains each Saturday. The €19 ticket enables users to use the DART on the following day as well. It is integrated with the Dublin Bus hop-on hop-off tour. Picture shows Jim giving his hilarious commentary on the launch tour. Listen here to Jim Deegan speaking about the tour, and listen here to a selection from Jim’s witty and informative inaugural guided tour for invited guests and travel professionals . See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Visit California hosted members of the Irish Travel Trade in London on Tuesday night and seven of the partners came to Dublin on Friday to host travel media in Patrick Guilbaud‘s restaurant. Picture shows Shannon Brooks of the Visit California HQ in Sacramento speaking at the event, delegates included Angela Jackson of San Francisco Travel, Hannah Avol of Santa Monica, Tim Zahner of Sonoma County, Madison Fisher of Huntingdon Beach, Andrea Alava of Los Angeles Tourism and Joyce Kiehl of Palm Springs. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
The construction walls came down around Diagon Alley, Universal Orlando‘s expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Universal has not announced the opening date for the attraction but say it will open in summer 2014. A group of Irish travel writers will travel to see the facility this week.
A survey by Caxton FX found that almost every year north of Ireland holidaymakers waste £480,000 in unused foreign currency every year.
Visit USA’s Ciara Foley, Clodagh Oxley and their partners from Bookabed, Illinois, Kansas/Oklahoma, Kissimmee and Massachussetts hosted agents in Cork, Dublin and Belfast on a roadshow tour for the trade. Guests heard elevator pitches from Fiona Ellis of South Carolina (listen here), Matt Bates of Kansas/Oklahoma (listen here), Laura Goldie of Visit Illinois (listen here), Peter Hannaford of Travel Georgia (listen here), Melissa Lowe of Kissimmee (listen here) Lee Osborne of Bookabed (listen here) and Patricia Purdue of Massachusetts (listen here). See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Picture shows Ben Boulden, Steve Williams, Jennifer Callister, Jenny Rafter and Stuart Leven who hosted Irish travel agents in Fallon & Byrne’s Dublin to highlight developments including the Quantum Class entertainment programme and a resumed programme form Dubai in winter 2015/16. Stuart Leven MD of Royal Caribbean Ireland and Britain (pictured) told Travel Extra that the drop in market share experienced by Royal Caribbean in the past 12 months had been caused by deployment changes. He said these were partially addressed by the resumption of the Dubai winter service and improved itineraries from Southampton (listen here).
Stuart Leven’s presentation at the event stressed how the trade should seek out first time cruise customers and highlighted developments such as the dining and entertainment innovations (listen here) on Quantum class ships. He said that Royal Carribean wanted to bring agents to experience his company;s cruise ships at first hand, how they intended invested more in training and told the story of how James Fleming of Sunway had met his fiancee at a Royal Caribbean seminar at sea. James is pictured with Sunway colleague Alice Swords. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Alan Sparling of SAS, Danny Giles of Hurtigruten and Diddier Nicous and Rannveig Snorradottir of Tumlare hosted agents in the Radisson Blu Hotel Golden Lane. Picture shows Rannveig Snorradottir addressing the guests, listen here to Rannveig Snorradottir’s presentation. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Emirates are looking for a manager for their Irish operations following the resignation of Margaret Shannon, with effect from the end of August. Margaret has headed up the Irish operation since before the launch of Emirates in Ireland in January 2012, overseeing the aircraft upgrade, which doubled capacity on the route, and plans to go double daily between Dublin and Dubai from September 2014. She has no plans, other than to spend more time with her family. The role of Emirates country manager for Ireland will be advertised over the coming weeks.
Some departures and arrivals: Graham Hennessy will become new Ireland manager for attraction tickets agency Dosomethingdifferent.com. Graham has 22 years experience in the trade and joins DSD form Topflight. Claire Docherty is departing Sunway to become sales manager of a hotel in Saskatchewan in Canada, where her husband is currently working. Barry Hammond is joining Suwnay from Topflight.
- Abu Dhabi travel event will take place in Dublin on Wednesday (June 18).
- ITIC Cruise hire business launch will take place in Carrick on Shannon on Wednesday (June 18).
