TRAVEL Extra Sunday Supplement: Has Easyjet won the Battle for Berlin?

HEADLINES – AVIATION – AFLOAT – DEALWATCH – FOOD & WINE – HOTELS – INTERNATIONAL – IRELAND – STRANGE WORLD – TRAVEL TRADE

Cathal Austin fo the Irish Mirror looking out from Rupea fortress in Transylvania on a group trip hosted by Blue Air

Things to know about travel this week.

  • Easyjet moves to Tegel to become Berlin’s biggest carrier
  • Drac-tac and Romania’s Transylvania problem
  • Great Northern bought by booking.com
  • Etihad host the trade
  • Paradores host a tapas night
  • Not enough check-in desks at T2

Travel Extra TV.

Watch here the cavalcade for Air Berlin’s last flight.

Former banker Joe Dowd‘s life changed when a life-changing brain injury in 2014 left him with severe physical and cognitive challenges. Watch here as he returns to the air on a flight from Heathrow to Dublin to visit friends and family, supported by British Airways.

 A South Australian man says he will never forget the screams of his teenage daughter as she was thrown into the air by a 4.5m great white shark in an attack the family says could have been straight out of  Jaws. Watch here as she is saved from death.

Aer Lingus‘s AerClub has had a bit of a baptism of fire. Now the airline is showing how to maximise value from your SuperValu shopping with the scheme. Watch here. 

While other airlines, such as Malyasian Airlines, are turning away from A380s, Emirates can’t get enough of them. Watch here as it gets ready to welcome the 100th into its fleet.

Etihad is now on Apple Pay. If you’re not a techie, find out more from the airline here. 

Fokker out: watch as KLM says farewell to an old friend and workhorse here.

Qantas appears to be happy with its new Dreamliners. Watch here as it introduces the onboard experience. It’s a new level in luxury – if you can afford it.

If you haven’t got the cash to splash on Qatar’s QSuite, you can always drool over it here.

Tourism Ireland hosted Australian model Erin Holland on a trip around Dublin. Watch here.  And with Lonely Planet raving over Northern Ireland, Tourism Ireland also takes us on a tour of the Causeway Coast here.

Behind the Headlines

Has Easyjet won the battle for Berlin? The Luton based carrier announced a deal to take over leases for 25 Air Berlin aircraft and gain access to Berlin Tegel Airport as the former second largest German airline was liquidated on Friday. It also has launched a recruitment campaign to attract about 1,000 of Air Berlin’s pilots and cabin crew. Ryanair has complained that Germany has illegally divvied up Air Berlin’s assets describing it as a stitch-up.

For the week that was in it, Paul Nolan of APG/Blue Air and the Romanian Tourist Board hosted a group of Irish travel writers in Bucharest and Transylvania to highlight the 3w route to Cluj, in Romania’s forest-and-nature region (2w in winter). The extent of the tourist board’s fang-toothed  (Hallowe’en?) dilemma became immediately apparent. To Drac or not to Drac? Although Clontarf’s own Bram Stoker had never visited Transylvania, he has turned it into an inadvertent tourist destination, judging from the souvenir shops. His information came from encounters with Transylvania specialist Emily Gerard (1849-1905), a friend of Lady Jane Wilde. Her folktale research was done in an area 600km away from Wallachia, where held sway Vlad Țepeș, the impaler and son of Vlad Dracul. Thanks to a tenuous connection with Vlad, the hilltop Bran Castle is now Romania’s top tourist attraction with 360,000 visitors a year, in a location en route from Bucharest to Romania’s most touristy city, Brasov. The village is lined with stalls selling Dracula memorabilia, not bad for a fictional character invented by a Dublin northsider. The writers visited a house in Sighișoara which also hosts a plaque claiming to be his birthplace, despite being built 200 years after his death. All the Drac-tac serves as a bit of a distraction from the real wonders of Transylvania, a spectacular natural park, UNESCO-listed fortified churches that are unique to the area, Saxon heritage cities, Gothic cathedrals from three religions, and stunning hilltop castles.  The food and red wine was tasty and, yes, the parting glass was sung. Watch here video report of trip. Picture shows the group on the battlemented walls of Brasov: Paul Nolan of APG, Radu Zaharie tour guide, Eleanor Goggin, Aileen Eglington, Cathal Austin, Declan Mescall, Jim Gallagher, Tom Sweeney and (front) Eoghan Corry. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook. Of course, regular Travel Extra readers wil know that Dracula is really from Co Derry. Watch here and leagan gaeilge anseo.

