TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Don’t be sentimental – this 2.55 departure is good for Aer Lingus

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Head banner - Feb 1 2015

Dignitaries preparing to speak at the UNWTO event at the opening of FITUR in Madrid

The headlines this week:

  • What will IAG do next?
  • Our view: Heathrow slots are yesterday’s news
  • German court turns hotel pricing on its bed
  • Turkish to go triple daily within three years
  • Europe Airpost’s Canadian surprise (and 11w from Air Canada)
  • The passport card conundrum
  • World tourism fighting fit at FITUR

Travel Extra TV

video-of-week-feb 1Our video of the week showcases the Wild Atlantic Way from above in a video by Raymond Fogarty. Using a drone and GoPro, the video travels from the Old Head in Kinsale to Malin Head in Donegal. Watch here.

  • See how Portland International Airport’s famous teal-coloured carpet (hilariously) became an internet sensation and spawned a craze of merchandise. The carpet – which has its own Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts – is being removed this year. Watch here.
  • Vintage footage of a Ryanair BAC 111 at Knock Airport, filmed in 1990. Tom Ryan, who uploaded the video, writes: “Note the hush kits on the Rolls Royce Spey engines. Plenty of noise as it takes off on the 8.500ft runway.” Watch here.
  • Monocle magazine uploaded a video about three high-risk hotels: Hotel Intercontinental in Kabul, Peace Hotel in Mogadishu and the Corinthia in Tripoli where nine people were killed in an attack this week. Watch here.
  • Ryanair’s 10-second Superbowl ad: Watch here.
  • Ireland by numbers, from Discover Ireland: Watch here.
  • Qatar Airways showcases Oryx IFE for Feb 2015: New releases (watch here), English-language films and TV shows (watch here), and Indian films and TV shows (watch here).

Headlines

willie walsh_9312Aer Lingus’ board decided on a 2.55 departure on Monday, accepting the bid of Madrid based International Airlines Group for the airline. The shrinking share price of €2.24 shows that the market feels this bid has a long way to go. They are right. A formal offer has not been made. The news prompted a backwash of recycled nonsense amongst Ireland’s politicians and vested interests about slots and connectivity.

Iberia_2727 copySpeaking to a group of travel media, including Travel Extra on the margins of FITUR in Madrid, Iberia CEO Luis Gallego (pictured with Spanish Tourist Board director in Dublin Gonzalo Ceballos) said he was hopeful that the IAG bid would succeed and was excited about the addition of Dublin as a hub to the airline. Within Spain he confirmed IAG’s strategy is to keep Barajas as the major Iberia hub and Barcelona as a Vueling hub, with the hub-cap set at two. So with Heathrow for British Airways and Dublin for Aer Lingus, a four-hub IAG strategy is emerging: more akin to the multi-hub strategy of American airlines (and what is developing in China) than what we see in Europe or the Middle East.

pashal_donohueThen the debate, or rather the group-think, started, with a chorus line of opponents to the bid busy agreeing with each other about slots and connectivity without any real comprehension of what they were talking about. It made for depressing reading as a mini consensus developed that selling the government 25pc was a bad thing, while politicians seemed anxious to promulgate the notion that they have more power than they really have to prevent the sale.

Gina Quinn

Gina Quin

The move was supported by the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation but the few proponents such as Gina Quin of Dublin Chamber (pictured) met vociferous opposition from an unlikely coalition of sceptics. They included both the Irish Independent and The Irish Times and the debate quickly became cyclical and repetitive: resistance among back-benchers including Labour’s Aer Lingus seven, resistance among Shannon business people, resistance among the Heathrow-obsessed Shannon group, resistances among the staff, resistance in the regional fiach kelly tweetairports, resistances in Corkresistances in Belfast, hoteliers talking about catastrophe if Heathrow slots are not protected, and enough talk about slots to make a Vegas resort manager envious. Before a Labour PP meeting @fiachkelly tweeted there was “more chance of Aer Lingus being renationalised than the government selling its share.” Paschal Donohoe kicked for touch (how we miss Leo Varadkar, or even Ivan Yates). Dan White was almost alone among media in declaring that selling Aer Lingus will be good news for DublinÉist anseo le Eoghan Corry ar Adhmhaidin ar Raidió na Gaeltachta saying that all the obsession with Heathrow slots is misguided.

At least Jack O’Connor of SIPTU was just doing his job when he joined the fray with alarmist comments about 1,000 jobs lost: it is likely that Aer Lingus cost base will create more concern amongst his brother-unions in BA and Iberia than the other way round.

Most people avoided the point that the EU Commission will have the final say on Aer Lingus sale, not the Irish government who have hired IBI Corporate Finance, Credit Suisse and McCann Fitzgerald solicitors to advise it on the sale. Willie Walsh has a record of getting his complicated mergers and acquisitions over the line in Brussels. Unlike Lufthansa and Air France’s more acquisitional approach, IAG is a holding company that maintains the brands as they were.

