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Emirates Steps Up Activity in Province

Emirates, the world's leading airline in terms of distances flown by its fleet, is targeting Northern Ireland travellers as it bids to maintain the success of its twice daily services to Dubai from Dublin.

Last Thursday the airline held the first of two lunches in Belfast's Shu restaurant - for local media - while this Thursday Emirates will be hosting members of the local Travel Trade.



Advantage Partnership Hosts All-Day Training

For the third year in a row, the Advantage Travel Partnership held a training workshop for agents in Belfast - the venue yesterday was Ten Square in central Belfast.

The workshops was split into two parts, with the morning sessions concentrating on the key principles of selling, including the importance of customer engagement, understanding motivation and recognising the difference between offering a genuine service and hard-selling.



Poor Turnout at Destination Caribbean Roadshow

Future Caribbean roadshows in Northern Ireland could be in jeopardy following a poor turnout of local travel agents at last night's event in Belfast's Wellington Park Hotel.

Making the attendance even more disappointing is the fact that roadshow is now going on to fully-booked events in Dublin and Cork this week.



Luxury Cruise Line Holds Training for Agents

Silversea Cruises held an agent training event yesterday in the Hilton Hotel, Belfast.

Agents were treated to lunch and a walk through of the latest products and innovations from the cruise company. Specialist training was also given on Silversea’s newest ship, Silver Muse, which begins sailing in April 2017.



Glasgow in National Geographic Best in World List

Glasgow's reputation as an outstanding destination for discerning global travellers looks set to grow as the city has been named by the authoritative and inspirational National Geographic Traveler as one of its 20 'Best of the World' destinations for 2016.

The renowned global travel magazine has selected Glasgow for its highly-anticipated fifth annual 'Best of the World' list of unmissable global destinations to visit.



From the Classroom to the Slopes!

Topflight held their 2017 Topflight For Schools launch last Thursday evening in the stunning setting of The Andrews Gallery, Titanic.

A crowd of over 150 education professionals were in attendance to find out more from ski suppliers in Italy, Austria, Spain, Andorra, Norway and the USA.



VIP Shopping Nights at International

Belfast International Airport are hosting a number of VIP shopping nights in conjunction with their commercial partners on Wednesday November 25 and on Wednesday November 2 and December 9 from 8.30pm until midnight. The event is open to all members of the Trade and their guests.

"We will be issuing passes to guests for each event on a first come first served basis and the passes are now available," said an Airport spokesperson. "We have requested an RSVP to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it stating the number of passes required for each event by Friday November 20, 2015 or you can contact 028 94484035 to arrange.



Thursday November 19, 2015

This Week's Travel News


Middle East Airline Eyes Up Belfast

Middle eastern airline Qatar Airways is weighing up the possibility of launching flights from Ireland, possibly from Belfast, as it seeks to expand its European business.

The carrier operates services to Doha in Qatar from Heathrow, Manchester and Edinburgh, while it is due to begin flying from Birmingham next March.

Its Country Manager for the UK and Ireland Richard Oliver said in the Irish Times that the airline is considering launching services from Dublin or indeed Belfast. Qatar picks up Irish travellers who connect to its flights from Britain, particularly at Heathrow, while its main rivals, Gulf carriers Emirates and Etihad, both operate out of Dublin.

The airline has boosted capacity at Heathrow by swapping an Airbus A319 for a Boeing 787 in a move that will cut business seats but which Qatar calculates will boost overall revenue.


Honorary Fellowship for Belfast City Airport Chief

Belfast Metropolitan College has conferred an Honorary Fellowship Award on Brian Ambrose, Chief Executive of Belfast City Airport for his "outstanding contribution to tourism and economic development in Northern Ireland".

Belfast Metropolitan College celebrated the achievements of over 1,000 higher education learners at its annual Graduation which was held in Titanic Belfast. The annual event welcomed 2,000 guests over two ceremonies and recognised students from the Faculties of Technologies and Academic Studies, Leadership, Science and Service Industries and Health, Care, Sport and Leisure.

Brian Ambrose OBE has worked within the aviation industry for 39 years holding senior management positions within Bombardier in Engineering, Business Development and Operations. In his current role as Chief Executive of George Best Belfast City Airport, he is responsible for a growing business which has become a significant employer and contributor to the Northern Ireland economy employing approximately 1500 people on site and generating an annual passenger throughput in excess of 2.7 million.


First Big Snowfall Expected at Ski Resorts

Good news for skiers and winter sports lovers... Heavy snowfall, the first big accumulation of the season, is forecast across much of the Alps this weekend.

