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Tuesday May 13, 2014

This Week's Travel News

Turkish Delight for Local Travel Agents

Local travel agents had the chance to see for themselves the exotic city of Istanbul - recently named Best City Break Destination in Europe by TripAdvisor - on a five-day Fam trip last week run jointly by Thriftway Consol and Turkish Airlines.

The group flew from Dublin on the direct service operated by Turkish Airlines and stayed in the Keban Alkoclar hotel located just off the famous Taksim Square. As well as taking in the main tourist attractions of Istanbul, the agents made a behind the scenes visit to the Turkish Airlines joint venture company Do&Co, whose catering facility prepares 150,000 meals a day for more than 60 airlines.

The visit to the Turkish Airlines Flight Training Centre at Istanbul airport was another highlight of the trip. The facility has 12 flight simulators, each costing about US$50 million, and everyone in the party had a turn to sit in the Captain's chair in the simulator. They also visited the cabin crew training area where they saw crew being trained in all aspects of their work including firefighting, evacuation slides, first aid, in-flight security etc.

The visit to the vibrant city of Istanbul also included the 'must see' Grand Bazaar, Sultan Ahmed Mosque (popularly known as the Blue Mosque) and the Hagia Sofia church - not forgetting the impressive Topkapi Palace with its array of historic artifacts and the fascinating Istanbul Archaeology Museums. A dinner highlight featured a short river ferry boat ride to the only man-made island in the middle of the Bosphorus between Asia and Europe, to the Galatasaray FC owned restaurant Suada.

In the picture above right Aine Corr of Professional Travel tries out the Turkish Airlines flight simulator. You can view more pictures from the trip on our website.

Free Coach Offer for Big Event Very Popular

Day 1 of The Big Travel Trade Event (June 10) is turning out to be very popular with many agents taking advantage of the free coach offer to and from the Hilton, Templepatrick.

There's a Turkish Airlines' welcome reception with cruise training sessions / ABTA clinics, and more than 80 suppliers at the Trade Exhibition part of the day. Then in the evening there's the ever-popular Night at the Races sponsored by Turkish Airlines.

Said Big Event Co-Ordinator Paula Breen: "We are urging all agents to pre-register as there is now limited availability on the coaches and in the grand marquee for the Turkish Airlines evening function, so don't delay and register before you miss your spot at the Travel Trade Event of the year!"

You can register now on the Northern Ireland Travel News website.

New Canadian Low Cost Option from June

Four top executives of Canadian carrier Westjet were in Belfast last Wednesday to raise awareness of the new Westjet route which launches from Dublin on June 15 and runs daily until October 25. The airline also announced its intention to operate the service during the 2015 season, also until the end of October.

The new service will leave Dublin at 8.20 am daily and will operate non-stop flights to St John's Newfoundland and daily direct (same aircraft) flights onward to Toronto. Customs clearance will take place at St John's thus minimising delays in the entry procedure.

Westjet, which was founded in 1996, operates a fleet of more than 100 aircraft, all of them under seven years old. Today the airline operates to more than 85 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. Approximately 40 per cent of the airline's business comes through travel agents.

Two local agents, Linda Millar of Bryan Somers Travel and Tracy Lowry of Travel Counsellors, won the ballot prizes of trips to Canada with Westjet.

Pictured above right is Linda Millar recieving her prize from Henry Nizynski of Westjet. You can view more pictures from the evening on our website.

'Rouge' Service to Canada Takes Off

Meanwhile, Air Canada Rouge began their operations from Dublin to Toronto recently. Rouge will operate year round, and daily in peak season.

The Dublin Toronto service is being operated by Boeing 767-300ER wide-bodied aircraft, featuring a two-cabin configuration.

"We are thrilled to be operating this new service from Dublin which of course connects with the vast Air Canada network to take travellers from Ireland to any Canadian and US destinations", said Robert Atkinson, General Manager, UK & Ireland Air Canada.

Independence and Adventure Embark on Summer Season

Independence of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas, two of Royal Caribbean International's most activity packed ships have arrived back into the Port of Southampton (UK) this month to embark on their 2014 summer seasons for the second year running.

The return of these modern ships underscores the company's commitment to the UK and Southampton market, which will grow further with the arrival of the most technologically advanced ship ever, Anthem of the Seas in April 2015.

The newly enhanced Adventure of the Seas arrived into the City Cruise terminal on May 4, 2014 while sister ship Independence of the Seas will sail into the port on May 17, 2014. The ship offers a series of seven to 16 night cruises around the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, plus shorter sailings, including a four-night trip to Belgium and France.

The announcement that both Independence and Adventure of the Seas are returning into Southampton comes ahead of Royal Caribbean embarking on a massive step change for the global business by placing some of its newest ships on this side of the Atlantic. In 2015, Anthem of the Seas, the newest and one of the most technologically advanced ships ever will call the Port of Southampton home for its summer season, while sister ship, Allure of the Seas will call Barcelona its home.

To kick off its summer season, Independence of the Seas will offer a series of new itineraries including more, shorter sailings such as three-night cruises to Le Havre for Paris and four night cruises to Le Havre for Paris and Zeebrugge for Bruges. The ship will also offer six night cruises to France and Spain, an eight-night cruise to Norway, various 14-night Mediterranean cruises, plus 11 and 12-night Canary Islands cruises as part of its 2014 summer season.

Belfast Oasis Agents In the Pink

It was too good an opportunity to miss, the Giro d'Italia coming right past the door - so Oasis' Travel staff in Belfast's Howard Street decided to get in the Giro mood and go pink for the day.

They also decorated the front of the office to celebrate the world's second biggest cycling event coming to the Province. The picture right shows Oasis staff's selfie to mark the big event in Belfast last Friday.

New Departure for Ticket Attractions Provider

The UK Trade's leading supplier of pre-purchased theme park tickets, worldwide attractions and excursions recently launched its own range of shore excursions.

The new product range from Attraction World went on sale at the beginning of April focussing on cruises departing from June 1, 2014 onwards.

The company is offering booking availability on 3,400 shore excursions in 680 port stops on 240 cruise itineraries on 17 different ships. Initially focusing on the most popular 17 ports of call in the Mediterranean.

The company will offer pre-bookable shore excursions on four cruise lines: Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, P&O and Celebrity Cruises. Ports of call will include: Lisbon, Gibraltar, Cadiz, Palma, Villefranche, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Naples, Venice, Valletta, Dubrovnik, Kotor, Athens, Santorini, Mykonos, Kusadasi and Istanbul.

The company will be following its usual ethos that works so well through the Travel Trade - 'keeping it simple'. Tony Seaman, Group Sales & Marketing Director, commented: "We will be offering the most popular shore excursions only in these initial 17 ports. Years of selling attractions has taught us to keep it focused and to keep it simple. Agents have far too much to focus on by adding to their burden so we like to help them as much as we can."

Cruise Vouchers to Boost Summer Sales

Travel cruise agents are being given the chance to win one of five £100 Red Letter Day lifestyle vouchers every week until May 31 by Celebrity Cruises. The 'last minute luxury' campaign aims to boost bookings for departures in July and August.

Winning agents can spend vouchers on Red Letter Days activities from shopping and dining, to sport events and family days outs across the UK and Ireland. Agents need to create and confirm any new booking for July or August 2014 by May 31 to be entered into the prize draw.

Cruise options include a 14-night eastern Mediterranean sailing on Celebrity Reflection from Rome (Civitavecchia) starting at £99 per person cruise-only on July 25 and a 14-night no-fly Scandinavia and Russia cruise on August 16 starting at £1,299pp.

New Summer Spot for New York Visitors

NYC & Company, New York City's official marketing, tourism and partnership organisation, has announced Red Hook in Brooklyn as the next destination to be featured in Neighbourhood x Neighbourhood promotion.

John Donohue, the NYC & Company representative in Ireland said: "In order to continue to grow New York City's tourism industry, Neighbourhood x Neighbourhood targets repeat visitors and intrepid first-time visitors seeking new adventures. The campaign is designed to highlight the diversity of offerings in New York City's five boroughs and to encourage exploration in areas outside traditional tourist locations."

Located on the rugged waterfront, the one-time industrial hub of Red Hook has reinvented itself as a centre of eclectic restaurants and shops and the home of entrepreneurs, artisans, musicians & even beekeepers. With its stellar food scene, eclectic shopping and stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, Red Hook is filled with unexpected treasures. The resourceful will be rewarded!

For more, visit


Tuesday May 6, 2014

This Week's Travel News

Poker Night Raises More than £5,000 for Charity

Members of the local Travel Industry came up trumps at the Northern Ireland Travel Trade's Poker Night last Thursday when a staggering £5,090 was raised for the Big Travel Trade Build in Beius, Romania on September 21-28.

Andrew Adair (pictured right with Jonathan Adair from NI Travel News) from Breakaway Travel played his hand well to snap up the top prize in the poker tournament with Scott Parker of Ferherty Travel taking second place.

Andrea Doree of Travel Solutions took home the top darts prize while the popular quiz had a number of different winners. There were also lots of ballot prizes throughout the evening, announced on the night by Leo Callow. There was also a secret auction of sporting memorabilia on the evening by Peter Wood, which attracted a great response for the charity.

Table sponsors on the night were: Amadeus, British Airways, Blue Insurances, Thriftway, Travel Cube, NI Travel News, Travel Solutions, and Etihad Airways.

Jonathan Adair of the Travel Trade Big Build said: "I want to give a big thank you for all the support for the Poker Night, from the donations of prizes from all parts of the travel Industry, and the wonderful support on the night from the competitors and their generous contributions. A special thank you also goes to Joanne Hawthrone of Thriftway Travel, Brendan Mallon of Bookabed, John Boyde of Thriftway Travel and Aaron Fletcher of Oasis Travel who helped organise this year's event."

You can view more pictures from the evening on our website and see full coverage in the June edition of NI Travel News.

Star Alliance Moving to Heathrow Terminal 2

Heathrow's Terminal 2, The Queen's Terminal will open on June 4 and will be the new home for 23 Star Alliance airlines. All Star Alliance member airlines will move in by the end of November 2014.

T2 is a purpose built, state of the art facility. Designed to meet the needs of the international frequent flyer, it will revolutionise passengers' travel experience. Light, bright, spacious and airy, with plenty of shops and comfortable bars, waiting time at T2 is relaxing and enjoyable.

The latest technology and world class service ensure a quick and hassle-free journey through the airport, from check in right through to boarding.

All the services the traveller needs are conveniently housed under one roof, from baggage claim to flight connections. There's no stress, no headache and no need for rushing around.

Find out why T2 is so special by registering for the Star Alliance-sponsored Breakfast on Day 2 of The Big Event on June 11.

Big Mervyn Hits the Road for Big Event

One of the Travel Trade's best known characters is back on the road again - six months after retiring after a lifetime in the ferry business.

Big Mervyn McNeely (pictured), well known to agents in his time with Stena Line, is paying a surprise visit to local travel agencies, promoting The Big Travel Trade Event on June 10 and 11. Mervyn will be giving out chocolates to agents and will be providing information on the free coach travel to and from the first day of The Big Event on the first day, June 10.