So what’s to play for? All the talk about Heathrow slots a throwback to an older, less confident Ireland. Heathrow slots have become a political cliche. Why should we fear that we are no longer in a position to feed somebody else’s hub? Is this the best that Ireland’s politicians can come up with? Constrained by stock exchange rules, IAG has been silent about its intentions but if sources are to be believed the airline group is going to develop Dublin as a hub, as IAG’s escape valve, taking some trans-Atlantic traffic to relive overcrowded Heathrow and moving Dublin to become the fifth most important airport in Europe for westbound passengers, after Heathrow, CDG, Frankfurt and Amsterdam (Anna.aero analysed some of the possibilities). Are Ireland’s politicians the only people in the country that still believe in flying through Heathrow to get to our key destinations such as Australia and Thailand? Everyone else is going through Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Speaking in advance of IAG’s acceptance of the offer of €2.55, Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry said that the price was still too low and the board should hold out until €2.70. The importance of the Heathrow slots is overstated, consolidation is always bad for airline customers and the fact that decision making would no longer be in Dublin was going to be a long term concern, hubs get closed and flights cancelled at times of pressure. (Listen here). Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry wrote In the Irish Examiner that the bid was a big step in the transformation of Europe’s aviation culture from a market dominated by traditional flag carriers to something more complex, a point made by The New York Times amongst others.

Representatives before the Oireachtas Transport Committee were universally hostile to the bid: the Irish Airline Pilots Association, The Central Representatives Council of union groups within Aer Lingus, IMPACT, SIPTU, Shannon Group PLC, Chambers Ireland, Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Cork Chamber of Commerce, Shannon Chamber of Commerce and Limerick Chamber of Commerce. There was no representation from consumer groups or the Irish travel trade. Some of the data quoted to the committee was 13 years out of date, when the majority of transfer passengers through Heathrow were travelling on European routes now served direct from Dublin. On a previous occasion Willie Walsh has said the slots would remain on Irish services because they are profitable with high load factors and high yields.

pat dawson itaa sign 150ITAA CEO Pat Dawson said travel agents would have some reservations, “It is crucial that the existing slots between Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Heathrow Airport are protected and maintained. The ITAA would see value for money and greater choice for Irish consumers as being a vital part of the negotiations and central to any agreement reached. It is our opinion that the Aer Lingus brand and all that it encompasses is worth more than the €1.35bn proposed. Aer Lingus is a worldwide brand viewed by many as providing a friendly and safe service both at home and abroad”.

Antonio Martin Gonzalo CeballosFITUR opened on Wednesday with the usual pre-registration chaos, queues merging into queues to get past the security. There were 40 tourism ministers and the king to protect at FITUR’s opening day, but a few extra security channels would have helped. Tourism proved fighting fit at FITUR, both in Spain (a record 65m visitors) and worldwide, as UNWTO reported figures up 4.7pc to 1.1bn tourists. The fair brought 9,000 exhibitors from 165 countries scattered across nine pavilions. Picture shows Antonio Martin from Andalucia and Director of the Dublin office Gonzalo Ceballos, who came by to greet the small Irish media delegation, including Eoghan Corry, Jacinta Maglynn, Neil Steedman and Dermot Synnott. Listen here to Spain’s Minister of Tourism Jose Manuel Soria speaking at the opening.

unwto_2741 copyThe UNWTO is based in Madrid and took its annual opportunity to showcase its activities. Listen here to the opening address by CEO Taleb Rifai (pictured), Listen here to Luis Eduardo Cortés welcoming delegates to Madrid.

The regions of Spain occupy three large pavilions. Andalucia filled a pavilion and a half on its own, covering 5,300 square metres, Costa de Sol, Huelva, Sevilla, Granada, Cordoba, Jaén, Cadiz and Almeria lined up symmetrically with matching stands.

Beach period at Fitur_2795 copy

Malaga, Torremolinos and Valencia spilled over into the next pavilion, alongside Costa Blanca, Castellón, Catalonia, Extremadura, Majorca, Menorca/Formantero, Melilla, Murcia, Navarro, Castilia La Mancha and in the next hall Madrid, Galicia, a smallish Canarias, the Basque Country. Cantabria, Asturias, (Paradiso Natural, follow the sound of the pipes), Castlla y Leon, Caminos Naturales, and a simple and effective Tourspain stall giving an overview of how the country is marketed. Quite a few irish ex-pats were there representing hotels in the Canary Islands, a few of them returned from Holiday World Dublin the previous weekend.

columbia stand_2791 copyOne of the principle delights of FITUR is the treasury of South American product on display. Mexico was most prominent, followed by Argentina and Colombia land of Garcia Marquez es realismo magico as they reminded us. The African surprise is that the DR Congo stand was three time the size of Congo Brazzaville.

