The headlines this week:
*Michael runs Rings around promoters everywhere
*Agents ‘skydive’ on Quantum of the Seas
*Ryanair H1 pax numbers up 7pc to 51.3m, load factor up 4pc to 91pc
*Aer Lingus announces expanded summer schedule
*Topflight’s Tony Collins honoured by Austrian Embassy
Travel Extra TV
Video of the week: Irish Minister of State for tourism Michael Ring had them rolling for the Emerald Isle with his rousing speech at World Travel Market in London. One Scottish writer told Travel Extra it was the best he had heard and should be held up as a model to tourism ministers and promoters everywhere, for its direct and passionate message (watch here and listen here, also for the reply by Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons listen here). There was a large turnout of Irish partners on the busy Tourism Ireland stand.
- World Travel Market uploaded highlights from day one (watch here), day two (watch here), day three (watch here) and day four (watch here) of the event.
- Cricket legends Stephen Fleming, Chris Harris, Andy Bichel and Damien Fleming played a game on the Auckland Harbour Bridge to mark 100 days until the ICC Cricket World Cup in New Zealand and Australia. New Zealand 100% Pure’s promotional video features The Sweet Spot by Irish band The Duckworth Lewis Method, Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy) and Thomas Walsh’s (Pugwash) cricket-only music project. Watch here.
- Photographer Wes Eisenhauer captured timelapse footage of a meteor exploding. The phenomenon occurs when an object is travelling so fast that it compresses and burns the air around it. Watch here.
- Videographer Devin Graham created a collage of adventurers cliff-jumping in Hawaii. Watch here.
- Illuminated balloons mark where the Berlin Wall once stood as part of the celebrations marking 25 years since the wall was torn down. Watch here.
Aer Lingus’s scheduled June return to the second of the two trans-Atlantic routes it vacated in 2009, Washington Dulles, had no surprises in frequency or timing. An additional A330-200 leased “on favourable terms” will fly four weekly, M-W-F-Su, outbound 12.45, inbound 17.20, with 100 seats more to sell than its rival on the route United. Washington has been very profitable for United out of Dublin and they intend staying on the route in 2015.
“It was a five year plan. We have done that journey quietly unobserved by our competitors in Europe,” said CEO Christoph Mueller. “All of a sudden, we switched it on and are growing like a start-up from Silicon Valley. We started it with a 15pc capacity increase the year before last. We have a 25pc capacity increase in 2014 our seats were up 34pc so we have increasing load factor across the system, and we intend double digit growth again 2015, if you presume the growth of almost 12 years compressed in three years is proof our product is appreciated. We are the cost leader on the North Atlantic because we were always 20pc-30pc sometimes 40pc cheaper than the next competitor.”
In reply to a question from Travel Extra at the press conference Christoph Mueller said anti-trust status had prevented them from contacting United in advance of the announcement. “It is of mutual interest to perform the Washington route jointly and benefit from the connectivity (listen here).” He said he expected no impact on the codeshare with United and that United was Aer Lingus’s second most important trading partner narrowly behind Jetblue in feeding Aer Lingus services. Chief Revenue Officer Mike Rutter highlighted the Los Angeles, Denver, Tampa and Pittsburgh connections opened up by the Dulles service.
The San Francisco service goes daily including Tu and Th, JFK gets a third daily flight outbound 07.50 with US pre clearance hours extended to cater for the earlier flight. This is the earliest flight off the continent of Europe each day and offers the option of a NY day trip for hardy road warriors (the CEO of Bonham’s was name checked by Mike Rutter), Orlando gets an extra flight on Wednesday, Shannon-Boston increases 20pc during summer. Mike Rutter said “It shows desire to create a schedule competitiveness which is comparison with Europe’s major hubs. Orlando is about attracting people from London gateways and to move to the direct capability. We hope to make further indents in that marketplace.” (listen here)
In his speech to the event (listen here) Christoph Mueller alluded to the fact the airline was threatened with bankruptcy five years ago “because we have overdone it a bit”. Privately to Travel Extra in reference to another airline he said: You can lose an AWFUL lot of money long haul. “In the past Aer Lingus try to fly the north Atlantic trying to rely on the Irish and US market alone, that was never going to work successfully.”
