The headlines this week:
*The year in travel in 60 seconds
*Let the sales begin
*Overseas visitors up 8.6pc
*A record year for Ireland’s top attractions
Travel Extra TV
Our video of the week captures the year in travel in 60 seconds. Athbhliain faoi shéan agus faoi mhaise daoibh. Watch here.
- Tourism Ireland’s new Jump Into Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way TV ad for North America which kicked off on n NBC, CBS and ABC, in seven cities, New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Francisco and Los Angeles on Friday continuing until New Year’s Eve Watch here. New Jump into Ireland. Watch here.New Jump Into the north. Watch here.
- Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry reviews Sportgastein ski resort. Watch here.
- ¡Magia en pleno vuelo! Santa Claus climbed on board an Iberia flight to spread some Christmas joy. Watch here.
- Aloft Hotels uploaded a series of live music sessions at Aloft London Excel. Dublin band Hudson Taylor gave a guitar masterclass. Watch here.
- Happy Christmas from Ryanair. Watch here.
- Christmas at Dublin Airport with Today FM. Watch here.
- The Sarah Middleton Beat It Dance School performed a Christmas dance at Ireland West Knock on Monday. Watch here.
- Two jets bumped into each other while on the taxiway at New York’s LaGuardia Airport with one tearing the wingtip off the other. Watch here.
- A one man band plays Christmas songs at Seattle Airport. Watch here.
- British Airways Holidays new TV ad. Watch here.
- EasyJet‘s “cheeky” Happy Bums TV campaign. Watch here.
- How to remove a radar from Heathrow in one minute. Watch here.
The main travel sales started Friday: Aer Lingus already had their sale under way; USA from €209, Europe from €40, Britain from €20, book by Jan 9, travel Jan 1 to April 500. Emirates Business Class fares from Dublin start at €1,900 to Dubai, €3,075 to Australasia and €2,343 to Africa with Economy Class fares starting from €474 to Dubai, €791 to Australasia and €617 to Africa (book by Jan travel between Jan 16 and Nov 30). Malaysian Airline’s sale started Friday with free stopover in Kuala Lumpur, free side trips within Malaysia for passengers with return tickets to Australia and New Zealand and savings to destinations across Malaysia, Southeast Asia and Australasia. Sale continues until Jan 26. Topflight started their January Sale on Friday with savings up to 50pc, claiming this is their biggest ever sale.
It was has been a record year for dozens of Ireland’s leading visitor attractions. In the annual battle between the big two the Guinness Storehouse is up 9.6pc on last year and has already reached 1,267, 807 while Dublin Zoo is also enjoying its best ever year, up 3pc to 105,000. The Cliffs of Moher passed the 1m mark for the first time last month while the National Aquatic Centre, up 9pc, has passed 900,000 for the first time. Combined visitor numbers at the three National Museums passed the million mark in November, three weeks earlier than the previous three years in which they reached 1m. Tayto Park in Ashbourne passed the half million barrier and is in the top ten for the first time. Glasnevin Botanic Gardens, up 14pc to 670,000, Fota up 19pc to 434,000, Trinity Science Gallery, up 15pc to 390,000, the National Library exhibition centre, up 18pc to 327,000, the Chester Beatty Library, which passed 300,000 visitors of the first time on Monday, Castletown House in Celbridge, up 16pc to 283,000, Glenveagh National Park, up 25pc to 146,000 and the Little Museum of Dublin, up 80pc to 93,000 were also big movers. While Botanic Gardens Belfast is a walk through park meaning it is hard to determine exact usage, 220,000 attended special events there in 2014. Not officially a visitor attraction, but the biggest excursion destination in the country, Kildare Village, reported figures are up 5pc to 2.51m visitors. The estimated top 30 for 2014 is likely to work out like this: 1 Guinness Storehouse 1,268,000; 2 Dublin Zoo 1,057,000; 3 Cliffs of Moher 1,046,500; 4 Nat Aquatic Centre 935,472; 5 Giant’s Causeway Centre 730,000; 6 Titanic 657,128; 7 Book of Kells 647,595; 8 Nat Gallery 635,156; 9 Botanic Gardens Glasnevin 627,000; 10 Tayto Park Ashbourne 483,000; 11 Nat Museum Kildare St 441,000; 12 Farmleigh 435,000; 13 Fota Wildlife Park Cork 435,000; 14 Belfast Botanic Gardens 425,000; 15 Ulster Museum 441,000; 16 Derry Walls 411,000; 17 St Patrick’s Cathedral 410,000; 18 Science Gallery 390,000; 19 Blarney Castle 365,000; 20 Newbridge Silverware 3330,000; 21 Kilmainham Gaol Dublin 326,000; 22 Chester Beatty Lib Dublin 311,000; 23 Nat Library 307,000; 24 Natural History Museum 301,000; 25 W5 Odyssey, Belfast 297,000; 26 Bunratty Castle 285,000; 27 Castletown House 284,000; 28 Pickie Fun Park 275,000; 29 Jameson Distillery Dublin 273,000; 30 Rock of Cashel 268,000. Obviously, numbers are subject to confirmation.
