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Tuesday May 19, 2015

This Week's Travel News


New Link to Amsterdam and the World

After 16 years away, KLM is back in Belfast and committed long term to building a profitable sustainable route to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

The new route, from George Best Belfast City Airport which began yesterday, will be aimed at both the leisure and business traveller, with the business market expected to fill a bigger share of the seats as the service develops.

Pieter Bootsma, Executive Vice President of Commercial Marketing at KLM, told Northern Ireland Travel News: "We are starting initially and carefully with one daily service but this will be expanded as demand increases. We are anticipating a second daily service by next summer and ideally a third service which would feed into our worldwide connections through Schiphol."

KLM had operated from Belfast International Airport to Amsterdam for 19 years, from 1980 and 1999, and considered both Belfast airports for the new service. However, Belfast City's proximity to Belfast city centre and its attraction for business travellers was the deciding factor. The fact that easyJet currently operates an Amsterdam service from Belfast International was also considered, according to Mr Bootsma.

Yesterday Belfast City Airport welcomed the arrival of the first KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight. The new year-round daily service to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport will provide Northern Ireland with not only direct access to the Netherlands but also to global destinations through KLM's extensive network such as Boston, Sydney and Beijing.

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Jonathan Bell, said: "The Netherlands is an increasingly important market for tourism here. Our natural landscapes and coastline, culture and heritage are important for Dutch visitors. KLM is a welcome addition to the growing list of air carriers now serving Northern Ireland."

Belfast City Airport's Commercial and Marketing Director, Katy Best, said: "KLM's decision to include Belfast City Airport as its 14th UK destination is a significant feat for Northern Ireland and both business and leisure passengers within the region who benefit from the airline's competitive fares to Amsterdam and an endless list of worldwide destinations."


Jet2 Has the Right Mix, Says CEO

Jet2 Chief Executive Steve Heapy is in Belfast today for the company's inaugural flight from Belfast International to Verona, which is just one of the new routes the operator has launched this year.

Flights to Rome and Prague started last month with Gran Canaria taking off last week and Zante is due to start on May 27. Steve has been instrumental in the development of both and Jet2holidays since joining the company in 2009.

"This really is a milestone year for us and our biggest to date in Northern Ireland," he said. "These developments really demonstrate our ongoing commitment to providing our loyal local customers with unrivalled choice and flexibility when it comes to planning their next well-earned break. With our fantastic range of destinations, aligned with great flight times, generous baggage allowances, low deposits and award winning customer service, we are confident we have the right mix to cement our position as one of Northern Ireland's leading leisure operators," he continued.

Steve, who was appointed Chief Executive of and Jet2holidays in 2013, attributes the success of the brands in Northern Ireland to giving customers what they want, namely value, service and choice.

The operator are hoping that their core destinations will attract more travellers to choose Belfast International Airport over using Dublin. "Things have started slower than expected, but that's because a lot of people are in the habit of travelling down the motorway. We want to tell them that they don't have to and we are working closely with Belfast International to make travelling from Northern Ireland more appealing."


Package Travel Directive Focus of ABTA Seminar

The industry seminar delivered by ABTA - The Travel Association, at this year's Big Travel Trade Event on June 9 and 10, will focus on the new Package Travel Directive, which is expected imminently from Brussels.

The new Directive is likely to bring about significant changes to the UK's Package Travel Regulations and ATOL scheme, with the UK Government expected to begin the process of implementing the new rules into UK law in late 2015. In advance of these reforms, in this session ABTA's team will provide an in-depth look at the new Directive, examining what is captured, what is not, and what this is all likely to mean for the future of the UK's travel industry. Travel agents are invited to come along to hear more on this once in a generation reform, and to quiz the ABTA team on how this reform might impact you and your business.

The key debates taking place on the future of the Directive surround the following:

  • What is included in a package, and specifically will this include click-through sales completed online between more two or more linked websites.
  • What does the new category of Assisted Travel Arrangement mean and what will the definitions include?
  • Will business travel be excluded (yes), and how might this be achieved?
  • How will the new Directive promote cross-border trade, and what might this objective mean for insolvency protection schemes at the national level.
  • How will the new Directive link with other EU consumer protection legislation, including on passenger rights, such as regulation 261/2004, which deals with consumer protection in the event of flight delays, cancellation and the like. And how will the EU address previously unforeseen matters, such as the ash cloud scenario of 2010.
  • Agents can register for the ABTA sessions online.


    Top Prizes Galore at Next Month's Big Event

    Two Flights to the USA courtesy of Virgin Atlantic, two Flights to Dubai courtesy of Emirates and two Flights to Abu Dhabi offered by Etihad Airways are just three of an amazing array of prizes which can be won by travel agents attending the Big Travel Trade Event on June 9 and 10.

    KLM has teamed up with the Van Gogh Museum and the Heineken Experience to offer Business Class seats to Amsterdam and entry to these two great tourist attractions.

    Other prizes confirmed so far include: Two Free Stays for One Week Half Board (VIK Hotels); Four Nights Half Board for Two People at the the Seaside Los Jameos Playa in Lanzarote (Seaside Hotels); Four Nights Half Board for Two persons at the Seaside Palm Beach in Gran Canaria (Gran Canaria Tourist Board); and A Place on a Seasons Fam Trip. Other attractive prizes include a Seven-Night Holiday Stay with Balkan Holidays, a Seven-Night Stay courtesy of Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, a Two-Night Stay for Two in Amsterdam or Berlin offered by Innstant Travel, a Seven-Night stay at Spring Hotels; and a Spa Day for Two courtesy of Attraction World. These are just some of the prizes - many more are on offer!

    Prizes on offer at the Travel Golf Classic held on June 10 in conjunction with the Big Event include Two Flights to Kos with Falcon/Thomson & First Choice; Two Flights to Canada, courtesy of Air Canada; a Holiday at the Bandama Golf Hotel courtesy of Gran Canaria Golf and A Bungee Jump, courtesy of Jet2holidays.

    To have a chance of winning these amazing prizes, and many others, register now.


    Seats for Sale Cap Public Inquiry Begins

    The long-awaited Public Inquiry into the Removal of the Seats for Sale Restriction at George Best Belfast City Airport, began yesterday.

    Airport Chief Executive, Brian Ambrose said: "Belfast City Airport is seeking the removal of a limit on the number of seats it can sell from the airport in a modification to its current planning agreement. Its removal will allow the airport to compete and actively pursue additional airlines and more direct European routes.

    "We are welcoming KLM to Belfast City with the commencement of services to Amsterdam and earlier this month Vueling began flights to Barcelona. We want to continue to play our part in re-energising the city and the region. The removal of the seats for sale cap will enable the airport to attract more visitors to Belfast, creating jobs and boosting the local economy."

    He stressed that the removal of the cap would not mean more flights as this is capped at 48,000 per annum and no larger planes will use the runway that currently do so.

    He stressed: "Those living in proximity to the airport will continue to be protected from noise with no night time flights and no cargo planes. If the seats for sale restriction is removed, the airport will adhere to noise restrictions as imposed by the Department of the Environment. We look forward to the Public Inquiry and the removal of an outdated constraint on our operations."


    Sponsors Introduced at Awards Launch

    Belfast International Airport was announced as a new Category Sponsor at this year's Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards at this year's Awards launch on the SS Nomadic in Belfast's Titanic Quarter last week.

    This was one of a hat-trick of announcements at the launch of the 2015 Awards to be held in the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa on Friday, October 16. Blue Insurance was revealed as the new Headline Sponsor of the Awards, now in their 24th year, while a new Award for the Best Holiday Add-Ons/Car Hire Provider was also announced.

    The Awards are of course organised by Northern Ireland Travel News and are recognised as one of the best awards ceremonies in the UK.

    Full details of the Awards categories and how to vote will appear in the June issue of Northern Ireland Travel News out on June 2. You can view the Awards launch on our YouTube.


    Thomson and First Choice Brands To Go

    The Falcon Holidays brand will be around for some time yet, despite big strategy changes in its parent company TUI. TUI has confirmed in the last few days that it is to migrate to a single travel brand across all its markets, signalling the end of Thomson and First Choice, two of the best-known holiday brands in the UK.

    Group Chief Executive Peter Long said the migration to the TUI brand would take place over several years to create 'one power brand'.

    "There's no hurry, no urgency, it will all be done in a very controlled way," said Long. "We are not rushing to rebrand and we are not rebranding for the sake of it." He said it would take two to three years to migrate all the brands, with the UK coming last. He said the migration would start in TUI's smaller markets, including France and Holland and learn from lessons learned there before phasing out its popular brands in other markets. The UK, TUI's largest source market, will be the last of 31 countries to switch. He said it would take two to three years to migrate all the brands, with the UK coming last.

    A TUI Press Spokesperson said: "We will start migration to the TUI brand in the Netherlands... most probably this year, to be followed by France and Belgium and we will carefully look at how this works. Based on those successes we will continue with other markets. However, every market is carefully looked at and all decisions will be made together and in accordance with the local management boards. As a consequence, nothing has been decided yet for the UK & Ireland source market. As it is the biggest source market any such place will be considered in no less than two to three years."


    Chance for Agents to Win Luxury Med Cruise

    Luxury cruise line Silversea is giving agents the chance to win a Mediterranean cruise in a new Trade incentive scheme. Any agent who makes a confirmed Silversea booking between May 18 and June 7 will be entered into the draw to win.

    The more bookings made during this period, the more chances there are to win the voyage on board Silver Spirit in November. This is the first Silversea Trade incentive offering agents an unforgettable holiday on board one of its five-star luxury, all-inclusive ships.

    During the competition over 1,500 limited edition chocolate bars will also be distributed to agents across the UK. Six chocolate bars will contain a Silver Ticket which entitles the agent to a European ship visit during the summer 2015 season, and a further 30 bars will have a £20 love2shop voucher enclosed.

    The sales team will be visiting over 500 agencies across the UK from May 18 to June 7 to promote the incentive directly to agents and present the chocolate bars. The chocolate bars will also be sent to home workers and call centres so every agent across the UK has an opportunity to win.

    New Airport Parking App from Travelport

    Travelport has announced that Travel Parking Group's airport parking application, Looking4app, is now available to travel agencies through its award-winning point of sale technology, Travelport Smartpoint.

    Travel Parking Group (TPG) provides car park reservation and distribution systems for travel agents, airlines and airports through its leading technology. TPG provides a choice of meet and greet, onsite and offsite car parks across its global supplier network, with over 2,000 airport and port parking products currently available.

    The Looking4app offers Travelport-connected agents worldwide a fully integrated airport car parking payments solution which picks up flight and customer PNR details, making the booking process fast and simple whilst increasing profitability. The plug-in is free to download via Travelport Marketplace.


    Tuesday May 12, 2015

    This Week's Travel News


    ABTA Support for Package Travel Directive

    ABTA has welcomed the announcement that the Parliament and Council have reached agreement on the Package Travel Directive.

