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TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: 7 Could Be IAG’s Lucky Number

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Yutaka Ito of All Nippon Airways, Adel Ali of Air Arabia, Conor McCarthy of Dublin Aerospace, Zhihang Chi of Air China and Alan Joyce of Qantas at the CAPA Airlines in Transition conference in Dublin.

Yutaka Ito of All Nippon Airways, Adel Ali of Air Arabia, Conor McCarthy of Dublin Aerospace, Zhihang Chi of Air China and Alan Joyce of Qantas at the CAPA Airlines in Transition conference in Powerscourt.

HEADLINESAVIATIONAFLOATFOOD & WINEHOTELSINTERNATIONALIRELAND –    DEAL WATCHTRAVEL TRADE

The headlines this week:

  • IAG prepares for end of the beginning
  • Gold circle scheme to be revamped
  • Re Joyce: Alan Joyce’s triumphant return to Ireland
  • Flybe explain why Dublin-London City was dropped
  • Aer Lingus confirms plan for nine A350s
  • Bad pun alert: Finnish won’t finish, 3w added for winter
  • JFK gets a new Aer Lingus lounge
  • River-run: 12 Vikings, a Uniworld and an Avalon named in one week

Travel Extra TV

Video-of-week-March 29Our video of the week captures a spontaneous performance of Beer! The Musical in New York City Beer Hall. Confused customers look on as Improv Everywhere comedy group perform an ode to brew. Watch here.

  • 279 aircraft later, Boeing pieces together the Last C-17. Watch here.
  • To celebrate the maiden flight of its first Airbus A380, Etihad profiled some of the key crew members. Here is the pilot: Watch here.
  • Tourism Ireland rounded up its 2015 Global Greening with this video: Watch here.
  • Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr talked about the Germanwings Flight 9525 tragedy shortly after the crash. Watch here.
  • Rapper Jamal Edwards’ guide to east London with British Airways. Watch here.
  • KLM destination showcases: Havana (watch here), Vancouver (watch here), Bueno Aires (watch here), New York City (watch here) and Rio de Janeiro (watch here).
  • Emirates invited Arsenal football team and Saracens rugby team to swap skills. Watch here.

Headlines

willie walsh_9312Seven is the magic number in the latest phase of IAG’s bid to take over Aer Lingus. Negotiations with government advisers are drawing to a close with a seven year guarantee on Heathrow slots likely to seal the deal with the government and the formal bid to follow (despite all the heat, no bid has yet been made). Minister Paschal Donohoe says that he expects negotiations to be concluded “in the coming weeks” (listen here).

It is the end of the beginning and not yet the beginning of the end (to quote Sean O’Casey), given the union and regional opposition to the bid, but several influencers, including major media, seem to have moved from outright opposition to the bid. Would anyone except Willie Walsh have brought the bid this far?

ascent descentAfter tragic events in the Alps this week the IAA confirmed that it is required of Irish airlines to have two people in the cockpit at all times and when one of the pilots leaves a cabin crew member will stand in. Air Berlin, Air Canada, EasyJet and the Lufthansa group all adopted the two persons in the cockpit rule immediately. Norwegian also adopted it but will await regulatory approval. Air France-KLM group said it was monitoring the situation. One of the more melancholy retro-reads of the week can be found here (from 2013), the Federal Aviation Administration recognising Andreas Guenter Lubitz with the prestigious FAA Airmen Certification Database. A torn-up sick note was reported to have indicated that the crash pilot should have been grounded. Picture shows speed and altitude graph of the Germanwings flight.

alan joyce hands_8635One of several bad timing awards for this week goes to the parents of Alan Joyce who went to visit him in Australia while the Qantas CEO took time off an investor’s roadshow to show up in Co Wicklow, two mountains and a small hill away from his native Tallaght, and give the keynote address at the CAPA airlines in transition conference. His speech was brief and insightful (listen here) and he came up with what must be the phrase of the conference: the “intellectual property of working in partnerships”.

Alan joyce anton daltun_4512Alan is pictured with his former boss Antóin Daltún, to whom he paid tribute in his address. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

This is the third year that David Webster’s Powerscourt hotel has hosted CAPA’s event and the group reported that they were happy with the three events and will be seeking another three year deal to host their CEO-heavy event in Ireland.

kavanagh speaksbrian havel_8544Star performers included Sebastian Mikosz of LOT Polish Airlines (“airlines shouldn’t blindly react to low cost airlines entering their market: follow your own strategy“) and the characteristically frank Pat Byrne of Cityjet, who said the entrepreneurial spirit and survival instinct of a regional carrier can be destroyed if partially owned by a major carrier (listen here). Stephen Kavanagh of Aer Lingus (pictured above) gave the most concise summary on record of how Aer Lingus avoided bankruptcy by cut their cost base by 52pc in 2002 (listen here) and stressed: Ireland doesn’t need Aer Lingus, Ireland needs competition, which is what Aer Lingus provides. The wolf at the door was a great enabler, Michael O’Leary was our greatest support. Kevin Toland of DAA outlined Ireland’s contributions to world aviation (listen here) and other notable contributions came from Saad Hammad of Flybe who advised airlines “stay true to your stage length. Flybe is the 90-minute airline – if we stray beyond that we get into trouble.” He said Flybe has signed up for seven codeshare partner airlines so far and wants to double that number, Aidan Brogan of Datalex, Conor McCarthy of Dublin Aerospace, Adel Ali of Air Arabia, Martin Gauss of AirBaltic, Cath Lynn of easyJet, Xiuzhi Zhang of Spring Airlines, Zhihang Chi of Air China and Dubliner Jim Callaghan of Etihad. Brian Havel of De Paul University of Law (pictured) was the most animated moderator. Rigas Douganis outlined a gloomy scenario for legacy carriers operating in Europe (listen here). Jonathon Wober of CAPA explained how airlines had never regained the peak profitability they achieved in 1966 (listen here) Minister Paschal Donohue outlined his new government transport policy (listen here) and answered questions on open skies (listen here) and connectivity (listen here). He said the government is now finalising a National Aviation Strategy and will publish it soon and then set up a National Aviation Forum.

sinead kenny_8774Affinity founder Sinead Finn was first in the exotic Powerscourt Hotel swimming pool early on Thursday morning before moderating the coolest session of the programme, when Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs and Bobby Healy CEO of Cartrawler (resplendent in red sneakers) talked apps and travel, at one stage sending a shiver down the backbones for their audience by lumping airlines and GDS’s in the same category. David O’Brien of Ryanair said the new website, planned for end of 2015, will be more like a retailer’s website than an airline website while Kenny Jacobs said travel as a retail category needs a shake up.

Ian Heywood of Travelport was almost a lone voice defending the interests of the travel agent.

There was further activity in the exhibition area where Travelport were showcasing their Smartpoint product which provides travel agencies with real-time access to more than 400 airlines (lo-cos included) and 600,000 hotel properties. Travelport celebrated the 100th airline to sign up for its rich content product, only launched in November last year. And yes, there was cake.

IMG_8826Visit Florida hosted travel media in Dublin where they outlined new events across the length and breadth of the state from Panama Beach to Amelia Island and down to Oonagh McCullough’s southern coast. Picture shows Kenneth Morgan-Schleuning of Visit Florida, Hope Sarzier of Amelia Island, Brooke Fleming of Pensacola, Rochelle Siegel of Kissimmee, Dan Rowe of Panama Beach and Oonagh McCullough of Naples, Marco Islands and Everglades. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

finnair team_4424Before Finnair’s new service from Dublin to Helsinki has even started, Sales Director Fredrik Charpentier, announced that the service is to be extend to the winter three times weekly (listen here). Dublin Airport Authority hosted a reception at the Royal Hibernian Academy for the trade where Charpentier and his team outlined their plans for the service. Heidi Ahonen said it had been 2007 since Finnair served Dublin (listen here) Vincent Harrison of Dublin Airport said there were six new airlines in Dublin this year and 20 new routes (listen here) while Martin Skelly replied on behalf of the Irish Travel Agents Association describing the quality of the FGinnair product as “a race to the top” (listen here). Separately Joni Sundelin of Finnavia outlined plans to build Helsinki into Europe’s fifth largest hub in Europe (listen here – brushing aside a question about whether Istanbul was in Europe). Finnair A350 flights start on Apr 9, with long haul services to start in the autumn to Shanghai, then Beijing, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Dublin to Helsinki inaugural departs tomorrow Monday to Helsinki where VisitFinland’s Riita Balza will host a group of travel media. Picture shows the Finnair team at the event: Ana Gibson, Anssi Partanen, Heidi Ahonen and Frederik Charpentier. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

europe airpostJean-François Dominiak, CEO of Europe Airpost, stopped by to celebrate the new route from Dublin to Halifax in Canada at Dublin’s Brasserie Le Pont restaurant. Europe Airpost’s a 737-700 service originates in Paris CDG and continues via Dublin direct to Halifax once weekly between July 9 and Sept 11, outbound on Thursdays 2:25pm and back on Fridays landing 8.05pm. Lindsay Champion introduced Nova Scotia. The province is home to the bald eagle, moose and North Atlantic right whale, which migrates to higher altitudes from May to September. Nova Scotia, which has the same land mass as Ireland, boasts 15 wineries, making it the third largest wine province in Canada, and is one of the largest exporters of lobster. Back in the day, Lindsay said, lobsters were in such an abundance that the poor kids brought lobster sandwiches to school while the rich kids scoffed on corned beef. Lighthouses are iconic with Nova Scotia — there are 160 along the coastline — but so too are shipwrecks. There are 27,000 on record, and Nova Scotia was the first to dispatch rescue boats after the Titanic sank. 150 bodies that were recovered are buried in Halifax cemetery. If maritime disasters are not your thing, Nova Scotia also boasts a strong pub culture, and offers golfing and winter surfing experiences. Picture shows Jean-François Dominiak, CEO of Europe Airpost, Catherine Grennell-Whyte, MD of ATTS, and Martin Skelly, President of the ITAA. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

tianguisThe 40th Tianguis Turistico Mexico returned to Acapulco, where local planners showcased their US$200m infrastructure spend including plans for a new transportation system known as ACABus and extensive hotel renovations. Activity was 7pc ahead of target, although slightly down on last year’s Tianguis in Cancun, 50pc up on when it was held in Acapulco: 30,000 appointments, 2,500 exhibitors and 266 local and 424 international buyers. Cancún hosted 8,000 more appointments and 157 more buyers last year. Last time Acapulco hosted Tianguis the guests, including Travel Extra, were trapped at a party in the fabulous art deco Boca Chica hotel for an extra few hours because of a drug-related shoot out on the only approach road. No such drama this time: highlight of the event was the Las Brizas party on Terazza El Tulpán. Tianguis moves on to Guadalajara next year, after it won a bidding process against Guanajuato and Quintana Roo.

visit englandWe barely had time to regain our breath from Saturday’s rugby drama (is this the last time international teams will be allowed know exactly what they need to score to win a major competition) when Visit England hosted a rugby world cup event on Monday evening. Gayle Molloy finishes up as Visit England’s representative in Ireland on March 31st. Picture shows Jeremy Brinkworth, Visit England Project Director, Rugby World Cup and Gayle Molloy of Visit England. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Ciara Foley Kevin O'Malley Pat ReedePicture shows Ciara Foley of Platinum Travel, chair of Visit USA in Dublin, Kevin O’Malley the USA ambassador in Dublin, and Pat Reede of United Airlines who represented Visit USA Dublin the annual St Patrick’s Day function in the White House, Washington DC. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

trailfinders etihadEtihad, Trailfinders and the Tourist Authority of Thailand were hosts at a Trailfinders staff evening in the Red Torch Ginger restaurant. Trailfinders is the leading Irish operator to Thailand which attracted 62,727 Irish last year.  Joanna Cooke from TAT and Shannon O’Dowd from Etihad gave presentations to the Trailfinders staff and invited guests. Shannon O’Dowd showcased Etihad’s new TV ad starring Nicole Kidman (featured in last week’s Sunday Supplement), The Residence on the A380 and the Economy Smart Seat’s fixed wing headrests. Joanna Cooke reiterated how the junta has had no impact on Thailand’s tourism industry and noted how the military government has helped regulate taxis, clean up beaches and improve visitor safety (a new tourist hotline was launched this week, dial 1111). The over 45s remain the primary market, but there is a growing trend in family holidays and MAMILS, middle aged men in lycra, who are interested in adventure breaks. Picture shows Karen Maloney of Etihad, Shannon O’Dowd of Etihad, Dave Hyeems of Trailfinders and Joanna Cooke of Thai Tourism Authority. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.Ethiopia 002

Ethiopian Airlines hosted a group of Irish media in advance of the launch of their direct route on June 15. Picture shows Irish media and their hosts in Addis Adaba. Reuters repotots that Ethiopian is considering proposals to help set up national airlines in Nigeria and three other countries to expand its operations on the continent.

snow hotelDefinitely Travel Extra’s coolest call of the week was to the snow hotel in Kirkenes, where three time zones meet, (like the words of a Brendan Shine song), where a group of travel writers were hosted by Astrid Lund. Why the fire extinguishers? “We are still a hotel and subject to hotel regulations,” Astrid says, “the politicians in their wisdom require us to have them.” A worrying development, coolers have had to be used to keep the snow hotel at the required temperature in recent years due to global warming. The second of the two direct charters to the Northern Lights had some spectacular stormy and snowy weather, although the view of the lights was not as good as the February charter. No word yet on whether Hurtigruten will have direct charters from Dublin to Tromsø again in 2016 but here’s hoping. It is a great product. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Travel Trade

ex continentalSome ex-cons spotted at the CAPA Airlines in Transition conference in Powerscourt; not that they have a criminal past, rather that they once worked for Continental Airlines: Yvonne Muldoon (now with Cartrawler), Brian Hughes (now with Cartrawler and Beatrice Cosgrove (now country manager for Etihad in Ireland).

Ten agents won a place on Topflight’s VIP Italian Trip to Sorrento and Lake Garda on April 28: Sinead Hearne of East Cork Travel, Emma Black of Thomas Cook, Lisburn, Caitriona Duffy of Cassidy Travel, Blanchardstown, Marie Grenham of Grenham Travel, Karen Kelleher of Barter Travel Group, Marc Lynch of Abbey Travel, Michelle Lyons of Fahy Travel, Patricia Ryan of Limerick Travel, Stella Grant of O’Hanrahan Travel and Sean Healy of Lee Travel.

rory mcdyer martin skelly_4370Rory McDyer Travel will be 25 years in business this week. Picture shows Rory McDyer of Rory McDyer travel and Martin Skelly, president of the Irish Travel Agents Association at the Finnair event.

Stella Grant of O’Hanrahan Travel (Ulster), Donna McGann of Eimear Hannon Travel (Leinster), Lynne Casey of Fahy Travel (Connacht), and Lorraine O’Connor of Travel Fox (Munster) were the winners of the Emirates trade competition to see One Direction live in concert on April 4 in Dubai with Emirates.

audrey headonTIGS president’s (Audrey Headon) Prize, sponsored by Etihad Airways, will take place on April 16 at Druid Glen. Tee is reserved from 1050 to 1340, cost to members: €50 and guests €75. Timesheet is now open.

Travel Centres’ trip to China concluded, a busy jaunt supported by Turkish Airlines and the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development.  Pamela Brownlee of Flyaway Travel reported it was an amazing trip: the Great Wall, Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, although she is not sure how one would manage without an interpreter. And she can nearly agree with the song there are 10m bicycles in Beijing. Connect here with Flyaway Travel’s picture of China on Facebook.

Vision Cruise Debbie copyPicture shows Martin Graham from the Celebrity Cruises ‘Modern Luxury Squad’ visiting Debbie Hartley at Vision Cruise to present her with a two-night cruise getaway. The Celebrity Cruises’ team has been offering agents the chance to bid for a place on the Celebrity Eclipse sailing in May by using their Celebrity Rewards points as part of the Spring Into Luxury March campaign.

  • On the Beach based in Cheadle in England has been issued a travel agents license by the Commission for Aviation Regulation.
  • Lesley Kane, formerly with Ryanair, has joined Air Transat as Director of Sales for Britain and Ireland.
  • Ryanair unveiled its new advertising on the lifts in Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2.
  • Air Canada has appointed Margaret Skinner as Director of Sales Europe. She was previously Sales Manager Ireland and Britain for American Airlines.sandra corkin award
  • Picture shows Sandra Corkin from Oasis Travel being presented with Business Person of the Year Award by award sponsor Ian Nelson of the Progressive Building Society at the Lisburn City Business Awards.
  • Globe Hotels and Best4Travel is seeking an Agency Support Executive for its Dunshaughlin head office and Travel Consultants for its branches in Athlone and Navan (maternity cover from July to November). Closing date for applications is Tuesday next, March 31st.
  • Richard Greenaway’s Mercury Holidays launched programmes to Antigua & Barbuda.
  • Insight Consultants is merging with Bill O’Herlihy Communications. Both agencies have managed several major tourism accounts.
  • Maddy Morgan has Visit California / Black Diamond after eight years (to take on the role of PR Director at Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
  • Air France KLM is seeking a sales support executive for maternity cover.
  • Visit Orlando’s complimentary half-day sightseeing tours and media tours for IPW 2015 went online. The general IPW schedule can be found here and the media-specific schedule here.
  • Irish travel software company Datalex reported a 69pc increase in profit after tax to $2.7m for the year ended Dec 31 2014.
  • Alila Hotels & Resorts appointed Patrick Pahlke as vice president of sales and Doris Goh as chief marketing officer.
  • Reminder: Be sure to register your American Airlines and British Airways bookings to the USA made before April 3 to be in with a chance of winning one of 100 places on the USA MegaFam trip, May 14 to 21.
  • Lowcostbeds trade promotion in association with Malta Tourist authority: Earn €5 one4all voucher on all bookings made to Malta until April 30.
  • Travel Professionals Skillnet is offering a 2 day Finance for Non Finance Professionals programme at the Professional Development Training Centre in Blanchardstown, May 21 and 22, 9.30am-5.30pc. Cost €299. More info/bookings.

Hotels

STR Global reported Ireland had the third highest RevPAR increase in February among European countries (+23.2 pc to €63.12) behind Lithuania (+35.6 pc to €26.50) and Croatia (+24.3 pc to €15.99) and ahead of Malta (+23.0 pc to €46.23); Hungary (+20.8 pc to €31.49); and England (+20.7 pc to €81.40). Hotel occupancy in Europe rose 3.1pc to 62.6pc for February 2015. Vilnius occupancy rose 21.5 points to 49.4pc. Moscow occupancy continues to fall, down 5.7 points to 58.2pc.

André Vietor from the International Association of Professional Conference Organisers and Kevin Kelly of BigBuzz Marketing Group were among the speakers at the AIPCO Business Tourism Conference 2015 in Powerscourt.

Falls Hotel, Enistimon, Clare, IrelandPaul Smyth’s Galgorm released images of its £10m 48-room extension and spa village is to open in September. Themes in the spa village include Snow Paradise, the Orangery, a riverside sauna, plunge pool, sheltered relaxation area with open fire and private Dutch Tubs, heated by their own log fires.

Kinvara’s 32-room Merriman Hotel is on sale with a guide price of €695,000.

HOTREC, the European association representing the European hospitality industry, warned that the EU Council of minister’s current position on the Package Travel Directive will damage the hotel industry by making ancillary services, such as arranging taxi transfers from the airport, spas in the hotel, bicycle renting and tickets to events subject to the new Package Travel Directive.

A Hotels.com survey claimed that visitors to Ireland from Argentina had the highest average spend of €128 per room per night in 2014. This is up 19pc on last year and 24pc above the Irish national average of €103.

Analysis by Highland Group offered answers to a ten-year-old conundrum: how to define boutique, lifestyle and soft brand hotel sectors. The definitions are:

  • Boutique: Unique in style, design-centric, either independent or affiliated with a smaller brand system, with 40 to 300 guestrooms.
  • Lifestyle: Prescribed franchised products that are adapted to reflect current trends.
  • Soft brand: Individualised hotels that give owners and operators the opportunity to affiliate with a major chain distribution while retaining their unique design, name and orientation.

select hotelsPicture shows hoteliers at a Select Hotels event: John Ryan of Ardilaun Hotel, Jo Denby and Caitriona Murphy of Whites of Wexford, Martha O’Connor of Royal Marine Hotel, Andrew Greenslade of City North Hotel, Aidan Ryan of Royal Marine Hotel, David Goode of Actons Kinsale, Amy Duggan of the Trident Hotel, Front Row: Una Young of Select Hotels of Ireland, Deirdre Twomey of Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel and Maria Kelly of the Ardilaun Hotel.

  • CEO of Best Western in England Richard Lewis has resigned and will be replaced by Rob Payne in an interim capacity.
  • JW Marriott’s 191-room Venice Resort had its soft opening ahead of its grand opening celebration on June 24.
  • Design Hotels opened the 10-suite G-Rough in Rome, from the creators of PalazzinaG housed in a 17th century bourgeois building.
  • Horwath HTL reported that the extended-stay segment not only has performed well and is gaining popularity among developers and investors.
  • AMResorts announced five new resort contracts in Dominican Republic (Secrets Cap Cana and Dreams Dominicus La Romana), Mexico (Breathless Riviera Cancun), Costa Rica (Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica) and Aruba for the first time (Zoëtry Isla Di Oro Arub).
  • Trivago in England says searches to Tunisia have fallen 22pc following the Bardo Museum attack.

International

The Egyptian visa requirement for individual tourists are still no clearer (beyond a clarification that package holiday travellers such as Sunway and Red Sea Resorts are not affected), two weeks after they were hastily announced. Egypt’s Tourism Office says that talks are currently in effect between Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant entities to discuss details on tourists’ individual visas travelling to Egypt. We are still awaiting a clarification for the queries in question.

photographing lion 588Kenya has called foul after several governments, including Ireland, said its coastal region was unsafe and there are reports that it will follow Thailand’s lead last year in setting up its own travel insurance scheme for tourists who still wish to visit. The Department of Foreign Affairs imposed an “all but essential” travel ban to Lamu County and Archipelago, Mombasa Island and within 5km of the coast from Mtwapa Creek north of to include Malindi, Watamu, and Kilifi, and even Tiwi, not including Diana and Moi International Airport. The update came after an incident which was not related to Kenya, the attack on Maka al Mukarama hotel in the Green Zone corridor of Somalian capital Mogadishu, by Al Shabaab insurgents who stormed a meeting attended by officials of Omar Sharmarke’s new Somali government. Kenya’s ire turned on its former colonial oppressor, citing London’s stricter blanket travel ban as a response, not to any threat, but to Nairobi’s refusal to renew a troop training deal unless London agreed to have its troops deployed to Kenya subject to Kenyan law. An unnamed tourism source thundered: I think there can be no doubt left now that they are using such advisories to browbeat Kenya into submission over so many contentious things. The London government is not a friend of Kenya. Tourists are still visiting even though travel to Kenya is made very difficult with no charters operating. Travel insurance is no longer extended in England to people who want to come to Kenya, so we are now offering such cover, either in advance or on arrival. This is a deliberate act of hostility, and it coincides with the upcoming Easter travel when many of their own High Commission staff had booked holidays at the coast. It is time to stand together as a region to counter such negative publicity and can only be categorised as hostile propaganda against us all here in East Africa.”

  • The Department of Foreign Affairs updated its travel advisory on Yemen to advise against all travel to Yemen and strongly urge all Irish nationals to leave Yemen immediately.
  • Bardo museum curator Moncef Ben Moussa says the museum will reopen today Sunday after a symbolic opening ceremony for select guests on Tuesday.
  • Universal Studios Hollywood said that Fast & Furious—Supercharged is to open on June 25.
  • Ski conditions were changeable across the Alps this week, heaviest snow was been southern Switzerland and western Italy. Unsettled weather is expected to continue through the rest of the week and into the weekend, with the potential for some good falls of snow in the northern Swiss and Austrian Alps.
  • Canary Islands is to host some of the toughest events on the world calendar, including: Magma Bike Marathon, El Hierro, April 18. TeideXtreme, Tenerife, April 19. Challenge Fuerteventura, April 25. Transvulcania, La Palma Ultramarathon from Fuencaliente lighthouse to Los Llanos de Aridane, May 9. Ironman, Lanzarote, May 23. Gomorra Paradise Trail, La Gomera, June 27.
  • Reuters reported private equity firm Centerbridge Partners is to buy US indoor water parks operator Great Wolf Resorts for $1.4bn including debt.
  • Enterprise Holdings and Redspot joined forces in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Travelport announced a new long term agreement with Polish travel management company First Class.
  • Austria will host the International Ski Travel market on March 14 and 15 2016 in the Aqua Dome complex, Otztal.
  • The Tunisian prime minister, Habib Essid, dismissed six police commanders, including one in charge of tourist security, following last week’s museum attack in Tunis.
  • The Italian National Tourist Board’s spring newsletter includes details on upcoming art exhibitions, music and opera events, sport and historical re-enactments. Read here.

Food & Wine

FIRE Restaurant and Lounge on Dublin’s Dawson Street is to remain open on Good Friday offering non-alcoholic cocktails, and non-alcoholic wines. The no alcohol on Good Friday rule which applies in Ireland has been the subject of complaints from the hospitality industry but is supported by current Tourism Minister Paschal Donohue.

  • Mel McNally’s Irish pub design and build Fadó group added the Fadó Midtown, Atlanta, to its portfolio.
  • The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine on May 15-17 held its first US launch at Studio 1 on Broadway in Manhattan. Speakers will include April Bloomfield, David Lebovitz, John Bowman, Patrick Holden, Tom Doorley and Valli Little.
  • Michael Riordan was appointed Executive Chef at Conrad London St James.
  • Galway Food Festival takes place April 2 to 6.
  • Italy selected Neapolitan pizza as its candidate for protection under UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Aviation

Flybe at London City copyDublin routes to Southend and London City are both being dropped by Flybe from April 13, but Flybe’s route from Belfast City to London City is being expanded from four to five daily. Saad Hammet CEO of Flybe speaking to Travel Extra on the margins of the CAPA Airlines in Transition conference in Powerscourt said that “it was a fast moving environment, BA launched after us, City weren’t hedged with all the benefits that brings, it was a crowded market. We are re-calibrating but we are still committed to London City, We have increased frequencies from double daily to triple daily on Aberdeen, from four to five daily on Belfast and four to six daily on Edinburgh, You have to react to the changing environment. (listen here)” Paul Simmons, Chief Commercial Officer said passenger numbers “are below our projections and there are no signs of this situation changing, which has led to us taking this decision. Passengers who have booked to fly on this route are being contacted and offered an alternative flight or a full refund. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause our customers.”

Aer Lingus’s new lounge at JFK Terminal 5 will open this week. The airline has been using a temporary facility since moving from Terminal 4 to offer faster connections with Jetblue.

aer lingus business class_0034Aer Lingus new business class seating is now available on four of the eight A330s (four 200s and four 300s) to be fitted with the new cabin with the further four being completed over the coming weeks. Current lead in fares valid until April 7 for travel from May 1 to October 31 include Dublin to New York €899 each way, Dublin to Boston €999 and Dublin to San Francisco €1759. Irish suppliers include seat manufacturers Thompson Aero, Botany Weaving for soft furnishings, Voya for the amenity kits and In-flight Dublin for in-flight entertainment including movies, box sets, TV, radio and music. Food suppliers include Burren Smokehouse Salmon from Birgitta Curtin, goat’s cheese from Siobhán Ní Ghairbhith of St Tola, Co Clare, Coopers Hill venison from Coopershill estate an 18th century manor house in Co Sligo, lamb and beef from Lambay Island and Toonsbridge mozzarella from Johnny Lynch. Picture shows Claire Sutton and Micheál Gannon showcasing the seat. View online the seat (see video here), materials (see video here), food (see video here) and lounge/ground enhancements (see video here). Business class load factor has increased to 72pc in 2014 from 67pc in 2013 reflecting the continued strength of our service and competitive pricing. The annual report  notes that time sensitive business passengers comprise circa 17pc of the total Dublin airport market, 3pc lower than the percentage of time sensitive passengers travelling on Aer Lingus services.

Donald Trump wrote a two page letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny saying: “Aer Lingus, like the Irish shamrock and Guinness, is essentially Irish with a strong national identity which is very important to your country. It should not be given away to the highest bidder.”

alan joyce screen_8510Asked about the IAG bid for Aer Lingus, Alan Joyce said that he was in favour of consolidation but would not comment on the specifics of the Aer Lingus case: “We are big fans of consolidation. We think it is the right way for the air industry in general. It is way too fragmented. It will be good to bring certainty the future of Aer LIngus. One of the things that is clear here is how Aer Lingus, when you think of all the people who are working around the world in the industry. I don’t think you could say that of any other airline (listen here).” He also spoke about the turnaround at Qantas meaning that all units of the airline are now profitable for the first time ever (listen here) and the decision to divert European routes through Dubai (listen here).

Aer Lingus annual report listed five consequences for Aer Lingus if the proposed transaction  does not proceed:

  • As a stand-alone airline, Aer Lingus would not have the same growth opportunities and would be exposed to a greater degree of risk than in a combination with IAG
  • Reduced growth prospects and possible detrimental changes to Aer Lingus’ commercial partnerships could lead to lower than expected passenger traffic.
  • This may require additional restructuring measures, including reducing staff costs, beyond the savings currently anticipated in the-current CORE programme.
  • Aer Lingus’ share price may decline to a price below that offered by IAG.
  • In case the transaction fails because of the Irish Government’s decision to not sell its shares on grounds other than price, this may have a negative impact on the ability to attract shareholding.

stephen kavanaghAer Lingus’s annual report confirmed the airline’s Airbus A350-900 order for delivery of nine new aircraft between 2018 and 2020 (A350XWB or Regional variant) to replace existing A330s and expand capacity. From May an additional A330 aircraft will be leased for the peak 12 week 2015 summer season increasing long haul seat capacity by 13pc.

Aer Lingus’annual report noted that short-haul market is becoming increasingly seasonal, highly competitive on price and vulnerable to Euro-Sterling developments. The airline benefits from holding 55pc of the prime slot times including peak business 7 am slots and short haul capacity will be up 2.4pc in summer 2015 season. Share of the Irish short haul market including Aer Lingus Regional is 41pc.  Transatlantic continued to perform very positively throughout 2014 while increasing capacity by 23.8pc. Aer Lingus is to seek annual cost reductions of €40m and grow ancillary spend to a target of €23 per passenger.