The CSO reported growth of 8.6pc in overseas visitors to Ireland for the January to November period with record inbound figures from North America up 15pc, Germany, France and Spain, Australia and New Zealand (up 9.2pc). Britain is up 8pc for the first 11 months. Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons predicted 7.74m visitors in 2015 surpassing the previous record year of 2007. The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation will release their annual report on Tuesday.
Europe’s resorts welcomed a big snow storm this weekend across the northern and western Alps. The snow hit the western edge of the Alps at around 1am yesterday morning and quickly spread east. By daybreak it was snowing in virtually all French resorts and most of Switzerland and continued east into Austria during the afternoon. All of Kitzbuhel’s ski lifts are open today (Sunday) for the first time with Zell am Zee and Skiwelt also up and running. Excellent skiing was available across both Norway and Sweden this week following fresh snowfall. Excellent skiing is available across the USA at present, with large snowfalls recorded and predicted across Utah and Colorado. Picture shows the newly opened Club Med in Val Thorens in advance of the snowstorm.
Meanwhile, snow and sleet forced Leeds Bradford Airport in England to close on Saturday and flights into Liverpool Airport were diverted to Manchester while snow was cleared.
A large crowd of colleagues, friends and family turned out at Mount Argus yesterday to say farewell to John Donohue. John, who was most recently associated with the promotion of Las Vegas and New York in Ireland, spent three decades working in the aviation and hospitality industry in Ireland. Everyone in Travel Extra extends our sympathy to Simon and to John’s extended family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Sunway has added Mark Warner to its brand portfolio including Corsica, Kos, Rhodes and Lemnos, and Turkish resorts. Ski destinations include Zell am See and St Anton in Austria, Courchevel, La Plagne, Les Deux Alpes, Meribel, Tignes and Val d’Isere in France and Courmayeur in Italy. Sunway recently acquired the Wings Abroad programme to Turkey.
The Walt Disney Company, trading as disneyholidays.ie, has been issued with a new travel agency licence by the Commission of Aviation Regulation.
There will be a service for the late Jimmy Murphy in Ireland on January 12. Picture shows Jimmy in happier times, on board MV Riasc, a converted hospitality barge at a river cruise launch on Dublin’s Grand Canal in February 2003. Travelpulse ran a piece about Jimmy Murphy’s life in travel.
Nine in ten Irish hotels and guesthouses have seen an increase in business in 2014, according to the Irish Hotels Federation’s latest survey. Two-thirds of hotels and guesthouses took on additional staff this year. However, almost two in five hoteliers say they are still concerned about the viability of their business.
Adrian Fitzgerald is to head up the new Irish operation of hotel distribution technology provider for the B2B travel industry, Hotelzon. The Hotelzon network has recently extended into Denmark, France and Poland and forms part of Travelport’s ongoing expansion plans for the business. Travelport acquired Hotelzon six months ago, forming part of Travelport’s ongoing strategy to redefine travel commerce, with a particular focus on growing in both the hotel and corporate travel space.
Italy’s antitrust authority has fined travel planning website TripAdvisor €500,000 following complaints of improper business practices lodged by a national hoteliers’ association and a consumer protection agency that TripAdvisor had failed to adopt controls to prevent false reviews, while at the same time promoting the site’s content as “authentic and genuine.”