If you want Mervyn to visit your agency get in touch with This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it who will send him your way. You can also register online for the private coaches.

or simply let Mervyn know when he comes to visit. He will provide agents with a ticket for the coach as well as a full timetable of the day from the coach journey to the venue right through to the trip home However, please note that seats are filling up fast. So don't miss your opportunity!

Commission Increased by Cruise Excursion Company

A rapidly expanding shore excursion company has opened bookings for Summer 2015 and announced that agent commission will be raised to 16 per cent for all UK agents.

Agents also receive two points for each pound spent to be redeemed for gifts through Cruisingexcursions' loyalty scheme Port Points.

To celebrate the opening of Summer 2015 sales all prices have also been discounted by 5 per cent - both to the agent and direct sell - for bookings made before the end of July this year, for excursions next Summer (April 1, 2015 to October 31, 2015). In addition, child prices on all Essential Collection tours booked for the period May 1, 2015 and Oct 31, 2015 are priced at just £1 (excludes any ticket costs applicable on some tours).

Essential excursions are designed with the first time visitor to the destination and are available from most ports of call. One of the Rome Essential tours, for example, includes pick up from the ship with a full day in Rome, accompanied by a professional English speaking guide, taking in all the major sites including the Trevi Fountain, The Pantheon and the Vatican. The tour is priced at £58 per adult and £1 per child.

Cruisingexcursions Business Development Manager Graham Chuter said: "We are delighted with the support from the travel agents' community and we are now on sale with 99 per cent of the Trade. We know that the quality and choice we offer is recognised and stands alone but in order to create a level playing field with UK competition we've raised the commission." previously paid on average 10 per cent commission and all travel agents will move on to the new rate with immediate effect. The company now has a choice of close to 10,000 excursions at more than 700 ports worldwide.

Etihad's 'Unparalleled Luxury, Comfort and Service'

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has unveiled the new product and service offering on its Airbus A380 and Boeing B787 Dreamliner aircraft, including The Residence by Etihad, the world's most luxurious living space in the air, available only on the airline's A380 aircraft.

The Residence will be the breathtaking and completely new forward upper-deck cabin on the A380. Accommodating single or double occupancy, it features a living room, separate double bedroom and ensuite shower room. Guests in The Residence will also have a personal Butler.

With the launch of these new fleets, the Abu Dhabi-based airline will also redefine and rename its cabin classes. The A380 will feature the revolutionary First Apartments, which are fully private suites with a separate reclining lounge seat and full-length bed, as well as a chilled mini-bar, personal vanity unit and wardrobe. Etihad Airways has allocated the upper deck of the A380 to its premium cabins.

On the B787, Etihad Airways has designed an enhanced First Suite, adding many new features including a chilled mini-bar. The Business Studio and Economy Smart Seat will feature on both the A380 and the B787.

Etihad Airways is introducing the latest Panasonic eX3 entertainment system across both fleets, providing more than 750 hours of on-demand entertainment, improved gaming and high definition screens across all cabins.

The A380 aircraft will have full mobile and Wi-Fi service while the B787 will be equipped with Wi-Fi.

'Astonishing' Business from Northern Ireland

There was a good attendance of agents at a Caribtours promotion in the Merchant Hotel Belfast last week.

Six of the luxury operator's suppliers attended - they were David Pollard, Coral Reef Club, Rob O'Keeffe-Wilson, Constance Hotels, Andrew Hiller, Clear Marketing, Sarah Spooner, AM Resorts, Graham Hawkins, Buccament Bay, and Jayanne Young, Elegant Hotels - and the agents were given an insight into the various properties.

Hosts for the evening were Nan Short and Rebecca Burgess of Caribtours - Rebecca described the level of business from Northern Ireland as "astonishing" given that the company had only been in the NI marketplace for little over a year and a half.

The picture shows Travel Counsellors Gillian Murnin and Sharon Spiers at the Caribtours event. You can view more pictures from the evening on our website.

ABTA Guidance on All Aspects of Accessibility

ABTA is reminding all Members to ensure that their websites have the facility to allow passengers with accessibility needs to easily request assistance for their journey, when making a flight booking.

As well as being a legal requirement (under EU Regulation 1107), developing a website that is easy to use, with the right information for anyone who is disabled or with reduced mobility, makes good business sense, with statistics showing that around 20 per cent of people in the UK have some form of disability.

ABTA has comprehensively updated its website guidance on accessible travel in the Member zone of the ABTA website, and as part of this guidance ABTA is calling on its Members to ensure that consumers can see how they go about notifying the company of their assistance needs, within one click from the homepage.

Notification can be by various means, such as an online form or a phone number, but it must be easy for consumers to see what they need to do.

ABTA has produced full and comprehensive guidance on all aspects of accessibility which are available exclusively to ABTA Members on the website.

ABTAs guidance on website accessibility and more broadly on ensuring excellent customer service to clients with disabilities is aimed at ensuring its Members and the wider industry is meeting its legal obligations, but also managing what is an important part of the market for its Members.

Travelport Renews Agreement with Virgin

Travelport, a leading distribution services and e-commerce provider for the global travel industry, has announced the renewal of its full content agreement with Virgin Atlantic, one of the world's leading airlines.

Building on the existing relationship between the London-based carrier and Travelport, the renewed agreement will ensure that content from Virgin Atlantic will continue to be made available to Travelport GDS users globally, with full content access to the carrier's best inventory and fares.

Robin Ranken, Head of European Airline Relationships at Travelport commented: "Virgin Atlantic is one of the world's best known airlines and we are delighted to extend our agreement with them in order to maximise their reach to global travellers using Travelport's leading technology. This new agreement supports our mission to continue to deliver unrivalled content to our travel agency customers."

Death of One of NI's 'Best-Loved Travel Agents'

The Northern Ireland Travel Trade has lost one of its most popular and best-loved travel agents.

Trevor McIlwaine died at the weekend after a long battle with serious illness after a lifetime in the industry. He held posts with Hamilton Travel, Wesley Pentland Travel and local tour operator John Hill which specialised in Portugal. Until his retirement due to illness, Trevor was a familiar face at Thomas Cook's Royal Avenue store.

Four years ago Trevor's name was added to the Travel Industry's Roll of Honour at the 2010 Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards when he was accorded a warm and appreciative reception by his colleagues in the industry. One former colleague said of Trevor: "He was a real gentleman who was passionate about travel and above all customer service. He couldn't do enough for customers and his death is a sad loss to the industry."

Trevor's funeral will take place onThursday morning at 11.30am at Mountpottinger Methodist Church, Albertbridge Road, when many members of the Northern Ireland Travel Industry are sure to attend.


Tuesday April 29, 2014

This Week's Travel News

Belfast-Bulgaria Ski Programme to Go Ahead

Local tour operator Travel Solutions is introducing a winter ski programme to Bulgaria to fill the gap in the local market left by the withdrawal of Balkan Tours.

Travel Solutions will be operating a winter programme from December 28 to late March in 2015 with direct flights from Belfast to Plovdiv with Flights will depart weekly and the programme will feature the resorts of Pamporovo, Borovets and Bansko.

Peter McMinn, Managing Director of Belfast-based Travel Solutions: "Bulgaria have been a popular ski destination for tens of thousands of Northern Ireland skiers over many years and we understood their disappointment when the news broke that the destination was to be lost. I am pleased that the team at Travel Solutions was able to react quickly.

"With as our airline partner, and our team able to secure the best hotels in the ski resorts, we are confident that this new destination for Travel Solutions will be a great success."

Ex-Balkan Tours' Roberto Comsa, recognised as Northern Ireland's top Bulgarian travel expert, will manage the new programme. Added Peter: "Roberto has a wealth of knowledge and knows each ski resort personally. We are very lucky to have Roberto as a new member of the Travel Solutions team." A brochure will be available shortly, but information is now available through your local travel agent or by contacting Travel Solutions.

New Route to London City Airport

Flybe is introducing a new direct service from George Best Belfast City Airport to London City Airport, located into the heart of London, from the autumn.

From Monday, October 27, 2014, Flybe will offer three times daily services between the two city centre airports. This brings the total number of direct destinations offered by Flybe from Northern Ireland to 14 making it the largest airline operating at George Best Belfast City Airport.

Flybe expects that the new route will appeal to both business and leisure passengers in Northern Ireland and those based in the City of London and Canary Wharf whose travel plans are time-critical and who will appreciate the reduced transfer times compared to flying from/to Heathrow, Gatwick or Luton.

London City airport is conveniently located in the heart of the financial capital with connections offered every 10 minutes by Docklands Light Railway, meaning that passengers can be in Canary Wharf in 12 minutes - and, via the London Underground, in Westminster in just 24!

Flybe says it is also aiming to be Europe's most punctual airline. It recently launched a new world-first 60:60 guarantee that promises its customers if a flight arrives more than 60 minutes' late at its destination due to a delay within Flybe's control, they will qualify for a £60 voucher towards their next flight as long as they book within 60 days.

Unashamed Luxury on Offer at the Merchant

Oasis Travel, Northern Ireland's current Travel Agency of the Year, has launched its 30th anniversary celebrations with a style-setting exploration of the latest in luxury travel options.

Key customers joined travel experts from the world of 5 star+ holidays for an exclusive reception at Belfast's Merchant Hotel where elite travel experts introduced vacations across the globe - from Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Cruising, including River Cruises and Tall Ship experiences; from luxury escapes to Europe, the Far East and Australasia to African adventures and great railway journeys.

Delighted to mark a landmark anniversary with a new showcase event, Sandra Corkin, Managing Director of Oasis Travel, says: "Sometimes it's all about unashamed luxury... and that's what we celebrated when we brought together this select group of world-leading suppliers and some of our best travelled and most discerning customers for a stylish travel-themed occasion in the chic Merchant Hotel. Our programme of presentations from our expert guest speakers spanned the continents and provided a dazzling array of choices for vacations destined to linger for ever in the memory."

Joining Oasis Travel's in-house team at the event were Silverseas, AMA Waterways, Starclippers, Caribtours, Kirker Holidays, Travel2, and Great Railway Journeys - each reflecting not only a different style but also a different pace and mood of vacation. Pictured at the Merchant Hotel are Carly-Ann Moore, AMA Waterways; Jennifer Ford, Oasis Travel; and Danielle Dudley from Starclippers. You can view more pictures on our website.

New Try & Play Area at Big Event

Another incentive for Travel Agents to visit the Big Travel Trade Event on June 10 and 11 is an Amadeus Try & Play area. As well as the Trade Exhibition with more than 60 suppliers, Amadeus is inviting agents to come along, Chill, Chat, Try and Play with their latest software and newest products.

Siobhan Bosket and Volker Lorenz will be there to discuss the latest Amadeus developments as well as answering any questions. New products will be presented including: Cruise Shop, Hotel Multisource and EasyJet Light Ticketing. The Amadeus team will also be offering agents great competitions and generous hospitality.

If you haven't already registered for this great two-day event - register now.

Clubworld Wins Travel Trade Promotion

Thriftway Consol recently ran a Travel Trade Promotion in association with Qantas Airways to win a Samsung Galaxy Tablet. The winners were Clubworld Travel in Lurgan.