  • Minister Paschal Donohoe said that the government would be renewing a round of funding for Ireland’s regional airports, in reply to a question from Irish Travel Trade News at the CAPA Airlines in Transition conference in Powerscourt (listen here).
  • Aer Lingus is to launch a new loyalty, recognition and reward programme later this year to replace the current “Gold Circle” frequent flyer programme, to be fully implemented from Q1 2016).
  • American and US Airways are to combine operations on April 8. The merged American Airlines resumed seasonal services from Dublin to New York JFK last week. American will also resume the former US Airways seasonal service from Shannon to Philadelphia on May 7th and from Dublin to Chicago O’Hare and to Charlotte on May 8th. Dublin-JFK (Boeing 757-200) departs at 8.55am while the return departs JFK at 6.50pm. From May 8 Dublin-Chicago (Boeing 767-300) will depart at 9.40am and the return departs at 6.10pm. Dublin to Charlotte (Airbus A330-200, the first time a widebody has been used on the route ) will depart at 9.30am and depart Charlotte at 6.10pm. From May 7th Shannon-Philadelphia (Boeing 757-200 ) will depart at 11.35am and depart Philadephia at 9.10pm. American Airlines also operates a year-round A330 service from Dublin to Philadelphia, with fully lie flat in business for the first time and seatback entertainment in economy.
  • The number of airline passengers carried annually will double to 6bn by 2030, Secretary General of ICAO, Raymond Benjamin told the 400 delegates from 71 countries who attended the Global Aviation Training Symposium in Malahide.
  • Stobart Air is to recommence services from Shannon to Birmingham from  June 18.
  • Citywing will recommence flights between Belfast City Airport and the Isle of Man and Blackpool from April 1st .

Shannon Delta March 2015 003Delta restarts its seasonal flight between Dublin and Atlanta tomorrow March 30 using a 225-seat B767-300. The daily flight, which complements Delta’s existing service between Dublin and New York-JFK, departs Dublin at 11:40am until April 6 and 11:10am from April 7 until October 24, returning from Atlanta at 8:36pm. Delta business class offers flat-bed seats with full 180 degree recline and direct aisle access, using Westin heavenly inflight bedding from Westin Hotels Delta offer 200 onward connections to destinations throughout the US and popular Mexican and Caribbean destinations such as Cancun. Picture shows Delta event for travel agents to make the return of seasonal flights from Shannon to New York-JFK, Siobhan Scanlan of Delta, Isabel Harrison of Shannon Airport, Sheila Brazil of Limerick Travel, Teresa Murphy of Delta.

  • SITA’s 2015 Baggage Report showed that the rate of mishandled bags in 2014 was 7.3 bags per thousand passengers, down 61.3pc from a peak of 18.88 bags per thousand passengers in 2007 and contended that the air transport industry has saved US$18bn despite a significant rise in passenger numbers to 3.3bn. Another SITA survey showed 63pc of passengers prefer to use their own smartphone, tablet or laptop for inflight entertainment.
  • The London based Balkan Holidays is adding an extra Sunday flight from Belfast to Bourgas between June 21 and August 2, using BH Air.
  • The free travel offer on Heathrow Express for children under 16 accompanied by a parent or guardian was made permanent and a sale fare introduced of £10 per adult ticket over Easter weekend.
  • SkyTeam were recognised as Alliance of the Year 2015 by Air Transport News.
  • Outgoing Ryanair CFO Howard Millar was appointed chairman of BDO accountancy firm.
  • Avolon announced the delivery of its first B787-9 to Virgin Atlantic, the first of four aircraft scheduled for delivery. This week, Avolon also delivered a B737-800 to Aeromexico, an A321 o Philippine Airlines and a B737-800 to Pegasus Airlines.
  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to increase annual revenue to $10bn over the next 10 years and increase the number of international destinations from 84 to 120. The carrier also hopes to expand its fleet from 80 aircraft to 140.
  • Travelport announced a new Travel Commerce Platform agreement with Greek carrier, Ellinair.
  • Etihad - Alitalia Graduate Management Program - PHOTOAlitalia launched a new graduate programme.400 candidate applied this year. 24 were selected for enrolment in the programme, which commenced in Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub on Tuesday. Picture shows the first participants with Wissam Hachem, Etihad Airways Vice President Learning & Development, and Fatma Al Ali, Etihad Airways Head of UAE National Development.
  • Flybe begins operating its summer schedule today, with 27 new routes and two new bases at Bournemouth and Cardiff.
  • American Airlines stopped selling duty free merchandise on international flights after a disagreement with inflight retail partner Duty Free Air and Ship Supply.
  • Finnair’s board of directors approved a €30m investment to add Wi-Fi to most of the airline’s wide body and narrow body fleet.
  • WCA announced that its 2016 global conference will take place in Abu Dhabi, from March 10 to 16.
  • Air New Zealand and Air China’s proposed alliance could see services commence as early as December this year.
  • Airbus celebrated the delivery of its 9000th aircraft — the first A321 to be delivered to VietJet Air.
  • Air France signed Jolco for the refinancing of one 2009-vintage A320.
  • Amedeo is rumoured to be in talks with two customers for some of its A380s in 2015.
  • SpiceJet settled out of court with five Irish lessors — B&B Air Acquisition, Steddell, Torodell, Xavierdell and Virgodell — over $16m in claims from unpaid dues relating to aircraft leases.
  • The refurbished viewing gallery at Belfast International Airport has received lots of social media attention from self-professed #AvGeeks. Hundreds of aviation enthusiasts have visited the gallery since it opened last month, enjoying the panoramic views of the apron and main runway. It is also possible for visitors to hear communications between Air Traffic Control and the cockpit, and there is a flight tracker displaying aircraft activity.
  • Quick Park is offering customers the chance to win €1,000 in cash: Book parking at Dublin airport online at quickpark.ie before March 31 to be entered into the draw.

Afloat

Carnival Corporation, who already has 10 new cruise ships on order before 2018, is to add nine more ships to its fleets over 2019-23. Five ships will be built by Fincantieri at its shipyards in Monfalcone and Marghera, while four will be built at Meyer Werft’s shipyards in Papenburg and Turku. Carnival owns nine cruise brands: Carnival, Princess, Holland America, Seabourn, Cunard, AIDA, P&O, P&O Australia and Costa.

  • Stena Line completes a £6m refit investment programme of its Irish Sea northern corridor fleet this week when Stena Precision finishes its upgrade at Belfast’s Harland & Wolff shipyard. Seven ships have been upgraded by Stena Line over the last five months including Stena Line’s flagship vessels Stena Superfast VII and VIII which operate on the Belfast-Cairnryan service.
  • Rivercruise ship-launch champions Viking splashed back into action with another mega-launch day: naming 12 new river vessels in one day, eight in Amsterdam and four in Rostock, bringing its fleet to 60. Amsterdam was the venue of the naming of eight 190-passenger Longships while two more were named in Rostock as well as two scaled-down 96-passenger vessels customised for the shallow Elbe River. Godmothers were some of the longest-serving Viking employees. Viking, which launched 10 vessels in 2013 and 16 in 2014, has six new river vessels on order for 2016, with the option to build more based on demand.
  • Uniworld asked a descendent of Maria Theresa Princess Anita von Hohenberg, to name its newest river ship, the 150-passenger Maria Theresa at a ceremony in Amsterdam. Amenities include a swimming pool with floor-to-ceiling modesty glass that frosts over when passengers walk through the door to have a dip, the line’s signature Leopard Bar next door with its animal print interior, cinema, spa, fitness room and complimentary bicycles and Nordic walking poles. The Maria Theresa will cruise the Danube River with itineraries including the 14-night European Jewels voyage from Budapest to Amsterdam, springtime Tulips & Windmills and winter Christmas market cruises.
  • Avalon Waterways named the 128-passenger Avalon Tapestry II in the Normandy village of Les Andelys, one of four launches for the group this year. Tapestry II will join the 140-passenger Avalon Creativity on the Seine River. Avalon will launch two further river vessels in 2016, the Avalon Passion on the Danube and Avalon Imagery II on the Rhine, and new itineraries in Holland and Belgium.
  • China is to get a second of Royal Caribbean‘s three Quantum-class ships, Ovation of the Seas, when it homeports in Tianjin from June 2016. Currently under construction, Ovation will join Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas in four different cities: Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong and Xiamen.
  • AmaWaterways will build two more ships in 2017 and will begin operations in Bordeaux in 2016, basing AmaDolce there for 20 food and wine-based itineraries. AmaWaterways has ceased operations in Russia in 2015 and 2016, but launched its first ship in Burma and its second ship on the Mekong.
  • MSC Sinfonia has left Genoa to resume service following enlargement and enhancement at Fincantieri’s Palermo shipyard. Features include new clubs dedicated to younger guests, including the outdoor Spray Park with exciting waterfalls and water slides, more balcony cabins, more spacious public areas and a greater choice of restaurants. MSC Cruises, which has grown by 800pc in capacity since 2004, carried 1.67m guests and reached a turnover of €1.5bn, is forecasting an additional 10pc growth in 2015.
  • Norwegian Star, just out of dry dock has been retro-fitted with O’Sheehan’s pub (and 24-hour complimentary restaurant), despite the departure of Kevin Sheehan as CEO. Moderno Churrascaria, the Brazilian-style steakhouse, has moved to Deck 13 and an adjacent Sugarcane Mojito Bar added. Additions include a first at-sea Jimmy Buffet Five O’Clock Somewhere Bar while Ginza, formerly $15 per person, is now a complimentary dining venue. Enhancements include digital touch-screen signage; updates to the casino, photo gallery, pool deck and galley areas; window replacements; and new carpeting and flooring in passenger areas. Safety updates include a lifeboat and tender boat release systems upgrade; thrusters and stabilizer maintenance; and ballast and bilge piping replacement. Technical upgrades include silicone paint on the hull, along with an Azipod hydrodynamic upgrade to reduce fuel emissions and energy consumption. Norwegian Star will sail seven- to 14-night itineraries from Copenhagen throughout the Baltics and Norwegian fjords.
  • Disney Magic’s summer 2015 in Europe features “Frozen”-themed events, and the movie’s characters will be onboard doing meet-and-greets and taking roles in Disney’s original onboard shows. Disney Magic is to come to Dublin in 2016 as part of a 12-night Britain and Ireland cruise. Disney Magic will return to Norway and Iceland, as well as to destinations in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Dublin is to get 86 cruise ship calls this year with three further calls to Dún Laoghaire. A further 17 ships will dock in the bay and passengers will be tendered off.mark evans award

Ireland was represented by a winner at the CLIA cruise journalism awards at the Ham Yard Hotel in London. Mark Evans of , The Herald won the best river cruise feature for his Travelling like royalty on the River Queen.  Picture shows Mark receiving his award from Andy Harmer, CLIA  Director for Britain and Ireland and Kathryn Beadle, Managing Director of Uniworld.

  • Stena’s Car Holiday Report 2015 says one in four Irish holidaymakers are planning to take the car with them on holiday with France, England and Spain the top three destinations. Irish holidaymakers like to fill up their boots during the trip buying local delicacies, souvenirs and clothes to take home.
  • Crystal Cruises is introducing two itineraries for 2016 inclusive of flights from Belfast International, an 18-night Hawaiian Serenade fly/cruise round trip from San Francisco onboard Crystal Serenity. Departing May 28, 2016, and a ten-night fly cruise round trip from New York departing on October 2, 2016.
  • Two crew members working on board Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas were detained after customs officials discovered 15kg of cocaine worth $1m while the ship was docked at Buenos Aires.
  • Virgin Cruises appointed Stuart Hawkins as senior vice president in charge of new builds.

Deal Watch

  • Click and Go is offering full board on board the Queen Mary 2 New York to Southampton from €1,999pp incl. entertainment from Crosby, Stills and Nash on September 4 sailing or entertainment from the Blue Note Jazz Club on October 29 sailing. Prices include return fights from Dublin to New York, 7 nights transatlantic crossing, interior stateroom, daily white gloved afternoon tea, white star service, taxes and port charges, 1 night in a 4 star hotel pre or post cruise in New York and 20kg checked bag pp. Call 01 6371699 to book or visit clickandgo.com.
  • ITAA offers of the week: 8 nights Oceania Italian Cruise from Rome to Venice from €1,289pp incl. free gratuities, depart May 3. 7 nights Half Board Valamar Zagreb Hotel, Croatia from €794pps incl. return flights and transfers, depart May 19. 7 nights B&B Kalofer Hotel, Bulgaria from €399pps incl. return flights, transfers, 20kg baggage and resort rep service, depart May 30.
  • Irish Ferries is offering 3 nights B&B in the Best Western Tillington Hall Hotel from €429 for two adults and two children incl. return car ferry crossing and one full day at Alton Towers. Call 0818 300 400 to book.
  • Lowcostbeds offers of the week, based on 4 sharing, 7 nights, arriving June 25: 4* Baia Cristal Beach & Spa resort, Carvoeiro, Portugal from €11pppn B&B. 3* Ourasol apartments, Albuferia, Portugal from €12pppn self catering. 3* Siesta 1 apartments, Alcudia, Majorca from €17pppn self catering. 3* Golf Centre apartments, Roquestas De Mar, Costa De Algeria from €12pppn self catering. 4* Hotel Hesperia Sabinal, Roquestas De Mar, Costa De Algeria from €26pppn half board.
  • Sunway Lisbon coast offers: 7 nights B&B 3* Villa Gale Estoril from €649pp, depart June 20. 7 nights B&B 4* Vila Gale Cascais Hotel from €699pp, depart June 20. Prices include flights, return airport transfers, taxes, charges, 20kg checked in baggage pp and Sunway rep service.
  • Click and Go offers: 3 nights in the Mediterran Hotel, Budapest from €239pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, travel in April. 7 nights self catering Panorama Apts, Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote from €399pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in May. 7 nights B&B Corfy Holiday Palace, Kanoni, Corfu from €459pp incl. return flights ex Dublin and transfers, travel in May. 7 nights Bhundhari Spa Resort & Villas Samui Hotel, Koh Samui, Thailand from €999pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in June. To book visit clickandgo.com or call 01 637 1699.
  • Travel Department Supersaver offers, all include transfer on arrival, return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges.:  7 nights B&B in 3* accommodation, Sorrento from €499pp, depart March 31 or April 14. 7 nights B&B in Hotel Arnolfo & Aqua Laetitia, Montecatini, Tuscany from €499pp, departs various dates in April. 3 nights at a 3* or 4* accommodation in Reykjavik from €349pp, departs various dates in April. 5 nights B&B 3* Best Western Hotel Astoria or 4* Hotel Novotel Montfleury, Cannes from €429pp, depart April 3 or April 17. 7 nights B&B Le Patio Des Artistes, Cannes from €499pp, depart April 2. 4 nights Valamar Club Dubrovnik Hotel from €499pp, depart April 20. 7 nights B&B Hotel Londres, Estoril, Portugal from €399pp, depart April 8. 5 nights B&B Hotel Vila Recife, The Algarve from €259pp, depart April 23 or from €299 depart April 8. To book visit traveldepartment.ie or call 01 637 1600.
  • Travel Department is offering 7 nights in Istanbul with Turkish Airlines from €999 incl. 4 nights B&B at 4* CVK Taxim Hotel and 3 nights half board at 5* Suhan Hotel in Avanos. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, depart May 8.
  • Falcon is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Parque Cristobal & Siam Park, Playa de Las Americas, Tenerife from €2,099 for two adults and one child incl. flights ex Dublin, depart June 5. To book visit falconholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.
  • Thomson couples’ deal to Tenerife: 7 nights half board Los Gingantes, Playa De Arena from €599pps incl. flights ex Dublin, depart May 22.
  • Globe Hotels is offering 5* Sandos San Blas Resort, Tenerife from €465 on All Inclusive basis, depart May 5. See globehotels.ie for more info.
  • Powder White late Easter ski deals: 7 nights The Locarno, Verbier from £349pp based on six people sharing on a fully catered basis, depart April 4. 7 nights La Grange de Marie, Maribel from £399pp based on 10 people sharing on a fully catered basis, depart April 4. 7 nights Chalet Fitzroy, Courchevel 1650 from £349pp based on eight people sharing on a fully catered basis, depart April 4. 7 nights Chalet Fritz, St Anton from £399pp based on 20 people sharing on a fully catered basis, depart April 5. Call +44 20 8877 888 to book.
  • Galgorm Resort & Spa in Ballymena offers: 1 night B&B Spring Escape from £99.50pp incl. a 3 course evening meal with bottle of house wine in one of three restaurants and use of Thermal Spa facilities. 2 nights B&B Spring Retreal in Superior guest room from £160pp incl. a 3 course evening meal, Afternoon Tea and use of Thermal Spa facilities. Valid from March to May 2015. Visit galgorm.com for more info.
  • Tourism NI offers of the week; 1 night La Mon Hotel & Country Club, Belfast from £79.50pps incl. two-course meal in The Mill Restaurant and use of country club facilities, available now until April 12, call 028 9044 8631 to book. 1 night B&B Lough Erne Resort, Ross Inner, Enniskillen from £118pps incl. a round of golf or Thai spa experience, available until December 31, call 028 6634 5766 to book. 1 night B&B Derry City Travelodge from £69 incl. two tickets for Cholmcille Walking Tours of Derry, available April 9 to 30, call 0870 1911 733 to book. 1 nights B&B Ballygally Castle Hotel, Larne from £65pps incl. 4 course dinner in the Garen Restaurant, available until June 30, call 028 28581 066 to book.

Ireland

The Irish government’s tourism strategy proposes plans to grow overseas visitors to 10m per annum by 2025 (listen here), in theory increasing annual revenues from overseas visitors to €5bn* and result in an additional 50,000 jobs, bringing total employment in the sector to over 250,000. Currently 12 countries in Europe attract more than 10m tourists annually.

IRELAND GOES UNDERGROUND – TO INSPIRE MILLIONS OF PARIS COMMUTTourism Ireland launched a joint promotional campaign with online French travel agents Go Voyages to deliver 1,000 billboard ads in metro stations in Paris.

  • L’Irlande à Paris in the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris saw 35 Industry representatives from the Irish Tourism Trade meet face to face with French group tour operators, retail travel agents who book directly with Industry, French business tourism agents and corporate MICE buyers.
  • Clare Wellness Festival will place on May 11-17 in the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon.
  • Fáilte Ireland hosted 40 international golf buyers and media this week to attend the 2015 Golf Ireland Convention.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Summer time-tables (and the living is easy)

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Huskies in Tromsø

The headlines this week:

  • Bardo Museum blow for Tunisia – and for cruise industry
  • Breaking news from Cruise Shipping Miami
  • Sneak preview as Ethiopian bring the Dreamliner to Dublin
  • Tromsø direct from Dublin, a Northern yights special
  • Another spin on the publicity merry-go-round for Ryanair’s T/A for a Tenner
  • Three’s a crowd: Flybe departs from Dublin route to London City
  • Trouble at Travel Centres

Travel Extra TV

Video of week March 22Plenty of videos uploaded this showcasing St Patrick’s Day celebrations around the world this week, including our video of the week, which shows a time-lapse of the annual dyeing the Chicago River green. (Watch here). Meanwhile, Tourism Ireland celebrated the occasion with songs from Downpatrick (Watch here), and WOWAir marked Iceland’s inaugural greening (Watch here).

  • Bath time is tricky for this baby elephant at Ayutthaya Elephant palace & Royal Kraal in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Watch here.
  • New York City captured through 3,000 images in one minute. Watch here.
  • See Aer Lingus’ promo video for the Dublin-Washington DC direct service. Watch here.
  • Ryanair posted a video of its new on-time jingle. Watch here.
  • A man armed with a machete tried to storm a checkpoint at an airport in New Orleans. Watch here for Euronews’ report.
  • The Emirates A380 performs a hat trick in Auckland. Auckland is the only destination other than Dubai with three Emirates A380s arriving daily within an hour. Watch here.
  • The latest instalment in Airbus Blue5’s humorous videos promoting environmental issues explores water conservation – stopping the drop. Watch here.

Headlines

Dublin airport new apron march 2015 copy

It was NOT the start to the summer schedules we wanted. Protesters blocked the first Ryanair departure from Copenhagen. The flight took off very late, after a delay blamed on trade union activists but said by Denmark’s trade unions to be due to normal procedures. Most of the summer schedules roar into action next weekend with some exciting developments including Finnair’s return to the Dublin-Helsinki route. Dublin’s other routes include Agadir and Nantes with Aer Lingus, Barcelona with Vueling, Bournemouth with Flybe, Copenhagen and Lublin with Ryanair, Newquay with Aer Lingus Regional and Paris Orly with Transavia, with more to follow in May and June: Addis and LA with Ethiopian, Cardiff with Flybe, Chicago with United Airlines, Doncaster with Aer Lingus Regional, Geneva with Swiss, Gothenburg with SAS,  Halifax (Canada) with Europe Airpost and Washington DC with Aer Lingus, Shannon’s new routes are Kaunas and Manchester with Ryanair, Cork’s new routes are Prague with CSA from May 14 with Cardiff with Flybe and Ibiza with CSA to follow in June, Belfast’s new routes are Rome, Prague, Las Palmas and Zakinthos with Jet2, with Las Vegas and Orlando from Virgin and Reyjavik from WoW to follow in June. Picture shows ten new aircraft parking spaces and three new aircraft taxiing lanes being prepared at Dublin Airport. Listen here to Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. 

Michael O'Leary conducts a press conference Aug 21 2014Another first for the new Ryanair: a statement to the Stock Exchange attempting to calm a storm created by their own (albeit historical) publicity machine: “In the light of recent press coverage, the Board of Ryanair Holdings Plc wishes to clarify that it has not considered or approved any transatlantic project and does not intend to do so”.  It came about because the Ryanair trans-Atlantic for a tenner media circus was started anew. Michael O’Leary described Monday’s statement that Ryanair’s board gave the green light for transatlantic flights as “a miscommunication”. This particular miscommunication generated 1,200 news articles and ended up on prime time television and radio across most of the TV and radio stations despite the fact there is nothing new to report except a reminder of how Ryanair does business. The board gave the CEO the freedom to jump into the market if the price of wide bodied craft falls, which it shows no sign of doing. Nothing has changed. Trans-Atlantic remains a long term goal. Ryanair will not be offering the service themselves, but will establish a sister airline to link 12-15 airports in Europe with 12-15 in North America. Industry reaction included Routesonline’s Ryanair one step closer to going long-haul and Airline Reporter’s Ryanair to fly across the Atlantic? Using which aircraft. Even The Economist joined the discussion. To go to the main source himself, listen here to Michael O’Leary’s thoughts on how Ryanair’s trans-Atlantic sister airline could offer transatlantic at under €100. Listen here and éist anseo to Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry on the subject, and also on The Irish Times Inside Business podcast.

Ethiopian_B787_ETASG_DUB_depart_200315_7589There was lots of excitement at Dublin airport’s Runway 28 on Friday as Ethiopian AirlinesB787 Dreamliner made its first visit to the capital ahead of its inaugural Dublin-Addis Adaba flight in June. Trevor Buckley’s tweet shows a group of aviation enthusiasts gathered on the mound to take snaps of the jet. Among them was Michael Kelly, who took this picture after touchdown as well as shots of the interior. CEO Tewolde Gebremariam and crew were on board flight ET700 from Copy of Ethiopian_B787_ETASG_DUB_200315_Onboard_Economy_9986 (1)London Heathrow, while Minister Paschal Donohoe and Kevin Toland of there DAA were at the other end to welcome them. Ethiopian Airlines fly from Addis Ababa to LA via Dublin this summer, connecting Ireland to 49 destinations in Africa. It will be Ireland’s first direct service to sub Saharan Africa. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce returns to Dublin to speak at the CAPA conference on Tuesday to Thursday at the Powerscourt Hotel. The conference will alan joycebe opened by Ireland’s Minister of Transport, Tourism & Sport, Paschal Donohoe on Wednesday morning with Alan Joyce up to speak on the Evolution of a “hybrid airline group at 2pm on Wednesday. Other speakers at events (moderated by Richard Quest of CNN) include Ryanair CCO David O’Brien and CEOs Stephen Kavanagh of Aer Lingus, Kevin Toland of DAA, Aidan Brogan of Datalex, Conor McCarthy of Dublin Aerospace, Eamonn Brennan of the Irish Aviation Authority. Participating CEOs include Kurt Knackstedt of ACTE, Athar Husain Kahn of AEA, Adel Ali of Air Arabia, Martin Gauss of AirBaltic, Kresimir Kucko of Croatia Airlines, Saad Hammad of Flybe, Sebastian Mikosz of LOT Polish Airlines, Xiuzhi Zhang of Spring Airlines, Sean Brogan of Stobart Air and Mattijs ten Brink of Transavia. Other participants include Chief Revenue Officer of Aer Lingus Mike Rutter, Sinead Finn of Affinity, Zhihang Chi of Air China, Albert Casanova of Air Europa, Bobby Healy of CarTrawler, Cath Lynn of Easyjet, Maxime Marembaud of CWT, John Slattery of Embraer, Jim Callaghan of Etihad, Joni Sundelin of Finavia, Ciro Camargo of Gol, Murray Smyth of SITA, Derek Sharp and Ian Heywood of Travelport.

tunisia attackIrish citizens in Tunis were advised to avoid the city centre, remain indoors and monitor closely the local media after a militant attack on the Bardo Museum (the world’s best collection of mosaics) that killed 20 tourists, including 12 MSC Cruises shore excursionists. Tunisia’s tourist industry is responsible for 15pc of GDP and 14pc of all jobs and has already been crippled due to the collapse of its main inbound market, Libya. Five cruise lines have cancelled port stops to Tunisia for the rest of the year. Costa Fascinosa departed on Thursday and passengers were given the opportunity to disembark in Palma and be flown home by Costa. MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises cancelled all stops. MSC Splendida will call at Valletta, Malta, for the rest of the season. MSC Fantasia will call at Palma, Mallorca. MSC Preziosa will call in at Caglia. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises cancelled Europa’s port stop in Tunis on April 6. Star Clippers cancelled port calls in Hammamet in April and October 2015 for Star Clipper. AIDA cancelled all port calls in La Goulette for AIDAblu, AIDAsol and AIDAvita. True to form, Ireland has proven more resilient than other markets in the face of an attempt to target the country’s tourist industry. Sunway report only about 3pc of Irish people who had booked have cancelled and they have had “quite a few new bookings since the attack”.  John Grehan of Just Sunshine, who also run a summer programme to Tunisia, reports no cancellations and “business as usual”. The DFA updated its travel Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 13.14.58advice on Tunisia and advised people concerned about the welfare of any Irish citizen in Tunis, please contact our Consular Assistance Unit in Dublin on (01) 478 0822 and suggested those visiting or planning to stay in Tunisia should register your details with the Department. Social media users promised to visit Tunisia this summer with the hashtag #JeSuisBardo, a reference to the Charlie Hebdo attacks back in January.

Big announcements at Cruise Shipping Miami Included features and itineraries for MSC’s MSC Seaside, due in November 2017. MSC Cruises’ chief executive Gianni Onorato said the first Seaside-class vessel will offer what it calls “the most original and interactive aqua park at sea” including the latest in high-tech slides, a sea-level promenade that circumnavigates the ship with outdoor spaces, shops and an extended MSC Yacht Club area. MSC claim Seaside class ships are “the iPhone of the cruise industry’ for their radical design. The 4,140 passenger Seaside will sail year-round from an expanded and renovated terminal and berth in Miami to the Caribbean.

richard-fainParticipants at Cruise Miami included Carnival’s Arnold Donald, MSC’s Pierfrancesco Vago, Norwegian’s Frank Del Rio, and Royal Caribbean’s Richard Fain (pictured). Norwegian’s Frank Del Rio said that a fare hike of $5 per day would result in more profitable cruise lines. Richard Fain said Royal Caribbean had “not managed to raise pricing in six years. The old myths of cruising are persistent and they’re holding us back.”

Claus Bodker, director of Cruise Baltic said cruisers are searching for “authentic” and “exclusive” shore excursions and tours – and they’re willing to pay more for the experience. Gianluca Suprani of MSC said that while many cruise lines are decreasing the number of ships in South America, MSC’s bookings there are up. There were some jokes. When MSC’s Pierfrancesco Vago suggested teaming up with Norwegian’s three lines, NCL, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania, Carnival’s Arnold Donald retorted: “once you guys do that, we’ll buy you.” And there was some new jargon in a jargon-filled industry: Norwegian’s Frank Del Rio talked about the “quality of the fill,” which apparently describes passengers who want value more than deepest discounts.

Nialll McDonnell red seaRed Sea Holidays‘ first ever Irish brochure was launched featuring direct flights from Dublin to Sharm el Sheikh. Red Sea Holidays is headed up in Ireland by Niall McDonnell (pictured).  Red Sea will operate direct flights to Sharm El Sheikh this summer utilising 40 seats on the Falcon charter commencing May 21 and continuing until October 22.