    Mark Tanzer, CEO of ABTA, said he was pleased that the Directive's revision process has reached this important stage. "While significant technical and legal work still needs to be carried out before the draft is finalised we believe this agreement represents a significant shift in levelling the playing field for travel businesses, and ensuring many more customers will benefit from enhanced protection.

    "We believe it meets many of the Commission's original objectives, which we support. We have been active in Brussels and Westminster to ensure Members' views are represented in the new Directive and are pleased to note that many of our points have been listened to, in particular that travel companies can still act as agents and sell packages on someone else's behalf; the exclusion of business travel; and ensuring that there is no general right of withdrawal - the so called 'cooling off period'.

    "We are also very pleased to see that click-throughs have been included in the Directive, although we believe that most click through arrangements will fall into the ATA definition rather than a package, and this will limit the amount of protection consumers will receive. However, we're pleased to note that a review of this provision has been built in.

    He ended: "We will now be reviewing the agreement in detail and will provide information to Members in due course. We expect there to be a Government consultation on the UK implementation of the Directive in the Autumn and we will consult Members on this and work closely with BIS and the DfT. Details of a programme of workshops for Members in the summer where ABTA executives will explain the changes and respond to any questions Members might have can be found in our Member zone."

    An ABTA team will be attending The Big Travel Trade Event on June 9 and 10 and meeting local travel agents.


    Etihad Experience at Big Travel Trade Event

    Etihad Airways, The World's Leading Airline and national carrier of the UAE, says it is delighted to announce that it will be hosting an Etihad Experience, First and Business Class Spa at this year's Big Travel Trade Event.

    Guests on the day will be able to avail of various pampering treatments including, mini manicures, or have your eye-make up done for the Gala dinner.

    "Why not indulge yourself and join us in Kinahan's Bar from 2:30pm - 6:00pm on the second day of the Big Event (June 10) for a glass of champagne, canapes, and a treatment, or maybe you prefer to join us to relax and chill out and meet the Etihad Team."

    Agents can register for this event on our website.


    Stars Launch Airport Sportswear Range

    Three Ulster Rugby and Ireland international stars took time out from their busy schedules to lend a helping hand to Aelia Duty Free at Belfast International Airport yesterday to get a range of Ulster Rugby sportswear off to a flying start.

    The busy airside store enlisted the help of Ulster captain, Rory Best, winger Tommy Bowe and back row Iain Henderson to unveil the latest addition to the outlet. The new range of Ulster Home and Away shorts and Beanie hats is on sale in the Discover Belfast Gift Store within Aelia Duty Free, and is already proving a real crowd-puller.

    Aelia Manager, Michele Hunter: "We were thrilled that three household names from Ulster Rugby accepted the 'call up' to get us off to a winning start with the range. We're very proud to be supporters of Ulster Rugby and to coincide with this new partnership, we're launching a competition for a signed shirt by the three Ulster and Ireland stalwarts."


    Bridging the Gap on Heathrow Express

    The famous 'Mind the Gap' announcement on London transport could soon be a thing of the past if a new system introduced by Heathrow Express to reduce the risk of passenger accidents is a success.

    Heathrow Express says it is the first rail company in the UK to install platform gap-fillers at its stations to reduce the risk of passenger accidents. The bespoke gap-fillers sit along the edge of station platforms reducing the size of the gap between the train and platform edge.

    Stepboard accidents are a concern of the whole rail industry. They occur when a passenger falls between the train and the platform edge and are responsible for 48 per cent of the overall fatality risk to passengers, and cause knock-on delays to train services while the passenger's welfare is being looked after.

    A year-long trial at HEx's Heathrow Terminal 5 station found there were no stepboard incidents wherever gap-fillers were in use. The devices are now set to be installed at all Heathrow Express train stations by the end of the current month. The platform gap-fillers also enhance access for disabled passengers, and improve efficiency of passenger boarding, reducing the number of delays.


    Ex-Falcon Chief Back as MD of Cruise Company

    Former Falcon Holidays chief Damien Mooney has been appointed Managing Director of, the innovative cruise company which claims it is revolutionising the way cruise excursions are sold.

    Damien joins the company with a wealth of travel industry expertise over 25 years, of which 10 years were as CEO of Irish market leading tour operator Falcon/JWT Holidays, part of the TUI AG Group. He had a place over a five-year period to 2010 on the TUI Divisional Mainstream Sector UK & Ireland Board. In recent years he has concentrated on change management and small business turnarounds in consultancy and interim management roles.

    Reporting to Chairman John Wimbleton Damien will be based at the company's Cannock, Staffs HQ where up to 40 personnel are currently employed. John Wimbleton said: " has experienced very rapid growth, going from a small start up to a multi million pound turnover in less than four years. Having worked with Damien previously I know that he is a likeminded business leader with strong experience in delivering financial performance and strategic direction and is the right person to take the company to the next level."

    Damien Mooney said: "I am very excited to be appointed Managing Director. I am looking forward to driving the business towards further growth and building on the successes achieved to date. The business is looking to the next stage of development, which includes further growth within the UK & Ireland along with expansion in Europe, the USA and Australia."


    Bring a Friend for Free France Offer

    Stena Line says it is putting the oh la la into ferry travel with the launch of a new sale giving people the chance to bring a friend to France for Free.

    With the choice of three return sailings every week, the offer enables Northern Ireland's holidaymakers to travel onboard the Stena Horizon from Rosslare to Cherbourg from as little as £82 (conditions apply) single for a car and two, giving passengers the opportunity to enjoy no baggage restrictions, lots of legroom, plenty to do onboard and what's more passengers can even bring their pets for free too.

    Stena Line's Head of Travel, Orla Noonan said: "We are delighted to launch our bring a friend to France for FREE sale which means a saving from £38 for an adult on a return booking."

    Travellers can bring a friend to France for Free with Stena Line when they book by Tuesday, May 19 for travel up to Thursday May 28 and from Monday August 24 until Wednesday, December 16, 2015.


    Aer Lingus Lines Out for Irish Rugby

    Aer Lingus has been announced as 'The official airline of the Irish Rugby Team'.

    The new partnership will see Ireland's national airline link up with the Irish international rugby team, which has risen to third in the World Rugby rankings after back-to-back RBS Six Nations Championship wins under the helm of Joe Schmidt and his coaching team.

    The three-year deal will see Aer Lingus support the IRFU by flying players, management and support staff around Europe as they compete in the RBS 6 Nations Championships and in other high profile international tournaments.

    As part of the new sponsorship agreement Aer Lingus will re-name one of its aircraft Green Spirit which will be transformed with IRFU and player branding. This aircraft is being unveiled this month with a further aircraft being branded in similar livery as the team embark on their outward journey in September. In addition, a player from each of the four Irish provinces, who will be named 'Aer Lingus Brand Ambassadors', will take part in a safety demonstration video which will be shown on board Aer Lingus transatlantic flights.


    Budget Airline Signs Up With Sabre

    Low cost airline Ryanair is continuing its change of direction by making its fares and services available to travel agents on the Sabre global distribution system as a further step towards winning more corporate customers.

    After years of criticising travel agents, the airline began selling via Travelport's global distribution system a year ago to extend its reach into the corporate travel market, which then made up around a quarter of its total traffic.

    Business travel has now grown to around 27 per cent of Ryanair's total traffic, said the airline. Its launch with Sabre follows the introduction of Ryanair Business Plus last year and a dedicated corporate and group service. Fares will be available on Sabre from next month (June).

    Fourth Quantum Class Ship on the Way

    Royal Caribbean International has entered into an agreement with Meyer Werft in Germany to order a fourth Quantum-class ship for delivery in 2019.

    The company already has Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas and a third Quantum-class ship, Ovation of the Seas, is under construction and is set to join the fleet next year.

    Quantum and Ovation will be based in China while Anthem has just begun its maiden season sailing the Mediterranean from Southampton before it will move to New York.

    "This announcement is a reflection of the success of the first two Quantum-class ships," said Richard D. Fain, Royal Caribbean chairman and CEO. "We have received a remarkable response from travel agent partners and travellers, and are thrilled that we'll be able to deliver another revolutionary ship with our partners at Meyer Werft."


    Tuesday May 5, 2015

    This Week's Travel News


    Selective Travel Management Completes Major Expansion

    Selective Travel Management, has celebrated the completion of a major expansion programme at its corporate headquarters based in one of Belfast's most iconic buildings, Murray's Exchange.

    The corporate headquarters expansion was formally opened at a ceremony last week by Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle, Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant for the Borough of Belfast.

    Under the leadership of Managing Director Mukesh Sharma, the company has, within a two year span, doubled its staff numbers from 40 to 80 and invested more than £350,000 in software, hardware, training, infrastructure and IT last year.

    Commenting on the expansion, Mukesh said: "As a result of the company's outstanding performance over the last two years we have been able to double staff numbers and we are already planning further staffing increases in 2016 and beyond."

    Mukesh Sharma is pictured above right at the opening ceremony with Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle, Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant for the Borough of Belfast.


    Real Taste of Amsterdam at The Big Event

    In co-operation with The Heineken Experience and The Van Gogh Museum - KLM are setting out to give Travel Agents a real taste of Amsterdam with their Dutch Themed market.

    Visit them on their stand at this year's Big Travel Trade Event and step into the world of Van Gogh as well as learning more about the attractions of the Heineken experience when visiting Amsterdam. Also up for grabs is the chance to win tickets to Amsterdam.

    KLM is a new and very exciting addition to The Big Travel Trade Event 2015. The Dutch airline, which begins a service from Belfast City Airport to Amsterdam this month, will have a major presence at this year's two-day Big Event on June 9 and 10 at the Hilton, Templepatrick.

    They will also be hosting a drinks reception on the first night, June 9. This is due to take place from 7.30pm onwards and will be taking place in the bar/patio area of the Hilton Hotel, Templepatrick - offering all agents refreshments after the Trade exhibition.

    All agents staying on for the evening function are welcome. KLM will be injecting some fun into this drinks reception and also into the Gala dinner on Day 2 with a fun KLM themed Photobooth.

    So come along to the two-day event and get involved in Northern Ireland's biggest B2B travel networking event... All Northern Ireland travel agents/travel homeworkers are welcome. You can register now on our website.


    Belfast Will Host Routes Europe 2017

    Belfast is set to host the prestigious Routes Europe conference in 2017.

    Routes Europe is a major international event bringing together decision makers from airlines, airports and tourism authorities to negotiate and build relationships that will shape the world's future air route networks.

    Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said: "Hosting Routes Europe in Belfast in 2017 provides us with a rare opportunity to bring influential decision makers into the region and showcase Northern Ireland's tourism and business potential.

    "The three-day conference will attract more than 1,200 European and international delegates bringing an economic benefit to Belfast worth over £1.3 million. Longer term benefits will come from the extensive international PR coverage for Belfast and Northern Ireland that it will generate, which will enhance our profile as a tourism destination and as a location for hosting large-scale international events."

    The main conference will take place from Sunday April 23 - Tuesday April 25, 2017 and there will also be a programme of supporting events across the city.


