The headlines this week:
- Fancy a day trip to the titan’s embankment?
- Lufthansa now carrying 377,000 to Dublin
- Ryanair announces Dublin to Copenhagen and Lublin
- Caribbean still beats Med 2:1 in cruise ship capacity
- Willie’s rocky road to Dublin to meet rolling politicians
Travel Extra TV
Our video of the week comes from brothers Georgy and Daniil Tarasov, who spent 45 days backpacking through Vietnam shooting footage for this beautiful montage. Watch here.
- A team of artists paint the Northern Lights on an 757 Icelandair jet (check out the interior lighting as well). Watch here.
- Go green for Paddy’s Day with Tourism Ireland: Watch here.
- Do you snore like a jet? Watch here.
- LOT Airlines‘ surprise for its 500,000th passenger. Fans of ABBA will appreciate this one. Watch here.
- Infinium Robotics in Singapore showcases its drone waiters. Watch here.
The print edition of Travel Extra will be distributed in the coming days to travel agencies and tourism professionals throughout the country. The March 2015 edition profiles the champions of the Irish travel industry as selected at the Travel Industry Awards in Dublin’s Mansion House and the writers’ awards in Thomas Prior House. We take a first look at the new Stena Superfast X ferry in the shipyard in Poland, go behind the scenes with the visitor numbers from the industry in 2014, preview the upcoming Travel Agents conference in Jerez, and roundup our tireless travels of recent weeks on behalf of our readers. View online here.
What was IAG CEO Willie Walsh expecting from his will-he won’t-he visit to Dublin this week? The hardball took place behind closed doors on Wednesday. Before this game had begun Paschal Donohoe was talking on the sidelines of the Tourism Ireland St Patrick’s greening of buildings launch, changing the language slightly to emphasise access over the previous barely-understood politician’s mantra of connectivity (which has implications of non-connectivity, fewer direct routes from Dublin, and more feeding BA’s hub at Heathrow, like Dublin used to do in the 1980s). Paschal’s reply was hilarious when he was asked how likely politicians were to do anything about the Aer Lingus-IAG proposed sale a year out from an election. LIsten here to his answer.
Willie’s Thursday morning RTÉ radio interview with Sean O’Rourke (listen here) honed in on slots and jobs. The exchanges (see transcript here) at the Oireachtas Committee (transcript of Willie Walsh’s opening statement to the Oireachtas Transport Committee) with Sean Barrett and Timmy Dooley were not as raucous as might be expected. He attempted to move the debate back from the grey aprons of distant Heathrow back to somewhere more meaningful.
- It is all about growth. It is about growing the Aer Lingus network and with that growth comes growth in jobs, which are quality jobs that would be based in Ireland.
- We want to do this in a friendly way, if they don’t welcome us that’s the end of it.
- Transatlantic services over the Dublin hub, represents a real growth opportunity. We can bring the strength of our joint business partner, American Airlines.
- I spent a long time working in industrial relations in Aer Lingus and am very familiar with collective agreements. All HR-industrial relations issues at IAG. are, therefore, managed within the operating companies.
- One must realise that where Iberia was during the period of reconstruction and where Aer Lingus is are two completely different places.
- Aer Lingus would continue to operate into T2 at Heathrow and British Airways would continue to operate into T5, we would look at how we manage the flights through the day to ensure that we have a good selection of services both into T2 and into T5.
- Aer Lingus left the oneworld alliance was because there is a cost associated, particularly related to the cost of IT, which has since been addressed by oneworld.
- I would genuinely be very shocked if I discovered the operation of the Shannon–Heathrow and Cork–Heathrow services was not profitable for Aer Lingus. I know Dublin is profitable because we operate on the route.
- Slots can have a value, but the value changes. It is dependent on somebody being willing to sell and equally on somebody being willing to buy.
- We are unique in the industry in that we enable brands to continue to operate side by side unlike other airline groups where there is a dominant airline.
- I do not believe one could develop a second hub in Ireland given that it is only now that they are setting about trying to develop Dublin as the first hub. The 750,000 passengers who transferred through Dublin is a small figure, representing less than 5pc of the overall number of passengers.