Snowfall is expected to start early on Friday and is set to last all weekend, resulting in perfect conditions across wide swathes of the Alps. Popular resorts such as such as Val d' Isere, La Plagne, Meribel, Zermatt and Verbier are all set to benefit from the snow bonanza with up to 117cm expected in some areas.

According to Ski Solutions, the leading specialist UK ski operator, it's the perfect start for Val d' Isere, which officially kicks off its ski season on November 28 and the great early snow in Europe will mirror conditions in the USA and Canada, where popular resorts such as Whistler, Vail and Aspen are opening early this weekend with perfect powder conditions.

But as the snow starts to fall, prices will begin to rise, warns Ski Solutions Managing Director, Craig Burton. He says: "Our phones are already busier than usual as word gets out that this heavy snow is on its way. We have seen prices go up in the past once the snow arrives, so canny skiers and boarders who move quickly now will secure the best deals."


Mourne Calendar Winners Announced

The Mourne Mountains Calendar competition has now finished and the winners have been notified via email, so make sure to check your inboxes and junk folders!

The Mourne Mountains have often been described as a "National Treasure" providing breath taking imagery ranging from historical sites and challenging mountain ranges to captivating sandy beaches with activities for all.

We hope our six winners enjoy the stunning photography of their calendar and that it sparks memories of trips with friends or family and encourages them to create new ones by visiting the Mournes.

Keep an eye out for more competitions coming shortly on our blog, and check back daily for all the latest travel news and features from around the globe.


New York and Dubai Most Searched for Destinations

A leading UK travel search site has revealed that New York is the most searched-for destination for travel during the Christmas and New Year period, with Dubai a close second.

The leading metasearch site looked at planned flight departures from all UK airports, within the period of Friday, December 18, 2015 and Sunday, January 3, 2016.  And Lisbon, Portugal's capital and largest city was third most-searched, for long and short breaks.

Momondo's Lasse Skole Hansen, said: "Many British travellers choose to spend the holiday during Christmas and New Year in unfamiliar and exotic climes, and this year is no exception. The excitement of New York, where the holiday season is taken very seriously, can be wonderful for children and adults alike, in the run-up to Christmas and over New Year.

"Many also utilise the many public holidays during Christmas and New Year to get away from the dark winter. This is why we see Dubai entering second."


New London Guide App on Thames Clippers

MBNA Thames Clippers has launched in:flow, a new app for visitors which delivers  a real-time audio guide about the city sights as they pass them on the river using geo location technology.

Designed exclusively for MBNA Thames Clippers, the app is downloadable for free on Apple and Android devices and uses location services or GPS to deliver an audio guide about the sights users are seeing at any given moment, whatever their journey speed or the number of stops they make. in:flow users can listen on their headphones as they sail along the Thames and find out more about the iconic landmarks they pass and touch the on-screen attraction icons to find out more details, such as opening hours and directions from their location to the venue.

In addition, in:flow features money saving offers for attractions, restaurants and more in London, all served to a mobile device based on your location along the Thames. As attractions and venues offering dedicated deals are nearby, users can save their favourites and redeem when they head off of the boat and explore the local riverside areas.

The MBNA Thames Clippers fleet of 15 catamarans offers London's visitors and commuters a comfortable and relaxed way to get from A to B and to take in the capital. The new app connects London's visitors to the best of the attractions and venues along the Thames. In addition, while on board MBNA Thames Clippers, travellers can relax with comfortable seating, great views and a bar serving snacks and hot and cold drinks.


Thomas Cook Launches Cape Town Flights

Thomas Cook Airlines will launch direct flights to Cape Town next December. The three times a week service from Gatwick will start on December 15 and run until March 20, 2017.

The flights, which will be the only ones to the South African city from the UK outside Heathrow, will operate on an Airbus A330. The route will feature Thomas Cook's new premium class cabin. Tickets will be priced from £699 return and will go on sale next month.

Christoph Debus, Chief Airlines and Hotels Officer for Thomas Cook, said: "Cape Town really is a 'WOW!' destination for our customers. It builds on our Cancun, Cuba and Goa long haul routes from Gatwick which are really popular and more broadly comes on top of new services from Manchester to New York and Miami this year, and to Los Angeles and Boston next year."


Three New Galleries Unveiled at Titanic

Titanic Belfast has today unveiled three new galleries, which capture the excitement of launch day, as well as the ship's maiden voyage.