A new product emerged at the show: Spain Cares and health tourism including major hospitals and health resorts geared to foreign patients was particularly prominent. Shopping had a separate area. There is a rapidly growing hotel section and a hotel supplies pavilion in another hall that has become an exhibition in itself. Functions and launches punctuated the three days and there was a poco lago of vino tinto to be consumed, at which task the Irish media were fearlessly represented by Travel ExtraIMG_2880 copyPicture shows Gonzalo Ceballos on the Tourspain stand with Tourspain director Marta BlancoListen here to Gonzalo Ceballos describing how Spain remains Ireland’s favourite holiday destination by a wide margin, how the addition of nine cities to Spain’s high speed rail network in 2015 will give the country more high speed rail kilometres than France and Germany combined and make it second in the world to China (listen here), the emergence of Spain as a shopping destination with individual stores offering 20pc discount schemes for foreign passport holders (listen here); the family holidays on offer (listen here); increased capacity in 2015 (listen here); the year of Theresa of Avila, saint and feminist icon (listen here); the potential of genealogical tourism to Spain (listen here). The office will continue to promote the real Spain (listen here).

Eoghan Corry Arantas MadariagaThe Basque party is regarded as the best on FITUR’s social circuit (picture shows Eoghan Corry with Basque country tourism director Arantza Madariaga). Asturias gave it a close run for its money with traditional gymnastic cider pouring. With local elections upcoming in May there was no shortage of politicians to pop up whenever a camera moved into view. Costa del Sol Turismo hosted a boisterous shindig in the tapestry museum Real Fábrica de Tapices, from which a few distracted media absconded to take in the joys of Athletico and Barcelona in the Copa del Rey, not mentioning any names. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

A court in Dusseldorf may just have turned hotel internet pricing upside down. In a devious under-the-duvet deal, Online Travel Agencies have been able to insist on “best price” contracts with hoteliers, meaning that hoteliers cannot undercut the middlemen to offer better deals on their own website, as well as subjecting them to the indignity of paying 15pc commission to the OTA’s. The result is that OTA’s have grown more powerful down the years, replacing traditional travel agents and taking control away from the hoteliers of their own bed stock. Irish people booking home holidays through an OTA were sending 15-20pc of the cost of their rooms to corporations in Connecticut and Seattle. An appeals court in Dusseldorf declared that the practice is anti-competitive, something hoteliers, especially the German hotel federation have long argued. Could it be that the rapacious contracts with the OTAs no longer apply and are all now subject to challenge? Read the judgement here.

david-collinsDavid Collins of Great National Hotels commented: “It remains to be seen as to what the net impact of this will be. Clearly removing rate parity enables hoteliers to implement greater rate flexibility depending on channel costs and the industry has been lobbying for this for some time. The reality is however that over 50pc of OTA site traffic converts to direct traffic so removing this ‘transparency’ may in effect end up confusing clients and impact on third party and ironically direct on-line revenues. Personally I would rather OTAs were prevented from bidding against hotels for their own brand name search terms since this has accelerated the cost of paid search and has been compounded by Google’s efforts to make it increasingly difficult to secure organic rankings. In my mind this is as critical an issue for independent hoteliers if not more so.”

Murat Bas Mustafa DoganTurkish Airlines plans to increase to triple daily their Dublin-Istanbul service within three years all going to plan with increases in frequency to three on certain days as early as next year to test viability. Murat Bas (pictured with Mustafa Dogan) gave an insight into the workings of the Turkish Airlines business model to a group of Irish travel and business journalists in Istanbul this week. He said that under a plan implemented in 2005 services grow to double daily services on different days of the week (rather than concentrating on daily) and then to double and treble daily if the market responds. Listen here to Murat Bas describing the business model and listen here to his comments on the Dublin service. Dublin is a medium haul route because it is more than three hours. We have to be much more careful, to compare Dublin with destinations other than Kiev and Athens which take less risk than Dublin. The response to Dublin was over the average and we have shortened the time for increased services.

patrick ann marie copyMurat Balandi said that Irish traffic on the route had grown by 38pc and 41pc in the previous two years and the airline is targeting 40pc expansion again in 2015. Discussions are under way with both Shannon and Belfast to open a second Irish service. Tel Aviv is currently the most popular connection through Istanbul, and Turkish expect the connection options to grow the coming months particularly in the Balkans as they open more services. Picture shows Ann Marie Dalton and Patrick McKinney of Turkish Airlines in the airline’s Istanbul headquarters. Istanbul celebrated the opening of a high speed railway link to Bulgaria. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Air Canada are increasing their service to 11 weekly, increasing connection options through Toronto for the only wide body and the only year round service to Canada. Calgary and Vancouver are the two most popular connection choices from Dublin, followed by Edmonton.