Fáilte Ireland’s tourism barometer found that, while overall industry sentiment is healthy, it is less positive than in recent years. Half of those surveyed in hospitality said British business is down, while two in five experienced a drop in visitors from the North, particularly evident in northern counties — Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Monaghan, and Sligo.

Travel Trade

Overseas trips by Irish residents July to September was up 10.7pc to 2,495,000.

The first discussions on a venue for the Irish Travel Agents Association conference for 2018 have begun with Dubai the front runners. Celina Tavares’ achievement in hosting a successful ITAA conference in Oporto has been praised by the tourism board. Irish numbers to Portugal are up 11.6pc this year, Porto up 46.7pc, Central Portugal up 54.9pc, Lisbon up 12.4pc, Alentejo up 20.4pc and Algarve (from the highest base) up 9.1pc. Watch here video report of ITAA conference 2017, the agents. Watch here Cormac Meehan speech at the Vista Alegre Porcelain event at Ílhavo, Aveiro where ITAA delegates were hosted after the conference. Watch here Cormac Meehan speech at the close of conference activities in Ferreira centre on the banks of the Douro. Watch here ITAA presentation to Cathy Mannion. Watch here speech by Sandra Lorenz of Northern Portugal tourism, and Watch here speech by Silvia Ribau of Central Portugal tourism. Watch here Silvia Ribau theatre speech before a performance by father and son duo Fernando and Fernandito MeirelesWatch here video report of the travel trade visit to Central Portugal after the conference. Watch here video report of Travel Extra’s visit to Northern Portugal. Watch here visit to Fatima. Picture shows Celina Tavares of Visit Portugal Ireland, Antonio Padeira of Visit Portugal London and Raquel Carneiro. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Pat Dawson and Cormac Meehan are to attend the fourth summit of travel agencies associations in Valencia this week.

Bangor travel agent, Chandra Rowan of Feherty Travel won the Travel Consultant of the Year award at the Northern Ireland Travel Awards at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Co Down. Downe Travel won agency award and Doreen McKenzie was the lifetime achievement award winner. Tourist Information Centre 2015 ‐ Belfast Welcome Centre; Special Achievement Award 2015 – Uel Hoey; Outstanding Contribution  – Killyhevlin Hotel; Ni Visitor Attraction 2015 ‐ Seamus Heaney Homeplace; Travel Student Of The Year 2015 ‐ Lauren Willis; Travel Insurance Company – Blue Insurance; Luxury Cruise Line – Silversea; Specialist Cruise Line – Hurtigruten; Cruise Line – Royal Caribbean; Holiday Add‐Ons Or Car Hire Provider – Holiday Extras; Airline, Belfast City Airport – Aer Lingus; Airline, Belfast International Airport – Easyjet; Airline Worldwide – Emirates; Ferry Company – Stena Line; Accommodation Only Specialist – Room Team/Wtc; Travel Industry Internet Booking System – Jet2holidays; Worldwide Tour Operator – Gold Medal/Travel 2; Specialist Tour Operator – American Holidays; Luxury Tour Operator – If Only; Ski Operator – Topflight; Tour Operator To Europe – Jet2holidays; Tourist Board – Spanish Tourist Board; Travel Trade Manager/Representative Of The Year – Robert Wilson; Travel Marketing Initiative 2017 – Car Give Away Promotion, Blue; Insurance; Best Sales Support Team To Ni Travel Trade – Travel Solutions; Travel & Tourism Industry’s Roll Of Honour – Ciaran O’Hare; Travel Consultant Of The Year 2017 – Chandra Rowan; Multiple Retail Agency Branch 2017 – Thomson, Newry; Travel Industry Award 2017 – Doreen McKenzie; Travel Agent Of The Year – Downe Travel. Watch here video report of awards. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Patricia Kenny and Marian Benton of Map Travel hosted a Paradores tapas evening in the Royal College of Surgeons. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Winners of the first four places on the Topflight fam trip to Austria in December, Donna Kenny of  Cassidy Travel, Karen Armstrong of One World Travel Craigavon, Eleanor McGivern of Traveller Secrets and Katherina Murray of Dawson Travel. Topflight hosted travel agents on a ski trip to Kilternan. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Etihad hosted travel media and trade at separate events in House in Leeson St. Picture shows Shannon O’Dowd and Karen Maloney of Etihad Airways with Godfrey Lydon of Club Travel. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Kevin Cullinane, Head of Communications, Cork Airport and Shauna Kelly, Reseller Development Manager, Topflight along with brother and sister Chester and Matilda Cross as Topflight launched its winter ski route from Cork Airport to Salzburg. Flights begin on December 30 and run until March 17. Photo: Pic: Brian Lougheed

