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Tuesday August 25, 2015

This Week's Travel News


New Holiday Product and New Route from Belfast

Thomson and First Choice, part of the TUI Group, today announced their fresh take on family holidays with the introduction of Family Life Holidays and the launch of a new route from Belfast International to Rhodes, which takes off in May 2016.

The leading tour operators are now offering more choice when it comes to the annual summer break, with a new range of holiday resorts available to suit every family member. The biggest change comes with Thomson's Family Resorts which will now become Family Life. This new collection of hotels and resorts has been designed to meet the needs of every generation, with something special for all ages, as well as activities and entertainment for families to enjoy together. 

While parents take a yoga class or grab a barista style coffee in the resorts own cafe, little ones can head to the 'Kids Club', teens can chill in 'The Hangout' and grandparents can relax by the pool. And at the end of the day, everyone can come together and enjoy some quality family time at The Taverna restaurants serving tapas style, locally sourced food.

With increasing numbers of holidaymakers travelling from NI to Greece, the new route to Rhodes, departing every Tuesday from Belfast International, will be well received. Local families will now have more choice of resorts and destinations to choose from across the collection. This will also include the very best of Family Resorts and some new additions including, the new Family Life Tropical Resort, Dalaman.

Chris Logan, Head of Ireland for Thomson, says: "We're excited to announce the new destination of Rhodes and the latest additions to the summer 2016 programme. We have expanded our collections for families to ensure customers continue to get the range of holidays they expect from Thomson and First Choice."


Big Increase in Flights to Friends and Relatives

There's more evidence that the travel industry is taking off again. More people are flying to visit friends and relatives than ever before, according to new figures released today by the British Air Transport Association (BATA).

The number of visits to friends and relatives to and from the UK by air increased by almost 230,000 to 19.03 million last year from the pre-recession high in 2008, and a 23 per cent increase since 2010.

More than half (58 per cent) of the total visits last year (11.06 million) were made by UK residents to friends and family living abroad. Two thirds of those visits (7.26 million) were made to European destinations and one third (3.81 million) were to the rest of the world. VFRs both to and from the UK have increased since 2010, but visits by UK residents overseas have increased at a faster rate - 26 per cent.

The figures come from mew analysis by the British Air Transport Association of official travel statistics and show that 83 per cent of visits are made by air.


Mentoring Flight for Three NI Business Owners

As part of British Airways' re-launch of its On Business loyalty programme for businesses, the airline is set to host a mentoring flight on October 20 to Austin, Texas - the heartland of innovation in the USA - for three lucky business owners from Northern Ireland.

On the flight, the winners will have mentoring sessions with Josh Baer and Steve Welch from the Austin-based Capital Factory, known as the centre of gravity for start-ups in the United States. Josh and Steve are both experienced entrepreneurs and mentoring experts that have helped hundreds of businesses develop and grow.

The winners will have their undivided attention of the duration of the 10-hour flight to discuss and solve a business challenge they're facing.

Business owners interested in making the most of this mentoring opportunity can go to to submit a pitch to explain why working with the Capital Factory would help transform their company.


Business Class Upgrade Offer from Asian Specialist

To mark the launch of Wendy Wu Tours' new 2016/17 brochures, the Asia specialist has announced a business class upgrade promotion.

In partnership with Cathay Pacific, Wendy Wu Tours is offering a one way business class upgrade from just £99 per person from Manchester and £199 per person from Heathrow on many of its China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Japan tours. Only available with Wendy Wu Tours, the promotion represents a great saving of £1,000 per person. Bookings must be made between August 29 and September 30.

The upgrade from both Manchester and London is valid on the return leg. To upgrade both ways, there is a supplement of £799 per person with travel from Manchester and a supplement of £999 per person with travel from Heathrow. Bookings must be made between August 29 and September 30 for travel from November 1,2015 to June 30, 2016 (blackout dates apply).

The deal offers the perfect opportunity to return from a holiday rested and in style, particularly as Cathay Pacific has been voted World's Best Business Class Airline 2015. Business class offers a fully flat bed (two metres), which also widens when extended; a personal 15.4 inch touch screen TV with a rotating library of 100 films and 500 TV shows; noise cancelling headsets; outstanding service and access to exclusive airport lounges.


Etihad Reduces its Winter Schedule from Dublin

Etihad Airways is "temporarily reducing" its daily frequency for the winter schedule of its Dublin-Abu Dhabi service.

From January 11, 2016 to June 14, and for seven days during December - December 1, 6, 8, 13, 15, 22 and 29 - Etihad will reduce its frequency. During this period the airline will operate a B777 aircraft on the EY042/045 with the DUB-AUH flight departing at 8.25 arriving 20.10 and the AUH-DUB flight leaves at 2.20 arriving at 7.05.

Etihad is offering alternative options to Etihad passengers already ticketed whose journey has already commenced and guests already ticketed but whose journey has not yet commenced. Etihad has also made arrangements for guests already ticketed but whose journey has not yet commenced. For full details contact Etihad's Dublin sales office.


Sarah Winner of Student Survey Competition

Student Sarah Molloy was the winner of the QUB Students Union Survey which went out to 23,000 students Province-wide.

Sarah received two KLM tickets to Amsterdam, three nights accommodation from STA Travel and £300 spending money donated by the Students Union.

Kelly Hutchinson, STA's Store Manager in Belfast, is pictured above right presenting the KLM tickets to Sarah.


Cruisers Have Choice of East or West!

P&O Cruises is to offer two full world cruises in 2017, offering a choice of east or west, both sailing from Southampton.

Aurora will sail a 104-night eastern circumnavigation, calling at 35 destinations in 21 countries and covering nearly 30,000 nautical miles.

Arcadia will offer a 114-night Polynesian and Asian Adventure, sailing west and calling at 37 destinations in 21 countries and covering more than 36,000 nautical miles.

Highlights of the Aurora cruise include overnight stays in Dubai, Singapore, Sydney and San Francisco, sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge, into Sydney Harbour and transiting both the Panama and Suez canals. She will also call at Semarang in Indonesia for the first time. Arcadia's highlights include overnight stays in San Francisco, Auckland, Sydndey, Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as seeing the iconic attractions listed above. Both cruises set sail in January 2017.


Free Flights Offer on Two Cruises

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is offering guests free flights on two Canaries Winter sunshine fly-cruises from London Gatwick and Manchester airports, if they book by August 31, 2015 inclusive.

Setting sail from Santa Cruz in Tenerife aboard Braemar, guests can choose a 14-night M1531 'Canaries & Cape Verde' cruise, departing on November 26, 2015, or a 13-night 'Canaries Collection' sailing, departing on December 10, 2015.

In addition Fred. Olsen is offering 'No Single Supplement', based on single occupancy of selected Twin Cabins. Fred.Olsen is also offering three cruise itineraries direct from Belfast this autumn, Scandinavian Highlights, Discovering Spain & France, and Portugal & Canaries.


This Week's Tube Strikes Called Off

Good news for business and leisure travellers to London this week. London Planned Underground strikes have been called off after talks between unions and managers.

The Unite union said it had suspended two 24-hour walk-outs as a 'gesture of goodwill' but has pencilled in two new dates - September 8 and 10 - if a deal is not reached.

Workers who are members of the RMT, Unite and TSSA unions are unhappy with proposals over pay and shifts for a new 24-hour tube service due to start next month.




Tuesday August 18, 2015

This Week's Travel News


Airline Marks Four Millionth Passenger on Glasgow Route

EasyJet, Northern Ireland's biggest passenger carrier and Europe's leading airline, is celebrating carrying four million passengers between Belfast and Glasgow.

The airline launched services from Belfast in 1998 and in addition to Glasgow operates scheduled flights to London Gatwick, London Luton, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Stansted, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle. Since introducing their first flight to London Luton easyJet has flown over 42 million passengers to and from Belfast International Airport and is now Northern Ireland's largest airline.

Ali Gayward, easyJet's Head of Northern Ireland, commented: "I am really pleased that we are carrying our four millionth passenger between Belfast and Glasgow. It underlines our commitment to the Northern Ireland market.

"We have come a long way since the launch of our first flight from Belfast back in September 1998. In our first 12 months at Belfast Airport we carried over 240,000 passengers - we now carry over 3.5 Million passengers a year on 28 routes."

Uel Hoey, Business Development Director at Belfast International Airport, said: "As is the case with so many air routes to and from Northern Ireland, easyJet singularly opened up air travel to a vastly expanded range of travellers when they launched their Glasgow services from Belfast International Airport during 2001."


One Stop to the World Becomes Reality

Newquay to Dubai, Southampton to Kuala Lumpur, Inverness to Hong Kong - these are just three of the numerous options now possible for making connecting bookings with Flybe, Europe's largest regional airline, which has just announced an innovative partnership with Skyscanner, a leading global travel search engine.

The partnership makes Flybe's 'One Stop to the World' proposition a convenient reality with bookings that can be instantly made via a direct link from its website powered by Skyscanner.

The powerful bespoke search tool, developed for Flybe by Skyscanner for Business, a suite of products that is helping to power the travel internet, calculates all options available for flying to selected long haul destinations from many of the key regional airports served by Flybe. It detais all possible itineraries, timings and convenient connections. Skyscanner for Business developed the new search engine utilising its White Label product, which easily customised the tool to the Flybe branding that users are familiar with.

Once a travel choice had been made, customers can immediately click through and complete their flight purchase direct with the relevant codeshare carrier's website. These currently include Aer Lingus, Air France, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, Finnair and KLM.


Food for Thought for Students From Ferry Company

According to a leading financial institution, after rent, students spend most of their money on food followed by eating out, utility bills, alcohol and clothes.

So as thousands of students across Northern Ireland digest their recent results, Stena Line has come up with a delicious way to help them stretch their budgets which will also get the thumbs up from the bank of Mum and Dad - the jam-packed contents of a fridge.

Marc Casey, Route Marketing Manager Irish Sea North, Stena Line, said: "With 3rd level education so expensive these days we think it's only fair that students can save a few pounds. Not only that, with Stena Line, students travel for free with every car and driver fare - which start from as little as £79 single. That means the driver can fill all available seats in the car with students at no extra cost (for travel between August 14 - to October 31, book by Sept 30). It's also essential that students look after themselves so they have the best chance of success, which is where a good diet comes in."

A study conducted by Northumbria University in England proved that students performed better on simple math tests by drinking dark chocolate shakes and if students eat the right foods they can also improve memory, alertness and focus.

"To help students in Northern Ireland graduate with flying colours, we are offering them the chance to win the contents of a fridge, packed with healthy, brain boosting foods, as well as some student favourites. This will offer Mum and Dad peace of mind as they won't need to worry about their hard working kids eating well plus they save money getting their kids to and from college or university, when they travel with Stena Line."

To win the contents of a fridge, visit Stena Line's website and guess the amount of money it has taken to stock the fridge full of favourite student snacks and IQ boosting nosh.


Escape in Final Phase of Construction

Norwegian Escape, soon to be the largest ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet, was floated out of its covered building dock at the weekend in Papenburg, Germany, where the 164,600-ton ship has been under construction since September 2014. Norwegian Escape is the first ship in the line's Breakaway Plus Class, measuring 1,098 feet in length and 136 feet wide.

Norwegian Escape's 'float out' represents a major milestone in the vessel's construction, with the ship being well on her way to completion she will now move into the final phase of construction with delivery taking place on October 22, 2015.

The Cruise Line's President and Chief Operating Officer Andy Stuart said: "The ship's float out brings us one step closer to bringing the next evolution of Freestyle Cruising to the world and we couldn't be more excited."