- ITAA has advertised a number of last-minute summer offers this week.
- MasterCard and eNett International have extended their partnership.
- The final winner of lowcostbeds ‘Happy Mondays’ trade promotion was Julie Anne Ryan from Limerick Travel.
Picture shows American Holidays personnel testing Royal Caribbean International new ‘Dynamic Dining’ concept which will be introduced on Quantum class ships. Rachel McOnaspie, Shona Byrne, Sharon Wilson (Royal Caribbean), Sarah McCormick and Jennifer Mulligan.
- ITAA will host a complementary half-day training at the Morgan Hotel, Dublin, on June 25 from 2pm to 5.30pm. Register your place here.
- Azamara Club Cruises launched a free flights campaign. Customers that book an Oceanview Stateroom or higher on select European voyages will receive complimentary return flights. Agents who make any booking with this offer will be entered into a weekly draw to win an iPad.
- Passport Online, a website partner for Vacation.com, has introduced a new automated social media service for travel agents. ESP posts news, trending topics, tips, photos, deals and questions to social media.
- The video below shows tour operators and travel media relaxing on Naka Noi Island, the private island of Phuket in Thailand leased by specialist SE Asia DMC Exotissimo for tour groups. The group were on a post-famil following Thai Travel Mart Plus and hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Exotissimo offer trips to Naka Noi including weddings as part of their portfolio.
- Travelport has launched new products including: eNett payments for travel agents; further air content that includes fares and ancillary products from low-cost carriers and network carriers; more hotel content; and airline merchandising which allows airlines to distribute products as well as fares. Travelport acquired B2B hotel distribution technology provide Hotelzon, from Esa Karppinen.
Bloomberg reports that The Malton, The Metropole Hotel and the Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel have been put on sale for €30m, €10m less that The Malton alone sold for in 2006. The Westbury Hotel will display artwork by Dale Chihuly from June 20—31. Chihuly’s Macchia glass art work will be exhibited for hotel guests to view. The acclaimed American artist has exhibited in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Louvre in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Corning Museum of Glass, also in New York.
- Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts announced a partnership with Ferrari for the Ferrari Challenge series in Shanghai.
- Daish Holidays launched its summer 2014 brochure.
- Hotel Westport launched a flash sale.
- An infographic by ETOA illustrates how “cities are the clear leaders in the European tourism industry”.
- Globe Hotels is offering 15pc off stays at Sandos San Blas, Tenerife between July 7 and July 12.
- Trivago.ie published where the top teams in the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be staying.
Westport Woods Hotel is offering two nights bed and breakfast (mid-week) for €99pp, five nights dinner, bed and breakfast for €209pps from June 15; and five nights dinner, bed and breakfast for €259pps from June 23. Expedia will start accepting Bitcoin for online hotel bookings. However, hoteliers will continue to be paid in local currency. If the move proves to be a success, the company hopes to expand the feature to other products.
Irish visitor numbers to Scotland were down spectacularly again in 2013, to 107,000 with a recorded spend of £29m in Scotland. It means that Scotland has lost 45pc of its Irish visitors in three years. Visitor numbers have declined from 195,000 in 2011, by 24pc to 149,000 in 2012 and by 28pc to 107,000 in 2013. Scotland has dropped from eighth to 13th place in outbound visitor numbers from Ireland.
1,600 papier-mâché pandas, created by artist Paulo Grangeon in collaboration with the WWF, landed in Hong Kong airport in protest of the dwindling panda population. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Tricky linguistics led social media users to believe that a Thai Air Asia aircraft collided with a Nok Air craft when it had actually suffered a bird strike. The confusion stemmed from the fact that “nok” is the Thai word for bird. Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry once said that he has a “smattering of phrases in about 12 different languages; enough to get into trouble but not enough to get back out of it again”. Huffington Post can at least teach him how to order a beer in multiple languages…which might make his problem worse.
- There was a 14pc growth in the number of Irish visitors to Britain in the first quarter of the this year.
- Dosomethingdifferent.com is offering nine nights at DisneyWorld Florida for the price of seven.
- Discover Travel is offering 10 nights in the four-star Khao Lak Merlin Resort for €1,019pp, flights, taxes and transfers included.