Topflight has launched its winter ski route to Salzburg from Cork Airport, giving more choice to passengers in the south of the country.  The service will operate each Saturday commencing 30th December until 17th March. Pictured at the launch were Kevin Cullinane, Head of Communications, Cork Airport and Shauna Kelly, Reseller Development Manager, Topflight along with brother and sister Chester and Matilda Cross. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Do Something Different hosted ten travel trade on a fam trip to California with flights from Virgin Atlantic. They were hosted at the Millenium Biltmore Downtown, had a trip on  the Red Metro Line up to Universal Studios Hollywood for the epic Halloween Horror Nights, were hosted on the VIP Experience before the two hour guided Backlot Tour, a whistle stop tour of the incredible sights of LA on the Starline Hop on Hop Off network, Oue Skyspace for the view from California’s tallest open air observation deck and the world’s first ever Skyslide,  Citadel Outlet, SeaWorld for a behind the scenes tour and San Diego Old Town for The Day of the Dead Festival, a Tour of the Beaches with Starline, the iPier and 3rd Street Promenade at Santa Monica and a stop at Muscle Beach before driving through Marina Del Rey en route to LAX.

Strange world

The US Navy picked up Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiaba who went off course during the 2,700-mile journey from Hawaii to Tahiti. They credited the two animals onboard with them with keeping their spirits and said they managed to stay alive because they had packed a water purifier and enough food to last for a year before leaving.

A psychologist and boredom specialist Sandi Man hired by Emirates airlines claimed children get bored 49 minutes and 47 seconds into a flight.

Jamie Harron, from Stirling in Scotland, has been sentenced to three months in prison in Dubai for touching a man’s hip in a bar, according to campaigners. He was arrested in July over the incident in which he said he put his hand on a man’s hip to avoid spilling a drink in a crowded bar.

A lawyer proposed to his girlfriend during a midair emergency, as their flight to Bali lost pressure and began plummeting to the ground. Chris Jeanes, 27, was aboard an Air Asia flight from Perth, Australia, when staff began shouting “emergency, brace, crash positions” 25 minutes after take off. The aircraft turned back and later landed. The girlfriend said yes.

Another elderly Chinese air traveller was caught tossing coins into an aircraft engine for ‘good luck’ causing the grounding of the flight. It is the second such incident in the last few months after a China Southern Airlines flight was delayed in June by a superstitious 80-year woman.

 

 

International

Catalan separatists can count the region as Ireland’s seventh most popular holiday destination, behind England, Spain, France, USA, Italy and Portugal and ahead of Germany. Catalonia enjoys a steady 15pc of Ireland’s outbound tourist traffic, around 273,000 last year. Overall Spanish figures for 2017 could be 20pc ahead of last year.

A typhoon caused flooding and landslides along the Pacific coast of Japan, killing at least two people. Typhoon Lan made landfall in central Japan on Monday morning and swept across Tokyo before heading out to sea several hours later.

An outbreak of the Black Death plague on Madagascar, off the coast of Africa, has killed nearly 100 people on the island.