Norwegian Escape will sail weekly seven-night cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean beginning on November 14, 2015.


Golden Ticket Opportunity for Students!

P&O Ferries is giving students a Golden Ticket opportunity to take advantage of a great money saving deal as they book their travel to university in Scotland or England.

The UK's largest ferry operator is rewarding students for their hard work by giving them an additional reason to celebrate by offering up to four students the chance to travel for free, when a trip is booked for a car and one full fare paying adult across the Irish Sea.

The offer and fare can be booked until September 30 for travel on P&O Ferries Larne to Cairnryan route from September 1 until October 31, 2015 and until September 30, 2015 on Larne to Troon sailings.

Commenting on the launch of the offer, Sarah Rosier, Head of Marketing at P&O Ferries said: "P&O Ferries is delighted to announce this great offer for students going to university for the first time as well as for those students returning to university for the new term. After all their hard work, P&O wants to congratulate and reward students during this exciting time and make their move to university in Scotland or England as hassle free as possible.

"Our Golden Ticket offer really does provide a fantastic money saving opportunity for students travelling across to university with friends as well as students making the journey with family, with up to four students in the car able to take the return trip for free."


Asian Specialist Delighted with Irish Bookings

Wendy Wu Tours, the UK's largest outbound operator to China, is delighted with the response to its launch on the Irish market in January. The operator says it is delighted with current booking numbers and interest from local travellers.

First Irish clients were the Denneny family who booked 14-day Glories of China tour. They commented: "Our Glories of China tour was an exceptional experience. The guides provided ample information on a daily basis with a sense of humour. All the bucket list sights of China have been ticked off. Too many highlights to place in a review but The Great Wall, Terracotta Army and Tiananmen Square were particular favourites.

"Accommodation throughout the trip was first class and all travel arrangements were faultless and stress free. A thousand photos and a number of videos tell their own story."

Wendy Wu also launched their new website recently which offers a £50 One4all Voucher to agents for every booking made up until the end of August.


Two for One Broadway Ticket Promotion

Following the success of NYC's Restaurant Week, the Big Apple's Broadway Week takes place from September 7 to 20 with tickets going on sale tomorrow August 19.

Broadway Week and Off-Broadway Week (September 21-October 4; tickets on sale September) are biannual promotions designed to increase ticket sales during typically slower periods of attendance and offer New Yorkers and visitors alike the opportunity to see some of NYC's best shows, with 2-for-1 tickets.

On February 3, 2015, the renowned Kings Theatre reopened after an extensive $94 million refurbishment, restoring the venue to its original 1929 design, complete with historically authentic theatre carpeting, paint scheme, antique chandeliers and more. The theatre, closed for nearly 40 years, originally opened as one of five original 'Loew's Wonder Theatres,' and has been home to movies, live performances and even vaudeville. The renovated 3,000-seat theatre debuted with a grand opening concert by Motown legend Diana Ross.


Travel Fun Day Another Success for Charity

Northern Ireland's soccer playing representatives at the Travel Fun Day organised by the Irish Travel Trade at Wanderers Rugby Club did not bring home a trophy, but they did contribute to another hugely successful fundraising event for charity.

As well as soccer, the day included a Barbecue and a wide range of kids games, competitions and free goodies. There was also an attractive range of travel prizes won on the day. But the most important thing at the end of the day was another substantial amount of money raised for needy charities.

In the picture above, back row, Charlie Brown of Travelport, Lynsey Lamont, Emirates and Jonathan Adair, Northern Ireland Travel News pose for the camera before the big kick-off.



Take Extra Care when Visiting Thailand

Holidaymakers in Thailand are being advised to monitor news reports, follow the advice of local authorities and take extra care following the bomb explosion next to the Erawan Shrine in central Bangkok yesterday. Go to the Foreign Office website for the latest travel advice.

A statement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) says there had previously been explosions at the Siam station of Bangkok's Skytrain system in February and in the car park of a shopping mall on the island of Koh Samui. "Local police have confirmed a bomb explosion at 7pm on August 17 at the Ratchprasong Intersection next to the Erawan Shrine in central Bangkok. The British Embassy is currently in contact with local authorities."

British nationals make over 900,000 visits to Thailand every year. Most visits are trouble-free, but there have been attacks (sometimes violent), particularly on the islands of Samui archipelago.

By law you must carry your passport with you at all times. Tourists have been arrested because they were unable to produce their passport.


Ryanair Lands at Aldergrove!

Ryanair has at last landed at Belfast International Airport - but the visit does not mark the beginning of the low cost carrier's operations at BIAL.

The aircraft were at Aldergrove because of disruption caused to Ryanair's services between City of Derry and Stansted and Liverpool this morning due to fog at City of Derry.

Passengers were being transfered by road between the two airports.



Tuesday August 11, 2015

This Week's Travel News


Low Cost Carrier Ends Hand Luggage Guarantee

Northern Ireland's biggest operating airline has ended a guarantee to passengers that they will be able to keep their hand luggage with them throughout the flight.

Until recently, easyJet assured that travellers with cabin bags measuring 56cm x 45cm x 25cm or less would be able to keep their luggage with them. Under the new policy, standard easyJet passengers are allowed to bring one item of hand luggage of the same size but this may be placed in the hold on busy flights. However, passengers who pay extra for their seats are allowed to bring another cabin bag measuring up to 45cm x 36cm x 20cm.

Standard passengers carrying hand luggage larger than 56cm x 45cm x 25cm face a charge of £30 at the bag drop to place it in the hold, or £45 at the gate.

Meanwhile, British Airways is decreasing the size of second carry-on bags to 40cm x 30cm x 15cm from August 18. The size of the main piece of hand luggage will remain the same at 56x45x25cm. Ryanair allows all passengers to bring one standard piece of cabin baggage measuring up to 55cm x 40cm x 20cm, as well as one smaller handbag or laptop case.

An easyJet spokesman said: "From March 19, our guaranteed bag policy was replaced with a policy which allows easyJet Plus customers and customers with upfront seats to take a second bag, such as a handbag or laptop bag, into the cabin on flights. All passengers can still bring a bag the same size as before but it is not guaranteed to travel in the cabin on busier flights."


Abu Dhabi Lounge Gets New Look

Etihad Airways has officially reopened its newly refurbished First and Business Class Lounge at Abu Dhabi Airport's Terminal 1.

The upgraded facility has seating for 134 guests and boasts stylish design elements inspired by the airline's new branding and image.

Shane O'Hare, Etihad Airways' Senior Vice President Marketing, said: "This upgraded lounge embodies the contemporary design, attention to detail and customer focus synonymous with Etihad Airways. Our guests travelling from and transiting through Abu Dhabi Terminal 3, and now Terminal 1, will start their journey with a superior lounge experience in a stylish and well equipped environment where they can relax and re-charge."

Open 24 hours a day, the new Terminal 1 Premium Lounge offers a range of facilities catering to the diverse needs of today's business and leisure travellers. As with the lounge in Terminal 3, the upgraded facility includes comfortable armchairs, a dedicated dining area, state-of-the-art business amenities, complimentary Wi-Fi connectivity, USB power outlets, bathrooms with shower facilities, and a playroom for children. Lounge guests will also be treated to Etihad Airways signature food and beverage service with a choice of restaurant-style dining and a sumptuous buffet.

The Terminal 1 Premium Lounge is open to Etihad Airways First and Business Class guests, qualifying Platinum Etihad Guest members and the equivalent tier loyalty programme members of Etihad Airways Partner airlines flying from Abu Dhabi. Etihad operates a daily service to Abu Dhabi from Dublin.


Travel Trade Fun Day This Sun Day!

The final countdown is well and truly on to the Travel Fun Day which is taking place this Sunday, August 16 in Wanderers Rugby Club, Donnybrook Dublin 4 from 11-4pm. This year entrance is free, and that includes a BBQ!

So far more than 50,000 Euro has been raised for some amazing charities. However, Ciaran Mulligan, one of the organisers says: "We are not finished yet. The most important thing is that we need the support of the Irish travel trade, and you and your family and friends to come along on the day and support this year's event."

Ciaran, an organising Committee Member says: "This year's Travel Fun Day is going to be even bigger and better than previous years, with a lot more kids games, competitions and free goodies!"

There's also a wide range of great travel prizes to be won on the day. You can view the list of prizes here.


India e-Tourist Visa Scheme Extended

India has confirmed that its e-Tourist visa facility is being extended to the UK from August 15. It has announced 36 new countries have joined the scheme, taking the total number of countries using it to 113.

At the same time, seven more Indian airports have been added as designated airports for entry on e-Tourist visas. These are Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Gaya, Jaipur, Lucknow, Tirchy and Varanasi.

Since the Government of India launched the e-Tourist visa in November 2014, more than 200,000 have been issued. It said it hopes the scheme will boost the country's tourism industry.


Game, Set and Match for Clubworld

For the fourth year running Clubworld Travel have partnered up with the Ulster Junior Open Tennis Championships as sponsors of the event at the Belfast Boat Club.

Northern Ireland's largest independent retail travel agency has seven branches throughout Northern Ireland. The company was set up 25 years ago by owner, Delia Aston, who said about the sponsorship: "I am delighted to be involved as I believe there is a good synergy in the three elements of youth, sport and business. Tennis is competitive, creative, fast and requires mental agility along with athleticism. As well as bringing our brand awareness to adults attending the event, it also gives us an opportunity to engage with the younger generation to remind them of the benefits of using a travel consultant as opposed to relying solely on technology for travel information."

Said Ann Gorman, President of Belfast Boat Club: "The Ulster Junior Open Tennis championships have been played on the courts of the Belfast Boat Club since 1949 so there is a long pedigree of history around the event. Nowadays all modern tournaments require funding and therefore the Belfast Boat Club is extremely grateful for the sponsorship it receives from Clubworld Travel."

As part of the finals day celebrations the Clubworld Travel Consultants were on hand not only for the prize-giving but also to run a free draw where participants could win two £100 holiday vouchers.

The picture above right shows Ann Gorman, Belfast Boat Club, Peter Corrie, Under 18 boys winner, Chris Sanlon, Tournament Director, Caitlin McCullough, Under 18 girls winner, and Emma Boyd, of Clubworld Travel. (Picture: Bernie Brown.)


New State of the Art River Cruisers

Crystal River Cruises, the world's most awarded luxury cruise line has unveiled more detailed plans for its collection of two Crystal river yacht vessels, which will be launched in Europe starting in late March 2017.

The new series of vessels will boast a yacht-like design featuring larger accommodations and space-to-guest ratio than any other river cruise ship, and include Crystal's signature all-inclusive six-star service, plus a fresh approach to the traditional river itineraries and experiences.

"We continue to listen to what our guests and the luxury traveller want, and river cruises are what they've been telling us they want for some time - it's a natural extension of the exceptional ocean cruise Crystal has offered for the past 25 years," says Crystal President and CEO Edie Rodriguez. "But more importantly, they want to experience river cruises on a luxury Crystal vessel, and their desires will be fulfilled on our luxury Crystal river yachts."


ABTA Backs Legal Action Against Lufthansa

ABTA has pledged to support its European sister associations who have lodged a formal complaint against Lufthansa's new GDS fee with the European Commission.

The European Travel Agents' and Tour Operators' Associations - has filed the complaint with the EU Commission Directorate General for Mobility and Transport, claiming Lufthansa is breaching the GDS code of conduct under EU regulations. It is also further pursuing legal investigations to see whether the 16 Euro charge infringes European competition rules.