- The Thailand night time curfew was lifted on Friday.
- The Japanese government is planning to provide visitors with free public Wi-Fi once they register their passport at one of the country’s airports.
- Abbey Travel launched a new brochure for Malta and Gozo.
- TAT launches the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale today. It will run until September 30. A “shopping competition” will take place this Wednesday (June 18) in Rachaprasong and Siam, Bangkok’s main shopping districts.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival launched its 2014 programme. This year promises to be the biggest festival to date with 3,193 shows taking place in 299 venues in Scotland’s capital. Comedian Jason Byrne, a reading of Seamus Heaney by Larry McCluskey and Fishamble Theatre’s ‘Swing’ are among the Irish highlights.
- US security officials seized a record 18 firearms at airports.The Transport Security Administration beat the previous record when 13 guns were found in a single day in 2013. So far in 2014, TSA over 800 weapons have been found at security checkpoints.
- A militant attack on Karachi airport in Pakistan left 28 people dead and others injured. Pakistan’s Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
- Delays at the British Passport Office are causing hassle for summer holidaymakers. Some new applications are taking as long as two months to process.
- Metro workers in Sao Paulo suspended a strike. The strike caused chaos as the city prepared for the opening World Cup match, leading to scenes of protest, street fires and tear gas.
- Paris’ iconic Pont des Arts bridge was closed after a metal grill weighed down by ‘lovelocks’ collapsed onto the walkway.
- Christmas Market Tours announced trips to Budapest, Berlin, Vienna, Prague and Salzburg this December.
- South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs has introduced new regulation that will require children to travel with an unabridged birth certificate. The rule will be introduced on October 1.
Food & Wine
Below is a list of the winners at this year’s Irish Restaurant Awards. For more click see bit.ly/IrishRestaurantAwards. Tullamore DEW Visitor Centre officially opened its new restaurant, The Bond, with Alex Avel (formerly of The Hilton, Lyon) as head chef. The menu is said to combine “high end, gastro-pub style food with a whiskey infused twist”. The 70-seater restaurant is open daily from 11am—4pm with late opening on Fridays and Sundays from June 6. Aer Lingus added a new range of sandwiches and snacks to its on-board Bia menu designed by chef and restaurateur Clodagh McKenna.
The inaugural Aviation Industry Awards, sponsored by the IAA, took place in Dublin. Over 550 people attended. Nineteen winners were chosen from more than 120 entries. The shortlist is published here. Below is the full list of winners.
- Ryanair launched a city travel section on its website, ryanair.com. The new guides include hotel listings, recommended things to do, nightlife and shopping guides, maps and other information. The new function includes guides to all 186 Ryanair destinations. Ryanair are to carry over their routes from Shannon to Beauvais, Berlin, Fuerteventura, Krakow and Warsaw to winter 2014-5.
- Bob Haugh launched Comparethefare.ie ia new, free service that will directly compare Aer Lingus and Ryanair flight prices. Ryanair (currently on Travelport) said they expect to be on Amadeus and Sabre by the end of the year.
- Thomas Cook Airlines is to fly three long-haul flights from Belfast Airport to Orlando and Las Vegas for summer 2015. The airline will operate two flights to Orlando on-board a newly refurbished Airbus A330 on June 30 and July 7, 2015. A one-off flight to Las Vegas will take place on July 5, 2015, returning a week later. The Belfast Telegraph recounted how a cut in air duty kept United’s operation, currently celebrating its ninth birthday, in Belfast. The Belfast-Newark service will go out of operation for nine weeks from January next year.
- The IAA reports that air traffic increased by 4.6pc throughout Ireland in May compared to the same month last year. This figure includes flights at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports, en route flights and North Atlantic Communications flights. There was an average of 1,618 daily flights last month with the busiest day being May 16 with 1,791 flights in Irish airspace. In relation to international arrivals and departures, the commercial terminal traffic for Shannon, Dublin and Cork airports was up by 8.1pc in May 2014, when compared to May last year. Individually, the May 2014 figures for the three State airports are: Dublin up 7.5pc with an average of 512 daily commercial movements; Cork up 0.8pc, with an average of 61 daily commercial movements; Shannon up 21.7pc with an average of 65 daily commercial movements. More statistics are available here.
