The headlines this week:
*Tragedy in Indonesia and Greece
*ITIC gazes into the crystal ball
*Snow ‘sno problem for savvy skiers
Travel Extra TV
Our video of the week shows the terrific successful landing of a Virgin Atlantic VS43 Boeing 747- 400 G-VROM Jumbo Jet on Runway 26L at Gatwick on Monday Dec 29. The video has reached over 1.4m views on YouTube. Watch here.
- Chris Hadfield – the astronaut who was enlisted by Tourism Ireland to showcase Ireland’s top attractions and experiences – posted a video of his guide to optimism in 2015. Watch here.
- Tour America’s year in review: Watch here.
- The Philippines rung in the New Year with a massive firework show throughout the entire Metro Manila area: Watch here.
- Emirates uploaded a compilation video of various social media fans performing the ‘Hello Tomorrow’ theme tune. Watch here.
- Etihad Airways interviewed Gino Bertuccio, the first passenger to experience the airline’s A380 maiden flight in The Residence cabin. Watch here.
- Etihad also uploaded a video introducing one of its on board Butlers who was trained at the Savoy Hotel in London. Watch here.
- Bombardier Aerospace uploaded a video introducing Nicolas Tamestit, the flight test engineer for the CSeries aircraft. Watch here.
- Inside the Airbnb and KLM aircraft apartment: Watch here.
- British Airways showcases events in England that will take place throughout January. Watch here.
The most important sales period of the year continues this week with various airline and retail travel sales. Sales include Aer Lingus (book by Jan 9 Travel by March 31, Britain €20, Europe €40, USA €209), British Airways (book by Jan 27, travel by Sept 30), Virgin Atlantic (book by Jan 27), Air France (book by next Wednesday Jan 7).
So much for a quiet week in travel… Tragedy in Indonesia and Greece cast a pall over the annual New Year excitement in the industry. Memorials were held across Indonesia this week for the victims of Flight QZ8501 amid muted New Year’s celebrations. A total of 155 passengers and 7 crew members were on board. So far, 30 bodies have been recovered. Much speculation arose from the deferral of a request to climb by air traffic controllers because of heavy air traffic: there were seven other aircraft in the vicinity, all at higher altitudes. A total of 98 people remain unaccounted for following the disaster on board the Norman Atlantic en route from Patras to Ancona, familiar to Irish travellers as it serviced the unsuccessful Rosslare to Gijon route from January 2014 until August 29 and had since been chartered to ANEK Lines. It had a capacity of 850 passengers and had 475 passengers on crew at the time of it fire on Sunday, Dec 28. The disruption to Gatwick traffic after the emergency landing by Virgin Atlantic flight VS43 raised questions about the absence of alternative landing facilities such as Manston.
It was crystal ball time again for Irish tourism this week as the Irish Travel Industry Confederation, traditionally more accurate than semi-state bodies, aired their forecast of 6pc growth for 2015. ITIC’s forecasts used to be first in the calendar, but Tourism Ireland, NITB and Fáilte Ireland have all posted growth forecasts of 6pc ahead of them. The four bodies don’t always agree on their figures. Last year Fáilte Ireland predicted 8,000 jobs would be created in the tourism sector and ITIC 6,000, both estimated 5,000 jobs were created in tourism in 2014 and 8,000 in 2015. Is this not a tad ambitious in a year where nothing has been designated to follow the hype of The Gathering and the Wild Atlantic Way? The principle growth is going to come from the long haul market because of the massive volume of connectivity between North America and Ireland, Eamonn McKeon (pictured) said (listen here). Dublin is going to grow at a faster rate than the rest of the island but that gap is going to narrow next year. People were nervous about employing and were managing to get by with fewer staff than they would really like. A survey that the Irish Hotels Federation did in November showed confidence is growing to a level where 60pc of them are expecting to take on more staff. At the peak, which was 2007, there were 240,000 working in the industry. That dropped to about 170,000 and we are now back up to 205,000. While numbers made headlines, it is all about the spend (listen here). He said Ireland was now in good place (listen here), explained the changes that made growth possible (listen here) and while 6pc growth was respectable (listen here), the target of 10m by 2025 was not ambitious (listen here). Eamonn McKeon referred to a lost decade in tourism (listen here.) and the prospect of Irish tourism