Pictured right receiving the prize is Claire Mulligan from Clubworld Travel, Lurgan with Stephen Cordner, Sales Manager, Thriftway Consol.

Good Turnout of Agents for Fam Fridays

Earlier this year, George Best Belfast City Airport launched a new Travel Trade familiarisation programme to ensure Travel Agencies and Tour Operators are kept up to date with activity at the airport which would be of benefit to their customers.

The first three 'Fam Friday' events, which will continue to run throughout 2014, have been fully booked. Lasting around three hours, the event includes a full tour of the airport including a drinks reception to the newly opened British Airways lounge, a presentation with information about routes, airlines, offers and airport facilities, and lunch with the management team.

Ellie McGimpsey, Business Development Manager at Belfast City Airport, said: "Since the 'Fam Friday' initiative was launched, we have engaged with over 20 major Northern Ireland agencies and have received really positive feedback.

"At our latest 'Fam Friday' event, held last Friday we were able to share details with attendees about the new Flybe flight to London City Airport and of new airline, LinksAir, and their connection to Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport. The agents also viewed the new £300k British Airways lounge and browsed the newly opened Boots store in the departures area.

"By finishing off with lunch with members of the airport's management team, the agents can ask questions about all areas of the business that will further support the service they provide to their own customers." Those interested in attending a 'Fam Friday' event should contact Ellie McGimpsey.

You can view pictures from the first Fam Friday event on our website.

Success for Wendy Wu in Belfast

The number one Asia specialist, Wendy Wu Tours, held two very successful promotions in Belfast recently - the first a roadshow for agents at Ten Square Hotel, Belfast and the other, the following day, an event for consumers.

Wendy Wu Tours is UK's leading Asia specialist offering over 110 private and escorted tours around China, South East Asia, India, Japan, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Tours range from classic and discovery itineraries to more adventurous and special interest programmes.

The Belfast roadshow offered travel agents the chance to learn all about Wendy Wu Tours, win a range of great prizes and meet the Wendy Wu mascot Bambu on his first visit to Northern Ireland.

You can view pictures from the event on our website.

Second Queen's Award for Travel Counsellors

Travel Counsellors have won the Queen's Award for International Trade 2014, the second time the organisation has won a Queen's Award.

Back in 2003 Travel Counsellors were the first and only UK travel agency to win the Queen's Award for Innovation. This time Travel Counsellors have won the award in recognition of the organisation's international growth.

Said a spokesperson: "It's our unique blend of talented people, market-leading technology and truly personal relationships that have brought this success.

"Over the past 20 years we've established ourselves as one of the leading independent Travel Management companies in the UK business travel sector."

MSC Cruise Ship Visits Belfast

Local travel agents have a great chance to see one of the most popular MSC cruise ships, Magnifica, when it comes to Belfast on two occasions next month.

MSC Magnifica will visit Belfast on May 16 and 27 providing a great opportunity for Northern Ireland agents to impressive MSC cruise liner.

To visit all travel agents have to do is email here.

Sudden Death of Tom Donnelly

The local Travel Trade lost another of its personalities recently with the death of Belfast man Tom Donnelly.

Tom became ill suddenly and died while on holiday in Lanzarote in The Canaries. He was just 45.

Tom was well known for his time working with Eric Patterson and Robert Wilson in Travelplan/Travelbreak in the early nineties. He also worked for a time with Travel Solutions.

Tom was very popular in the industry and a great companion on trips abroad. He was a keen golfer and a passionate fan of Liverpool Football Club.

Said one of his former colleagues, Robert Wilson: "Tom worked in the perfect industry for him - he really loved his holidays."

Tom's funeral took place yesterday to St Gerard's, Antrim Road, Belfast before a large attendance of mourners including former colleagues in the Travel Trade.


Tuesday April 15, 2014

This Week's Travel News

Poker Night to Raise Funds for Charity Big Build

Members of the local Travel Trade aim to make a difference - by helping build homes alongside local people in Beius, Romania, later this year as part of Habitat for Humanity Northern Ireland project.

The average cost of a Habitat home in the developing world is just £1,235 so every donation and every fundraising event is valuable to this worthy project.

So far signed up for the NI Travel Trade Big Build are Colin Laffin, Mukesh Sharma, Peter McMinn, Jonathan Adair, Aaron Fletcher, Trevor Ardies, Joanne Hawthorne, Linda Henderson, Tracie Duffy, Sharon Fleming, Isobel Adair, Jill Russell, Lynsey Lamont and Liz McVeigh.

Meanwhile all proceeds of the Northern Ireland Charity Poker Tournament on May 1 in the Hilton Hotel, Belfast, will go to the Habitat HOPEbuilder Challenge. The cost of taking part is £25 for players and £15 for non players which includes entry, food and drinks. There will also be another fundraiser, a Big Build Quiz Night at Malone Rugby Club on June 6.

If you're a complete poker novice don't be deterred, there will be plenty of assistance on the night so you've nothing to lose. "What's more your money will go to a fantastic cause and there will be plenty of prizes up for grabs, even if you don't make it all the way to the end of the tournament," said Jonathan Adair, one of the organisers.

For more info on the poker night email Jonathan or call 02890 666151.

Big Event - Tunisia Will Get You There!

This year travel agents won't even have to drive to the Big Travel Trade Event on June 10 - the Tunisia National Tourist Office are sponsoring corporate coaches to the Hilton, Templepatrick with various pick-up points around the Province.

Coaches will be picking up agents from the following places: Newry, Banbridge, Lisburn, Belfast, Enniskillen, Dungannon, Lurgan, Londonderry, Limavady, Coleraine and Ballymena.

Coaches will be leaving from 12 noon onwards and The Big Travel Trade event organisers are urging travel agency Managers to give their front office staff an afternoon out of the office and send them to the Province's premier Travel Trade networking event. More than 80 top travel companies are participating this year - many of them coming to Northern Ireland for the first time.

"The chance to meet and inter-act with the wide range of exhibitors will be extremely beneficial to your agency," says Big Event Co-Ordinator Paul Breen. "Cruise and Technology Training sessions are also taking place throughout Day 1 so don't delay, register your staff now for June 10."

Travel agents will be welcomed off the coaches with a Turkish Airlines' Welcome Reception, with loads of top prizes to be won, complimentary canapes and drinks, and great entertainment,  all in all it's a day not to be missed! For further details contact Paula.

Quality Award for Belfast Travel Company

Selective Travel Management, based in Belfast, has achieved the internationally recognised ISO 9001, establishing it as one of the leaders in its field.

By showing good service reliability and process controls, Selective Travel Management has earned the right to display the coveted British Assessment Bureau ISO 9001 certification mark. An independent assessment conducted by leading certification body the British Assessment Bureau confirmed Selective Travel Management's commitment to customer service and quality in delivery.

Selective's Finance & Operations Director Keith Graham (pictured right), said: "We are particularly pleased to have achieved ISO9001 certification as it underlines our commitment to our customers and our focus on quality. Not many customers get to see their suppliers' 'back-office' activities. This recognition demonstrates we can provide a quality solution from quotation to delivery.

"Selective Travel Management is growing at a rapid pace with new recruits regularly coming on board, so it is immensely beneficial for all staff, whatever their role, to be thoroughly versed on internal processes."

New Trend for Business Flying Visits

New research conducted by Travelport, the leading e-commerce provider for the global travel industry, has revealed that business travellers frequently spend longer in the air than on the ground when it comes to travelling for business.

This reveals a new trend for 'flying visits', where business people are willing to go the distance to seal that all-important deal, showing the significance they now place on face-to-face meetings. In the last 12 months over one million business travellers made a 20 plus hour round trip to far flung destinations such as China or Japan but spent less than 12 hours in the country.

Simon Ferguson, Regional Director UK & Ireland, Travelport, commented: "From our research, we can see there is huge value in face-to-face meetings to foster new relationships or sign deals and UK business people are prepared to fly a long way when the stakes are high. Interestingly, this trend persisted even during the economic downturn and with business travel spending set to grow more than three per cent in 2014, we expect UK businesses to invest even more in future trips.

"And even though there was a slight decline in overseas business travel between 2012-2013, our research showed that 48 per cent of UK business travellers now expect the amount they travel over the coming year to increase. This is despite the prominence of technology such as video conferencing."

Buoyant Mood at Opening of New Offices

A packed house of journalists together with tourism and airline dignatories heard Tony Collins, Chairman of the Topflight Travel Group outline the consolidation of companies under the Topflight banner, and their positioning in the Irish and UK marketplaces.

The occasion was the opening of the new Topflight Head Office on the 5th Floor of Jervis House, Jervis St. Dublin 1 last week.

Guest heard that the company's ski bookings are up 25 per cent on the year, and bookings for the Italian market, for which Topflight are the leading tour operator, are also up, year on year. Worldwide bookings are also above last year's - indeed all Travel Trade bookings have shown an increase.

Northern Ireland performed very well for Topflight with ski bookings well up on last year, plus there are very healthy early bookings for Topflight's Belfast Italy Charter to Verona, serving Lido di Jesolo and Lake Garda areas.

The travel group, consisting of Topflight, Topflight Sports for Schools,, and Ski McNeill, now have a combined workforce of more than 200 people, based in Dublin, Belfast, Britain, France, and based in overseas resorts. Pictured above right are Tony Collins and Wilhelm Nest of the Austrian Embassy in Dublin.

Airline Eases Restrictions on Electronic Gadgets

Passengers on easyJet are now able to use personal electronic devices such as laptops, tables and mobiles onboard throughout the whole flight, including during take-off and landing.

The gadgets must be placed in 'Flight Mode' and mobiles can't be used for making or receiving calls or texts.

EasyJet said the move follows recent recommendations from the European Aviation Safety Agency for restrictions on the use of gadgets onboard aircraft to be relaxed.

Peter Duffy, easyJet's Group Commercial Director, customer, product and marketing said: "We know that portable devices are an important part of our customers' journey with us so we are pleased they can now use their electronic devices onboard in 'Flight mode' for the duration of their flight with us - we think this will be a popular change."

Good Weather Forecast for Bank Holiday Getaways

ABTA - The Travel Association estimates 1.6 million British holidaymakers are set to head overseas over the Easter Bank holiday weekend. Spain is the UK's favourite foreign holiday destination over the weekend, with the Canary and Balearic Islands the most popular areas. Turkey and Tunisia have also sold well as people look to catch some spring sunshine.

Daytime temperatures this weekend are set to reach 23C in Mallorca, 34C in Tunisia, 26C in Turkey and 30C in Florida, the most popular long haul destination with its wealth of great beaches and amusement parks. Weather in the Canaries is expected to hit 25C, with mild breezes and ample sunshine forecast for the Prime Minister's family break in Lanzarote.

Foreign city breaks are popular at this time of the year with the weather being comfortable and the streets less crowded. Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Rome and New York are the top five choices.

Bookings for UK breaks are also healthy with many customers travelling to traditional sea side resorts, national parks and holiday camps.

Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive said: "The Easter bank holiday is very late this year which means the weather in some of our favourite holiday destinations is looking particularly good with some very high temperatures. I am delighted to see that so many people are taking the opportunity to take a well-earned break."