    Families Can Now Fly For Less

    ABTA has welcomed the removal of the UK's air tax on economy flights for children under 12.

    From now on families across the UK will be able to travel for less; a family of four (with two children under 12) will save £26 on flights to Europe and £142 on flights to long haul destinations such as the USA, Thailand and Australia.

    Announced in the Autumn Statement late last year, following a 'Scrap the Tax on Family Flights' initiative by the Fair Tax on Flying campaign that includes ABTA, the cut in APD came into effect from May 1. Children under 12 will no longer have to pay APD on any flights taken from that date. Children under 16 will also be exempt from APD from March 2016. However children travelling in any other class than economy remain chargeable passengers and APD is due.

    Most airlines and travel companies have refunded or will refund APD on flights for under 12s that were booked and paid for before the reductions were announced. Holidaymakers should contact their travel company or airline to find out more.


    New City Breaks Take Off

    Jet2holidays has announced the launch of its new Jet2CityBreaks brand which will offer Northern Ireland holidaymakers its biggest ever range of city breaks with great value escapes to 10 destinations from only £159 per person.

    The leisure airline and package holiday specialist has unveiled its biggest programme yet from Belfast International Airport, combining return flights and hotel accommodation in some of Europe's finest cities.

    A new dedicated brochure and website will showcase what Jet2CityBreaks has to offer Northern Ireland's holidaymakers, both designed to make it even easier for people to pick and plan their perfect trip with inspirational ideas and a selection of hand-picked 2 to 5 star hotels.

    Northern Ireland holidaymakers can choose from eight Jet2Citybreaks' destinations including Alicante, Florence, Las Palmas, Malaga, Murcia, Palma, Pisa, Prague, Rome and Verona.


    First Airbus A380 Service To Perth Launched

    Emirates has expanded its network of destinations served by the highly-popular A380 aircraft with the launch of the first A380 service into Perth, Australia.

    Perth is the fourth Australian city to welcome a regular Emirates Airbus A380 service and the revolutionary double-decker aircraft will transport up to 982 passengers in-bound and outbound daily between Perth and Emirates' hub, Dubai.

    "Emirates is pleased to introduce the first A380 service into Perth. The A380 is a state-of-the-art aircraft offering our flagship product in all three classes, and we look forward to providing this outstanding experience to our Perth passengers as well as to international visitors flying into this vibrant city," said Barry Brown, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations East.

    Book China and Get Hong Kong for Free

    Continuing their 'two iconic destinations for the price of one' theme, specialist China tour operator, Wendy Wu Tours, is offering two free nights in Hong Kong when booking any of its fully inclusive China tours. The offer is valid for any bookings made until May 21.

    The free Hong Kong extension is available pre or post tour and accommodation is in the Eaton hotel in Hong Kong's Kowloon district. The hotel is ideally located near many of the city's favourite tourist attractions including Temple Street and the Jade Market and also has a rooftop pool. The offer includes two nights accommodation, airport transfers, breakfast and a half day Hong Kong Island tour.

    Benidorm to Apply for World Heritage Status

    Benidorm, one of the pioneers of the bucket-and-spade holiday, has confirmed it plans to apply for World Heritage status.

    If successful, the Spanish resort will join a list of other protected sites around the world, including the Grand Canyon, the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids of Giza.

    Local tourism chiefs say the city deserves to be placed alongside Spain's 40 other Unesco-recognised sites, which include the Alhambra in Granada, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the Teide National Park in Tenerife.

    "Tourism is now the world's most dynamic and important industry, whether viewed in terms of employment, cultural change or environmental impact, and the beach holiday is a particularly significant component of tourism's growth and as such, pioneering holiday destinations, like Benidorm, deserve to be taken seriously," said Visit Benidorm.

    It claims that the resort ticks six of the 10 boxes required for World Heritage status, only one of which is required to apply. It could be six years before Bendiorm finds out if it has made it onto the Unesco list.

    The Passing of Rodger Beattie

    It is with great sadness that we give notice of the death of former Stena Line Northern Ireland Manager Rodger Beattie.

    Rodger was the Northern Ireland Manager for Stena Line in the early 1970's and continued as Manager when they moved Head Office operations to Larne. He retired on December 28, 1991.

    Rodger passed peacefully at the N.I. Hospice, Whiteabbey and is survived by children Karen, David and Ian and his sister Rosaline. A Funeral Service was held today at Carnmoney Presbyterian Church.


    Tuesday April 28, 2015

    This Week's Travel News


    Car Rental Confusion on the Cards

    Car rental firms are in a quandary over how they will check customers' driving licences when the DVLA abolishes the paper counterpart in just six weeks' time, leading forecasts of confusion when holidaymakers arrive to collect hire cars this summer.

    "The DVLA has set an ambitious deadline of June 8 for abolishing the driving licence paper counterpart and car rental companies are still testing the agency's new free online service for checking driver records, which hasn't yet gone live," says a spokesperson for the BRVLA, the car rental association.

    "Due to the short notice provided by the DVLA and the need to thoroughly test the new system, many car rental companies are still finalising their plans for the UK and abroad. From June 8, the paper counterpart of the UK driver's licence, which accompanies the plastic photocard and holds details of any driving offences, will be abolished. Those already issued will be invalid. So, if car hire firms want to check if a customer has any driving convictions, they will have to check DVLA's database either online or by phone."

    The DVLA has suggested customers will be able to log on to a new 'Share Your Licence' site before leaving home to receive a unique code to present to their car hire firm when they arrive to pick up their car. The car rental firm will then be able to use the code to access a driver's record from the DVLA website. However, the code will be valid for only 72 hours, so those leaving home more than three days before they are due to collect their car will have to find a way to access to DVLA site from abroad.


    Don't Miss a Visit to the USA Pavilion

    A new addition to the Big Travel Trade Event this year is the exciting Visit USA Pavilion - with more than 20 Top US destinations, airlines and specialist Tour Operators represented.

    The USA Pavilion will have lots of giveaways and prizes for Agents and an excellent spread of operators exhibiting for both days.

    In addition Pure Michigan will be offering all Agents a themed Afternoon Tea. Pop in to the Grand Marquee for Cherry scones, Tea and Prosecco between 2pm and 4 pm on Day 1 (June 9) of the Big Event for a real treat. You can also try your skill on our Rodeo bull outside the USA Pavilion - it's there on both days! (are you brave enough?)

    The USA suppliers are keen to meet local Travel Agents... Come and visit them ONLY at the Big Travel Trade Event June 9 & 10, 2015. Agents can register now.

    Companies represented on the USA Pavilion are Visit California, American Airlines, Dublin Airport, American Holidays, Visit Mississippi, Louisiana, Vermont, Massachusetts, North America Travel Services, Atlantic City, Visit USA Ireland, Visit USA UK, Discover New England, Caesars Entertainment, Enjoy Illinois, The Florida Keys & Key West, North Carolina, Pure Michigan, Philadelphia, Colorado, Tennessee, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Universal Orlando Resort, Kansas & Oaklahoma, Deep South USA, Alabama, Virgin Atlantic, and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.


    Six New Short Haul Routes from BA

    May looks set to be the busiest month yet this year for British Airways, as it launches another six new short-haul routes and one new long-haul route from London.

    The star attraction is the new daily service from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur, which will appear on the departure board for the first time on May 27, operated by a Boeing 777 aircraft.

    The remaining six sunshine destinations will bump up the number of short-haul routes launched this year to 13, they include: Krakow in Poland and Corfu in Greece, launching on May 1, Split in Croatia, Kos in Greece and Olbia in Sardinia, all launching from Heathrow this weekend. Funchal in Madeira will take the total to six, and will start flying from Gatwick from mid-May.

    The airline has already launched seven routes since the start of the year, and with 18 new routes in total scheduled for 2015, it makes it the most number of new routes in a 12-month period from British Airways, in over a decade.

    Stephen Humphreys, British Airways' head of UK&I sales, said: "2015 is a bumper year for British Airways. With 18 new routes taking off in just twelve months, it's a busy but exciting time for our teams around the world, as they prepare to receive our first customers."

    British Airways flights include a generous free cabin baggage allowance, free on-line check-in, seat allocation and complimentary food and drink on board.


    Icelandic Roadshow in Belfast This Morning

    Promote Iceland and its partners from the Icelandic tourism industry are in Belfast today with their 'Inspired by Iceland' Roadshow.

    The Workshop, which has been running in the Holiday Inn, Belfast, from 10.00am this morning, with a presentation on Iceland the destination, speed dating with representatives from 12 Iceland tourism companies, a light lunch and the chance to win a trip to Iceland.

    Direct flights are now available from Belfast to Reykjavik with easyJet and from Dublin with WOW Air. Pictured above right at the Roadshow agents from Limavady Travel chat to Center Hotels.


    New Canadian Carrier Bookings on Amadeus

    The latest new Canadian air link with a direct scheduled service between Dublin and Halifax, Nova Scotia this summer, is now available to book on Amadeus.

    Europe Airpost will operate between Dublin and Halifax weekly from July 9 until September 11 with flights departing Dublin on Thursdays and from Halifax on Fridays.

    Prices will start at 314 Euro, including a meal and a snack with French food and French wines as well as all taxes and baggage fees. The flights will be operated by a Boeing 737-700, configured in a two-class lay-out, with a capacity of 130 seats: 16 in Premium class and 114 in Economy class.


    Thomas Cook Stores at Balmoral Show

    Two of Thomas Cook's 'clusters' comprising six stores, Lisburn, two from Portadown, Finaghy, Forestside and Connswater have a stand at Balmoral show on May 13-15.

    Says Christine McCleery, Thomas Cook Cluster Manager, Portadown & Lisburn: "The key attraction was 70,000 people over the three-day event. We thought this was a great opportunity to put ourselves out there and engage the Thomas Cook profile with the Northern Ireland travelling public.

    "We will be showcasing the TC Brand along with CUK (P&O, Princess & Cunard), as well as having exclusive deals and giving away a holiday in a prize draw."


    New GSA for ANA in Ireland

    ANA - All Nippon Airways, Japan's only 5* airline, has appointed ASM - Airline Sales & Marketing Ltd as its GSA in Ireland.

    Julie Murphy, Country Sales Manager, UK & Ireland for ANA commented: "ANA sees great opportunity to further grow business from Ireland and we are delighted to appoint ASM - Airline Sales & Marketing as our GSA. "Earlier this year, ANA won the coveted award 'Best Long-Haul Airline' at the Business Travel Awards and we look forward to working together with Alan Sparling and his team to promote ANA in the Irish market."

    Alan Sparling, Managing Director of ASM (pictured with Julie Murphy above), said: "We are delighted to be appointed GSA for such a prestigious airline as ANA. With one of the largest fleets of B787 Dreamliner aircraft and a comprehensive European network to Japan, we are looking forward to promoting & developing sales for ANA in the Irish market."

    Winners of Take That Trade Incentive

    Two Northern Ireland travel agents were winners of tickets for Take That at the Three Arena in Dublin on May 8 as a result of Travelcube's Take That Trade incentive.