- A study by the US Government Accountability Office says that there is still healthy competition in the majority of US air routes despite mergers in recent years. The report says that there is only a slight decline in overall competition on US air routes. The analysis looked at the effect on airline mergers from 2007 to 2012, but excluded the December merger of American Airlines and US Airways.
- Cork Airport is offering one week’s parking for €28 to customers that book online before June 30 in the Holiday Blue car part using the code CORK4PDAY. The airport is also marking the launch of Aer Lingus Regional’s new route to Newcastle by offering a two night trip for two to the city. Musicians are invited to take part in the Cork Airport ‘Summer of Song’ competition in conjunction with the Cork Independent.
- It was speculated Emirates cancellation of their A350 order could open the door for Ryanair Transatlantic. The International Bureau of Aviation said Emirates’ cancellation of seventy Airbus A350s will not immediately impact values. Airbus shares fell 3pc after Airbus lost 9pc of its order for the new jets which cost $15bn to develop over eight years. Airbus weighed up the A330neo arguments ahead of a launch decision.
- Etihad Airways will broadcast every World Cup match ‘live’ on all its long haul aircraft.
- South African Airways (SAA) will offer a complimentary baggage wrapping service to customers travelling out of Johannesburg.
- Aer Lingus Regional recorded a 35pc increase in passenger numbers for May 2014. The airline flew 122,079 passengers, 31,580 compared to May 2013.
- Funway Holidays signed an agreement with Aer Lingus to sell services to the US.
- Emirates unveiled a Boeing 777-300ER that features the signature of soccer legend Pelé. The first “Pelé-ane” will connect on the Dubai to Sao Paolo route.
- Ryanair announced an €850m Euro Bond at 1.875pc, fixed for seven years. The airline said this is part of its plans to access debt capital markets to source financing for its new 180 Boeing 737-800 order.
- Flybe UK reported a 6.9pc increase in passenger number in the UK for 2013/14 despite a 1.4pc reduction in seat capacity. The group also reported a load factor of 69.5pc, up from 64.1pc in 2012/13. See here for the full results.
- Ryanair carried the most international passengers last year, according to IATA. The airline carried 81.3m international passengers last year. Easyjet came in second with 52.7m and Lufthansa third with 50.7m.
- Picture shows a Ryanair craft that rolled into a building in Italy last week. Was the accident connected with industrial action at Italian airports?
- The newly amalgamated American Airlines and US Airways launched its first service at Shannon with the reopening of the summer route to Philadelphia Airport. The service will run until September 2.
- Ryanair carried 8.2m passengers in May with over 89pc of its flights arriving on-time, down 5pc from the same period last year. The airline blames the French ATC strikes for the decrease. According to the Ryanair’s customer statistics for May, the number of complaints per 1,000 passengers is down from 0.42 to 0.35, but the number of bag complaints per 1,000 passengers has increased from 0.33 to 0.41. 99pc of complaints were answered within seven days, which matches last year’s figure.
- A fundraising campaign has been launched by the families of missing Malaysian flight MH 370 to try and find more information of its whereabouts.
- Etihad Airways announced that it will withdraw from Skytrax including the Skytrax World Airline Awards and the Skytrax Audit.
- British Airways launched a seat sale from now until June 24 for Irish customers travelling to the US. Fares exclude taxes and surcharges: Orlando €214; Miami €327; New York €203; Boston €205; Washington €332; Las Vegas €320; San Francisco €233; Los Angeles €243; Chicago €255.
- Shannon Airport and Bank of Ireland will host a ‘night-run’ in aid of the Samaritans. Over 1,000 runners will trek Shannon’s 5km runway. The event will take place on July 4 at 11pm and participants can register online at sportstiming.ie. Entry fee is €20.
- Malaysia Airlines is offering deals to Irish customers travelling to Australia this autumn. Return tickets from Dublin/Cork/Shannon via Heathrow to Darwin and Perth at €825. Flights to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney start at €815. Book by June 30, fly by August 14—31, 2014, and November 1—December 4, 2014.