Food & Beverage

Thirty Irish pubs in 13 counties made it onto the 2018 Michelin ‘Eating Out In Pubs’ guide just published.  The only new listing is the  Bull & Ram in Ballynahinch, Co. Down. The winners: Antrim  – Billy Andy’s at Mounthill, near Larne. Clare – Morrissey’s (Doonbeg), Vaughan’s Anchor Inn (Liscannor), Wild Honey Inn (Lisdoonvarna) and Linnane’s Lobster Bar (New Quay). Cork – Poacher’s Inn (Bandon), Deasy’s (Clonakilty), Cronin’s (Crosshaven) and Toddies at The Bulman (Kinsale). Down – Bull & Ram (Ballynahinch), Pheasant (Annahilt), Poacher’s Pocket (Comber), Parson’s Nose and Plough Inn (both in Hillsborough) Pier 36 (Donaghadee) and Balloo House (Killinchy). Dublin – Old Spot and Chop House (both in Ballsbridge). Galway – Moran’s Oyster Cottage (Kilcolgan) and O’Dowd’s (Roundstone). Kildare – Harte’s (Kildare),Ballymore Inn (Ballymore Eustace) and Fallon’s (Kilcullen). Leitrim – Oarsman (Carrick-on-Shannon). Louth – Fitzpatricks (Jenkinstown). Mayo – The Tavern (Murrisk) and Sheebeen (Westport). Sligo – Hargadons (Sligo Town). Tipperary – Larkins (Garrykennedy). Wexford – Lobster Pot (Carne).

Dublin’s Beaumont House and Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel, Enniskillen, Fermanagh won this year’s KNORR Great Carvery of the Year. Among the provincial winners in the Hotel of the Year category are Rochestown Park Hotel, Douglas, Cork (Munster); Galway Bay Hotel, Salthill, Galway (Connacht); Bridge House Hotel, Tullamore, Offaly (Leinster) and Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel, Enniskillen, Fermanagh (Ulster). In the Pub of the Year category Kirby’s Brogue Inn, Tralee, Kerry (Munster); The Broken Jug, Ballina, Mayo (Connacht); The Market Yard, Limavady, Derry (Ulster) and Beaumont House, Dublin (Leinster) claimed the provincial titles. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Sales of Irish-made gin increased by 240pc at Dublin and Cork airports during The Loop’s recent inaugural Spirit of Gin Festival. The festival ran in August and September in both Dublin and Cork airports and was aimed at showcasing the best of Irish gin alongside the global giants.

The Bulmers-making C&C Group’s net revenue was down 6.8pc year-on-year to €273.1m, while its operating profit dropped nearly 5pc to €50.5m compared to the same period last year.

The owner of Tullamore Dew whiskey, William Grant & Sons, has invested €25m in its Co Offaly distilling operation this year.

Plans to demolish Scruffy Murphy’s pub off of Mount Street in Dublin to construct a new aparthotel have been approved, despite objections from people living in the local area.

Hotels

Rachel Howes,  former MD of Booking.com Limited has taken an ownership investment in the Irish owned Great National hotel chain. Rachel Howes helped to grow Booking.com, into a €70bn global brand and listing 1.4m hotels in 226 countries. Ms. Howes is also co-founder of HomeRez.com emerging holiday letting brand. Great National was formed in 2010 and is now Ireland’s fastest growing hospitality group with 65 hotels and resorts, with 4,500 hotel bedrooms.

Tetrarch Hospitality has sold Dublin’s Jacobs Inn Hostel to international private equity firm Patron Capital LLP for a figure in the region of €14.5m.

Marty Morrissey launched the party for the new Treacy’s Oakwood. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

England’s Competition and Markets Authority is set to probe hotel booking sites due to concerns that consumers are being misled and having a more difficult time booking accommodation by these sites. According to reports, the investigation will examine areas such as hidden charges, search results and discount claims on leading booking sites.

Ashford Castle has unveiled a new own-brand 33-piece product range that includes bathrobes, snow globes, a custom Ashford Castle teddy bear and an Ashford Castle Monopoly board.

Fáilte Ireland’s Situation and Outlook Analysis Report revealed that although Ireland has received 160,000 more arrivals from January to August this year than in 2016, there’s not enough accommodation supply in the most popular areas. Dan O’Connor, senior vice-president at JLL, said “new hotel rooms are urgently needed in Dublin City and we welcome the publication of Fáilte Ireland’s latest SOAR report which calls for new hotel supply now.”