"As well as increasing prices for consumers, the new charge could put travel agents at a competitive disadvantage," said ABTA.

"Lufthansa's June 2 announcement was made without any prior consultation and represents a step backwards for IATA Agents moving away from easy connectivity, transparency and comparability of integral systems, resulting in additional time and cost to make bookings. ABTA will continue to work with its members to keep them informed of any developments."


Budget Airline's Website Closes Down This Evening

Ryanair passengers will be unable to book the airline's flights or check-in online for five hours from tonight due to maintenance work on the airline's website.

The systems upgrade will mean the website and mobile app will not be functioning between 9pm tonight (Tuesday) and 2am on Wednesday morning.

People due to fly today and tomorrow were urged to check-in online for flights yesterday before the closure of the website to avoid disruption. The airline was contacting passengers by text message to alert them to check in early. New bookings or changes to existing flights will not be possible during the web closure, Ryanair says.

Ryanair is also said to be in talks with rivals International Airlines Group and Aer Lingus about providing transfer connections from their long haul services for the first time.


Win A Day At Magical Mela!

Northern Ireland Travel News, in association with ArtsEkta, are offering readers the chance to win one of 10 Family Passes (two adult and two children under 16) to the forthcoming 9th annual Mela Festival.

The Festival will be held this year on Sunday August 30 from 12noon - 6pm in the Botanic Gardens, Belfast and the organisers are expecting a crowd of around 30,000 people.

Audiences will be treated to a blend of music, dance, carnival, fashion, food, street theatre and artistry from all corners of the world. The multi award winning festival has firmly established itself as one of Northern Ireland's flagship home grown tourism events.

To enter the competition and be in with a chance of winning a Family Pass, simply head on over to our Facebook Page or click the Mela banner in the right-hand side panel of the eshot.

For full details on this year's world class line up go to the Belfast Mela website.




Tuesday August 4, 2015

This Week's Travel News


United to Operate Belfast-New York Service Year-Round

United Airlines has announced that it will be offering its customers from Northern Ireland a year-round nonstop service from Belfast to its New York hub, Newark Liberty International Airport.

In addition to its current schedule, the airline will now also operate the service from January 7 through to March 10, 2016, three times weekly.

"We're pleased to offer our Northern Irish customers a year-round direct link to New York," said Bob Schumacher, United's Managing Director Sales, U.K. and Ireland. "New York remains a popular destination for travellers and our Newark Liberty hub provides the most convenient route into the city as well as easy connections to hundreds of other destinations across the United States and beyond. With this schedule change, we are offering our customers even more choice."

Belfast International Airport has said the decision by United to return to full year-round service is 'wonderful news for Northern Ireland'. Airport Managing Director, Graham Keddie, said: "United's commitment is both welcome and substantial. This is wonderful news. We have been working with stakeholders to achieve this outcome and we are delighted it is now being delivered.

"The decision by United to return to full year-round service is of great significance to the Northern Ireland economy. Our one and only direct, scheduled trans-Atlantic service to Newark Liberty is a 'lifeline' for US-owned firms and adds massively to efforts by Invest NI to attract additional and highly prized US investment. United are to be applauded, and we will do all we can to promote and market the service."


Our Lynsey' New Face of Emirates in Province

Former Northern Ireland Travel News executive Lynsey Lamont has been appointed to the newly created role of Sales Executive for Northern Ireland for Emirates, in response to a marked increase in demand and bookings from the Province.

Lynsey will be based in Belfast, the first time that Emirates has had a permanent presence in Northern Ireland demonstrating the airline's confidence in and commitment to both corporate clients and the Travel Trade in the region. A Belfast native, Lynsey has worked for both the editorial and business divisions of Northern Ireland Travel News and with local tour operator, Travel Solutions. Lynsey has also been familiar with the local Travel Trade as photographer for Travel News.

Country Manager for Emirates in Ireland, Enda Corneille said: "Lynsey has a vast range of experience in tourism and sales and it's obvious that she has a passion to succeed. The Northern Ireland market is a very important part of our business portfolio and now, having Lynsey based full time in Belfast, allows us to work more closely with our Travel Trade and corporate clients based in the region.

"Emirates offers Northern Ireland consumers a vast choice of global destinations with two flights daily from Dublin. We believe Emirates has played a significant role in helping to drive the Northern Ireland market, so establishing presence in the region was a natural next step for us."

Lynsey said: "The opportunity to work with a company such as Emirates, which has a huge global footprint, is something to which I have always aspired and I'm very excited as I take on this new role. I think that by having a presence on the ground, we can ensure that clients receive the level of service that is expected from an airline of Emirates' standing and deliver beyond expectations."

Lynsey holds a BA Honours Degree in Tourism Business Management and will report into the Emirates office in Dublin. Emirates employs over 30 people in Ireland and almost 500 globally, the majority of whom are based in Dubai.


New RCI Regional Sales Manager Appointed

Royal Caribbean International has appointed Michaela Banks to the role of Regional Sales Manager, Ireland.

She will be responsible for managing the retail sales in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, working closely with travel agents "to ensure they are equipped with the latest knowledge and collateral to effectively sell Royal Caribbean cruises to customers".

Michaela has strong experience working with travel agents, and joins Royal Caribbean from Thomas Cook, where she specialised in cruise. Through Royal Caribbean's Cruising for Excellence training programme and ship visits onboard Anthem of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, Michaela already has a real passion and clear understanding of the business.


Win A Day At Magical Mela

Northern Ireland Travel News, in association with ArtsEkta, are offering readers the chance to win one of 10 Family Passes (two adult and two children under 16) to the 9th annual Mela Festival.

The Festival will be held this year on Sunday August 30 from 12noon - 6pm in the Botanic Gardens, Belfast.

Audiences will be treated to a blend of music, dance, carnival, fashion, food, street theatre and artistry from all corners of the world. The multi award winning festival has firmly established itself as one of Northern Ireland's flagship home grown tourism events.

This year's Festival will be as varied and vibrant as ever combining cutting edge international performers from around the world with local performers and artists. A new edition to this year's event is 'Baby Bollywood' an exciting sensory experience designed for families with babies, toddlers and young children.

To enter the competition and be in with a chance of winning a Family Pass, simply head on over to our Facebook Page or click the Mela banner in the right-hand side panel of the eshot.

For full details on this year's world class line up go to the Belfast Mela website.


A Royal Agent Incentive!

Club Royal are giving agents a fantastic opportunity to win a seven night Dubai cruise onboard Splendour of the Seas.

The winner will receive return Emirates flights from Dublin, transfers and a seven night Full Board cruise.

To be in a chance of winning simply make and register any Splendour of the Seas 2015/16 Dubai booking on by September 30, 2015.


Global Deployment Expansion Unveiled!

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced exciting and exotic new itineraries for the brand's Autumn/Winter 2016/2017 deployment, bringing the world to guests who want to explore new sights while experiencing the freedom and flexibility that only Norwegian Cruise Line can offer.

Norwegian offers guests new destinations and new ports to choose from in 2016 and 2017, including cruises to Asia on board Norwegian Star, with itineraries departing from Istanbul, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney and Auckland - marking the line's return to the Asia and Australia regions for the first time since Norwegian Wind Autumn/Winter 2001-2002 and first-ever visits to The Gulf and India.

Norwegian Epic will continue to spend her summers in Europe and return to the US in the autumn as Norwegian's newest and largest ship to homeport in Port Canaveral, offering three, four and seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean and Bahamas itineraries.

Norwegian Spirit will return to homeport in Europe year-round, sailing through the Eastern and Western Mediterranean with departures from Barcelona, Istanbul and Venice.


EasyJet Avoids Summer Strike Threat

Easyjet cabin crew have accepted a pay deal, narrowly avoiding the threat of summer strikes.

The airline said that it was pleased to confirm that its UK cabin crew have voted to accept its combined pay proposal and that the vote in favour means there is no longer any threat of industrial action.

Some 2,000 Unite members voted 52 per cent to 48 per cent in favour of accepting the combined pay proposal which included a pay award of 4.1 per cent for cabin crew and 5.1 per cent for cabin managers backdated to January 2015 and an increase in holiday pay allowance.

A spokesperson for the airline said: "easyJet values the contribution its cabin crew make and is pleased to have reached a positive conclusion so that its crew can continue to provide the excellent, friendly service our passengers expect and they can have complete reassurance that their travel plans will not be disrupted this summer."


Still Great Value for UK Travellers in Euro Zone

Sterling Euro exchange rates have once again gone in an upwards direction making holidays in the Euro zone even better value for Northern Ireland and UK travellers in general.

Worries have eased over holidays in Greece and UK travellers have been reporting no problems with their stay. Several operators offer holidays to Greece from Belfast.




Tuesday July 28, 2015


This Week's Travel News




Holiday World Moving to Titanic Quarter

Next year's Holiday World show from Friday January 15 to Sunday, January 17 January, Northern Ireland's largest and best supported annual celebration of travel and tourism will be unpacking its unique blend of attractions, exhibitions and entertainment in the all-new Titanic Exhibition Centre in the heart of Belfast's Titanic Quarter.

The new 6,000 square metre venue is situated on Queen's Road, neatly positioned between the iconic Goliath crane at Harland & Wolff and the Titanic Studios where the global hit fantasy series Game of Thrones is filmed. The mammoth 120 metre-long facility with capacity for up to 20,000 visitors and 300 exhibitors is on track to open its doors in early autumn.

Looking forward to the change of venue for Holiday World, the Caravan & Motorhome Show and the 50+ Village show-within-a-show, Maureen Ledwith, Director of Holiday World, said: "Titanic Quarter is one of the world's largest urban-waterfront regeneration projects: a vibrant, exciting and heritage-filled place in which to live, work and socialise. We're thrilled to be bringing our annual event to this amazing destination, right in the heart of Belfast. The great, central location means that it will be easier than ever before for visitors to access our show, while the new, purpose-built Titanic Exhibition Centre creates a fresh, modern backdrop for our show.

"The pristine new surroundings of the Titanic Exhibition Centre with their airy, contemporary layout and facilities will, clearly, be attractive to our visitors, but the advantages of a highly accessible, central location teamed with state of the art modernity is already creating considerable interest amongst local, national and international exhibitors. Already bookings are flying in and we look forward to celebrating our 24th Holiday World Belfast in a new location, with many new exhibitors as well as old friends."




Sign Up for Northern Ireland Travel Trade Team!

Calling all you Northern Ireland Travel Trade footballers - your country need you! A challenge 11-a-side match has been organised to take place against the Travel Trade in the South at the highly successful Travel Family Fun Day on the August 16, 2015, this year to be held at  Wanderers Rugby Club, Ballsbridge. This is a great day which brings the travel family together to raise much needed funds  for local charities.

"We need a team - mixed, boys and girls - so if you would like to be part of the Northern Ireland Travel Trade Team please let us know and we will be in contact. Time is running out," said team captain Aaron Fletcher of WTC Cruise in Belfast. "Email me or telephone 028 9038 2525.

"Colin Laffin is the team manager and free transport to Wanderers RC is being organised. Let me know if any of you would like to participate. If there's anyone else in any of your offices who wish to play that I maybe don't have an email address for, please let me know. Anyone, male or female, is welcome!"

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

Ciaran Mulligan, Committee Member says: "This year's Travel Fun Day is going to be even bigger and better than previous years, with a lot more kids games, competitions and free goodies!"

For further information contact: Ciaran Mulligan, here.