returning to the levels of 2007 – we are still missing a million visitors (listen here). Eamonn McKeon outlined the regions which were successful in 2014 (listen here) and while the VAT reduction played a part (listen here), he said the Government should refocus its job creation strategy to create jobs around indigenous industries such as tourism (listen here). ITIC chairman Paul Carty of the Guinness Storehouse (pictured) agreed the industry was in better shape than for many years (listen here), expressed surprise at the success of the Canadian routes last year (listen here) but should be vigilant about losing competitiveness (listen here). On emerging markets, Eamonn McKeon said patience was needed for China and India was not showing the expected returns (listen here). Paul Carty said flights to Beijing should be a priority (listen here),
All change in the mountains as the warmest early winter on record comes to an abrupt end. Last weekend’s snowstorm in the Alps created its own headlines (see details in Le Monde), with stranded motorists in France – authorities had to set up shelters in 12 towns to help travellers forced to leave their cars. There was a 24 hour delay on the return of Crystal’s ski charter from Chambery to Dublin. The heavy snow continued in Austria right up until New Year’s Eve. Conditions across the Alps are unrecognisable from a week ago, when many resorts were struggling to open more than a handful of lifts. And it has created an unusual price opportunity for the savvy skier. Those who could travel at short notice were able to hoover up the unsold seats and beds at knock-down rates. Topflight reported a spike in January ski bookings as snow falls across Europe and said they still have some availability for a week’s skiing, from only €299 – including flights, transfers and self-catering accommodation – in January – if you book before January 8. While the temperature has risen, and snow cover has now packed down, the good news is now that the snow is down it will not be allowed to melt by the resorts, most of whom have secured their ski conditions until April. Rain was a nuisance for some skiers this weekend in many lower resorts, Morzine, Megève, Villars, Gstaad and Wengen. The Pyrenees is offering great skiing under the clear skies and temperatures just above freezing. Most lifts and slopes are open. Scandinavia continues to provide good skiing conditions, with most lifts open across Norway, Sweden and Finland.
The Mayor of New York apologised for the response to clear heavy snow after a massive blizzard earlier this week. Some unusual sights elsewhere, the desert of Arizona under 10cms of snow (read here).
Listen here to Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland talking about holiday travel options in 2015.
The Holiday World Show Dublin 2015 Media & Trade Morning takes place from 10am to 1pm on Friday January 23 in the RDS Simmonscourt. This year’s show will see some 2,000 travel experts from 70 countries on hand to provide expert advice and the opportunity to discuss the 2014 season with members of the travel media and travel trade, who can pre-register here.
Eoghan Corry’s expert travel clinics at Holiday World 2015 – January 23 to 25 – will feature more than 40 industry experts and professionals who will answer questions from consumers on subjects such as aviation, hotel prices, family holidays, holidays in the USA, solo travel, ski and snowboard, cruise holidays, walking holidays, luxury for less, visas and vaccinations, and home holiday deals. No booking is required and the advice clinics will take place at 45-minute intervals over the three days of the show.
- Throughout January, Thomson will run a promotion with RTÉ 2FM, giving away holidays to listeners every day. Thomson ran a TV and press campaign, ‘Made Me Smile’, during the Christmas period.
- Lowcostbeds is offering agents the chance to win one of four €500 One4all vouchers. All bookings made with lowcostbeds from now until January 31 will be entered into a weekly draw throughout January. Winners of the One4all vouchers will be announced on Jan 12, 19 and 26 and Feb 2.
- Agents are invited to take part in TravelCube’s trade promotion: for every booking valued over €250 made during January, agents will earn one entry into the a draw to win one of five tickets to see Take That at the 3Arena in Dublin on May 8.
- Eurocamp will introduce the new Avant holiday home in 2015. The new holiday home boasts larger rooms and a part-covered decking area, and is fitted with an iPod dock, microwave and barbecue. The new homes are available at 34 locations throughout Europe, including La Baume on the French Riviera.