With months in the planning, the redevelopment of three galleries is one of the most ambitious projects the visitor attraction has undertaken since opening in 2012.

The Maiden Voyage gallery transports visitors from four embarkation ports, Belfast, South Hampton, Cherbourg and Queenstown (now known as Cobh) to Titanic's deck promenade.

Utilising technology used in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion and Universal Studios Florida's Hogwarts Express attraction, can meet Fredrick Dent Ray, a dining room steward and survivor, as well as see and hear the ocean and feel the ships engines rumbling on board at the Palm Court Cafe.

The gallery also features an original first class luncheon menu dated April 14, 1912, similar to the menu which was recently sold at auction for £58,000, as well as the last letter ever to be written on board the Titanic, which sold at auction recently for a record sum of £119,000.



France and Belgium on High Terror Alert

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its travel advice, indicating that a terrorist attack is "possible and likely" in Belgium and tourists from the UK are being urged to take extra care.

The FCO website has the following advice for travellers: "Checks have been introduced at the Belgian border with France, and security measures have been heightened including at airports and international railway stations. You should take extra care in public places and follow the advice of the local authorities. There is a high threat from terrorism. Be vigilant and follow the security advice of the Belgian authorities."

The FCO is also warning travellers to be vigilant in public places in France, follow the advice of the local authorities and subscribe to email alerts for updates to this travel advice. French authorities have heightened security measures so allow time in your travel plans for any disruption this may cause. Systematic border control checks have been implemented at all entry points into France while a national state of emergency has been declared for three months.


Thursday November 12, 2015

This Week's Travel News


Time to Try the New Travel News Blog

The brand new Travel News Blog is now up and running - updated daily with all the latest news, hottest topics and exciting features from around the globe!

The dedicated team here at Northern Ireland Travel News, Northern Ireland's ONLY travel newspaper, will be bringing the latest updates right to your desktops and mobile devices.

The blog - - is easy to navigate and with the quick push of a button (or by entering your email address) you can get all the latest travel news, hot topics and tantalising features straight to your inbox where ever you are in the world.

On the blog at the moment - fancy winning a stunning Mourne Mountain calendar? All you have to do is follow - it's really that simple. If you have a Wordpress account just press the 'follow' button or if you don't just enter your email address in the box provided.

We also have many sponsorship, product review and advertising opportunities available across our entire media range including Northern Ireland Travel News (the latest issue of the printed publication is out now), our website, our twice weekly e-shots, our social media (Facebook & Twitter) and our blog To discuss any of these opportunities please call the office on 028 90 666 151.


Help for Local Travellers With a Disability

The Consumer Council and Autism NI have joined forces to produce a factsheet on the free assistance available when travelling by air with a disability or reduced mobility.

Jenny Robinson, Senior Policy Officer at the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland, said: "Travelling with a disability or reduced mobility can be daunting but there are services in place to make the journey as hassle free as possible. Passengers who have used these services have told us how helpful they are.

"All types of disabilities are covered including hidden ones such as learning difficulties, autism and hearing loss. Assistance is available at all stages of the journey, right from the point of booking your ticket and must be provided free of charge."

Dr Arlene Cassidy, Autism NI's CEO said: "The factsheet is a great source of information for a family who has a child with Autism. Most importantly it provides useful information on what support services are provided at airports and how these can be very easily accessed to make an Autism family's travelling experience as easy and comfortable as possible."

The factsheet outlines what passengers are entitled to and what to do if they are unhappy with the service received when travelling by air. It is available to download from the Consumer Council website. For other details of special assistance when travelling contact the Consumer Council by phone or download a copy of Access to Air Travel or Access to Ferry Travel from the Council's website.


Fifteen Routes and Over 600 Flights Weekly Next Summer

Flybe, the largest operator at George Best Belfast City Airport, has put on sale its 2016 Summer Schedule featuring 15 routes with a choice of up to 622 flights a week to an extensive range of UK destinations.

Increased frequency is a highlight of the newly expanded schedule with up to five daily flights to Liverpool, six flights per day to Edinburgh and Glasgow, a new daily service to Inverness, and the city of Aberdeen served by two flights each day.

Flybe's 2016 Summer schedule also features the return of weekly holiday flights to Newquay and up to seven rotations per day to the airline's Manchester hub. This offers onward connectivity to a wide range of regional destinations with Flybe including its new route to Rotterdam, and also globally with its many codeshare partners when booked through a travel agent or direct with a chosen carrier via the airline's bespoke Skyscanner link accessed via its website.

Three daily flights to Southampton not only offer easy access to Southern England but also a convenient connection for cruise travellers.