Two New Awards for Etihad

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has picked up two coveted Travelplus Awards for its unique 'Inspired by Sougha' amenity bags and its new all-natural First Class COCO-MAT bedding.

The airline, which operates a Dublin-Abu Dhabi daily service, won the awards for 'Ethically Sustainable Amenity Kit' and 'In-Flight Amenity-Gift' at the annual Travelplus gala awards ceremony held in Hamburg.

The Airline Amenity Bag Awards 2013 celebrate the best onboard comfort and hospitality products in the airline industry, and the innovation, creativity and design of both the airlines and their onboard suppliers.

Over 120 submissions and entries in 20 categories were judged using a strict set of criteria covering trend, pleasure, luxury, usability and style.

Cruise Line's New Group Sales Programme

Silversea Cruises has introduced Silver Simplicity, its new simplified sales programme for groups. Silver Simplicity is available for new group bookings on all future 2014 and 2015 voyages, replacing the Group Amenity Point (GAP) programme.

Group travel is a highly lucrative market for travel agents looking to boost their income. By reaching out to local schools, companies, houses of worship, and other organisations to leverage a group interest or need, Silversea says that agents can effectively maximise their earning potential. And the cruise line's eight ships, offering over 700 worldwide destinations, can provide the perfect itinerary for group travellers wishing to indulge their common passion for history, art, nature, wildlife, fine wine, gourmet cuisine, and more.

"Our aim with Silver Simplicity is to help travel agents increase their group business by simplifying our policies and making it as easy as possible to sell to groups," said Mike Bonner, Silversea's General Manager for UK and Ireland. "Instead of dealing with a complicated point system that varies from voyage to voyage, agents can now take advantage of a standard group programme offered on all voyages, or an enhanced programme available on select sailings."

Taking a Break for Easter

The weekly Tuesday E-shot for the Travel Trade is taking a break for Easter next week. The next Trade E-shot will be today fortnight, April 29.


Tuesday April 8, 2014

This Week's Travel News

Virgin Holidays Heading for Belfast?

High profile tour operator Virgin Holidays is eyeing up a Belfast city centre location after advertising for three new staff positions on the jobs section of its website.

Posts for a Sales Manager, Sales Consultant and Part-Time Sales Consultant were all being advertised on the company's recruitment website up until a few days ago.

According to Virgin Holidays, part of the global Virgin brand headed by Richard Branson: "Join us as a Retail Sales Consultant, and you'll help our customers to once-in-a-lifetime experiences from luxury Caribbean beaches to African Safaris.

"Its not just our customers who can experience this, our team get the amazing opportunity to use seven standby flights to travel anywhere on the Virgin network. The targets you'll have to meet are ambitious. But for those that succeed, the rewards are impressive," boasts the online ad for the three posts.

If Virgin Holidays were to open a concession here in Northern Ireland, the most likely base for them would be Debenhams in Belfast's Castlecourt centre.

The global travel company were asking applicants to have had "experience in a commission-based sales environment, understand the long-haul product and deliver impressive levels of customer service." But above all these they were requesting applicants to "have the people skills and imaginative flair to sell luxury holidays."

When contacted about expansion into Northern Ireland Virgin Holidays did not respond to email and telephone inquiries.

ABTA-ATOL Scheme Grows by a Third

ABTA - The Travel Association has revealed that the number of ABTA Members using the ABTA-ATOL Joint Administration Scheme has grown by a third in the last 12 months from 116 to 164 companies.

The ABTA/ATOL scheme was introduced in 2012 to provide Members with a simple and cost-effective scheme enabling Members to apply for an ATOL licence through ABTA with lower fees.

The scheme is aimed at smaller and medium-sized travel businesses and any ABTA Member with a licensable turnover of less than £1.5m is eligible to apply. In addition to the 164 companies currently enrolled in the scheme another three companies are currently going through the application process.

John de Vial, ABTA Head of Financial Protection said: "The ABTA-ATOL Joint Administration Scheme represents a very significant Member benefit and it has been a great success since it was introduced in 2012. In the last twelve months we have seen a significant increase in Members using the scheme and we believe that the majority of ABTA Members for whom the ABTA/ATOL scheme provides a good fit for their business have now signed up."

Travel Golf Classic the Best Yet!

With companies like Etihad Airlines, Belfast City Airport, Aer Lingus, Celebrity Cruises, The Spanish Tourist board and Gran Canaria, all sponsors of this year's Travel Golf Classic - this year's event on Wednesday, June 11 promises to be the best yet.

More than 120 Travel Trade golfers have signed up already for the big day at The Hilton, Templepatrick, organised by Northern Ireland Travel News and run in conjunction with the Big Travel Trade Event.

The day will kick off with the Turkish Airlines' sponsored breakfast for all golfers - Maxx Royal the hosts of The European Tour Turkish Open and Millennium Golf will help host members of the Travel Trade Travel trade on the day. It's a shotgun start at 11.00am.

Gran Canaria will provide refreshments to all golfers throughout the day and Travelport will see all golfers at the 10th tee with some burgers and beer! Golf winners will be announced at the evening Gala presentation dinner!

The top prize this year, two flights to Abu Dhabi, is courtesy of Etihad airways. A full list of prizes will be announced in the coming weeks.

Early Booking Bonanza from Titan

Titan has released its new 2015/16 Early Booking Bonanza brochure which showcases a selection of Titan tours, rail journeys, cruises and river cruises with the best possible prices on 2015 and 2016 departures.

The brochure features 139 awe-inspiring tours (62 more than 2013!) including three brand new itineraries. Israel - Discover the Promised Land starts from £1499pp for eight days and has savings of up to up to £150pp. Adding to their already comprehensive Latin American programme, South American Discovery is a 19 day adventure from £2889pp saving clients up to £900pp and Great South American Odyssey including Iguazu Falls has savings of up to £150pp for 29 days and is from £4349pp.

With early booking discounts on every featured tour, complimentary airport lounge access available on holiday itineraries from selected terminals, and hundreds of reduced or zero single supplement places across a range of tours, Titan says this is a great opportunity for agent clients to secure their Titan holiday at the best possible price.

In addition to a host of added value benefits, every Titan holiday includes their renowned VIP Home Departure Services standard or free return regional flights, including those from Northern Ireland. To secure the best prices clients must book by 30 April 30, 2014, but there are only a limited number of discounted places available for each tour and when they are sold prices may increase.

Agents Turn Out for Another Classic

Classic Collection Trade events are always very popular and well supported by Northern Ireland travel agents.

And last week's event in Titanic, Belfast, was no exception with Andrew Farr and Drew Stewart as usual hosts for the evening, along with a number of Classic Collection's partners/suppliers.

Pictured right are Colleen Smyth and Katie Owens from Pinnacle Worldwide. You can view more pictures from the evening on our website

Top Broadway Musical for Oasis

Royal Caribbean International's Oasis of the Seas, the world's largest and most innovative cruise ship will be bringing the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of CATS to the high seas.

Based on TS Eliot's 'Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats,' CATS was one of the longest running productions on Broadway and is the winner of numerous awards including seven Tonys, two Oliviers and a Grammy. The show has been seen in over 20 countries and translated into more than 10 languages. The fully licensed production of CATS will join Oasis of the Seas once it completes its drydock this coming autumn.

Oasis of the Seas features exclusive amenities and concepts throughout its seven themed neighborhoods, such as an 82 foot-long zip line, a handcrafted carousel, the Rising Tide elevating bar, the Aquatheater high-diving performance venue, and Central Park with more than 12,000 live trees and plants.

Aiming to Expand Global Network

Global travel distributor GTA held its annual Europe & Americas Sales Conference in Spain recently.

The conference agenda explored GTA - and TravelCube's - future strategy to help retail and wholesale, high street and online travel agents and tour operators benefit from its extraordinary global distribution network.

The company will increasingly focus on finding the right accommodation, services, tours and activities at the best possible price in 'strong hold' destinations, the travel 'hot spots' that consumers most want to visit. GTA and TravelCube say they will also ensure that travellers can still benefit from a growing 'long tail' of accommodation in less familiar locations away from the traditional tourism trails.

GTA's sales network in Ireland and around the world helps hoteliers and tourism businesses globally, affordably attract more of such travellers. Peter Friedrich, Country Manager for Ireland and Northern Ireland, says: "GTA - through TravelCube in Ireland - has been powering global travel for nearly four decades. Our technology, destination expertise and service standards have been helping travel businesses accommodate fully independent travellers (FIT) in practically every part of the planet.

"Even this brief taste of the Spanish experience will help our sales teams educate travel agents and tour operators to attract more visitors from both established and newer source markets."

Istanbul Tops Poll for Destinations

Istanbul has taken the top spot in the latest TripAdvisor Choice awards for Destinations having climbed 11 places to take the number one spot.

Meanwhile Asian destinations have risen sharply in the rankings, with Beijing, Hanoi, and Shanghai all breaking into the top 10 for the first time.

Traditional city break destinations Paris, Barcelona and New York have all dropped down the rankings with Paris falling 6 places to number 7, Barcelona dropping 10 places to 15, and New York falling 10 places to 12.

Other favourites also dropped down the list significantly, with Sydney falling 12 positions to 22 and San Francisco falling 18 to 25. Turkish Airlines operates a daily service to Istanbul, the top city in the TripAdvisor Choice survey.

Olympic Launched at Titanic!

Titanic Belfast was also the setting for a Trade event organised by Olympic Holidays.

There was a good attendance of agents at the event to introduce the tour operator's upcoming summer programme.

Pictured right at the Olympic Holidays event are Stephen and Delia Aston of Clubworld Travel. You can view more pictures from the evening on our website.

Martin New President of ITAA

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has a new President to suceed Clare Dunne.

Martin Skelly of Navan Travel was elected President at the ITAA AGM last week.

"I wish Martin all the very best and hope he enjoys it as much as I did," said Clare Dunne. As the first female President, Clare raised the profile of the ITAA to the new level and was a very popular figure during her time with the chain of office.


Tuesday April 1, 2014

This Week's Travel News

Flight Prizes and Many New Exhibitors at Big Event

There's a sensational range of top travel prizes to be won at this year's two-day Big Travel Trade Event on June 10 and 11, ensuring the Hilton, Templepatrick exhibition is the place to be for the Province's travel agents.

Headlining the prizes are two worldwide tickets with Virgin Atlantic and two tickets to Dubai courtesy of Emirates. Other prizes include a five-night hotel stay courtesy of LUX hotels, five nights accommodation courtesy of Thanos Hotels, and one-week's stay at an Algarve property courtesy of Lowcostbeds.

Other accommodation to be won includes prizes offered by Innstant Travel, Travel Cube and VIK Hotels.

Meanwhile, there's a whole host of new companies coming on board for the 2014 event, run in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Travel Golf Classic and organised by Northern Ireland Travel News. These include Tennessee Tourism, Discover Egypt, and Oman Ministry of Tourism to name just a few.

"There's a fantastic range of prizes to be won by travel agents, and around 25 new exhibitors at this year's exhibition," says Big Travel Trade Event co-ordinator Paula Breen.

Paula is urging agents to register their attendance on our website.