- Eurocamp will launch its Aspect accommodation at three new parks in 2015: La Sirène in Languedoc, France; La Garangeoire in the Vendee region; and La Baume on the French Riviera. Aspect homes offer a large living area, bigger bathroom area and a host of features including a dishwasher, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth speakers and an iPod dock.
Manor House Hotels and Irish Country Hotels saw 170 weddings at 25 properties during Christmas, a 10pc increase. Picture shows Mary Fitzgerald, Chairperson of Manor House Hotels and Irish Country Hotels.
Darren Mee, chief financial officer of London-based EasyHotel, resigned this week and will step down on January 29.
English pub chain JD Wetherspoon said it will invest over €4m developing a pub and hotel at Camden Hall on Camden Street, and hopes to create 75 new jobs.
Killarney-based holding company Gleneagle Holdings, which is known for the Gleneagle Hotel and its sister properties, made a loss of €606,228 in 2013 compared to a profit of €45,093 in 2012. Turnover was down 2pc to €21.7m.
Marriott has asked the US Federal Communications Commission to clarify when hotels can block personal Wi-Fi hotspots inside their buildings in order to protect their internal Wi-Fi services. In October the FCC fined Marriott $600,000 after customers complained about the practice and a decision is expected in the coming days to a petition asking the agency to “declare that the operator of a Wi-Fi network does not violate (US law) by using FCC-authorised equipment to monitor and mitigate threats to the security and reliability of its network,” even when taking action causes interference to mobile devices.
Riu Resorts announced that all their resorts will have free Wi-Fi in the New Year.
In a survey by AA Travel Insurance of 830 people resident in Ireland who have been skiing or snowboarding within the last 5 years, 47pc said they always wore a helmet on their last trip, 10pc said they sported an avalanche transceiver or bleeper on their last trip with many sharing that it was built into their ski jackets, while 75pc said they never hit the slopes without their mobile phone.
- EXPO Milan 2015 tickets are on sale now.
- Visit Scotland will launch an e-book guide to Burns Night Celebrations on January 9.
- Minister of tourism in the Bahamas Obie Wilchcombe said the island had “to work on the quality of our people” if it is to remain competitive and to justify its market position as a high-priced destination.
- A lightning strike on a busy beach at Praia Grande, Brazil killed four people and injured four others.
- Haiti will host the annual gathering of the UNWTO Commission for the Americas from May 19 to 22.
- Holidaymakers were advised to contact their travel firms after heavy monsoon rain in Sri Lanka caused serious flooding. Landslide warnings remain in place in the Uva and Central provinces, particularly Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Badulla and Kurunegala. At least 39 people have been killed.
- The Association of British Travel Agents launched a “travel with confidence” advertising campaign, which will feature in the English national press throughout January and early February.
- New Zealand expects a surge of visitors following the release of the final part of The Hobbit film trilogy. From July 2013 to June 2014, 13pc of international visitors said the fantasy film – which was shot in New Zealand – influenced their decision to holiday there.
- Oliver Smith of The London Telegraph wishes for a ban on extra charges at the car hire pick-up desk, cheaper parking at airports and more power sockets at the airport in 2015. Buzzwords must buzz off too, he writes. “The dreaded ‘staycation’ reared its ugly head again this year. The horrid PR word must go, along with ‘weighcations’, ‘floatels’, ‘flightseeing’, ‘twixmas’ and ‘spafaris’.” Read here.
- Venezuela’s tourism ministry denied that the Coromoto ice-cream shop – which holds the Guinness world record for its 863 flavours – closed because of a milk shortage.
- Sunway’s Lapland programme for 2015 is on sale now: 1 night trip, €799 per adult and €699 per child, depart Cork on December 12; 2 nights, €1,199 per adult and €999 per child, depart Dublin on Dec 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19. Deposit €100. See ie to book or call 01-231-1800.
- Sunway’s long haul offers: 7 nights B&B at Seaview Hotel, Phuket, Thailand from €769pp, depart May 6, quote 61240. 3 nights Room Only at the Pennsylvania Hotel, New York from €689pp, depart March 16, quote 63537. 3 nights Room Only at the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Hotel, Toronto from €649pp, depart May 2015, quote 63999. 4 nights B&B at the Cova Hotel, Vancouver from €849pp, depart May 2015, quote 64000. 4 nights Room Only at the Circus Circus Resort Hotel, Las Vegas from €685pp, depart June 2015, quote 63995. See ie to book or call 01-231-1800.