More quibbling between the yanks and the Gulfers at the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 14th Annual Aviation Summit in Washington, DC. James Hogan CEO of Etihad said Open Skies has been “a model of success, generating enormous benefits for travellers and for airlines in the US, the UAE and around the world.” He said: Etihad is a David, a james hogan etihad screenDavid who’s been facing Goliaths since 2003, when we started.  In virtually every market we’ve entered, we’ve had to face existing competitors, with established businesses, established infrastructure, established sales and marketing, established brands, and established customer bases. In many cases, those established airlines were gifted amazing infrastructure – airports, terminals, slots, landing rights – over decades. To take them on, we’ve had to work harder and we’ve had to work smarter. That’s called competition.” In the discussion Hogan added that Gulf airlines are separate, very different, we don’t lobby together, Etihad’s fiercest competitor is Emirates. Emirates Airline President and part time Lismore resident Tim Clarke said American consumers, tim clarkeinternational gateway airports, local and regional economies, and businesses will be the ultimate victims of the protectionist campaign being run by Delta, American, and United Airlines. In Dubai Boeing’s Jeff Johnson said he did not think there will be a change in Open Skies. Boeing’s Kevin Conner said aircraft demand is not slowing down due to growth in Asia. Arabian Business asked: did Mr Bean compile the US airlines report into subsidies? Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos said “obviously they are trying to block competition.”

eoghan cassie Tom Patric copyTravel Extra‘s editor went all the way to Tromsø to see the Northern Lights, and there they were, hiding out in Donegal, all along. Hurtigruten hosted a trio of intrepid Irish writers and if the eclipse, scenery, and periodic sightings of the aurora borealis didn’t take your breath away, the storms and the cold would. “Bracing doesn’t do it justice,” Patric Baird said after a visit to Nordkapp, the northernmost point in Europe. “The ink in my pen froze,” said Tom Sweeney, “writer’s block.” Picture shows Eoghan Corry, Cassie Leibinger, Tom Sweeney and Patric Baird in Tromsø. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Matt Corcoran’s King Travel and Richard Cullen’s Killiney Travel have had their membership of Travel Centres revoked after a meeting in Dublin last week. Travel Centres currently have 74 members, Worldchoice 54 (including 12 in the north) and Travelsavers 47.

Travel Trade

16814501081_888e63b891_nTravel Centres agents continued their fam trip to China in conjunction with Bedsonline and Turkish Airlines. Pictured at the Forbidden City in Beijing: Thomas McNally of Bedsonline, Ann Marie Dalton of Turkish Airlines, Tara Szafranek of Travel Broker, Elaine Massey of Killiney Travel, Liana O’Shea of East Cork, Caroline O’Connor of Creation Travel, Erica O’Reilly of King Travel, Lisa Cusack of Midland Travel, Catherine Bowe of Bowe Travel, and Pamela Brownlee of Flyaway. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

  • Amadeus say the launch of Amadeus Ticket Changer Refund and Amadeus Ticket Change Involuntary will be supported by an educational campaign offering interactive e-learning tools to help travel agents learn more about the product suite. The an automated suite of products enables travel professionals to manage re-pricing, re-issuing or refunding requests in a matter of minutes.
  • Neil Burns launched journ.ie “to help users in the Hospitality Industry connect with their customers quickly and easily, identify high quality online conversations and the originators of this content, highlight upcoming opportunities, conduct market research, and manage reputation.”
  • Enquiries for trips to Cuba are up150pc since January, as Irish holidaymakers rush to visit the pristine Caribbean island before the Americans arrive. Abbey Travel has joined Cuba Travel in the market and is promoting two group holidays. Cuba cruise announced weekly cruises from December 2015, featuring two days in Havana.
  • Amadeus appointed Champa Magesh to as new MD for Amadeus Ireland and Britain.
  • Emirates are seeking additional Sales Executives based in Dublin and Munster.
  • Champa Magesh was appointed managing director of Amadeus for Ireland and England.
  • Cronins Coaches will sponsor Skåll’s next event on April 16. Skålleagues will enjoy lunch in Mary Bowe’s Marfield House in Co Wexford and then coffee and scones in Ester O’Brien’s Woodbridge Hotel. Tickets cost €35 for members and guests. Guest places are restricted to two per member. Coach pick-ups: 10.30 Connolly Station, 11.00 Stillorgan Park Hotel. Return: 17.45 Stillorgan Park Hotel, 18.15 Connolly Station.
  • Early bird booking for Travel Professionals Skillnet’s Excel courses closes at 6pm tomorrow (March 23). Excel Level 1 takes place in Dublin on April 7 and Level 2 takes place on April 21. Cost €150. More info/bookings.
  • Balkan Holidays will add an additional weekly flight from Belfast to Bourgas, Bulgaria, operating every Sunday from June 22 to August 2.

Hotels

JP Kavanagh - GM InterContinental Dublin copyJohn Malone Partnership will invest €5m in the 197-room five-star InterContinental Hotel in Ballsbridge (known as the Four Seasons until January) after purchasing it for an undisclosed sum from London & Regional Property. JP Kavanagh (pictured) recently returned from Dubai to become GM of the hotel. The partnership owns the five-star Westin Hotel on College Green as well as the Trinity City Hotel, the Hilton Dublin and the Limerick Strand Hotel. 73-year-old John Malone, who is North America’s largest land owner, recently bought properties including Humewood Castle in Co Wicklow for €8m, Ballylinch Stud near Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, and Castlemartin, the 750-acre Kildare estate formerly owned by Tony O’Reilly, for €28m.

Abbeyglen Castle Times Square Movie 1Footage of Manor House Hotels member Abbeyglen Castle were broadcast on the big screen in Times Square, New York. A four-minute video entitled I’m a Celebrity Get Me in There featured appearances from Ryan Tubrity, Brendan Grace, Mary Kennedy, Sharon Shannon, Tony Tormey and the late Tony Fenton. Picture shows owner Brian Hughes in front of the screen.

  • The average room rate for business travellers in the USA is $306.91 according to Business Travel News’ 2015 Corporate Travel Index. San Francisco was the most expensive city followed by New York City ($494.95); Boston ($465.52); Honolulu ($398.83); and Seattle ($389.11).
  • A Sheraton Hotels survey found that 60pc of respondents reported increased wine consumption when traveling and 54pc said they’d be willing to pay more for a premium glass or bottle of wine when on the road. Respondents would be most likely to give up their smartphone for a day (29pc), sex for a week (23pc), or their social media accounts for a week (23pc), in return for a premium highly rated glass of wine
  • Openings this week included the adults only Memories Jibacoa halfway between Havana and Varadero in Cuba, 173-room Raffles Jakarta, 273-room Four Seasons in Bahrain Bay, Hyatt Place in Columbia, South Carolina, Baccarat Hotel & Residences in New York, the Hilton Mississauga Meadowvale in Ontario, Canada and Holiday Inn Express in Fargo, North Dakota. Mövenpick Hotel Istanbul Golden Horn is to open March 31. Hyatt Regency Tbilisi Hotel is to open in 2017. Embassy Suites San Antonio International Airport Hotel was sold for $29.5m. Boscolo Exedra Nice joined the Autograph Collection.
  • MarBella Corfu will expand their family offering when the hotel re-opens on April 24.
  • New CEO at Loews Hotels Kirk Kinsell plans an asset-light growth strategy, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
  • Tony Capuano of Marriott said soft brands are becoming more widely accepted by owners and guests alike and, although intended primarily as a conversion platform increasingly are purpose-built. Seven of Marriott’s 76 Autograph are purpose built and the company has a further 18 new-builds in the pipeline.
  • Butlins will invest £2.4m in renovating the Bognor Regnis resort, The Shoreline Hotel.
  • Revenue at the K Club in Kildare was up 10pc to €13m last year.

International

polar bear signSolar bear? A polar bear attack on among the sky-watchers who went to Svalbard to watch Friday’s eclipse, Jakub Moravec from the Czech republic, had a happy ending when Moravec lived to tell the tale. Mayor of Svalbard’s main settlement Longyearbyen Christin Kristoffersen was among those who cautioned that the eclipse influx to a region which has 3,000 polar bears was not going to end well.

A new survey from SnowTrex highlighted ski areas which cater specially to women’s needs: Orcières Merlette (FR), Carezza (IT) of Carinthia (AT) on the southern side of the Alps are best for a spring tan, Schladming (AT), Les Deux Alpes (FR) or Livigno (IT) are best for shopping, best for child-care offers, Val Cenis (FR) and Obsteig (AT), Kitzsteinhorn, Quatre Vallées and the Small Matterhorn (all in Switzerland) for power ladies.

Eoghan six one news March 16 2015 copyRTE revealed correspondence between three government departments that suggested that queues at passport control in Dublin airport reached 45 minutes during August bank holiday last year. Watch here Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry commenting on the issue on RTE six-one news.

  • Europe’s first snowball fighting competition took place in Avoriaz,
  • Egypt tightened visa rules for individual travellers. Khaled Ramy, Egypt’s new tourism minister targeted 20m tourists by 2020.
  • Namibia Tourism is looking to Irish and British tourists to host unbounded numbers.
  • Tourism Fiji launched a competition for international day of happiness on Friday inviting four instagrammers to Fiji to show case Fiji and encourage others from all over the world to share their own images of things that make them happy to enter a competition to win an eight-night trip for two people to the happiest country on earth.
  • New York’s Mayor de Blasio and NYC & Company announced a growth programme: Road to 10m more visitors.
  • Heidelberg Marketing launched holiday packages for cyclists and offers guided tours for groups
  • Emirates will be flight partners for the World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) 2015 is taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in South Africa Sept 22-25 2015.
  • The International Health and Wealth Conference takes place October 15-17 in the Algarve.
  • SeaWorld launched a new print and TV campaign called Meet the Animals in a bid to improve its public image following the Blackfish documentary controversy. Meanwhile, SeaWorld appointed Joel Many as the new chief executive from April 7.
  • The 63rd Reindeer King’s Cup Championships reindeer race will be held in Inari, Finland on March 28 and 29.
  • 35,000 runners participated in the 2015 Tel Avi Marathon. Meanwhile the Bible Marathon takes place April 9 from Rosh Ha’ayin to Shiloh.
  • The National Tourism Service in Chile plans to stimulate tourism on Easter Island by offering marketing and tourist services support to local organisations.
  • An American tourist was bitten by a shark while snorkelling at Hapuna Beach Park on Hawaii’s Big Island.
  • The economic observatory of Parisian tourism found that the number of inbound visits were down 1.4pc, while the domestic market remained stable.

Food and Wine

Michelin-star chefs confirmed for Burren Slow Food Week FestivalThe Burren Slow Food Week Festival takes place May 16 to 24. The theme of this year’s festival is Land and Sea. The festival will feature 34 food events, including cooking demos by Michelin Star chefs Derry Clarke and JP McMahon. Other highlights include a talk by John and Sally McKenna, a Food Producers Forum and a family-friendly grow it yourself workshop. Picture shows John Sheedy of Sheedy’s Restaurant, Birgitta Hedin Curtin of Burren Smokehouse, Jason Horner of Leen Organics and Gerry Sweeney of Burren Seafoods.

Take a look at USA Today’s spiciest eating challengers in America, some of which you need to sign a waiver before consuming. Read here.

Steven Lamb of River Cottage is hosting a one-day class at the School of Food in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny on April 11, 10am-5pm. Steven will be cooking a pig in a day, teaching the basics of butchering, making sausages, air-dried ham, braw, bacon, chorizo and salami. Participants will be cooking devilled kidneys and paté. Costs €120. Book at townoffood.com or call 056-7754397.

Aviation

Three’s a crowd. The number of operators on the over-served Dublin to London City route has gone from three to two, Flybe are cancelling their service from May leaving BA and Cityjet on the route.

CityJet_RJ85CityJet has extended its Dublin-London Service with the launch of an additional flight on Sunday’s from April 19 brining Sunday flights to four, serviced by 95 passenger AVRO85 Regional Jet.

Ryanair launched its Winter 2015 schedule three months earlier than 2014 with 1,600 routes across its European network, reminding consumers of the consumer product upgraded to allocated seating, a free second carry-on bag, reduced fees, a new website, a new app with mobile boarding passes, and Ryanair’s Family Extra and Business Plus services. Ryanair took delivery of nine Boeing 737-800’s increasing its fleet to 306 aircraft.

Richard Branson’s Virgin, BA’s only English competitor at Heathrow, wrote to the Oireachtas Transport Committee to express concern that that connecting flights it offers to Aer Lingus passengers to destinations such as Barbados, San Francisco, Vancouver and Hong Kong will not be protected.

Launch of the 32 Signed County Jerseys exhibition in Terminal 2, Dublin AirportDAA unveiled an exhibition of signed jerseys from all 34 teams, Ireland’s 32 counties plus New York and London, that compete in the GAA All-Ireland football and hurling championships.

Etihad said it is willing to sell Aer Lingus stake to IAG.

As a pilot’s union strike caused the cancellation of services on Wednesday, the Lufthansa CEO said the airline needs a deeper overhaul. An Air France meeting with trade unions on savings plan was cancelled.

  • Belfast’s troubled Shorts plant was given a lift by a £1bn CSeries aircraft order.
  • Alan Joyce is the second most mentioned businessman in Australian Media, according to a profile of the Tallaght man in the Financial Times.
  • Avios unveiled the Apple Watch wearable-friendly BA and Iberia loyalty programme app
  • Qantas warned of a fake Facebook scam offering a free first class flight.
  • Kenny Jacobs of Ryanair told the Retail Week Industry Conference: Stand for one thing as a brand. You can’t dance at every wedding. We started off as Robin Hood but we did become the Sheriff of Nottingham.
  • Finnair A350 flights start on Apr 9, with long haul services to start in the autumn to Shanghai, then Beijing, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • KLM will cancel some flights to Bangkok, Chengdu, Rio, Hangzhou, Nairobi, Shanghai, Xiamen & Toronto in May due to ongoing union talks. KLM halted their 787 order and plans for an Edmonton route.
  • Etihad’s investment in Air Serbia has revived Belgrade Airport, and challenged the hub order in Central/Southeast Europe.
  • Turkish Airlines added Bari and Porto to its route network Aer Lingus Shannon to New York flights returned early to satisfy St Patrick’s Day demand.
  • Austrian Airlines launched a medium-haul fleet renewal programme.
  • The Aer Lingus & G-Mac Foundation partnership was renewed.
  • Aengus Kelly’s AerCap was reported to be studying the 737 Max meaning Boeing has achived a near sweep of jet lessors.
  • Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos was reported to fear domestic competition from Ryanair.
  • Belfast-based Lagan Construction won two contracts for runway works at Heathrow worth an estimated £10m.

ETIHAD AIRWAYS AND UNIVERSAL PICTURES UNVEIL NEWLY-DECALED FAST & FURIOUS PLANE 2Etihad Airways and Universal Pictures unveiled the Fast & Furious 777 aircraft at LAX. The seventh instalment in the film franchise is in cinemas April 3. Picture shows actor Vin Diesel after arriving from Abu Dhabi.

  • Tribs the first restaurant of the new Nice-Côte d’Azur Airport opened.
  • Flynas from Saudi Arabia signed with SITA.
  • LOT Polish airlines signed with Travelport.
  • Europe’s Regional Airlines called for a European plan on airport capacity that focuses on building new runway and terminal capacity.
  • Steven Udvar-Hazy of aircraft lessor Air Lease Corp speculated that Airbus and Boeing are facing bubble trouble, saying the massive backlogs at the two dominant airframers are not as solid as they once were, citing orders placed by over-ambitious low-cost carriers and struggling airlines in markets such as Russia and Indonesia. Airbus has a backlog of 6,400 jets and Boeing 5,790,
  • Aer Lingus has rejected an allegation by Andrew Haines of the London CAA that Aer Lingus is in breach of consumer law in their handling of passengers hit by disruption to flights: “procedures, relating to the provision of information to customers affected by operational disruption, are fully compliant with all the relevant regulations. We have provided a number of documents to the CAA in recent months to substantiate this point and we continue to engage with the CAA to address their concerns.”
  • EL AL announced its 50th Boeing aircraft arrival.
  • Cannes air show for light aviation and business aviation on June 4 – 6 is moving to Lyon-Bron airport more central and easily accessible airfield after eight years at Cannes-Mandelieu, bringing the event closer to a greater number of cities less than 1h30 flight away by single-engine.
  • Air Zimbabwe is seeking a $260m capital injection.
  • Red Arrows announced four displays for the north.
  • Photo 2Nicole Kidman is the face and voice of Etihad Airwaysnew Flying Reimagined brand campaign. Picture shows Peter Baumgartner, Chief Commercial Officer; Nicole Kidman; and James Hogan, President and CEO, at the launch of the new campaign. Watch the TV ad here.
  • Malaysia Airlines’ appointment of Christoph Mueller as CEO was brought forward to May 1.
  • A BA flight from Heathrow-Dubai was forced to return to London 30 minutes after take off because of an especially ghastly smell coming from the toilet.
  • American Airlines and US Airways will combine their frequent flier programs next month.
  • There a very brief delay at Dublin Airport on Monday after a dog was loose on the runway.
  • easy-eclipseEasyJet posted this photo of the solar eclipse taken on board Flight EZY6747 Belfast-Reykjavik. It was taken over the Faroe Islands.
  • Emirates opened a $6.2m lounge at Los Angeles International airport, the airline’s 34th worldwide. It is available to First and business class passengers and to Platinum and Gold members of Emirates Skywards.
  • Boeing started using Panel Assembly Line, a new automated system, which will build wing panels for B737s.
  • London City Airport said that the number of passengers using their phones to download their boarding passes has increased 7pc to 21pc. The number of passengers using manned desks in the terminal was down 7pc to 29pc, while 54pc of passengers now check in online.
  • The Malaysian government announced a new airline called flymojo. It is expected to start operating in October using Bombardier CS100 aircraft, which will operate from Koto Kinabalu and Johur Bahru.
  • Etihad Airways completed a Korean Finance Lease for its second new A380 aircraft.
  • Flybe will commence its daily Stansted-Isle of Man service on March 29, 3w Standsted-Newcastle service on March 29 and daily Stansted-Newquay service from May 16.
  • Both Delta and United Airlines are expected to launch an app for Apple Watch before its release on April 24.

Afloat

anthem-seasExcitement is building for the launch of high-tech Anthem of the Seas (part spaceship, part cruise ship, if Royal Caribbean are to be believed) on April 20-22 with a sizeable Irish contingent travelling for a pre-launch cruise. Travel Extra will be there, determined to be first in the pool, a pattern we have established at seven of the last nine Royal Caribbean ship launches.

Fred Olsen, headed up in Ireland by Alan Lynch’s Cruisescapes, offers nine different embarkation points on its Braemar cruise in October.

  • CroisiEurope says 60-passenger Princesse Apsara will sail the Mekong, while two new 24-passenger canal barges, MS Daniele will cruise on the Briare Canal, between Burgundy and the Loire Valley and MS Deborah will take a route along the Garonne Canal from Toulouse to Damazan.
  • CLIA research released at Cruise Shipping Miami that the average cruise traveller is 49 years old, married, and earns $114,000 per year.
  • Scenic Tours is adding more ships in 2016, Scenic Amber for the Rhine, and Scenic Azure for Portugal’s Douro River. In addition Scenic Spirit will cruise the Mekong and Scenic Aura will cruise the Irrawaddy.
  • Holland America’s new Koningsdam, due to launch April 2016, will feature a three-deck atrium and steel artwork sculpture meant to represent a string quartet.
  • Royal Caribbean teamed up with Florida International University to build a 132,500-square-foot facility dedicated to training students and entertainers for Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara.

Deal Watch

  • Lowcostbeds offers of the week, based on 7 nights 2 sharing, arrive May 17: 3* Silchoro apts, Albuferia, Portugal from €11pppn room only. 3* Ourasol acts, Albuferia, Portugal from €15pppn room only. 3* Ola Bouganvilla, Santa Ponsa, Majorca from €13pppn room only. 3* Sun Beach, Santa Ponsa, Majorca from €15pppn room only. 3* Hotel Kristal, Torremolinos, Costa del Sol from €17pppn B&B. 4* Hotel Sol Principe, Benalmadena, Costa del Sol from €35pppn B&B.
  • Hastings Hotels Tom Jones tribute offers: 1 night B&B in Slieve Donard Resort & Spa for £65pp incl. tickets to the Tom Jones Tribute Show, May 1. 1 night B&B in the Stormont Hotel for £52.50pp incl. tickets, May 2.
  • 1 night B&B in Brooks Hotel from €74.50pps incl. complimentary turndown service, free in-room Wi-Fi and a copy of this year’s One City, One Book choice, Roddy Doyle’s The Barrytown Trilogy. Valid April 2015 only. Book here.
  • Tourism NI offers of the week: 3 nights B&B Craig Cottage Bed and Breakfast, Dunseverick, Bushmills, Co Antrim from £30pppn, available until June 30, call 028 2073 1480 to book. 2 nights B&B The Valley Hotel, Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone from £75pps incl. one evening meal, available until March 13 2016, call 028 6862 2200 to book. 2 nights B&B Manor House Country Hotel, Irvinestown, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh from £65pps, available until April 30, call 028 6862 2200 to book. 2 nights B&B Clandeboyne Lodge Hotel, Bangor, Co Down from £122.50pps incl. cocktail on arrival, a bottle of Deakin Estate Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Merlot in the Coq & Bull Brasserie on the night of your preference, available until April 30, call 028 9185 2500 to book.
  • ITAA guided tours offers: 10 days All Inclusive Imperial Highlights of Central Europe tour with Corrib Travel from €1,429pps, depart June 5. 9 days All Inclusive India Golden Triangle Tour with Blackpool Travel from €2,290pps, depart September 5. 12 days Amazon to Andes Tour with Fahy Travel from €2,749pps incl. flights transfers, accommodation and sightseeing, depart June 15.
  • Falcon is offering 7 nights self catering Alcudia Pins, Majorca from €1,099 for two adults and one child incl. flights ex Shannon, depart May 9.
  • Pembroke Townhouse in Ballsbridge is offering 1 night B&B from €45pp until the end of April. Call 01 6600277 to book.
  • Thomson is offering 7 nights self catering Avenida Park, Reus, Salou from €1,279 for two adults and one child incl. flights ex Dublin, depart May 22.
  • Natural Retreats Castlemartyr is offering 7 nights for the price of 5 or 5 nights for the price of 4. Six people can stay 5 nights in a 3 bed mews from €30pppn, checking in April 6. Four people can stay 7 nights in a 2 bed lodge from €38pppn, checking in April 2.  Visit naturalretreats.ie to book or call 01 685 3013.
  • Travel Department is offering 10 nights B&B in The Legendale Hotel Beijing from €1,799 incl. flights, taxes, hotel transfer and excursions, depart September 6 or November 10. No single room supplement. Visit traveldepartment.ie to book or call 01 637 1600.
  • Topflight cruise offers: 7 nights Mediterranean cruise on board the MSC Fantasia from €1,495pps incl. return flights ex Dublin, direct transfers, 4 nights Grand Hotel La Pace Sorrento, taxes and luggage allowance, depart July 13. 7 night Eastern Mediterranean cruise on board the MSC Poesia from €1,499pps incl. return flights ex Dublin, return transfers, 2 nights in Hotel Amadeus in Venice taxes and luggage allowance, depart June 6. 7 nights Treasure of the Mediterranean cruise on board the MSC Preziosa from €1,299pps incl. return flights ex Dublin, meals and onboard entertainment, rail tickets to Rome Centre, 3 nights B&B in the Hotel Glori in Rome, taxes and checked in luggage. Visit topflight.ie to book or call 01 2401 701.
  • Sunway Bodrum, Turkey offers: 7 nights self catering Summer Garden Apartments from €399pp, depart August 30. 7 nights B&B Baba Beach Hotel from €429pp, depart August 30.
  • Travel Department Supersaver offers: 7 nights B&B Ascot Hotel, Sorrento from €499pp incl. return flight ex Dublin, transfers on arrival, taxes and charges, depart March 31. 7 nights B&B at Hotel Arnolfo & Aqua Laetitia, Monecatini from €499pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, transfer on arrival, taxes and charges, depart April 14 or April 23. 3 nights B&B Reykjavik Lights Hotel or Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavik from €349pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, depart April 23. To book visit traveldepartment.ie or call 01 637 1600.
  • Sunway is offering a 14-night full board Food Heroes cruise on board P&O’s Ventura from €1,230pp. Marco Pierre White will make a guest appearance, offering cooking demos, masterclasses, hosted dinners and book signings. Visits to Lisbon, Seville, Gibraltar, Cartagena, Malaga, Casablanca and Madeira. Depart May 6.

Ireland

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 20.34.27The finalists for the inaugural Irish Tourism Industry Awards were announced on Thursday. Sixty-eight finalists were named across 11 of the 12 prize categories (the finalists for Best Design in Tourism will be announced March 30). The Gala Awards Night takes place at Doubletree by Hilton Dublin, Burlington Road on April 24, book tickets here before April 15. The finalists:

  • Best Adventure Experience: CycleWest Ireland Ltd, Erris Beo, Gaelforce Events, Killarney Adventure Race, Unique Ascent, Vagabond Adventure Tours.
  • Best Business Tourism Innovation: CREATESMARTER 2014, MICE Focus Ireland 2014, One Young World Summit 2014, The Adventure Travel World Summit Killarney 2014.
  • Best Environmental Tourism Innovation: Bord na Mona Lough Boora Discovery Park, Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark, Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, Doolin Cave Co Clare, Inch and Foyle Wildfowl Project Donegal County Council, Top of the Rock Pod Páirc and Walking Centre in West Cork.
  • Best Festival/Event Experience: A Giant’s Journey 2014 in Limerick, Bram Stoker Festival 2014, Croke Park Classic 2014, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann Sligo 2014, Punchestown Festival 2014, Rose of Tralee International Festival, St. Patrick’s Festival.
  • Best Food Experience: Bike Buffet by Westport Smarter Travel, Fab Food Trails, Galway The Food Destination, Kinsale Good Food Circle, Shells Cafe and Little Shop in Strandhill, The Food Summit with Good Food Ireland, The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine.
  • Best International Access Initiative: Aer Lingus, Air Canada Vacations, Dublin Airport / daa, Irish Ferries, Shannon Airport, The Travel Corporation.
  • Best International Marketing Initiative: American College Football by Anthony Travel Inc, CIE Tours International, DERTour, Dublin Airport / daa, Expanding Distribution Channels by Abbey Tours, Odyssey International Trafalgar Australia.
  • Best Local Authority Tourism Initiative: Boyne Valley Destination – Meath and Louth County Councils, Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark – Clare County Council, Cavan County Council – Cavan Burren, Parkland and WWW 1 Trench Experience, Kerry County Council, Kilkenny County Council, Viking Triangle – Waterford City & County Council, West Mayo Municipal District – Westport.
  • Best Urban Experience: Dublin City Bike Tours, Dublin City of a Thousand Welcomes, Irish Whiskey Museum Dublin, Fab Food Trails, Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny, Wakedock – Dublin Docklands.
  • Best Cultural Experience: A History Past and Present – Abbey Tours, Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange & Knowth), CIE Tours Wild Atlantic Way Tour, Doagh Famine Village – Donegal, Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, Waterford Viking Triangle.
  • Best Leisure Tourism Innovation: Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, Guinness Storehouse, Irish Whiskey Museum Dublin, Sheep’s Head & Bantry Tourism Co-operative, Viking Triangle – Waterford, Wells House and Gardens – Co Wexford.

Mark Graham, who won the Travel Extra award for travel book of the year last year, is embarking in a new project: six trips during April, May and June (two each month) hitting a mountain, lake, beach or forest to enjoy some outdoor adventure activities He will then spend seven weeks in July and August cycling the full 2,750KM of The Wild Atlantic Way from Donegal to my front door in Tramore Co. Waterford. Seven weeks at an average of 70 – 80KM a day, five days a week (Saturday and Sunday off).

Ennis to host Ireland's biggest gospel music festival

For a chance to win a playing place at this year’s Irish Open Pro-Am, with overnight accommodation included, golfers should register on Tourism NI’s website.  Entrants must have a GUI Membership Card and the minimum handicap requirement is 18 for men and 20 for ladies.

  • Sixty international journalists were in Dublin last weekend to cover the St Patrick’s Day Festival.
  • Tourism Ireland hosted an evening reception at March Madness in London on St Patrick’s Day. 12,000 business appointments were made at March Madness over the two days.
  • The fourth annual Irish Cycling Show takes place in the RDS Main Hall on April 18 and 19. The event will feature a hose of stands, stunt teams, an indoor cycle track and seminars. For more information, visit irishcyclingshow.ie.
  • Ennis will host Ireland’s biggest gospel music festival from May 8 to 10.
  • Tourism NI is promoting a host of upcoming sporting events: Guinness Pro 12 Final, Kingspan Stadium, Beflast, May 30. International Youth Football Competition, July 26 to 31. Metzler Ulster Grand Prix Bike Week, Dundrod circuite, Co Antrim, August 3 to 8. Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia, Titanic Belfast, June 21. Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive road cycling event. The Irish Open, Royal County Down Gold Club, Newcastle, May 28 to 31.
  • Belfast won a place on a global Here & Now edition of Monopoly. Inga Norvilyte of LoveBelfast fronted the campaign.

And finally…

IMG_4093 copySomewhere beneath the bubbles is Travel Extra‘s Eoghan Corry, dunking in the very salty and snowy Barents Sea in Vardø, northern Norway, temperature was minus 4 with wind chill but the water was a balmy two and a half degrees above freezing: 70 degrees north and 31 degrees east, further north than the north coast of Alaska and further east that Istanbul, Kiev or St Petersburg. It is the easternmost stop on the Hurtigruten Nord Lys solar eclipse and northern lights cruise. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: 2020 vision at the launch of Stena Superfast Ten

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  • 2020 vision at the launch of Stena Superfast Ten
  • The Loop at Dublin’s T1 goes all curvy
  • Irish Tourism increases market share in Britain
  • Terry Pratchett’s lesson for Clare tourism

Travel Extra TV

Video of week March 15A lesson from our video of the week: If you’re on a family safari in South Africa, make sure you lock your car door. Here’s why: Watch here.

  • Each year, Graeme McDowell’s G-Mac Foundation and Aer Lingus bring a group of children from Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital on a trip to Orlando. Watch here to learn about the charity partnership.
  • Liam Neeson lent his voice to Tourism Ireland‘s 60-second promo to mark the Global Greening on St Patrick’s Day. Watch here.
  • It was announced this week that Dubai Duty Free will be the title sponsor of the 2015 Irish Open hosted by The Rory Foundation. Watch here.
  • Two years in the making, FilmSpektakel’s video showcases beautiful Austria. Watch here.
  • Kissing the Blarney stone with Cork Airport. Watch here.
  • US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley’s St Patrick’s Day message. Watch here.
  • To drum up some interest to fund a book of images from the Wild Atlantic Way, photographer Peter Cox uploaded drone footage showcasing the west of Ireland. Watch here.