Flybe Goes Purple in Innovative 'Refresh'

Flybe, Europe's largest regional airline and a leading airline at Belfast City Airport, has unveiled a new look - major new brand campaign that sees the airline reposition itself with an innovative, re-invigorated and what it calls "fun product offering."

'Flybe Purple' brings to life the airline's core business of time-saving travel - 'The Fastest Way from A to Flybe'; that flying with Flybe is faster than travelling the same route by road, rail and sea connecting local communities and regional economies in less than 90 minutes.

All changes are designed to bring to life Flybe's commitment to giving its passengers the quickest and most efficient travel experience possible, importantly backed by its flagship 60:60 Guarantee product that, in a world first, gives passengers a £60 credit towards their next flight booked within 60 days if, through the fault of the airline, their flight arrives more than 60 minutes' late.

This first of three phases of Flybe's bold refresh also includes a new-look website and rebranded ticket options stating exactly what they offer: 'Just Fly' replaces 'Essentials'; 'Get More' is the previous 'New Economy' and 'All In' is the former 'Plus' ticket choice.

An eye-catching purple aircraft, the Spirit of Liberum, will be the first Flybe Bombardier Q400 to take to the skies in special commemorative livery: and Improved on-board experiences feature the introduction of stylish purple crew uniforms and purple mood lighting as well as daily on-board winners, deplaning gifts and an on-time musical celebration.

Dublin Flights to Sharm Cancelled

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Dublin are now advising against all but essential travel to Sharm El Sheikh.

As a result, tour operators Falcon and Thomson have taken the decision to cancel all outbound flights to Egypt from Dublin up to and including April 17, 2014.

Falcon and Thomson say they have been continuously monitoring the situation and have been working very closely with the DFA and follow its advice at all times.

The DFA advice does not call for Irish passport holders to leave Egypt immediately, customers are continuing to enjoy their holiday and will return on their scheduled flight date.  However, it says that flights will be offered to those customers who would like to return earlier.  The DFA says its experienced overseas resort team are updating all customers currently on holiday in Sharm El Sheikh of the change in travel advice and their options.

All customers travelling on a flight-only booking are advised to immediately contact the DFA's Resort Office in the first instance on 0020693661653 or if not the 24-hour holiday line 00353 1 2481100.

Fast Ferry Back for Holiday Season

The P&O Ferries Express that sails between Larne and Troon returns to service this week - just in time for the forthcoming holiday season.

The Express is the fastest ship on the most direct route for those passengers who want to travel from Northern Ireland to central Scotland. Glasgow is just 45 minutes from the Port of Troon and Edinburgh is not much further, making day trips - whether for business or pleasure, easy and accessible.

Neal Mernock, Sector Director - Irish Sea, P&O Ferries, said: "I'm delighted to announce the return of the Fastcraft service between Larne and Troon. From today, the fastcraft provides passengers sailing from Northern Ireland an even greater choice on their Irish Sea crossings. It's a popular service for both leisure and business customers and we're looking forward to welcoming everyone on board today and throughout the season!"

With up to four sailings a day, prices start from £99 one way to Troon for a car and one person, passengers also have the option to upgrade to Club Lounge. Tickets booked in advance cost £12 per person while tickets purchased on board cost £14 per person.

Explorer Makes European Debut in Southampton

Royal Caribbean International's Explorer of the Seas will sail its very first Europe season in summer 2015.

The cruise line's Adventure of the Seas, which was originally announced to homeport at Southampton, is being exchanged for Explorer of the Seas, which will take over three-to 16-night, roundtrip itineraries from late-April through September 2015.

Holidaymakers can choose among three and eight-night Northern Europe itineraries, 11 to 16-night Mediterranean itineraries, or 10 to 14-night Madeira, Azores and Canary Islands itineraries. Adventure of the Seas will remain at San Juan, Puerto Rico, to sail seven-night Southern Caribbean cruises throughout the summer season.

Explorer of the Seas will complete an extensive, month-long dry-dock revitalisation before starting seasonal service and boast a wide range of new innovative features to offer guests an unforgettable onboard experience.

Explorer will be joined in the UK by the industry's ground-breaking Quantum-class ship Anthem of the Seas at Southampton and Radiance-class Brilliance of the Seas at Harwich, England. Explorer of the Seas will be going on sale this Thursday, April 3, 2014.

Dublin Airport Tour for Agents

Thriftway Consol, in association with Dublin Airport, are planning a series of day visits to Dublin Airport for its Travel Agent Partners.

This will allow agents the opportunity to tour the airport and in particular view the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) pre-clearance facility in Terminal 2.

The next trip will take place on Tuesday, April 29. Return coach transfers from/to Belfast will be included. Lunch will be hosted by Etihad Airways in the airline's Business Lounge.

Any local agents who are interested in joining the trip should email for further information.

Pressure to Cut WTM to Three Days Next Year

Tourist offices worldwide are lobbying the organisers of World Travel Market at Excel in London to cut it from four days to three next year.

Their lobbying body, the Organisation of National Tourism Organisations, said over half of its members have voted to put pressure on Reed Exhibitions to shorten the event, based on a poll last week and a survey carried out just after last year's show.

ANTOR said Reed has "worked hard to try and reinvent the final day of the show, but results have been slow in times when the economic return on investment is key. The results are not substantial enough to justify the extra day in terms of time lost, cost of accommodation and subsistence," it said.

It said if other non-tourist board exhibitors wished to continue with four days, WTM could be reduced to a smaller show on the fourth day, perhaps maintaining just the Global Village and Technology area.

ANTOR is inviting anyone in the Travel Trade to take part on its online poll at website.

Novel New Ferry to Isle of Wight

If you suffer from claustrophobia, the new Wightlink ferry service from the GB mainland to the Isle of Wight announced yesterday is not for you.

Wightlink Ferries, the ferry company of choice for visitors travelling to and from the Isle of Wight, has announced a novel new service called SubLink, providing "an exciting yet efficient means for foot passengers to explore the waters between Portsmouth and the Island."

The service will run from today April 1, 2014, with twice daily return services for passengers wanting to travel in mornings and evenings on weekdays. On Saturdays, an additional midday service will run for passengers wanting to both experience the submarine as well as the island as a fun weekend activity. The submarine ferry has been commissioned from the Navy as an out-of-service ship. It has been in dry dock for the past three months, to refurbish it so that it is suitable for all Wightlink passengers, including a cafe and comfortable seats on board. Viewpoints at either end of the submarine will be available for guests to explore the amazing sealife found in the Island's waters.

Mark Persad, Head of Marketing at Wightlink Ferries said: "We have been eagerly awaiting the moment when we could announce this very exciting development. Wightlink is the first ferry company to offer submarine services for passengers, providing not only a quick and easy way of travel to and from the Island, but also the unusual experience of being so far below water in a Navy submarine."

The news, announced yesterday, was significantly embargoed until today, April 1.

Agents Entertained in Cafe Vaudeville

Local travel agents were guests of Amadeus and at a Customer Evening in Cafe Vaudeville, in Belfast city centre last Thursday.

Agents had the chance to meet representatives of the two companies and hear about the latest developments.

Pictured right are Siobhan Bosket McGuigan and Volker Lorenz of Amadeus at the event which began with drinks and canapes.

You can view more pictures from the evening on our website.


Tuesday March 25, 2014

This Week's Travel News

UK Cruisers Pass the One Million Mark

The UK cruise market continues to boom. The latest cruise data from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) shows that UK port embarkations passed the one million mark for the first time last year (2013).

Last year was another record year as the number of British and overseas passengers joining their cruise at a UK port grew 10 per cent to 1,062,000 in 2013, while the number of passengers on day visits to one of the UK's 51 cruise ports jumped by 20 per cent to 866,000. The number of British passengers taking an ocean cruise also continued to increase with an additional 25,000 (1.5 per cent) in 2013.

It means the UK remains as Europe's top market, accounting for 27 per cent of cruise passengers and, globally, is second only to North America.

Andy Harmer, CLIA UK & Ireland Director, said: "Momentum has returned to the UK cruise market in 2013 with significant growth in passengers numbers and especially in embarkations from our home ports - both of which are impressive achievements when set against a backdrop of an economy that has proven slow to recover.

"The cruise industry's continued confidence in the UK market is clearly demonstrated by the increasing number of ships that will sail from British ports in the coming years, and we believe this marks a key point in the continuing growth of the UK cruise market."

Meanwhile, CLIA UK & Ireland has also reported a significant rise in the number of UK passengers taking a holiday on Europe's waterways, with 2013 seeing a jump of 22 per cent to almost 110,000 passengers. Twenty-seven ships were introduced in 2012/13 and more are on the way.

EU Exit Could Hit Cost of Holidays

Harriet Green, Chief Executive of Thomas Cook Group, fears that a UK exit from the European Union could hit jobs and increase holiday prices.

The Thomas Cook chief said that there were two political uncertainties that were most unsettling for business. "The first is the Scottish referendum and the second is the European referendum. Both create massive uncertainty.

"What we should be focused on is creating jobs. If you take the European market, the biggest trading market that we are part of and we are contemplating exiting that market? How could that be good for jobs?"

She suggested that a British exit from the EU could see the cost of holidays soar for British consumers, and cited practical issues such as passport control and currencies. She warned: "Who does it benefit if countries like ourselves have less jobs to create and less hoteliers to partner with?"

Silver Celebration for Two Oasis Gems

Oasis Travel Managing Director Sandra Corkin has paid tribute to the loyalty and commitment of two senior staff members who have just celebrated 25 years with the company, the current Northern Ireland Travel Agency of the Year.

Julie-Anne Vaughan (left of the picture) and Wendy Harper have been based in various Lisburn locations with Oasis Travel since they started and have gleaned experience in a number of roles. They now work together in the Portfolio Suite of the Lisburn branch on Railway Street.

The facility is a modern, luxurious and private suite on the first floor of the company's headquarters that specialises in luxury travel. It is specifically designed to offer private appointments for customers wishing to book corporate incentives or luxury holidays, honeymoons or overseas weddings. Oasis Travel also offers a wedding gift service which allows guests and friends to contribute towards the cost of the honeymoon or wedding abroad.

Praising the girls for dedicating a quarter of a century to Oasis Travel, Managing Director Sandra Corkin said: "I'm humbled by the loyalty and commitment that Julie-Anne and Wendy have shown Oasis Travel and I look forward to sharing more landmarks with them. For instance, this year the agency will be marking its thirtieth year in business."

New Role with Thriftway for Brendan

Brendan Mallon, well known in the travel industry from his days as Commercial Trade Manager for Ireland for Falcon Holidays, has joined Thriftway, Northern Ireland's largest consolidator.

Brendan will be responsible for promoting Thriftway's on-line accommodation product, Roomteam to the Trade.

Mukesh Sharma, Head of Thriftway said: "We are delighted to welcome Brendan on board as part of our sales team.

"Roomteam, developed in partnership with Bookabed, complements our range of air fares and allows us to offer ATOL protection on packages booked with Thriftway. We are grateful for the support this is already enjoying from the Trade." Thriftway is a brand of the World Travel Centre group.

Previously Brendan was running the OnHoliday group's operations in Ireland - the company ceased trading recently.