    Maureen Easton of Clubworld Travel, Newry and Stephen Mullan of Downe Travel, Downpatrick were the lucky local agents.

    Together with Peter Friedrich of Travelcube and three winning agents from the Republic, they will be treated to food and drink in the Gibson Hotel before being whisked off to the concert.

    New ABTA Advice on Travel to Nepal

    ABTA is advising against all but essential travel to the whole of Nepal following the weekend earthquake.

    Says ABTA: "Travellers who are due to travel to Nepal imminently should contact their holiday company to make alternative arrangements. Customers booked on package trips with ABTA tour operators will be given three options; to defer their date of travel, transfer to another destination if available, or have a full refund.

    "Customers who have booked independent arrangements who are unable to travel, should contact their insurance company to see if any resulting cancellation charges are covered, this may or may not be the case depending on the relevant insurance policy.

    "Travellers currently in Nepal are advised to monitor local news and media reports and to follow any advice and instructions issued by the authorities and by the Foreign Office. ABTA is working closely with its Members and with the Foreign Office to ensure the safety of any customers and staff affected."


    Tuesday April 21, 2015

    This Week's Travel News


    Blue Insurance New Headline Sponsor of Awards

    Ireland's leading travel insurance provider has been revealed today as the new Headline Sponsor of the Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards.

    Blue Insurance Managing Director Ciaran Mulligan says: "I am delighted that Blue Insurance is now the Headline Sponsor of the Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards. I can honestly say this was not a difficult decision for us as these are my favourite awards. After attending various awards in Ireland and the UK over the past 10-20 years, I can say these Awards are by far the best of them all, with the best craic ever.

    "The new 'Blue Insurance Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards' are the only awards that genuinely brings the Travel Industry together from Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Great Britain. The professionalism of the awards arranged by the amazing Northern Ireland Travel News team far surpasses all other travel awards ceremonies. The venue, Slieve Donard Hotel, is a favourite of everyone attending with its luxurious surroundings, and not forgetting the entertainment in the late Residence bar and that supercool DJ Mullie," Ciaran added.

    Jonathan Adair of Northern Ireland Travel News welcomed the new sponsorship agreement with Blue Insurance. He said: "It is further endorsement of the standing and popularity of the Awards that we are able to secure such a high profile and respected sponsor. Details of the other category awards sponsors will be revealed at the 2015 Awards launch next month."

    Blue Insurance currently has 40 staff and will be launching a unique Motor and Home Insurance Product in the Republic of Ireland in May 2015 and soon to be followed in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. The company has rapid expansion plans over the next three years.

    In the picture above Brian Ogle and Jonathan Adair of Northern Ireland Travel News are pictured with Ciaran Mulligan of Blue Insurance at the sponsorship announcement at Titanic Belfast.

    Wizz Off to Europe's Basketball Capital

    Belfast International Airport added to its 'basket' of destinations with the start of Wizz Air's direct flights to Europe's basketball capital, Vilnius Lithuania.

    The Lithuanian Honorary Consul, Bill Sinnerton, says that the flights are a 'lifeline' for the 20,000 Lithuanians who have made Northern Ireland their home. He says the route, starting tomorrow (Wednesday) will benefit both families and business people exploring new business opportunities in the Baltic state.

    Last month, Wizz Air, which is the largest low-cost airline in Central and Eastern Europe, commenced a direct service to Katowice in Poland. The airline will operate a twice weekly service to both cities with fares starting as low as £39.99.

    Wizz Air's Daniel de Carvalho said: "Vilnius is an incredibly beautiful city with one of the largest surviving medieval quarters in Europe which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage site. The architecture is stunning but there are also many other attractions to visit and plenty of things to do."

    Belfast International Airport, Graham Keddie, said: "Vilnius will be a hugely popular destination, but it works both ways. We want to develop trade links with Lithuania, and now we can access the market direct from Belfast International and that has to tick a box as we strive to become more export-focused. We will be working alongside Wizz to 'sell' Northern Ireland to drive up visitor numbers and boost local tourism."

    In the picture above right Aislinn O'Connor and Lithuanian Basketball player, Mantas Rudzionis, help Belfast International Airport add a new Wizz Air flight to Vilnius to its 'basket' of destinations.


    Big Travel Trade Event is a Sell-Out

    The BIG Travel Trade Event is completely SOLD OUT. With more than 100 exhibitors, the main hall and USA Pavilion as well as The Spanish Quarter are full to capacity.

    However, there are still a few opportunities to be part of Northern Ireland's BIG Travel Trade Event on June 9 and 10 at the Hilton, Templepatrick.

    There are also a few four-balls available and some Golf Hole sponsorship at the Golf Classic. Gran Canaria Golf will host the Golfers for Breakfast, with Travelport offering a BBQ at the 10th Tee and a Gran Canaria drinks buggy going around the course on the day. Excellent prizes are also to be won.

    The Exhibition will open late on Day 1 - Tuesday, June 9 until 7.30pm. This is to suit any agents that cannot attend during office hours.This will be followed by the KLM Reception Drinks and Jet2holidays party night - a great mix of 'work and play' for agents on Day 1.

    As regards accommodation, the Hilton Hotel is completely full but nearby hotels still have availability, contact Paula Breen for a list of nearby hotels. All Travel Companies and Travel Agents attending the evening functions are urged to reserve accommodation as soon as possible.

    There will be transport to the Big Event from Central Belfast on Day 1, Tuesday June 9, from 5pm and returning after the Jet2holidays party at 11pm. More details will follow but if you are keen to register for the complimentary transfer please get in touch...

    For a full timetable of events, contact Paula Breen or call 02890 666151.


    First Sailing of Anthem of the Seas

    Meanwhile, local travel agents and Press are currently getting the chance to experience the new Anthem of the Seas which together with RCI's sister ship Quantum are the most technologically advanced ships in the world with robotic bartenders, a skydiving experience called RipCord by iFLY and the North Star, a jewel-like capsule that extends 300 feet above the ocean to deliver 360-degree views for guests.

    The ships have an adult-only Solarium and spa which provide a sun-trap with shaded cabanas, a jacuzzi and adjoining bistro. There's also a fitness centre offering 'circus school' as well as loads of other classes and a 133 metre running track. There are 18 unique dining experiences including Wonderland (serving liquid lobster, tempura salmon caviar and truffled eggs), Izumi Japanese Cuisine and Devin Alexander's Devinly Decadence restaurant.

    The whole Anthem experience will be recreated at this year's Big Travel Trade Event at the Hilton, Templepatrick in June. Above right, Northern Ireland Travel News' Big Travel Trade Event Co-ordinator Paula Breen is pictured outside Wonderland on Anthem showing off The Big Event logo.


    Travel Trade Fun Day Set for August 16

    The organising committee for this year's Travel Fun Day have announced that the Travel Fun Day will take place on Sunday, August 16, 2015 at Wanderers Rugby Football Club, once again.

    After the great success of the 2014 Travel Fun Day which raised 60,000 Euro for various different charities, the new target for 2015 is set at 70,000 Euro. The good news for Travel Industry colleagues is that this year's entry is absolutely free!

    The committee are encouraging more Travel Industry companies who have not been involved to date to get involved in sponsorship this year, including Travel Industry companies from Northern Ireland.

    Ciaran Mulligan, Committee Member says: "This year's Travel Fun Day is going to be even bigger and better than previous years, with a lot more kids games, competitions and free goodies! Due to popularity, the 5-a-side football/Bubbleball will also be back (subject to entry fee) and not forgetting Bash the Boss plus more!

    For further information contact Ciaran Mulligan.

    Real Time Information Screens at Heathrow T2

    Screens have been installed at Heathrow Terminal 2 showing passengers live price and journey time comparisons between taxis and the airport's train service to central London.

    The screens - a world first - combine real-time traffic, weather and Heathrow Express train service information into one user-friendly data feed, or 'journey comparison generator,' at the terminal's baggage reclaim zone. The aim is to help customers make the fastest and cheapest choice of onward travel.

    Fraser Brown, Heathrow Express director, said: "The aim of the 'journey comparison generator' is to enable Heathrow passengers to get into London as speedily, easily and cheaply as possible. Research shows Heathrow Express trains are three times faster than taxis and a quarter of the price. These screens show how that comparison varies minute to minute depending on traffic, weather and time of day."

    This summer the screens at each baggage carousel will be translated to the main language - Italian, Russian etc - of people on the arriving flight, and later in the year they will be installed across Heathrow's Terminals 3 and 5.

    Robert's New Full Time Travel Trade Challenge

    After 34 years the popular Robert Wilson (pictured) has 'retired' from Belfast International Airport. But he's not ready for the pipe and slippers yet...

    He recently joined the team at tour operator Travel Solutions in a full time role and will now be dedicating his efforts to working with the company's local Travel Trade partners to grow business across its wide range of travel products.

    Shopping Voucher Incentive for Agents

    Malaysia Airlines is once again offering its popular shopping voucher incentive scheme to travel agents for securing flight bookings.

    For every return First and Business class ticketed sale made for travel on or before December 7, 2015, Malaysia Airlines will award agents a voucher worth up to £50 (50 per cent worth of vouchers awarded for one-way tickets). For every eligible return Economy class ticketed sale, a voucher worth up to £10 is available (50 per cent worth of vouchers awarded for one-way tickets). The Spring reward scheme giveaway, 'Everybody Wins', runs until April 24, 2015.

    To participate, agents should register, start booking Malaysia Airlines tickets and claim their rewards. In addition to submitting their ticketed sales, agents can also view their sales tally online.

    Malaysia Airlines flies a double daily A380 service from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur International Airport with onward connections to popular destinations in the Far East and Australasia.


    Tuesday April 14, 2015

    This Week's Travel News


    Commonsense Needed to Beat Travel Fraudsters

    ABTA, City of London Police and Get Safe Online have joined forces to issue a warning to the travelling public after fraudsters stole around £2.2 million from unsuspecting travellers in the UK last year, according to a new report.

    The report, by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau section of the City of London Police, found the average loss to fraud victims was £889. The majority of those who had been conned paid by unprotected means, such as bank transfer or cash, with no way of getting their money back. Only a small proportion paid by credit or debit card, where some form of redress is available.

    The report said the most common scams involved fraudsters hacking into the accounts of owners on well-known accommodation sites. In other cases, fraudsters spoofed accommodation websites with convincing bogus imitations, leaving holidaymakers with non-existent bookings.

    Travellers are being urged to stay safe online by checking that the web address is legitmate, do their research and don't just rely on one review, look for the logo - and check whether the company is a member of a Trade body such as ABTA. Never pay money directly into an owner's bank account and check all paperwork.

    Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Clark, the City of London Police Head of the Economic Crime, said: "The internet has revolutionised the way we look for and book our holidays. The unfortunate reality is that it is also being exploited by fraudsters who use online offers of accommodation and flights that do not exist or promising bookings that are never made to rip off unsuspecting holidaymakers."