With the final phase of the refurbishment of its bedrooms and facade complete, Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel wants to revamp some of its larger spaces, such as the Lord Mayor’s lounge, ballroom and meeting rooms.

RTE commentator Marty Morrissey launched the rebrand to Treacys Oakwood Hotel, Shannon. The hotel has also been awarded a four-star rating by Failte Ireland. Marty Morrissey is pictured at the official launch party with some of the younger members of the Keena Family, Eddie Keena, Niamh Treacy, Ellen Conaire and Cillian Conaire. Full album from the event can be found here.

International hotel investment firm the Puyan Group has acquired The Strand Hotel & Bar in Bray for €1.8m. The venue, which was built by William and Jane Wilde in 1870, was inherited by Oscar Wilde six years later.

Club Med is to debut its all-inclusive holiday product in Vietnam. Club Med Ho Tram, slated to open in 2021, will be located in Vung Tau Province, about 90 minutes from Ho Chi Minh international airport and will feature 300 guestrooms.

Britannia has been named Britain’s worst-performing large hotel brand in a new report by Which? – for the fifth consecutive year.

Aviation

A Cityjet CRJ9 at Turku on Oct 25th 2017 did a pirouette during landing.

Dublin airport reports 345,000 passengers this October Bank Holiday Weekend, up 3pc. The Commission for Aviation Regulation draft report (read here) by Helios Technologies on capacity issues at Dublin Airport suggests the number of non-Aer Lingus T2 check-in desks does not meet the current demand, will penalise the level of service and will constrain the growth of transatlantic routes. It recommends a higher departure capacity for T1. ‘TSA security control is limiting process in the US Preclearance area, comfort in that area is limited and an incomplete staffing of resources by the US administrators would generate long waiting times and queues.’ Immigration throughput is a problem in both terminals although the situation can be improved with the installation of 10 e-gates by Summer 2018. It raised concerns about transfer capacity during the morning long-haul and short-haul waves. DAA is in the process of implementing a new transfer facility to increase throughput and shorten the walking distance.

The second annual A4E CEO Forum met in Brussels to discuss connectivity disruptors and present the final results of a York Aviation study on “The Cost and Profitability of European Airports”, which shows that European passengers are paying excessive airport charges, particularly at monopoly airports and at airports which operate under a Dual-Till regime.

Niall McCarthy told Cork County Council that the old terminal at Cork Airport is to be demolished to make way for a 40-acre business park, from which some revenue will be used for marketing initiatives to attract more tourists. The airport intends to purchase another air bridge to add to the two it has.  The Jack Lynch executive lounge is to be doubled in size and will reopen next February.

Adria Airways Switzerland terminated its contract to operate flights for Powdair.  It has a stake in partner carrier and Danish capacity provider BackBone Aviation.

It is lift-off for Dublin-London Southend Airport route, operated by Flybe’s Franchise Partner Stobart Air, beginning this Sunday 29 October three times daily. To celebrate the new route, Flybe’s Franchise Partner Stobart Air, gave away free black cab rides – and 250 free return Dublin-London Southend Airport flights to Dublin commuters last Thursday.The black cab taxi ranks were at Drumcondra (Richmond road/N1) Rathmines (Military Road/Rathmines road lower) and Ballsbridge (Herbert Park/Clyde Lane) and will take passengers to a central stop at Merrion Square South. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

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CSO data on Irish air traffic in 2016 show England at 12.7m, Spain 3.9m, US 2.82m, Germany 1.99m, France 1.94m, Italy 1.30m, Netherlands 1.23m, Poland 1.06m

AerCap Holdings signed lease agreements for 50 aircraft in Q3, including 17 widebody aircraft and 33 narrowbody aircraft of which 8 are Embraer E2-Jet Family aircraft, purchased 11 aircraft, including 2 A320neo Family aircraft, 1 A350 and 8 B 787s, executed sale transactions for 28 aircraft, including 8 A320 Family aircraft, 6 A330s, 2 A340s, 1 B737 Classic, 8 B737NGs, 1 B767 and 1 B777-300ER from AerCap’s owned portfolio, and 1 B737 Classic from AerCap’s managed portfolio and it signed financing transactions for $3.7 billion.