There is speculation that the craft is an ex-Aer Lingus aircraft which is currently leased by ILFC to Air Asia X. A 210-seat 2-class B767 will be wet-leased (probably from Omni) to increase capacity on Shannon-Boston, releasing a B757 for the third daily JFK rotation. A330 operation is not now planned for Toronto.
Almost unnoticed in the kafuffle were new routes to Nantes 3w (in competition with year-round by Ryanair) and continuing Agadir through summer. Mike Rutter said the increased capacity to key routes which are in demand from Irish holiday makers was of “equal significance,” Aer Lingus increases include Dublin-Paris, Palma by 50pc, Stuttgart by 25pc, Bilbao by 20pc, Fuerteventura by 100pc, Bordeaux by 20pc, Lyon by 17pc, Venice by 12pc, Faro by 6pc, Izmir by 55pc and Bourgas by 25pc whileCork-Malaga will increase.
The new mobile and web platform will be announced early in the New Year.
Wednesday was a big day for other reasons for Aer Lingus. The 70pc approval rating the pension plan proposals sent the Aer Lingus share price soaring 7pc. Christoph Mueller said an EGM would be scheduled for mid-December (listen here). SIPTU made clear that the dispute was still far from resolution amid claims that Aer Lingus and DAA were moving at different speeds towards resolution. The figures for Q3 the “championship quarter” in northern hemisphere aviation, were the strongest since the recession, capacity up 29pc, revenue up 34pc, short haul up 2.2pc, Aer Lingus Regional up 17.7pc, and passenger revenue up 5.5pc. Christoph Mueller said September was the month when Aer Lingus were back to normal from the lingering impact of industrial action (listen here). Christoph Mueller told RTÉ’s Conor Brophy that he expected further expansion in 2015 (listen here).
Ryanair raised its post-tax profit guidance for the year to €750m-€770m from €650m which was already up from €600m following first half results released on Monday (press release here, more detail here), passenger numbers up 7pc to 51.3m with load factor up 4 to 91pc, average fare up 5pc to €54, total revenue up 7pc to €3.5bn. Half year unit costs fell by 2pc. Fuel hedge was extended to 90pc for FY16, at $93 per barrel. Winter capacity is being raised: Traffic will grow by 12pc in Q3 and by 20pc in Q4 – an extra 2.2m passengers. Average fares are to fall 3pc to 5pc in Q3 and 6pc to 10pc in Q4, and the airline will ground 50 aircraft as opposed to 70 aircraft last winter. The share of website visits in England is 21pc, up from 14pc in December 2013 and ahead of easyJet (18pc) for the first time. Michael O’Leary gave his usual virtuoso performance on Bloomberg (watch here, story here) in which he said he expects to fly 89m passengers in the year to March compared with 82m to March 2014 and expects half of this growth to come at primary airports. The London Telegraph quoted Michael O’Leary: ‘I was wrong; the customer is always right.’ Neil Sorahan told RTÉ’s Conor Brophy that the figures were helped by a 9pc fall in fuel costs per passenger (listen here).
“A sleek, modern vessel, full of light, colour and character.” Ireland’s Travel Agents returned from their conference on board Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas with broadly positive opinions. Two enthusiastic groups, including former President Clare Dunne whose initiative the cruise ship conference was, got to sample the virtual skydive, ifly by Ripcord, while Clare and Martin Skelly were among those brought on the London Eye inspired lofted pod, North Star (pictured), to gaze on the cruise ship and the shimmering ocean beyond on a bright October day. Agents were impressed by inside cabins with virtual screens, the extra dimensional entertainment at 360 and the ever-popular Mamma Mia. Some agile Cork Travel Agents brought the spirit of Sonia O’Sullivan to the running track. Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry was, once again, first to sample the swimming pool on the new ship retaining his record from the last six Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship launches. He was not first to sample, but certainly one of the most satisfied with the lobster thermidor at The Grande, the ship’s complimentary formal-night-is-every-night venue. Travel Extra understands that the Dynamic Dining concept, pioneered by NCL but now at the heart of Royal Caribbean’s F&B strategy, is to be extended throughout the fleet. Travel Extra also sampled Silk, the Thai themed restaurant. The two-level Music Hall became the bar of choice for the Irish agents and undoubtedly, for their customers.