    Holiday Operator Teams up with Jade Jagger

    World renowned British fashion, jewellery and interiors designer, Jade Jagger has teamed up with leading holiday company Thomson to create a limited edition range of kaftans, to celebrate the launch of the brand new Sensatori Resort Ibiza. Jade has also designed a bespoke wellbeing space at the resort, which will open in May this year.

    Resident and lover of the White Isle, Jade Jagger (pictured) has encapsulated her signature style to create a chic range of kaftans, perfect for adding a touch of glamour to the poolside. The special edition accessories will be gifted for a limited time to guests staying at the resort this summer, and for those back in the UK, the range will also be available to purchase online with all proceeds going to charity.

    Guests at Sensatori Resort Ibiza, the first short-haul Sensatori in the collection, will also be able to relax in style during their stay at the hotel's wellbeing space, exclusively designed by Jade Jagger. Inspired by the beautiful landscape and natural light in Ibiza, the space will feature carved screens and a bamboo ceiling to create a relaxed vibe for the wellbeing sessions taking place.

    Charlotte Brenner, Marketing Manager at Thomson said: "We are delighted to announce the partnership with Jade Jagger for this latest Sensatori Style collaboration. Jade is a well-respected interiors and fashion designer, as well as synonymous with Ibiza, so was the perfect choice. At Thomson we pride ourselves on going that extra mile to make the customer experience special, and hope that the striking kaftans and wellbeing space designed by Jade will be well received by our guests staying at the new five star Sensatori Resort Ibiza."


    ABTA Presence at The Big Travel Trade Event

    ABTA will again have a major presence at the Big Travel trade Event 2015.

    ABTA presentations will be taking place as follows:

  • Day 1 - Tuesday, June 9, 4.00pm-4.45pm in the Donegore Suite
  • Day 2 - Wednesday, June 10, 12.30pm-1.15pm in the Donegore suite
  • One to one sessions will also take place on the two days.

    An industry seminar delivered by ABTA - The Travel Association, will focus on the new Package Travel Directive, which is expected imminently from Brussels. The new Directive is likely to bring about significant changes to the UK's Package Travel Regulations and ATOL scheme, with the UK Government expected to begin the process of implementing the new rules into UK law in late 2015. In advance of these reforms, in this session ABTA's team will provide an in-depth look at the new Directive, examining what is captured, what is not, and what this is all likely to mean for the future of the UK's travel industry.

    So members of the Travel Trade are invited to come along to hear more on this once in a generation reform, and to quiz the ABTA team on how this reform might impact you and your business.

    You can register for these sessions on our website.

    Anthem Gets Ready for Southampton Launch

    Royal Caribbean's new ship Anthem of the Seas, the second in Royal's Quantum class, has been formally handed over by its German shipbuilders.

    The ship will be inaugurated in Southampton on April 20, christened by Thomson travel agent Emma Wilby, an event attended by VIPs, Press and members of the Travel Trade. It will then sail European itineraries until the autumn.

    In November, the 18-deck, 4,200-passenger Anthem will sail to arrive at Cape Liberty, New Jersey to sail the Caribbean. Standout features of Anthem include the RipCord by iFLY skydiving simulator, 30 bars and restaurants, and a SeaPlex which houses bumper cars, a roller disco, a circus school, and other sports.


    Prestige Post to Support Local Agents

    Luxury tour operator, Prestige Holidays, has boosted its support for agents in Northern Ireland with the appointment of Pam Bryans, as Business Development Manager for the region.

    Pam will look after agents across Northern Ireland and will provide sales and product training, promotional activity and point of sale material as well as working with partners including tourist boards and airports to increase the operator's business from the region.

    She brings a wealth of experience to the role having worked in travel and tourism for 35 years. Pam started her career as a travel agent in Chicago and manned travel desks for Usit youth and student travel in New York, London and Dublin before transferring to business travel where she worked for companies including Co-operative Travel Business Unit.

    John Joinson, Head of Sales, Prestige Holidays, said: "We pride ourselves on being an agent supportive luxury operator and have created this new position to boost sales and agent support in what is already a productive region for Prestige Holidays. We're delighted to have Pam on board."

    Express Service to Troon Returns

    When it comes to packing for a getaway, it seems there's little we're prepared to leave behind, according to a survey for P&O Ferries to celebrate the return of the fastcraft Express service between Northern Ireland and Scotland - just in time for the forthcoming holiday season.

    Appearances are everything for more than three quarters of those surveyed who aren't prepared to leave all their favourite cosmetics behind even for a short break. A staggering 70 per cent won't leave home without their hair dryers and/or straighteners while seven out of 10 say their children's favourite cuddly toys always make the cut along with more than half who pack their 'must have' computer games.

    Sarah Rosier, Head of Sales and Marketing, Irish Sea, P&O Ferries said: "Passengers can relax even before they step on board our ferries knowing that there are no baggage restrictions to worry about and no need to compromise on packing the home comforts we all appreciate when we're travelling. Once on board, the Express provides passengers with a relaxing and comfortable start to their journey. There are no airport style queues to struggle through - it's all so hassle free.

    With up to four sailings a day prices on the Express start from £114 each way to Troon for a car plus driver. Club Lounge costs from £12 per person if booked in advance (£14 per person if booked on board).

    New Ships and Cruises in New Brochure

    Great offers, new ships, a new cruise through the Bordeaux region and all-inclusive luxury are just a few of the highlights of APT's 2016 Luxury European River Cruising brochure, with 20 inspiring cruise itineraries showcasing the very best of Europe's iconic waterways.

    Revealing the majestic beauty of the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers, the new 8-day Grand Bordeaux River Cruise explores rural south-west of France. APT has also more 15-day Royal Collection river cruises on sale. The company will have two new state of the art river ships - luxurious 164-passenger vessels MS AmaStella and MS AmaViola.

    APT says it is proud to offer even more choice in 2016, with a diverse selection of 59 sightseeing experiences in 28 destinations across its' Royal Collection cruises. Available in select destinations, Freedom of Choice lets guests choose the activity or restaurant that most interests them from a variety of options - all at no additional cost.

    APT is offering great early booking savings of up to £2,600 per couple across the full range of 2016 European river cruises until May 31 2015.

    Change of Tack Welcomed!

    ABTA has welcomed a change of tack by Indian tourism authorities over visas for UK travellers after it raised concerns about the new visa application process which would have removed the option to obtain a visa by post for UK travellers.

    "We welcome the news that they have now decided to include an option for British holidaymakers to apply for visas to India by post rather than having to do so in person. However it is still very important that holidaymakers familiarise themselves with any visa requirements before booking their travel arrangements and ensure that they allow sufficient time for a successful application."

    The latest statement on the visa process is on the VFS Global website. VFS Global is the company responsible for Indian visa application process.


    Tuesday March 31, 2015

    This Week's Travel News


    Increase in London Seats by Almost a Third

    Belfast International Airport has today welcomed the announcement by easyJet of a major expansion on all its Belfast-London routes.

    The airline's winter schedule sees it increasing the number of seats for sale on Gatwick, London Luton and Stansted by more than 125,000, bringing the total number of seats to over half a million up to the end of February, 2016. In addition, easyJet will add seat capacity to Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester, bringing the total to 160,000 seats.

    Belfast International Airport says the easyJet expansion on all its London routes could lead to over 100 new aviation-related jobs in Northern Ireland. Graham Keddie, Managing Director, Belfast International Airport, said: "This is a development of enormous importance. EasyJet is Northern Ireland's main airline and this news will see it reinforce its presence in the market.

    "We're delighted at this news which will see impressive levels of growth on all three London services. Increasing the number of seats by close to a third will mean significant increases in airport activity. We are well equipped to handle such a tremendous increase which will bring benefits not only to South Antrim but Northern Ireland generally.

    "This is a good day for the airport, but an even better one for the Northern Ireland economy."


    Rome and Prague Services Begin This Week

    This  week is a major milestone in Northern Ireland for and Jet2holidays with the very first flights jetting off from Belfast International Airport to Rome on this Thursday, April 2 and Prague on Friday, April 3.

    The inaugural flights to these two stunning cities, the only direct services available from Northern Ireland, mark the start of the biggest year to date for the leading leisure airline and package holiday specialist - 2015 sees the introduction of a  third  dedicated aircraft and no fewer than five new routes, with flights to Gran Canaria, Verona and Zante also due to commence over the coming weeks. and Jet2holidays now offer the biggest of international destinations direct from Belfast International, now giving Northern Ireland holidaymakers no fewer than 18 holiday hotspots to choose from.

    The new Rome flights will depart twice weekly from April 2 until November 1, 2015, with up to three weekly flights to Prague operating between April 3, 2015 and January 4, 2016. flights start from £31 one way, including taxes with great value Jet2holidays city breaks available from £169 per person.

    Said Steve Heapy, CEO of and Jet2holidays: "Rome and Prague are fabulous and exciting cities which are not available through any other operator. I'm sure they'll be very popular with local holidaymakers and it's great to see that both of our inaugural flights are almost sold out."


    Airline Launches Its Summer Schedule

    Meanwhile, Flybe has started operating its summer schedule with 289 flights per week across a choice of 15 routes from George Best Belfast City Airport. This includes its daily service to Aberdeen which yesterday celebrated 10 years in operation.

    The new schedule also sees the return of the weekly holiday flights to Newquay and up to seven rotations per day to Flybe's Manchester hub offering onward connectivity to a wide range of European destinations. Three daily flights to Southampton not only offer easy access to Southern England but a convenient connection for cruise travellers.

    Paul Simmons, Flybe's Chief Commercial officer, said: "We are delighted to be offering passengers in Northern Ireland the choice of 15 routes this summer and to be providing affordable quality flights to the widest possible range of attractive destinations. Our popular service to Aberdeen now joins Edinburgh and Glasgow in having reached the 10-year milestone and together with Inverness which turns 10 next year and our franchise operations with Loganair, Flybe is providing unrivalled connections throughout Scotland from Belfast."

    In the picture above, Flybe General Manager (NI) Andrea Hayes pipes in Flybe's summer schedule helped by cabin crew Linzi Ferguson and Christina Johnston.


    KLM Dutch Themed Market at Big Event

    KLM is a new and very exciting addition to The Big Travel Trade Event 2015. The Dutch airline, which begins a service from Belfast City Airport to Amsterdam in May, will have a major presence at this year's two-day Big Event on June 9 and 10 at the Hilton, Templepatrick.

    Not only will KLM be treating all agents to a taster of a Dutch Themed Market in the exhibition they will also be hosting a drinks reception on the first night, June 9. This is due to take place from 7.30pm onwards and will be taking place in the bar/patio area of the Hilton Hotel, Templepatrick - offering all agents refreshments after the Trade exhibition.

    All agents staying on for the evening function are welcome. KLM will be injecting some fun into this drinks reception and also into the Gala dinner on Day 2 with a fun KLM themed Photobooth.

    So come along to the two-day event and get involved in Northern Ireland's biggest B2B travel networking event... All Northern Ireland travel agents/travel homeworkers are welcome... register now via our website.