- Paul Grehan has been appointed HR Manager at Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel.
- Hyatt Hotels is to roll out free Wi-Fi in rooms and public spaces in all of its hotels.
- Hilton Worldwide‘s digital check-in service for HHonors members is now live in over 4,100 hotels.
- Maui Visitors Bureau will produce a safety video next year aimed at warning tourists about the risks associated with hiking and swimming in the ocean.
- Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris is advertising a one-night stay for six people on January 6 through Airbnb — just in time for the start of the store’s big sale on January 7.
- North Korea is expected to lift its blanket ban on all foreign visitors.
- The first Rolex boutique opened in Amsterdam.
- The Irish Times had a look at the new passport card for travel within Europe.
- Trains arriving and departing King’s Cross station in London were cancelled on Saturday because of overrunning Network Rail works. The service is reduced today. Here is how Twitter reacted to the news, according to Channel 4.
- The Canary Islands launched its new winter campaign for the European markets, promoting themselves as an unbeatable “revitalisation” destination. Watch here.
- The World Islamic Travel Summit makes its debut in Abu Dhabi from October 19 to 21, 2015.
- A leaked CIA guide reveals how to travel like a spy: No chance of being a nervous passenger — “shaking or trembling hands, rapid breathing for no apparent reason, cold sweats, pulsating carotid arteries, a flushed face, and avoidance of eye contact” will arouse suspicion.
- How many New Year’s parties around the world could you attend in 48 hours with the help of a private jet? You could aim for 60 countries. But you would have to spend 19 hours and 40 minutes travelling at thousands of miles per hour, reaching potentially fatal levels of G force.
- Bhutan 2015 festivals: Paro Tshechu, March 31 to April 4; Haa Summer Festival/ Alpine Summer Festival, July 5 and 6; Jamolhari Mountain Festival, October 8 and 9; Trongsa Tshechu, December 20-22.
- A red armoured tank has been launched as a public taxi in St Petersburg after a long licensing campaign.
- Scenes for the new James Bond film, Spectre, will be shot at Sölden ski resort in Austria.
- Gift shops in the Eiffel Tower closed for two days due to a strike by sales staff.
- Italy’s antitrust authority fined TripAdvisor €500,000 following complaints from a hoteliers association and a consumer protection agency.
- TAZARA, the Tanzania-Zambia cross border railway service, will resume operations on Dec 30.
- Click and Go is offering a 5-night Northern Lights & Arctic Highlights experience with Hurtigruten from €1,049pp incl. direct flights from Dublin, checked bag, transfers, B&B hotel accommodation, taxes and charges. Depart March 18. Call 01 637 1699 to book.
- Falcon Holidays is offering 7 nights all inclusive Dublin to Xperience St George, Sharm El Sheikh from €1,779 for two adults and one child and from €2,349 for two adults and two children. Depart May 21. Call 1850 45 35 45 to book.
- Irish customers booking their Walt Disney World Resort tickets through Attraction Tickets Direct in January will receive 14 day tickets for the price of seven and a free Boggy Creek Airboat ride for every customer.
- Thomson is also offering 7 nights Dublin to Sharm El Sheikh (Jasmine Club). All inclusive from €619pp. Depart May 27.
- Sunway’s winter sun package offers: 7 nights Morocco from €299, depart January 3. 7 nights Tenerife from €299, depart January 4. 7 nights Gran Canaria from €349, depart January 3. 7 nights Fuerteventura from €399, depart January 3. 7 nights Lanzarote from €299, depart January 3. See sunway.ie for more or call 01 2311 800.
- Stena Line is offering 2015 self-catering family camping holidays to England, Scotland and Wales with Haven from €610 for two adults and up to four children incl. return ferry travel by car from Dublin to Holyhead or Rosslare to Fishguard. Book here or call 01 2047 733.
- Flynn Hotels’ January Room Sale starts at midnight, January 9 and runs until January 16. Properties include: The Old Groun Hotel, Ennis; Newpark Hotel, Kilkenny; Imperial, Cork; and Part Hotel, Dungarvan. Nightly rates available from €69 per room incl. breakfast, free Wi-Fi, early check-in/late check out. See flynnhotels.com for more.