- 229 of our slots were devoted to short-haul activities. That is ten times the number of slots we are talking about in the context of Aer Lingus.
- If people believe it would be better for me to say “Yes we will continue for a period to operate Shannon-Heathrow and Cork-Heathrow with the three from Shannon and the four from Cork”, yes I would be prepared to do that.
- This is not BA seeking to acquire Aer Lingus; it is IAG. The CEO of BA is part of my management team, just as the CEO of Aer Lingus would be reporting directly to me. They would have equal weight and equal votes around the management committee table.
Friday’s statement from the Aer Lingus board was timed to capitalise on Willie’s ground clearing existence. The advocacy that was absent from the debate of the first fortnight has finally togged out and entered the playing field..
Does Aer Lingus need IAG? Not at the moment. But a bit like the measles vaccination, we won’t ever know whether this bid is required to keep the slanty shamrock in the sky. Four times Aer Lingus has staved off bankruptcy, and there are no other bidders. Lingus has looked more like a Star Alliance than a Oneworld carrier in recent years but Christian Schindler of Lufthansa, in Dublin this week, told Travel Extra that his airline were not interested in acquisitions at the moment (listen here).
The Aer Lingus board statement raised one of the less glamorous aspects of the deal, the prospect of Aer Lingus accessing a global cargo network. Some surprise was expressed when commentators raised this dimension to the deal, especially as Willie Walsh was instrumental in closing down the Aer Lingus cargo operation in 2003 when he was CEO. Willie Walsh told the Oiureachtas committee; We do not have the equipment, and therefore are not in a position, to develop a cargo hub at Shannon. According to Colm Barrington: Aer Lingus’ cargo business will benefit from the global network reach and sales channels of the IAG Cargo business. This enhancement of the cargo network is expected to deliver significant benefits and additional options to Irish businesses, in particular the pharmaceutical and semi-conductor industries.
Ryanair announced two new routes from Dublin, a daily flight to Copenhagen to commence on March 18 (even by Ryanair standards three week’s notice is a bit excessive, they had a 33c fare flash sale on launch day) and on Sept 25 will resume their route to Lublin – home to the only Irish language University department in Poland. Winter customers were up 14pc (listen here) and Ryanair will have 63 flights direct from Dublin next winter (listen here). Kenny Jacobs said Irish tourism would be boosted (listen here) by the new routes and increased frequencies between key city pairs (listen here) but expressed concern that Dublin hotel prices were creeping up (listen here).
Despite all the changes the focus on low fares is as strong as ever (listen here) and said fares are going to come down to €43 from the current average of €46 during 2015 as the benefits of the fuel price drop are felt (listen here). He repeated the familiar Ryanair mantra of lauding the business plus product (listen here) and said that the GDS arrangement with Travelport and Amadeus was “working well” (listen here).
The gathered media were more interested in Ryanair’s reaction to the London court decision upholding Simon Polito’s (pictured) commission direction that Ryanair should sell its Aer Lingus shareholding than in increased access to Lublin. Ryanair’s appeal goes to England’s Supreme Court next and is likely to end up in Brussels when Europe’s sages decided whether it has to sell its Aer Lingus shareholding, if it still owns it. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Lufthansa said Dublin passenger numbers increased 5pc in 2014 to 377,000 with three-quarters of Frankfurt passengers flying on to transfer destinations. The country director Christian Schindler said the Dublin route was doing well for Lufthansa. He said that Premium Economy was a success (listen here) the fleet would be entirely refitted with upgraded first and business class by summer (listen here). See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Tourism Ireland’s annual press briefing on the latest St Patrick’s Day greenings has become a place to be seen for cabinet members with both Charlie Flanagan and Paschal Donohue joining Niall Gibbons to announce the latest icon to be greenlit: the Colosseum. Other first timers include he Sacré-Cœur Basilica, he Grand Ole Opry, Porte de Bourgogne in Bordeaux, John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge in Nashville, the Jumeirah Etihad Towers hotel in Abu Dhabi, the Town Halls of Munich and Bamberg, Cristo Rei in Lisbon, the Fram polar exploration ship in Oslo, and City Hall in Tbilisi. new sites will join old favourites Niagara Falls, the London Eye, the Allianz Arena in Munich, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai, the Sky Tower in Auckland, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Cibeles Fountain and Palace in Madrid and Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland in Paris. The board produced four-year growth figures for Britain (+12pc to 3.1m), Europe (+25pc to 2.51m), North America (+38pc to 1.19m) and the rest of the world (+58pc to 0.49m). Ireland is now fourth among national tourist boards on Facebook (2.65m fans), third in the world on Twitter (162,000) and second in the world on Pinterest (17m views),
In reply to a question from Travel Extra Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said that Shenghen was not as big a deterrent in attracting visitors to Ireland as is commonly supposed (listen here). See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook. See also Tourism Ireland’s presentation.