    Five-Month-Long Ferry Refit Nears Completion

    Stena Line is due to complete a £6m refit investment programme of its Irish Sea North ferry fleet when the Stena Precision finishes its upgrade at Belfast's Harland & Wolff shipyard over the Easter period.

    A total of seven ships have been upgraded by Stena Line over the last five months with the bulk of the work being carried out at Harland & Wolff shipyard including Stena Line's flagship vessels Stena Superfast VII and VIII which operate on the Belfast-Cairnryan service.

    Stena is the leading ferry company on the Irish Sea and last year the company carried a total of 1.4m passengers, 318 000 cars and 485 000 freight units and as Stena Line's Irish Sea North Route Manager Paul Grant points out, the latest refit spend is part of an ongoing investment programme by Stena Line.

    "Over the last five years alone Stena Line has invested more than £250m in its Irish Sea business. This latest investment commitment of £6m is to help keep our Belfast fleet operating at optimum performance levels and ensures that our leisure and freight customers continue to benefit from award winning facilities and service.

    "The challenging five-month work schedule has been achieved in partnership between Stena Line, sister company Northern Marine Ferries and the team at Harland & Wolff," said Paul Grant.


    Chance to Get Inspired by Iceland

    Promote Iceland and its partners from the Icelandic tourism industry are running two workshops for travel agents in Ireland to mark the start of direct flights from Belfast to Reykjavik with easyJet in the latter part of 2014 and new flights with WOW air from Dublin.

    The Inspired by Iceland Workshops will be in Belfast's Holiday Inn, 22 Ormeau Avenue, on April 28 from 10.00am to 2.00pm and in Dublin a day earlier at The Morrison, Ormond Quay.

    Said organiser Hera Bra Gunnarsdottir of Promote Iceland: "We would like to meet you and tell you a little bit about ourselves and Iceland, one of the most in-demand destinations of 2015. The workshops will include a presentation on Iceland, the destination; speed dating with representatives from 12 Iceland tourism companies, a light lunch and a chance to win a trip to Iceland."

    Travel agents are asked to sign up before April 13 and encourage their colleagues to attend too. For registration and more info, email Hera.


    New Helsinki Service All-Year Round

    Leading European carrier, Finnair, yesterday launched its inaugural service between Dublin and Helsinki, a journey which takes just three hours. Finnair operates six flights a week between the two cities, using a 100-seat Embraer 190 aircraft and offering a convenient schedule timed to connect with the airline's flights to Asia.

    Finnair has announced that the service will also continue during the winter schedule from October through to March 2016. The move will allow Irish travellers the opportunity to visit Finland during this magical season and witness such sights as the Northern Lights in Finnish Lapland, while also continuing to offer convenient connections to destinations throughout their network.

    Finnair, recently named as Europe's most punctual airline in 2014, by FlightStats, offers convenient, quick and reliable transfers through Helsinki Airport, which has a minimum connection time of just 35 minutes. Total flight times between Dublin and Beijing are just over 14 hours, Dublin to Tokyo just over 15 hours, Dublin to Hong Kong 13 hours and 25 minutes and Dublin to Bangkok 15 hours and 25 minutes.


    TIPTO Delighted with Roadshow Turnout

    There was a great turnout of travel agents for the annual TIPTO Roadshow, held last week in the Titanic Suite at Belfast's Titanic Museum.

    Lorna Willis, TIPTO Account Manager said: "We had a really fun evening in a superb venue. It's always a pleasure for us to see the friendly agents from Northern Ireland. All our TIPTO supplier members would like to thank all the agents who joined us for such a successful event and we now look forward to developing new and existing relationhips."

    The picture shows Allison Mason, USAirtours presenting Lindsey Riddell of Clubworld Travel, Beersbridge Road with £100 on her CashCard at the Belfast Roadshow.


    Aspire Lounge Welcomes 50,000th Passenger

    The new Aspire Lounge at George Best Belfast City Airport recently welcomed its 50,000 passenger.

    Tony Byrne was the lucky passenger winning a bottle of champagne and entry for two to the lounge on his next visit. Tony is seen receiving his prize from Swissport Station Manager Nikki Farmbrough.

    Said Nikki: "This is a great achievement for us in just under a year."

    Easter Break for Trade E-Shot

    The weekly Travel News Tuesday Trade eshot will be taking a break for the Easter Holidays. The next Trade eshot will be in your inbox today fortnight, Tuesday, April 14.

    Everyone at Northern Ireland Travel News wishes all in the industry a Happy Easter holiday period.


    Tuesday March 24, 2015

    This Week's Travel News


    Dreamliner Lands to Promote New LA Service

    An Eithiopian Airlines' Dreamliner 787 aircraft made a scheduled first visit to Dublin Airport on Friday, promoting Eithiopian's inaugural flight to Los Angeles from Dublin on June 20.

    The ultra-modern Boeing 787 Dreamliner offers unparalleled on-board comfort to passengers especially for long haul routes with its unique features such as greatly reduced noise, higher cabin air humidity, biggest windows in the sky and spacious cabin interior. Members of the local Travel Trade and Press got the chance to go onboard the aircraft at Dublin on Friday for a first hand experience of the aircraft.

    The new service commencing in June will be the only direct services connecting Africa with Ireland and the West Coast of the United States, following Ireland's move to grant Ethiopian fifth freedom rights, enabling the airline to sell tickets on all sectors of the new Addis Ababa to LA route. Passengers from Ireland and Los Angeles will be able to enjoy seamless and convenient connectivity options thanks to Ethiopian's extensive network in Africa, spanning 49 destinations. Similarly, as the flights will be the only direct service between Dublin and Los Angeles, the Irish and US travelling public between the two cities will greatly benefit from the opening of the route.

    Ireland's Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe welcomed the groundbreaking new route: "The new routes will strengthen Ireland's connectivity to the west coast of the United States and will provide the first direct link to Ethiopia and other points in Africa and beyond from the Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa hub, offering additional choice and convenience for passengers."

    The new service from Dublin to Los Angeles has unveiled a promotional fare of just 499 Euro (£367.50p sterling at today's rates) to either Los Angeles or Addis Ababa. The fares are valid from June 20 to November 3, 2015 and must be booked from March 20 to April 30, 2015.

    Pictured are Steven and Delia Aston, Edel Doherty and Andrew Lockhart at the Dublin Airport Dreamliner launch.


    Additional Weekly Flight to Bulgaria in Summer

    Balkan Holidays, the leading UK tour operator to Bulgaria, has announced that it will be adding an additional weekly flight from Belfast to Bourgas, Bulgaria, this coming summer.

    The additional flights will depart every Sunday between June 21 and August 2, 2015. This is in addition to a Monday flight departure, which will operate between May and September.

    "We are pleased to be providing this additional Belfast flight due to demand," said Chris Rand, Sales and Marketing Manager Balkan Holidays.

    "Bulgaria's Sunny Beach frequently tops the Post Office Money Poll as Europe's best value for money destination and the country offers an extensive choice of beach resorts on the Black Sea", he added.

    "There is plenty of choice for holidaymakers including cultural excursions, guided coach tours of Bulgaria's wine and historical regions, health and spa breaks and golf holidays," he said. Flight only and accommodation only options are also available.


    Sandra Named Lisburn Business Person of the Year

    Sandra Corkin of Oasis Travel took one of the top awards at the 2015 Lisburn City Business Awards recently.

    Sandra, who was named the Lisburn Business Person of the Year, said: "Winning this super accolade in the tenth year of the Lisburn City Business Awards is the icing on the cake for us, as the business has just celebrated 30 great years! I am very proud that Oasis Travel has expanded to five branches across Northern Ireland over the years, but I never forget that we have our roots - and now our headquarters - in my own 'home city' of Lisburn."

    The awards were presented across 16 individual categories, from business excellence in customer service, marketing and innovation, to outstanding performance in manufacturing and exporting.

    The award for the Best Tourism Amenity Award went to Lisnacurran Country House B&B while the Lisburn Oasis Travel branch were also finalists in the "Excellence in Customer Service (Non Retail)" category and runners-up on the night.


    Take More Care of Your Passport - FCO

    Holidaymakers are being urged to take better care of their passports while away and not to waste consular time. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has launched a social media campaign asking British travellers #WhereDoYouKeepYours? to help reduce the number of lost passport cases.

    Last year, 20,612 UK passports were reported as lost or stolen around the world and 39,053 emergency travel documents were issued overseas.

    "Passports are essential for travelling and it is important to take care of them," said John Heppenstall, FCO head of consular campaigns. "Although most holidaymakers do, a lot of consular time could be saved if more people treated their passport as something as valuable as their phone or wallet. We also see people travelling who are not aware that certain countries require a UK passport holder to have six months of validity left on their passport from the date of entry, and even up to two blank pages in your passport."

    He urged travellers to go to the FCO website to find out the exact requirements for the country they are visiting.


    Visa Arrangements for Egypt Clarified

    The UK's largest Egypt specialist tour operator, Red Sea Holidays, which will be operating flights from both Belfast and Dublin this summer, has clarified the situation over new visa arrangements for entry to the country.

    Andy Grant, Managing Director of Red Sea Holidays, said: "Following the visa changes announced by the Egyptian tourism minister, our understanding is that UK and Irish tourists travelling to Egypt on tour operator packages are unaffected by the new visa changes and it is only independent travellers to the region who will be required to obtain a visa prior to arrival.

    "At Red Sea Holidays we obviously support any changes made by the Egyptian government that help ensure continued safety for our holidaymakers."

    The 2015 Red Sea portfolio includes holidays to Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada, El Gouna and Luxor, plus a new destination, Tunisia. The company also offers a selection of Nile cruises, Cruise & Stay packages and Multi-Centre holidays departing from 14 regional UK Airports: including Belfast. Dublin departures are new from this summer.


    Ryanair U-Turn on Transatlantic Services

    Europe's biggest low cost carrier Ryanair has made a u-turn over plans to operate transatlantic flights. Last week it said transatlantic flights were being planned but now the carrier has released a statement to the Stock Exchange saying the Ryanair board had in fact not approved any such plans - nor would it in the near future.

    "In the light of recent Press coverage, the board of Ryanair Holdings wishes to clarify that it has not considered or approved any transatlantic project and does not intend to do so," the airline said. This contrasts with last week when the carrier said it had approved a plan to start services to the US once it had time to source and take delivery of long haul aircraft.

    Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary described the first statement as "a miscommunication" but a Dublin daily newspaper reports Ryanair may still plan to pursue transatlantic services through a separate entity in which it would probably take a majority stake.


    New Exclusive Collection from China Operator

    The UK's number one tour operator to China, Wendy Wu Tours, has launched an 'Exclusive Collection' for 2015, offering iconic Asia itineraries with luxury extras and unique experiences.

    Starting with UK chauffeur transfers, the itineraries include five star accommodation, deluxe cruising, world class restaurants and exceptional experiences, many of which are only available with Wendy Wu Tours. These range from a tour of the Terracotta Warriors with an archaeology expert to Champagne on the Great Wall.