Tickets are available for booking now with one way fares from £24.99 including taxes and charges and currently available for travel from March 27 to September 30, 2016.


Belfast Key to Stena Line's Success

Twenty years on from setting up its ferry services in Belfast, Stena Line is set to make 2015 its busiest year to date for car and freight numbers.

In the two decades since it moved to Belfast, Stena Line has expanded its services significantly and today the company employs over 900 staff, transports 1.4 million passengers, 318,000 cars and almost 500,000 freight units annually.

When the Irish Sea's leading ferry company established its Belfast operation on November 12 1995, it operated three ferries to one port in Scotland. Today, that service has expanded to seven vessels operating year round services to Cairnryan, Birkenhead (Liverpool) and Heysham. Stena Line has delivered some impressive numbers on its Belfast services over the last two decades including transporting 26 million passengers, 5.5 million cars and over 4 million freight units.

However, as Route Manager (Irish Sea North) Paul Grant states: "The opportunity to develop a significant presence in Belfast was always going to be based on how well we developed our customer offering. Today our modern fleet offers a range of quality facilities have helped to set the standard for travel on the Irish Sea including Spa facilities, exclusive Plus lounges, family suites and dedicated Freight Driver lounges."

Meanwhile Stena Line is getting a Christmas makeover this year complete with a historic name change to Santa Line - what else! - across its European network. Not only that, they are introducing a festive app which customers can use to win prizes as they journey across the Irish Sea.

"Anyone planning a journey between Britain and Ireland this Christmas should look no further than Santa Line where festive cheer and relaxation will be the order of the day," said Stena Line's Orla Noonan, Head of Travel, Irish Sea.

"Santa Line really does put the Ho Ho Go into Christmas with great value fares from as little as £79 single for car and driver and the widest choice of routes and sailings on the Irish Sea," said Orla Noonan, Head of Travel, Irish Sea.


Dublin Heading for a Record Year

Dublin Airport has surpassed last year's total number of passengers with seven weeks to spare and is heading for a recording-breaking year.

Dublin welcomed 21.71 million passengers in 2014 and by last Sunday, November 8, the airport had seen 21.96 million passengers pass through its doors this year.

Dublin's busiest year was in 2008, when almost 23.5 million passengers used the airport, but this record is likely to be broken this year.

"Dublin Airport is already ahead of last year in passenger numbers, with more than half of November and all of December still to come," said Managing Director, Vincent Harrison. "We've had a fantastic year, with passenger numbers up 15 per cent, which is equivalent to almost 2.9 million extra people using the airport so far this year. Every month since April has been a new record month for traffic at Dublin Airport and I'd like to thank our airline customers and our passengers for that additional business."


Four Norwegian Coastal Ships get a Makeover

Hurtigruten, the Norwegian coastal route specialists, has announced a refurbishment programme that will see four of its coastal ships under-going a total makeover in 2016.

The company is already undertaking a total refurbishment of the newly acquired MS Spitsbergen.

They have also announced plans to operate MS Spitbergen as an additional ship on the Norwegian coastal route next summer, before she officially takes the place of MS Midnatsol in autumn 2016.

"We are now reinventing the Hurtigruten experience. By combining tradition, innovation and sustainability, we aim to ensure the position as world leader in nature-based explorer travels in polar waters," says Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam.

MS Polarlys will be the first ship to be refurbished in January 2016, during a 22-day programme of round the clock works. Upgrading of MS Kong Harald, MS Nordkapp and MS Nordnorge will follow.The ships will be fitted with a modern Scandinavian interior, reflecting the coastal landscapes of the Arctic.


Lapland Airports Ready for Christmas Charters

The passenger experience at the main airport for visits to Santa in Lapland, Rovaniemi, in northern Finland hast been taken to a new level, according to airport operator Finavia.

The service level, enjoyment and smoothness of Rovaniemi Airport have been improved with changes focused on security control and service desks at the terminal and the appearance of the airport.

"Finavia has made significant investments in making Rovaniemi Airport a more enjoyable place for passengers and in ensuring satisfying and smooth travelWe can be proud of our modern airport which is now ready to receive Christmas travellers," says Martti Oinas, Finavia's Regional Manager for Lapland and Manager of Rovaniemi Airport. Lapland's airports have never been this good and competitive. In the past few years, Finavia says it has made significant investments in the other airports in Lapland and are ready to receive Christmas charters.