The famous Wi-Fi, faster than the rest of the ships on the ocean combined but not up and running for the pre-launch cruise and the subject of much criticism at the press conference (see Jane Archer’s Quantum of the Seas: Patchy Wi-Fi and malfunctioning bionic bartenders and Karia Cripps of CNN’s tipsy robot bartenders), will be switched on when the ship arrives at Cape Liberty tomorrow.
In response to a question from Travel Extra at the cruise company’s press conference, Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain said the North Star was the big surprise for him when the ship was eventually launched and fitted out for passengers. “It’s a much more intimate experience than I realised, and I loved how comfortable and natural it was.”
It was a somewhat emotional evening when Tony Collins, Chairman of the Topflight Travel Group, was presented with “The Decoration of Honour in Gold” by Austrian Ambassador Thomas Nader at a ceremony at the Austrian Embassy Residence in Ballsbridge. The award was for services to Austrian Tourism and Tony had gathered family and friends from Ireland and Austria for the evening, Erika Mott, John Small and Simon Daly amongst them.
Tony talked about his love of Austria (listen here) and how he started tour operating with an allocation of 20 seats on a Dublin-Munich service from Simon Daly who was then with Ryanair (listen here). He said he was accepting the award on behalf of all Topflight staff (listen here). Picture shows a reconvened group of Tony Collins Simon Daly and John Small of the Ski club of Ireland with a photograph of themselves taken at Innsbruck in 1989. Good job none of them are getting any older. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
American ambassador Kevin O’Malley spoke of the importance of Aer Lingus to the Irish diaspora in the USA (listen here). Picture shows Christoph Mueller and Kevin O’Malley being photographed at the launch with Jill McDonald and Anna Moore of Aer Lingus. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
The most interesting speech at World Travel Market may have been at the Thailand event by English tour operator Devid Kevans (pictured), a pioneer of the “Hide and Chic” movement of resorts that take a while to get to but offer complete recluse (listen here). His speech extolled the virtues of Thailand while drawing attention to his concerns over tourism policy and the military regime’s opinions about bikinis. See more pictures from World Travel Market here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Last week’s ITAA conference tackled questions such as the impact of the arrival of new multinational players in the Irish travel scene. John Galligan used the D word, disintermediation, a near-forgotten buzzword of the 1990s back in the vocabulary for the first time in many years.
A question left unanswered from the ITAA conference was whether Aer Lingus would return their short haul inventory to the GDS’s now that Ryanair have done so. Travel Extra put the question to CEO Christoph Mueller at Wednesday’s Summer 2015 launch and the response was negative. “We will not be going back in history increasing our GDS share,” but he did say that he would do so “If we have the right terms and conditions.” He also expects change to come with the IATA NDC which he described as a step in the right direction: “The customer buying an economy ticket in the United States can never order a meal. We would be restricting our product. In short haul nobody can buy lounge access because you cannot find all that stuff.” (Listen here).
Picture shows Ciaran Carraher at World Travel Market where he launched a new company, Letzgo City Tours, which he says are “all about experiencing the extraordinary” (listen here). The company offers premium guided tours of Dublin including an impressive sounding Bram Stoker tour (listen here), London (listen here), Paris (listen here), New York (listen here) and, eventually in late 2015 or 2016, Rome.
Joao de Figuiredo President of Portuguese Tourism talked to Travel Extra at World Travel market about the Irish market and the work to build numbers in the shoulder seasons (listen here). Picture shows Jose Aragao of the Portuguese national office in London, Celina Tavares from the Portuguese National Tourist Office in Dublin and Joao de Figuiredo, Presidente Turismo de Portugal, at World Travel market in Excel, London, Nov 3 2014
Commission of Aviation Regulation said agent renewal applications submitted for travel agents indicated an average increase of 5pc in turnover on last year. 23 travel agents and 46 tour operators are licensed to operate in Ireland including 13 newly licensed entities,11 travel agents and 2 tour operators.