Headlines

Travel Extra April 2015 300The April 2015 edition of Travel Extra arrives in agencies over the coming days, read here. The latest edition features developments in summer cruise including the new Royal Caribbean ship build, the dynamic dining debate and updates on Anthem of the Seas, the most technologically advanced cruise ship to operate out of Europe when it launches in Southampton in five weeks time. There are reports from events on travel events from four continents including the world’s biggest travel fair, ITB in Berlin, and the IHF conference in Cavan, a journey through storied Ethiopia, the most exciting new direct destination for Ireland this year, a pilgrimage through the Holy Land with Niall Glynn’s Marian Pilgrimages and destination reviews of Iceland and Dominican Republic. We cover the launch of Stena Line’s new Dublin to Holyhead ferry and he future plans at Dublin Port to boost ferry capacity even further, look at the debates over the three-tier pattern emerging in Ireland’s hotel prices and future of Cityjet, the implications of Ryanair’s next steps in their “getting better” campaign, the wine and whiskey products which are at the heart of the new-look Loop at T1 in Dublin, and the rapid progress in Istanbul’s new airport, the extraordinary number of trans-Atlantic routes available from Dublin this summer (163 in each direction), and we have updates on the Irish Travel Industry Business Show at Citywest on April 24-24 and the ITAA conference in Jerez which will be based in the Sherry Hotel on October 1-4. Chris Logan, the new Ireland manager of Falcon, is this month’s busman’s holiday contributor and Tony Kelly of Irish Ferries looks back at his years in the travel business. If you want to know how to sell a cruise holiday, check out this month’s issue.

the loop_1831I must be in the wrong terminal” was the reaction from one passenger when he waked into the new shopping area at terminal 1 in Dublin Airport. The area, which used the brand name The Loop, has been converted from a straight line walk past some jaded retail outlets into something curvier. The refurbishment was done overnight on Wednesday and opened at 4.30am on Thursday morning. Dublin Airport’s manager of retail services, Paul Neeson showcased the highlights. eu6000 bottleThey included a new sweetshop, the Irish Whiskey Collection which offers 400 whiskeys from around the world, and the Wine Goose Chase, stressing Ireland’s ancient connection with international wine (wine has been coming back on the ships exporting Irish butter to Spain from prehistoric times; listen here). The impressive opening party was organised by Zaryab Malik, familiar to the travel trade from his time with Con Murphy’s United Travel and Des Duggan’s over 50s shows. Guests were invited to experience the various senses at different stalls. Mary Byrne gave a short history of the relationship between Ireland and wine. Picture shows a €6,000 bottle of whiskey on sale at the airport. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Stena Supferfast X launch 005Dan Sten Olsson came to Dublin to name Stena Superfast X (pronounced ten) and inaugurate her service on the Dublin Holyhead route on Wednesday last. The ship had to go an operation transformation since she last saw salt as DFDS Dieppe Seaways operating between Dover and Calais. Kathryn Thomas of the honours, godmother to seven children and now a ship, an tAthair Pádraig Ó Cuill and Reverend William Black blessed the ship (listen here). Eoghan Corry, editor of Travel Extra, Eoghan kathryn thomas
was master of ceremonies interspersing his comments with a little Welsh and Swedish (in a heavy Piteå accent, don’t ask). Ian Davies, route manager spoke of the increased flexibility that the ship brings to the route (listen here), Dan Stena Olsson talked about his love of coming to Ireland and the ships he has inaugurated since his first trip in 1971 (listen here), and Eamonn O’Brien of Dublin Port talked about growth and expansion plans at the port (listen here): “Stena is exactly the type of customer we like.” Picture shows Kathryn Thomas and Eoghan Corry at the event. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Tourism ireland team London_1419A slight increase in Ireland’s market share from England’s outbound tourism was the big news from the annual Anglo-Irish CHAMP event at London’s House of Lords. British arrivals from Ireland grew in 2014, resulting in an increase of share of UK outbound from 4.2pc in 2013 to 4.3pc in 2014. Early indications for are positive, with CSO figures for the month of January showing an increase of 13pc in English visitors, following the trend of 2014 when holidaymakers from England grew by 9pc and revenue from holidaymakers by 8pc. Picture shows Mary O’Shea, Tourism Ireland’s head of Britain Vanessa Markey, and Vera Stedman who gave a briefing for travel media at the Tourism Ireland offices in London before the event. Mary O’Shea gave a detailed description of how Tourism Ireland has successful migrated its marketing focus to digital and hired in professional agencies to implement the campaign: “if we were to do it ourselves would look a lot like dad dancing.”

sean sherlock_1534The event was upbeat on a sunny day while traffic lined its way on the Thames outside. The brainchild of political lobbyist James Winston five years ago, the annual gathering of political, business and tourism leaders is designed to launch the St Patrick’s Day festivities and has attracted leaders from across the various political spectrums in three jurisdictions. Baroness Angela Harris introduced the event (listen here), Minister Sean Sherlock (pictured) talked about the growing links between the islands (listen here), Baroness Jenny Sanderson represented Theresa Villiers (listen here), Ivor Lewis spoke on behalf of the opposition (listen here) and Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons (listen here) talked about the extended tourism cooperation which will boost visitors to both islands from the BRIC marketsSee more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

tigs winning team_1694Niall McDonnell of Red Sea resorts and Audrey Headon of World Travel centre were the first champions of the Travel Industry Golf Society after the inaugural event in Portmarnock, sponsored by Turkish Airlines. Picture shows the first winning team of the season Peter O’Hanlon of Travelfinders, Clem Walshe of Lowcost Beds, Volker Lorenz of Amadeus, and Niall McDonnell of Red Sea resorts. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Margaret DaraghPicture shows Margaret Cronin handing over the Skål Dublin Club President’s chain to Daragh O’Neill at the AGM at the Conrad Hotel. Michael Byrne, ex-Stena, remains as Hon Sec for another year. See more pictures from Dublin Skål AGM here or connect with the album on Facebook.

ofpnly_8064Ifonly hosted travel agents in Glasgow. The agents met the Ifonly teams for the long haul tour operators’ various markets and were hosted by Martin Penrose in his home city. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

aer lingus business class_0034Irish Travel Industry Trade Show has burst its boundaries and taken over the downstairs area of the Citywest. Aer Lingus will be bringing their business class seats (pictured being showcased by Claire Sutton and Micheál Gannon) to demonstrate to the trade. Headline sponsors are the Travelport (GM), Shannon Airport (golf day) and Sunway (barbecue) and there will be four bus routes operating to the exhibition and social events for front line travel professionals from Dundalk, Cork, Galway and Waterford, with an offer of subsidised travel for agency staff from other parts of the country.simon greenbury

There was a very good Irish presence at the Best of Britain and Ireland show in Birmingham. Events director Simon Greenbury called for more support from the industry. “Let’s give the exhibitors the opportunity to achieve greater return on investment by potentially having industry events that co-located in Birmingham NEC as the same time of BOBI every year.”

clarion_1928The opening of Gusto’s Restaurant in the Clarion hotel in Liffey Valley was MCed by Marty Whelan and Nuala Carey. The hotel hosted 150 media and corporate customers at the event Italian pizza chef Erion Tao’s pizzas from the wood stone pizza oven, pastas, Italian cocktails and Italian wine. Marie Richardson of the Choice Hotels Group said that the Italian-themed restaurant would enhance the hotel’s features and boost local business. Picture shows Roisin O Hea, Nuala Carey, Bairbre Power and Julianne Galvin at the opening of Gusto Restaurant in the Clarion Hotel, Liffey Valley.

TOURISM IRELAND ANNOUNCES GLOBAL GREENING LINEUP FOR ST PATRICKThe final total of buildings going green for St Patrick’s Day reached 150 at tea time yesterday (Saturday, see full list of sites), considerably ahead of last year’s figure of 120. The Colosseum in Rome, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica Montmartre, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and the Town Hall in Tbilisi are among the newcomers for St Patrick’s Day this year. Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe and Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons are in San Francisco today for the city’s parade. Michael Ring is in Phoenix, Arizona and then in Los Angeles. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

biddy earley pratchettBridget Ellen “Biddy Early” Connors’ grave in Feakle is not among the banner county’s signature tourist attractions but should be. The late lamented author and ingenious wordsmith Terry Pratchett was among her fans, and sent a bottle of Irish whiskey to be poured over her grave. He told the astonished Clareman who was designated to deliver it that he did not mind if it passed through is kidneys first. It gives a whole new meaning to the little blue bottle. We will miss Pratchett’s work: The Lost Continent could safely have served as a travel guide to Australia if it was not mislabelled “fantasy.” And his quotes, oh his quotes:

  • There are things in life you have to hold on to hard, balloons are our way of teaching this to children.
  • All mushrooms are edible, some only once.
  • Time is like drugs, too much of it will kill you.
  • Death isn’t mean, just terribly good at his job.
  •  Build a man a fire and he will be warm for a day, set a man on fire and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.

paul druryJournalism paid tribute to Paul Drury, formerly editor of the Evening Herald and Ireland on Sunday who died at the weekend. There were not tributes at Wednesday morning’s funeral, at his own request, and colleagues included his old classmates at the Rathmines School of Journalism, classmates Jacinta O’Brien, Rosemary O Grady, PJ Cunningham, Maurice Gubbins, Tommie Gorman, Henry Bauress, Valerie Ryan and Mary Morrissey and from other years Áine Hensey, Maol Muire Tynan, Bernie ní Fhlatharta, Bairbre Power, Philip Nolan and Katherine Donnelly

Travel centres china_1451Travel Centres agents departed on a fam trip to China on Wednesday. Pictured at the Forbidden City in Beijing: Erica O’Reilly of King Travel, Thomas McNally of Bedsonline, Pamela Brownlee of Flyaway, Tara Szafranek of Travel Broker, Ann Marie Dalton of Turkish Airlines, Elaine Massey of Killiney Travel, Catherine Bowe of Bowe Travel, Caroline O’Connor of Creation Travel, Lisa Cusack of Midland Travel and Liana O’Shea of East Cork Travel who were guests on the Travel Centres fam trip to China in conjunction with Bedsonline and Turkish Airlines. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

dreamz_1745Dreemz wedding planners came to Dublin to inform the trade of their wedding planning facilities in Malta. Marie Anne Barthet Brown of the Maltese tourist board said one in three Irish visitors to Malta are wedding guests. Picture shows Mary Grace-Lynch and Stephen Chircop of Dreemz Wedding Planners with Marie Anne Barthet Brown of the Maltese tourist board in the Unicorn Restaurant Dublin.

waterford airportWaterford airport is to get scheduled services again. Flights on the Waterford-Luton route are set to resume at the end of next month with a four times a week service from Waterford to Birmingham to follow when Belgian-based VLM Airlines to fly 12 times a week in each direction. Desmond O’Flynn, CEO, Waterford Airport said VLM Airlines had a great track record of operating charter flights and providing air services to other airlines, and was now growing its own scheduled route network.

turkish airlines 4_7729Exciting news from Turkish Airlines. The scheduled twice weekly A330 freighter service serving Istanbul-Shannon-Chicago may soon be picking up freight for Ireland and, should demand arise, there are plans to fly a wide bodied craft for both freight and passengers giving Shannon a year round Chicago link as well as direct flights to Istanbul. Turkish Airlines now fly to 219 international and 43 domestic destinations and recently inaugurated a double daily service to Dublin. Picture shows Patrick McKinney, Onder Gencer, Murat Baland and Onur Gul of Turkish Airlines at Dublin Airport.

eoghan mark diarmaid marianPicture shows onetime UCD “pure history” (Group 8) classmates Eoghan Corry, editor of Travel Extra, Mark Duncan, Diarmaid Ferriter and Marian Richardson of RTE at the National Archives for the launch of Ferriter’s book, A Nation and Not a Rabble, the Irish Revolution 1913-23. Corry and Ferriter shared the Dudley Edwards Prize at UCD when it was awarded to them jointly and the bookshops of the country have not been safe since. Diarmaid’s book explores the treasury in the archives of military depositions and pensions correspondence. Caitríona Crowe gave an adulatory introduction (listen here) accompanied by a message from publisher Andre Franklin read by Cormac Kinsella Franklin (listen here). Ferriter’s 25-minute speech  (listen here) highlighted his 408 page book followed by another 100 pages of notes. He doesn’t do concision, but that is for the better. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Travel Tradekevin nolan

Carrick on Suir-born Kevin Nolan of Topflight said goodbye to his friends in the industry at Bridge 1859 Ballsbridge after 15 years in the business. Kevin was Topflight’s representative on the Irish Tour Operators Federation.

Celebrity Cruises Modern Luxury Squad visited Corie Heuston from John Cassidy Travel in Swords to present her with a bottle of Corie Heuston John Cassidy Travel Celebity Cruiseschampagne.  The Squad will be on the road during March to opportunities to agents to win prizes including free flights, team nights out, champagne, spa vouchers and an exclusive two night sailing on-board Celebrity Eclipse. Find out more at CelebrityRewards.com.

  • Tony Kelly of Irish Ferries is to retire at the end of March having worked in the company since 1973.
  • Joe Byrne has retired having spent 40 years with Tourism Ireland. Watch here his video interview with Eamonn McKeon.

The British and Irish Chamber of Commerce annual conference was one of the success stories on the circuit. mulhall chilcottThe body, which is less than five years in existence attracted 350 and never had less than 220 people In the audience. Both ambassadors, Irish ambassador in London Dan Mulhall and British ambassador in Dublin Dominick Chilcott spoke at the same event for the first time.

  • Lowcostbeds trade promotion: Book a flight with Emirates to Dubai, Bangkok, India, Mauritius, Maldives or China with accommodation by lowcostbeds before March 31 and earn a €5 voucher per book.
  • ETOA appointed Róisín Donnelly, formerly of Generator Hostels, as a head of accommodation services. Róisín has extensive experience in the accommodation sector, with senor roles in Jurys Doyle, Jurys Inns and Qhotels.
  • Travel Professionals Skillnet is offering an online Fetac Level 5 professional digital marketing diploma for €850. The 10 three-hour online lectures are spread out from March 23 to August 24 (take them at your own pace). Travel Professionals Skillnet is also offering early bird rates for its Excel courses: 2 courses for €150 if you pay online by 5pm, April 15. Excel Level 1 takes place April 7 (more info/bookings) and Excel Level 2 takes place April 21 (more info/bookings).
  • Travel agents have two more weeks to join the DoSomethingDifferent team for a once in a lifetime holiday experience to Dubai.  Make any DSD ticket sale and email win@dosomethingdifferent.com with “Come on holiday with DSD” in the subject line.  Bonus entries awarded for all Dubai ticket sales. Valid for bookings from 1 Jan – 31 Mar.  DSD Holiday-FAM will be taken in May.

Hotels

trivago ireland march 2015The Trivago price index for March shows the effects of the sliding euro with both Belfast (25pc) and Derry (10pc) among the high risers year on year, with Kenmare (14pc) and Killarney (12pc) also showing higher than March 2014. Hotel room rates are down in Athlone, Waterford and Wexford. Limerick and Waterford still offer Ireland’s cheapest hotel beds at €77. The average price in Ireland is €95, up 6pc.

According to trivago.ie, Dublin hotel prices are up 76pc for St Patrick’s Day to an average of €178. The night before the festival will cost an average €182.  The price comparison site said Limerick is the only other city that saw a price increase over the St Patrick’s period. The average cost between March 14 to 17 is €88, up 14pc on the monthly average of €77.

  • STR Global said there are 898 hotels (142,604 rooms) under contract in Europe, up 5.8pc year-over-year, although rooms under construction are down 5.3pc.
  • Galgorm Resort and Spa in Antrim has announced a £10m development of 48 luxury hotel rooms and a unique spa village which is says is the first in Ireland, to open September 2015. Themes in the spa village include Snow Paradise, the Orangery, a riverside sauna, plunge pool, sheltered relaxation area with open fire and private Dutch Tubs, heated by their own log fires.
  • The 108 bedroom Maldron Hotel in Wexford is for sale with a guide price of €3.5m.
  • The 92-room Clybaun Hotel in Knocknacarra, Galway is to get a €1m refurbishment after Tom O’Gorman purchased it for €3m.
  • Peter Wilson is to move from White’s Hotel in Wexford to Mount Juliet. Mount Juliet Conrad, a 58-room fine leisure resort situated on a 1,500 acre traditional Irish sporting estate. Antony Treston, GM of Mount Juliet is going to the Lyrath in nearby Kilkenny.
  • European hotels that set higher rates than their competitors benefit from higher RevPAR despite lower occupancy rates, according to Competitive Hotel Pricing in Europe: An Exploration of Strategic Positioning by Cathy A Enz, Linda Canina and Jean-Pierre van der Rest. The price positioning effect was stronger for branded hotels but was also found in independent properties.
  • As reported in last week’s Sunday Supplement, Qatar Airways purchased the Sheraton Skylin hotel in London. It is the first hotel Qatar Airways bought outside of Qatar, where it owns the Oryx Rotana Hotel in Doha and the Hamad International Airport Hotel.
  • Dalata bought the Holiday Inn in Belfast for €25.6m.
  • Z Hotels opened its fourth London hotel in Shoreditch.
  • Marriott International will allow guests to pay for stays at selected hotels with Apple Pay. Contactless readers will be installed at front desks and guests will be able to pay at check in using their iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or Apple Watch.
  • Guests who stay in any Dorsett Hotels & Resorts property in Hong Kong will receive a complimentary smartphone to use for the duration of their stay.
  • NH Hotel Group has added the NH Brussels Carrefour de l’Europe to its portfolio in Europe brining NH Hotels in Brussels to seven and is in line with the company’s five-year business plan announced in 2014.
  • Hilton opened the Hampton hotel in Newcastle upon Tyne, opposite Newcastle Central Station.
  • Park Hyatt Zanzibar opened, the first Hyatt on the Tanzanian island and the 36th Park Hyatt worldwide.
  • Aloft New Orleans Downtown opened.
  • Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas has announced that it will develop a resort in the southwest of Bali at Uluwatu, a 35-minute drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport.
  • Independent hoteliers should focus on local marketing and drive guests to their direct channels wrote Joshua Meehan in an article: the fight against the OTAs starts at check-in.
  • Brad Wilson of Ace Hotel group put their success down to picking “cool places.”

International

Irish visits to the USA were up 7.6pc last year to 395,037, according to the US Department of Commerce.

  • A report by the Westminster government recommended that Visit England and Visit Britain should separate, with Visit England focusing on domestic tourism marketing while Visit Britain delivering international campaigns.
  • Carnival Corp appointed Marie McKenzie as vice president of global destinations services and sourcing.
  • Members of the Lufthansa frequent flyer programme Miles & More can earn double award miles when renting a Budget vehicle up until June 30.
  • A skier was injured when a light aircraft hit her on the slopes. The single propeller aircraft experienced a difficult take off from a runway in Avoriaz, France.
  • The Global Travel Group will hold its 2016 overseas conference in Dubai.
  • Northampton based over 50s insurance specialist Staysure will launch a travel agency, Staysure Holidays, this summer.
  • To celebrate the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Kensington Hotel launched a Fashion Forward Afternoon Tea, which costs £35pp and includes handcrafted cakes, pastries and sandwiches inspired by McQueen’s designs. The hotel is also offering a 1-night B&B Fashion Forward package priced from £315 per room based on two sharing incl. afternoon tea for two and one copy of a book on the exhibition, available March 14 to August 2.
  • A group of 50 Belgian tourists were taken on a 750-mile detour thanks to a satnav error by a bus driver. The driver was supposed to bring the group to the French ski resort of La Plagne, but the driver accidentally selected La Plagne village in south west France. The skiers eventually arrived at their original destination – 24 hours late.
  • Tourists in Greece were invited make a little money on their holidays by going undercover and exposing tax dodgers.
  • Travelport announced a new content agreement with hotel group Accor.
  • Monaco Tourist Authority and British Airways launched the Passport to Monte Carlo offer. BA passengers will be offered a complimentary helicopter transfer from Nice to Monaco during the winter season and from Monaco to Nice during the summer season. The offer also includes entrance coupons to selected museums and attractions.
  • One tourist was killed and two injured when a grey whale crashed into a sightseeing boat near Mexico.
  • The 3km Caminito del Rey path, long considered the most dangerous walkway in the world, will reopen to the public this Easter after it closed 14 years ago.

Food & Wine

NI Year of FoodTourism Northern Ireland announced that 2016 will be the Year of Food. The announced was made by tourism minister Arlene Foster at Tourism NI’s annual conference, which was attended by 200 delegates. Picture shows Tourism NI chariman Howard Hastings, Tourism minister Arlene Foster and actor James Nesbitt.

Margaret Jeffares Good Food Ireland 2Margaret Jeffares the Founder of Good Food Ireland has been invited by President Obama to the White House for St Patrick’s Day Celebrations on Tuesday next, March 17th 2015.

The Irish Beer and Whiskey Festival in Dublin’s RDS continues until St Patrick’s Day on Tuesday offering a wide range of over 100 local craft beers and ciders, as well as a greater selection of Irish whiskey, and Irish artisan food stalls.muckross munier00006

Nick Munier, best known from Masterchef Ireland showcased his new Dublin Restaurant Avenue by Nick Munier at Muckross Park Hotel last weekend. The tasting Menu designed by Nick Munier. offered a cream of cauliflower soup, truffle oil with cheese straw, followed by tartare of salmon, spicy avocado with toast followed by celeriac remoulade with prosciutto, followed by poached cod with clams with herb butter nage followed by The Avenue 60 day aged rib eye burger by Higgins butchers, brioche bun, beef tomato, pickle, mustard aioli and fries followed by tarte fine of apples, butterscotch sauce with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Picture shows Nick with Nick Munier and Head Chef John O’Leary. The hotel also has the AA Rosette winning Yew Tree Restaurant as well as The Jarvey’s Rest Traditional Irish Pub.

Aviation

Dublin Airport is to spend €20m on 10 new aircraft parking spaces and three new aircraft taxiing lanes at the northern end of the airfield, the largest single capital investment at Dublin Airport since the opening of Terminal 2. Dublin processed 1.5m passengers in February up 17pc, figures for the first two months of year were 2.9m, up 15pc.

Ryanair’s long awaited entry to the German domestic market sparked a war. Ryanair announced a four-times daily service to Berlin Schönefeld among seven new Cologne routes. Germanwings reponded by initiating three daily services to Schönefeld from both Cologne and Stuttgart (they already operate seven daily flights to Tegel) and Ryanair then increased frequencies from four to five daily. Ryanair is to increase frequency on 23 Stansted routes and begin services to Castellon and Ponta Delgada in winter 2015-16.

  • KLM plan to raise baggage fees by a reputed 25pc for passenger who purchase tickets on or after April 1, the lowest charge rising from €15 to €20 per piece.
  • Aer Lingus are suspending Shannon to Boston service for 10 days over Easter. citing that their Boeing 752 is needed at Dublin.
  • Easyjet is to introduce fast-track security for Plus members from March 19, at 34 airports including Belfast.
  • Norwegian’s pilots’ strike ended having left 200,000 passengers unable to fly when the majority of tocal Scandinavian services were cancelled.
  • Cork Airport unveiled its new brand on Tuesday.
  • Traffic in Irish airspace was up 8.7pc in February 2015. En route air traffic was up 9.2pc. Dublin traffic was up 11.2pc with an average 449 daily commercial movements. Cork was down 6.2pc with 43 average daily movements. Shannon was down 8.6pc with 37 average daily movements.
  • A new report said that mobile boarding passes will account for a third or all flights in five years. 745m boarding passes were delivered on mobile devices in 2014.
  • Boeing  announced it has sold half of the current 777s it plans to build in 2017.
  • Swiss Air Lines will start a Dublin-Geneva service from June 26, operating 4w using A320 aircraft.
  • IATA reported that the 2014 global jet accident rate was 0.23, which was the lowest rate in history and the equivalent of one accident for every 4.4m flights.
  • Michael O’Leary was listed number 18 on the Sindo‘s rich list.
  • Dublin based lessor Fly Leasing acquired an A321-200 aircraft on Monday.
  • EasyJet designed an app for the Apple Watch, which was officially launched on Monday and goes on sale April 24.
  • Avolon sold an A320 to Aircraft Leasing & Management in England.
  • It was reported that Boeing is showing airlines an ideas for the B737-8ERX, a long range B737 MAX 8 to compete with the A321LR.
  • Air France KLM is to increase its summer schedule capacity by 1.7pc. Transavia wil increase its schedule by 7.8pc.
  • Irish lessor Fly Leasing said it expects most of its acquisitions in 2015 to come via sale or leasebacks. It is also contracted to sell eight older B757s in 2015 as the leases run out.
  • Qatar Airways is to expand its codeshare with Japan Airlines on 28 routes to/from Tokyo Haneda, beginning March 29.
  • Lufthansa said it expects consolidation to occur among European airlines and is ready to be part of it.
  • IAG is rumoured to be joining Qatar Airways on future joint purchases of aircraft and engines. The two companies may also widen their codeshare agreement.
  • Virgin postponed their B787-9 Dreamliner service to LAX from April 30 to a week later on May 5.
  • Aer Lingus Regional’s Kerry-Dublin route grew 59pc in February 2015 compared to the same period last year, the route’s 12th consecutive month of growth, fuelled in part by connecting traffic to North America via Dublin Airport’s transatlantic hub.
  • The Friends of Shannon Airport has formed with John Quinlivan as chairman, Sant Singh as vice chair, Joe Meaney as secretary; and Donna Marie O’Neill as treasurer.
  • Boeing is to upgrade the B777 to be delivered from Q3 2016 with room for 14 extra seats.
  • A flight attended is suing Korean Air and the imprisoned former executive, Heather Cho, over the nut rage incident.
  • Etihad Airways marked its fifth year of service to Japan with VIP cocktail receptions in Tokyo and Nagoya.
  • A suitcase set off an unknown contents alarm at La Guardia airport last Tuesday. What was inside? A 7 year old beige and tan chihuahua. The passenger said the dog must have crawled in while she was packing for a flight to LA.

Afloat

Dublin is to get 86 cruise ship calls this year with three further calls to Dun Laoghaire. A further 17 ships will dock in the bay and passengers will be tendered off.

Royal Caribbean’s newest and largest cruise ship Harmony of the Seas will spend the start of the 2016 summer season sailing from Barcelona and Rome, visiting Palma, Florence and Naples. Independence of the Seas will return to Southampton in 2016.

Anthem of the Seas started its journey to Eemshaven in the Netherlands on the North Sea from the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenberg where it was built The 26-mile trip on the Ems River backward, guided by two tugboats. The ship only has a few inches of clearance on either side, moving slowly at 2-3 knots, the same walking pace as a 40-year-old man. According to an Anthem Conveyance Infographic released by Royal Caribbean, wind speeds must be 20 knots or less, tidal barriers must be closed and there needs to be either a full or new moon. Bridges along the river were lifted out of the way by crane to allow the ship to pass. Anthem will undergo sea trials before its launch next month in Southampton.

  • Virgin is set to order its first two cruise ships, according to Richard Branson. Construction is expected to take five years at a cost of $1.7bn. Meanwhile, former Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Colin Veitch is suing Branson for allegedly stealing his idea to enter the luxury cruise industry.
  • Holland America Line has delayed the launch date for its newbuild ship Koningsdam by six weeks until March 31, 2016. Koningsdam will now depart on its first cruise, a seven-day round trip sailing from Civitavecchia, Italy (Rome), on April 8, 2016.
  • Gloria Hunniford renamed Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ newest ship, the 1,250-passenger Magellan, on Thursday, boosting the fleet size to four.
  • England’s Queen Elizabeth named P&O Cruises’ newest ship Britannia in Southampton speaking the customary words: “may God bless her and all who sail in her,” before pressing the button to release a Nebuchadnezzar of sparkling English wine (the equivalent of 20 bottles), to smash against the side of the ship. The Regimental Band of the Irish Guards and band of the Royal Marines then played as she departed.
  • Lindblad Expeditions has floated on the stock exchange and ordered two new ships to debut in 2017 and 2018.
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises will feature a French restaurant, called Chartreuse on its newest cruise ship to debut in summer 2016, Seven Seas Explorer.
  • Cruise Shipping Miami opens on Monday. Galway harbour host a St Patrick’s Day party at the event.
  • Princess Cruises announced a collaboration with the Oscar-winning Broadway and film composer, Stephen Schwartz. Schwartz will write four musicals that will be performed across the fleet over the next few year. The first is called Magic To Do.

Deal Watch

Tourism NI offers of the week: 2 nights B&B for two at the Atlantic Hotel, Portrush from £150 incl. one evening meal, available Sundays to Fridays only, May 1 to September 30, call 028 7082 3539 to book. 1 night B&B at Whistledown Hotel, Warrenpoint, Newry from £50pps incl. one 3 course evening meal in the Bistro restaurant, available Sundays to Thursdays until March 31, call 028 4175 4174 to book.Ramada Da Vinci’s Hotel in Derry is offering 10pc off 2-night stays and 15pc off 3-night stays until December 31, call 028 7127 9111 to book.