"Now we are ready to wish travellers welcome to the official airport of Santa Claus. Thanks to charter flights and the extensive range of routes offered by Helsinki Airport, Rovaniemi is within easy reach from all parts of the world. The Arctic Circle can be visited, directly or via one connecting flight, from more than 100 destinations."


Chance to Take On The Vikings!

Picture the clash of metal meeting metal, as sword and shield glint in the light of the sun. Think battle cries, think arrows speeding through the skies, think wild hairy warriors - yes the Vikings are coming!

This Saturday, November  14, The Magnus Viking Association will let you step aboard a time machine and travel back 1000 years, to a time when weapons were wielded and runes were read. This event will take place at the new eco pop up Contained venue, in Corporation Street, Belfast.

Come along and take part in the children's authentic Viking battle drill and take on the real Vikings in a sword fight, help by adding a stitch to the epic Medieval tapestry, learn to write in runes, shoot real arrows from a traditional long bow, try on chain mail and helmets, see the Dark Age Blacksmith at work. This event, supported by Belfast City Council will take place from 10am - 5pm.

Tickets are £5 for adults, £2 for children and a family pass costs £10.


Airline Shows Off Its Inflight Wine Selection

Every year, more than 160 different wines, champagnes and ports, sourced from the best vineyards in 11 countries, are served onboard Emirates to passengers.

The airline, which operates twice daily to Dubai from Dublin, recently flew in a very special cargo of some of the finest wines served onboard the Dublin route, together with a 2005 Dom Perignon for its first-ever wine tasting event in Dublin.

Hosted at the Merrion Hotel by the Country Manager for Emirates in Ireland, Enda Corneille, guests enjoyed a selection of wines from France and Australia.

Emirates has invested over 450 Million Euro in its wines and spirits portfolio over the past 10 years and has over 2.2 million bottles of wines ageing in its own cellar in Burgundy, France.

The picture shows Enda Corneille, (right) Country Manager for Emirates Ireland and Ernie Whalley from the Sunday Times.


Thursday November 5, 2015

This Week's Travel News


Few Local Travellers Caught up in Sharm Lockdown

Flights from the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh to the UK have been suspended on the orders of the government. The move is due to new fears that the Russian passenger aircraft which crashed in the North Sinai peninsula on Saturday was attacked by terrorists.

Foreign secretary Philip Hammond said it was working with airlines and the Egyptian authorities to put emergency short-term measures in place that will allow the return of British tourists who are in resort. The weekly direct Falcon Holidays charters from both Belfast and Dublin to Sharm el Sheikh are finished for the summer season so the number of local travellers in the top Egyptian resort is expected to be small. A winter programme is scheduled from Dublin with the first flight on Christmas Eve.

Thomson and Thomas Cook have already cancelled flights and holidays to Sharm el Sheikh up to and including next Thursday, November 12, 2015.

The Foreign Office said there was a significant possibility that the crash was caused by an explosive device. "As a precautionary measure, we are now advising against all but essential travel by air to or from Sharm el Sheikh. UK carriers will not take passengers directly to Sharm el Sheikh airport. We are working with the Egyptian authorities and air carriers to put special security measures in place which will permit travellers in Sharm el Sheikh to return by air, whether as scheduled at the end of their stay or before that if they wish.

"We are not raising the threat level in the resort. The above advice applies only to air travel to and from Sharm el Sheikh. Carriers will not be permitted to fly from Sharm el Sheikh until we are satisfied that it is safe for them to do so."


Tamper-proof Bags in Bid to Curb Onboard Drinking, which operates a comprehensive programme of flights from Belfast International Airport, is spearheading trials of tamper-proof bags for duty free alcohol in a bid to clamp down on drunken antisocial behaviour on board flights.

The airline has joined forces with World Duty Free (WDF) to trial a scheme at Manchester and Glasgow airports. Jet2 passengers buying alcohol at either airport will have their goods placed in a sealed, tamper-proof bag to deter them from consuming the booze on board.

The move is designed to make it more difficult for passengers to reach inside their bags and drink duty free alcohol during the flight. The special bags can only be opened with scissors or a sharp object, which makes it harder for passengers to access what's inside them.

The Airline's Managing Director Phil Ward said: "Unfortunately disruptive passenger behaviour has increased and it is something we will not tolerate. We are taking a proactive stance to tackle this issue from many aspects, including this new trial of tamper-proof World Duty Free bags, to make sure an anti-social few don't spoil the experience for the majority of customers that fly with us and want a fantastic holiday.