- The Travel Professionals will host a free Skillnet for job seekers looking to break in to the outbound travel industry. The event, Taste for Travel, takes place on November 11 in Temple Bar Hotel at 2.30pm. Training is available in a number of areas including: Management Development, Sales & Marketing, Health and Safety and Technology. Those interested can register their interest at this website or email their CV and cover letter to email@example.com.
- GTA unveiled Emutrip, a free-to-use itinerary builder for mobile.
- Travelport announced a distribution agreement with AirAsia India. The carrier’s fare and ancillary services will now be distributed through Travelport’s Travel Commerce Platform.
- You can upgrade customers to First Class one-way with British Airways when you book them on an eligible Club World flight until Dec 12. Travel from now until March 31.
- Click and Go is offering 3 nights B&B in the Marco Polo Hotel, Rome from €199pp incl. flights, departing December 13.
- Enniskillen Hotel’s winter packages: 1 night B&B from €77pp incl. one dinner, available Sunday-Thursday; 2 nights B&B from €115pp incl. one dinner, available Sunday-Thursday; 2 nights B&B from €128pp incl. one dinner from €128pp, available Friday-Saturday.
- Sunway is offering one week self-catering in the Tamiamo Tropical Apartments in Tenerife for €629pp, depart Dec 21.
- Monart Destination Spa in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford is offering two nights B&B plus gala New Year’s Eve dinner and fireworks display from €395pps.
- Thomson all inclusive Sharm El Sheikh offer: 7 nights Dublin-Red Sea Riviera, Tropican Rosetta and Jasmin Club, Sharm El Sheikj from €1,591 for two adults and one child or from €2,579 for two adults and two children, depart 21 May.
- Discover Travel escorted tour of India: 7 nights from €2,279pp incl. taxes, depart Dec 26.
- Sunway is offering 3 nights in San Franciso’s Cova Hotel and 4 nights in Excalibur, Las Vegas from €899pp incl. flights and taxes. Travel March 2015.
- Falcon’s all inclusive Sharm El Sheikh offer with free Kid’s Club: 7 nights Dublin- Red Sea Rivera, Sharm El Sheikh from €2,279 for two adults and one child or from €3,179 for two adults and two children, depart June 18.
- Sunway MSC cruise line offer: 7 nights all inclusive from €979pp incl. flights, transfers and drinks. Book before Nov 30.
- ITAA’s Christmas shopping offers: 4 nights in Strathcona Hotel, Toronto from €749pp incl flights, depart Nov 28;5 nights B&B in Savoy Frankfurt Hotel from €299pp incl. flights, depart Dec 9; and 3 nights B&B in St George Hotel, Prague from €225pp incl. flights, depart Dec 1.
- Sunway 14 night trans-Canadian escorted tour from €3,639pp. Book before Nov 27, depart April 28.
- Manor House Hotels and Irish Coutnry Hotels added Galgorm Resort & Spa in Antrim and Teach de Broc & The Sneem Hotel in Kerry to its portfolio. Picture shows Nicola Duggan, General Manager, Sneem Hotel; Aoife Brock, proprietor, Teach de Broc; Mary Fitzgerald, Chairperson of Manor House Hotels and Irish Country Hotels; and Paul Smyth, Operations Director, Galgorm Resort & Spa Co Antrim.
- Adrian Weckler reported that Dublin hotels hiked up room rates by up to 600pc during the Web Summit.
- Hotel group Starwood is rolling out Bluetooth enabled room access in ten of its hotels. The SPG Keyless app allows loyalty members to enter rooms using their smartphone.
- Over 200 delegates from Ireland’s hotel sector will attend the Future of Tourism in Ireland event in Powerscourt Hotel Resort & spa on Nov 11 (9.30am-4.30pm). Speakers include Paul Keeley of Fáilte Ireland and management trainer Sean Weafer.