Europe AirpostAnother surprise in a week of Canadian surprises: Europe Airpost is to operate a 737-700 service direct to Halifax between July 9 and Sept 11outbound on Thursdays 2:25pm and back on Fridays landing 8.05pm, originating in Paris Charles de Gaulle and continuing on to Halifax. This was a route considered by Aer Lingus at discussions during the Routes conference in Las Vegas in 2013. Halifax is Dublin Airport’s fifteenth North American destination.

new passport cardWould you travel with this card instead of your book passport? Apparently the Irish passport card which is to be introduced in June is valid for journeys within the EU. But being left at the mercy of an immigration official at a non-Schenghen gate might be more stress than most of us can handle. The DFA says the Passport Card will be particularly useful for young people who use their Passport Booklet as identification, especially on nights out. Those travelling within the EU and EEA will also be able to use the Passport Card and frequent travellers will find this particularly useful if their Passport Booklet is with an embassy as part of a visa application process. The new card will also provide a useful backup travel document within Europe in the event that someone loses their passport while travelling.

holiday world queue copy Edmund Hourican of Business Exhibitions said the 2015 Holiday World Show Dublin was more successful than ever before with 50,000 attending not just to make enquiries, but to book their holidays. Exhibitors have seen increases in business as people feel more confident when it comes to booking holidays for the year ahead. The increased attendance figure reflects the new buoyancy the travel trade are seeing in their business.” Jamaica, Brazil, Lithuania, Sudan and China who were among the new editions to the Show and popular exhibitors included Ethiopian Airlines who are launching direct routes to Addis Ababa from June and the ever-popular España stand where 17 regions of Spain were present.

Brian Stack says CIE tours booked 400,000 bed nights across Ireland in 2014 but remarked that the 2015 season is proving to be challenging. The 94 awards allocated at the 25th CIE International Tour award ceremony in Dublin castle were delivered with great efficiency on Tuesday night. The awards are based on feedback from 30,000 CIE Tours customers. The national hotel categories all had new winners, the Westbury, Cabra Castle and Benner’s (both Manor House properties) while Davitt’s Pub, Kenmare won the new lunch award. Merry Ploughboy, Killeen House, the sheep dog trials and legendary Derry walking tour guide Ronan McNamara were back on the podium. A Hall of Fame Award was presented to Liam Murray from Blarney who has provided guiding services for CIE Tours for fifteen years. 10516791_10152626832452727_851714727958397655_nLifetime/Outstanding Company Awards were presented to John Lovell, CEO, of Texas based Vacation.com, CIE Tours largest customer in the United States and John Madden, Travelworld, Pennsylvania, the largest group producer. The full list of award winners is at the end of the bulletin. Picture shows Madeline Riley of Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Cork (centre) receiving the best hotel accommodation award from Peter Malone, Director and Vivienne Jupp, Chairman, CIE Tours International. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Lizzy Cutka Today FM sign_0870 copyPicture shows Lizzy Cutka, once a popular waitress in Francini’s in Trim and now a ski instructor, outside the temporary Ian Dempsey Today FM studio in Bad Hoffgastein before her interview. The resort was taken over by 600 Irish skiers for Topflight’s annual ski excursion week which has acquired something of a cult following among snow-heads. After last year’s trip the Kirchberg ski instructor Hans “Sem” Steinkasserer summed up the week: lessons full on Mondays, only a handful make it down to the start on Fridays.

Destinations in London was held in Olympia as the Earls Court venue is closed and attracted 350 exhibitors. There were fewer Spanish and USA Regions than Holiday World in Dublin but Destinations had more specialist small Asia and Oceanian Tour Operators. The Stanfords Travel Writers Festival 2015 was held in a purpose built auditorium in conjunction with the show and saw a large attendance turn out to hear is Kate Adie, Simon Armitage, Ned Boulting, Frank Gardner, Tristram Hunt, Griff Rhys Jones, Tim Moore, Richard Parks, Simon Reeve, Chris Stewart and Levison Wood. . Grape Escapes launched a one-off, exclusive Premium Scheduled Bordeaux Tour from September 8-12.

Travel Trade

The Irish Travel Agents Association hopes to have a direct flight to Jerez for its annual conference on October 1-4, to be hosted by Antonio Martin of Andalusia Tourism. Irish Travel Agents Association last week who reported a 10pc increase in business at travel agents across the country during January.

TIGS captain Volker Lorenz of Amadeus playing at this week's captain's prize in Bray

TIGS captain Volker Lorenz of Amadeus playing at this week’s captain’s prize in Bray

The Travel Industry Golf Society plans to have two shot gun starts at Dun Laoghaire and on Captain’s Day at Carlow in their 2015 schedule: Mar 11 Portmarnock Team Event – Sponsor Turkish Airlines, Apr 16 Druids Glen Presidents Day sponsored by Etihad Airways, May 21 Fota Island sponsored by – Travel Corporation, May 22 Douglas sponsored by Cork Airport, June 19 Dun Laoghaire Golf Club sponsored by Amadeus, Sept 3 Carlow Captains Day sponsored by Travelport, Oct 22 Castle sponsored by Travel Extra.