Don’t mistake a local tourist attraction with an international tourist attraction. Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry gave the keynote address at the AGM of his native county’s tourist interest, Kildare Failte at Athy Heritage Centre (listen here to full address and listen here to interview on KFM). Speakers included Kildare’s new county manager Peter Carey (listen here), John Osborne chair of Kildare Failte (listen here), Phil Donnelly of Kildare Failte (listen here), Kevin Kenny of Athy Shackleton group (listen here), Eanna Rowe of Inland Waterways who talked about the Barrow Blueway (listen here, picture shows Eanna with Phil Donnelly in the background), and Margaret Walsh of Athy Heritage Centre (listen here), See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
An initiative to re-name places of interest by the Chinese people came up with three suggestions for Giant’s Causeway: 熔岩音阶 (Rong Yan Yin Jie) the musical scale lava, 泰坦之堤 (Tai Tan Zhi Di) the titan’s embankment, and 白浪玄石堤 (Bai Lang Xuan Shi Di) the embankment of white waves and strange stones. Send your votes in Mandarin on a postcard to Howard Hastings (only kidding).
Andrew Bolton, Celebrity Cruises Sales Manager for Ireland surprised Lisa Geraghty in Tour America with a Michael Kors handbag as part of their Wednesday Wins Campaign.
- Agents who complete a minimum of two modules on Visit California and Virgin Atlantic’s online training programme can win a place on the Brand USA fam trip to California from March 4-8 2015.
- Irish Continental Group appointed Andrew Sheen as Managing Director of its Irish Ferries division.
- BookaBed’s final winners in its €100 a day draw were Lynne Casey of Fahy Travel, Rebecca Twomey of Lee Travel, Amanda Neeson of O’Hanrahan Travel, Amy O’Sullivan of Shandon Travel, and Michael Kelly of Keller Travel.
- Aer Lingus has teamed up with Orlando Flexticket to offer agents the chance to fly to Orlando with Aer Lingus
- Bookabed.ie is seeking a product assistant.
- Funway Holidays appointed Amy Drummond as their new business development manager for Scotland, North East, Northern Ireland & Yorkshire. Picture shows the Funway sales team: Anna Barnes, Andy Travis, Paul Mellon and Amy Drummond.
- TUI appointed Jill Carter as its new director of retail, replacing Kathryn Ward who left the operator last October and has joined Thomas Cook.
- Picture shows Fergal O’Connell, GM of the FItzwilliam Hotel, greeting Skal president Margaret Cronin, International councillor Douglas Jordan and Leonie Thornton of Dunboyne Castle Hotel at the Skal President’s Lunch in the Fitzwilliam Hotel on Tuesday.
- Funway Holidays reported a 12pc sales growth in January with revenue up 19pc.
- Wendy Wu is offering free flight upgrades on selected tours to China for bookings taken from Feb 16 to Feb 23 for travel between April 1 and June 18. Wendy Wu is offering 10 days All Inclusive tour of China (Shanghai, Zhujiajiaio Canal Town, Terracotta Warriors, The Great Wall) from €2,740pp incl. free flight upgrade, taxes, tour guides, entrance fees and visa, travel between April 1 and June 18.
- Sunway offers: 7 nights river cruise on board The AmaSonata from €1,529pp incl. flights transfers, excursions, meals and drinks. 7 nights B&B Tanjong Jara Resort, Malaysia from €1,399pp incl. flights, taxes and transfers, depart September 2015. 5 nights International Palms, Orlando from €529pp incl. flights and taxes, depart May 2015. 5 nights Stratosphere Hotel Casino, Las Vegas from €1,189pp incl. flights and taxes, depart July 8. 5 nights Sandman City Centre, Vancouver from €865pp incl. flights and taxes, depart May 2015. See sunway.ie for more.