Derek Williamson: One of the Old School

Another former stalwart of the Northern Ireland Travel Trade of two decades ago has died at his home in Stranraer after a short illness.

Derek Williamson, who was aged 77, is perhaps best known for his time as Managing Director of Canning Travel in Belfast city centre, a member of the John Kelly organisation. Before that he worked for Hamilton Shipping, also in Belfast.

One of his Travel Trade colleagues Bill Godfrey paid this tribute to Derek: "He was one of the old school, a larger than life character. Anyone who went on a trip or an educational with Derek knows what good company he was. He will be remembered by many ex-Travel Trade colleagues in Belfast even though he has lived in Scotland for many years now."

Bill is survived by his wife, Morag, who worked for Sealink and then Unijet in Belfast, and by his two daughters, Tracy and Karen.

Derek Williamson's funeral will be at Masonhill Crematorium, Ayr, tomorrow (Wednesday) at 11.15 am.

New Spanish Quarter at The Big Event

The Spanish Tourist Board is as usual a strong supporter of The Big Travel Trade Event, and this year will be no exception.

The STB is creating 'The Spanish Quarter' for agents to come along and enjoy themselves. On offer will be tea, coffee and Spanish wines with some great prizes there to be won.

Agents are invited to come along and visit the Spanish Tourist Board on June 10 and 11 at the Free Trade Exhibition. You can register your attendance on the Northern Ireland Travel News website.

Katerina Bomshtein will be back to represent Gran Canaria this year along with a number of leading hoteliers. These include, Vik Hotels, representing the VIK Hotel San Antonio and Hotel Villa VIK in Lanzarote; Botanico Hotels - the Hotel Botanico & The Oriental Spa Garden, located in Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife; Seaside Hotels will be represented by Lisa Tuckman; Spring Hotels - including the elegant Arona Gran hotel, the 4 star Spring Hotel Bitacora and the beautiful Spring Hotel Vulcano.

Also represented will be Siam Park, based in Tenerife, one of the most spectacular water attractions in Europe, and Loro Parque, one of Tenerife's main attractions, showcasing a diverse reserve of animal and plant species.

Touring Belfast on the Topflight Bus

Topflight celebrated its 2014 Italian programme by hosting local travel agents and Press on a night-time Belfast bus tour themed 'Dine Around Deane's'.

The evening began at Deane & Decano on Belfast's Lisburn Road, for a Prosecco and anti-pasta reception, then guests and Topflight execs boarded the bus again bound for Deane's at Queens for starters and cocktails. Then it was back on the Topflight bus bound for Deane's, Howard Street for the main course and fine wines.

However, the evening wasn't finished - it was back onboard the bus again heading to Deane's Deli for dessert, cheeseboard and live music!

It was a novel night, and one which was appreciated by all the Trade and Press guests. In the picture, above right, Kerry Tiernan of Brilliant Travel and Sharon Fleming of Thompson Travel International enjoy the entertainment.

You can view more pictures from the evening on our website.

Big Increase in Room Night Sales

TravelCube's Irish sales team saw room nights booked through its website increase by a remarkable 22 per cent last year.

The United States, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain and Italy were the leading destinations for fully independent (FIT) Irish travellers in 2013, according to Peter Friedrich, TravelCube's Retail Account Manager in Ireland. A 55 per cent rise in bookings to Portugal saw it overtake Spain and Italy and push the domestic destination out of the top five and into sixth place.

While the UK enjoyed 64 per cent growth in bookings; of the top ten, long haul destinations enjoyed the most significant increases and the USA, UAE and Australia all enjoyed double digit growth. Other destinations proving more popular for Irish travellers in 2013 included the Czech Republic, Malaysia and Thailand.

Such success means the Trade still has faith in intermediaries, despite a sometimes uncertain economic climate and the high profile collapse of brands like the OnHoliday Group, believes TravelCube. Such uncertainty, amid the fast-changing world of travel, can make it difficult for agents to know what's best for their business. It makes minimising risk increasingly important.

"Behind some of the biggest and best in the industry, our parent GTA has been powering global travel for nearly 40 years, selling tens of thousands of accommodation, transfers, tours and activities from practically every destination in the world. Today part of the Kuoni Travel Group, we process thousands of bookings every day and sell millions of room nights in more than 25 languages online and throughout the world," said Peter Friedrich.

He added: "For many in the industry, confidence in the intermediary, 'bed bank' model remains high. Since taking over at TravelCube in Ireland I have already been visiting clients in Northern Ireland where I have found great support and a warm welcome."

Tour Operator Marks its Belfast Success

The remarkable rise of Leeds-based tour operator Jet2holidays was celebrated at a Travel Trade dinner in Malmaison, Belfast last week.

New Jet2Holidays Tour Operations Director Peter Kearns visited Northern Ireland for the first time. He was accompanied by General Manager - Trade, Alan Cross and Trade Sales Executive Nikki Porter, responsible for the Northern Ireland market.

Said Peter: "Roughly 50 per cent of our bookings in Northern Ireland comes through travel agents. We recognise this and how important it is to work with agents, and we anticipate an even bigger percentage of business coming through the Trade in future."

Pictured above right are Nikki Porter of Jet2 and Tracie Duffy-Logan of Crumlin Travel. You can view more pictures from the evening on our website.


Trade News - Tuesday March 18, 2014

This Week's Travel News

Do the Right Thing on APD, Call to Chancellor

Ahead of tomorrow's Budget 'A Fair Tax on Flying' campaign members have called on the Chancellor to "do the right thing" by rethinking its approach to the UK's Air Passenger Duty (APD) saying that another rise would "defy economic logic".

The campaign group is calling for a reduction of the duty, to "promote growth, create jobs, and safeguard the fragile recovery the aviation and tourism industries have been experiencing."

The Chancellor is expected to increase APD again in this year's Budget. It comes at the same time as the Republic of Ireland scraps its equivalent duty - the Air Travel Tax - completely.

This year the UK will be one of just five countries in Europe to levy any kind of passenger departure tax on flights. A Fair Tax on Flying campaign - comprised of 50 members including leading travel organisations, business groups, airlines, and airports - says that over 100 MPs now back calls for the Government to undertake a macro-economic review of APD. Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA said: "We call once again upon the Chancellor to do the right thing and take steps to reduce APD, which is having a damaging impact on UK growth. We believe that a macro-economic impact assessment by the Treasury would draw the same conclusions that we, and other independent studies, have come to: that the UK economy would receive a huge boost if the tax were reformed. In light of this we sincerely hope the Chancellor re-thinks his planned increase."

Balkan Axes its Summer Holiday Programme

Local tour operator Balkan Tours has pledged to continue its winter programme of ski holidays to Bulgaria and Romania but has discontinued its summer sun holiday programme.

Ann Street, Belfast-based Balkan Tours have been operating in Northern Ireland for decades now with winter and summer flights to Bulgaria and Romania from both Belfast and Dublin. The company was founded by Radka Lynn, a Bulgarian who came to Northern Ireland Ireland more than 30 years ago and ever since has been Director of one of the Province's few local tour operators.

Balkan Tours holds an Air Travel Organiser's Licence (ATOL) - and customers who have already booked a summer sun holiday with Balkan Tours are entitled to have their holiday honoured, or given a full refund.

Meet Wendy Wu - and Bambu Too!

Number one Asia specialist, Wendy Wu Tours, has announced details of its 2014 Belfast agent roadshow, taking place at Ten Square Hotel, Belfast, on Tuesday, April 15.

The roadshow will offer Belfast and Northern Ireland agents the opportunity to meet the Wu crew, discover what's new at Wendy Wu Tours and enjoy a fun-filled interactive event as well as delicious food and drink.

Wendy Wu Tours is the UK's number one Asia specialist offering over 110 private and escorted tours around China, South East Asia, India, Japan, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Tours range from classic and discovery itineraries to more adventurous and special interest programmes.

The Belfast roadshow offers agents the chance to learn all about Wendy Wu Tours, win a range of great prizes and meet the Wendy Wu mascot Bambu on his first visit to Northern Ireland.

The evening will also provide agents with all the necessary sales tools for booking any Asia holiday, ensuring the end-customer the best possible experience from start to finish.

Wendy Wu Tours' Trade facing portal provides details of the Belfast roadshow, plus a range of easy access information and a training programme to ensure that agents are well versed to deal with any Asia related enquiries. For more information or to secure a place visit or email Trade Support.

Travel News is Available for Download Now!

Northern Ireland Travel News, Northern Ireland's ONLY travel specific newspaper is now online - and best of all it's 100 per cent FREE! The perfect read for the savvy traveller and industry professional, every issue is jam-packed with fantastic competitions and amazing travel offers.

You can now get Northern Ireland's favourite travel newspaper straight to your computer, iPhone or Android. Download now to read fascinating features from every destination around the globe, written by our dedicated, award-winning team. They go where you want to, and let you in on travel's best kept secrets - from far-flung destinations to cruise, ski and holidays at home - we have it all.

Catch up with the Northern Ireland Travel Trade - all the pictures, events and news from the Trade industry in one place and the latest travel-specific news - all presented in a completely free, fully optimised digital package, delivered straight to your digital device - you won't miss a travel beat with us!

The Northern Ireland Travel News digital edition is exactly the same award-winning content as the print edition, enhanced and specifically built for reading online and on mobile and tablet devices. Each edition is completely free to download and you can browse and download every edition of Northern Ireland Travel News previously published through the app.

Ciaran Mulligan of, app sponsor, said: "We are delighted to be the first sponsor of the Northern Ireland Travel News App. is Northern Ireland's award winning travel insurance provider with annual travel insurance policies from £19.99. At we are always in search of new, innovative and fresh ways to bring our comprehensive and low cost travel insurance prices to the people of Northern Ireland and this partnership with Northern Ireland's leading travel content provider is a perfect fit."

The January edition, February edition and our most current edition March are all available for you to view online now. You can also view the newspaper online through the Northern Ireland Travel News website where you can also find weekly travel news updates and in-depth features from destinations around the globe. Our band new events calendar is also now live on the website with all the latest Trade events.

You can take Northern Ireland Travel News everywhere with you by downloading the NITN app on iTunes straight into your newstand and for Android from the Google Play Store. The app is absolutely free to download and each edition is completely free. You also have the option to sign up within the app to receive a notification when a new issue is available - making keeping up to date with the latest Travel News easier than ever.

London Incentive for Cruise Agents

Leading cruise operator Silversea, renowned for its ultra-luxurious ships and exotic destinations, has announced a new Trade incentive for agents booking guests on any 2014 departure.

To qualify agents simply need to make a booking between March 1 and April 30, 2014. Qualifying entrants will be entered into a draw for the chance to win one of 10 spaces on a luxury London day. The prize includes return travel to London, an afternoon tea at a top London Hotel, overnight accommodation at a 5-star London Hotel including a spa voucher and dinner at a Michelin starred restaurant.

There is no limit to the number of bookings that an agent can enter, the more bookings are made the higher is the chance of winning. Silver Discoverer voyages count for two entries into the prize draw.

To enter, agents have to return the complete redemption form to Silversea no later than Friday, May 9. 2014. Terms and Conditions apply.