Airline's Full Winter Schedule Goes on Sale

Flybe, the biggest operator at George Best Belfast City Airport, has published its full 2015-16 winter programme offering a comprehensive choice of 14 direct routes and a choice of up to 582 flights a week available for travel between October 25, 2015 and March 26, 2016. One way fares are from £24.99 including taxes and charges.

In line with passenger demand, Europe's largest regional airline has increased the number of flights on many of its most popular routes for the added convenience of both business and leisure passengers. Flights to Edinburgh and Glasgow will both be increased from four to six a day whilst the recently introduced route to London City will retain its already increased service of four flights daily. Extra flights have also been added to its Southampton route on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays during certain peak winter travel periods which will be of particular interest to passengers going on winter cruise holidays.

Flybe's new Liverpool service has proved very popular especially with sports fans and students and for its first winter season will see an additional rotation offering a choice of up to five flights a day. Manchester continues to be an important hub airport for Flybe offering Northern Ireland passengers seamless and convenient onward connections to European and long-haul destinations.

Paul Simmons, Flybe's Chief Commercial Officer, who is leaving to join Malaysian Airlines in January, said: "We've listened and responded to what our passengers want. To better serve the needs of our customers, the diversity and added frequency to our winter routes demonstrates our commitment in providing unrivalled regional connections and onward seamless travel with codeshare partners to the rest of the world."




Travel Insurance Provider Teams up with Airline

Blue Insurance, the Irish multi-award winning Insurance provider, has announced a new partnership with Aer Lingus.

Aer Lingus Insurance will offer a range of comprehensive and competitively priced Travel Insurance products from as little as 9.56 Euro, tailored to the individuals' needs. Annual Travel Insurance is available from only 31.26 Euro.

The range of products available to purchase includes; Gadget Insurance from 1.49 Euro per month, Pet Insurances ranging from 69 Euro and Wedding Insurance cover from 73 Euro. Cover for those over 65-years-old is also available through Aer Lingus Insurance.

Ciaran Mulligan, Managing Director of Blue Insurance said: "Partnering with Aer Lingus enables Blue Insurance direct access to our target market and further emphasises our ability to provide high standard insurance packages to the wider audience. We anticipate covering 10,000 Aer Lingus passengers within the next 12 months. Blue Insurance, will provide Aer Lingus passengers with innovative insurance products, great value and a first class customer service."




Take the Pain Out of Car Seat Hire

Families taking a holiday which involves car rental are likely to be hit by extortionate car seat hire costs with charges of up to £26.58 a day in popular European destinations, new figures have revealed.

In addition to half term holiday prices increasing by 3.7 per cent year on year, parents are also being stung by added extras including car seat hire. Cities with the highest individual rental prices found in Europe were Rotterdam (£26.58/day), Salzburg (£26.02/day) and Berlin (£14.47/day).

The research, carried out by BubbleBum, the innovative UK and US-based children's travel solutions company, also found that the cost of car seat hire was capped at around £60 per week - the equivalent to the cost of buying two car booster seats or travel booster seats.

A separate survey found that there was also an issue with suitability and availability of seats hired when they arrived to pick up the car. Just over a quarter of parents had arrived to pick up their rental car to be offered an unsuitable seat. This new research comes as Bubblebum launches two new products in addition to their original inflatable travel seat; the Sneck, the comfy travel pillows - micro-bead filled pillow pods - and the Junkie, which transforms your backseat, organises your junk and keeps your kids entertained.

Grainne Kelly, founder of BubbleBum says: "Taking the family abroad during peak season can often break the bank, as travel companies hike up their prices outside of term times. But it's not just a case of cost either, child safety is at risk as unsuitable seats are offered or on some occasions no seat is available at all. The BubbleBum Car Booster seat was born out of frustration and concern for my own children's safety when travelling and the findings are particularly concerning with rental companies offering no alternative at all. Always ensure your child is in a car seat that complies with ECE Regulation R44/04 which means it has been crash tested and can be used in any EU company."




ABTA Launches Dispute Resolution Scheme

ABTA has announced that its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme has been audited by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and has gained its approval.

ABTA is the first and only ADR scheme designed specifically for travel companies and their customers to have thus far gained approval ahead of the new Government legislation that comes into effect later this year.

From October 1, 2015 the EU Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) legislation will require all companies to notify their customers of an approved third party who can help resolve disputes. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute is one of the bodies with the authority to approve ADR providers.

While companies will not be forced to use ADR, they will be obliged to tell customers if they do not use ADR, which could negatively impact their reputation. The legislation aims to widen the availability of low-cost ADR processes to consumers who wish to raise complaints against businesses but who do not wish to embark on perhaps expensive and lengthy court action. All ABTA Members and their customers are entitled to use the ADR scheme.




New RCI Regional Sales Manager Appointed

Royal Caribbean International has appointed Michaela Banks to the role of Regional Sales Manager, Ireland. She will be responsible for managing the retail sales in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, working closely with travel agents "to ensure they are equipped with the latest knowledge and collateral to effectively sell Royal Caribbean cruises to customers".

Said Ben Bouldin, Sales Director, UK and Ireland said: "Ireland is a hugely important market for us. Through the expansion of the sales team we are recognising its continued potential. We've doubled the size of our sales team and it is going from strength to strength. We're delighted to welcome Michaela who joins with excellent experience and a clear enthusiasm for the brand."

Michaela has strong experience working with travel agents, and joins Royal Caribbean from Thomas Cook, where she specialised in cruise. Through Royal Caribbean's Cruising for Excellence training programme and ship visits onboard Anthem of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, Michaela already has a real passion and clear understanding of the business.

Michaela is based in the Dublin office and will also work alongside National Sales Managers Jenny Rafter and Jennifer Callister, who will continue to manage the national accounts.




Dublin Company to Represent Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines, the fastest growing airline in Africa, has announced the appointment of Dublin based company SynNeo to manage their marketing, PR and social media for them.

Michael Yohannes, Irish Area Manager for Ethiopian said: "We are delighted to be working with SynNeo. Their extensive knowledge of the travel industry and local market will help develop and grow the Ethiopian brand in Ireland."

Carole Smith of SynNeo said: "With the recent launch of the direct Boeing Dreamliner service from Dublin to Los Angeles and Dublin to Addis Ababa along with plans to double their fleet by 2025, it's an exciting time to be working with Ethiopian and one I'm truly looking forward to."











Tuesday July 7, 2015

This Week's Travel News


Take Enough Euros to Cover Every Eventuality - Chancellor

The Foreign Office has joined the Chancellor in urging UK holidaymakers to Greece to make sure they take enough cash (in euros) with them to cover every eventuality on their trip, including the cost of medical emergencies.

A few days ago George Osborne advised travellers to take "hundreds and hundreds" of euros with them on holiday to Greece, and yesterday in the Commons he suggested that Britain could fly millions of euros to Greece to help holidaymakers if the country's banks run out of money. He said that Britain has 'a number of contingency plans' if the Greek debt crisis deepens after the country voted to reject Europe's proposed rescue package, which would have imposed further austerity measures on the country.

While tour operators are insisting that it's 'business as usual in Greece', the Chancellor urged Britons to take any medicine they need with them on holiday because of the danger that pharmacies in Greece might run out of supplies. The Foreign Office too advised UK travellers to take enough cash for their entire trip, including extra for emergencies, in case they are unable to withdraw cash from ATMs during their stay.

Travel insurance companies have already increased the amount of cash covered by their policies for travel to Greece to reflect the change in the Foreign Office advice. Greek banks have been closed for more than a week and they are not due to reopen before tomorrow at the earliest.

Addressing the Commons, George Osborne said: "In recent days the media have reported a shortage of medical supplies in Greece. Therefore, I want to reiterate the Foreign Office's advice that UK travellers take sufficient supplies, including prescription medicines, for the duration of their trip."


Third Heathrow Runway Good News for Province

The construction of a third runway at Heathrow is good news for Northern Ireland travellers - not only will a third runway likely lead to a reduction in the value of Aer Lingus' slots at the airport, it will also entice other carriers to fly the route from Belfast.

Easyjet may be Gatwick's biggest customer - and Belfast International's - but the low cost airline has been backing the expansion at Heathrow and has confirmed that it would be prepared to set up a base at Heathrow.

Carolyn McCall, easyJet's Chief Executive said: "EasyJet would open a base at Heathrow, in addition to our other existing London bases, enabling easyJet to provide new routes and increase competition on dozens more UK and European destinations. This would include new services to Inverness, Isle of Man, Jersey and increased service and more competition for Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen as well as new and increased services for many other key cities including Amsterdam, Geneva and Zurich."

Belfast City Airport operator Aer Lingus currently has 24 slots at Heathrow, and if a third runway is built at Heathrow their value is likely to decrease due to the increased availability of slots.

Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Empey recently introduced a Private Members Bill into Parliament aimed at protecting landing slots at Heathrow Airport for UK regions and says he wants legislation to secure the vital link between Belfast and Heathrow.


Euro at Seven-Year Low Against Sterling

It just gets better and better for UK holidaymakers heading for a short break or for their main summer holiday in the Euro zone - thanks to the ongoing Greek crisis.

The ailing EU currency has hit a fresh seven-year low - today the euro was worth just 71p (that's around 1.41 Euro for your £1).

It's great news for Northern Ireland holidaymakers - unless you have already paid for an all-inclusive deal - with continental holidays 15 per cent cheaper than last year.

Bob Atkinson of Travelsupermarket said British holidaymakers travelling to the eurozone were getting the benefits of a "double whammy" of reductions. "Living costs in the resorts in Spain and Portugal have been falling and the struggling domestic market means restaurants and other businesses are having to do deals to get customers through the doors."


Five Million Passengers on Stansted Route

EasyJet, Europe's leading airline, yesterday celebrated carrying five million passengers between Belfast and Stansted.

The airline launched services from Belfast in 1998 and in addition to Stansted operates flights to London Gatwick, London Luton, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle. Since introducing their first flight to London Luton 16 years ago easyJet has flown over 42 million passengers to and from Belfast International Airport and is now Northern Ireland's largest airline.

Ali Gayward, UK Commercial Manager for easyJet, commented: "I am really excited that today we have flown our 5 millionth passenger between Belfast and Stansted. We have come a long way since the launch of our first flight 16 years ago between Belfast and Luton and since then Belfast has been a key market for easyJet."

Graham Keddie, Belfast International Airport Managing Director, said: "This milestone of the five millionth passenger to Stansted shows the commitment that easyjet has shown to the Northern Ireland market over the last 17 years. Here's to the next five million passengers on the Stansted route."


Sign Up for Northern Ireland Travel Trade Team!

Calling all you Northern Ireland Travel Trade footballers - your country need you! A challenge 11-a-side match has been organised to take place against the Travel Trade in the South at the highly successful Travel Family Fun Day on August 16, 2015, to be held at Wanderers Rugby Club, Ballsbridge. This a great day which brings the travel family together to raise much needed funds for local charities.

"We need a team - mixed, boys and girls - so if you would like to be part of the Northern Ireland Travel Trade Team please let us know and we will be in contact," said Jonathan Adair of Northern Ireland Travel News. "Email me or call 02890666151. Free transport to Wanderers RC is being organised."

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

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

Ciaran Mulligan, Committee Member says: "This year's Travel Fun Day is going to be even bigger and better than previous years, with a lot more kids games, competitions and free goodies!"

For further information contact: Ciaran Mulligan.


Expansion Brings 100 New Insurance Jobs

Blue Insurance, one of Ireland's leading niche insurance providers has announced the creation of 100 new jobs over the next 18 to 24 months as part of the company's expansion into the personal lines and international insurance market.