- Cassidy Travel‘s Las Vegas offers: 4 nights Circus Circus from €655pps, 4 nights Luxor Las Vegas from €724pps and 4 nights MGM Grand from €804pps, travel May 19 with Virgin Atlantic via London. To book, visit cassidytravel.ie or call 0818 332 800.
- Topflight Austrian ski specials all including flights ex Dublin, transfers, luggage allowance, rep services and online discount: 7 nights Snow Pensions, Niederau from €299pps. 7 nights Pension Faistenauer, Soll from €419pps. 7 nights Gasthof Mauth, St Johann from €519pps. 7 nights Grand Hotel, Zell am See from €969pps.
- QuickPark is offering 50pc off CityScape family tours, €25 for two adults and up to four children. Book online at cityscaptetours.ie by Feb 21 and enter the promo code QUICKPARK.
Hyatt is to offer free Wi-Fi to all guests worldwide, effective February 14.
Trivago.ie’s February price survey shows that Athlone and Waterford are the only towns in Ireland where average hotel prices have fallen year on year. Limerick is still Ireland’s cheapest hotel beds at 74 with Waterford at €75 with the sterling price differential driving Belfast from mid range to second place in the charts for the first time in the history of internet comparison at €109 behind the high end cluster in Donegal town.
The conference and awards of the Irish Accommodation Services Industry (the breaking bed people?) took place at the Slieve Russell Hotel with Bernie Fitzgerald from Southcourt Hotel winning the three-star hotel award, Maria McNamara of the Raheen Woods Hotel the four-star award and Anna Gaweda of Adare Manor the five-star award IASI President Ines Guerra told guests: “the rooms division generates the most profit for a hotel, and the cleanliness and condition of the bedrooms are the most important factors in customer satisfaction ratings.”
Longford is the least hotelled county in Ireland at the end of 2014: its one hotel and 11 rooms standing out at the bottom of the accommodation list. Ireland has lost just over 100 hotels since the beginning of the Lehman recession. Most of the casualties have been in the lower grade ratings: currently there are 39 five Star, 312 four star, 397 three star, 126 two star, 29 one star and a total of 938 counting those ungraded or awaiting grading. Dublin is experiencing a shortage of hotels, as it is down to 151 hotels and 18,718 beds, leaving it a bit below the benchmark against its European city break competitors. Galway ranks second by number of hotels and Kerry second by number of rooms.
Rory O’Sullivan has moved from The Park Hotel in Kenmare to become GM of Glenlo Abbey Hotel in Galway. He is joined there by Head Chef Gary Burke. Jill O’Hare, opening Director of Sales & Marketing for the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt has moved to the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London as Director of Sales & Marketing. Dan Roche has been appointed as Director of Finance at the InterContinental Dublin. Christina Deeny former Director of Sales & Marketing in the Merrion Hotel is now Group Head of Global Sales with Aman Resort group in London.
- The first two Hyatt Centric Hotels will open in Chicago and Miami in April.
- Expedia’s Dara Khosrowshahi said antitrust issues are unlikely to halt the Expedia/Orbitz merger.
- JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts opened its first property in Austin while DoubleTree by Hilton opened at Oklahoma City Airport. The 330 room Knickerbocker Hotel reopened in the heart of New York City.
- Chinese insurance company Sunshine Insurance Group will acquire the 114-room Baccarat Hotel in New York for $230m.
- Ascott opened the 112-apartment Citadines Suites Arc de Triomphe Paris.
- Marriott International opened the 122-room, 4* AC Hotel Paris Le Bourget in the grounds of Parish Le Bourget airport. This is Marriott’s second AC Hotels property in Paris.
- The Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay, the hotel that inspired Fawlty Towers, will be turned into a retirement home after local councillors rejected a rescue plan.
- The 12-story Clarion casino-hotel in Las Vegas was levelled this week. A soundtrack of Frank Sinatra was played before the property was destroyed.