- Sunway’s last minute Self-Catering January offers incl flights, accommodation, taxes, 20kg baggage and resort rep: 7 nights Lanzarote ex Dublin, Cork or Shannon from €200pp, depart January 10. 7 nights Morocco ex Dublin from €269pp, depart January 10. 7 nights Fuerteventura ex Dublin from €299pp, depart January 10. 7 nights Tenerife ex Dublin from €349pp, depart January 11. See ie to book or call 01-231-1800.
- Falcon is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Dublin to Port des Torrent, Ibiza from €2,199 for two adults and one child, and from €2,749 for two adults and two children, depart May 27. Call 1850 45 35 45 to book.
- Thomson couples offer: 7 nights All Inclusive Dublin to Psalidi, Kos from €949pps, depart September 5. See ieto book or call 1850 45 35 45.
- Themeparkbeds.com is offering 14 Day Disney Tickets for the price of 7 days.
- Eurocamp is offering 7 nights in a 3 bedroom Aspect holiday home with decking at La Sirène from €1,008 per family, accommodation only, depart May 25. Eurocamp is also offering 7 nights in a 3 bedroom Avant home with decking at La Baume from €688 per family, accommodation only, depart May 25. To book, visit ie or call 021 425 2300.
Food & Wine
Litfest at Ballymaloe takes place on May 15 to 17. The line-up includes chefs and restauranteurs Alice Waters and April Bloomfield, Chinese food expert Fuchsia Dunlop and food writers Allegra McEvedy and Jack Monroe. There will be a host of panel discussion and cookery demos as well as eating and drinking opportunities. Booking opens at 3pm this Wednesday, January 7, at litfest.ie.
No.1 Pery Square in Limerick is offering a Nollaig na mBan afternoon tea special on January 6, 3pm-6pm, for €25pp with sparkling wine (€19pp without). A harpist will play by the fireside and the chief waiter will be “Lord Barrington”, a tribute to the man who built the original Georgian house. To book, call 061 402 402 or visit oneperysquare.com.
Burns Night food festivals in Scotland: Big Burns Supper Festival, Dumfries & Galloway, January 23-31. The Big Haggis Feast and Ceilidh, Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway, January 23, 7pm-11pm, more info. Alloway 1759 World Haggis Hurling Championship, Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway, January 25, 1pm-3pm, more info. Burns Night Supper with traditional Scottish menu at the Whiski Rooms, Edinburgh, January 25, 5pm and 8.30pm. Tasty Burns Sunday, Cringletie House Hotel, Peeble, January 25, 7pm.
Watford-based pub chain JD Wetherspoon plans to open 30 pubs in Ireland. The company will open new pubs in Cork City, Swords, Blanchardstown and Camden Street, Dublin. Wetherspoon currently operates the Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock and the Forty Foot in Dun Laoghaire.
If you’re looking to kick your caffeine habit for the New Year, Lonely Planet recommended 10 hot drinks you can try instead of your usual cup of Joe: Masala chai from India, Sbiten from Russia and bubble tea from Taiwan are listed.
USA Today listed America’s craziest hybrid dishes. Among those listed: Ravioli pizza in NYC, clobster (crab and lobster) cakes in Southern California and the Foieffle in Washington DC (crispy foie gras-stuffed waffle drizzled with peanut butter, honey, crushed peanuts and Maldon salt).
Flybe will increase its Belfast City to London City service to four flights a day and Edinburgh to London City to six flights a day. From Feb 22, the airline will suspend its Iverness to London City service and will reduce its Exeter to London City service from three daily flights to two from Feb 23.
Flybe added two new routes to Deauville in France, operating 3w from Birmingham and 2w from Exeter, effective for travel from June 22 to September 26.
Etihad Airways signed a codeshare agreement with Aerolíneas Argentinas, effective from Feb 1.
Malaysia Airlines’ started its New Year sale 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.