  • Lowcostbeds offers: Half board Hotel Hesperia Sabinal, Roquestas de Mar, Almeria from €25pppn, room only €18pppn. B&B Vila Gale Hotel, Cascais from €56pppn. B&B Hotel Cidela, Cascais from €34pppn. B&B Hotel Cavalieri Art, St Julian’s, Malta from €51pppn. B&B Il Palazzin, Qawra, Malta from €20pppn. Based on 7 night stay, 2 sharing, depart May 27.
  • Thomson is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Dublin to Iberotel Palace, Sharm El Sheikh from €879pp based on two sharing, depart May 28.
  • Falcon is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Dublin to Coral Sea Water World, Sharm El Sheikh from €2,109 for two adults and one child and from €2,959 for two adults and two children, depart May 28.
  • Topflight‘s Adriatic Riviera summer offers: 7 nights half board Hotel Bagli, Rimini from €729pps. 7 nights half board Hotel Panorama, Cattolica from €679pps. 7 nights half board Hotel Golf, Riccione from €659pps. All prices include return flights ex Dublin, return transfers, luggage allowance and rep service.
  • Topflight is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Secrets Silversands Riviera, Cancun, Mexico from €2,049pps incl. junior suite tropical view room, transfers, taxes and return flights. To book, visit topflight.ie or call 01 2401 788.
  • Travel Department city breaks offers: 4 nights B&B Dublin to Clip Hotel or Hotel Black Tulip, Porto from €379pp incl.taxes, guided city tour, transfer on arrival and wine tasting, travel on selected dates in May and September. 3 nights B&B Dublin to Bellevue Park Hotel, Riga from €349pp incl. taxes, transfer on arrival and guided city tour, depart April 20 or 27. 3 nights B&B Dublin to Hotel Gelmirez, Santiago from €379pp incl. taxes, transfer on arrival and city tour, travel on selected dates in April and October.  5 nights B&B Dublin to Sokos Hotel Olympia Garden, St Petersburg from €699pp incl. taxes and charges, transfer on arrival, half day guided tour of St Petersburg, half day guided tour to Catherine’s Palace and a guided visit to the Hermitage Museum, depart May 5 or October 22. Visit traveldepartment.ie to book or call 01 637 1600.
  • Click and Go offers: 3 nights in Residence du Park Hotel, Disneyland Paris from €959 for two adults and one child incl. double or twin room, return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, depart May 1. 3 nights B&B in Asmali Hotel, Istanbul from €389pp incl. double room, return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, depart May 1. 7 nights in Santana Hotel, St Paul’s Bay, Malta from €289pp incl. double room, return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in April. 7 nights in the Senator Banus Spa Hotel, Estepona, Costa del Sol from €399pp incl. double or twin room, return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in April. 7 nights self catering in the Estrela do Vau Aparthotel, Praia do Vau, the Algarve from €829 for two adults and one child incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in May. Visit clickandgo.com to book or call 01 637 1699.
  • Sunway offers: 4 nights in Circus Circus hotel, Las Vegas from €689pp, depart May 19. UFC Fight Night – 4 nights in the Stratosphere Hotel Casino, Las Vegas from €1,249pp, depart July 9. 7 nights in Fariones Hotel from €669pp incl. return airport transfers, taxes charges, 20kg checked baggage pp and Sunway rep service, depart Dublin or Cork, travel May and June.
  • Sunway‘s 5 day sale ends Tuesday (March 17): 7 nights Tunisia from €349pp, Morocco from €369pp, Bulgaria from €399pp, Lanzarote from €399pp, Gran Canaria from €399pp, Sicily from €399pp, Fuerteventura from €399pp, Tenerife from €399pp, Majorca from €399pp, Turkey from €399pp, Menorca from €449pp, Algarve from €429pp, Sorrento from €499pp and Lisbon Coast from €499pp. Travel in June, prices include flights, return airport transfers, taxes, charges, 20kg checked baggage pp and Sunway rep service.
  • Irish Ferries is offering 7 nights to Hafan Y Mor, Wales for €1,224 for up to six people staying in a Superior or Deluxe caravan inclusive of return car ferry travel, depart July 13, book before April 30.

Ireland

Fáilte Ireland has invited entries for the EDEN competition. Held every two years, this year’s theme is Tourism and Local Gastronomy. The winning destination will receive a promotional photo shoot to market itself as well as €5,000 to use to highligh its attractions. The winning entry will also represent Ireland at an exhibition in Brussels later this year. Eligible destinations: Small destinations with lower visitor numbers in comparison to the national average; destinations that offer authentic tourism experiences; and destinations that have a well-developed gastronomy that is characteristic of the region. To enter, email eden.helpdesk@failteireland.ie or contact the local regional tourism office. Closing date: Wednesday, April 8.

Atlantic Sea Kayaking and Wild Atlantic Walks in Cork was the overall winner at the inaugural Irish Responsible Tourism Awards. The full list of winners: Best Tour Operator — Connemara Wild Escapes. Best Small Hotel or Accommodation — Hotel Doolin. Best Transport Initiative — An Taisce Green Schools Travel and Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark Partnership. Best in a Marine or Coastal Environment — Dolphin Watch, Co Clare. Best Destination — Loop Head Peninsula. Best Cultural Heritage Attraction — Cnoc Suain, Co Galway. Best Local Food Initiative — Archways B&B, Wexford. Best Adventure Activity Provider — Atlantic Sea Kayaking and Wild Atlantic Walks.

  • New CSO figures showed that 7.6m overseas visitors came to Ireland in 2014, spending €4.68bn.
  • Fáilte Ireland announced that Dublin will host three international conferences: Life Cycle Assessment of Foods Conference, October 2016, 450 delegates. International Network of Basin Organisations European Conference on the Water Framework Directive, November 2017, 750 delegates. Fire Safety for All in Buildings Conference, April 2016, 200 delegates.
  • Minister Michael Ring announced funding is being sought under the Community Tourism Initiative for the Diaspora, launched last year, which aims to build on the legacy of The Gathering 2013.

4Clare County Council announced that it will lead an initiative to promote Clare as a county of culture for 2016 to coincide with Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, which takes place in Ennis in August 2016. Picture shows Rory Casey, Abbey Branch of Comhaltas, Gerard Dollard, Director of Service Clare County Council; Tom Coughlan, Chief Executive Clare County Council, Cathaoirleach, Cllr. John Crowe, Frank Whelan, Micheal O Riabhaigh and Joe Arkins all of the Abbey Branch of Comhaltas outside the headquarters of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann in Monkstown for the Ard Chomhairle vote on the Fleadh.

TOURISM EVENT (3) IN HOUSE OF LORDS KICKS OFF PROGRAMME OF ST PATRICK’S 2015 CELEBRATIONSMinister of State for Foreign Affairs Seán Sherlock hosted a Tourism Ireland sponsored reception in the Hotel of Lords in London on Tuesday to kick off the global greening on St Patrick’s Day.

St Patrick’s Cathedral is offering free entry to anyone named Patrick, Patricia, Padraig, Pat, Paddy — or any variation, we’re sure — on St Patrick’s Day.

SHOWTIME FOR IRELAND IN TORONTOTourism Ireland sponsored the opening film at the Toronto Irish Film Festival, Standby, and the closing film Rebuilding the World Trade Center, together with the Northern Ireland Bureau. A trailer promoting Ireland was showd ahead of all the screenings throughout the festival. Picture shows actor Brian Gleeson, star of Standby, with the TIRFF team and Dana Welch of Tourism Ireland, at the opening night of the Toronto Irish Film Festival.

TOURISM IRELAND WINS TOP AWARD FOR BEST LEARNING ORGANISATION – MEDIUM ENTERPRISESTourism Ireland  won the award for best learning organisation — medium enterprises at the IITD National Training Awards 2015 in the Killashee House Hotel, Naas.

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is offering free entry on March 17 for everybody named Patricks or Patricia.

The 2015 100 Best series by John and Sally McKenna were published in app format this week. The apps list the accommodation and food places in Ireland selected by the McKennas (somewhat controversially), available on iTunes and Google Play for €2.99 each.

Russborough House reopens this Saint Patrick’s Weekend.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Ryanair’s Slimmer Seats & Achtung Hotel Prices

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Mark Henry of Tourism Ireland (on right) speaking at the Digital Marketing Forum at ITB Berlin with Doug Lansky, Nick Hall and Inga Hlin Paladottir, Mar 4-6 2015

Mark Henry of Tourism Ireland (on right) speaking at the Digital Marketing Forum at ITB Berlin with Doug Lansky, Nick Hall and Inga Hlin Paladottir, Mar 4-6 2015

  • Ryanair lose the yellow and slim the seats
  • Germany tells Dublin hotels to watch the hotel rates
  • Doubletree looks for more opportunities in Ireland
  • Salou experience launched in Dublin
  • 83 confirmed exhibitors for Irish Travel Industry Trade Show in April

Travel Extra TV

Our video of the week shows the lively party on board a boat in the Sea of Galilee from the recent fam trip to Istanbul and the Holy Video of week March 8Land, in association with Turkish Airlines. Watch here. See headlines for more.

  • Willie Walsh talks about IAG’s performance in 2014. Watch here.
  • Aer Lingus chief technology officer Ravi Simhambhatla talks about IT and tech opportunities at the airline at the recent Career Zoo event. Watch here.
  • Footage from the easyJet Business Travel Show: Watch here.
  • Emirates put together a video showcasing the results of a study measuring its contribution to the European economy. Watch here.
  • CGI hoax of the week features a naked man escaping from Buckingham Palace. Crown jewels anyone? And check out the reaction of the Irish guy on the sequel.

Headlines

ITAA CEO Pat Dawson and President Martin Skelly.Eighty three exhibitors have confirmed for Citywest on April 24-25 with a waiting list for the Irish Travel Industry Trade Show, which will be the biggest Travel Trade Show ever staged in Ireland and the only B2B event on the island guaranteed to bring together every aspect of the industry. The show will coincide with the ITAA AGM and front line staff will be bussed in from all parts of Ireland for a programme of social events and networking over two days. For the first time, a Trade Show for travel industry professionals will bring together owner/managers and front line staff alike from all over Ireland to meet suppliers and hear about their products. Picture shows Martin Skelly, President, and Pat Dawson CEO of the ITAA. See list of exhibitors here.

kenny jacobs michael o'leary copyPassengers are getting wider but Ryanair seats are getting slimmer. Having decided it is time to lose the yellow, Ryanair also decided to slim their seats, adding a new meaning to the phrase “cutting the fat”. Michael O’Leary hosted travel media in the Hospital Club in London’s Royal Opera House on Wednesday to tell them that Ryanair is to end its most draconian fees and new aircraft interiors will be roomier, airier, and gentler on the eye.  Ryanair say slimmer seats will give passengers more space and it will also increase capacity. Kenny Jacobs (pictured with Michael O’Leary) says the seat width of 17 inches will not be affected. “It means slimline seats that have less bulk and therefore give each customer more space. I’ve sat in them and they are more comfortable and spacious. The current model has a lot of bulk. I believe the seat is slightly more ‘accommodating’ as well as giving a bigger space between the seat in front.” Slim-line seats are made with lighter weight materials and include less cushioning. Southwest Airlines used slim-line seats to add another row of six seats across on every flight. The dreaded airport check-in fee, which Ryanair say is paid by only 0.5pc of customers, will drop from €70 to €45. The missed departure charge will be reduced from €110 to €99. The airline will also allow customers to cancel a flight within 24 hours of booking in future, for a fee of €15. A new €5 Hold the Fare charge will be introduced for customers who would like to reserve a seat for 24 hours before committing to the purchase. Fliers will be able to pre-order breakfast over the web on some key routes. “We don’t want to be loved — just liked a bit more,” Michael O’Leary said. Later this year, the website will be amended so travel insurance is not automatically selected for customers and real time airline fare comparisons will be live on ryanair.com. O’Leary said he wanted to turn the airline into a travel retailer, specialising in flights. He said it would use the new Ryanair app to sell more products to customers, especially events at destinations. Other planned changes include customer reviews on its website, which will be shared via social media and retail partnerships to offer passengers more value.

carol anneTourism minister Paschal Donohoe joined the Ireland stand at ITB Berlin on Wednesday after a lunch for key tour operators serving the Irish market. Dertours are the major trade partner for Ireland (with TUI, Trent and Servis also prominent), but all could be about to change with Ryanair’s moves into Germany, telegraphed somewhat by the presence of Carol Anne O’Neill of Ryanair at the show. Carol Anne is pictured with Christian Rubel of Tourism Ireland. Christian Rubel said up to 40pc of Irish visitors come through the trade (listen here) and were important for marketing Ireland (listen here). He said German figures would be raised to 750,000 visitors and possibly 1m, but a number of things would have to happen first (listen here). German people were interested in coming to Ireland and the people factor led to a high repeat business (listen here) and stressed the importance of access along with marketing (listen here). See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Mark henry_7650Speakers at the extensive ITB seminar programme included Mark Henry of Tourism Ireland at the digital forum and Kenny Jacobs of Ryanair at the ITB Market and Distribution Day.  Mark Henry was asked by moderator Nick Hall about Airbnb, and said that while it was an unregulated sector and Tourism Ireland could not promote unregulated accommodation, the body was looking for guidance through revised legislation from the government. Listen here to the Digital Shuffle, Mark Henry’s presentation. Listen here to American travel writer Doug Lansky, listen here to Inga Hlin Palsdottir of Iceland tourism and listen here to the question and answer session which included a stern difference of opinion about the role of tourism body websites.

mary farrellMany of the USA delegation experienced high drama getting to the event. Top of the Rock marketeer Mary Farrell’s flight on Sunday were delayed by eight hours because of an ice storm and one ITB bound colleague went home to Manhattan. Dianna Vaughan of the Hilton group’s new brand Curio said their aircraft was four hours on the tarmac being repeatedly de-iced at Newark. Picture shows Ken Barrows of Leisure Pass North America and Mary Farrell of Top of the Rock at ITB.

tim fenn_1188Some German tour operators complained at ITB about hikes in Dublin city centre hotel prices. A little light was shed on the controversy over group rates in Dublin hotels by Tim Fenn CEO of the Irish Hotels Federation, speaking to Travel Extra in the margins of ITB. He said that Dublin hotels had changed their business model in response to the influx of new business tourists attracted by the Conference Centre. Group rates which were offered to coach parties had been unprofitably low, and hotels were now looking elsewhere. He said there was little prospect of further hotel development within the canals because of the potential for business and residential property delivering a higher yield although there is adequate hotel accommodation outside the city centre. Picture shows Tim Fenn of the Irish Hotels Federation, Niall Gibbons CEO of Tourism Ireland and Bernard Loughran CEO of Sixt Ireland at ITB.IMG_7670

The Hilton Group hosted travel media on the 31st floor of the Waldorf Astoria in Berlin, where journalists were told that the group has more hotel rooms open and more hotel rooms under construction than any other hotel group. From August, complimentary Wi-Fi access will be available to loyalty club members who book direct with Hilton. The 4,100 hotels will have digital check-in and by the end of the year customers will be able to use their smartphone to go straight to their rooms. “That is just the beginning of the future,” John Vanderslice (pictured) global head of luxury hotels, said that Hilton opened 1,350 hotels in 79 countries last year (listen here). At the luxury end, Waldorf Astoria has gone from five hotels seven years ago to 50 hotels including the Conrad brand. Canopy was introduced as a brand this year. Hilton’s Curio will add Reichshof Hamburg and Rumeli Han Istanbul to its portfolio in 2015 and 2017.

Hilton_1210John Greenleaf of Doubletree by Hilton told Travel Extra the group was seeking further investment opportunities in Ireland following the Morrison and the former Burlington Hotel. He revealed that the previous owners of the Burlington Hotel wanted to sell the name separately so the group had to change the name to the more cumbersome Doubletree by Hilton on Burlington Road. Picture shows Gregor Andréewitch, GM of the Waldorf Astoria Berlin, and John Vanderslice, global head of luxury hotels, addressing the media at the event.

Holy land baptismThree years ago Niall Glynn of Croatia Tours expanded his Marian Pilgrimages business to the United States. A measure of the success of the expansion, they hosted 34 group leaders and travel media on a fam trip to Istanbul and the Holy Land, in association with Turkish Airlines. Picture shows Eleanor Goggin of the Sunday Independent, Joe Supple of East Coast FM, Nadine O’Regan of The Sunday Business Post and Onur Gul of Turkish Airlines watching the baptism vow renewal at the River Jordan.holy land watching baptism See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook. The party toured Galilee, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Watch here video of the baptism ritual, watch here the song after the marriage renewal, and, to prove pilgrimages are not all prayer and meditation, watch here some wine tasting with a difference in Cana (100 metres from the reputed site of the “water into wine” miracle) and see our  video of the week for footage of the lively party onboard a boat in the Sea of Galilee. For the Istanbul leg of the trip, see more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Rathgar travel launches SalouJames Malone’s Rathgar Travel launched the Salou Experience in the Drury Buildings. Listen here to James Malone introducing the programme, which includes 3-day passes pp to PortAventura, return transfers from Reus Airport (€15 extra from Barcelona) and accommodation. Flights are not included. 7 nights half board available for under €700 for two adults and two children travelling in May. Maria Targa Montserrat of Salou Tourist Board presented all Salou has to offer, while Coro Miguel of PortAventura talked about the resort’s €125m investment in expanding its parks over the last five years. This year sees Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna make its European debut at PortAventura. Next year will see the opening of the Ferrari park and hotel. Picture shows Paul Dawson, Maria Targa Montserrat, James Malone, Martin Skelly, Xavier Garset and Gonzalo Ceballos. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Nashville CVCNashville CVC hosted the travel trade and press at an event in Dublin’s Liquor Rooms. A suitable setting, as the Irish have two things in common with the folks in Tennessee, said Deana Ivey: A love of booze and a love of music. There was plenty of both on the night, with award winning songwriters Jon Randall and Jessi Alexander, who have penned tracks for Miley Cyrus and Alison Krauss, keeping the punters entertained as they sipped a refreshing whiskey punch. Heather Middleton of Nashville CVC spoke to Travel Extra‘s Conor McMahon about how Irish people share a kinship with Nashville when it comes to music (listen here), the best things to do in Nashville (listen here) and how the Irish palate might have to adjust to Nashville’s speciality hot chicken (listen here). Picture shows Dan Rogers of Grand Ole Opry, Lauel Bennett of Nashville CVC, Deana Ivey of Nashville CVC, Nashville songwriter Jon Randall, Nashville songwriter Jessi Alexander, Heather Middleton of Nashville CVC, Wayne Chandler of Grand Ole Opry, and Brad Hinton of the Country Hall of Fame Museum. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

960297_10152696260522727_2027467956501439144_nThe Hills Balfour PR team hosted the Irish travel press at a relaxed afternoon tea in The Merrion Hotel as part of their regional roadshow. Picture shows Grace Armitage, Tryphavana Cross and Daniela Resenterra, who showcased Hills Balfour’s newest clients, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, Gambia Tourism Board and Mercator Travel. Over a tiered selection of Battenberg, muffins, scones and sandwiches, Daniela Afternoon tea with Hills Balfour the MerrionResenterra introduced Kenya Tourism Board’s upcoming Safaricom marathon and half marathon, which takes place June 27 in Lewa. Participants are invited to share the route with giraffes, zebras and elephants in the open savannah – a startling difference from the barriers and concrete of city marathons. Meanwhile, Mauritius will host the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open golf tournament on May 7-10 as the island is looking to develop itself as a big golf and active destination. Those who are looking for fun in Florida other than Orlando are encouraged to visit Fort Lauderdale, which is the go-to place for those looking to do a bit of celeb spotting and is a great destination for gay travellers too.

k_club_5Prince Albert of Monaco and Michael Smurfit are pictured laying the sod at the 70-room extension of the K Club in Straffan, bring the total to 139. GM Michael Davern said the extension is an indication that the golf business is not performing as it used to and the hotel business is performing better than it used to. He said that having only 69 rooms was a handicap for the K Club as it tried to compete for corporate business in the five-star sector.

Interest among international buyers in IPW 2015 in Orlando is pacing with the record levels at Las Vegas in 2013, when the current record of 6,400 delegates attended. Cathy Keefe spoke to Travel Extra at ITB about plans for the show which will feature parties at Disney and Universal Orlando. The number of press at ITB is approaching 400, with 479 in Vegas and 472 in Chicago.The 30 or so Irish delegates will cathy_1047be hosted at the Hyatt-Regency Grand Cypress, famous for the Ben Dunne snort-spree in 1992 followed by is threat to jump from the 17th floor. Picture shows Michael Martin and Cathy Keefe of the US Travel Industry Association at ITB.

IMG_0390Some readers experienced technical problems accessing Mary McAleese’s splendid speech to the Irish Hotel Federations conference in the Sliabh Russell Hotel in Ballyconnell last week. The speech was arguable the best in the long and eloquent history of the IHF gala dinner. Listen here for an audio version.

Travel Trade

Niall McDonnell BW-5x7Red Sea Holidays, headed up in Ireland by Niall MacDonnell, has been granted a tour operator license by CAR. Red Sea intends operating to Sharm El Sheikh this summer using seats on the Falcon charter commencing May 21 and continuing until October 22.

Visit Wales and Welsh Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates hosted trade and media for St David’s Day at Glencairn, the residence of British Ambassador Dominick 2MG_5117Chilcott.

The trading name Independent.ie Travel has been listed by P&P Associates, Patteson Court, Nutfield Road, Redhill, Surrey in England in their travel agency licence awarded by the Commission of Aviation Regulation. Atlantic Sky Team Tours, Unit 12, First Floor, Glenrock Business Park, Bothar na Mine, Galway, and Diversity Travel Ltd, Manchester One, 53 Portland Street, Manchester have been awarded travel agency licences by CAR. The trading name Independent Travel has been added to those of Linevana Ltd, which trades as Cassidy Travel. Stein Travel’s Tralee branch office has been changed to Lee Travel following the acquisition of Stein Travel by Lee Travel before Christmas.

Travelfox launched website FlyCork.ie in association with Cork Airport, offering exclusive packages from Cork Airport and is expected to sell inbound holidays for visiting tourists in the future.

ann marie dalton groupThe first outing in the Travel Industry Golf Society programme takes place Wednesday at Portmarnock Links sponsored by Turkish Airlines. Picture shows Anne Marie Dalton of Turkish Airlines with Audrey Headon of World Travel Centre and Gillian Lowry at the opening TIGS event of last season.

  • ClickandGo.com is seeking a Customer and Operations Executive. Closing date is Friday next March 13.
  • Travelport announced that it will add airport express services to travel agents using a plugin on its Travel Commerce Platform.
  • Francesco de Marchis was appointed chief technology office at lowcosttravelgroup.
  • Travelport announced a multi year full content agreement with LATAM Airlines Group.
  • Stephen McKenna featured in an Irish Independent profile: Atlas Travel “has moved with the times.”
  • Fosun purchased a stake in Thomas Cook.

Hotels

Boston-based Pyramid Hotel Group bought the 132 bedroom Temple Bar Hotel in central Dublin for €30m. The three-star premises also includes Busker’s Bar & Cafe and the Alchemy Night Club. The group’s 57 hotels include the Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles and the Westin Las Vegas.

kirsty rothwellKirsty Rothwell of DTZ Sherry FitzGerald said a weaker euro will boost hotel sales in Ireland on top of the 60 hotels sold in 2014 with a combined spend of €555m. The Crystal Collection of seven hotels in Leinster and Munster are on sale for a combined €35m price tag. Ulster Bank is due to bring a portfolio of pubs and hotels, Project Coney to the market. DTZ said US purchasers accounted for 87pc of the foreign spend or €275m of the hotel assets. Europeans 5pc and Asians 3pc. Dublin accounted for 59pc of purchaser spend, the South West 11pc, South East 10pc, Shannon 8pc, Midlands East 7pc, the West 4pc and the North West 1pc.

Prior to ITB the 18th International Hotel Investment Forum attracted 2,000 delegates from 70 countries to the Hotel InterContinental in Berlin. Elizabeth Winkle of STR Global noted Europe had seen 18 months of consecutive RevPAR growth and demand in Europe was back to that seen in the early 2000s.

  • Ireland’s Blue Book confirmed Sea View House in Sligo, has been awarded 5 Stars from Fáilte Ireland in the Individual Self-Catering Cottage category.
  • A report by Grant Thornton finds that the hotel industry lags behind others in adopting technology to meet customer demand.
  • IHG is to develop 10 hotels in Germany by 2019, to be branded Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. They will add 1,700 rooms to Germany’s current development pipeline of 4,000 rooms.
  • Holiday Inn Express unveiled their new design with wider beds, smart TVs for streaming and the removal of work desks.
  • A report by Grant Thornton finds that the hotel industry lags behind others in adopting technology to meet customer demand.
  • HVS annual European Hotel Transactions report, said European hotel transaction volumes rise to a total of €14.4bn, up 86pc on 2013 and highest the onset of the financial crisis. The 2015 European Hotel Valuation Index saw a fifth consecutive year of value growth.
  • Marriott plans to have 150,000 rooms in Europe by 2020, up from the 40,000 rooms it operated in 2010, with 70pc of new rooms to come from select service and luxury lifestyle brands including Moxy Hotels, Courtyard.
  • Chinese company Jin Jiang International bought the 1,100-hotel Louvre portfolio from Starwood to create a 2,300-plus hospitality company.
  • Preferred Hotel Group rebranded as Preferred Hotels & Resorts. Irish members include Domoland, the Dylan, the Europe, the Fitzwilliam, and the K Club. Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ 650 properties are organised into five collections.
  • Starwood opened Le Méridien New Orleans, following a $29m conversion of the former W Hotel. Starwood is to open 40 hotels in Europe in five years, a portfolio increase of 30pc.
  • Staybridge Suites Chihuahua opened in Mexico. InterContinental opened Staybridge Suites Chihuahua following an investment of more than US$11m.
  • Las Alcobas, a former residence nestled in the sophisticated Polanco district of Mexico, opened this week.
  • Qatar Airways is to move into the hotel business.
  • The Jumeirah Group will open its second hotel in Turkey in Bodrum on May 1.
  • The Grosvenor House hotel on London’s Park Lane was put up for sale this week after its owner defaulted on its debt.
  • Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts announced that Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Mauritius will be taking reservations on March 30 for stays starting from November 1.
  • Mandarin Oriental launched an investigation after hackers stole credit card data from card processing systems at some hotels in Europe and the US.
  • B2B hotel distribution technology provider Hotelzon appointed Emrah Sezgin as sales manager in Norway, Rui Miguel da Silva Fachadas as sales manager in Portugal and Linda Lennard as sales manager in London. Mathias Andersson was appointed COO.
  • A hotels.com survey claimed Dublin prices on their site have risen 10pc. The Irish Hotels Federation disputed this quoting the CSO figure of 5pc and saying hotels.com account for less than 2pc of hotel bookings in Ireland.

International

ski cable carThe Ciampinoi cable car in Val Gardena in the Dolomites ground to a halt after a huge tree was blown over onto the cable on Thursday. Around 200 skiers were winched to safety from cable cars buffeted by 130 Km/h winds.

Yet more snow has fallen across the Alps, with fantastic conditions being reported across the mountain range. The snow petered out in the west on Thursday but was still falling across Austria further east. Strong north-easterly wind hampered lift operations in many resorts. There was more fresh snow to report in the Pyrenees on Thursday 5th March, with around 20cm of dry powder at most resorts. Lots of fresh snow in the Rockies as well, with heavy falls recorded in Colorado and California.

The Historial Jeanne d’Arc opens March 21 in Rouen, a museum over five levels with 1,000sqm of exhibition space.

A survey by Topdeck Travel suggests women are most likely to upload selfies in front of famous landmarks, while men prefer to broadcast adventurous activity updates. The average holiday maker uploads 27 photos during and after a holiday, according to a poll of 2,000 people.

  • India Tourism in London partnered with Culture Aangan Holidays, to launch a new Rural Tourism campaign.
  • Skiers were stranded in the French Alps last weekend after a 50-tonne boulder cut off the road to Val Thorens and Les Menuires.
  • ONYX Hospitality Group said it plans to operate 10 properties in India by 2022.
  • The London government is to sell its 40pc stake in Eurostar to Canadian-based Patina Rail LLP for £751.1m.
  • Japan is to promote ninja tourism as part of a new collaboration between tourist agencies and local governments.

Food and Wine

Galway Food Festival takes place this Easter bank holiday weekend, April 2-6. Chef Derry Clarke will open this year’s event, now in its fourth year. 70,000 punters and 100 chefs are expected to attend.

The Irish Beer and Whiskey Festival expects to attract 15,000 visitors to the RDS on St Patrick’s Week.

waldorf_1240We know you want to know what was served at the Waldorf Astoria in Berlin (by the hotel chain that invented red velvet cake, veal oscar and eggs benedict): pommes gaufrette filled with Berliner currywurst, Mignons of beef rocket salad and pommengranate, mini paupiette with baby chicken, canopy profiterole filled with duck mousse and apple chutney, rolled canopy with veal tenderloin and green sauce, Quinoa salad with mango and cilantro, Crayfish canneloni, spelt-canopy with goal cheese and sweet onion jam, rye bread crostini, Prager ham and quail egg, and grilled green asparagus and local ham.

Aviation

Ryanair has bought three additional Boeing 737s for delivery in early 2016, raising its total order to 183 737 NGs in addition to orders for 200 “Boeing MAX 200 aircraft which will bring its fleet to 520 aircraft and help it meet its target of 160m customers a year by 2024. The three new aircraft are valued at $280m.

IMG_1295 copyLufthansa innovations announced at ITB Berlin include FlyNet broadband internet service on board all long-haul flights and upgraded seats on all Lufthansa long-haul aircraft from the third quarter of this year with the latest cabins and state-of-the-art seats in every travel class. Three new prices are available for economy class eats, the low-cost “light” option with carryon luggage, “classic” with one piece of checked luggage and allocated seat, and flex option which allows rebooking. Lufthansa will add Tampa, Cancún, Panama, Malé and Mauritius to their schedule for winter 2014-5. Picture shows Lufthansa Chief Commercial Officer Jens Beschoff and head of communications Martin Riecken speaking in Das Meisterstick in Hausevogteiplatz in Berlin during ITB.

Cork airport got two new routes this week. Flybe are to start a 2w all year round service from Cork to Cardiff on June 6th, using a 118 seat Embraer 195 aircraft to operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Flybe will also serve Dublin as part of plans to open a Cardiff base and serve 11 destinations. CSA Czech Airlines is to fly Cork to Ibiza 2w from June 11 to September 21, a charter for Travelagent.ie which will add 8,000 seats to Cork Airport’s schedule.

Flybe plans to operate Dublin-Cardiff 6w from Jun 1 with 6 additional service ex CWL at 0630 from 31 Aug using an Embraer 195.

Swiss are to commence 4w from Dublin to Geneva on June 26 using an A319 leaving Geneva at 06.10 and Dublin at 08.00. Aer Lingus operate daily on the route.

Aer Lingus Regional/Stobart Air plan to re-launch Dublin-Doncaster 5w from May 29 using an ATR 42. The previous Aer Lingus Regional service ceased at the end of summer 2010.