- Marriott’s Kameha Grand Zurick, part of the Autograph Collection, will open on March 1.
- Melia Hotels International will open Innside Glasgow and Innside Birmingham in 2017.
- Travelodge plans to open 15 new hotels in 2015, creating 400 new jobs.
- Reps at Virgin Hotels Chicago will drive guests to a city destination of their choice in an electric-powered Tesla Model S car.
BIT Milan 2015: Borsa Internazionale del Turismo attracted 2,000 exhibitors from 100 countries to Rho Fiera Milano to meet 1,500 hosted buyers from 70 countries, 50pc up from last year. Italy’s section increased by 60pc with 20 new local exhibitors including Ostuni, Forte dei Marmi and Venaria Reale while the return of Friuli Venezia Giulia meant all Italian regions were there for the first time. . Italian buyers (17pc) were hosted for the first time. BIT organisers made a big play of their MICE, Digital, Leisure and Luxury and Destination Sport sections and a brand new area dedicated to Art, Culture and food and wine “aiming to promote Italian excellence in the world.” There were 70,000 professional visitors to the show by close of business yesterday with general approval for the new meet and match formula that includes a personalised, pre-arranged agenda of appointments that have been set up with buyers directly in the stand. New countries present this year include Chad from Africa and Vietnam from Asia while Albania, Peru, Sudan, Azerbaijan and Lithuania have returned. Italy sent 240,000 visitors to Ireland last year, up 4pc.
A group of Chilean mountain climbers found the wreckage of a LAN flight which disappeared in the Andes in 1961.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC is considering a ban on selfie sticks. A host of museums in the US have already banned the gadget for health and : The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC; the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC; the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in NYC; the Dallas Museum of Art; and the Rhose Island School of Design Museum.
- The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado — the inspiration behind Stephen King’s horror classic The Shining — is adding a hedge maze similar to the one used in Stanley Kubrick’s film version.
- The Ministry of Tourism in Haiti launched a TV ad campaign targetting visitors in New York.
- Tourism Australia and Virgin Australia launched a $4m joint advertising campaign targetting US visitors this week.
- Travelport signed a deal with Virgin America for rich content and branding.
- Take a look at French artist Léonard Combier‘s passport drawings.
Food and Wine
The Dublin Chinese New Year Festival runs from now until Feb 28. To celebrate, the Asia Market at 18 Drury St is hosting a free tour of the shop on Friday, Feb 20 (5.30pm-6.30pm). Book your place at email@example.com. The shop will host cooking demos, Feb 19-22, 12pm-5pm.
The chefs at Aniarx restaurant in Galway, JP McMahon and Ultan Cooke, launched a new ordering system at the Michelin-star restaurant: Customers can choose to have 2, 6, 8 or 10 courses, from €35/€50 with wine pairings. The 10-course tasting menu is €100/€150 with wine pairings.
Coindrum has installed machines in Dublin airport where customers can deposit unwanted euro to convert the cash into a shopping voucher, with 10pc added to the final sum, to spend in Dublin Airport’s shopping area, The Loop.
- Europe Airpost appointed ATTS Travel Representation Solutions as its GSA in Ireland.
- Ryanair said they will carry 15,000 Cheltenham fans and schedule 30 extra flights. Ryanair has grown 14pc in Dublin, Kenny Jacobs told media this week (listen here). We got a hint of the 30th anniversary celebrations to come when Kenny Jacobs described Ryanair 1985 as the pirate airline that everyone wanted to close down (listen here).
- LOT Polish Airlines appointed CarTrawler as Exclusive Car Rental Partner.
- Turkish Airlines is adding Abuja in Nigeria as well as previously announce Manila and Taipei to its route network.
- Humorous moment at the Ryanair press conference. When the start was delayed the journalists present queried: I thought Ryanair always started on time. Robin Kiely replied: the conferences started ten minutes ago; there just hasn’t been any questions. (listen here). Kenny Jacobs answered another question: Aer LIngus is like Glenroe, big in the eighties but not that important anymore.
- Dublin-based Fly Leasing will purchase two A320s on lease to an Asian airline.
- Flybe appointed former BA executive Luke Farajallah as COO from April 1.