"Over the past couple of years, unruly passenger behaviour has increasingly been linked to excessive alcohol consumption prior to embarkation and from illicit alcohol onboard. If this trial is successful it is something we will certainly look to permanently introduce at all the airports we fly from."


Scheme to Beat the USA Immigration Queues

UK travellers to the United States will be able to join a scheme that will allow them to skip the well documented long queues at US immigration from December following the expansion of Global Entry to British citizens.

Global Entry, which is already available at 46 US airports and 13 pre-clearance locations, allows for faster processing of pre-approved, low-risk travellers. However, travellers have to go through a lengthy application process and spend more than £100 in fees, so the scheme is likely to be most appealing to the 125,000 British citizens who travel to the US at least four times a year.

British citizens will have to register via the Home Office website and pay a £42 fee. If they pass the UK vetting process they will be given an access code to enter when applying for Global Entry through the Global Online Enrolment System.

Once their application is approved, they must have an interview with an officer to assess eligibility. The fee for a five-year membership is $100 and applications can be made from December 3.


Lower Room Rates and Theatre Offers in Big Apple

NYC & Company, New York City's official destination marketing organisation, has announced a new year-round seasonal promotion, Unlock NYC, utilizing the new tagline, 'Find a Winter Less Ordinary.'

The new marketing and communications initiative highlights quintessential and only-in-NYC experiences that will help visitors discover New York City during the winter months. In January, February and March, a typically slower period of travel, travellers can take advantage of the lowest hotel room rates of the year as well as NYC & Company's signature dining and theatre promotions.

"This winter, we are giving visitors the keys to unlock a more accessible, affordable and intimate NYC. Whether it's walking the Brooklyn Bridge as snow falls, skating on one of the outdoor ice rinks, or keeping warm in a world-class museum, we're encouraging visitors to discover a different side of NYC," said Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company.

For more information on Unlock NYC, visit


Vietnam and Hong Kong Offers Extended

Due to what the company says is popular demand, Asia specialist Wendy Wu Tours has relaunched two of its offers, bookable right away and until November 30, 2015.

A free two-night Cambodia trip will be offered to customers booking any of Wendy Wu Tours' fully inclusive Vietnam tours and a free two night Hong Kong trip will be offered to customers booking any fully inclusive China or Japan tour. These free extensions offer a saving of £800 per couple, says Wendy Wu.

Both extensions are offered in conjunction with Cathay Pacific and are valid for departures between January 13 and October 31, 2016 (blackout dates apply).

The free Cambodia extension includes flights from Vietnam, two nights' accommodation in Siem Reap, airport transfers, daily breakfast and a full day tour of Angkor Wat; the seat of the Khmer Empire between the 9th and 15th centuries, with over 1000 temples. The free Hong Kong extension includes two nights' accommodation, airport transfers, breakfast and a half day Hong Kong Island tour.

Wendy Wu Tours has a wide range of fully inclusive China and Vietnam itineraries, ranging from eight to 26 days.


New Car Wash at International's Park & Fly

A new business, designed to enhance facilities at Park & Fly, has been started at Belfast International Airport. Complete Car Care Solutions meets a demand in the market for passengers who want their cars washed and valet cleaned at the site. The business is managed by William Patterson who said the uptake has been encouraging.

He said: "We're a small business but we're a part of the bigger 'jigsaw' and it made sense to open here at Park & Fly which has proved so popular with passengers this year.

"The service we provide is a premier one. We want repeat business and that means providing customers with a level of service they don't get anywhere else."

Belfast International Airport Commercial Development Director, Brian Carlin, welcomed the new business start-up on site and wished it well for the future. He said: "Complete Car Care Solutions sits perfectly alongside our car parks which this year chalked up impressive growth rates. The company is filling a gap in customer services and if the first few weeks are anything to go by, then the business will prosper and grow."


More Holidaymakers Turning to 'Green' Companies

New ABTA research reveals that travel companies with a good environmental record are increasingly gaining a commercial advantage, with three out of 10 consumers (29 per cent) saying they would be likely to choose one company over another based on their environmental record, up from one in five (19 per cent) in 2011.

The survey also reveals a steady increase in the number of people prepared to pay more for a holiday with a company based on a better environmental and social record. A quarter of people) said they would be prepared to do so, up from one in five in 2011.

There is growing sentiment amongst consumers that it is the travel company's responsibility to be environmentally responsible. Over four in ten consumers (45 per cent) agree with this, up from a third (31 per cent) in 2011. The majority of consumers (62 per cent), also believe that travel companies should ensure that their holidays help the environment.