Thomas Cook Airlines said mobile and tablet searches surpassed laptop searches on St Stephen’s Day: 53pc of searches were on tablets and mobile while 47pc were on PCs or laptops.
Turkish Airlines will add six new services to Africa: two unnamed destinations in Egypt, Abuja in Nigeria, Bamako in Mali, Conakry in Guinea and Juba in South Sudan.
Michael O’Leary’s New Year’s resolution: 97m passengers to fly Ryanair in 2015.
In a poll of 400 fliers, Chicago based airport shuttle service Go Airport Express found that 52pc say they would “be okay” with pets travelling in the cabin, while 63pc said animals should be kept in a designated area to avoid setting off passengers’ allergies.
An EasyJet flight travelling from Geneva to Manchester had to divert to London Stansted following a medical emergency on board.
An AirAsia flight from Manila overshot the runway at Kalibo Internaional Airport upon landing. All 153 passengers and crew were able to disembark safely and no injuries were reported.
Stobart Air will not fly Dublin to Southend in summer 2015 with Flybe operating the route daily. Stobart Air operation at Southend under Flybe branding is to be reduced to just one aircraft.
Ryanair is to transfer double daily flights to Bari and Brindisi and daily flights to Comiso, Marseille and Seville from Rome Ciampino to Rome Fiumicino from summer 2015 allowing Ryanair to add new routes from Ciampino.
Hugh Flynn said ASL is to acquire an additional six B737-400Fs while Europe Airpost and sister carrier Air Contractors will replace their outgoing B737-300F fleet with B737-400Fs. Europe Airpost is to convert its fleet of six B737-300QCs into dedicated freighters with B737-700s set to bolster its growing passenger service fleet. ASL recently acquired Quikjet (Bangalore) and K-Mile Air (Bangkok Suvarnabhumi).
Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said Kerry airport is to receive €616,000 as part of the Government’s €2m funding to regional airports
The EU Transport Commission has discovered serious security flaws at Frankfurt airport which they say in the extreme case, this could threaten a downgrade to non-Schengen airport status.
Emirates is to add a third daily B777-300ER service Dubai-Birmingham from Aug 1 2015. Is Dublin next for triple daily?
Although 2014 saw its fair share of tragic aviation incidents, it was far from the deadliest year on record. Aviation fatalities in 2014 are likely to reach 1,183 following the disappearance of AirAsia flight QZ8501. Although the number is high, it is still below the 1,242 fatalities in 1998 and 1,845 in 1996. The last decade has been the safest in aviation history with 7,490 deaths (compared to 16,766 in the 1970s). According to the Aviation Safety Network, 2013 was the safest year on record with only 265 deaths.
- The recent engine room fire on Oceania Cruises’ Insignia will take up to nine weeks to repair, according to Norwegian Cruise Line. Insignia’s 180-day world cruise has been postponed from January 10 to March 22. A 24-day voyage departing December 17 was also cancelled.
- An American Coast Guard bill signed into law on Dec 18 requires cruise lines to provide information on all crimes committed on cruise ships, including those that are alleged or under investigation.
- New cruise line Bahamas Paradise Cruise has purchased the Carnival Celebration and will use it for two-night Bahamas sailings out of Palm Beach, Florida starting February under the name Grand Celebration.
- A Quantum of the Seas crewmember has been accused of sexually molesting a passenger in her cabin while she slept.
- Visitor numbers at the Cliffs of Moher hit 1,075,000 for 2014, up 12.5pc.
- New accounts show that pre-tax profits at Titanic Belfast decreased by 58pc to £1m in 2014.
- Visitor numbers to Glasnevin cemetery increased 30pc since the release of the documentary, One Million Dubliners. Conor McMahon of Travel Extra reviewed the film for TheCity.ie (read here) and interviewed director Aoife Kelleher (read here).
- Fáilte Ireland hosted a total of 980 travel agents and 1,200 international media from 22 countries in 2014.
- Wicklow town local Linda Saunders reviewed the Emerald Isle Express for The Wicklow People. Read here.
- Bus Éireann saw passenger numbers increase 7pc to 35.4m passengers.