- Air Canada Rouge will add four weekly flights to its Dublin-Toronto route this summer from June 13 to September 16.
- Irish air traffic grew in January with total flights increasing 4.9pc. There were 1,026 daily flights on average. The busiest day was January 4 with 1,418 flights. En route traffic was up 5.7pc. IAA’s North Atlantic Communications service was up 1.1pc. Commercial flights at the three state airports was up 4.8pc. Dublin, up 7.2pc with 424 average daily movements. Cork, down 16.3pc with 40 average daily movements and Shannon, up 6.4pc with 40 average daily movements.
- IT Carlow opened its Centre for Aerospace Engineering. It will offer undergraduate programmes in pilot studies, aerospace and aircraft systems engineering.
- Former executive of Korean Air, Cho Hyun-Ah, was sentenced to one year in prison over the “nut rage” incident.
- Delta Air Lines is now serving Starbucks coffee on all flights.
- One passenger was injured after a US Airways flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Houston after the wheels under the Embraer 190’s nose failed to come down.
- The EU General Court ruled that Ryanair and Aer Lingus do not have to pay €16m in air tax, ordered by the European Commission.
- British Airways launched its new business class amenity kit. The redesigned washbag can also be used as a shoe bag or can hold loose items. It contains Elemis products, an eye mask, socks, a pen, earplugs, toothbrush and toothpaste.
- United Airlines is testing a new website design, likely to be rolled out during the summer.
- From next week, passengers flying with US lowcost carrier JetBlue will be able to make in-flight purchases using their iPhone 6 via Apple Pay.
- Malaysia Airlines is changing its Enrich frequent flyer programme. From Feb 16, the airline is introducing earn-ad-burn rates to prioritse high-spending members over those on a budget.
- Qantas launched an upgrade bidding system called Bid Now for members of its frequent flyer club.
- Delta Air Lines‘ Facebook page was hacked on Tuesday.
- Air Seychelles signed a codeshare agreement with Etihad to include routes to Casablanca.
- Iberia launched a self service check-in and baggage drop centre at Terminal 4, Madrid Airport.
- Dublin is London City Airport‘s busiest route.
- Emirates plans to hire 11,000 new staff this year.
- Germanwings pilots called a two-day strike this week. It cost the low cost carrier $11m.
- A computer glitch on United Airlines‘ website offered transatlantic fares from $51 round trip in economy and business class. The bookings will not be honoured.
- A Thomson Airways steward was disciplined after posting a photo of a passenger on Facebook calling her “an absolutely barking mad nutter”.
- Boeing said it will not consider reviving the 757 jetliner with new engines.
- The Caribbean (35.5pc) will lead global cruise ship capacity in 2015, followed by .the Mediterranean (19.5pc), Baltic (10.6pc), Asia (6pc), Australia (6pc), Alaska (4.6pc) S America (2.6pc) and other markets (15pc). Maria Miller of Norwegian Cruise Line briefed media on CLIA’s survey of cruise trends for 2015 noting that seven out of 10 cruisers use a travel agent to plan and book cruise vacations, that the movement toward larger and larger ships is less important as the 22 launches in 2015 include river and smaller specialty ships and the growth of niche cruising. A record 23m passengers are expected to sail this year, up 4pc from 21.2m last year (see infographic)
- Norwegian Cruise Line is raising its daily service charge from $12 to $12.95 per person, per day in all cabin categories, and $14.95 per person, per day in suites.
- Fred Olsen Lines Braemar will call at Rosslare in 2016 on July 16 next year. This follows last year’s announcement that the cruise ship Phoenix Reisen’s MS Albatros will visit Rosslare Europort on August 5.
- Carnival Cruise Line’s newest and largest cruise ship Carnival Vista will sail three to seven nights and include Eastern, Western and South out of Miami starting November 2016
- Holland America’s 2,650-passenger Koningsdam to launch next February, will offer a new French seafood brasserie Sel de Mer: the Culinary Arts Centre, Grand Dutch Café and Lido Market, as well as options available elsewhere in the fleet Pinnacle Grill, Tamarind and Canaletto.
- Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the sinking of the ship off the coast of Italy in 2012, killing 32 people. A panel of three judges found Schettino guilty of manslaughter and other charges, including abandoning ship.
- Emerald Belle will launch in early 2016, Europe’s newest river cruise line will build its fifth new ship in three years.
- Crystal Cruises is to allow passengers to use onboard credit for casino play from next month.
- Royal Caribbean will announce the name of Oasis 3 in late February with the betting on Harmony of the Seas.
- Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas returned from a 24-day dry dock with new features: Italian restaurant Giovanni’s Table, Mexican restaurant Sabor; American Steakhouse Chops Grille complete with dry-aged steak options and 50s-style hamburger, 1960s themed R Bar Lounge, milk shake joint Johnny Rockets, an additional 67 cabins and panoramic ocean view cabins on the front of the ship. Freedom sails seven-night Caribbean roundtrip itineraries.
- Tauck will name its two new Inspiration-class river vessels Grace and Joy, to join its European fleet in 2016. Grace and Joy will have 22 300-square feet suites.
- The star of the English-version of Bake Off, Mary Berry, will host cooking lessons on board P&O Cruises’ new ship Britannia. Berry will be travelling on a 12-night cruise, departing July 6. 10 other celebrity chefs will be on other Britannia sailings throughout the year.
- The 27th annual Yacht and Brokerage Show is under way in Miami. the pre-show launch party which was sponsored by Haute Living, Land Rover and Fast Flight Group, organised by Show Management and hosted at prestigious Miami venue the Sienna Tavern. The event was bustling with industry professionals who enjoyed fine cuisine prepared by the team at Sienna Tavern and speciality cocktails from Lucky Player Vodka, Blackwell Rum and Embryo Wines.
The new high tech Dublin tourist office opened in Suffolk Street. Innovations include free Wifi, a video wall with photographs from around Dublin, interactive Pods a digital display with social media posts and tweets tagged with #lovedublin, a wall where key smartphone apps are promoted, an events, concerts and special exhibitions what’s on area with daily updates, and a smaller video wall dedicated to locations around Ireland. Picture shows inside the office.
- Meitheal 2015 takes place in the RDS Dublin on Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 15th April.
- The line up for the 2015 Limerick Literary Festival was launched on Monday. The festival takes place Feb 20-22 and takes place at 69 O’Connell St and the Lime Tree Theatre. Line up includes: Edna O’Brien, Niall Williams, Mary O’Donnell, John Montague, Audrey Magee and Joseph O’Connor. Visit limerickliteraryfestival.com for the full line up. Call 061 7747 774 or visit limetreetheatre.ie to book tickets. Tickets also available at the door for individual sessions.
- Doolin Writers’ Weekend takes place March 27-29, organised by Hotel Doolin, and featuing Donal Ryan, Peter Sheridan, Dave Lordan, Christine Dwyer Hickey, singer John Spillane, Hennessy Award winning writer Madeleine D’Arcy, writer Anthony Glavin, author Catherine Dunne, and novelist Marion Reynolds.
- A group of Irish tourism companies joined Tourism Ireland at the MICE Connect business tourism workshop in Paris. 1,000 French conference and meeting professionals attended the event. Picture shows Caroline Phelan, Tourism Ireland; Alessio Monterosso, Aer Lingus; Orla McCabe, Killashee House Hotel; Niamh Burns, The Convention Centre, Dublin; and François Tessier, Abbey Incentive and Events at the workshop.
- The 13-metre Diving Bell at Dublin Port will be refurbished into a tourist attraction.
- Paschal Donohoe announced €320,000 in second phase funding for festivals and events in 2015
- Wild Atlantic Way briefings have been taking place this week for members of the trade along the route to further develop the Wild Atlantic Way. Tomorrow Feb 16th is the closing date for the Inaugural Irish Tourism Industry Awards:
- There are four weeks to go until the Responsible Tourism in Destinations Conference and Awards taking place in Dublin.
Tourism Ireland launched its 2015 US marketing campaign in New York on Friday. 100 members of the travel trade and media attended the event. Picture shows Alison Metcalfe of Tourism Ireland, Nico Zenner of DH Enterprise & Associates and Consul General of Ireland, Barbara Jones, at the launch.