Nikki White, ABTA Head of Destinations and Sustainability said: "This new ABTA research shows that there is a growing appetite for holidays that are provided responsibly. The fact that younger consumers, aged 25-34, are the most likely to value companies with a good environmental record suggests that we will see demand for environmental credentials further increase in the future."

Airline Fare Promotion Ends Tomorrow

Qatar Airways is encouraging travellers across the UK to book their dream holidays with a promotion offering savings on air fares to a variety of destinations across Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and South Africa.

Available on bookings from now until tomorrow, November 6 2015, UK customers can travel for less with Qatar Airways' 'Don't just dream it, plan it' promotion. Customers can take advantage of the long travel validity during the promotional offer and book their tickets for travel from November 2, 2015 to June 30, 2016.

Qatar Airways Country Manager, UK & Ireland, Richard Oliver said: "Whether travelling for business or leisure our customers can look forward to exceptional savings on destinations such as Dubai, Bangkok, Durban and Perth with fares starting from just £310 return."

The airline recently announced that it will operate a new service between Birmingham and Doha from March 30 2016, adding to its existing services from London Heathrow, Manchester and Edinburgh.


Thursday October 29, 2015

This Week's Travel News


Airport's Winter Season has 300,000 Extra Seats

Belfast International Airport is poised for its busiest winter ever with airlines confirming almost 300,000 additional seats to their existing schedules over the course of the season.

EasyJet, Wizz Air, Jet2 and United are all reporting a surge in demand which the airport says augurs well for growth and jobs. EasyJet accounts for 240,000 of this total, while Wizz is boosting seat numbers by 30,000, followed by Jet2 and United which are each adding 10,000 to their winter totals.

Belfast International Airport Business Development Director, Uel Hoey, says the winter '15/'16 increase comes on the back of growth for the first three weeks in October of some 16 per cent year-on-year. The extra seats will be on a range of services across the UK, Europe and North America.

Uel Hoey said: "These numbers point to a real and sustained revival. This will be the busiest winter we've ever had and over the five months, we anticipate in the region of 1.6 million passengers coming through the airport. Activity levels are climbing and the airlines are responding magnificently. This uplift will see us moving towards 4.4 million passengers by our year-end.

"Our airlines are reporting strong growth, and it is reasonable to expect that if this encouraging trend continues, we will see new destinations added to our Flight Information screens as we head into 2016."

Meanwhile the International Airport has launched its new improved website.


Special Offer to Cruisers on New Escape

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has unveiled its latest cruise ship, Norwegian Escape, to the UK travel industry, and announced a special offer on cruises booked up until November 9.

NCL says that to celebrate the arrival of the newest member of the fleet, guests booking a cruise of 5 to 16 nights between Oct 22 and Nov 9, 2015 sailing before April 30, 2016, will receive a free internet package and can also choose an additional free extra of those offered within its current Freestyle Choice Marketing campaign.

Meanwhile local travel agents this week got the chance to see Escape at first hand - the first ship in the company's new Breakaway Plus Class, signifying an evolution of Norwegian Cruise Line and "bringing to life the brand's promise of freedom and flexibility with a premium experience from bow to stern."

Members of the Travel Trade got the chance to experience Escape for themselves on a two-night stop in Southampton, and today Escape will make the crossing to her year-round homeport of Miami. The ship will be christened in Miami on November 9.

"Norwegian Escape's arrival marks a true evolution for our brand - we've capitalised on the best of our Breakaway Class ships and taken freedom and flexibility to the next level with this incredible new ship," said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line's President and Chief Operating Officer.


New Connection to Rotterdam from Belfast City

Flybe has today announced two new, year-round services to Rotterdam The Hague from Birmingham and Manchester airports. With convenient connecting flights particularly through Birmingham from George Best Belfast City Airport, this also offers a new destination for Northern Ireland passengers.

Flights will operate twice daily during the week, and once a day at weekends with the service from Manchester effective for travel from Monday, February 8, 2016. Seats are available now for booking on this route through to the end of the 2015-16 Winter programme on March 26, 2016 with one way fares from £38.99, including taxes and charges.

Full details of the new Birmingham schedule, with seats available for booking for travel from September 5, 2016 from £34.99, will be available following the announcement of Flybe's 2016 Summer schedule on November 10.

Rotterdam The Hague Airport is located 20-25 minutes equidistant from Rotterdam, Netherlands' 'second city', and the country's seat of government in The Hague with frequent speedy connections allowing speedy access to these two key destinations.