The company will be employing staff across numerous departments including Call Centre Customer Services, IT developers, Junior Management, and Administrative levels in their Dublin office. This expansion will see their employment numbers rise from 45 to 145 employees. The expansion has been supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland.

Blue Insurance Limited, an Irish company, formed in October 2003, has 160,000 existing Irish customers and over 200,000 UK customers across its 14 brands with familiar names such as ,, and

Said Ciaran Mulligan, Managing Director of Blue Insurance: "We are delighted to announce 100 new jobs which will facilitate our rapid growth and expansions plans in the insurance market over the coming years. These new jobs will help our existing business, our new unique personal lines products and will drive further International expansion in the UK, Australian, UAE and US Markets."


Let Us Know About Coming Events

Calling all suppliers of products and services for the Northern Ireland Travel Trade. Get in touch with Northern Ireland Travel News about all your forthcoming events!

Said Shauna Broderick of Northern Ireland Travel News: "Please let us know of any Dates for our Trade Diary. The events could be Ship Visits, Training Days, Lunches, Dinners and indeed Workshops - indeed anything agents may be attending which may clash with another event on the same day or the same evening.

"The more dates in the Diary the less chance there is of a clash taking place! And of course the listing is absolutely Free! So email Shauna or call 02890666151."


Dublin Technology Firm Acquired by Travelport

Travelport has acquired Dublin-based Mobile Travel Technologies (MTT), a company that produces apps, mobile web and intelligent mobile messaging to make it easier for hotels, airlines, corporate travel management firms and travel agents to communicate with their customers.

Its clients include easyJet, Singapore Airlines, Saudia, BCD Travel, Capita Travel and Events and the LATAM Airlines Group.

Travelport said: "With its mobile travel platform and product set, it can enable travel companies to quickly launch high-end, engaging mobile services in a cost effective manner." Services include mobile search, booking and check-in as well as products such as MTT Engage, which provides real-time, personalised messages and offers to customers, and MTT Concierge Live, which delivers a 'day of travel' experience via a traveller's mobile device including live, contextual travel updates and airport guidance.

Travelport President and CEO Gordon Wilson said: "It is a natural extension of Travelport's strategy of redefining travel commerce to have acquired, what we believe to be, the largest and most successful company focused on delivering sophisticated mobile services and apps to the travel industry."


Summer Break for Travel\Trade E-shot

The weekly Tuesday Trade e-shot produced by Northern Ireland Travel News is taking a short summer break. The next e-shot will be in your inbox on Tuesday, July 28.

We wish everyone in the Trade who is holidaying over the next few weeks a relaxing summer break, hopefully with lots of good weather to enjoy.


Tuesday June 30, 2015

This Week's Travel News


Take 'Hundreds of Euros' to Greece, Advises Chancellor

The Chancellor George Osborne has advised UK holidaymakers to Greece to take hundreds of euros in cash amid fears that the country's ATMs will run out of money following the decision to close all banks until July 5.

"We hope for the best, but we are preparing for the worst," said the Chancellor, as the Greek Euro crisis deepens.

The Foreign Office is advising holidaymakers to take enough euros in cash to cover the entire duration of their trips, including emergencies, unforeseen circumstances and any unexpected delays.

Greece has imposed a 60 Euro limit on ATM cash withdrawals, although this doesn't apply to holders of foreign credit and debit cards and the Greek government is attempting to reassure tourists that their trips will be unaffected.

The Foreign Office is also warning holidaymakers of the possibility of protests across the country on Sunday when Greece, which is widely expected to default on a 1.6 billion Euro loan repayment to the International Monetary Fund today, will hold a referendum on EU austerity measures.

The Chancellor said in Parliament that if Greece voted against accepting latest proposals from its creditors, it would be voting to leave the euro.


Tour Operators Switch Holidays from Tunisia

Following the tragic events in Tunisia travel agents Thomson and First Choice have cancelled all flights to the country. Jet2 have also confirmed they are cancelling all flights and holidays to Tunisia up to and including July 5.

Thomas Cook, Thomson and First Choice have added capacity in Mediterranean resorts to accommodate holidaymakers who want to cancel bookings for Tunisia. Thomas Cook has taken extra accommodation in Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria and Turkey. The operator is allowing customers booked to travel to Tunisia up to October 31 to switch to an alternative destination.

Thomson and First Choice have extended their free cancellations for those who have booked holidays for travel to Tunisia up to July 9, and have followed Thomas Cook in offering free amendments for those travelling up to and including October 31.

Jet2holidays customers will be offered a full refund or the option to change their booking without an amendment fee while customers will be given a full refund. In addition, those customers with Jet2holidays booked up to and including October 31, 2015 will also be allowed to change their booking without an amendment fee.

Those due to fly out this Friday with Sunway from Dublin may cancel their holiday and obtain a full refund. They may opt to travel instead to another destination offered by Sunway, or they may continue with their plans to go to Tunisia. From July 10 onwards, those due to fly to Tunisia with Sunway may cancel but they will incur the normal cancellation charges.

Lowcostholidays says it is contacting its customers still in Tunisia who want to return home and will be contact those with bookings on a future date to discuss their options.


Latest FCO Advice on Travel

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have updated the travel advice to Tunisia after the terrorist attack at Port El Kantaoui near Sousse on Friday.

The FCO have stated that further terrorist attacks in Tunisia, including in tourist resorts, are possible, including by individuals who are unknown to the authorities and whose actions are inspired by terrorist groups via social media. They have advised holidaymakers to be especially vigilant at this time and follow the advice of Tunisian security authorities and the tour operators.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to a number of areas away from the main beach resorts and all but essential travel to a number of other regions.

Security has been stepped up at beach resorts and 1,000 extra police and army personnel on duty to reassure visitors.

For the full information go to the Foreign Office website.


Belfast Gets a Bite of the Big Apple

NYC & Company, New York City's official marketing, tourism and partnership organisation, visited Belfast as well as Dublin, Amsterdam, Glasgow and London as part of a week-long European tour to highlight significant openings and developments in the 'new' New York City to influential media, key product managers and travel agents selling New York City.

NYC & Company's President and CEO Fred Dixon said: "New York City is experiencing a ground-breaking moment in history, with unrivalled new tourism products that are truly transforming the destination. Summer is not only the ideal time to visit these brand-new attractions and hotels but also to take advantage of the City's many free and affordable activities, ranging from outdoor concerts and festivals to museums and tours."

The Global Tourism Development team met with product managers from over 40 key tour operators during two workshops in Dublin and London and hosted 240 travel agents at networking events and agent training workshops in the UK and Ireland. During the trade roadshow, NYC & Company was joined by representatives from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, The Broadway Collection, CityPASS, The Empire State Building Experience, InterContinental New York Times Square/InterContinental New York Barclay, The London NYC and Marriott Hotels of New York City.

The picture above right shows Gary Boyd, Jane Magee and Linda Millar of Bryan Somers Travel at the New York roadshow in Belfast.


Oasis Scoops Another Business Award

Oasis Travel has scooped another prestigious award - being named Northern Ireland's Small Business of the Year at the inaugural Business Eye First Trust Bank Small Business Awards.

Oasis Travel took the top award at the brand new event on the Northern Ireland business calendar which took place at La Mon House Hotel and Country Club recently.

The Awards covered top small business performers across 12 different categories and were open to all businesses in Northern Ireland with less than 50 employees.

In the picture above right Sandra Corkin, Managing Director of Oasis Travel, receives the Small Business of the Year trophy from Des Moore, Head of First Trust Bank, and the compere for the evening, Marc Mallett.


Booking Ends Today for Kids Go Free Offer

Leading ferry company Stena Line's Kids Go Free booking offer ends today.

Kids go free offer applies when you book a motorist fare on any of Stena's Irish Sea routes. And there are no restrictions on when the kids can travel including during half-term breaks, long Bank Holiday weekends and the summer holidays.

"An adult travelling with four kids in the car can save up to £120 return - money which can be spent treating the whole family to a special day out," said Marc Casey, Route Marketing Manager Irish Sea North, Stena Line. "My advice to parents is to book their dates early as some sailings at certain times of the year can be very popular with families."

In the picture right Holly (4) and Daniel (5) unpack their car after their free sailing across the Irish Sea with Stena Line.


Warning Over Turkey Visa Scam

ABTA, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Get Safe Online are warning travellers to Turkey to only obtain e-visas from the official Republic of Turkey website.

The warning is being issued after up to a hundred UK holidaymakers purchased fake e-visas which were only discovered on arrival in Turkey at which point authentic visas had to be repurchased at the airport.

Currently travellers to Turkey have the option to purchase a visa on arrival, though at a higher cost than online. However, this service is due to be phased out which could leave travellers who had purchased a fake visa unable to enter the country. The official Turkish e-visa site is

Nikki White, ABTA's Head of Destinations and Sustainability said: "Fraudulent websites targeting visa applications and other tourism services, such as passport renewals and EHIC cards, are a problem in the industry and we would always recommend going directly to the relevant official government website. The problem of fraudulent e-visas to Turkey is particularly concerning as many of these sites look bona fide. If you are unsure, check with your ABTA travel company or visit the FCO's travel advice online to obtain the official website address."


Travelport Unveils Latest Point-of-Sale Solution

Travelport hosted an event at 21 Social in Belfast last week to showcase its travel agency point-of-sale solution, Travelport Smartpoint.

The company is set to launch the latest version in the coming days and the Travelport team of Robbie Smart, Tara Hynes, Catherine Brennan and Charlie Brown were joined by over 40 agents from Northern Ireland as they highlighted the benefits of its award-winning product.

Since its launch, Travelport Smartpoint has been redefining how travel agencies sell to their customers. Specifically, it has enabled travel consultants to sell a wider range of air, hotel and car content, reduce training time, improve sales productivity, earn new revenues and provide higher levels of service to their customers.

The award-winning solution gives travel agents unique access to rich visual imagery and more detailed product information from participating airlines. It matches the content and brand experience on the airline's own website and makes the comparison and selling of airlines' products and services easier and more effective by allowing the agent to better understand the airline's offering such as what's included in the price and what upgrades and ancillaries are available.

The solution continues to attract the world's leading airlines, from all major geographies and over 100 airlines have now signed up with over 70 airlines already live with enriched product content. Robbie Smart of Travelport is in the picture above right with travel agents at 21 Social in Belfast last week.


Virgin Marks New Flights to Orlando from Belfast

Virgin Atlantic marked the first flight to Orlando from Belfast International Airport with a dinner for the Travel Trade in Malmaison last week.

Virgin also announced that the flights would continue again next summer, with a further four flights on a weekly basis starting in late June.

In the picture Virgin Atlantic's Raymond McErlaine (centre) is seen with Graham Keddie and Uel Hoey of Belfast International Airport.


Doreen and Heather Elected at ABTA AGM

ABTA announced its Board of Directors for 2015/16 at its AGM in London last week.

Doreen McKenzie of Knock Travel has been re-elected onto the ABTA Board with Noel Josephides of Sunvil Holidays continuing as ABTA Chairman.

Heather Fielding, of Gallagher Travel represents Northern Ireland on ABTA's Council of Regions.


Tuesday June 23, 2015

This Week's Travel News


Protect Your Passport Campaign by FCO

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has today launched a new campaign to encourage holidaymakers to look after their British passport.

Last year more than 20,000 British passports were reported lost or stolen, with anecdotal evidence suggesting many were taken by thieves and pickpockets.

Dubbed 'the Passport Hustle', The FCO has created a series of short videos on its website to show techniques used by thieves to steal passports and is offering on tips on how to avoid being a victim.