    Exclusive Collection tours are available in China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, including a Yangtze River cruise with tours ranging from 10 to 18 days. Tours start from £3,490 per person including international flights, domestic transportation, UK airport transfers, five star accommodation, some meals, touring with guides, entrance fees and visa fees for UK and EU passport holders.

    Exclusive Collection tours include The Best of China, 10-day tour at £3,490 and Classical Vietnam, 17 days costing £3,890.


    Tuesday March 17, 2015

    This Week's Travel News


    Global Landmarks Are Going Green

    Tourism Ireland's annual Global Greening initiative, to celebrate the island of Ireland and St Patrick, has gone from strength to strength from its beginning in 2010, with just the Sydney Opera House going green, to this year, when more than 160 landmark buildings and iconic sites across the world will turn a shade of green for our national day.

    From Rome to Rio and from London to Las Vegas, a host of buildings and sites around the world are turning a shade of green to celebrate St Patrick. In a major coup for Irish tourism. These sites include the Colosseum in Rome, the Sacre Coeur basilica in Paris and Edinburgh Castle for the first time ever as well as the Great Wall of China, Niagara Falls, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro and the famous 'Welcome' sign in Las Vegas. The picture right shows The Greening Tower of Pisa!

    * All at Northern Ireland Travel News wish everyone in the travel industry a very happy St Patrick's Day. With the sun shining in Belfast it looks as if the warm side of the stone is turning up...

    Titantic Quarter Exhibition Option for Holiday World

    Belfast Holidayworld could soon say goodbye to its traditional King's Hall showgrounds home.

    The 2016 Holidayworld Exhibition may be in a new Belfast venue, with Belfast's Titanic Quarter emerging as a possibility after it was revealed that a planning application is being lodged for a new exhibition centre there (pictured right).

    The Titanic Quarter property company says it intends to develop the exhibition centre on a site on the Queen's Road, opposite the Titanic Studios. A planning application for a 6,000 sq m temporary building will be lodged in later this month.

    Subject to planning permission, it is expected that the facility will be available to stage exhibitions and trade shows by autumn 2015, but the developers said that the plan is to develop a long-term facility. The company said its longer term plan is to develop a permanent exhibition centre. Belfast City Council is currently building a major extension to the Waterfront Hall for use as an exhibition centre, and the facilities there are expected to open for business by summer 2016.


    Agents' Party Night a Big Draw

    The first evening of The Big Travel Trade Event in mid-June will be a sensational jet2holidays party night in the Grand Marquee.

    There'll be food, drink, party games, karaoke and a DJ to make sure the evening goes with a swing. There'll also be giveaways and special prizes, as well as lots of surprises.

    The jet2holidays team will be in charge of affairs and it should be a night to remember.

    As well as exhibiting over the two days of The Big Event (Tuesday, June 9 and Wednesday, June 10) jet2 will be organising interactive training on the Wednesday, under the headline 'I'm a Travel Agent - Get Me Out of Here!!!'.

    Said Paula Breen, Big Event Co-Ordinator: "We would urge all agents to pre-register as space is limited for both events - Agents can register for these events via our website".

    Police and ABTA Plea to Travel Agents

    The Government and the police have made a direct plea to the UK travel industry to help identify young people who may be intending to travel abroad to join terrorist groups such as Islamic State.

    A document, issued via ABTA to all its members, describes the travel industry as a "key partner" in its efforts to deter people travelling for extremist purposes and issues guidance to the trade to help recognise vulnerable travellers.

    The news comes after it was revealed during a House of Commons' Home Office Select Committee that the three schoolgirls who fled to Syria to join IS last month booked their flights through a travel agency.

    In the national counter terrorism document, it states: "The travel industry is a key partner in our efforts to detect and deter people from travelling for extremist purposes. Your actions could help to safe lives."

    Travellers may be nervous or react adversely to be approached but travel companies should ask the same questions that they ask all clients, it says.


    Ryanair a Step Closer to Transatlantic Services

    Ryanair has confirmed that it is looking to buy aircraft suitable for the launch of transatlantic flights after winning approval from the airline's board for its first long-haul services.

    The airline said it is talking to manufacturers about the purchased of long-haul aircraft, with a view to launching flights between Europe and the US within the next four to five years.

    Boss Michael O'Leary has previously stated his desire to offer low-cost, transatlantic services, but this is the first time the airline has confirmed attempts to acquire suitable aircraft.

    The airline is looking at offering flights between 12 and 14 European cities, including London Stansted, and the same number of cities in the US. Fares are expected to start from £10, but there would only be a limited number of the cheapest seats on every flight and the majority would sell for much more.

    Ryanair is also believed to be looking at offering premium seats to attract business travellers.

    TIPTO Roadshow Back in Belfast Next Week

    Members of TIPTO, the Truly Independent Travel Organisation, are back in town for their annual Roadshow.

    The event takes place at Titanic, Belfast on Wednesday next week, March 25, at 6.00pm.

    Travel agents interested in attending are requested to log in on the TIPTO website.


    Nicole New Face of Etihad in TV Campaign

    Etihad Airways has launched its new global brand campaign with the worldwide premiere of a new television commercial (TVC) in Abu Dhabi, attended by Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman, representatives of the global media and hundreds of specially invited guests.

    Nicole Kidman is both star and narrator of the captivating feature, which will be shown on global TV stations and social media in both 60 and 30 second formats, with still versions of the campaign appearing in print, digital and on outdoor channels. The TVC was shot onboard Etihad Airways' new flagship Airbus A380 and in locations around the world, including various landmarks in Abu Dhabi. The new campaign went on air on March 15 and can be viewed on the Etihad Airways website.

    Agents Ski Fam Trip to Bulgaria

    A group of local travel agents have just returned from a week long Travel Solutions Fam Trip in Bulgaria.

    The agents, many of them beginners, got the chance to try out the slopes of three different resorts - Pamporovo, Bansko and Borovets!

    "Many of us started as beginners but were masters of the Blue slopes by the time we were ready to go home," said Travel Solutions' Lynsey Lamont.


    Tuesday March 10, 2015

    This Week's Travel News


    Exhibitors Top 100-Mark at Big Event

    This year's two-day Big Travel Trade Event has reached the magic 100-exhibitor mark.

    Organised by Northern Ireland Travel News on Tuesday, June 9 and Wednesday June 10 at the Hilton Templepatrick, this year's Big Event will provide a host of training sessions and great opportunities to network with worldwide destinations, airlines, tour operators, bed banks, cruise companies, hoteliers and top travel companies from around the world.

    All two days are packed with activities for the estimated 350 local travel agents - independent agents, staff from multiple travel outlets and home workers from all over Northern Ireland. The Trade exhibition itself runs over two days, including late night opening to 7.30pm on the first day, giving agents/Trade the opportunity to visit the show at a time that suits them.

    Key highlights this year include The Visit USA Pavilion, Jet2Holidays Party Night, and the 25th Anniversary Gala Dinner - and much much more. As in recent years the Northern Ireland Travel News Golf Classic will take place on the second day of the Big Travel Trade Event.

    Agents can register for the Big Event on our website.

    Euro's Seven-Year Low Boosts UK Travellers

    Holidays and short breaks in the Euro zone have been further boosted by the latest exchange rates which show the euro has fallen to just 72p against sterling.

    This is the Euro's lowest value for years against sterling - and sterling is now worth around 15 per cent more than this time two years ago, bringing good news for both leisure and business travellers.

    Especially likely to benefit from the strong pound/weak Euro are the leading Continental city break destinations and main summer holiday destinations like France, Spain and Greece.

    Sterling is now at a seven-year high versus the Euro and many potential travellers are likely to buy their Euros now for use at a later date when they go on their main summer holiday or city break. Northern European destinations like Sweden and Denmark are outside the Euro zone and therefore not affected by the exchange rates.


    Emirates Seek Sales Executive for Northern Ireland

    Emirates are targeting the Northern Ireland marketplace for future growth. The airline, which operates a daily service from Dublin to Dubai and onward to leading destinations worldwide, is looking for a Sales Executive to cover the Province.

    "This new position will play a vital role in maintaining and significantly growing our business through profitable relationships with a portfolio of major Travel Trade partners and corporates," says the airline. "We are seeking a committed pro-active and sales driven individual who will hit the ground running in the delivery of incremental revenues and new business for the airline."

    To apply for the post, interested applicants should visit to complete the online application using reference 150000IY by March 29.

    Airline Designs App for New Apple Watch

    EasyJet, Northern Ireland's leading airline, has designed a bespoke app for the Apple Watch which will be available for the launch of the long-awaited new wearable technology on April 24.

    In addition to its precise timekeeping functionality, Apple Watch has been designed to offer personalised notifications for passengers with industry experts believing that one of the most exciting aspects of the wearable technology will be its ability to give users key information in a simpler and more accessible way.

    It will seamlessly connect to the easyJet app to provide personalised flight information and real-time views of travel information checked most frequently by passengers with one of the main benefits being the Passbook boarding passes that will enable quick and convenient use throughout the airport. It will be available in five languages from launch.

    Glances, another key feature of Apple Watch, will inform and remind passengers of key parts of the journey. This includes pre-departure information, check-in detail, up-to-date local currency exchange rates, weather in destination and real time flight status - building upon the success of easyJet's popular flight tracker tool. It will even show the user when it is time to board the aircraft with a handy countdown function.


    Major Capacity Boost for Dublin Airport

    Dublin Airport's airfield is to receive a major capacity boost with the addition of 10 new aircraft parking spaces and three new aircraft taxiing lanes. The 20 Euro million euro project, which is located to the northern end of the airfield, is the largest single capital investment at Dublin Airport since the opening of Terminal 2 in 2010.

    The extra aircraft parking spaces are required due to the significant growth in traffic at Dublin Airport over the past three years. Passenger numbers at the airport increased by eight per cent to 21.7 million last year and have risen by 16 per cent since 2011.

    "This is a major construction project, which will create 10 extra aircraft parking stands and help the airport expand further over the medium term," said Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison. "We are constantly investing to maintain and improve the airfield area for our airline customers and also to improve and upgrade the passenger experience throughout the airport," he added.

    Dublin Airport is expecting another year of passenger growth in 2015, with 17 new services already announced for this year. The new services include; Los Angeles, and Addis Ababa with Ethiopian Airlines, Washington DC, Nantes and Newquay with Aer Lingus, Copenhagen and Lublin with Ryanair, Helsinki with Finnair, Paris Orly with, Barcelona with Vueling, Reykjavik with WOW Air and Halifax, Nova Scotia with Europe Airpost.

    More Than 70 Beat Flying Phobia

    More than 70 people are today celebrating overcoming their phobia of flying after attending easyJet's Fearless Flyer course in Belfast over last weekend.

    The group of nervous flyers took part in the two-day course, run by phobia expert Lawrence Leyton and senior easyJet pilot Chris Foster, who together explained how an aircraft works, dispelled common flying myths and taught participants a unique set of 'mind tools' to manage their fear.