Five Millionth Passenger on Luton Route

Low cost carrier easyJet is celebrating carrying five million passengers between Belfast and Luton.

The Luton services were launched in 1998 and in addition to Luton operates flights to London Gatwick, London Stansted, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

Since introducing their first flight to London Luton 16 years ago easyJet has flown over 42 million passengers to and from Belfast International Airport and is now Northern Ireland's largest airline.

Graham Keddie Belfast International Airport Managing director said: "We are thrilled to join with easyJet in celebrating this fantastic milestone. Luton was where it all started from Belfast in 1998 and it is fitting that we are marking this notable achievement 17 years on, with easyJet firmly established as Northern Ireland's premier airline."


EU Rubber Stamps Package Travel Legislation

The new revised EU Package Travel Directive (PTD) has been passed by the European Parliament but it will take until 2018 to be implemented in the UK.

The Directive will bring most online sales of holidays within the definition of a package and create a new category of 'linked travel arrangements' to cover click-through sales between linked websites.

ABTA's Head of Public Affairs, Stephen D'Alfonso, said that ABTA has long argued for a more level playing field for travel companies, and enhanced consumer protections. "The revised directive goes some way to achieving this aim, and we look forward to continuing to work with the EU institutions to monitor whether further changes for greater consistency will be required in the coming years."

Package travel rules will cover two types of contract: package deals - pre-arranged by the tour organiser or customised by the traveller - and a new way of travel booking, called linked travel arrangements, where consumers are guided once they have booked a flight, to book additional travel services through a targeted online link. The European Parliament said it ensured that click-through deals, where the traveller's name, payment details and e-mail address are transferred between traders and a second contract is concluded within 24 hours after the first service was booked, will be considered as a package deal.

Before holidaymakers enter into any contractual commitments, organisers and agents must make it clear that they are buying a package and inform them of their rights and who is responsible if something goes wrong.


Avoid a Ghoulish Getaway This Hallowe'en

The NI Consumer Council is encouraging all consumers to know their air and sea passenger rights so they don't have a ghoulish getaway over the Halloween break.

Jenny Robinson, Senior Policy Officer at the Consumer Council said: "Delays and cancellations can ruin a well earned break so it is important passengers know their rights. Under EU legislation passengers whose flights or sailings are delayed or cancelled may be entitled to assistance and in some cases compensation.

"If you do get caught up in delays or cancellations over the mid-term break, you can contact the Consumer Council who can help with any travel complaints you may have. We recently helped a family of four claim back £1170 (1600 Euro) in compensation after they got caught up in a seven hour flight delay from Belfast."

Any passenger who wants to know more about their passenger rights can contact the Consumer Council by phone or download a copy of our 'Plane Facts' or 'Plain Sailing' from the Consumer Council website.


Thames River Cruises Now Top London Draw

Visitors to London have pushed the boat out in praise of a popular attraction - and earned it a top award.

Thames river cruise company Bateaux London, at Embankment Pier, Victoria Embankment, has been awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2015 after receiving consistently outstanding reviews on the travel website.

The company runs a range of cruises on its two vessels; Harmony and Symphony and was given the award after 551 travellers rated their experience as 'excellent' on TripAdvisor.

Throughout the year, Harmony - which has the largest open viewing deck on the Thames - and glass-sided Symphony, treat leisure and corporate guests to lunch, dinner and afternoon tea cruises, with on board catering from Bateaux London's team of chefs. And, on Sundays, those on-board can enjoy lunch along with live entertainment from an easy-listening jazz band.


Aircraft Toilets Put Travellers Off Long Flights

A new poll by a flight comparison website has discovered the top five reasons that UK travellers don't like to fly for longer than six hours, with cabin fever and avoiding aeroplane toilets topping the list of why they won't venture too far from home.

Initially all respondents were asked 'Do you enjoy flying?' to which the majority of respondents, 44 per cent, stated 'flying doesn't bother me', whilst the remaining respondents stated 'no, I don't' (37 per cent) and 'yes, I love it' (19 per cent).

All respondents were then asked 'Does the duration of the flight play a factor when choosing your holiday destination?' Almost two thirds of respondents, 64 per cent, admitted that 'yes' it did. According to the poll, all respondents were then asked 'What's the longest flight you would like to take to get to a holiday?' Once all of the responses were collated the results showed that the average Briton does not like to fly for any longer than 6 hours and 11 minutes.

Some 45 per cent of respondents said they get cabin fever after too long while almost as many, (41 per cent) said that they preferred to avoid using aircraft toilets. The survey was conducted by flight comparison website


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