"Pickpockets and thieves constantly evolve their techniques and tactics. These videos show just a handful of ways that a pickpocket might attempt to steal from you, so remember some basic advice to stay safe. If you don't need to take your passport with you, leave it in your hotel safe instead," said a stealth crime expert.

Meanwhile the FCO is ready assist British holidaymakers in Greece in case the cash-strapped country pulls out of the eurozone. And ABTA has warned tourists to carry euros and credit or debit cards so they are covered for all situations while travelling in Greece.

In a statement, ABTA said: "Any changes would be highly unlikely to happen overnight, any switch to a new currency would take time and euros would likely be accepted in the interim."

A spokesperson for Thomas Cook said that a 'Grexit' is unlikely to impact existing bookings. "Customers who have booked with a tour operator such as Thomas Cook will experience their holiday as expected. The likely devaluation of the Greek currency could make Greece an even more attractive, great value destination for customers."


Leading Airline Groups to Pressure EU

The leaders of Europe's five largest airline groups have called on the EU to cut airport charges, reduce the cost of air traffic control and put measures in place to keep European airspace open during strikes by Air Traffic Control staff.

The five airline groups, which included IAG, easyJet and Ryanair, also called for the removing of passenger taxes and 'unreasonable environmental taxes'. The airlines, which together represent half of the 400 milllion passengers in Europe, will present a united front when delivering their proposals to the new EU transport commissioner who is consulting on a new EU aviation strategy.

The group said that lowering airport charges, which currently represent eight per cent to 20 per cent of their costs, would save passengers 1.5 billion Euro a year. While stopping short of a call to outlaw ATC strikes, which have led to the cancellation of 3000 flights in the first half of this year alone, the group said new technology should be used to keep air space open during industrial action.

Air taxes were 'counter-productive', said IAG chief Willie Walsh, claiming that removing them would stimulate economic growth. "We want to impress upon the EU of the risk of passgenger taxes."


Third of UK Holidaymakers Will Spend More

A third of UK holidaymakers say they intend to take more spending money abroad with them this year than in 2014, according to a major supplier of travel money. According to new research each traveller will take an average amount extra of £157 per person this year.

Overall, only 12 per cent of people intend to take less money than last year. Others were unsure, not travelling abroad or have not yet planned their holiday.

New analysis by Sainsbury's Travel Money says that most UK holidaymakers this year will see their travel money go further than in 2014 because typically around 76 per cent of their holidays are to the EU, compared to just over five per cent to North America, for example.

Sainsbury's Bank Travel Money analysis also reveals that UK citizens took 38.5 million holiday trips abroad in 2014, up 2.4 per cent on 2013 and 6.5 per cent on 2012.


Charity Says Thanks for Fundraising Effort

Aoibheann Fearon, Community Fundraising Volunteer Manager, of Barnardo's Northern Ireland was stunned when she heard the amount raised by the charity ballot at Northern Ireland Travel News' 25th Anniversary Dinner following the Golf Classic and The Big Travel Trade Event in the Hilton, Templepatrick recently.

Aoibheann was in the Travel News Belfast office this morning to receive a cheque for the amount raised - a staggering total of £4,150 for Barnardo's Northern Ireland.

Jeanie Rogers, Head of Fundraising at Barnardo's NI: "Wow, what a fantastic outcome from your two day event! Everyone at Barnardo's is amazed and grateful for the support and the difference that support will mean to so many local children. Thank you so very much. Please extend our thanks to all involved."

In the picture above right Jonathan Adair and Shauna Broderick of Northern Ireland Travel News present the cheque to Aoibheann Fearon of Barnardo's.


Airline Offers 'Hold My Fare' Option

Emirates is now making it easier for customers in selected markets, including Ireland, to book and lock in fares while they simultaneously plan their travel itineraries for their business trips, family holidays or weekend getaways.

'Hold My Fare' is a new feature on the Emirates website that offers customers the opportunity to hold their reservations and lock in competitive Emirates fares for up to 48 hours for a nominal fee, which is calculated based on the booked route or destination and applies to every passenger except infants. To lock in the best fare and preferred flight, customers are asked to authorize the reservation, which will then be held on their credit card. The fee is released back to customer's credit card if tickets are paid for within 48 hours.

Thierry Antinori, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, Emirates explains: "Emirates is committed to finding innovative ways to make the online booking experience even more convenient. With 'Hold My Fare', we are providing our customers added flexibility to firm up their travel plans at their own pace. Customers can finalise the details of their journey, organize accommodation with their travel companions or family with the peace of mind that their preferred flights won't sell out and that they are guaranteed that their fares will not be affected."


Aaron the Winner of TIGS Event

Aaron Bolt of World Travel Centre in Belfast was the winner of the Amadeus-sponsored recent TIGS outing held in Dun Laoghaire Golf Club located just outside Enniskerry, County Wicklow. Fifty four golfers took part in what was a great day with an Amadeus lunch at the club before the shotgun start at 2.30pm.

"The weather was fantastic, the North Wicklow scenery beautiful, and the course was in great condition," said Volker Lorenz of Amadeus. "The greens in particular were very challenging for all golfers, however everyone was in agreement that the course was a fantastic first time addition to the TIGS rota."

One of the highlights was dining in the beautiful Club House, where TIGS members had dinner after the golf overlooking the Sugarloaf. Key Winners on the day were Aaron Bolt from World Travel Centre/Selective Travel in Belfast who was the overall gents winner with 39 points and Helen Kelly, who was the Overall Ladies Winner with 35 points. A relatively new member to TIGS, this was Aaron's first win at a TIGS event.


Kuoni 'Will Thrive under New Owners'

Leading long haul brand Kuoni UK has has been sold to a German concern, the REWE Group, for an undisclosed sum. However in a statement Kuoni's UK Managing Director Derek Jones said that he believed the Kuoni brand would continue to thrive in the UK under the new ownership.

The entire Kuoni UK Group is included in the sale which includes the main Kuoni tour operating brand, its 34 Kuoni-branded travel shops and John Lewis concessions as well as specialist travel businesses Carrier, CV Villas, Kirker and Voyage Jules Verne.

The deal also includes tour operations in Switzerland, Scandinavia and the Benelux region. But Kuoni Group is still looking for a buyer for the remaining tour operating activities in India, Hong Kong and China this year.

Derek Jones, Managing Director, Kuoni UK said: "This is a really positive outcome for Kuoni UK.  Over the course of the last six months, as part of the process announced in January, the UK management team has had the opportunity to meet with REWE on a number of occasions. We know that they share our ambition and we're looking forward to working with them to further accelerate our growth."



Clubworld Sponsors Country Music Festival

A leading local travel company is sponsoring the inaugural Linenfields Festival to take place in the grounds of Banville Hotel in Banbridge on August 21 and 22.

The country music festival, sponsored by the award winning Clubworld Travel in Newry, features 'The Legends of American Country' on Friday , August 21, starring Ireland's best tribute to Elvis, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Neil Diamond and Johnny Cash.  Nathan Carter and his band will headline on the Saturday, August 22, with Hugo Duncan and Friends as support.

Pictured above with Nathan Carter and Dolly Parton NI at the launch is Emma Quinn of Clubworld Travel.



New Restaurant Option at Dublin

Marqette, a new food and beverage area will open at the end of August in Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport. The new dining area is being modelled on an outdoor food market offering locally sourced produce and fresh artisan bread baked on site.

The outlet, which is currently under construction, is located after the security screening area in Terminal 1. The restaurant area will cater for over 260 people and will feature a vintage Citroen van selling freshly made omelettes and crepes.

"Marqette will offer passengers a fantastic range of freshly prepared food options in an earthy rustic setting," according to Dublin Airport's Food and Beverage Manager, Brendan Dee. "The restaurant has been designed specifically for good customer flow to ensure people are served quickly."



Tuesday June 16, 2015

This Week's Travel News


It's Getting Bigger and Bigger - and Even Better!

The Big Travel Trade Event continues to get even bigger - and better! This year's fifth exhibition, and the third time it has been held over two days, had even more exhibitors, (over 100 of them), more sponsors, more prizes and more travel agents!

Already stand holders are signing up for 2016 which is expected to be another sell-out well in advance of its June dates on the calendar.

With a fantastic array of prizes for travel agents, and a host of training sessions and other events held by cruise lines, tour operators and hoteliers, there wasn't a spare minute for travel agents over the two days. And the agents were certainly glad to take advantage of the respite provided by The Etihad Experience in the hours leading up to the gala dinner which celebrated 25 years of Northern Ireland Travel News.

A key partner at the Big Event this year was Jet2holidays who hosted a phenomally successful party night on the Tuesday evening.

"It was another highly successful two days," said organiser Jonathan Adair of Northern Ireland Travel News. "Already many companies have signed up for next year. We will continue with the established successful format, but we will of course look at ways of adding to the Big Event experience.

"We appreciate the support of all our sponsors, partners and stand-holders, and especially those companies who hosted events and donated prizes. The exhibition, the training and discussion events organised around it, and of course the Golf Classic, were all hugely successful. The fantastic warm, sunny weather over the two days was the icing on the cake."

Here's a couple of reactions to the two days at the Hilton, Templepatrick:

  • "The whole event gets better and better and everyone from Clubworld Travel really benefits from the whole experience," - Stephen and Delia Aston, Clubworld.
  • "All our demands were met, long before we had even thought of them. We are planning to include training at next year's Big Event," - Jill Russell, Topflight.
  • You can view pictures from Day One and Day Two of the BIG Travel Trade Event on our website.


    Niall Turns Up the Heat at Golf Classic

    The sun shone yet again on the Northern Ireland Travel News Golf Classic - and this year Red Sea Holidays' Niall McDonnell was the man who turned up the heat on the opposition.

    It was Red Sea weather, a real scorcher, as Niall won the 2012 Golf Classic and in the process collected a fantastic prize of two Air Canada rouge tickets to Toronto, handed over by Eamon Flanagan on behalf of the airline. The prize also included four night's accommodation for two in a four-star hotel in downtown Toronto spnsored by World Travel Centre.

    Winner of the Ladies Prize was Clair Balmer of Tourism Ireland while the Team prize went to Amadeus.

    The Amadeus team comprised of Volker Lorenz, Niall McDonnell, Pat Dawson and Mark Marais. There was wall to wall sunshine for the Golf making it one of the best competitions in the event's 17 years, 16 of them played at The Hilton, Templepatrick. For the last five years the Golf Classic has been run in conjunction with The Big Travel Trade Event.

    Golfers were treated royally by sponsors on all the 18 holes with the presentations made in the marquee immediately after the event. In the picture Eamon Flanagan, representing Air Canada rouge and David Taylor or World Travel Centre, presents the top prize to Niall McDonnell.

    You can view more pictures from the Golf Classic on our website.


    More than £4,000 Raised for Charity

    The charity ballot at Northern Ireland Travel News' 25th Anniversary Dinner following the Golf Classic and The Big Travel Trade Event in the Hilton, Templepatrick last week raised a total of £4,150 for Barnardo's Northern Ireland.

    This was the reaction of Jeanie Rogers, Head of Fundraising at Barnardo's NI: "Wow, what a fantastic outcome from your two day event! Everyone at Barnardo's is amazed and grateful for the support from NI Travel News and the difference that support will mean to so many local children.

    "I know only too well how difficult it is to pull off an event of this magnitude and of the 'behind the scene' hard work that goes into it enabling it to run seamlessly and effectively. As well as delivering your own event, you raised an jaw-dropping £4,150 for us which is evidence of your hard work. Thank you so very much. Please extend our thanks to all involved."