Picture shows Don Shearer of Worldchoice, Joe Tully of Tully Travel, Tom O’Donohoe of Strand Travel and Michael Doorley of Worldchoice, Anna May of East West Travel Roscommon and Paula Coughlan of Dawson Travel at the Worldchoice members update sponsored by Royal Caribbean in the Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin.

Don Shearer updated members on an increased centrally negotiated override commission to members of 35pc and Worldchoice’s communication joe tullyhub along with a new consumer facing website and digital strategy which is free of charge to members. “We are now in the process of a website build for all members linking directly to our communication hub and web sites with our technology partners Granite Digital in Cork. This advancement in our technology base enables all of our members to create new customer and supplier portals to their business in an innovative and creative fashion.”

michael doorleyWorldchoice moved to their new Headquarters in the Dublin Airport Business Park in 2014. All accounts, administration and marketing functions are now centralised in Dublin enabling members and trade partners immediate access to commercial and support initiatives for their business. Planned developments for 2015 include the new Worldchoice partners bedbank, what it calls a carousel of local marketing collateral for in store and virtual brandingcustomer relationship management information tools, and a new look retail and trade partner event schedule for 2015. Worldchoice say they will be announcing new trade partners across the business over the coming weeks.

Paul Weir new GSA copyLuxair has appointed Paul Weir’s APG as GSA in Ireland. Picture shows Benoit Berger VP Sales and Revenue Management-Luxair, congratulating Paul Weir Director APG on his appointment as GSA for Ireland. Luxair will fly Dublin to Luxemburg four times a week until Mar 27 and then daily at 13.20.

The Travel Corporation January and February Agent Incentive offers the trade the chance to win €1,000 each for both agent and client by booking an Insight Vacations escorted tour, a Uniworld luxury boutique river cruise, a Contiki trip, or a Red Carnation hotel stay for clients before February 28. The more bookings made the more chances of winning. Send booking references to Rosanna Leary.

Upcoming courses from Travel Professionals Skillnet: Blogging for Travel webinar, Fri 4, 9.30am-11am, more info/bookings. Pimp Your Presentation Skills (selling skills), Feb 5, 9.30am-11am, Dublin, more info/bookings. FETAC Level 5 Payroll Skills, 10-week course, Mondays Feb 9 to Apr 13, 10am-1pm, Limerick, more info/bookings. Twitter for Your Travel Business webinar, Feb 11, 9.30am-11am, more info/bookings. Microsoft Publisher Level 1, Feb 16, 9.30am-5pm, Dublin, more info/bookings. FETAC Level 5 Digital Marketing Diploma, 12-week course, Mondays Feb 16 to Jun 1, 6.30pm-9.30pm, Dublin, more info/bookings. Full calendar here.

  • After participating in Eoghan Corry’s expert advice clinic at Holiday World representatives of Malawi, Zambia and Ethiopian Airlines agreed that they are going to push our governments to allow us to promote Ireland as stand-alone destination instead of being attached to London.
  • Travel Counsellors are starting a radio advertising campaignon Today FM on Monday. The homeworking network says they have had a great January again.
  • Kieran Collins from Heffernan’s Travel is the third winner of the €500 lowcostbed sHigh 5 trade promotion.
  • The winners of the €100 Bookabed promotion were Rebecca Franklin of Gohop, Dublin, Grace Collins of Bowe Travel, Thurles, Brenda Quirke of Cassidy Travel, Blanchardstown, Darren Yeats of Midland Travel, Tullamore, Margaret Fitzgerald of Killiney Travel, Dublin and Heather Cummins of Phoenix Travel, Greystones.
  • DoSomethingDifferent’s Dubai fam trip incentives is open to agents who make any DSD worldwide ticket sale and email with Come on holiday with DSD in the subject line with bookings up to Mar 31. The DSD Holiday-FAM takes place in May. DoSomethingDifferent’s Book & Bank incentive rewards agents with €10 ion every €300 worth of DSD sales, also valid to Mar 31. Claims with all order numbers must be submitted by April 17.
  • Click&Go appointed Ian MacArthur formerly with Falcon Holidays as Product Administrator.
  • Quadriga Worldwide named James Cannon as Regional Director for Britain and Ireland.
  • Fitzwilliam Hotel GM Fergal O’Connell will host the Dublin Skal Club on Tuesday February 10th.
  • Travelport and SAS signed a new multi-year full content agreement
  • Registration is open for WTM Latin America
  • Travel Professionals Skillnet and ITAA are offering free training for jobseekers who wish to take part in the 2015 Travel Professionals Essential Skills Programme. The programme begins on March 9 with 20 days of training followed by 20 days of work experience. Those interested should send their CV and cover letter to fionnuala@itaa.ie or call 01 417 9696 before Thursday, Feb 12.
  • ITAA members reported a 30pc increase in bookings at this year’s Holiday World Dublin. stephen davitt missing
  • Skal’s February lunch takes place at the Fitzwilliam Hotel, Stephen’s Green on Feb 10 at 12.30pm. Tickets €30 for members, €35 for guests.
  • Travelport announced a full content agreement with SAS.
  • Funway Holidays’ Chill vs Thrill sales campaign has been extended until Feb 28.
  • Contiki Holidays’ 2015 worldwide brochure was launched. The brochure includes new destination Japan and eight new European trips to cater for young people.
  • Stephen Davitt of Emirates has now been missing for a week. Laytown Gardai +35341 9827074. Here’s hoping.