- Members of United Airlines’ Mileage Plus programme will earn award miles based on the price of their ticket, rather than by distance flown from March 1, 2015.
- Members will ear five miles for every dollar spent. Gabriele Del Torchio said Alitalia will have to cut 2,200 jobs to meet the conditions of Etihad’s €560m deal to invest in the airline.
- Reuters published a story on a man who lives in Boeing 727 in the Oregon Woords.
- A US Airways aircraft had to be diverted after a dog relieved itself repeatedly in the aisle in what was described as a “rare and unfortunate situation”.
Bus Éireann Eurolines added extra coach and ferry services from Dublin to Birmingham and London for the summer. The additional services will run until September 13. Clickandgo.com is offering a Winter Cruise trip from €619pp and an Arabian Delights trip from €899pp.
A survey by Eurobarometer found that 44pc of Irish travellers are dissatisfied with the price of public transport; 31pc are fairly satisfied while 9pc are very satisfied. The study found that Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and Hungary are the least satisfied with prices for public transport. Malta recorded the highest satisfaction rate, with 44pc of respondents saying they are very satisfied with prices. Ireland came bottom of the table for proximity to transport services. Only 62pc replied that it takes less than 10 minutes to get to the nearest bus, train or tram station, compared to 90pc in Luxembourg, 89pc in the Netherlands and 86pc in Sweden. Results say that 31pc of Irish respondents reported public transport services to be from 10 to 30 minutes away from home, and 4pc were more than 30 minutes to one hour away from public transport services. 27pc of Irish respondents travel by public transport at least once a week, below the EU average of 32pc. For the full results, click here. The Irish Spa Awards took place on Monday. Monart Spa won Spa of the Year, while the Ice House’s Chill Spa won Boutique Spa of the year and Best Therapist.
- There was a Nationwide special on the Wild Atlantic Way last Wednesday. You can watch the programme here.
- Theculturetrip.com published 10 must-visit art galleries on the Wild Atlantic Way.
- The Cork Summer Show ends today (June 15).
- The Turkish Irish Education and Cultural Society (TIECS) will host its annual picnic in Donabate this morning (June 15) at 11am. See tiecs.ie for more.
- OPW heritage card holders will receive free admission to Irish and Isle of Man heritage sites.
- Bus Éireann is offering three days unlimited travel around Cork with its ‘Rebel Rambler Ticket’. Travellers can avail of the following services: all Cork City services (Routes 201—219); open top tour of Cork City and Blarney; Kinsale; Middleton; and Cork Airport services. The offer is available from now until September. Tickets cost €35 and are only available to purchase from the Travel Centre in Cork.
- The James Joyce Centre launched Bloomsday Festival 2014. This year’s event is a mix of traditional activities like the Bloomsday breakfast with some new additions like the ‘Bizarre Bloomsday Brunch’ on North Great George’s Street which takes place today (June 15) at 1pm. Mary Collins of Fáilte Ireland says this year’s festival hopes to appeal to both young visitors looking for “a fun, hands-on and more interactive experience” as well as traditional literary fans. See jamesjoyce.ie for the full list of events.
- Watch here Travel Extra‘s Eoghan Corry on TV3’s Tonight with Vincent Browne.
- The Venezuelan government introduced restrictions that will prevent students from there coming to Ireland to learn English, move also means more than 3,000 Venezuelans currently studying here may be forced to return home.
- Light Colour Sound Festival takes place at Shankill Castle from July 4—5.
- Kilkenny’s newest summer festival promises two days of music, food, art, comedy and literature, and will include a cheche, puppet show and vintage funfair for children. HMV sponsors the Main Stage which will feature performances by Cathy Davey, Jerry Fish, Wallis Bird and Kila.
- Titanic Centre CEO Tim Husbands (pictured) said Titanic Belfast attracted 55,000 tourists in the month of May, 15,000 from the 26 counties. May saw Belfast played host to the Giro d’Italia and the Titanic Maritime Festival. Organisers of a weekend of outdoor adventure on Clare Island from June 20-22 want more men to apply as there has been an abundance of applications from women so far.
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