United Moves to Terminal 2 at Heathrow

United Airlines is moving its operations at London Heathrow to the airport's new Terminal 2 on its opening day, June 4, where the airline says its customers will enjoy improved services and amenities.

From this date United flights at LHR - currently split between Terminals 1 and 4 - will be "under one roof", and United will be the first airline to operate from Terminal 2.

At Terminal 2, customers will benefit from easier, faster routes through border control on arrival and through check-in and security on departure. There will be a choice of check-in methods including quick and easy self-service kiosks, fast bag-drop desks and full-service check-in desks. Customers will also be able to enjoy a wide variety of shopping, dining and seating options in a light, airy, spacious building. Two new lounges will be available for use by United's premium customers at Terminal 2: A United Club and the United Global First Lounge.

Meanwhile, travellers have been told to expect teething problems at Heathrow's T2 terminal when it opens on 4 June. The terminal will be home to 26 airlines and eventually cater for as many as 20m passengers a year.

Gran Canaria Back at Big Travel Trade Event

Gran Canaria will be back at The BIG Travel Trade event in June to renew acquaintances with members of the Northern Ireland Travel Trade.

Katerina Bomshtein will again be at the two-day exhibition at the Hilton, Templepatrick on June 10 and 11, and also providing all competitors in the Northern Ireland Travel Golf Classic with refreshments out on the Golf Course on Day 2. Gran Canaria will also be joint sponsoring a golf hole with Spanish Tourist Board - as usual the Golf Classic is being run in conjunction with the Big Event exhibition.

Gran Canaria is one of the most popular sun destinations for Northern Ireland travellers with one of the world's best climates year-round.

"Travel agents have the chance to come and meet Katerina at The Big Travel Trade Event and find out what the island has to offer for 2014 -2015," said Big Event Co-Ordinator Paula Breen.

Ticketmaster Gift Cards as Agent Incentive

Celebrity Cruises is giving agents the chance to win one of five £100 Ticketmaster gift cards each week, redeemable on events and concerts all over the UK and Ireland, including Katy Perry, Robbie Williams and Wimbledon Championships.

Agents simply need to confirm a new 2014 or 2015 booking between now and 30 April 2014 to be in with a chance to win a Ticketmaster gift card to check out the world's top pop stars, comedy shows and sporting events. This incentive coincides with the cruise line's 'Choose and Cruise' and 'Discover in 2015' campaigns in March and April.

The 'Choose and Cruise' campaign incorporates two fantastic offers for agents selling Celebrity Cruises sailings to customers including: Complimentary classic drinks packages on selected Celebrity Cruises sailings cruises between May 2014 and March 2015 when booking an oceanview stateroom or above; and up to $300 onboard spend per stateroom on selected cruises between May 2014 and March 2015 when booking an oceanview stateroom or above.

As part of the luxury cruise line's 'Discover in 2015' campaign, for the first time Celebrity Cruises will be offering its 'cruise fare price promise' on all sailings. This means that Celebrity Cruises is guaranteeing that should the cruise price decrease at any time, guests can move into a lower price at a later stage with no amendment or cancellation charges. This applies to all bookings made before April 30, 2014. Celebrity Cruises is also offering up to $400 onboard spend for each stateroom booking made.

New Trade Website for New Zealand

Tourism New Zealand has launched a new Trade website as the primary source of information to help travel sellers learn more about New Zealand and how to sell it.

The site provides training tools and resources such as online modules and the 100 per cent Pure New Zealand Specialist programme.

Tourism New Zealand's General Manager Western Markets, Gregg Anderson said the new trade website provides a strong platform to further promote the 100 per cent Pure New Zealand Specialist programme. "The 100 per cent Pure New Zealand Specialist programme is a free online training tool that helps thousands of travel sellers to increase their understanding, skills, and sales of New Zealand as a tourism destination," he said.

While big changes have been made, Tourism New Zealand will continually update and develop the website to ensure the content stays fresh and relevant.


Breaking News!


Travel News is Now Available Online


Travel News is Available for Download Now!

Northern Ireland Travel News, Northern Ireland's ONLY travel specific newspaper is now online - and best of all it's 100 per cent FREE!

The perfect read for the savvy traveller and industry professional, every issue is jam-packed with fantastic competitions and amazing travel offers.

You can now get Northern Ireland's favourite travel newspaper straight to your computer, iPhone or Android. Download now to read fascinating features from every destination around the globe, written by our dedicated, award-winning team. They go where you want to, and let you in on travel's best kept secrets - from far-flung destinations to cruise, ski and holidays at home - we have it all.

Catch up with the Northern Ireland Travel Trade - all the pictures, events and news from the Trade industry in one place and the latest travel-specific news - all presented in a completely free, fully optimised digital package, delivered straight to your digital device - you won't miss a travel beat with us!

The Northern Ireland Travel News digital edition is exactly the same award-winning content as the print edition, enhanced and specifically built for reading online and on mobile and tablet devices. Each edition is completely free to download and you can browse and download every edition of Northern Ireland Travel News previously published through the app.

Founders of Northern Ireland Travel News, Brian Ogle and Jonathan Adair, said: "This is an exciting new departure for Northern Ireland Travel News. The paper has come a long way since its launch 25 years ago and with this online facility our many news stories and features are available to a whole raft of potential new readers worldwide. Over a quarter of a century the newspaper has been the essential source for travel information, and through our new media this information is accessible anytime and anywhere."

Ciaran Mulligan of, app sponsor, said: "We are delighted to be the first sponsor of the Northern Ireland Travel News App. is Northern Ireland's award winning travel insurance provider with annual travel insurance policies from £19.99. At we are always in search of new, innovative and fresh ways to bring our comprehensive and low cost travel insurance prices to the people of Northern Ireland and this partnership with Northern Ireland's leading travel content provider is a perfect fit."

The January edition, February edition and our most current edition March are all available for you to view online now. You can also view the newspaper online through the Northern Ireland Travel News website where you can also find weekly travel news updates and in-depth features from destinations around the globe.

You can take Northern Ireland Travel News everywhere with you by downloading the NITN app on iTunes straight into your newstand and for Android from the Google Play Store. The app is absolutely free to download and each edition is completely free. You also have the option to sign up within the app to receive a notification when a new issue is available - making keeping up to date with the latest Travel News easier than ever.


Trade News - Tuesday March 11, 2014

This Week's Travel News

Clamp Down for 'Add-On' Travel Insurance

The insurance add-on market is to be overhauled, according to reports today - which could include banning pre-ticked boxes and forcing a more transparent sale.

The £1bn general insurance add-on market, where insurance is sold alongside goods or services like a holiday, is overcharging customers for products they may not need or use, claims the Financial Conduct Authority.

Following an investigation in July 2013, the FCA found poor competition at point of sale and  low levels of claims. Christopher Woolard, Director of Policy, risk and research at the FCA, said: "There's a clear case for us to intervene. Competition in this market is not working well and many consumers are simply not getting value for money. Firms must start putting consumers first and stop seeing them as pound signs."

The key findings of the investigation included a lack of competition and information at point of sale, preventing consumers from making comparisons and informed decisions about products. 25 per cent of consumers who bought insurance as an "add-on" were not aware that they could buy the product separately elsewhere while 38 per cent of add-on buyers said they had not planned to buy add-on insurance before the day of purchase, 69 per cent of add-on purchasers could not accurately remember how much they paid for the product three to four months later, and 19 per cent could not even remember buying it.

The FCA is proposing banning pre-ticked boxes to ensure consumers actively choose to buy an add-on and are clear when and how they are purchasing a product.

It will also require firms to publish claims ratios to highlight low-value products, pressuring providers to deliver better value to their customers.

Ryanair Signs Deal with Travelport

Ryanair has signed an agreement with Travelport to distribute its flights to travel agents.

Through the deal, Ryanair fares, as well as their ancillary products and services, will be introduced to Travelport travel agencies in a phased approach from March 19.

Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair's Chief Marketing Officer said: "This partnership with Travelport is a significant development for Ryanair and for businesses across Europe and beyond as we continue to evolve our business offering.

"More than 22 per cent of these customers already choose Ryanair for business travel and we expect that percentage to grow as this partnership allows corporate travel departments, travel management companies and businesses even greater access to Ryanair's low fares and routes, ensuring they save millions of euro in travel expenses every year."

Ryanair's decision to work with Travelport follows the launch of the Travelport Merchandising Platform. The technology enables low cost carriers to provide their content via an API connection, rather than the more traditional fare filing methods often favoured by network carriers, and still have their fares and ancillaries displayed, compared and booked in exactly the same way. It also allows airlines to control how their flights and ancillaries are visually presented and described on travel agency screens.

Revenue Blamed for Failure of On Holiday Group

The UK's biggest independent bedbank, On Holiday Group (OHG), went into administration last Friday after being unable to pay its hotel bills.

The company blamed the move on HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) continuing to withhold £4.5m of disputed VAT under the Tour Operators Margin Scheme (TOMS).

The group had been in discussions with most other major bedbanks trying to persuade one of them to take over its client account and £19m of forward bookings, which carry £600k of profit, but without success.

The collapse is expected to leave OHG's creditors, primarily overseas hotels, with unpaid debts of at least £7m. The group said monies received from agents were being held in ring-fenced client accounts and would be returned in the next few days. However, clients will have to pay their bills in-resort and then claim refunds from agents.

A statement from OHG on Friday said: "The directors of OHG Accommodation Ltd have today announced that they been forced by HMRC continuing to withhold £4.5m of disputed TOMS VAT to put the business into administration. This is because they are unable to pay all hotel bills as they are falling due and want to secure an orderly wind up of the business from a customer and travel agency partner perspective."

Brendan Mallon, formerly of Falcon Holidays, has been running the On Holiday Group's Ireland operations.

Travel Agents Have a Yen for Zen!

There was a great turnout of local travel agents at Zen, Adelaide St, Belfast for an interestingly-titled 'Cocktail Making Masterclass' last Thursday evening.

The event was run jointly by If Only..., Silversea Cruises and Turkish Airlines with Diane Risk, Amanda Middler and Onur Gull respective hosts from the three travel companies.

After Welcome Drinks, it was on to Cocktails and Nibbles in the Bar area before an excellent dinner in the famed Japanese restaurant.

Pictured above right are the three hosts/hostesses from left Diane Risk, Onur Gull, and Amanda Middler. You can view more pictures from the event on our website.

Ticketmaster Gift Cards as Agent Incentive

Celebrity Cruises is giving agents the chance to win one of five £100 Ticketmaster gift cards each week, redeemable on events and concerts all over the UK and Ireland, including Katy Perry, Robbie Williams and Wimbledon Championships.

Agents simply need to confirm a new 2014 or 2015 booking between now and April 30 2014 to be in with a chance to win a Ticketmaster gift card to check out the world's top pop stars, comedy shows and sporting events. This incentive coincides with the cruise line's 'Choose and Cruise' and 'Discover in 2015' campaigns in March and April.

The 'Choose and Cruise' campaign incorporates two fantastic offers for agents selling Celebrity Cruises sailings to customers including: Complimentary classic drinks packages on selected Celebrity Cruises sailings cruises between May 2014 and March 2015 when booking an oceanview stateroom or above; and up to $300 onboard spend per stateroom on selected cruises between May 2014 and March 2015 when booking an oceanview stateroom or above.