Deal Watch

  • Classic Resorts offers: 7 nights B&B Patong Merlin Hotel Phuket, Thailand from €849pp incl. tax and flights, travel May 1 to June 30, book by Feb 9. 4 nights B&B Ocean View Hotel, Dubai from €969pp incl. transfers and flights ex Dublin, depart March 16, book by Feb 28. 10 nights Kuramathi Island Resort , Maldives and JA Ocean View Hotel, Dubai from €2,219pp, travel May 1 to July 10, book by Feb 13. 12 nights Mahe, Praslin and Le Digue island hop, Seychelles from €2,749pp incl transfers and ferries, travel May 1 to June 15, book by Feb 13.
  • Travel Counsellors is offering 5 nights Dublin to The Riviera Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas from €880pp incl. one 23kg checked bag, return transfers and taxes, depart March 11.
  • Falcon is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Dublin to Coral Sea Waterworld, Sharm el Sheikh from €2,009 for two adults and one child, and from €2,959 for two adults and two children, depart May 28.
  • Thomson is offering 7 nights half board Dublin to Gran Vista & Spa Hotel, C’an Picafort, Majorca from €529pp, depart June 2.
  • Click and Go offers: 3 nights Dublin to the Mediterran Hotel, Budapest from €199pp incl. flights, taxes and charges, travel in April. 7 nights on board MSC Splendida from €299pp incl. all meals, key destinations: Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa, Rome, Sicily and Tunisia, depart Feb 27, call 01 637 1699 to book. 7 nights self catering Dublin to Esperia Beach Apartments, Crete from €299pp incl. flights, taxes and charges, travel in April.
  • Air France is offering Business Class fares to China for €999 for sale until Feb 28. Destinations: Wuhan, Xiamen and Chengdu. 1 month apex, 7 day minimum stay. Business Class to Hangzhou is €1,299.
  • Wicklow County Tourism offers: 2 nights B&B at Esplande Hotel, Bray from €99pps incl. a 3 course dinner for one evening and a complimentary glass of wine each; call 01 286 2056 to book. Sugarloaf Adventures Bray’s Wicklow Mountains hiking package – 2 nights B&B at Martello Hotel from €500 for two adults and two children incl. dinner, two hikes, café lunch each day and transport; valid until June 30; to book, email info@sugarloafadventures.ie or call 086 840 9413. 2 nights B&B at Woodenbridge Hotel from €160 incl. 4 course meal and 3 rounds of golf, see wicklowgolfbreaks.ie for more info.

Hotels

  • airbnb-cable carAirbnb and Courchevel ski resort are offering the chance to win 1 night stay in a Saulire cable car, 9,000ft above sea level (the highest point in the resort). The cable car can accommodate up to four people, but doesn’t have a bathroom. See here for more info.
  • Lone Star Funds is to buy the Jury’s Inn hotel chain for €910m.
  • Marriott International will buy Canadian hotel brand Delta Hotels & Resorts for US$135m.
  • Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny was voted the number one hotel in the country for families

International

Food & Wine

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Sheedy’s Country House Hotel & Restaurant in Co Clare will debut its 2015 a la carte menu on March 13, when it opens after its annual winter break. A member of Manor House Hotels, the hotel is offering 2 nights B&B and one evening dinner for €155pps incl. entry for two to the Cliffs of Moher Visitors Centre, call 01 295 8900 to book.  Picture shows chef John Sheedy.

  • Renvyle House’s Italian Flavours Food & Wine Weekend takes place Feb 20-22. Hosted by Catherine Fulvio, the event includes antipasti and wine tasting on Friday, a cooking demo and banquette on Saturday, with a Prosecco reception and wine pairings at dinner. 2 nights B&B costs €215pp. Call 095 46 100 to book.
  • Four chefs working in Ireland have qualified to the second round of the San Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 competition: Mark Moriarty of The Culinary Counter, Sarunas Godovan of Tankardstown House, Stephen Holland of Lough Erne Resort and Maria Elena Martinez Otero of InterContinental Dublin. The final takes place in Milan in June.