Volotea weekly Airbus A319 Verona service to Cork will increase to 2w for Summer 2018 every Saturday from May 26th – August 29th, with an additional flight on Wednesdays from June 27th.

American and Southwest airlines are expecting average prices to move higher the rest of this year, shifting away from fare wars that have cut into profits and created turbulence for airline stock prices.

Workers at Australia‘s major airports will face additional screening measures after authorities allegedly foiled an plot to bring down an aircraft leaving Sydney Airport in July.

Ryanair has reportedly told pilots that much of their annual leave for 2018 will have to be taken in the first three months of the year.

John Mulligan reports Stobart is considering hiving off its Dublin-based Stobart Aviation unit as a separate entity, just months after bringing it into the group fold.

Finnair is poised to enter the largest expansion in its 94-year history during the upcoming winter season.It’s opening new routes to Goa, India on 1 November, to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on 5 November, to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, on 30 November and to Havana, Cuba, on 1 December.

A Fine Gael politician Colm Burke asked Aer Lingus to explain “unfair pricing levels” that have resulted in flights from Cork being up to five times higher than Dublin.

China is forecasting a net rise in weekly departing seat capacity of 2.08m for W17/18 when compared to the start of the previous winter season. Behind China is the US, followed by Indonesia and India. The leading region is Asia, with 13 of the top 40 nations being in this region: 12 in Europe, six in South America, four in the Middle East, three in North America and two in Africa, according to Ralph Anker’s anna.aero.

Photo ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Irish rugby player Johnny Sexton paid a surprise visit to Dublin’s Castleknock College to give a rugby masterclass to students. The Aer Lingus ambassador was also publicising the final call for the airline’s winter sales promotion for Europe.

Low-cost carrier AirAsia is shifting Singapore flight operations to Changi Airport’s new Terminal 4 from next month. Relocation day is November 7 when it moves from its current home at Terminal 1.

Afloat

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has beaten its annual target for 2017 10 weeks before the year ends. The operator has seen record demand for cruises in October, with bumper sales last week up 70pc year-on-year.

MSC Cruises has announced plans for a second world cruise, set to take place on MSC Magnifica in January 2020. The 116-night westbound voyage will call on 43 ports in 23 countries – with four embarkation ports and dates available, including Rome/Civitavecchia (January 4); Genoa (January 5); Marseille (January 6); and Barcelona (January 7).

Azamara Club Cruises has revealed the itineraries for its new ship, Azamara Pursuit, which debuts in August 2018. The ship will spend its first season sailing in Europe and South America.

German cruise line Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has started construction on the second of two new expedition ships at a keel-laying ceremony in Romania. The Hanseatic Inspiration will be a sister ship to the Hanseatic Nature and will launch in October 2019.

Ireland

CSO tourism figures show a big rise in domestic tourism. England’s market continues to drag on inbound figures, down 6.7pc for the January to September period. Declines in France and Benelux are being offset by increases from Spain and the Nordic countries. Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said the latest overall figures from the CSO “confirm 7,661,200 overseas visitors during the period January to September this year. This represents growth of almost 3pc – or 216,000 additional visitors – on the same nine-month period last year”. He said the British plunge continues to be a real concern”.

It was reported that Simon Coveney claimed a “big win” for Ireland on RED FM in retaining the common travel area  with Britain in the first major agreement to be hammered out under the Brexit talks.

Tourism Ireland has teamed up with Logitravel in Spain for a joint promotional campaign in Madrid and Barcelona, to raise awareness of Dublin as a city break destination. About 21pc of all Spanish visitors to Ireland arrive in the off-season or final quarter of the year.