Food & Wine
- Food writer Xanthe Clay will chair the Focus on Food conference in Belfast in February.
- USA Today digested the 10 best apps for travelling foodies.
- Irish coffee featured in USA Today’s toast to winter drinking traditions around the world.
Five of the Irish airports are looking at increased passenger numbers in 2014: Dublin will hit 21,614,000 passengers (up 7pc), Aldergrove Belfast International 4.08m (up 1.5pc), Belfast City 2.5m (flat), Cork 2.17m (down 4pc), Shannon 1.66m (up 19pc), Knock 701,575 (up 5.5pc), Derry 370,000, Kerry 300,000, Donegal 50,000, Waterford 35,000 and Indreabhán 20,000.
Delta confirmed that flights between Dublin and Atlanta will begin five times a week from March 29, increasing to a daily service from June 1 using a Boeing 767-300 aircraft with 225 seats. From Atlanta, customers can connect onto more than 100 destinations, of which the most popular include Los Angeles, Orlando and San Francisco. Flights depart Dublin at 11:40am and Atlanta at 9pm, arriving in Atlanta at 3:40pm and Dublin at 9:55am (next day).
An airline passenger spotted new President of the European Council Donald Tusk on a Ryanair flight last week. New president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker Is proposing a new Aviation Package and the withdrawal of the Ground Handling Regulation and Aviation Security Charges Directive, for which the Commission says no agreements are in sight. The aviation bodies have welcomed the move. The Juncker Commission promised to be “big on big things and small on small things”, will stick to its guns.
Aer Lingus advised the stock exchange that the SSIA pension fund proposals brining a resolution to the long standing pension issue had cleared the final hurdle, approval by the Pensions Authority. Listen here to Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry talking about the development on RTÉ Radio’s News at One against a background when the then Pensions Board turned down a previous proposed solution in 2013.
Etihad launched its first A380 service to London Heathrow in the early hours yesterday (Saturday Dec 27). Etihad is to offer a second daily non-stop Abu Dhabi Melbourne- flight from Aug 1 2015. The additional flight will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in 8-40-280 configuration. What it calls the most exclusive ticket in aviation history, the inaugural flight in The Residence by Etihad, has been booked by Miami-based businessman and aviation enthusiast, Gino Bertuccio (pictured) . Norman Jean Roy’s fashion-shoot images on Facebook of the Etihad cabin uniform launch received 45,000 ‘likes’ and 2,100 shares.
- Over 300 airline executives from 120 carriers are expected to attended the Airfinance Journal Dublin conference in January.
- Pioneer aviator and Mayo Woman Nancy Corrigan is to feature on a TG4 documentary to air on Jan 6.
- Michael O’Leary told the London Independent: “You can’t dominate the European air travel industry if we were some kind of a toxic brand.”
- American Airlines have changed their flight time on Dublin-Chicago to 09.40 from 10.35 since United announced they were joining the route.
- Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier said the A350 programme should be profitable by 2019
- Etihad completed the Alitalia takeover deal
- Hamburg Airways suspended operations.
- Turkish Airlines is to place orders for twelve Airbus A321-200 NEO aircraft
- Aer Lingus Regional growth is up 12pc in Cork.
- CAPA Airlines in Transition Summit will take place in Dublin on March 25 and 26.
- Easyjet is rumoured to announce a daily Belfast-Copenhagen service next year.
- Ryanair’s Kerry-Faro route is to restart later than previously in June, July and August next year.
- Airbus delivered the first ever A350 XWB (pictured). The aircraft is ready for service with launch customer Qatar Airways.
- Ryanair reported a “substantial increase” on families booking two holidays or more in 2015 and availing of its Family Extra ‘Fly & Save’ bonus, where families save 20pc on every third booking made.
- Ryanair launched its new United States website, ryanair.com/us. The site urges visitors to “Trade Route 66 for the Wild Atlantic Way”.
- Dublin based aircraft lessor, Avolon, firmed up its contract for 14 A330new
- Shannon expects a 15pc boost in traffic over the Christmas period.