Aviation

  • David Franks said Irish Rail is planning a new €300m line that will allow intercity trains to travel direct to Dublin airport from Cork, Galway and Belfast.
  • Shares in Flybe dropped 20pc on Monday after the airline said it would break even before tax in its financial year ending March 2015.
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport reported a 20pc increase in inbound, outbound and transfer passengers last year (20m passengers). The airport handled 154,821 movements, up 14.5pc.
  • US airports handled 197.3m passengers last year, up 7pc.
  • Qatar Airways bought a 9.99pc stake in IAG.
  • American Airlines 787 (1)American Airlines took delivery of its first B787 Dreamliner (pictured) on Thursday.
  • Iberia will resume flights from Spain to Havana from June 1, operating 5 weekly flights. The airline will also launch a new route from Madrid to Cali and Medellin from July 3.
  • Ryanair will extend its Business Plus fast track security service to London Gatwick from Feb 2, Rome Ciampino from March 2 and Eindhoven from April 1.
  • Menus designed by Finnish chef Matti Jämsén and Kari Aihinen, head chef at Nokka, are available to Flybe Business Class passengers flying long haul from Helsinki.
  • British Airways extended its sale fare to USA and Canada until Feb 4.
  • Etihad Flight College is now authorised to provide the Multi Crew Pilot Licence.
  • Aer Lingus launched its summer seat sale to North America from €249 one way for travel from April 1 to Oct 31, book by Feb 9.
  • Grammy winning band Imagine Dragons will perform an in flight concert on a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Atlanta on Feb 24.
  • Alaska Airlines will offer Microsoft IFE tablet rentals on long haul flights from Feb 1.
  • A Delta Air Lines flight had to make an emergency landing after a pilot was locked out of the cockpit because of a door malfunction.
  • British Airways’ long haul pre-order catering option in First, Club World and World Traveller Plus cabins is now available on flights from Heathrow to Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Houston, Austin and San Diego for travel after Feb 5. The option will be available on flights to Atlanta, Denver, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary from Feb 1 for travel after March 1.
  • €9m was spent on unused landing strips at Inishbofin and Cleggan from 2004-09.
  • Kenya Airport Authority announced it will expand Diani Airport by constructing a new terminal and lengthening the runway from 1.1km to 2km. It is hoped that a scheduled service to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi will be launched to allow international visitors a direct connection to the coast, avoiding a road transfer across Nairobi to Wilson Airport.
  • Aer Lingus appointed KesselsKramer as its new creative agency
  • Profits were down at Parc aviation.
  • Ryanair introduced fast-track for business fliers at Gatwick.
  • Avios, the BA air miles scheme downgraded its offering for economy class passengers to give business and expense-account flyers enhanced rewards.
  • SkyTeam formally opened Sydney Exclusive lounge.

Afloat

  • brittany ferries new gas powered ferryBrittany Ferries has extended their early inclusive holiday offer with 20pc off land accommodation and 15pc off ferry for customers who book one of their holiday packages.
  • Fred Olsen Cruise Line flew passengers from cruise ship Boudicca back home on Thursday after being forced to cut short a cruise when the 880-passenger ship caught fire last weekend while on the way to the Canary Islands.
  • Seabourn revealed the names of its next two cruise ships, Seabourn Encore due to launch in late 2016, and Seabourn Ovation to launch in spring 2018.
  • Carnival Corporation is to combine with China Merchants Group to develop the cruise industry in China.
  • Luxury cruise line Seabourn will launch Seabourn Encore in late 2016 and Seabourn Ovation in 2018.

Ireland

Final Central Statistics Office figures for 2014 confirmed visitor numbers to Ireland were up 9pc and 2014 was the best year ever for visitor numbers from North America (up 15pc), England (up 8pc), Germany (up 15pc), Spain (up 11pc), Italy (up 10pc) and France (up 5pc), with mainland Europe up 15pc and Australia and Developing Markets up 9pc.

shaun quinn presentation_0745 copyShaun Quinn (pictured), Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland, reacted to tourism figureswith further development of the Wild Atlantic Way, a rebranding of Dublin and the new and exciting project for the south and east of the country, tourism looks set to go from strength to strength in 2015 and to deliver more jobs and revenue throughout the island.’ Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “ambitious targets have been set to ensure that tourism growth continues. Following last year’s success, we will be pulling out all the stops this year, to keep the momentum going and ensure that 2015 is the best year ever for Irish tourism when we aim to welcome 7.74m visitors – surpassing the previous record year of 2007.”

MasterChef Italia - Ireland on the menu on Italian TVAn episode of MasterChef Italia, which was filmed in Cork and Kinsale last summer, was broadcast to an audience of 1.1m Italians on Thursday evening. Tourism Ireland in Milan and Bord Bia secured the talent show for Ireland, and Fáilte Ireland prepared the itinerary. Picture shows the judges of MasterChef Italia Bruno Barbieri, Carlo Cracco and Joe Bastianich, during filming at Kinsale Rugby club.