Norwegian flights in Norway, Sweden and Denmark were grounded by a pilots’ strike, leading to the cancellation of almost all its local services. The 650 pilots are on strike in a dispute over pay. Industrial action began after talks broke down on Saturday, but those on strike increased from 70 to 650 on Wednesday. The pilots are striking in order to achieve a collective labour agreement with Norwegian’s parent company, instead of its local subsidiaries, and for the same employment terms to be put in place across Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Ryanair celebrates milestone of carrying 6 million passengers at Ireland West Airport KnockGlen Ford from Ballina who was travelling to East Midlands was the 6 millionth Ryanair passenger to fly through Ireland West Airport Knock and was presented with a pair of return flights to East Midlands. Knock was one of Ryanair’s first bases in 1987 and the airline opened two of its first English routes to Leeds/Bradford and Stansted in 1989. Picture shows Glen Ford, Lisa Buckley and Vicky Killoran of Ryanair, Martin Ford, Collette McDonnell of Ryanair,  Audrey Elliott, and Joe Gilmore of Ireland West Airport Knock.

The north’s Centre for Economic Policy recommended against the abolition in the region of Westminster’s air passenger duty “‘when the cost to the public finances is taken into consideration.” The report endorsed the London case that “targeted interventions” such as Westminster’s Regional Air Connectivity Fund “have the potential to present more appropriate options for securing economic benefits”.  Belfast International Airport Managing Director Graham Keddie claimed the report “fails to acknowledge the blatant and unique geographic challenge” faced by the north and described it as a “missed opportunity.

liam berneyWillie Walsh and Stephen Kavanagh met unions on Friday to discuss the IAG bid for Aer Lingus. Wilie Walsh propsed legally binding Registered Employment Agreements to copperfasten terms and conditions for employees. ICTU’s Liam Berney (pictured) said they had heard nothing to make them change their minds: “The Government, if they make a decision to proceed without the issues of the workers being addressed, they can obviously do so but I think that would have some consequences.” SIPTU’s Eoin Reidy said the meeting brought no new information. IMPACT’s Matt Staunton said he remained unconvinced. Union advisor Paul Sweeney argued that the state should buy Ryanair’s share and effectively renationalise. Willie Walsh told a Wings Club lunch that IAG is not a brand; rather it wants to retain brand equity. Consolidation was good for cost control and bargaining potential with suppliers. Michael O’Leary said at the Ryanair event in London “one of the big areas of discussion between ourselves and IAG would be what kind of competition remedies will IAG have to offer up to the European Commission to be able to allow a takeover to take place,” Economist Kevin O’Rourke asked: what is the problem that selling Aer Lingus is supposed to solve?

Liow Tiong Lai copyMalaysia’s transport minister Liow Tiong Lai told Reuters that Malaysia Airlines bean tracking the location of its long-haul flights every 15 minutes or less, a proposal put forward by the UN aviation agency after the disappearance of the carrier’s Flight MH370 a year ago, Some of the many theories about what happened: it crashed in southern Indian ocean after a hijack, technical or pilot error or a fly-by of the pilot’s home island of Penang, was accidentally shot down by the Americans during joint US-Thai military exercises in the South China Sea, was deliberately shot down by the Americans near Diego Garcia (fearing a 9-11 situation), was hijacked to Kazakhstan or Pakistan, was abducted by aliens and (wait for it) MH370 and MH17 were the same aircraft.

Cityjet Christine OurmièresSpeculation about CityJet has been muted since last week’s announcement that chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener is leaving the airline with immediate effect. She has headed the airline since succeeding Geoffrey O’Byrne-White in 2010. She had previously worked directly with Air France-KLM. Her departure comes just a few months after CityJet’s deputy chief executive and chief financial officer Michael Collins also suddenly resigned.

christoph mueller h&s iata 001Aer Lingus staff used to refer to him as “Herr Cut,” and Malaysian Airlines staff may adopt the moniker. Christoph Mueller assumed his position as CEO of Malaysian Airlines last Sunday, one week before the anniversary of the MH370, and announced plans on Monday to cut capacity by 10pc to focus on profitable domestic and regional routes and axe 6,000 of its 20,000 employees. Mueller, described as a “battle-hardened veteran” by Time magazine, plans to expand seats on Asian routes by 5pc and is reviewing European and Mideast routes with a view to ending some. Malaysian’s routes to the Middle East and Europe, which include the Irish favourite Amsterdam as well as London and Paris, were being “carefully evaluated” and could be discontinued if they did not contribute to group profitability. Malaysian Airlines will cease to operate by June 30 and operations will be migrated to a new airline, Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB), which starts on July 1. First cuts included a 25pc price cut for Brahim’s Holdings, holder of a 25-year RM6.25bn in-flight catering contract. This is the fifth attempt to restucture the airline since 2001.

  • Ryanair is to treble its Berlin Schonefeld operation with a new base from October 27 , the airline’s 73rd. The rumoured German domestic routes are not among the 16 new routes announced.
  • Aer Lingus passenger numbers dipped 0.9pc in February. Long haul grew 22pc but this was offset by short haul weakness (down 2.9pc).
  • Ryanair passenger numbers in February were up 29pc to 5.8m with load factor up 11 points to 89pc. The rolling 12 month total is 89.1m.
  • BMI regional announced that Peter Simpson will succeed Cathal O’Connell as CEO,
  • FLY Leasing sold three Boeing 737-800s.
  • JetBlue and Aer Lingus expanded their codeshare agreement.
  • Kevin Cullinane, Marketing manager of Cork Airport told Fiona Donnelly of Cork’s 96FM that they are engaging with 20 airlines about new routes for 2016.
  • Customers who book and fly with Flybe in March will get double Avios across the whole Flybe network.
  • Ethiopian Airlines won the Regional Airline award at the Air Transport World Airline Industry Achievement Awards in Washington DC.
  • BA’s upgrade to First ex Ireland offer ends March 13.
  • Eurowings revealed details of their new pricing at ITB, twice weekly services from Cologne to Dubai, Bangkok, Phuket, Varadero and Punta Cana, with two A330-200s flown by Sunexpress with one way fares of €99 to Dubai. Eurowings will cover Lufthansa traffic within Europe which is not touching the hubs:
  • The new look Loop at Dublin airport will be unveiled next Thursday.
  • The Air Finance conference returns to the Convention Centre Dublin January 18–20 2016 after its successful conference in January.
  • Ice storms caused the cancellation of 40pc of La Guardia on Thursday, according to flightaware.com
  • Emirates announced that it will launch a daily service from Dubai to Bali from June 3.
  • Turkish Airlines plans to add seven aircraft to its fleet in 2015. The carrier will not be operating an A380 this year.
  • Following the closure of its Facebook and YouTube accounts, US Airways stopped using its @USAirways Twitter account last weekend as part of its merger with American Airlines.
  • Qatar Airways will increase its inflight entertainment TV/movie channels from 950 to 2,000.
  • Flybe marked its 6th year operating Newquay to London Gatwick on St Piran’s Day (March 5) by having a group of Cornish singers serenade passengers.
  • Etihad Airways is to increase its Abu Dhabi to Tehran service from 3w to a daily service from April 15.
  • United Airlines CFO John Rainey said he would like to see a replacement for the B757. He said the A321neo had “issues”.
  • Lufthansa will operate a service from Frankfurt to Male in winter 2015, with A340.
  • Boeing handed 319 employees lay off notices in Washington. These jobs will be phased out at the end of April 5.
  • EasyJet is looking to use drones to quickly supply spares to grounded aircaft.
  • Avolon reported revenue was up 35pc in 2014 to $606m. The lessor reported the delivery of 41 owned and managed aircraft and the sale of nine aircraft in 2014. Avolon said this week that it believes Airbus is looking to get the lessor to order A321newoLR.
  • Avolon delivered an A321-200 to Philippine Airlines, the fifth aircraft on lease to the carrier.
  • Ethiopian Airlines won the Regional Airline of the Year Award at the Airline Industry Achievement Awards.
  • IAG reported February 2015 passenger numbers were up 8.0pc to 5m. Load factor was up 0.9 points to 76.2pc.
  • Irish lessor FLY Leasing sold three B737-800s for $137m.
  • Iberia‘s order of A330-200s will join the carrier’s long haul fleet 14 months earlier than planned, between December 2015 and November 2016.
  • Etihad are to fly their A380 to New York on flights EY103/102, one of two Etihad daily services between Abu Dhabi and JFK.
  • Oman Air is to fly daily to Singapore and four-times weekly to Goa from March 29, and four-times weekly to Dhaka from August.
  • Virgin will fly a second daily B787-9 from London Heathrow to San Francisco five-times weekly this summer, before upgrading this to a daily service in October.
  • Lufthansa’s first class cabin has been fitted on all long-haul aircraft based at Munich airport. Munich’s satellite is on course for opening in April.
  • British Airways Executive Club members who take return flights on selected transatlantic BA and American Airlines routes by April 27 can earn up to 7,000 bonus Avios points.
  • Oman Air will fly daily to Singapore and four-times weekly to Goa from March 29, and four-times weekly to Dhaka from August.
  • Qatar Airways first class lounge at Doha’s Hamad International will open at the end of April.
  • Watch here Capt Niall Cummins of the Irish Aviation Authority explaining the regulations of recreational drone use in Ireland, which exclude their use in public places.
  • Watch here the beautiful flight with Super Constellation through the Swiss Alps
  • Watch here the new SAS cabin.

Afloat

Stena Superfast X commences service in Dublin next Thursday, the highest profile Stena middle or southern corridor inauguration since Stena Adventurer entered service on the Irish Sea in 2003 and Stena Europe in 2002.

Royal Caribbean will base all three of its Oasis-class cruise ships in Florida in 2016. That same summer Anthem of the Seas will sail its first summer season out of Cape Liberty, visiting Bermuda. Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas will sail alternate seven-night Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries out of Port Everglades. In autumn 2016 Harmony of the Seas, which launches April 2016, will not sail Caribbean itineraries to begin with, but will replace Oasis of the Seas in Port Everglades in autumn 2016 when Oasis of the Seas moves to its new winter homeport of Port Canaveral.

richard-fainCruise Shipping Miami opens on March 16, having established itself over 30 years as the premier forum for the industry with 900 exhibitors and 11,000 attendees from 125 countries, Topics include The Geography of Cruise Tourism, Safety and Ship Operations, Market Segments and Cruise Product Development. While Leo Varadkar attended the event last year Paschal Donohue will not be making the trip, although there will be a small core of representatives of Irish ports pitching for business at the event. Eamon Bradshaw and Brian Sheridan of Galway Port will host a St Patrick’s Day party along with Skal Miami at the Dream South beach Hotel. Picture shows Richard Fain Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean who will be speaking at the opening plenary session with Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival, Frank J. Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian and Pierfrancesco Vago, chairman of MSC.

  • Irish Continental Group, owners of Irish Ferries, reported passenger numbers are up 4.8pc in 2014 to 1.643m. The overall sea passenger numbers were up 2.6pc, to 3.2m passengers. ICG reported operating profits for 2014 were up 9pc to €32.7m. Pre tax profits were €56.7m.
  • Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company has received seven expressions of interest from operators to provide a seasonal ferry service to Holyhead to replace the Stena HSS.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line launched its ‘Freestyle Choice Plus’ promotion for bookings before April 8. On selected cruises, guests can bring their family and friends along and only pay the port fees.
  • Splendour of the Seas will move to Thomson Cruises in the summer 2016.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line has appointed Andy Stuart as its president and COO, just five months after Drew Madsen replaced Kevin Sheehan.
  • Genting Hong Kong bought Crystal Cruise Line for $550m. Genting, which owns Star Cruises, Asia’s largest cruise line and a major shareholder of Norwegian Cruise Line. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2015. Crystal will increase its fleet size with a third ship say that, as a result of the acquisition, in addition to Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony.
  • Silversea introduced air and land package fares for Silver Galápagos expedition cruises available on new bookings made after Thursday last on the ship’s year-round Galápagos sailings.
  • P&O Cruises Britannia arrived in Southampton ahead of her launch.
  • Carnival Cruise Line is to expand its nine-night and longer itineraries from autumn next.
  • Carnival Triumph is to move from Galveston to New Orleans in 2016, with New Orleans-based Carnival Elation moving to Jacksonville and the Jacksonville-based Carnival Fascination to San Juan. Carnival Liberty and Carnival Breeze are moving to Galveston.
  • Stena Line is offering trips to Britain with a saving of €36 for a child or €70 for a friend when booking for travel on stenaline.com.

Deal Watch

Lowcostbeds‘ Ibiza offers: 3* Blue Star apartments, San Antonio Bay from €28pppn room only. 3* Central Park apartments, San Antonio  from €27pppn self catering. 3* Tropical Gardens apartments, Figueretas from €37pppn self catering. 3* Mare Nostrum Hotel, Playa d’en Bossa from €46pppn room only.

  • ITAA‘s offers of the week for Easter: 12 days full board voyage on the Norwegian Coast from €908pps, depart March 26, 27, 28 or 30. 7 nights at Club Funimation, Borik, Croatia from €1,899 for two adults and two children incl. return flights and transfers, depart March 30. 7 nights half board at Golf Residence Hotel, Tunisia from €369pps incl. return flights, transfers, checked in bag and rep service, depart March 27 or April 3.
  • Irish Country Hotels St Patrick’s Day offers: 2 nights in Clew Bay Hotel, Westport from €109pps incl. transfers to Croagh Patrick and packed lunch. 1 night in the Garryvoe Hotel, Ballycotton Bay from €149 per couple. Stay between March 16 and 19. See irishcountryhotels.com for more.
  • Click and Go’s offers of the week: 3 nights in the Golden Park Hotel, Budapest from €199pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, depart March 15. 7 nights All Inclusive in the Donat Hotel, Zadar, Croatia from €419pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in April. 7 nights B&B in the Senhora da Guia Hotel, Cascais from €599pp incl. flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in March. 7 nights self catering in the Sol Timor Apartments, Torremolinos, Costa del Sol from €999pp for two adults and one child incl. flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in April. 7 nights B&B in the Centra Coconut Beach Resort Samui Hotel, Koh Samui, Thailand from €899pp incl. flights ex Dublin, taxes, transfers and one checked bag each, travel in June.
  • Falcon Holidays is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Dublin to Holiday Village, Marmari, Kos from €2,189 for two adults and one child, and from €2,839 for two adults and two children, depart June 6. Visit falconholidays.ie to book or call 1850 45 35 45.
  • Thomson is offering 7 nights full board Dublin to Sensatori Resort Crete from €1,159pp, depart June 7. Visit thomsonholidays.ie to book or call 1850 45 35 45.
  • Travel Department is offering 11 nights Delhi, the Taj Mahal and Rajasthan, India from €1,899pp incl. return flights ex Dublin or Cork, transfers, excursions and accommodation (with no single room supplement for solo travellers).
  • Project Travel is offering 12 day full board, round trip voyage through Norway’s fjords with Hurtigruten from €1,558pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, one B&B hotel night before and after the voyage and inside cabin, depart March 24, 25, 26 or 28. For more, see project-travel.ie or call 01 210 8391.
  • Lowcostholidays offers of the week: 7 nights self catering at Rio Apartments, Algarve from €299pp, depart May 11. 7 nights in Days Inn Kissimmee, Orlando from €629pp, depart May 15. 7 nights B&B NYX Hotel Cancun, Mexico from €987, depart April 15. 7 nights B&B Deevana Patong Resort & Spa from €1,049pp, depart April 15. 2 nights B&B Norfolk Plaza Hotel, London from €153pp, depart April 17. 2 nights Timhotel Montmarte, Paris from €189pp, depart April 17. All prices include return flights ex Dublin, taxes and accommodation. See more offers here.
  • Sunway is offering 7 nights B&B in the Kalofer Hotel, Bulgaria from €399pp. Sunway is offering 7 nights B&B in the Meridiana, Lake Garda from €684pp. Depart May 30. Prices include flights ex Dublin, return airport transfers, taxes and charges, 20kg checked baggage pp and Sunway rep service, depart May 30.
  • Sunway Norwegian offers: 7 nights full board on Norwegian Epic from €2,650 for two adults and two children, calling at Barcelona, Naples, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Cannes, Palma Majorca and Barcelona, departs October 25. 7 nights full board Norwegian Jade from €799pp, calling at Venice, Dubrovnik, Athens, Kusadasi and Split, departs May 9.
  • Sunway Turkey offers: 7 nights B&B at Sea Pearl Hotel from €399pp, departing Dublin March 28 or April 4. 14 nights B&B from €599pp departing March 28 or from €399pp departing April 4. All prices include return flights, return airport transfers, rep service and 20kg baggage allowance pp.
  • Travel Department is offering 4 nights B&B at the Courtyard Berlin City Centre from €799pp incl flights ex Dublin and half day guided tour of Berlin and a night at the Deutsche Opera Berlin for a ballet performance of Romeo & Juliet, departs April 29. Travel Department is offering 5 nights B&B at the Holiday Inn Moskovskye Vorota, St Petersburg from €999pp incl. flights ex Dublin, one night ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre, half day guided tour of St Petersburg and half day guided tour to Catherine’s Palace, departs May 19 and October 15. Visit traveldepartment.ie or call 01 6371 600.
  • Tourism NI offers of the week: Coach and ticket to Irish Open on May 28-31 with Travel Solutions, Lisburn from £49pp, call 028 9045 5030 to book. 1 night at The Cottage Schoolhouse, Downpatrick, Co Down from £50 per unit, available unti August 31, call 028 4488 1185 to book. 3-night mid week stay at An Creagán, Evishatrask, Sixmilecross, Omagh from £160 per unit (3 bedroos, sleeps 9), available until March 31, call 028 8076 1112 to book. 2 night couple’s retreat in double ensuite Tavnaghoney Cottages, Cushendall, Co Antrim from £125pps, available until March 28, call 028 2177 2416 to book. Tourism NI suggests a number of ideas for Mother’s Day: Victorian Afternoon Tea in Lady Ada’s tea room at The Argory, Dungannon, Co Tyrone. Lunch with Queen Macha at Navan Centre & Fort, Armagh, March 15. Urban Photo Walk in Belfast with Urban Explorers, March 14 and 15. Dancing at the ceili at the MAC in Belfast. Spring Walking Festival in Arch Nature Reserve, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, March 14. Mother-daughter spa break at Corick House Hotel & Spa, Tyrone from €142.60pp.
  • British Airways world seat sale: Kuala Lumpur from €170, Shanghai from €170, Abu Dhabi from €130, Johannesburg from €250, Dubai from €144, Accra from €255, Entebbe from €265 and Nairobi from €195. Sell March 6 to April 9 for travel from March 6 to December 15. See your GDS for more. BA have included 90 routes out of Heathrow, Gatwick and London City in the sale.

Ireland

London’s House of Lords pre St Patrick’s Day event, CHAMP will not have Taoiseach Enda Kenny or Prime Minster David Cameron this year but proceeds as normal at Westminster. The lunch time event takes place on Tuesday.

  • The line-up for the 2015 Doolin Folk Festival was announced. Mick Flannery, Sharon Shannon, Stockton’s Wing and Declan O’Rourke are among the acts who will take to the stage at the Hotel Doolin Marquee, June 12-14. Day and weekend tickets are on sale from entertainment.ie.
  • A green Ireland float featured in this weekend’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The float was led by Panti Bliss and supported by Tourism Ireland and the Irish Consulate in Sydney.
  • Shannon Airport chairperson Rose Hynes, travel writer Mark Graham and Fiona Monaghan of Fáilte Ireland were the guest speakers at The Burren Tourism Story 2015 in the Pavilion, Lisdoonvarna.
  • Discover Fermanagh Open Weekend took place this week.

2+ MILLION GERMANS TO READ ABOUT DONEGALJournalist Oliver Abraham of Bild newspaper in Germany visited Donegal this week as a guest of Tourism Ireland. His itinerary, which was designed by Fáilte Ireland, included a tour of Glenveagh castle and gardens and a guided cliff walk at Slieve League. Oliver enjoyed an overnight stay at Castle Leslie in Monaghan. Picture shows Oliver Abraham with Trés Connaghan, Glenveagh National Park.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Can Aer Lingus’ deal survive Black Monday?

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HEADLINESAVIATIONAFLOATFOOD & WINEHOTELS – INTERNATIONAL -IRELAND     DEAL WATCH –  TRAVEL TRADE

Stephen McNally Presiient of the IHF presents Mary McAleese with the President's award at the Irish Hotels Federation Conference Gala Dinner while being photographed by Don McMonigle in the Slieve Russell Hotel,

Stephen McNally, President of the IHF, presents Mary McAleese with the President’s award at the Irish Hotels Federation Conference Gala Dinner while being photographed by Don McMonigle in the Slieve Russell Hotel.

The headlines this week:

  • IAG holds fire after Paschal D’s Downer
  • Hoteliers talk growth, but 150 hotels still in trouble
  • Airlines release sale fares for late spring
  • Stena Superfast starts journey from Poland
  • Count ‘em – 3 waterslides for Royal ‘s biggest ever cruise ship
  • Farewell NITB, hello Tourism NI

Travel Extra TV

Video of week March 1Our video of the week comes from Mammoth Films. Half of the homes in Lake Lotawana, Missouri belong to visitors who only holiday during the summer. So what does everyone else do during the winter season? Watch here to find out.

  • Michael O’Leary talks about Ryanair sponsoring the Fairyhouse Gold Cup. Watch here.
  • KLM showcases its corporate biofuel programme. Watch here.
  • Opera singer Pretty Yende went on a two-day visit to South Africa with British Airways, where she took some time off touring to speak to 350 young people from Cape Town. Watch here.
  • Emirates marks the Dubai Food Festival with a special menu designed by chef Silvena Rowe. Watch here.

Headlines

paschal donohue mary mcaleeseWe note the press statement issued by the Irish government and will consider it in due course. That was IAG’s one line response to the events of Black Monday when Paschal Donohoe told IAG it would have give extended guarantees on Heathrow slots and growth in both Cork and Shannon. The statement had the desired effect of asserting, presumably on behalf of the Labour Party, a silencing of the dissenting voices within the Aer Lingus Trade Unions suggesting a large number of staff (80pc according to IMPACT official) were in favour of the IAG bid, and an interesting message of support from Pat Rabbitte. Can IAG allow the politicians play politics further. Nobody but Willie Walsh would have brought the bid this far and the game is not over yet. Paschal is pictured chatting with Mary McAleese at the IHF gala dinner.

Irish Hotels Federation President Stephen McNally and CEO Tim Fenn at the IHF Conference in the Slieve Russell Hotel, Feb 23-25 2015

Irish Hotels Federation President Stephen McNally and CEO Tim Fenn at the IHF Conference in the Slieve Russell Hotel, Feb 23-25 2015

Former president Mary McAleese was the recipient of the president’s award at the Irish Hotels Federation conference in the Slieve Russell Hotel, giving perhaps the most memorable speech in the entire history of IHF gala dinners (listen here) (listen here for Michael Rigney’s citation of Professor McAleese). Paschal Donohoe paid tribute to the resilience of the sector in his speech (listen here). It was the biggest conference in recent years, with 33 sitting for the gala dinner and 730 bookings, up from 680 last year.

alan ahearneEconomist Alan Ahearne told delegates the 9pc tourism VAT rate has exceeded expectations in terms of job retention and creation while the cost to the Exchequer has been markedly lower than initially expected. He claimed the tourism industry has added more than 30,000 jobs since the VAT rate was reduced to 9pc − accounting for more than one of every three net new jobs created in Ireland over this period.

All zoom and boom then (or even boom and Coombe, with a handful of hotels expanding and new hotels being born)? Not really. In the Fáilte Ireland survey 35pc of Irish hoteliers say they still doubt the viability of their business.

Aiden Murphy 001Aiden Murphy, in the most informative presentation to the conference, said there are 150 hotels still out there who need long term financial help. Peak debt incurred by Ireland’s hotels was €6.7bn, of which €3.9bn was sustainable but €2.8bn required a write-off. “After seven years of recession only 50pc of these hotels have been worked out”. Of 145 hotels put into receivership, 85 have been sold, 25 are for sale and 35 are due to come on to the market. He said hotels belonged in three tier of which the first tier, 84 Dublin city centre hotels, were doing best, but most of the 663 third tier hotels were find trading conditions difficult.

Sarah Duignan of STR Global said there was a lot of revpar decline to be recovered. Revpar declined 29.8pc during the recession. She pointed out that while Dublin has been experiencing growth for 20 months, Dublin started growing 16 months before the rest of the country. Jim Dollard, executive director of Electric Ireland, announced a 20pc discount for hoteliers booking before end of April. Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody told delegates: “it is so dangerous dealing with success, success makes you soft if you let it.” Michael Cawley gave an entertaining account of Fáilte Ireland’s plans with numerous mentions of his former employer Ryanair. “When you see what Stratford upon Avon can do with a little known English writer, think of what Dublin can do with its writers.”

stephen laughingIHF President Stephen McNally called a truce with the much maligned OTA’s: The main point is that we control the inventory and we give them the rate we cannot always blame them. We need to focus and motivate our staff.

Michael Ring declared the election on with a rousing speech asking the hoteliers who had looked after them when they came to cast their votes. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

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Spot the difference: Tourism Northern Ireland has replaced the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the most visible change from a review of NITB activities in October. A new chair will be appointed to the body when Howard Hastings’ term ends in mid March and a new CEO to replace the departing Allan Clarke is expected to be appointed in early April.

NO FEE GPO WITNESS HIS CENTRE MX1An Post has appointed Shannon Heritage to operate and manage the €7m GPO Witness History Interpretive Exhibition Centre following a competitive tender process.   The centre is currently under construction in the inner eastern courtyard of the GPO and expects 300,000 visitors after it opens Easter 2016. Picture shows John Ruddle of Shannon Heritage; Barney Whelan of An Post; Minister for Arts, Heather Humphreys and Neil Pakey CEO Shannon Group.turkish airlines group pic copy

IMG_0426 copyNiall Glynn of Croatia Tours/Marian Pilgrimages and Onur Gul of Turkish Airlines hosted a group of travel writers in Istanbul and the Holy Land, stopping by to see the sights of Istanbul en route to Tel Aviv, which is Turkish Airlines most popular transfer option for Turkish Airlines. Pictures shows  Joe Supple of East Coast FM, Eleanor Goggin of the Sunday Independent, Patsy McGarry of The Irish Times, Nadine O’Regan of The Sunday Business Post, Eoin Edwards of the Irish Examiner, Niall Glynn of Croatia Tours/Marian Pilgrimages, Onur Gul of Turkish Airlines and Eoghan Corry editor of Travel Extra, and Niall Glynn with Onur Gul. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Airbnb is to create 200 new jobs at its Dublin base as part of an expansion at the Watermarque Building in Dublin 4. The company also announced plans to extends its operations to a new building at Hanover Quay. 

Travel Trade

Topflight launched their programmes to Madeira on a shared charter with Concorde and Travel Department. A Europe Airpost charter will operate direct from Dublin to Funchal every Thursday from May 7 until Sept 17, after a hiatus of two years.

Limerick Travel Photo copyLimerick Travel and Roscrea Travel were the winners of the Bookabed Valentines Promotion and had a €100 voucher and a bottle of champagne delivered by Lee Osborne. Picture shows Limerick Travel group: Stephanie Nagle, Susan Ryan, Lee Osborne, Jayne O’Shea & Rita Gaughan-Hough.

United Airlines’ booking incentive starts Friday next for any booking on United‘s Dublin/Washington service made until June 30. Agents can win a pair of return flights to Washington DC in United BusinessFirst. Send booking details, including flight reference, in one e-mail to: putting “DUB-IAD” in the subject line. The more bookings you make, the more chance you have of winning.

IMG_4296The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s European director Tanes Petsuwan said he expected the Irish market to return to growth in 2015 after visitors from Ireland fell by 1.25pc to 62,727 from 63,522 in 2014, was still the third highest figure ever, close to the 62,924 recorded in 2013. Overall visitor numbers were 24,779,768 down -6.66pc from 26,546,725 the previous year. European visitors were down 2.38pc to 6,156,132.The Tourism Authority of Thailand hosted Irish travel agents at a series of roadshows in Belfast, Dublin and Cork this week.

Travel Professional Skillnet is offering a Confidence on Camera workshop on March 3, 9.30am-5pm at ITAA Office, Westmoreland St, Dublin 2. Costs €120. Full details and bookings.

Lorna at Thomas Cook Mansfield FHFunway‘s tweetheart Valentine’s Day competition winner Lorna Hamilton of Thomas Cook Mansfield is presented with her prize by Anna Hawkins of Funway Holidays.

  • Agents are reminded to register their British Airways, American Airlines or US Airways bookings made until April 3 to be in with a chance of winning a place on the USA MegaFam trip 2015, May 14-21. Apply at usadiscoveryprogram.co.uk/MegaFam..
  • Rannveig Snorradottir is leaving her position as sales manager for Tumlare.
  • Roscrea Travel Photo copyPicture shows Roscrea Travel group with Lee Osborne of Bookabed, Claire Byrne, Denise Reid and Bernie Hensey.
  • MSC Cruises in London has appointed Chiara Brooker to the newly created role of Sales Manager (trade operations).
  • Innstant Travel launched its new car hire product, booked using a two-step process and combining 500 suppliers in 193 countries such as Avis, Sixt, Hertz, Europcar and Budget.
  • ADMEI awarded the Joanne O’Conor President’s Award to Brian Ferrell of Destination Oklahoma
  • sara rviero and babySpotted at Dublin Airport with a sleepy baby en route home to Madrid: Sara Rivero of the Spanish Tourist Board.
  • The Irish launches of Salou Holiday Experience, take place in Cork on Wednesday and Dublin on Thursday. Packages can be purchased through Travel Agencies and include return airport transfers, accommodation as booked, 3 day park passes to PortAventura and services of local partners. Flights can be booked at best available rates by the client or their chosen Travel Agent.
  • Lowcostbeds, headed up in Ireland by Clem Walshe, says its new mobile holiday booking app has now over 6,000 downloads.
  • Disney named Bob Chapek as chairman of its theme parks business, replacing Tom Staggs, who was promoted to COO.

Hotels

A UNWTO report on Hotel Classification Systems identified common criteria among 4 and 5 star hotels, to guide destinations wishing to revise existing or establish new hotel classification system.

orla kielyThe Glenlo Abbey Hotel in Galway is to stock amenities by Irish designer Orla Kiely. The range includes Geranium Bath & Body products.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts is offering guests one Starpoint loyalty point for every dollar spent on Uber rides. Guests must link their Starwood Preferred Guest and Uber accounts online at spg.com/uberStarwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide opened the Sheraton McKinney Hotel and Conference Centre in McKinney, Texas. Starwood and Spanish hotel operator Melia Hotels International announced yesterday that they have established a joint venture that has agreed to acquire a collection of hotels across key resort locations in Spain The 5-star Radisson Blu Hotel Du 2 Février Lomé in Togo to open in autumn will offer 320 rooms and apartments, five food & drink outlets and meeting space of 3,600sqm.