- The Malaysia Airlines tragedies were Facebook’s seventh most talked about event in 2014.
- Etihad Airways announced a second daily Abu Dhabi-Melbourne service from August 1.
- Boeing and Malaysia Airlines celebrated the carriers 100th 737 delivery — a next generation 737-800.
- TV presenter Jonathan Ross is the new film critic for British Airways’ in-flight magazine, High Life.
- Etihad’s social media campaign to launch its first A380 and B787 along with the new cabin crew uniform gained lots of traction, with more than 70m impressions on the airline’s social media profiles.
- Ireland based Waypoint Leasing signs first deal with Brazilian company Lider Taxi.
- Airbus Group NV is suing Skymark Airlines in England over a cancelled $2bn contract for six A380 jets.
- The consultation period for the draft IAA fees order will run until January 25. Click here to view the draft fees order.
- Alitalia and Etihad Airways completed the transfer of air operations from Alitalia CAI to the new Alitalia SAI.
- A fire broke out onboard Costa Cruises’ Costa neoClassica in the Red Sea the day before Christmas Eve.
- Oceania Cruises Engine room damage on Insignia will require nine weeks to repair from the fire which broke out while the ship was docked in St. Lucia on December 11. Three Grand Voyage sailings also are affected. Oceania will provide free business class airfare to Singapore and a one-night pre-cruise hotel stay for those who choose to continue with their Grand Voyage or Around the World cruise.
- Azamara Club Cruises is offering its agents the chance to win one of nine trips, including AzAmazing Evenings designed to showcase local culture through dance, music, theatre and cuisine in exclusive settings. Agents making a booking for the Azamara WAVE campaign running from Dec 26 to Feb 28 will be eligible for the prize draw.
- Storms packing wind gusts of up to 160km/h forced the closure of the port of Calais on the English Channel and the suspension of car ferries. Passengers on board Curnard’s Queen Elizabeth cruise reportedly staged a mini munity after the ship spent four days circling the Channel without docking in the Netherlands for the Christmas markets in Amsterdam.
- Royal Caribbean Cruises announced plans to retrofit 13 Royal Caribbean and six Celebrity Cruises ships with scrubber technology, which is hoped to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by 97pc.
Dublin rock band Kodaline provided the soundtrack, Love Like This, for Tourism Ireland’s US$1.3m Christmas advertising campaign on NBC, CBS and ABC, in seven cities, New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Francisco and Los Angeles on Friday continuing until New Year’s Eve. Ireland will be advertised on PBS for season five of the Downton Abbey series in January and February and the re-run of series four, during December.
Ireland ranks eighth among the Top 20 countries Americans plan to visit in the next 12-24 months according to a study by Resonance Consultancy: 1 Canada; 2 Mexico; 3 Italy; 4 England; 5 France; 6 Germany; 7 Spain; 8 Ireland; 9 Bahamas; 10 Greece; 11 China; 12 Japan; 13 Jamaica; 14 Aruba; 15 Cayman Islands; 16 Puerto Rico; 17 US Virgin Island; 18 St Maarten; 19 Switzerland; 20 Scotland. The survey was conducted with 1,256 active travelers 18 years or older with household incomes of $50,000 or more who had traveled internationally in the past year.
Titanic Belfast welcomed its 2 millionth visitor, Belfast man Michael Sweeney.
Picture shows award winning photographer Tiernan Dolan, known for his photography and work as a GOAL activist in Africa, speaking before Midnight Mass at the restored St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford (named for the local saint whose name also inspired the parents of Mel Gibson). Midnight mass was broadcast throughout Europe from the cathedral, which was badly damaged by fire five years ago. Watch here.
Fáilte Ireland will showcase Ireland with this week’s New Year’s Eve Festival. During the week, 20 international media from nine markets will visit Dublin to cover the three day event. A group of travel operators will meet with the organisers of Tradfest, Bram Stoker and Bloomsday to discuss 2015 and 2016 opportunities.
Tourism Ireland estimates that the north welcomed 1.8m guests in 2014, up 5pc, Campaigns included the Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia and a campaign with Game of Thrones creator HBO. They put a revenue value of £508m on inbound tourism.