  • Guinness Storehouse opened a 360˚ virtual tour of its seven storey visitor centre through Google’s Business View.
  • May 2 has been declared Mayo day.
  • Clare Tourism Forum has been renamed Clare Tourism. A steering group has been established featuring representatives of five geographical areas, Ennis, West Clare, North Clare, East Clare and South Clare. Among the actions outlined in its Structure and Implementation Plan is the distribution of a Festival & Events Guide and the removal of membership fees and greater engagement with key stakeholders.
  • NITB say tens of thousands of tickets have already been sold for this year’s Irish Open at Royal County Down on May 28-31, 17pc of tickets in the 26 counties. The 2012 tournament at Royal Portrush, was the first European Tour event to sell out in advance.
  • Fáilte Ireland held a Destination Dublin networking session and workshop in the Aviva Stadium with 200 Dublin trade attending.
  • Fáilte Ireland’s first Visitor Attraction Management Development Programmhosted 26 managers of visitor attractions from the East and South in York, England’s former capital.
  • The Wild Atlantic Way was awarded the National Impact Award at the 2015 Community and Council Awards, hosted by the Local Authority Members Association in association with IPB Insurance.
  • Tourism Ireland sent out a final call for entries for the Irish Tourism Industry Awards 2015. Closing date  is Feb 16. Enter here.
  • Fáilte Ireland won three awards at the annual Ireland e-Government Awards held in Dublin Castle

TARGETING BRITISH COACH AND GROUP TOURS BUSINESS FOR IRELAND13 tourism enterprises joined Tourism Ireland at Excursions, the annual group travel show in London. 1,300 coach and group tour operators from Britain attended the event. Picture shows John Callely of Teeling Whiskey Company and Debbie Moran of Tourism Ireland at the event.

Shannon Airport Group appointed Treacy Consulting to examine Shannon Heritage to see “how we can maximise on the upswing in tourism”.

The full list of CIE Tours International 2014 Awards of Excellence; Best 5 star hotel Westbury Hotel; Best 4 star hotel Cabra Castle Hotel; Best 3 star hotel Benners Hotel; Best Hotel Accommodation Radisson Blu Royal Hotel; Best Hotel Dinner Dromoland Castle Hotel; Best Hotel Service & Hospitality Granville Hotel; Best Event Dinner / Entertainment The Merry Ploughboy Pub; Special Dinner Feature Killeen House Hotel; Best Tour Feature Robert Power Sheep Dog Trial; Best Walking tour Derry Walking Tour – Ronan McNamara; Best Visit Rathbaun Farm; Best Lunch Davitt’s Pub, Kenmare; Heritage Award Cliffs of Moher; Hall of Fame Liam Murray; Lifetime/Outstanding Contribution John Lovell, John Madden; Special Accolade Hotels Leinster: Academy Plaza Hotel; Alexander Hotel; Ashling Hotel; Clontarf Castle Hotel; Conrad Dublin; Croke Park Hotel; The D Hotel; Davenport Hotel; Doubletree by Hilton Dublin; Dunboyne Castle Hotel; Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel; The Fitzwilliam Hotel; Herbert Park Hotel; Maldron Hotel Cardiff Lane; Radisson Blu St Helens Hotel; Royal Marine Hotel; Sheraton Athlone; Stillorgan Park Hotel; Special Accolade Visits Leinster: Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre Clonmacnoise; Dalkey Castle Heritage Centre; Dublin Castle; Dunbrody Emigrant Ship; Glasnevin Museum; Glendalough Visitor Centre; Irish National Stud & Japanese Gardens; Jerpoint Park; Kilmainham Jail; Malahide Castle; Greta Power; Special Accolade Hotels Munster: Actons Hotel; The Brehon; Hotel Europe; International Hotel Killarney; Killarney Avenue Hotel; Killarney Park Hotel; Killarney Plaza Hotel; Killarney Towers Hotel; Limerick Strand Hotel; The Malton; Old Ground Hotel; River Lee Hotel; Special Accolade Visits Munster: Blarney Castle; Brendan Ferris Sheep Dog Trials; Caherconnell Sheep Dog Trials; Cliffs of Moher; Foynes Flying Boat Museum; House of Waterford Crystal; Killarney Horse & Carriage Tours; King Johns Castle; Marine Bar Waterford; Muckross House; Kissane Sheep Farm; Tangney Tours – Jaunting Car; Special Accolade Hotels Connacht: Ashford Castle; Clew Bay Hotel; Galway Bay Hotel; Hotel Westport; Kilronan Castle Hotel; Radisson Blu Hotel Galway; Special Accolade Visits Connacht: Boyle Abbey; Cnoc Suain, Connemara; Dún Aonghasa Fort; Westport House; Kylemore Abbey; Special Accolade Hotels Ulster: Ballygally Castle Hotel; Europa Hotel; Harveys Point Country Hotel; Hilton Hotel Belfast; Kee’s Hotel; Merchant Hotel; Mill Park Hotel, Donegal; Special Accolade Visits Ulster: Down Cathedral; Giants Causeway; Glenveagh National Park; Sheans Heritage Farm; Slieve League Cliffs; Titanic Belfast; Ulster American Folk Park.

Email editor@travelextra.ie to have your say or it’s @TravelExtraIre on Twitter if that’s your bag.

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