  • New hotels in Italy: JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, opens mid-March. ME Hotel Il Duca, Milan, opens April 2015. Mandarin Oriental, Milan, opens May 2015. Sheraton Lake Como Hotel, opens March 25.
  • Pousada de Lisboa will open June 1 in Terreiro do Paço in a historic building within walking distance of the Tagus River. An opening discount of 15pc with breakfast included is available for bookings made through the hotel’s website 30 days in advance and non-refundable in case of cancellation.
  • CWI 2 is to acquire up to $1.4bn of hotel assets.
  • Hotel Arts Barcelona launched the Picasso/Dalí experience in celebration of the eagerly anticipated Picasso/Dalí, Dalí/Picasso exhibition at Museu Picasso.
  • Three new London Suites will open at The Marylebone Hotel in May. The hotel’s redesign will also see a redesign of the public area and 108 Brasserie.
  • Palladian Hotel Bathroom copyKimpton Hotels opened its new Palladian hotel; a renovated 97-room property on the edge of Seattle’s Belltown neighbourhood (2000 2nd Ave) with a “Sleep with David Bowie (Or Another Celebrity)” package.
  • Virgin Hotels is to grow its portfolio to 20 hotels by 2025.
  • Melia Hotels International will open a new Me brand property in Barcelona in 2017.
  • Hilton Worldwide is rebranding Hilton London Docklands Riverside as a Doubletree hotel, making it the brand’s 11th hotel in the city. 
  • Booking.com launched a new late bookings app and reported it was hit by a phishing scam that targeted hoteliers. The scam targeted hotel commissions to be paid to the site with a rogue email claiming the automatic payment system had malfunctioned.

International

orlando eyeVisit Orlando has identified 15 new openings for 2015. More unusual are the Dr Phillips Centre for the Performing Arts and the arrival of franchise team Orlando City Soccer Club. Orlando Eye, a 400-foot-tall observation wheel s one of a trio of new attractions from I-Drive 360, a new entertainment complex from Merlin Entertainments, alongside Madame Tussauds and Sea LIfe Orlando delivering a new wave of displays of colourful fish, sharks, jellyfish, sea horses and more. Mangos Tropical Café, one of South Beach’s hottest dance clubs is coming to Orlando offering 55,000 square feet of entertainment space. Escapology Orlando brings a new kind of entertainment to Orlando challenging teams of up to six players to escape from a themed room with just 60 minutes to combine clues, solve puzzles and discover the key to escape. Crayola Experience at nearby International Drive will offer 25 hands-on activities. The Whiskey on Sand Lake Road, offers 100 brands of whiskey for the thirsty connoisseur. A new land opens at Legoland Florida Resort called Heartlake City and a new show at SeaWorld Orlando: Clyde & Seamore’s Sea Lion High. Walt Disney World Resort is transforming Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, doubling the number of shops, restaurants and other venues. The new area will open in phases starting in 2015 and include Morimoto Asi. Other new restaurants include the Boathouse an up-scale, waterfront dining restaurant at Disney Springs, STK Orlando steakhouse with a chic lounge and the only rooftop dining venue in Disney Springs, Two Chefs Seafood, The Palm Restaurant; and North Quarter Tavern. Hotel developments include Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes new restaurant concept based on the resort’s Whisper Creek Farm.

tony-tylerWorld Travel & Tourism Council announced the speakers at its Global Summit in Madrid from April 14-16: Ana Patricia Botin, Executive Chairman, Banco de Santander; Richard Fenning, CEO, Control Risks; Julie Meyer, CEO, Ariadne Capital; Taleb Rifai, Secretary General, World Tourism Organisation; Tony Tyler, CEO, IATA (pictured); Chip Conley, Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy, Airbnb; and Luis Gallego, CEO, Iberia.

LOOKING ACROSS THE BAY TO PASSENGERS DISEMBARKING AT TOBERMORY ISLE OF MULL INNER HEBRIDES. PIC P.TOMKINS VisitScotland-1VisitScotland’s Brilliant Island Moments campaign distributed 8,000 free ferry tickets to visit Scotland’s islands.

Airbnb will host its annual host get-together in Paris, the first time it has been held outside San Francisco. 6,000 hosts will attend the Airbnb Open, which takes place November 12-14. With 40,000 active listings on Airbnb, Paris was crowned the most active home-sharing city this week.

A poll in England found that skiers are more likely to injure themselves during apres-ski partying than on the slopes.

  • Exponent Private Equity bought Big Bus Tours, which offers sightseeing trips in 16 cities.
  • The Italian Ministry of Tourism launched verybello.it, the events site for Expo Milano 2015. 1,300 events are listed on the site.c
  • Google’s updated Flight Search tool is targeted at travellers who are not sure where they want to go.
  • Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas announced that it will develop a resort at Uluwatu, a 35-minute drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport.
  • It is now possible to make payments in South African Rand using eNett International‘s Virtual Account Numbers.
  • Universal Orlando single park day passes now cost $102 before tax, children’s tickets now cost $97 and the two-park pass is now $147.
  • This year’s BIT Milano in numbers: there were 61,781 visitors, 60pc of whom were travel professionals; 100 countries and all the Italian regions were represented; 2,000 exhibitors attended the fair and met 1,500 host buyers in 40,000 matched meetings. Next year’s event takes place February 11-13.
  • Iberia will offer UNWTO members transportation to the International Conference on Tourism Deseasonalisation, which takes place in Torremolinos, June 3-5.

Food & Wine

SCAE Ireland is seeking out Dublin’s best coffee providers in advance of the World of Coffee conference in Dublin June 22-26 2016. The event will attract 10,000 coffee professionals from 100 countries. They intend creating a World of Coffee Ambassadors’ Club featuring the top 100 cafés, restaurants, hotels and bars serving coffee in the capital, and support them through a range of training and marketing initiatives.

  • Three new restaurants have opened in Rome, ENIT announced: Na’Cosetta in Pigneto, Exquisitaly in Piazza San Bernardo and Il Passetto re-opened in Piazza di St Apollinare. Three new restaurants in Milan: Essenza, 34 Via Marghera, Filippo La Mantia and Manuelina.
  • Irish West End star David Shannon is teaming up with Ghan House in Carlingford, Co Louth for a musical dinner on March 6. There will be singing before, during and after a dinner prepared by Stephane le Sourne. Tickets €65. See ghanhouse.com or call 042 9373 682 to book.

Aviation

Aer Lingus have added extra flights to Chicago for winter 2015 and will operate up to ten flights a week from Dublin during the months of November and December. Twice daily flights will operate Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, adding an extra 13,000 available seats and a 24pc capacity increase. This in addition to the new transatlantic service from Dublin to Washington-Dulles commencing May 1, additional flights on the Dublin to San Francisco and Orlando routes and a third daily early morning flight from Dublin to New York, departing at 07.50 and arriving at 12 noon will also be added. Long haul capacity will be 18.4pc up on 2014 in the peak summer season.

Sunway Holidays, will operate a weekly charter service from Knock to Izmir every Saturday from September 12 to October 24.

murat balandiTurkish Airlines intends increasing worldwide capacity by 15pc in 2015. In 2014 Turkish Airlines recorded a capacity (ASK) growth of 16,3pc, significantly above the industry growth rate of 5,6 for the same period, resulting in an increase in global market share from 1.6pc to 1.8pc. Turkish Airlines carried 54.7m passengers in 2014, up 13.3pc making it the third largest carrier in Europe by number of passengers. Load factor was 79pc. Turkish Airlines currently flies to 264 destinations in 108 countries with a fleet of 263 aircraft, 55 wide body, 199 narrow body and 9 cargo. Turkish Airlines Sales revenue increased by 29pc in 2014, and operating profit was up 10pc. Turkish are increasing their Istanbul to Antalya flights from late April. Turkish are upgrading their Dublin service to double daily this summer.

British Airways are bringing their Flying with Confidence course for nervous flyers to The Maldron Hotel close to Dublin Airport on Saturday, March 28, 08.00-16.30. Participants meet pilots who explain how an aircraft flies, what causes turbulence and those unsettling sensations that you feel during flight, a psychologist who explains how to understand fear and teaches how to reduce anxiety. Price of €299 includes a 45 minute flight from Dublin airport to put theory into practice. BA claims the course has a 98pc success rate in its 28 year history. Contact Captain Steve Allright. EasyJet holds its Fearless Flyers programme at the Europa Hotel Belfast on March 6-7. Costs £189 incl. post course flight.

Viewing gallery 1Belfast International Airport re-opened its viewing gallery after ten years and added the facility to track the progress of arriving and departing aircraft and eavesdrop on Air Traffic Control and apron chatter. The viewing gallery is situated landside and is open to travellers and non-travellers alike

SITA’s latest industry report The Future is Personal claimed 97pc of airline passengers carrying at least one personal electronic device but passengers have been slow to adopt new airline and airport mobile services when travelling. Some industry players are bucking the trend and achieving high levels of usage.

British Airways won Best Overall Wine Cellar at the Business Traveller Cellars in the Sky airline wine awards at the Hilton London Paddington hotel. and Best Business Class Cellar. Finnair won the long-haul wine selection award for the Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2012, Marlborough, New Zealand; they won silver for Best Business Class Red for Nicolas Perrin Crozes – Hermitage 2012, France and bronze for Best-Presented Business Class Wine Menu. Two airlines took home two Gold Medals apiece: Singapore Airlines for Best First Class Cellar and Best First Class Fortified/Dessert, and Qantas for Best First Class Sparkling and Best Business Class Fortified/Dessert. Garuda Indonesia took the top spot for Best First Class White. Cathay Pacific won the Gold Medal for Best Business Class Sparkling. The awards were entered by 35 airlines.

  • Lufthansa won the Eco-Airline of the Year award at the 41st Annual ATW Airline Industry Achievement Awards in Washington, DC.
  •  Jet2 will fly Belfast to Rome from April 5.
  • Cash management provider Citi will provide a supply chain finance service to Etihad Airways to pay select suppliers.
  • IAG reported an 80pc increase in annual profit. The group made an operating profit of €1.4bn in 2014, up from €770m in 2013.
  • Aer Lingus reported 2014 operating profit up 17.8pc to €72.9m on total revenue up 9.2pc to €1.6bn. Balance sheet at end of year was up 29.9pc in net cash to €553m.
  • British Airways launched its First and Club cabins sale. Business class discounts are also available on flights ex Dublin, Cork and Shannon. Passengers must book by midnight on March 10 for travel between March 12 and February 28, 2016.
  • An Air France flight from New York to Paris had to stop in Manchester because the pilot had already exceed the maximum 11 work hours. The A380 was unable to continue with rested crew following the Manchester hiatus because of a pressurization fault, forcing the airline to dispatch three smaller aircraft to fly the stranded passengers.
  • Delta Air Lines will upgrade its in-flight Wi-Fi on its international fleet.
  • Lufthansa completed fitting its new first class cabin onto all long-haul aircraft based at Munich airport.
  • Cathay Pacific  is now offering Illy coffee to its First Class and business passengers. 
  • Luxair took delivery of its new Boeing 737-800. The aircraft will be operated on behalf of LuxairTours.
  • Rumour has it Michael O’Leary was invited to join the elite Bilderberg Group.
  • Flybe signed an agreement with Singapore’s Avation PLC to lease four turboprop aircraft to use on its while label operations for SAS.
  • It was reported that Thomas Cook is looking to offload its airline as part of a turnaround plan.
  • American Airlines signed a multiyear sponsorship deal with the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team.
  • Airbus Group reported 2014 revenues of $68.6bn, up 5pc.
  • TAP Portugal signed a Rich Content and Branding agreement with Travelport.
  • Airbus delivered its second A350-900 to Qatar Airways.
  • Qantas reported a H1 profit of US$162m. Dublin-born CEO Alan Joyce said the airline is meeting or exceeding all targets in its three year plan.
  • Etihad wants more flexible rules on air routes between Australia and the UAE as it nears the cap on the number of flights it can operate there.
  • Lufhansa LEOS started using its TaxiBot aircraft tractor on real flight operations at Frankfurt Airport.
  • Malaysia Airlines is to finalise plans to issue termination letters to staff identified for 6,000 job cuts under the airline’s restructuring exercise.
  • Ryanair is the new title of the Grade 1 novice Chase at the Easter Festival, Fairyhouse Racecourse. The title will be run as the Ryanair Gold Cup on April 5.
  • Passenger traffic between Shannon and Heathrow was down 9pc last year, while traffic between Shannon and Stansted was up 10.4pc.
  • Aircraft lessor AerCap terminated leases on six Boeing 757s and three 767s on lease to Russian carriers in December 2014.

Afloat

IMG_0120Stena Superfast X left Gdynia en route to Dublin for its naming ceremony on March 11. Passengers will have access to three decks of service areas with additional deluxe cabins, Barista Coffee House, Met Bar and Grill, retail shopping in the Outlet, two free cinemas, a family lounge featuring a children’s play area and X-Box stations and Stena Line’s premium lounge Stena Plus. There will be a dedicated freight driver lounge. Superfast X is a sister ship of the award winning Stena Superfast VII and VIII ships which have served the Belfast to Cairnryan route since their launch in 2011. Stena Line’s Head of Travel Orla Noonan (pictured on board Superfast X with Jim Howey of Stena) said “We have paid special attention to every little detail, from the type of bed linen used in our cabins to the quality and comfort of our seating onboard.” The ship boasts 10 decks, 2km of lane space for vehicles and can carry 1,200 passengers. She will make two return sailings daily between Dublin and Holyhead, completing the crossing in 3 hours and 15 minutes.  Superfast X will operating alongside the Stena Adventurer.

harmony with slidesHarmony of the Seas was confirmed as the name for Royal Caribbean’s next Oasis-class cruise ship, set to debut in April 2016. Features include three waterslides, the line’s first, that start from the top-deck Pool and Sports Zone and twist and turn down three decks into one of two pools. One of the slides will feature a Champagne bowl that swirls riders around as they approach the end of the slide. Seven neighbourhoods are featured including the signature Boardwalk and Central Park spaces. The Boardwalk on Harmony will reportedly feature a classic games arcade, a kids-only climbing play area and a Starbucks cafe. Passengers will be offered a choice of two Dynamic Dining option. At 227,000 gross tons,  Harmony will weigh 1,718 tons more than the current record-holder.

  • Silversea Expeditions launched a collection of speciality expeditions: Birding & Ornithology Expedition Voyages; Wellness Expedition Voyages; Photography Expedition Voyages; and Culinary Expedition Voyages. detailed in six mini-brochures available in traditional print format and as digital flip books of between six to eight pages each. After the launch of their next ship in the spring, Silversea Cruises will build two more cruise ships after coming to an agreement with Fincantieri Shipyard in Monfalcone in Italy.
  • MSC Cruises extended their winter 2015/16 season from Dubai. MSC Musica will offer 16 eight-day/seven-night cruises from Dubai for winter 2015/2016, four more sailings than were operated this winter aboard sister ship MSC Orchestra. MSC Gulf cruises call into Abu Dhabi, UAE; Khor al Fakkan, UAE; Muscat, Oman and Khasab on the Musandum Peninsula before returning to Dubai for an overnight stay on board.
  • Disney Cruise Line won twelve awards in the annual Cruise Critic US Cruisers’ Choice Awards. Disney Dream was named Best Large Ship; the third year in a row a Disney ship has received top honours and Disney Wonder Best Midsize Ship. Silverseas’s Silver Galapagos won best small ship.
  • Celebrity Cruises won nine awards in the year’s Cruise Critic England Cruisers’ Choice Awards including Best Overall ship for Celebrity Equinox. In the Mid-Size ship awards Oceania Riviera won five awards including Best Overall ship. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines was successful in two Mid-Size, and three Small Ship categories, for Balmoral and Black Watch.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line announced that Captain Evans Hoyt and staff captains Robert Lundberg and Preston Carnahan will serve on Norwegian Escape. Captain Gunnar Hammerin will step in when Captain Hoyt is on holiday.
  • Royal Caribbean was forced to cancel the next cruise of Brilliance of the Seas because of foggy weather. She was stranded outside the Port of Tampa Bay this week for 24 hour due to thick fog.
  • P&O Cruises confirmed that England’s Queen Elizabeth will name their new  ship Britannia at Southampton on March 10 as the 141,000-ton Britannia was handed over to the cruise line at Fincantieri’s Monfalcone yard, near Trieste.

Deal Watch

Aer Lingus launched a North America seat sale, lead in €239 each way for travel from April 1 to June 15, book by March 9.

  • Cruisescapes offered a Best of the Rhine & The Rhone cruise, 10 days from €1,490 with three departures in May, July & October.
  • The Westbury Hotel is offering Afternoon Tea with a Touch of Blush to celebrate Mother’s Day: raspberry tiramisu, strawberry macaroons with lime truffle, cherries with vanilla entremets and lemon tart with berry marshmallows are all on the menu, as well as the traditional baked scones with jam and cream and finger sandwiches. Available 1.30pm-5pm, March 2-29. €45pp/€55pp incl. rosé champagne. Call 01 646 3311 to book. The Westbury Hotel is also offering the Say It With Flowers package from €395pppn. It includes 1 night’s B&B accommodation and Champagne Afternoon Tea for two.
  • Tourism NI offers of the week: 2 nights at The Archways Larchfield Estate, Lisburn from £65pp incl. breakfast hamper on arrival in the cottages, available until March 26, call 028 9263 8025 to book. 2 nights B&B Belmore Court and Motel, Enniskillen from £60pps, available March 13-20, call 028 6632 6633 to book. 2 nights B&B Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh from £80pps incl. 3 course dinner on one evening in the Barreta Bar and Grill, available until Dec 31, call 028 8824 2520 to book.
  • Lowcostholidays‘ Pay Day offers for April and May: 7 nights self catering Rio Apartments, Algarve from €205pp, depart May 11. 7 nights self catering Grangefield Oasis Club, Costa Del Sol from €289pp, depart May 11. 7 nights self catering Be Smart Florida Plaza, Tenerife from €299pp, depart May 11. 7 nights Days Inn Kissimmee, Orlando from €620pp, depart May 15. 7 nights B&B NYX Hotel Cancun, Mexico from €950pp, depart April 15. 7 nights B&B Deevana Patong Resort & Spa, Phuket from €1,025pp, depart April 15. 2 nights B&B Norfolk Plaza Hotel, London from €160pp, depart April 17. 2 nights B&B Timhotel Montmarte, Paris from €160pp, depart April 17. 2 nights B&B Oasis Hotel, Barcelona from €205pp, depart May 13. All prices include return flights ex Dublin and taxes. Pay Day Holiday Offers for Apr-May.
  • Lowcostbeds offers: 3* Rosen Inn International Drive, Orlando room only from €26pppn. 4* Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas room only from €50pppn. 4* Oasis Palm Hotel, Cancun, All Inclusive from €74pppn. 5* Bonnington Jumeriah Lakes, Dubai, room only from €57pppn. Based on 7 nights 2 share, depart May 23.
  • Topflight is offering 9 nights B&B Melia Bali Resort from €1,429pps incl. trasnfers, return flight and taxes. Call 01 240 1709 to book or visit topflight.ie.
  • Sunway St Patrick’s Day breaks: 3 nights Yotel Hotel New York from €765pp, departs March 16. 4 nights Circus Circus Resort, Las Vegas from €645pp, departs March 15.  7 nights Rosen Inn at Pointe, Orlando from €639pp, departs March 15. 3 nights Jumeirah Creekside, Dubai from €845pp, departs March 15. All prices include flights, taxes and accommodation. See sunway.ie.
  • Sunway is offering 7 nights B&B Sea Pearl Hotel, Turkey from €299pp or 14 nights B&B from €359pp, departs April 11, 18 and 25. Sunway is offering 7 nights Rock Lago Park Apts, Menorca from €1,769 for two adults and two children incl. access to Aquarock Waterpark. Sunway is offering 7 nights self catering in Morocco from €299pp, see sunway.ie.
  • Sunway All Inclusive river cruise offers: 7 nights cruise through Holland and Belgium from €1,529pp, departs May 6. 7 nights cruise on the Seine River from €1,429pp, departs May 28. 7 nights Mekong River Curise, Vietnam and Cambodia  from €2,019pp, departs June 29.
  • Abbey Travel is offering free family half board meals at Disneyland Paris. Sale ends March 31, travel April 10 to October 31. To book, call 01 804 7150 or visit abbeytravel.ie.
  • Falcon Holidays offers: 7 nights All Inclusive Dublin to Xperience St George, Sharm El Sheikh from €529pp, depart April 10. 7 nights self catering Shannon to Sun Beach, Santa Ponsa from €269pps, depart May 2. 7 nights self catering Dublin to Marian Apartments, San Antonio Town Ibiza from €309pps, depart May 7. #NRG offer: 7 nights Dublin to Ilios Malia, Crete from €459pps based on four sharing, depart May 24. Visit falconholidays.ie to book or call 1850 45 35 45.
  • Natural Retreats Castelmartyr is offering a new gold package from €204pp for a group of three. Package includes 2 nights’ self catering accommodation, a round of golf at the Castlemartyr Golf Club, one 3-course meal at Franchini’s restaurant and a breakfast hamper on arrival. Visit naturalretreats.ie to book, or call 01 685 3013.
  • Thomson Holidays Platinum offer: 7 nights half board Dublin to Kos Impreial, Psaldi, Kos from €949pps. Visit thomsonholidays.ie to book or call 1850 45 35 45.
  • Hastings Hotels offer of the week: 1 night B&B Stormont Hotel, Belfast from £70pps incl. dinner in La Scala bistro. Call 048 9065 1066 to book.
  • Irish Ferries is offering a +1 Free deal to Britain on all car, motorhome, van and motorcycle bookings made before March 17 for travel up to December 17, meaning every car driver’s first passenger travels free. For more info, visit irishferries.com  or call 0818 300 400.
  • Disney Paris’s latest promotion features free half board meals for the family.

Ireland

Central Statistics Office figures for November 2014 to January 2015 confirmed visitor numbers to Ireland were up 9pc and growth from North America (up 10pc), England (up 10pc), Germany (up 8pc), Italy (up 32pc) and France (up 22pc), with mainland Europe up 10pc. Arrivals from Australia and Developing Markets flat.

TARGETING BIG BUSINESS FOR IRELANDTourism Ireland attended this International Confex event in Olympia, London. The two-day event was attended by 5,500 corporate meeting and event planners. Picture shows Sandra Fahy, Tourism Ireland; Aoife McHale, Visit Derry; Karen Brosnahan, Shannon Regional Sports and Conference Bureau; Michelle Murphy, Kerry Convention Bureau; Joyce McElroy, Tourism Ireland; Caragh Curran, Fáilte Ireland; and Donna Brogan, Dublin Convention Bureau at the event.

250 international buyers from 37 countries attended the inaugural ExploreGB event. Tourism INTERNATIONAL TOUR OPERATORS GIVE IRELAND THE THUMBS UP!Ireland and 16 Irish tourism companies took part in the event at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire. Picture shows Deirdre Wells, CEO of UKinbound, with Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, at the two-day workshop.

Registration opened for the   Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia cycling event. The race takes place on June 21, starting and finishing at Titanic Belfast. The 177km Mourne Route (see map) is aimed at experienced riders, while beginners are invited to ride the 58km Strangford Route (see map). Stephen Roche will be an event ambassador and will ride the Gran Fondo. Individual entry £45/£55. Moy Park Team Giro entry £67.50pp. Register here.

Tourism Ireland kicked off the 2015 series of Jump into Ireland sales blitzes with events in Washington DC, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Similar events will be held in Altanta, Charlotte and Tampa in March; Minneapolis, Denver and Dallas in September; and in Los Angeles, Sana Barbara and San Francisco in November.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Where will Stephen steer the Shamrock?

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HEADLINESAVIATIONAFLOATFOOD & WINEHOTELS – INTERNATIONAL                IRELAND -DEAL WATCH –  TRAVEL TRADE

Neil Jones representing New Orleans speaking at the Visit USA roadshow event in No 1 Pery Square, Limerick

Neil Jones representing New Orleans at the Visit USA roadshow event, No 1 Pery Square

The headlines this week:

  • Stephen Kavanagh takes the hot seat
  • Visit USA hits the road
  • Secret’s out at The Strand Hotel
  • Plain sailing for Brittany Ferries – Cork to Roscoff bookings up 5pc
  • NITB snake along the trail of St Patrick

Travel Extra TV

Video of week Feb 22Our video of the week comes from footballer turned Hollywood tough guy Vinnie Jones, who teaches us a few words en español in this promo for Three England. Includes useful phrases such as Alright sunshine, ‘ow you keeping? Watch here.

  • Boeing  showcases the 777 Signature interior. Watch here.
  • Business life in Kuala Lumpur with British Airways. Watch here.
  • The Irish cricket team talks Ireland with Tourism Ireland. Watch here.
  • Voices of Ireland sing for St Patrick — Tourism Ireland‘s video showcases the spiritual locations around Down Cathedral in Downpatrick. Watch here. Performance of ‘You Raise Me Up’ (watch here) and ‘Be Thou My Vision’ (watch here).
  • A celebration of love with Emirates. Watch here.
  • NITB chatted to defending Irish Open champion Mikko Ilonen ahead of this year’s event in Co Down. Watch here.
  • Aer Lingus relives its Mega Seat Giveaway in Liffey Valley Shopping Centre and the Blanchardstown Centre last summer. Watch here.
  • Ryanair introduces its communications partnership with Vodafone. Watch here.

Headlinesstephen Kavanagh speaks_6502

Stephen Kavanagh was the unsurprising choice as new CEO of Aer Lingus, unsurprising as he was at the heart of the airline’s recent trans-Atlantic policy. The surprise was the timing, indicating a new owner will now inherit a CEO as well. If IAG’s reassurance that the Aer Lingus game-plan will stay in place is real, this is an appointment that will suit everyone, giving Lingus stability and the prospective new owners continuity of a CEO who previously worked with Willie Walsh. The bid has not been launched yet, highlight in the soap opera this week was the Colm Barrington and Aer Lingus presentation (statements here, report here) to the Oireachtas Transport committee. Aer Lingus case was:

  • The market between Europe and North America is 75m people per annum. Increasing Aer Lingus’s share of this traffic from 2pc, to 4 or 5pc would mean bringing an additional 1 to 2m passengers per year through Ireland.
  • Aer Lingus is doing well on its own and will grow but it will be better and grow faster if sold to IAG.
  • IAG’s proposal can enable Ireland to become a central hub for European traffic across the Atlantic,
  • There is an immediate prospect of accelerating plans to open two new destinations in North America, one on the east coast and one on the west coast [in 2016].
  • Aer Lingus carried 1.3m customers across the Atlantic last year and 1 in 3 of those customers [430,000] was travelling between Europe and North America.
  • Being part of IAG will enhance Aer Lingus’s European growth. Aer Lingus short-haul services,  will benefit from the sales and marketing of IAG and Oneworld partner sales, strengthening the positions of the Cork and Shannon to Heathrow routes

The travel trade exhibition which takes place in conjunction with the AGM of the Irish Travel Agents Association in Citywest on Apr 23-24 is over subscribed, and the organisers, Business Exhibitions, are seeking extra space. “It is an overwhelming response considering the event is still two months away,” Edmund Hourican of Business Exhibitions says.
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Seven sponsors accompanied the Visit USA roadshow to Limerick, Cork and Dublin. Visit USA Ireland is 25 years old this year and now has 80 members, up from the low of 27 three years ago. Agents gathered in Number One Pery Square in Limerick to hear presentations from Greg Evans from Atlantic City and Philadelphia (listen here), Neil Jones from New Orleans (listen here), Isabel Harrison from Shannon airport (listen here), Duncan McCubbin from North Carolina (listen here), Fiona Noonan from American Airline (listen here) and Patricia Purdue from Massachusetts (listen here). The event in Hayfield Manor and the residence in Dublin were best attended with 30 agents at each. They heard presentations from Greg Evans from Atlantic City (listen here) and Philadelphia (listen here), Neil Jones from New Orleans (listen here), Duncan McCubbin from North Carolina (listen here), Fiona Noonan from American Airline (listen here), Declan Power from Shannon airport (listen here) and Patricia Purdue from Massachusetts (listen here). See here the Philadelphia National Geographic visitors guide, see here the What’s New in Philadelphia presentation, see here a link to the Atlantic City visitors guide. Picture shows Ciara Foley of Platinum Travel chair of Visit USA Dublin, and Finola Cunningham of the US embassy. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

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IMG_0019Sean Lally hosted 150 guests to the opening of the Secret Garden at the Strand Hotel in Limerick. An evening of casino games followed helpings of Guinea Fowl and other delicacies prepared by chef Tom Flavin in Chinese style. Sean has been GM at the Strand since joining from the Clarion in 2008. Pictures show Sean Lally speaking and events manager Ciara Hanley and Sean Lally at the event. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

The storyboard giving the history of the hotel is worth checking out. Strand Hotel marketing manager in London Jim O’Mara’s daughter Connie O’Mara was a governess in Vienna who married Werner von Trapp, brother to George on whose own governess wife, Maria, the Sound of Music was based.IMG_0005

IMG_0015Brittany Ferries bookings on Cork to Roscoff are 5pc ahead of last year, Mike Bevens told travel media at an event this week. This is on the back of a 7pc increase last year. Group bookings are up 2pc and the big news is that the Pont Aven will go into dry dock for three months in January to have scrubbers fitted at a cost of €12m. “The drop in fuel price means don’t have to put up prices,” Mike Bevens says. Other enhancements during refit include the installation of Nespresso coffee machines in the high end Commofore cabins and lounge areas. Picture shows Mike Bevens and Hugh Bruton of Brittany Ferries with Celine Badde Liynage of Brittany tourism. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

IMG_0038Mercedes Sianchez of Madrid Tourism and Oliver Benalal of the Inter-continental Hotel in Madrid (pictured)  hosted irish trade in the Intercontinental Hotel Dublin. Mercedes says she wishes to boost the Irish visitor numbers to Madrid from their current levels which are too low. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

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IMG_6213Northern Ireland Tourist Board hosted travel media on the trail of St Patrick. Mark Mohan explained how St Patrick’s Trail will eventually form a camino style trail from Louth to Armagh and across Down to Downpatrick and the nearby ancient pilgrimage site of Struell Wells. Picture shows the group at the reputed grave of Patrick in Downpatrick where local guides Joy Wilkinson and Loretto Coyne explained the significance of local Patrician and ecclesiastical sites. Tim Campbell revealed that St Patrick’s centre in Downpatrick was never officially opened – the opening was postponed because of foot and mouth disease and never took place. Dean Henry Hull said that the refurbishment of Downpatrick Cathedral would be complete for the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury on March 17. Pictures show Kirstin Smith of NITB, Áine O’Connor of the Star, Joy Wilkinson from Downpatrick Cathedral, John Low of Senior Times, Mags Gargan of the Irish Catholic, Rebecca Brennan of Ireland of the Welcomes, tour guide Leretto Coyne and Eoghan Corry, editor of Travel Extra, at the reputed grave of St Patrick in Downpatrick, Dean Henry Hull, Tim Campbell and Joy Nicholson in the cathedral undergoing refurbishment and Kirstin Smith of NITB at the famous pilgrimage site the wells of Struell. The group were hosted at the seaside retreat, Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle (see here).