Lonely Planet named Belfast and the Causeway Coast the Number One Region to visit in 2018 (the Planet’s Tom Ottley is a big fan). The travel media company unveiled the accolade in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018. The lists contains their usual collection of suprises (Djibouti the fourth best country, Detroit second best city, and is Southern USA a region comparable with north Antrim?) but is hugely influential. Countries; 1 Chile, 2 South Korea, 3 Portugal, 4 Djibouti, 5 New Zealand, 6 Malta, 7 Georgia, 8 Mauritius, 9 China, 10 South Africa. Cities: 1 Seville, 2 Detroit, 3 Canberra, 4 Hamburg, 5 Kaohsiung, 6 Antwerp, 7 Matera, 8 San Juan, 9 Guanajato, 10 Oslo. Regions: 1 Causeway Coast, 2 Alasa, 3 Julian Alps, 4 Languedoc Roussillon, 5 Kii Pneinula, 6 Aeolian Islands, 7 Southern USA, 8 Lahaul & Spitl, 9 Bahia, 10 Los Haitises National Park. Best Value: 1 Tallinn, 2 Lanzarote, 3 Arizona, 4 La Paz, 5 Poland, 6 Essaouria, 7 Britain, 8 Bahia California, 9 Jacksonville, 10 Hunan. Picture shows Nóirín Hegarty, Lonely Planet’s Operations Director Ireland; Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland; and John McGrillen, CEO of Tourism NI, in Belfast on October 24, after the announcement.

Scattery Island in Co Clare is the Irish winner of the 2017 EDEN (European Destination of Excellence) Award recognising it as the destination in Ireland which has best used its local cultural assets to grow visitor numbers. The EDEN award was officially presented by the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin. Picture shows Ian Lynch, Diarmuid Whelan, Scattery island Heritage Group, Minister Brendan Griffin and Paddy Mathews Head of Investment Failte Ireland at a ceremony in the Vandeleur Walled Garden, Kilrush, Co Clare. Photograph by Eamon Ward. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Deal Watch

ITAA offers: New Zealand Adventure, May-August 2018, 15 days, from €3595, including flights, accommodation and meals (9 breakfasts, 1 lunches, 2 dinners), with Bowes Travel.  www.itaa.ie/2017/10/24/new-zealand

Family Camping in Croatia, 4th May 2018, 7 nights, from €1228 (2 adults, 2 children) including return flights and taxes from Dublin to Pula, 7 nights accommodation in a Tahiti mobile home at the Strasko Camping Resort, 4 x 20kg hand luggage, with Shandon Travel. www.itaa.ie/2017/10/26/croatia

Classical Spain for Solo Travellers, June & October 2018, 6 nights, from €1199, including 6 nights’ accommodation with breakfast (based on one person in a double/twin room for sole occupancy), return flights (incl 15 kg checked in bag) and transfers, all tours as mentioned, all airport departure taxes, all local accommodation taxes and the services of a Riviera Travel tour manager. www.itaa.ie/2017/10/24/classical-spain

GTI offers: Limited availability on five-day trip to Krakow’s Christmas Markets, staying at the 3* Hotel Wyspianski, from €429, depart November 28. Price include flights, professional English speaking guide, executive coach transfers, great hotel accommodation plus tour of Krakow & visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mines. http://www.gti-ireland.com/holiday/offer/krakow-christmas-markets for more.

Insight Vacations offers: Easy Pace Italy. Ten-day tour of italy, including flights, transfers and 9 nights’ accommodation in the best locations, from €2839pps. Book 26 January 2018. Flight cost must be paid at the time of booking, departs April 22. For more information log onto www.insightvacations.com or call 01 775 3803

Sunway offers: Dublin to Lapland, overnight full board at the Sky Hotel, from €2807 for two adults and one child, departs December 1. Dublin to Gran Canaria, 7 nights self-catering 2* Monte Verde, from €489, depart January 6, 13, 20 and 27. Dublin to Lanzarote, 7 nights self-catering 2* Los Pueblos Apts, from €469, depart January 6, 13, 20 and 27. Dublin to Fuerteventura , 7 nights self-catering 3* Oasis Dunas Apts, from €499, depart January 6, 13, 20 and 28. Dublin to Italy for Jewels of Italy escorted tour, with 6 nights twin share three and four-star hotels, meals and tours as per itinerary, from €1,389pp, depart May 13. River cruise ex Dublin, 7 nights full board from Vilshofen to Budapest with wine/beer at meals and excusions, in category d outside stateroom from €1099, depart November 22. Dublin to France, 7 nights all inclusive at Club Med Ski, Aime La Plagne, from €1329pp on twin share, depart January 7. Dublin to Vietnam, 9 nights on twin share basis, meals and tour as per itinerary, from €1769, depart December 3.  Western Caribbean Fly Cruise & Stay, 10 nights premium all inclusive onboard Norwegian Epic with 3 night pre-cruise stay in Orlando, from €1299, depart November 29. Luxury New England & Bermuda Fly Cruise, 1 night pre-cruise in New York and 10-night cruise onboard Oceania Cruises, from €2399, depart September 2, 2018. Western Mediterranean Fly Cruise, 7 nights onboard Symphony of the Seas with drinks package and $25 onboard spend per person, depart April 14. www.sunway.ie