- Jurys Inn’s top tips for “switching off” from technology on holiday: Try a digital detox app that disables your smartphone for 30 minutes to one hour; use a screen filter app to adjust your phone’s brightness in the evenings; and avoid using your mobile device as an alarm clock – opt for the wakeup call from reception instead.
- Disney will expand its theme parks in Japan in a $6m investment. A large proportion of the money will go towards upgrading Fantasyland in Tokyo Disneyland, which attracted more visitors last year than Disneyland California.
- Bansko was named the cheapest family ski resort for the under-charged traveller, if such a thing exists, Traveltech gave a few hints on how to recharge your phone faster.
- The investigation into the Virgin Galactic spacecraft crash which killed one pilot could take up to a year, according to Christopher Hard, head of the US transport safety agency. Virgin Galactic said it will press ahead with building the second SpaceShipTwo, despite the ongoing investigation.
- New Zealand prime minister John Key threatened to close down adventure tour operators who don’t comply with new regulations that require operators to register with WorkSafe NZ.
- Booking agent com paid out compensation to customers after as many as 10,000 were affected by an online phishing scam.
- A Polish student died after losing her balance taking a selfie near Puente de Triana in Seville.
- If your name is Elizabeth Gallagher, you’re in luck: Jordan Axani from Toronto is looking for a woman that shares the same name as his ex-girlfriend to join him on a round-the-world flight.
Food & Wine
- Chef Yvonne Carty will run a Christmas-themed chocolate cooking class at the Butlers Chocolate Experience in Dublin on Nov 29, 1pm-3.30pm. Cost: €40, book here.
- The Abu Dhabi Food Festival takes place February 5-21.
- Alila Hotel in Jakarta appointed Alex Ensor (pictured) as executive chef.
- Stephen Kavanagh of Aer Lingus said he expects negotiations with Airbus to conclude next spring with the order likely to concentrate on A350 rather than the A330neo but hinted that the A321neoLR is of significant interest. First deliveries would be in 2018.
- BA Cityflyer is to operate 1w to Menorca from May 30 to 26 Sept 26 using an E-190.
- Ryanair told their analysts conference on Monday that product and pricing are now visible on 95pc of European business house GDS screens.
- Westjet will start their Dublin-St John’s-Toronto service 6 weeks earlier next summer on May 1.
- Ryanair said they expect Dublin airport traffic to grow from 20.1m to 21.8m. Winter scheduled capacity is up 7pc to 950,000 while Aer Lingus flights could be down about 11pc.
- SAS will operate a twice weekly Dublin-Gothenburg service in July and August and once weekly for the rest of the summer season.
- Vueling confirms Barcelona 5w between June 1 and Aug 31 2015.
- Ryanair is to lease seven aircraft in for summer 2015.
- As for Christoph Mueller’s intentions when he retires as Aer Lingus CEO next May, only five rumours this week. Time to start a few more?
- Aer Lingus celebrates Movember with “Des the Mo Aircraft” (pictured). Des’s makeover was documented on Snapchat.
Ryanair plans to start selling holiday packages and will introduce a price comparison feature on ryanair.com.
- CarTrawler estimates airline ancillary revenue will reach $49.9bn worldwide in 2014.
- Ratings agency S&P said the DAA is likely to see profits jump 12pc to €180m this year.
- Knock Airport reported passenger numbers were 665,400 in 2013, down 3pc. However, a spokesperson said it is “well ahead” or its 2014 target of 696,000 passengers.
- EasyJet announced the launch of a new route from Belfast to Split, Croatia. The route will operate once a week throughout the summer, commencing May 20. The airline expects to carry 6,000 passengers on the service. Fares from £26.00pp.
- Willie Walsh, CEO of BA’s parent International Airlines Group, said that there is no business case for doubling capacity at Gatwick airport. “I don’t believe that demand is as strong as Gatwick would argue. We believe there are opportunities to continue to grow but we don’t see a case for doubling the capacity at Gatwick in the near future – particularly if charges go up. That’s not going to be an attractive environment for airlines,” he said in an interview with The English Guardian.