    On Saturday participants put the skills they'd learned to the test and travelled onboard a special easyJet flight, which included a full commentary in the air from Captain Foster. This was the third time the course has been run in Belfast and brings the total number of successful Fearless Flyer participants nationwide to more than 2,000 since launching almost two years ago.

    Ali Gayward, easyJet's Head of Northern Ireland, said: "Our Fearless Flyer courses have been a flyaway success with more than 95 per cent of our participants overcoming their fear of flying. We're really pleased that we've helped to change the lives of so many people already, and we look forward to welcoming our new Belfast fearless flyers onboard our flights soon from Belfast International Airport, where we fly more than 3.3million passengers every year."


    New March Madness Agent Incentive

    Titan, the UK's best escorted tour specialist, has just announced a great new Agent Incentive for March. Following a hugely successful January and February peak sales period Titan have launched March Madness, their biggest and best incentive ever!

    All agents have to do is book any Titan holiday departing in 2015 throughout March to claim a £50 Love2shop voucher for every booking and there is no limit to the number of claims agents can make. What's more, there are some jaw-dropping team prizes available as well!

    Every branch that books five or more Titan 2015 holidays can claim a group Spa Day for up to 10 members of staff! Every agency thats book 10 or more Titan 2015 holidays can claim a trip for two on Titan's New York, New York six-day tour.

    Visit for full details, to download your very own Titan Booking Tracker and all Terms and Conditions.

    New Car Hire Solution is Launched

    Innstant Travel, the online wholesale division of Innstant Group, has launched its new car hire solution which makes booking car hire an easy two-step process.

    The global car hire booking tool combines more than 500 suppliers such as Avis, Sixt and Hertz, Europcar and Budget in 193 countries ranging from economy to premium class.

    The system offers all inclusive prices with no "hidden extras", live content in one search result, enabling bookers to select the best price offer, the preferred car model and/or the car hire company.

    Siobhan Buckley, Key Account Manager at Innstant Travel, said: "Our objective with launching this new product is ease of use and increased sales for our agents. We know time is valuable and this is designed to make our agents lives easier and assist them in increasing their sales conversions."

    With the simple two-step booking process, Innstant offer agents a fast and efficient solution to their car hire needs. Add in the competitive pricing and this is set to be a very valuable tool for the travel industry.

    BA Parent Slams APD as Senseless

    IAG, parent company of British Airways, has criticised APD on flights from Northern Ireland following last week's report which local politicians said did not make the case for local political intervention on the airline tax.

    Said a BA statement: "Aviation generates economic growth and jobs. It cannot make sense for Northern Ireland to have hundreds of thousands of passengers crossing the border to fly from the Republic.

    "APD is an anti-business tax that should be abolished entirely to boost aviation and tourism in Northern Ireland."

    Death of Founder of South Down Travel Agencies

    Members of the local Travel Trade are paying their respects today at the funeral of Maurice Hogg, founder of Hoggs Travel in Newy and Warrenpoint.

    Maurice was a well known figure in travel circles in South Down and his two agencies were major customers of Aer Lingus. Hogg's Travel also did a substantial percentage of their business through Dublin, long before the numbers of travellers flying out of the Republic was anything like it is today.

    Maurice sold the company to businessman Tony Pinion before going to live in South Africa, but he was back living in Northern Ireland when he died at the weekend.


    Tuesday March 3, 2015

    This Week's Travel News


    Thai Roadshow Will be Back, Pledges Chris

    The first-ever Friends of Thailand Club Roadshow took place in Belfast last week - and organiser Chris Lee of the Thai Tourist Office in London pledged that given the enthusiastic response it will definitely return to the Province before long.

    "It is rare indeed that more travel agents turn up than you had hoped for and showed such enthusiasm," he told Northern Ireland Travel News. "We had a turnout of 52 and were grateful for such a warm welcome. We will return to Belfast - absolutely. Our only regret was that we hadn't visited before!

    "I would also like to thank the Northern Ireland Travel News team for all their support and to Etihad Airways for co-sponsoring the place on our joint NT fam trip," added Chris, the Trade Marketing Manager for the Tourism Authority of Thailand based in London.

    Fifteen Thai hotels, airlines, two Destination Management Companies and a couple of friendly wholesalers took part in the Friends of Thailand Club Roadshow in Belfast's Merchant Hotel.

    Rise in Summer Holiday Bookings Gathering Pace

    Summer 2015 holiday bookings continue to outpace sales a year ago, according to a leading UK industry analyst.

    Year-on-year bookings for the week to February 14 were seven per cent up, while the previous week they were three per cent higher. Summer 2015 sales for the season to date remained three per cent up year-on-year to the end of last week, according to analyst GfK.

    The upturn began in mid-January following a slow start to 2015. The company reported a four per cent rise in year-on-year bookings in the final week of the month following a two per cent increase the preceding week.

    Year-on-year package bookings in the week to February 14 were up eight per cent and family bookings up 14 per cent. Bookings to eurozone countries also rose eight per cent, with a £3 increase in the average selling price despite the fall in the euro's value.


    Get Into Training for the Big Travel Trade Event

    This summer's Big Travel Trade event on June 9 and 10 is giving local travel agents the chance to take part in training courses run by some of the most popular Travel companies in the world.

    NCL's Regional Sales Manager Martin Maclaren will kick off the training sessions on Day 1 with Norwegian Cruise Lines training, followed by Iberostar's Sales and Promotions Manager Aishling McLaughlin training agents on Iberostar Hotels & Resorts. Royal Caribbean's Colin Rillie will also introduce interactive RCI cruise training on Day 1.

    Said Big Travel Trade Event Co-Organiser Paula Breen of Northern Ireland Travel News: "We would urge all managers and travel agency proprietors to ensure their staff is signed up for these sessions as they are already filling up fast and there is a limited number of places available."

    Day 2 will see further Norwegian Cruise Line and Iberostar Hotel & resorts training sessions for any agents that cannot attend Day 1 sessions.

    In addition, Jet2 Sales Executive Nikki Porter and the Jet2Holidays Trade Team will be on hand to train agents on Jet2Holidays and their expanding products and destinations.

    You can register via our website.

    British Airways Named Top Consumer Brand

    British Airways has been named the UK's top consumer brand in the annual Consumer Superbrands survey. Rival Virgin Atlantic comes in 20th place in the listing, which saw luxury watch brand Rolex at number two, followed by the BBC at number three.

    Stephen Cheliotis, Chief Executive of The Centre for Brands Analysis and Chairman of the Superbrands Council, said: "Younger brands, such as the social media giants, are sitting on the sidelines making little impact as a huge battle takes place among trusted, traditional brands seeking to remain relevant and retain their positions among the brand elite.

    "British Airways retaining number one spot is a great example of a much-loved traditional brand that has also refreshed, re-focussed on innovation and invested to remain attractive and relevant."

    In a separate business Superbrands survey, which asked 2,000 business professionals to name their top brands, BA again came out on top, followed by Apple at number two and Virgin Atlantic in third place. ABTA also retained its place in the table for the ninth consecutive year.

    Chief Executve Mark Tanzer said: "We work hard to ensure that ABTA remains the most recognised and respected association in the travel industry, to help our members grow their businesses and so consumers can travel with confidence."


    Emirates Connects with Bali from June

    Emirates Airlines is launching a new daily service from Dubai to the island of Bali in Indonesia, from June 3, 2015.

    One of the most popular islands in Indonesia with spectacular mountains and picturesque beaches, Bali is a leading tourist destination which welcomed more than 3.7 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2014. Emirates' new service will add to Bali's global connectivity, further stimulating the island's economic and tourism growth.

    Bali will be Emirates' 148th global destination, adding to the airline's route network in the Asia Pacific region which currently spans 23 destinations in 13 countries. The non-stop service between Dubai and Bali will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in a two-class configuration.

    Emirates operates a twice daily service from Dublin to its Dubai hub.

    Spring Sale as Anthem Leaves German Shipyard

    Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines are reducing their prices on a large number of 2015 sailings as part of their Spring Sale which begins today.

    The company has announced a number of great deals, the best of which are likely to be snapped up quickly.

    For instance you can book a 14-night Italian Med Cruise on RCI's newest ship Anthem of the Seas for £1,299 per person, a three-night Paris and Bruges Explorer of the Seas cruise for £299 per person or a seven-night Western Med Allure of the Seas cruise for £549 per person.

    Meanwhile the $940 million Anthem of the Seas has left its German shipyard ahead of its arrival in the UK next month. The latest Royal Caribbean International ship will sail from Southampton from April, offering a range of cruises throughout the summer, following a preview for the Travel Trade and Press.

    The 4,180 sister ship to Quantum of the Seas will have a travel agent as its godmother through a competition running in conjunction with Travel Weekly.

    Michelle Will Be Talking Turkey

    Michelle Dooley has joined Travel Turkey Consultancy (Glasgow) taking on the role of Ireland's Sales Representative on behalf of the Turkish Culture and Tourism Office, covering both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

    Michelle is especially well known in Northern Ireland having spent many years with Falcon Holidays in Belfast. She has spent the last 13 years in the travel industry, the vast majority of it being with Falcon where she spent more than 10 years as part of Falcon's award winning Sales Support team.

    With the focus on increasing Irish visitor numbers to Turkey and spreading the news about the latest developments in the country, Michelle is looking forward to her new challenge promoting the home of amazing history, beautiful culture and of course those stunning sandy beaches.

    Heathrow Express Signs Up for New Travelport Service

    Travelport has today announced a first of its kind solution which allows airport express services to be offered to travel agency customers using a plugin on Travelport's Travel Commerce Platform.

    Travelport is the first travel platform to be able to offer a solution for airport express services, which operate frequent fast rail services between an airport and local city. Today's announcement demonstrates the importance of, and Travelport's commitment to an open platform that allows the brightest and best developer talent from around the world to build tools that address the unmet needs of the global travel industry.

    Heathrow Express is the first customer to have signed up to be part of this unique service, which is now live. It means travel agents can now book electronic tickets for Heathrow Express using Travelport's industry leading point of sale solution, Travelport Smartpoint. In addition, travel agents will be able to offer travelers the same priced tickets on Heathrow Express services as those buying direct.

    Simon Ferguson, Travelport Managing Director, UK, Ireland & Nordics, said: "This is really exciting news and a win-win for all parties concerned. Heathrow Express can reach more passengers, travel agents can offer a more effective end-to-end service for their customers and both will increase revenues as a result."

    Malaysia Airlines' flights to London Under Threat

    Malaysia Airlines plans to cut its global seat capacity by 10 per cent to concentrate on regional growth.

    And services to the Middle East and Europe - London, Paris and Amsterdam - could be under threat if they do not contribute to the network or to group profitability.

    The move was revealed by Khazanah, Malaysia Airlines' its new owners which last year took control of the airline after it was hit by two high profile tragedies involving its aircraft. The company says the 10 per cent capacity cut would come as the airline focused "on more profitable domestic and regional routes".


    Page 77 of 82


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