    The star prize in the charity ballot at the Gala Anniversary Dinner in the Hilton, Templepatrick last Wednesday was two tickets to Singapore, donated by Etihad Airways. The prize was put up for auction and after lively bidding Ciaran Mulligan of Blue Insurance made the top bid of £2,150 for the Etihad tickets to Singapore.


    Alternative Awards Go Down a Treat at Anniversary Gala

    Travel agents, exhibitors and sponsors gave a massive thumbs-up the Alternative Travel Awards which were presented at Northern Ireland Travel News' 25th Anniversary Gala dinner on the Wednesday evening of the two-day Big Travel Trade Event.

    The Alternative Awards were sponsored by Blue Insurance with the popular Ciaran Mulligan doing the presentations in co-ordination with the irrepressible Julian Simmons as MC.

    Among the citations were for the most youthful looking travel agent/executive, the most fashion conscious, the best smile in photographs and recognition for those who would attend the veritable 'opening of an envelope.' The awards were intended to be lighthearted and they certainly were received that way from both recipients and more than 300 dinner guests.

    Brian Ogle of Northern Ireland Travel News gave guests a brief history of the first quarter century of the paper, from the early days before emails and mobile phones, to the present-day with the hard copy of the paper made up on computer screen and emailed directly to the printing house. He said that the NI Travel and Tourism Awards, the Golf Classic, the Big Travel Trade Event and twice weekly Travel News e-shots had all grown out of the original newspaper brand which was now recognised around the UK and further afield.

    The paper broke new ground when it was launched as the first travel newspaper in the UK to serve both the Trade and the Travelling Public. It attracted praise from all sections of the industry and regions of the UK and was once described as the 'Best Free Newspaper in Ireland.'

    You can view more pictures from the Evening Gala and the Alternative Travel Awards on our website.


    Don't Overstep the Mark, Airport Warns Passengers

    Belfast International Airport is reminding passengers they will be refused access to their flights if their behaviour is unacceptable. The airport asks passengers to respect their fellow travellers by not engaging in unruly or boisterous behaviour prior to or after boarding their aircraft.

    Airport Operations & Security Manager, Rod Haskins said: "We want all of our passengers to have a good experience when they travel through our airport. We're not trying to stop customers from having a good time but there have been occasions when boisterous behaviour, often alcohol related, has caused problems. This leads to obvious disappointment for the individuals and their companions.

    "By all means, groups and individuals can enjoy themselves, but we earnestly request they remain within the bounds of good behaviour. We especially ask that they are mindful of other travellers and children on their flights, and it is unacceptable if their behaviour falls short of what's required.

    "As we enter the busy summer season, we are working with our airlines to address the matter and to advise all passengers of their responsibilities to others, and remind them that if they over-step the mark, they could end up being denied access or removed from the aircraft."


    Airlines Plan Smaller Hand Luggage Allowance

    Passengers could be faced with tighter hand luggage restrictions in future as airlines have agreed a new optimum size for carry-on bags which is smaller than most carriers currently allow.

    Measuring a maximum of 55 x 35 x 20 cms, the new recommended bag size is smaller even than currently allowed by Ryanair, the stingiest of UK airlines, which gives a maximum hand luggage allowance of 55 x 40 x 20cms. British Airways and EasyJet allow larger bags measuring up to 56 x 45 x 25 and Virgin allows passengers to take bags measuring 56 x 36 x 23.

    The International Air Transport Associations says the smaller bag should allow every passengers space to store their hand luggage onboard aircraft of 120 seats or larger. At the moment, those who are last to board often find there's no space left for their bags and are forced to put them in the hold.

    Luggage manufacturers have started creating bags to fit the new guidelines and these will bear a new 'IATA Cabin OK' tag from later this year.


    Croatia and Lithuania Growing in Popularity

    Research from Visa has found that Eastern Europe and the Baltics are becoming increasingly popular among UK travellers, with Croatia and Lithuania among the top five fastest growing destinations for UK holiday spend.

    The research was carried out by the agency Forward Thinking, which collected data on debit card use at point of sale or at ATMs overseas as compared with travel money picked up at bureau de change before departure. It also found that spend by UK Visa cardholders on summer holidays abroad grew 25 per cent between 2012-14, and 31 per cent of UK holidaymakers say they now travel abroad more than they did five years ago.

    Croatia now has direct flights to Dubrovnik and Split from Belfast while Wizz Air recently began a new service to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. All three routes are from Belfast International.

    Kevin Jenkins, Managing Director UK and Ireland for Visa Europe, said: "Our data suggests appetite for domestic holidays remains strong but there's clearly a renewed desire to grab the passport and get exploring again. Croatia's exploding festival scene, low prices and stunning scenery are making it highly attractive and there's a similar halo effect across Eastern Europe's new tourist hotspots. Lithuania too has become a real hotspot, with its golden coastline and artsy capital of Vilnius."


    Two-year Insurance Products Launched

    Blue Insurance, Ireland's leading niche insurance provider announced yesterday that it will uniquely provide two-year Insurance products to its customers for Car and Home Insurance.

    The company, who have brands such as and, is set to transform the Car and Home Insurance market in Ireland with this unique offering within the Insurance industry. It is reported that a typical saving of up to 100 Euro would apply to most of the two year policies.

    The products will provide consumers with the opportunity to purchase their car insurance and home insurance on a two-year basis thereby giving price certainty at renewal time by offering a fixed price over a two-year policy period, even if the insured claims during the period of insurance.

    At the launch, Ciaran Mulligan, Managing Director of Blue Insurance said: "We are delighted to be launching our new two-year car and home insurance products which are in line with our commitment to deliver value, quality and innovation to our customers."

    "These products, which are being distributed exclusively via Blue Insurance, will provide consumers with a differentiated offering, price certainty, convenience and real savings at a time when car insurance prices in particular are increasing quite dramatically. Recent reports have indicated an annual rise of 20 per cent or higher on car insurance premiums so this is a welcome offering to Irish consumers. With further increases in rates in the market expected this summer, our new car and home insurance products really offer great value."


    New Booking System for Cruise Line

    Princess Cruises is introducing a new flight booking system which it is convinced will make the booking process simpler for agents.

    The new tool, called Plane Sailing, comes as a result of agent feedback highlighting the challenges with old system Flight Select.

    Paul Ludlow, Managing Director UK for the line, said the new system was "more intuitive" and means the booking process would be seamless for agents. "We asked agents for their feedback a couple of months ago," he said. "They asked us to focus on our booking portal and systems and that's exactly what we've done. The new system is far more intuitive and it involves a lot less clicks. It will be easier and quicker for agents to use."

    The booking system now automatically returns the best flight options during the booking process but also allows agents to tailor their choices if adding pre or post-stays. The company believes the new system will drive fly-cruise bookings.


    Tuesday June 9, 2015

    This Week's Travel News


    Don't Miss The Big Travel Trade Event!!!

    If you haven't pre-registered for Northern Ireland's biggest and most comprehensive Travel Trade exhibition ever, it's not too late...

    Simply turn up at the The Big Travel Trade Event at The Hilton, Templepatrick, today or tomorrow and you can register on the spot.

    The Big Event is already underway with more than 100 suppliers represented at the two-day Trade Exhibition, run by Northern Ireland Travel News, and organised in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Travel Trade Golf Classic, which takes place tomorrow, Wednesday.

    There will be a fantastic array of holidays, flights, short breaks and treatments to be won - indeed local agents have never had so many opportunities of winning travel incentives all over the globe.

    Exhibition space at The Big Event was completely SOLD OUT weeks ago. With more than 100 exhibitors scheduled to attend, the main hall, USA Pavillion and The Spanish Quarter are full to capacity.

    Other highlights include:

  • Visit USA Pavilion featuring more than 20 US travel companies
  • A Spanish Quarter
  • KLM Dutch Market
  • Agent training sessions
  • Pure Michigan Afternoon Tea
  • Access to a top-ranking team from ABTA in London
  • Jet2holidays Party Night
  • Royal Caribbean's Interactive Training Lunch
  • The Etihad Experience
  • Blue Insurance 'Alternative Awards'
  • The Trade exhibition this year will have extended opening hours plus morning, afternoon and evening sessions to suit everyone. The Exhibition will open late on Day 1 - today, Tuesday, June 9 until 7.30pm! This will be followed by the KLM Reception Drinks and Jet2holidays Party Night - a great mix of 'work and play' for agents.

    As usual the Northern Ireland Golf Classic will be held in conjunction with Day 2 of The Big Travel Trade Event, along with Northern Ireland Travel News' 25th Anniversary Gala Dinner in the evening. The Trade Exhibition continues tomorrow morning from 10.00am to 2.00pm with the opportunity to be pampered at the Etihad Experience tomorrow afternoon.


    Driving Licence Change Does Not Apply to NI

    Drivers in Northern Ireland have been warned they must not scrap the paper driving licence counterpart. The documents were abolished at midnight on Sunday and now have no legal status in Britain or abroad.

    However, these changes do not apply in Northern Ireland and motorists here should not tear up or destroy the counterpart.

    "While GB has abolished the paper counterpart, it still very much applies in Northern Ireland, as this is a devolved matter," a Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) spokesman said. "We therefore are advising drivers here not to throw away the paper counterpart to their driving licence.

    "For driving licences issued by the DVA in Northern Ireland, the paper counterpart remains a valid and legal part of the Northern Ireland driving licence and should be retained by licence holders."

    Motoring groups fear many people are still confused over the issue concerning paper counterparts, which show drivers' records and any offences. The AA warned that some overseas car hire companies will refuse rentals unless they see a copy of the information on the paper counterpart.


    New Anti-social Behaviour Rules in Balearics

    ABTA says it has noted the announcement by the Balearic authorities in Mallorca of new regulations designed to clamp down on antisocial behaviour in the resort of Magaluf.

    And ABTA says it is encouraging UK holidaymakers to respect the local culture and communities of the host destinations that they are visiting."

    Under the new rules which come into effect from yesterday, June 9, drinking in the street will be banned between 10pm and 8am, antisocial activities will be banned and subject to fines and the size of bar crawls will be controlled.

    ABTA says it also understands that the new regime will be introduced gradually, allowing bar owners and tour organisers sufficient time to adjust their business practices.

    The main new regulations include a ban on alcohol consumption in the street between 10pm and 8am; a prohibition on shops selling alcoholic drinks between midnight and 8am; making the practice or encouragement of antisocial activities such as balconing, urinating or being naked in the street a serious offence that can result in fines of between 750 Euro and 3000 Euro; and improvements in public safety and increased surveillance with more CCTV cameras.


    Delia Makes a Long Distance Trunk Call!

    Clubworld's Delia Aston has described a Topflight Fam Trip to Dubai and Thailand recently as "wonderful".

    She says: "I was a little apprehensive about some of the 'unique experiences' on the itinerary, but I was really impressed with everything that I participated in and delighted with the overall standard of accommodation and service; yes even the glamping!

    "More importantly, I now have a completely new perspective on holidays to Thailand and I'm sure I'll be able to enthuse all of Clubworld's sales team about a different approach to the city/beach norm."

    The trip, with eight travel agents from the Republic, led by Topflight's Leah Parmeshwar lasted for six days and was a whirlwind of experiences which ranged from a Desert Safari in Dubai to a visit to Elephant Hills in Khao Sok, Thailand, where for most of the trip, they experienced the highlight of their trip, actually washing and feeding the elephants.

    Topflight features Thailand in its Worldwide Brochure which is currently available in all Northern Ireland travel agents.