- An inquiry into Belfast City Airport’s proposal to scrap its seats for sale restriction will be held in March 2015. The airport is currently limited to selling two million departing seats a year.
- British Airways and American Airlines seat sale on all fares ex Dublin, Cork and Shannon sold between now and Nov 17 for travel until May 31. USA and Canada specials include: New York from €192, Boston from €206, LA from €184, Toronto from €184 and Vancouver from €271.
- Emirates’ winter promotion: Dublin-Dubai from €499, Sydney from €822, Dehli from €599, Johannesburg from €677 or Taiwan from €728. Available until Nov 21.
- Malaysia Airlines is expected to declare MH370 as lost by year end, opening up payment of full compensation to victim’s’ next of kin.
- A B737 operated by Indian airline SpiceJet crashed into a stray buffalo during take-off from Surat city. Nobody was injured by the aircraft suffered substantial damage in the collision.
- Qatar Airways’ Global Promotion Week sale ends tomorrow, Nov 10.
- Spirit Airlines, often referred to as “America’s most hated airline”, embraced its bad reputation and asked passengers to “unleash the hate” in a survey on what they hate most about flying with Spirit. 8,000 frequent-flier miles were up for grabs as an incentive for feedback. 28,205 people responded. Unsurprisingly, the $100 charge to travel with a carry on was the subject of 40pc of the rants. A word search revealed that the word “sucks” appeared in 914 responses, “crap” came up 201 times and the F word was included 75 times.
- Etihad Airways appointed Eszter Ungar (pictured) as Head of Corporate Affairs for Europe.
- Aer Lingus added new products to its on board shopping range, Boutique. A Christmas Gift Guide will be available on all flights from November 12 to December 31.
- Qatar Airways took delivery of three new aircraft in one day: two B787 Dreamliners and one B777.
- The Cobalt Light System is being trialled in 63 airports in Europe and Australia in the hope of ending the ban on airline passengers carrying liquids over 100ml in the hand luggage. The scanner can check liquid contents on bottles without having to open them.
- Etihad Airways announced the recruitment of 40 pilots from Alitalia as part of a global campaign to hire 500-600 captains and first officers over the next three years. Captain Francesco De Liddo and First Officer Paolo Sala (pictured) are the first of 40 Alitalia pilots to transfer to Etihad Airways.
- Air Berlin appointed Stefan Pichler as its new CEO, succeeding Wolfgang Prock-Shauer who announced he will step down in February.
- Passengers on a Vietnam Airlines flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Sydney had to wrestle a man to the ground and tie his hands with cable tie after he tried to force the emergency aircraft door open mid-flight.
- Costa Cruises launched its new flagship vessel the €550m 4,947-passenger Costa Diadema in Genoa. The ship will offer seven-day Mediterranean itineraries from Savona, Italy, until the end of the summer 2015 season
- Hurtigruten is to charter cruise ship Nordstjernen for short break cruises to Svalbard beginning in 2015.
- English-based Cruise & Maritime Voyages will have a new flagship from spring 2015 when it takes delivery of 1,250-passenger Grand Holiday, to be renamed Magellan.
- The 800-passenger Marco Polo has been dislodged from a mud bank on which it was stranded on the Lofoten Islands off Norway and has resumed its 14-day cruise.
- Three Fred Olsen Cruise Line ships Black Watch, Braemar and Balmoral will be dry docked for refurbishment in Nov-Dec 2014.
- One crew member died and another has been hospitalised after a lifeboat accident while being lowered in order to perform maintenance work on the hull of the Coral Princess in Colon, Panama.
- Carnival Corporation unveiled a hybrid wireless network for its nine cruise brands that will deliver onboard Internet speeds 10 times faster than currently available.
- Celebration Cruise Line cancelled all cruises scheduled for the first two weeks of November after Bahamas Celebration struck an unknown object in the water. Celebration sails two-night voyages from the Port of Palm Beach to Freeport and back.