Topflight offers: Dublin to Austria, 7 nights self-catering 3* Aurora Apartments, Bad Hofgastein, Austria, S/C was €569 now €399pps (Based on 4 share), depart January 6. Dublin to Austria, 7 nights half board 4* Hotel Der Schmittenhof, Zell am See, was €829 now €679, depart January 6. Dublin to Andorra, 7 nights half board, 3* Hotel Patagonia, Arinsal, was €669 now €499, depart January 7. Dublin to Italy, 7 nights self-catering Livigno Ski Apartments, Livigno, was €519 now €399pps (Based on 5 share), depart January 13. Dublin to France, 7 nights self-catering 4* Les Chalets Edelweiss, Plagne 1800, was €529 now €399pps (Based on 8 share), depart January 20. Cork to Austria, 7 nights self-catering 3* Chalet Alpina, St Johann, was €559 now €399pps (Based on 4 share), depart January 13. Cork to Austria, 7 nights half board 4* Hotel Der Schmittenhof, Zell am See, was €749 now €649, depart March 10. Belfast to Austria, 7 nights self-catering 3* Chalet Alpina, St Johann, was £462 now £359pps (Based on 4 share), depart January 13. Belfast to Austria, 7 nights half board 4* Hotel Der Schmittenhof, Zell am See, Austria, was £712 now £599, depart January 13. Call 01 240 1700 / 028 9752 1168, see www.topflight.ie

TUI offers: Dublin to Fuerteventura, 7 nights self-catering 3* Caybeach Caleta, Costa Caleta, from €629, depart November 28. Dublin to Lanzarote, 4 nights self-catering 2* San Marcial,  Matagorda, from €409, depart December 7. Dublin to Gran Canaria, 7 nights self-catering 3* Rocomar, Puerto Rico, from €379, depart January 11. Dublin to Lanzarote, 7 nights self-catering 3* Lanzarote Paradise Club, Costa Teguise, from €399, depart January 21. Dublin to Tenerife, 7 nights self-catering 2* Laguna Park II,  Playa De Las Americas, from €389, depart January 26. Dublin to Gran Canaria, 7 nights self-catering 3* Monte Feliz, Bahia Feliz, from €429. Depart February 1. Dublin to Tenerife, 7 nights self-catering 3* Globales Tamaimo Tropical, Puerto De Santiago, from €459, depart February 16. Dublin to Lanzarote, 7 nights self-catering 3* Tabaiba Apartments, Costa Teguise, from €389, depart February 18. Cork to Majorca, 7 nights self-catering 3* Ola Bouganvillia, Santa Ponsa, from €449, depart May 22. Shannon to Lanzarote, 7 nights self-catering 3* Lanzarote Paraides Club, Costa Teguise, from  €579, depart August 27. Ireland West Airport to Costa Dorada, 7 nights half board 3* Hotel Belvedere, Salou, from €619, depart June 26. Dublin to Tenerife, 7 nights full onboard Marella Dream, Decks 6/7/10 Inside Cabin, from €879, depart January 12. Visit www.tuiholidays.ie, Call 1850 45 35 45 or visit a TUI Store or travel agent.

Uniworld River Empress

Uniworld River Empress

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises offers: Castles Along the Rhine. with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises. Eight-day cruise, visiting France, Germany, Netherlands & Switzerland. Was €2519pps, now from €1389pps includes flights, airport transfers, all meals and beverages, all shore excursions and 7 nights in a Category 5 stateroom on board the River Empress, departs November 15. Book by October 31st 2017. Flight cost must be paid at the time of booking. For more information log onto www.uniworld.com or call 01 775 3803.

What we learned.

China has more Muslims (36m) than Afghanistan or Iraq.

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