As part of the luxury cruise line's 'Discover in 2015' campaign, for the first time Celebrity Cruises will be offering its 'cruise fare price promise' on all sailings. This means that Celebrity Cruises is guaranteeing that should the cruise price decrease at any time, guests can move into a lower price at a later stage with no amendment or cancellation charges. This applies to all bookings made before April 30, 2014. Celebrity Cruises is also offering up to $400 onboard spend for each stateroom booking made.

Vouchers for Agents' Sales During March

Innstant Travel has launched a promotion where agents can earn £5 worth of One4all Vouchers with every booking made during the month of March.

To qualify is easy, all agents need to do is confirm a bookings on and earn £5 voucher per booking irrespective of the booking value valid for new bookings made between the March 5 and March 31, 2014 (terms and conditions apply).

In addition to the One4all Vouchers, agents also earn Loyalty Points with every confirmed booking which can be used against your own holiday or against your statement.

Innstant Travel offers more than 230,000 hotels and apartments worldwide including global partners such as Hilton, IHG, Iberostar, RIU Hotels, combined with thousands of Transfers, Theatre & Sport Tickets, Tours and Attractions. "In short, agents can find all the products at great rates to secure that special offer for your clients and at the same time earn a great incentives with every booking," said an Innstant spokesperson.

Hurtigruten to Create Norwegian Culinary Experiences

Following the amazing sightings of the Northern Lights in the Province last week, Hurtigruten, one of the most atmospheric cruise journeys in the world, has taken on a celebrated Norwegian food expert, to create even more unique and authentic culinary experiences.

Andreas Viestad will be helping to develop new restaurant and cafe concepts on all 11 of the ships that sail along the Norwegian coast, with a focus on local food of the highest quality.

Hurtigruten's food project goes by the title of 'Norway's Coastal Kitchen' and is part of its strategy to further highlight the uniqueness of the voyages. Menus will be developed with ingredients and themes that reflect the waters and areas that the ships sail through. To add to the culinary experience, telling the story of the local specialities will be a key aspect of Viestad's work.

The signing is the next stage in an on-going project that has already seen the on-board menu being tailored to seasonal delicacies of the regions visited. More than 80 per cent of the food and drink served on the ships is produced in Norway, and now the company is set to further increase that figure.

Clear Day for Travel Counsellors

Local Travel Counsellors were hosted to lunch recently at Shu restaurant on Belfast's Lisburn Road by Nan Short of Caribtours and Andrew Hillier from Clear Marketing.

Andrew represents a number of properties in the Caribbean including The Body Holiday, Rendezvous, Sugar Beach, St Lucia, Coco Reef, Tobago, Ocean Two Barbados, Blue Waters Antigua and Viceroy Anquilla. All the properties can be booked through Caribtours.

Gillian Murnin celebrated her birthday at the event and was delighted with a surprise birthday cake while Coleen Matovu (pictured above right) won a week's stay in Barbados. All the Travel Counsellors enjoyed the lunch which was fun as well as being very informative.


Trade News - Tuesday March 4, 2014

This Week's Travel News

ABTA Launches Campaign Against Holiday Scams

ABTA - the Travel Association - has today announced a partnership with three anti-fraud bodies to highlight the dangers of common scams that cost holidaymakers millions of pounds a year.

ABTA is partnering the agencies for the second consecutive year to highlight the dangers of holiday booking fraud among consumers by raising awareness of common scams and providing advice on how to avoid becoming a victim.

The campaign, which is part of ABTA’s broader ‘look for the logo’ initiative, is being launched today (March 4) and includes the release of new research showing the scale of the problem and exposing common tactics and targets used by fraudsters who steal millions of pounds of holidaymakers’ money each year.

ABTA wants to encourage consumers to take important steps to avoid being defrauded, including looking for ABTA membership when they book, thoroughly researching the travel companies before booking and using secure payment methods online.

Victoria Bacon, Head of Communications ABTA said: “Fraudsters are swindling unsuspecting holidaymakers out of millions of pounds every year which is extremely distressing for the victims as well as damaging for the reputation of the travel industry".

Updated advice for consumers went live on its partner websites, including from today.

Invitation to Party at Big Travel Trade Event

The Jet2Holidays team will be out in force this year at the Big Travel Trade Event 2014 at The Hilton, Templepatrick.

Nikki Porter and her colleagues will be at the two-day event, June 10 and 11 – exhibiting for two days at the Trade Exhibition and hosting an 'After Party' on the Tuesday evening.

'Shot' girls will be on hand to add a bit of fun to the evening. All travel agents are welcome to join Nikki and the Jet2Holidays team after the Night at the Races.

Jet2holidays will also be hosting the pre-dinner drinks at the Gala presentation dinner and providing the entertainment for the evening. It’s their aim to get everyone in the local Travel Trade on their feet and dancing into the wee small hours !!!

Jet2Holidays will be announcing new developments, new products and assisting with any queries travel agents may have, as well as touching base with all Northern Ireland travel agents.

To register, or for more information, email the Big Event Co-ordinator Paula Breen.

Incentive for Bookings on 2015 Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises has announced its European sailings for 2015 with five ships sailing in the region, including Celebrity Eclipse based out of Southampton for her fifth consecutive summer season.

Next year will also include calls at 99 ports in 30 different countries with overnight stays in 15 destinations and enticing ports of call such as Ibiza (Spain), Burgas (Bulgaria), Frederica (Denmark) and Salerno (Italy).

The 2015 sailings will go on sale on March 18, 2014 and for the first time Celebrity Cruises will be offering its ‘cruise price promise’ on all sailings. This means that Celebrity Cruises is guaranteeing that all bookings made before April 30, 2014 will be protected by a lower price or promotion should it become available at a later date. Plus, Celebrity Cruises is also offering up to $400 onboard spend for each stateroom booking made.

The cruise line’s newest and most luxurious ship Celebrity Reflection will sail her 2015 summer season in Europe along with Celebrity Silhouette, Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Constellation sailing European waters and Celebrity Eclipse based out of the UK.

UK Holidaymakers Going Upmarket in Tenerife

UK visitors to Tenerife are going up market in Tenerife, picking four and five star hotels instead of the usual three.

Nearly half of the British holidaymakers - 44.9 per cent - are opting to go upmarket, reports the Tenerfie Tourism Corporation. And more are also choosing hotels over self-catering or staying with friends and family.

More UK visitors are staying in the cities of Santa Cruz and La Laguna although the beach resorts in the south of the island continue to be the favourite destination for British holidaymakers.

Pia Louw, travel industry and promotion director at the Tenerife Tourism Corporation, said: "The UK is our most loyal market with a repeat visitor rate of 77 per cent." The UK continues to account for 31.8 per cent of visitors to Tenerife.

Angie from Century is iPad Winner

Thriftway Consol recently ran a Travel Trade Promotion to win an Apple iPad in association with their leading airline partner, Etihad Airways.

The lucky winner was Angie McArdle from Century Travel in Dungannon.

Angie is pictured, right, receiving her prize from Liza Hammond, Northern Ireland Account Manager Etihad Airways and Stephen Cordner, Sales Manager, Thriftway Consol.

Tom New Face of Hotel Booking Company

Idiso, the international hotel distribution and booking company, has today announced the appointment of Tom Allen Partnerships to represent it in the UK and Ireland markets.

Idiso is the pioneering Spanish company specialising in hotel distribution services, whose modern equipment and cutting edge technology allow hotel rooms to be sold internationally 24 hours a day 365 days a year. With over 2500 hotels currently using their systems, Idiso is now preparing to expand by including relevant UK and Ireland hotels chains into their distribution network.

Sara de Urrutia, Idiso Business Development Director for Europe Middle East and Africa, said: "The UK and Ireland are important to our longer term development plans, and we wanted someone with experience, knowledge and contacts to help us develop new partnerships."

Tom Allen, CEO Tom Allen Partnerships, said: " We are delighted and excited to be working with such a leading company as Idiso, and I am certain that the hotel industry in the UK and Ireland will be wanting to start entering into discussions with them in the near future."

Tom Allen, originally from Bangor, is well known to the Trade here and in the UK Mainland. He set up Greek island specialist company Next Island Holidays with his brother Robin two decades ago and has since worked for a number of leading travel companies including the Disney organisation.

They're Off for the Crystal Seahorse Stakes!

As part of its ongoing support of its UK trade partners, Crystal Cruises has announced details of an exciting new agent incentive aimed at encouraging team work in agencies and driving Crystal sales, with great prizes to be won.

The innovative ‘Crystal Cruises Seahorse Stakes’ incentive, running from now until the end of the year, sees UK agents work their way around a racetrack with prizes awarded as bookings increase. Any UK agencies who achieve the ultimate goal of 25 bookings within the incentive period will be rewarded with a private box at the races for up to 16 people. Along the way, other prizes include: Five bookings - a horse riding day in the country; Ten bookings - a luxury hamper worth £100; 15 bookings - theatre tickets for two plus dinner; 20 bookings - a pamper day; Plus a number of surprise ‘Spot Prizes’.

UK agencies will receive a poster-size racetrack course on which they can record and track bookings and progress with each Crystal booking earning them with one point and allowing them to move forward one space. In addition, agents should look out for ‘Enhanced Sailings’ throughout the year where double points Twill be awarded for bookings made on specific sailings as advised by Crystal Cruises’ sales team. What’s more, there will be a number of ‘Mystery Shopper’ challenges set where agents will win a spot prize if they recommend Crystal Cruises.

UK agents can access more information about ‘Crystal Cruises Seahorse Stakes’ at the Crystal website.

Luxury Operator 'Thrilled' With New Website

Elegant Resorts, the luxury operator recently sold by Thomas Cook, has revealed a new website offering more intuitive search features and a dedicated ‘lifestyle showcase’.

The company says the upgraded site provides easy to navigate content, whether browsing on a laptop, smartphone, iPad or other tablet device. Users can order brochures, take advantage of special offers, request tailor-made quotes and view its blogs, which focus on the latest news and in-vogue destinations of the month.

The site also offers the chance to meet the Elegant Resorts team and find out about their favourite destinations. Managing Director, Michelle Sephton, said: "Our team has worked tirelessly to get our new website just right and we’re absolutely thrilled with the results. As well as designing something beautiful to look at, it also needed to reflect our passion and devotion to luxury travel whilst also being as easy as possible to navigate for the end user."

Three New Levels of Insurance Cover

From this month leading insurer Blue Insurances will be introducing a new and improved policy with three new levels of cover.

The new policy will offer a competitive Essential cover, an enhanced Premier cover and an all-inclusive Premier Plus cover that will include Wintersports and No Claims Excess.

The Premier Plus cover will be ideal for clients who would have previously purchased a Premier policy including either of these additional covers or clients who had the previous Premier Plus policy.

The cover will see a slight increase in rates while it includes a higher limit on Medical Expenses of €10 Million and an increased cancellation limit of €5,000. The new Essential cover will have lower limits than the Premier Policy and will be at a more competitive rate for the more price conscious customer.


Page 77 of 78


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