Kildare Village will add 36 new boutiques in an expansion scheduled to open November 2015 which will bring the total number in the Village to 100. The plans include two restaurants and a Visitor Centre with enhanced hospitality services for guests, as well as 437 parking spaces, which have been created for the development. The expansion will add an additional 5,544 square metres to Kildare Village, increasing the total size to 16,570 square metres.
Thirteen Irish tourism companies travelled to a B2B workshop and networking event in Munich. Fifty representatives from conference companies based in southern Germany attended the Tourism Ireland organised event. Picture shows Aoife O’Loingsigh, Tourism Ireland; Michelle Blake, The Marker Hotel; Michelle Murphy, Kerry Convention Bureau; Karen Kelly, Druids Glen Resort; Susan Sheehan, Clyde Court Hotel; Ronan Flood, Advantage ICO; Evelyn O’Sullivan, Cork Convention Bureau; John Callely, Teeling Whiskey Company; Róisín Gaffney, Fáilte Ireland; and (back, l-r) Melita Williams, Bespoke Northern Ireland; Matti Reuter, Royal Marine Hotel, Dún Laoghaire; Stephanie Hughes, Ballsbridge Hotel; John Callely, Odyssey International; and Brian Miley, Muckross Park Hotel & Spa.
Pictured at the American Ireland Fund Dinner at Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, Killiney, is Kevin F O’Malley, US Ambassador to Ireland with Eithne Fitzpatrick, Owner and Mark Scott Lennon, General Manager, Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel.
Ireland’s Blue Book added four new properties to its collection of country houses, hotels and restaurants: Ghan House in Carlingford, Co. Louth; Campagne restaurant in Kilkenny and Restaurant Forty One in Dublin.
Illusionist Keith Barry (pictured) launched the programme for the Winterval Festival in Waterford City. Thirty-two Christmas events will take place in the city from Nov 21 to Dec 23.
A Four Ball consisting of members from Adare and Rathbane Golf Clubs in Limerick won the Clare Ultimate Golf Challenge at Domoland Castle Gold & Country Club on Thursday. Bart Moylan, Alphonsus Franklin, Fred Hofker and Pat Newman scored a Round of 74. All proceeds raised by the event will go towards Clare Tourism Forum’s 2015 marketing campaign.
Luxury overnight train, Belmond Grand Hibernian, will launch in summer 2016, offering two-, four and six-night journeys across the island. Belmond acquired ten carriages from Iarnród Éireann which will be refitted as a sleeper train with accommodation for up to 40 guests in 20 en-suite cabins. The Grand Hibernian will also feature four interconnecting suites to accommodate families, two restaurant cars and an observation bar car.
Eight group tour operators from the USA and Canada visited Ireland to attend a B2B event organised by Fáilte Ireland at Bellinter House. The group’s itinerary included trips to Trim Castle, the Brú na Bóinne visitor centre, the Battle of the Boyne visitor centre, Powerscourt House & Gardens, the Irish National Stud, Japanese Gardens, Glasnevin Museum and Dublin Castle. Picture shows the operators with Frieda O’Connell of the Irish National Stud and Jean McCluskey of Tourism Ireland.
Tourism Ireland and destination management company BEM Ireland hosted a group of representatives from American business tourism companies this week. The group’s itinerary included Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, the Gap of Dunloe, Muckross Traditional Farms, the Dingle Peninsula, the Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College and St Patrick’s Cathedral. Picture shows the group at the Cliffs of Moher with Marie McKown of Tourism Ireland, and Rory O’Shaughnessy, Eamon Howley and Averil Burke, all BEM Ireland.
Hailo chief executive Tom Barr said the taxi service is to ramp up its battle with Uber in Ireland after it quit the US market.
Actress Eva Longoria was in Dublin this week for the Web Summit. While she was in town, Eva asked her 7m Twitter followers to recommend the best places to visit. She had fry in Bewley’s Café, went shopping on Grafton Street, visited Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, posed for pictures outside the Old Library, saw Jonathan Swift’s grave at St Patrick’s Cathedral, dinner in Elephan and Castle and finally tucked in to a pack of smoky bacon Tayto crisps for dessert.