    Liverpool Delegation Aims to Increase NI Visitors

    A delegation from Liverpool is visiting Belfast this week to boost tourism trade between the two cities.

    The team's visit the coincides with the production of One Night in Istanbul at Belfast's Grand Opera House. Building on the massive interest in football in the city, their aim is to encourage Travel Trade and journalists to promote city breaks to Liverpool and vice versa.

    The group is led by Marketing Liverpool, and includes partners focussing on Irish trade such as Liverpool FC, The Cavern Club, Titanic Hotel, Beatles Story, Liverpool ONE, Malmaison and Jurys Inn.

    It comes after the launch of a new Flybe route between Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Belfast City earlier this year, meaning tourists can fly to and from the heart of Belfast in just 50 minutes.

    Chris Brown, Director of Marketing Liverpool, said: "Belfast has always been a strong source of visitors to Liverpool, but that doesn't mean we can rest on our laurels and consider it job done. With the new flight route, as well as existing flights and sea links, it's so easy for people from Belfast to come over, even for a one-day visit. By harnessing the publicity around the production, we can ensure that the market is well aware of these links and proactively seek more Northern Irish visitors."


    Help Us Save Energy, Says BIAL

    Belfast International Airport has embarked on an energy economy drive designed to lop £100,000 off its electricity, gas and oil bills.

    The entire site devoured 20.72 million kWh last year at a cost of over £1.6 million. Electricity accounted for the lion's share of the cost, £1.2 million, and now an appeal has gone out to staff to think twice about usage and to come up with energy-saving ideas of their own.

    The target for 2015 is to achieve a five per cent reduction which would result in a saving of 830,000 kWh across all energy types.

    Airport Health and Safety Manager, Kevin Napier said: "We have invested in LED lighting on the runways and taxiways and begun a programme installing them within the Terminal. Programmable light fittings with motion and light sensors, LCD screens in check-in and auto slow-down on escalators all help cut the level of usage.

    "More is achievable, and that's where our staff come into the picture. We're issuing a Carbon Trust questionnaire in the next payslip, essentially to create greater awareness and appeal for help. We'd like our people to do the simple things without giving them a second thought, such as switching off lights and computers and not letting hot taps run. We are also looking for energy-saving ideas that will make a difference. So, if staff have a 'eureka moment', they will find a willing audience in the Energy Team."


    Local Agents Check Out City Breaks

    Jet2, in conjunction with representatives of Prague tourism organisations, held a Bowling Night for local travel agents at the Odyssey, Belfast last Thursday.

    Jet2CityBreaks includes flights to the Czech capital, one of Europe's most popular cities, in its programme of European short breaks.

    The picture right shows the girls from Limavady Travel at the Odyssey event.


    New Recruits Strengthen Agency Support

    Innstant Travel in Dublin is continuing its drive towards increasing its agency support with the appointment of two new staff.

    "Sarah Clarke and Rebekah Taylor have joined the customer support team, both of them bringing a wealth of experience with them. We look forward to building an even stronger team," said Darryl Ismail, CEO Innstant Travel.

    Rebekah has over six years' experience in the travel industry. Originally from Christchurch New Zealand, Rebekah has traveled extensively throughout Europe before settling in Sydney, Australia for four years, where she became a full time retail agent and a client of Innstant Travel. "I have had the pleasure of being a client of Innstant Travel and I am now on the other side working with the fantastic Innstant team." said Rebekah.

    Sarah, from Dublin, Ireland has over eight years' experience in customer services and began her career in travel with Thomas Cook Ireland. She has a huge emphasis on service levels and customer support. "I had a the pleasure of working with Sarah in Thomas Cook and when I was looking to grow the Customer Service team here at Innstant I knew Sarah would be the perfect addition to the team," confirmed Fiona Foster, Head of Operations at Innstant Travel.


    It's a Juicy June with Titan

    Travel agents have the chance to win a £250 food voucher. Simply by booking any Titan holiday in the month of June agents can enter into the company's prize draw.

    Agents can enter with every new Titan booking (including Uniworld river cruises) made from June 1 to June 30, 2015.

    Just email every booking reference to Titan before 5pm on Friday, July 3.

    Titan will then draw a winner who can choose a voucher for the Supermarket of their choice.



    Tuesday June 2, 2015

    This Week's Travel News


    US Immigration Pre-Clearance for UK on the Way

    Passengers flying to the United States could soon complete the immigration process in the UK, before boarding their transatlantic flights, which will mean avoiding long queues on arrival in America.

    The US Department of Homeland Security is in talks to have its customs officers at 10 airports in nine more countries, including the UK.

    They will carry out pre-clearance of passengers, most of whom will then avoid having to go through immigration checks on arrival. It could also make it easier for passengers transferring to connecting flights in the US as they'll need less time to make their connections.

    The US currently carries out preclearance in several countries, including the Republic where it has customs officers at Dublin and Shannon airports.

    Many of the top US airlines have praised the move to expand the programme.


    Another Major Contract Success for STM

    Northern Ireland's largest independent travel company, Selective Travel Management, has won a major share of a £100million, three-year contract to service the travel requirements of more than 400 GB Universities and Higher Educational organisations.

    Selective Travel Management is the only Northern Ireland-based company to feature among the six specialist organisations which were successful in tendering to provide travel services for members of the Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium.

    This will be the second time that Selective Travel has held the contract and Managing Director Mukesh Sharma estimates that this latest award will bring up to £20m of additional turnover to the Belfast-based business, creating more than 15 new jobs at a range of levels and paving the way for additional growth within the next three years.

    He says: "This new contract reinforces our position as one of the leading and fastest-growing independent travel management companies in the United Kingdom and the biggest in Northern Ireland. Importantly, it also cements our growing pre-eminence in the academic sector where we have outstanding expertise and experience. Clients in that arena also include Newcastle University, Bradford and Cardiff Universities and Queen's University, Belfast."

    The picture shows Keith Graham Management Operations Director and Mukesh Sharma, Managing Director Selective Travel Management.


    Training Day as Topflight's NI Business Booms

    Specialist tour operator Topflight's business from Northern Ireland customers has seen a dramatic increase, this year particularly on its Madeira, Naples and Sicily routes - good news all round for the company, as their overall business is on track for a 15 per increase this summer.

    Topflight's Belfast Verona Charter, direct from George Best Belfast City Airport, begins on June 20 for the summer season.

    As part of a big Training Day today which Topflight organised, supported by Lake Garda, over 30 of Northern Ireland's top travel agents attended what they already consider to have been a very worthwhile experience.

    Led by Maurice Shiels, European Sales Manager for Topflight, together with Tricia Mitchell, Topflight NI, travel agents were taken through the key selling points for Topflight's Italian programme for this summer, focusing on the key destinations around Lake Garda, as well as Lido di Jesolo and the Venetian Riviera - also accessible from Verona by transfer. Maria Pazienza from Topfllight gave a really local Italian flavor to the training.

    Topflight's flights from Dublin to Italy were also discussed as there is a real increase in Northern Ireland traffic with Topflight from Dublin Airport. And travel agents welcomed Madeira back on the market again, a very popular destination this summer for families, gardeners and walkers. Roisin Carberry went through Topflight Worldwide's excellent brochures to show how their team of Worldwide Experts are growing Topflight Travel Group's Worldwide offering.


    Chance to Win Seven-Day RCI Cruise!

    Travel agents have the chance to win a fantastic Royal Caribbean seven-day cruise for two people on day two of the Big Travel Trade Event on Wednesday June 10.

    Agents will get the opportunity to taste the cuisine from RCI's new ships and a chance to meet the Royal Caribbean Team who will be recreating the RCI ships Boardwalk theme at 2.00pm in the Lylehill Suite, The Hilton Templepatrick.

    There will be Royal Caribbean-themed cocktails and tasters of the following brands will be offered: Silk Restaurant, Seaplex Dog House, Izumi Restaurant, Rita's Canteena and Johnny Rockets.

    Space is limited so register for this event now!


    Sign Up Now for the Etihad Experience

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

    Guests on the second day of Northern Ireland's biggest-ever Travel Trade exhibition (June 10) will be able to avail of various pampering treatments including, mini manicures, or have your eye make-up done for the Gala dinner.

    "Why not indulge and join them in Kinahan's Bar from 2.30pm- 6.00pm for a glass of champagne, canapes, and a treatment; or you could just relax and chill out and meet the Etihad team.

    "Please note - space is limited for this event - so we advise for all travel agents to register right away," said Big Event's Paula Breen.


    New Look for Slimmed Down Malaysia Airlines

    Malaysia Airlines is rebranding this week following huge damage from the disappearance of flight MH370 and flight MH17 over Ukraine last year.

    Christoph Mueller, who joined from Aer Lingus, taking over as Chief Executive on May 1, said that the new company would be like a 'start-up'.

    "I'm hired to run the new company entirely on commercial terms and there's very little margin for error," said Mueller. "It's not a continuation of the old company in a new disguise, everything is new."

    The airline plans to cut costs, lay off about a third of its 20,000 employees and shrink its capacity.

    Local competition has taken its toll with low cost airline AirAsia taking most of the shorthaul market from MAS while affiliate AirAsia X has competed with it in the medium and longhaul markets.


    New Thomas Cook Tours Preview Brochure

    Thomas Cook Tours, escorted touring specialist, has launched their new 2016-2017 preview brochure. Thomas Cook Tours offers 25 of its best-selling tours amongst a lineup across the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

    The preview brochure features big moments, big experiences and big memories for departure dates beginning on January 1, 2016 through April 30, 2017. Tours are now on sale for those departure dates.

    The brochure features an early booking offer on all tours which will save travellers up to £250 per person, for bookings made before July 31, 2015.

    "We are delighted to launch an advanced selection of our 2016-2017 best-selling tours for agents to offer their customers," said Christian Leibl-Cote, of Thomas Cook Tours.

    "These are consistently our most popular tours year after year, with iconic destinations on everyone's list."


    Travel Trade Team Tame Royal County Down

    Take a bow the Travel Trade Golf Team hosted by Emirates at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Pro-Am at Royal County Down last week!

    The top trio of Northern Ireland Travel News' Jonathan Adair, Jonathan Millar of Bryan Somers Travel and Tom O'Donohue, Strand Travel won the Pro-Am last Wednesday.

    The team triumphed by two clear shots with a score of -18 in atrocious conditions, in fact their performance surpassed that of some top professionals! The team was hosted by Emirates, one of the key sponsors of the European tour, who also entertained many members of the Travel Trade from Northern Ireland and the Republic during the four days of the tournament.

    Anita Thomas of Emirates is pictured with the winning Travel Trade team.


    Now You Can Vote for Travel Awards

    Travel agents, principals, and members of the Travelling Public can now vote in the various categories for this year's Blue Insurance Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards to be held on October 16 in the Slieve Resort and Spa.

    Belfast International Airport has been revealed as a new Category sponsor for this year's Gala with Blue Insurance announced as the new Headline Sponsor of the Awards, now in their 24th year, while a new Award for the Best Holiday Add-Ons/Car Hire Provider was also announced.

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

    Full details of the Awards categories and how to vote via post appears in the new issue of Northern Ireland Travel News out tomorrow.

    You can vote now using the voting forms on this eshot or via our website

    You can view the Awards launch on our YouTube channel.


    Page 79 of 85


    BTTE 2017

    Watch the 2017 BIG Travel Trade Event Highlights Video Online Now!



    Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards Launch 2017 - in partnership with Blue Insurance


    Contact Details

    • NI Travel News
    • Unit 1, Windsor Business Park
    • Belfast
    • BT9 7DW
    • 028 9066 6151