Travel Trade

elaine o'brien travelbookersCruise.co has appointed Elaine O’Brien (pictured) of the Travelbookers to head up their Irish operation.

The ITAA has announced Emirates as an ITAA Affiliate Partner.

Caroline O’Toole of Fahy Travel in Galway is celebrating a speculative wedding enquiry that turned into a €85,000 cruise booking for 90 people. Colm Ó’Flatharta and Nóirín Ní Chonghaile were in search of suggestions when Caroline recommended a seven-night western Mediterranean cruise aboard MSC Preziosa from Marseille in July.

Four agents will fly Business Class with Emirates to Dubai to enjoy a live performance from One Direction. Email details on the number of Emirates bookings you have made between Feb 23 and March 20 inclusive, and the travel consultant who has made the most Emirates bookings could be jetting off to Dubai. Return – not one direction only.

  • Lowcostbeds and AlSol resorts are offering a prize of seven nights’ accommodation in the 5-star AlSol Tiara at Cap Cana in Dominican Republic. All bookings made in February will be automatically entered into a draw.
  • Holly Mason has started as the new Marketing & PR executive with the Travel Corporation.
  • Sunway is offering €5 per passenger on Club Med bookings before Feb 27, ands a chance to win , in association with Club Med, has launched a promotion for Irish travel agents. Just book a Club Med villa and receive a free Club Med holiday for two.
  • Wendy Wu Tours is offering free upgrades on its China tour programme until tomorrow, Monday Feb 23
  • BookaBed has a job vacancy for a Product Assistant. Reporting in to the Product Manager.
  • Funway Holidays will run a joint campaign with SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment in March.
  • Skål International Dublin‘s AGM will be held at 12.30pm, March 10 in the Conrad Dublin Hotel. Lunch costs €30 for members, €35 for guests.
  • Funway Holidays will launch its Marital March campaign next month, offering engagement breaks to New York, wedding packages to Mexico and honeymoons in Barbardos.
  • Skål Ireland National Convention takes place March 27-29 in Rochestown Park Hotel,. A coach tour of East Cork will include a visit and lunch in Cobh Heritage Centre and visit to Ballyseedy Centre. Convention packages from €120pps for 1 night and from €245pps for 2 nights. Email Mary Browne, national treasurer before March 15.
  • MSC Cruises appointed Luca Biondolillo to the newly created post of chief communications officer.
  • Fastbooking selected Christine Tan as SVP Sales & Marketing.
  • Camino Ways competition: Win a 7-day Camino do Santiago trip for two plus a Hi-Tech Camino gear kit. Enter here. Winners of the Camino Ways Holiday World Show 2015 draw: Paula Lindstrom, winner of 3 nights on the Wild Atlantic Way and Dee O’Mahony, winner of a €250 voucher for 53 Degres North.
  • Marie Greevey, former President of the Skal Club, passed away on Sunday, February 15. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.

Hotels

jp kavanaghJP Kavanagh takes over as GM of the Intercontinental Hotel in Ballsbridge tomorrow Monday. He arrives from Dubai and previously was GM of the Fitzwilliam, Sheraton in Edinburgh, the Turnberry, the Connaught in London and Mandarin Oriental. He replaces acting GM Paul downing who oversaw the changeover from its former identity as Four Seasons. “It was a seamless change,” says Gillian De Lacy of Intercontinental. “The new sign was erected at 8.30am on new Year’s Day and we completed what is normally an 18-month process in ten days.”

Ireland’s hoteliers gather at the Slieve Russell in Ballinamore this week for the annual IHF conference (see programme here). Speakers include Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody, Michael Cawley, Pat McCann, Howard Hastings, Bobby Kerr, Alan Waite, Jim Dollard, Alan Ahearne, Sarah Duignan, Aiden Murphy, Alan O’Neill, Warren McDonald and David Zamitt. The gala ball takes place Tuesday night and the President’s dine around will offer a Swedish dining in the Conall Cearnach Restaurant and a Basque menu in the Setanta Restaurant.award pic

John Burke’s Armada Hotel in Spanish Point won the Wedding Venue of the Year award at the weddingsonline 2015 Awards. They also won awards for website and waterside venue. Bellinter House in Navan won the Exclusive Venue of the Year and Lough Rynn in Mohill the Castle Hotel of the year. The four provincial winners were Clayton Hotel in Galway, Four Seasons Hotel in Carlingford, Garryvoe Hotel in Castlemartyr and Solis Lough Eske in Donegal. Picture shows Susie Conroy, Marita Morrissey and Fiona Buckley-Kitt from The Armada Hotel with Jonathan Bryans or weddingsonline.ie and Lisa Cannon of Xpose.

Revenues at the Marker Hotel were up 10pc year on year. Accumulated losses at Lough Rynn Castle fell from €1.31m to €1.286m. Further hotel sales are expected in the coming months following the sale of Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort to  JP McManus for an estimated €30m at the beginning of February.

  • Chesapeake Lodging Trust announced two new Vice Presidents, Nishil Patel and Nicholas Jette.
  • Starwood opened Element Vancouver Metrotown, the second Element hotel to open in Canada. Hyatt Place Tijuana opened in Baja California, Mexico.
  • Marriott sold The Miami Beach EDITION hotel for $230m Loews entered San Francisco with the purchase of Mandarin Oriental.
  • STR Global Construction Pipeline Report reports 912 hotels totalling 144,374 rooms under contract in Europe, according to the January 2015. Istanbul leads with 4,981 rooms followed by London with 4,470, Amsterdam with 2,368 Baku with 1,654 and Berlin with 1,642 rooms.
  • Hotel News Now reported hotel room piracy is increasing with 73.1pc of hoteliers claiming events had been targeted by piracy.
  • Dalata Hotel Group completed its acquisition of Whites Hotel, Wexford and Pillo Hotel, Galway, on Monday.
  • Red Carnation Hotels, the firm that operates Ashford Castle hotel resort, recorded pre-tax profits of €724,983 in its first year of operation.
  • Travelodge will launch a £15m marketing campaign later this year. The budget hotel chain is undergoing a £100m investment, with 87pc of guest rooms featuring the new look, king size Dreamer bed.
  • Melia Hotels International will open the 20-story Melia Paris La Défense, which boasts 369 rooms, which includes 29 suites, three restaurants and bars and is located adjacent to the Esplanade de la Défense metro station.
  • Ard na Sidhe Country House was listed as one of Conde Nast Traveler’s most affordable hotels in the world.
  • Hilton Worldwide will open the first Doubletree property in Egypt in 2017. The 197-room hotel will be located in Ain Al Sokhna.
  • Premier Inn in England is now offering free WIFI at all its hotels.

International

Madeira is backMadeira is back on the destinations board for 2015 after a hiatus of 8 months and a false start in 2014. Concorde Travel will operate direct flights from Dublin to Funchal every Thursday from the May 7 until Sept 17, their own charter with Europe Airpost.

WorldEscape founded and built by siblings Emmett and Deidre Brady (also responsible for building Ireland’s largest legal services firm, LawSearch.ie), offers over 10,000 lofts, houses, cottages, and even houseboats in over 50 cities around the world. WorldEscape lists four advantages over competitors such as Airbnb, it does not charge a booking fee, tcompared with 6-12pc by competiros, WorldEscape only charges 15pc at the time of booking compared with 100pc by competitors, it visits and vets every property it offers and 24 hour real person customer support, transport to and from the airport, and luggage storage.

  • The Passport Office has apologised for delays in processing passports, which it says is partly due to increased demand on services, following the most recent naturalisation ceremony for 3,000 foreign nationals.
  • Filmmaker Reinhard Radke will be personally conducting tours of the Serengeti Siobhan Learat‘s Adams & Butler this summer.
  • Mundy will be giving an exclusive live performance of the Copper Face Jacks Topflight ski trip to Arinsal. Topflight have added 20 places to the trip. The Copper Face Jacks wristband gives access to Coppers events for €899 March 1-8.
  • Irish businesses trading with Hong Kong and China are invited to enter the Cathay Pacific China Business Awards 2015 from Friday, February 6.
  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car has launched in Denmark through a new joint venture between two well-established Danish businesses.
  • Two Chinese taxi hailing apps, Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache, plan to merge.
  • Vanessa Ledesma-Berrios became the first female COO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.
  • VisitScotland is giving the chance to win 2 nights B&B at Cambo House to celebrate the Snowdrop Festival in Fife. Enter here.
  • Airbnb settled its long standing tax bill with San Francisco.
  • Enterprise Holdings acquired Triangle Rent A Car.
  • Visit Florida announced that 97.3m tourists visited the state in 2014.
  • The 400ft high Orlando Eye will open on May 4.
  • Airbnb-etiquetteRead Debrett and Airbnb‘s guide to homesharing etiquette.
  • 2,345 complaints were made against a TV and cinema ad by booking.com. Many of the complaints were against the substituion of the word ‘booking’ with a certain swear word. It doesn’t get any booking better than this. Look at the view, look at the booking view. This is exactly what you booking needed.
  • Travel group CTT bought tour operator Pettitts Travel.
  • 50 people were injured after two trains collided in Rafz, Switzerland.

Food and Wine

  • Nominations close tonight Sunday at midnight for tithe seventh annual Irish Restaurant Awards 2015.
  • GMIT students won eleven titles and eight gold medals at the CATEX awards in the RDS, Dublin.
  • Nespresso latest chef collaboration is with Irish Michelin starred Chef Kevin Thornton.
  • 25 restauranteurs in Waterford have put together Eat Waterford, a guide to eating out in the city. The guide is available free at hotels, restaurants and attractions in Waterford or it can be downloaded at eatwaterford.ie.
  • The gin room at Tankardstown House in Slane is offering a whopper sharing platter of ham, salami, coppa, spiced beef, brined ox tongue, smoked duck breast, celeriac remoulade, pickled vegetables, fermented cabbage and preserved chillies for €35. See tankardstown.ie for more info.

Aviation

fiona noonanFiona Noonan of American Airlines (pictured) confirmed at the Visit USA roadshow that American are increasing their aircraft size to  a brand new A330 on Dublin services to both Philadelphia and Charlotte, with fully lie flat in business for the first time and seatback entertainment in economy, and extending their Shannon-Philadelphia service to October.  Dublin JFK returns on March 26 with a retrofit 767 and the seasonal service from Dublin to Chicago.

Emirates Cabin Crew Group Shot amilwEmirates has reached the top 200 of the world’s biggest brands for the first time. The airline is to hire 11,000 new staff, more than the entire staff in Ryanair.

An online survey of more than 9,000 people nationwide by the AA showed 43pc of 17-24 year olds will go directly to a price comparison website when pricing flights, compared with 14pc of over 65s. The AA says over 65s probably pay more for their flights when booking online.

Lufthansa became the first airline to select Amadeus’ patent-pending Altéa Corporate Recognition, a tool which allows the airline to better recognise corporate customers at the time of booking.

Etihad launched daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Kolkata (Calcutta), the airline’s 11th destination in India on its own, and its 15th destination in combination with network partner Jet Airways.

Ryanair reported record bookings from American customers following the launch of its new United States Ryanair website in December, which enables flight bookings to be made in dollars.

Qatar Airways is giving customers the chance to win a pair of return tickets to any of the 146 destinations on its network. A winner will be selected each week from customers booking online, the competition will run over a period of one month from Feb 22. Customers must use the promotional code “BOOKANDWIN” when purchasing their flights. Customers can take advantage of the long travel validity of the tickets, with 12 months to redeem their prize.

Air Lituanica has joined the European Region Airlines Association.

Aer Rianta International won a contract to operate a duty free concession at Auckland International airport, beginning in July.

Aircraft lessor Avolon installed a treasury management system from Salmon Software.

Belfast International Airport doubled its claim for damages against Aer Lingus to £40m for moving to Belfast City Airport in 2012.

Passenger assistance website AirHelp claimed that Irish passengers whose flights were delayed or cancelled in 2013 are due refunds of €52m.

A scorpion stung a woman on board an Alaska Airlines flight as it was taxiing on the runway.

Sanad Aer Solutions extended its leasing portfolio of spare engines with Etihad Airways.

Ryanair reached 7m passengers at Berlin Shonefeld Airport this week.

P_Ulf_HuettmeyerEtihad Airways appointed Ulf Huttmeyer (pictured) as senior vice president finance equity partner, effective April 1.

Kazakhstan’s Air Astana appointed Simon Rickman to Sales and Marketing Manager, Britain and Ireland.

  • Seven people were injured during severe turbulence on a United Airlines flight from Newark to Hawaii.
  • Qantas will enforce rules for smart casual dress in its airport lounges from April after receiving complaints from customers. Those wearing thongs, singlets and torn t-shirts will be issued a friendly reminder and may be denied entry.
  • Flights to an from Italy were disrupted due to a four-hour strike by Italian air traffic controllers.
  • Traffic at European airports increased 5.5pc in 2014, according to anna.aero. Moldova saw the biggest increase with traffic growing 34.9pc, while Ukraine saw the biggest decrease, down 14.3pc. Irish traffic was up 7pc.
  • Iceland’s low cost carrier WOW air purchased two new A321s on finance lease to use on its transatlantic routes.
  • From next month, Easyjet Plus passengers will be allowed take a second bag into the cabin.
  • Boeing reported that six B737s were ordered by unidentified customers.
  • American Airlines is considering larger aircraft to replace 20 E190s once they are phased out.
  • Lufthansa outlined plans for growth in fleet and staff numbers at its main airlines business in exchange for cost cuts as it tries to end a long-running labour dispute with pilots.
  • Air China took delivery of new B737-800, its 38th aircraft at its Chongqing Branch.
  • Etihad chief executive James Hogan resigned from the board of Virgin Australia Holdings. CFO James Rigney stepped down as well.
  • Lufthansa Technik will provide a Total Component Support for A320 and A330 fleet of the four airlines of Thomas Cook Group from February 2015 to 2021.
  • Low cost carrier Eurowings will have its first base outside Germany in Vienna.

Afloat

Children up to the age of 15 can travel free on board Irish Ferries sailings to Britain until May 21.

The signature North Star viewing pod on board Quantum of the Seas, Nov 1 2014Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas will float out February 21 at Meyer Werft’s Papenburg shipyard in Germany, Anthem and undergo thruster and stabiliser tests in the shipyard’s harbour before naming in Southampton in April. The ship will offer Mediterranean itineraries out of Southampton before redeploying to Cape Liberty in November 2015. It will feature the pod, virtual skydive and bumper car innovations introduced on sister ship Quantum of the Seas.

Three new CroisiEurope ships are to launch in April. MS Loire Princesse launches April 2 and will be the first boat with overnight cabins to operator on the Loire, thanks to innovative paddle wheel technology. MS Camargue launches April 1 will join the CroisiEurope fleet on the Rhone alongside the MS Mistral and MS Van Gogh. MS Gil Eanes launches April 17 and will ply the Douro joining three other CroisiEurope ships the MS Infante D Henrique, the MS Fernao De Magalhaes and the MS Vasco Da Gama. Alan Lynch’s Cruisescapes are GSA for CroisiEurope in Ireland.

Anthem of the Seas entertainment will an original Royal Theatre production show The Gift and a new show in Two70 Spectra’s Cabaret in addition to the Broadway musical, We Will Rock You, previously announced by the line, passengers on the ship will be treated to as “a musical journey of fantasy and illusion that begins one stormy night with the arrival of a magical gift.”

IMG_2447 copyThe fact that Europe has been able to boost demand for cruises by 43pc since the global recession hit when other tourism sectors were flat will be analysed at the upcoming Cruise Shipping conference in Miami. Speakers at the session include: Pierfrancesco Vago of MSC Chairman of CLIA Europe, Kerry Anastassiadis of Louis Cruises, David Dingle of Carnival, Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, of Silversea, Gianni Onorato of MSC, Dominic Paul of Royal Caribbean (pictured) and Michael Thamm of Costa Crociere. Speakers at the keynote session include Orlando Ashford, of Holland America Line, Roberto Fusaro of MSC, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo of Celebrity and Jan Swartz of Princess Cruises.

  • Oceania Cruises is overhauling the Culinary Centre onboard its O-class ships, Marina and Riviera, creating a new curriculum with 20 classes focusing on regional cuisine.
  • Quark Expeditions launch their Arctic 2016 season tomorrow Monday, Feb 23.
  • CLIA appointed Charles Sylvia as vice president of trade relations from March 2.
  • Carnival chairman Micky Arison sold 10m shares for $433.7m.
  • Passengers on board the Carnival Vista will be able to pedal around the top deck on the SkyRide.

Deal Watch

  • To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Spanish theme park PortAventura, DoSomethingDifferent.com is offering agents a 20pc discount on all multiday tickets for a limited time.
  • Lowcostbeds accommodation offers in Sharm El Sheikh: 5* Hilton Waterfalls All Inclusive from €43pppn. 5* Iberotel Il Mercato B&B from €14pppn. 5* Xperience Sea Breeze All Inclusive from €38pppn.
  • Discover Travel offers: 15-day tour of Burma B&B from €2,539p incl. flights ex Dublin and taxes, travel September 2015. 10 nights Koh Samet and Bangkok from €1,299pp incl. flights ex Dublin and taxes, travel between now and June 30. Visit discovertravel.ie or call 021 463 5440.
  • Topflight is offering 7 nights full board Villa Beach, Kuramathi Island Resort, The Maldives from €1,699pp incl. flights, taxes and sea plane transfers, travel in June. Upgrade to Water Villa with Jacuzzi and full board from €2,365. Visit topflight.ie or call 01 240 1709.
  • Book a holiday to Italy with Topflight before Feb 28 to save up to €300 per couple on selected properties. See topflight.ie for more or call 01 2401 700 for more info.
  • Sunway Lisbon City and Coast offers, depart May 30 and June 6, book before February 28: 7 nights B&B Sao Mamede Hotel from €554pp. 7 nights self catering Clube Do Lago Apartments from €594pp. 7 nights B&B Eden Estoril Hotel from €634pp. 2 nights hotel B&B Lisbon City from €699pp. 5 nights hotel B&B Cascais from €699pp. All incl. taxes, charges, 20kg baggage pp and Sunway rep service.
  • Sunway Easter offers: 7 nights B&B Sea Pearl Hotel, Turkey from €1,152 for two adults and one child or from €1,536 for two adults and two children, departs March 28 and April 4. 7 nights B&B Marabout Hotel & Aqua Park, Tunisia from €1,032 for two adults and one child or from €1,366 for two adults and two children, departs March 27 and April 3. 7 nights B&B Argana Hotel, Morocco from €1,462 for two adults and one child or from €1,626 for two adults and two cildren, departs March 28 and April 4. 7 nights self catering Oasis Apartments, Lanzarote ex Shannon from €1,399 for two adults and one child or from €1,796 for two adults and two children, departs March 28 and April 4. 7 nights self catering, Oasis Duna Apartments, Fuerteventura from €1,367 for two adults and one child or from €1,746 for two adults and two children, departs March 28 and April 4. 7 nights self catering MRC Maspalomas Bungalows from €1,549 for two adults and one child, departs March 28 and April 4.
  • Sunway Honeymoon offers: 5 nights Half Board Northern Lights Cruise from €1,149pp incl. flights ex Dublin, taxes transfers and baggage, departs March 18.  7 nights River Cruise, Holland and Belgium from €1,529pp incl. flights and transfers, depart May 6. 11-day All Inclusive Serengeti Safari to Zanzibar from €2,159pp incl. flights, transfers and excursions, depart September 3.
  • Classic Resorts‘ St Patrick’s Day offers: 5 nights B&B Ramada Plaza Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai from €999pps, travel March 12. 5 nights B&B JC Ocean View Hotel Dubai from €1,116pps, travel March 12. See classicresorts.ie or call 01 874 5000 to book.
  • Thai transportation company Limousine Phuket is offering a 2-night tour of Phuket from 2,130 Thai Baht incl. round trip airport pick up, Phuket orientation tour and overnight at hotel on room only. See limousinephuket.com for more info.

Ireland

There were 330 entries for the inbound Irish Tourism Industry awards to be held in the Doubletree by Hilton, April 24.

Fáilte Ireland hosted the European Travel Commission’s Market Intelligence Group, some of Europe’s top tourism research professionals at the Grand Hotel, Malahide, Dublin for their AGM (Feb 18-20). European tourism is estimated to have grown by 4pc in 2014 and is projected to continue this upward trend in 2015.

The Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism Partnership has closed. The partnership was responsible for the out of state tourism marketing for the area covered by the local authority areas of Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine, Larne, Limavady and Moyle and represented 400 businesses.

The IATA Aviation Security conference has been confirmed for October 2015 in The Convention Centre, Dublin, one of four international conferences, totalling over 1,400 delegates which Fáilte Ireland say have been won for Dublin through its Conference Ambassador scheme, the others being the Conference of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education in February 2017;the International Equine Ophthalmology Consortium Symposium in June, 2016; and the Association of National Numbering Agencies in June 2015. The National Tourism Development Authority added that it would also soon be in a position to announce a further four conference wins, totalling over 2,000 international delegates.

frank corr bookMinister Michael Ring launched Serving the Caterer 1965-2015 by Limerick-born journalist Frank Corr, a book on the history of the Irish Hospitality Industry. The book tells the story of the evolution of tourism, the hotel industry, dining out and catering in industrial and institutional locations over the past 50 years. The book was commissioned by the Irish Foodservice Suppliers Alliance.

Shannon Airport Chairperson Rose Hynes, travel writer and winner of the Travel Extra Travel Writer of the Year Book category Mark Graham and Fáilte Ireland’s Fiona Monaghan are guest speakers at the Burren Tourism Story 2015 at the Pavilion, Lisdoonvarna on Wednesday Mar 4th at 6.30pm showcasing the activities, adventures, food and heritage of the Burren Region.

Car manufacturer Opel hosts 550 international motoring media representatives for the launch of two new engines, the Mokka and Insignia. This is the first international launch by any car manufacturer to take place in Ireland in over 15 years, was facilitated by Fáilte Ireland.

The first all Ireland responsible tourism awards will be presented at a ceremony following the Responsible Tourism in Destinations conference on March 11, the second responsible tourism conference for the Irish Centre for Responsible Tourism and the ninth in an international conference series. Conference speakers include Carol Gleeson, from Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark, Harold Goodwin, Professor of Responsible Tourism at Manchester Metropolitan University, Manda Brookman from the Cornwall Sustainable Tourism Project, Richard Tyler, from Brecon Beacons National Park, Xavier Font, from Respondeco, Cillian Murphy from Loop Head Peninsula, Rina Garrett from Erris Tourism, Siobhan Burke from Sheep’s Head Peninsula, Joanna Hayes from Co Cavan, Martin Carey from Mourne Heritage Trust, Paddy Mathews of Fáilte Ireland, Mary Mulvey, CEO Ecotourism Ireland and Annabel Fitzgerald, Coastal Programmes Manager of An Taisce.

Harbour2Harbour Walk St. Patrick’s Day-090 copyPictured at an event onboard Irish Ferries’ vessel ‘Ulysses’ to announce details of this year’s Harbour2Harbour walk on St Patrick’s Day, Fergus McFadden and Senator David Norris Amo Sayed of Aware, Irish Ferries’ Newly Appointed Managing Director Andrew Sheen and Irish Ferries Marketing Manager Daragh O’Reilly. The 10th annual ‘Harbour2Harbour’ St. Patrick’s Day walk from Howth to Dun Laoghaire in aid of the charity Aware.

A £4.9m grant will enable the Titanic Foundation to restore the derelict Harland and Wolff Drawing Offices where RMS Titanic was designed – unlocking plans to develop a luxury four star hotel in the shipbuilder’s former headquarters building. The building has been vacant since 1989 and has been considered ‘at risk’ for almost a decade.

Tripadvisor‘s top 10 Irish beaches: 1. Inchydoney, Clonakilty, Co Cork. 2. Derrynane, Caherdaniel, Co Kerry. 3. Inch Beach, Dingle, Co Kerry. 4. Lahinch Beach, Co Clare. 5. Rossbeigh Beach, Glenbeigh, Co Kerry. 6. Curracloe Beach, Co Wexford. 7. Banna Strand, Co Kerry. 8. Kulmurvey, Inis Mór, Co Galway. 9. Salthill Beaches, Co Galway. 10. Portmarock Beach, Dublin.

CALLING BRITISH ADVENTURE ENTHUSIASTS AND LOVERS OF THE GREAT OUTDOORS!A group of Irish tourism companies travelled to London with Tourism Ireland for the 2015 Telegraph Outdoor Adventure Travel & Bike show. 55,000 visitors will attend the four-day event. Picture shows Ian Cumming, Martin McMullan and Chris Scott, all Mountain Bike Northern Ireland; former Irish cyclists Stephen Roche and Darach McQuaid; Michael Beare, Finn Lough Lakeside Lodges; Jim Maher, Select Hotels of Ireland; and Craig McCullough, Mountain Bike Northern Ireland; Anne Phelan, Trailwalkers Ireland; Gearóid O’Meachair, Rural Irish Holidays; Maura Mullins, Trailwalkers Ireland; Carol Hinch, Ballynahinch Castle Hotel; and Mick Breen, Irish Centre for Cycling, on the Tourism Ireland stand.

TRY FOR TOURISM! RUGBY LEGEND RONAN O’GARA LENDS A HAND TO BOOST BUSINESS TOURISM FROM FRANCERonan O’Gara joined Tourism Ireland and six Irish tourism companies in France for a Meet in Ireland MICE event in the Irish Embassy in Paris. 100 members of Racing Métro’s Business Club attended the event. Picture shows Ronan O’Gara with Caroline Phelan and Monica MacLaverty, both Tourism Ireland.

Club Choice Ireland which provides tailor-made golfing holidays to the East and South East of Ireland, launched its 2015 programme at Mere Golf Resort & Spa in Cheshire, Manchester. New destinations for 2015 include Mount Juliet, Druids Glen, Carton House and County Louth Golf Clubs.

Defending champions Clare won the title of Pool Rescue Champions 2015 from a field of 250 competitors who took part in the nine-hour competition of swimming pool rescues in the University of Limerick 50 metre pool.

Tourism Ireland won a prize for best deals from a destination marketing organizstion at the 2014 Travelzoo Awards in the US.

Fishing tourism FranceSpecialist Irish fishing and tourism businesses joined Tourism Ireland in Nantes at the Salon Européen des Peches en Mer angling fair, which was attended by 18,000 people. Picture shows the Irish stand at the event.

Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia confirmed that they will take part in the 2015 Irish Open.

Inisfest launchThe inaugural INIS Fest takes place in Ennise from June 26 to 28. The line up includes Damien Dempsey, Delorentos, Nathan Carter, the Kilfenora Céilí Band, De Dannan and Finbar Furey. Nightly tickets cost €27 while a weekend pass costs €72. Tickets on sale now at inisfest.com. Picture shows event organisers John McCarthy, Declan O’Grady, Carmen Cronin and Darren Purtill at The Friary Ennis.

The Burren Tourism Story 2015 will take place at the Pavilion, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare, on March 4, 6.30pm-8.30pm. Shannon Airport Chairperson Rose Hynes, travel writer Mark Graham and Fáilte Ireland’s Fiona Monaghan will be guest speakers at the event. Tourism providers and locals are invited to explore the visitor attractions and activities on offer in the Burren and sample food by local producers and restaurants. The event will also feature the launch of a new book on the geology of Co Clare, Banner Rocks.

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

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Willie Won’t-he and his Don’t Shock-a-Lot Factory

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Minister for Tourism Paschal Donoghue being interviewed at Tourism Ireland HQ

Minister for Tourism Paschal Donohoe being interviewed at Tourism Ireland HQ

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

Video of week Feb 15Our 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.

Headlines

Travel Extra March 2015The 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 willie walsh_9312the 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 agreementsAll 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).

colm barrington 1400 copyThe 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.kenny robin

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).Ryanair_0004

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).simon polito 74

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_0003Lufthansa 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.toourism irealnd_0011

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),TOURISM IRELAND ANNOUNCES GLOBAL GREENING LINEUP FOR ST PATRICK

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.

IMG_0043Don’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). 

Travel TradeBookabed Lee & Heather €100 a day winners

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.
  • Sales Team FHFunway 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.
  • GM - WelcomePicture 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.

Deal Watch

  • Wendy Wu bannerWendy 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.

Hotels

Hyatt is to offer free Wi-Fi to all guests worldwide, effective February 14. 

Microsoft Word - trivago feb 2015.rtfTrivago.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.”

hotel rooms by countyLongford 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.

International

BIT 2015BIT 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 evap@asiamarket.ie. 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.

Aviation

CoindrumCoindrum 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.

Afloat

  • CLIA_Infog_Jan2015_02The 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.

Ireland

New Tourism Office for Dublin Officially Opened (1)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.
  • IRISH TOURISM COMPANIES DO ‘THE BUSINESS’ IN PARISA 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.

NEW YORK LAUNCH OF TOURISM IRELAND’S MARKETING PLANS 2015Tourism 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.

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