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Tuesday July 1, 2014

This Week's Travel News

Local Passport Applications in National Backlog

Local travellers are being warned that they will face the same delays as the rest of the UK when it comes to getting their passports.

A common perception is that because there is a Passport Office in Belfast local travellers are not affected to the same degree by the current nationwide backlog.

And travel agents are being advised to warn their clients of the possibility of delays in receiving their new passports because of the national log jam.

A spokesperson for the Passport Office said that it "is normal to see an increase in demand at this time of year as people renew their passports ahead of their summer holidays", but confirmed that the demand "has been far greater this year".

A UK Passport Office spokesperson said that there are 346,350 more applications in the system than at this time last year! As it stands up to 30,000 people nationwide are at risk of missing their holidays because of passport delays. However, he also confirmed that extra staff had been brought in to handle applications.

Airline Teams Up With Accommodation Provider

Flybe, Europe's largest independent regional airline, has joined forces with the world's leading online accommodation booking site,, that allows travel agents and independent customers seamless access to the company's extensive worldwide accommodation database. The site is up and running from today.

The direct link to accessed via the airline's website provides a 'one click booking' gateway to over 500,000 hotels, apartments, B&B's, villas, hostels, resorts and more in 201 countries. It gives users the option to select such preferences as star-ratings and accommodation facilities, and the tool includes a Best Price Guarantee as well as a 'Pay only when you stay' feature.

Guests can access the tailormade hotels' page at anytime, anywhere from their desktops, mobile phones and tablet devices, no booking fees charged. The site features over 30 million reviews written by real guests after their actual stay. With over 17 years of experience, operates its own in-house customer service team, which is available 24/7 to assist guests in 42 languages and ensure an exceptional customer experience.

Roaming Charges Cut by Over 50 Per Cent

From today travellers in the EU will see a big cut in the cost of roaming, with data charges dropping 55 per cent or more compared to last summer.

After enforcing a series of reductions in voice and data roaming charges across the European Union over the last four years, European Vice President Neelie Kroes is ready to take the ultimate step of abolishing roaming charges entirely by late 2015. She says she hopes to win the support of national telecommunications ministers for that by the end of this year.

"In 2014 we can finally say that the telcom sector is getting the message about roaming," Kroes said, adding that many companies are bringing in prices and plans below the price ceiling set by the Commission.

Plan to Abolish Small Business ATOL

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) proposes to abolish the Small Business Atol (SBA) and impose new financial criteria on travel companies with annual turnover below £5 million.

The CAA published a three-month consultation on the changes today, saying they are needed because of the greater risk of failure among smaller travel companies.

In a statement, the regulator said the changes would "extend the risk-based regulatory approach now established with larger licence holders, help reduce the likelihood of consumers being affected by insolvency and provide further protection against calls on the Air Travel Trust (ATT)".

A statement from ABTA said: "ABTA will be contacting its Membership in order to make a full response to the CAA's 'Rebalancing ATOL' consultation which closes this October and which will consider a number of changes to the financial protection scheme. We can clarify that proposals to withdraw the small business ATOL (SBA) published today as part of the consultation, will not affect ABTA-ATOL holders."

Hike in French Hotel Tax Opposed

Tourists in France are expected to be hit by a rise in hotel tax as the Parliament has supported a 500 per cent increase to the tourist tax.

If the Senate approves the plan, visitors to French hotels would pay a tax of £6.40 (8 Euros) per night, rather than the current £1.20 (1.50 Euros). In Paris this figure would rise to £8 per bed night (10 Euros) to pay for transport infrastructure projects.

The controversial measure has already been approved by Parliament after being initiated by Socialist MPs. However France's Foreign Minister has joined forces with tourist chiefs and hoteliers in attacking the increase.

Worldwide Portfolio of Hotels Increased

Innstant Travel has added 10,000 new hotels to its worldwide portfolio including including 1800 hotels in Italy, 3490 in the Mediterranean, 2190 in Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific Island and 2500 in Asia.

These will include popular and also newly launched hotels up to same day availability in multiple room types from standard room to suites.

John Booty, Global Sales Manager, said: "We are constantly enhancing all aspects of our operation including our product range and pricing offers. We believe this is essential to ensure we are providing our clients with the best tools to increase sales and profits."

Innstant Travel has in excess of 240,000 properties worldwide including hotels, apartments, holiday homes and villas. In addition Innstant has more than 50,000 transfers, over 10,000 tours, more than 1,000 car hire options, 1000's of sports tickets, 24/7 support and loyalty points for every booking - all in 1 website.

Extra Agents' Commission from Leading Cruise Lines

Two leading cruise lines, P&O Cruises and Cunard Line, are offering additional commission for cruises sold during the summer promotion.

The cruise lines are offering six per cent additional bonus commission on P&O Cruises Select Price and Cunard Fare holidays as part of its summer promotions, with sales of Early Saver holidays across both brands also earning an extra three per cent commission.

P&O's Great Sail Away runs from July to the end of August, while Cunard's summer sale runs throughout July.

Sales and Distribution Support Director Chris Truscott said: "In our Agent Matters research the ongoing issue is always commission and our Great Sail Away and Summer Sale address this by giving travel agents the opportunity to support a huge variety of autumn breaks, winter sun and spring holidays. This is yet another example of our commitment and investment into agents, our most important distribution channel."

Best Foot Forward for Oasis Duo

This year's Lisburn 10k run had a couple of familiar travel industry faces in the line-up recently.

Putting their best foot forward and showing they are two of the fittest travel agents around, Sandra Corkin and Alison Miskimmin from Oasis Travel are pictured right after completing the run.


Tuesday June 24, 2014

This Week's Travel News


New London Airport Vital for Northern Ireland

A new report by York Aviation and Oxford Economics published today highlights how a decision on where to build new airport capacity in the southeast of England is of paramount importance to Northern Ireland.

It highlights that "only a new four-runway airport would restore the flight link between Belfast and the UK's main hub airport." Leading economists have calculated that a regular service between Belfast and the UK's hub airport would provide a £92m boost to the Northern Ireland economy every year and deliver 710 new jobs.

Today's report, Making Connections, was written by experts from York Aviation and Oxford Economics and commissioned by Transport for London. It demonstrates that a new four runway hub airport would provide 12 flights a day to Belfast.

The report comes as the Airports Commission, Chaired by Sir Howard Davies, is deciding which option for airport expansion in the south east, to recommend. The new analysis suggests that even a third runway at Heathrow would not lead to a sustainable service to Belfast being established. A third runway would fill up very quickly due to underlying demand and the pressure on airlines to use slots for the most profitable routes would mean Belfast losing out again.


T2 Opening Boost for Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus yesterday joined in the celebration of the official opening of T2 at London Heathrow by Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Aer Lingus will move its operations to Terminal 2, to be known as 'The Queen's Terminal', from Wednesday, July 9, 2014. All Aer Lingus flights to and from London Heathrow will operate from Terminal 2 from that date.


One of the main benefits for customers will be a 50 per cent reduction in gate to kerb time. Transferring to other flights will be seamless and same terminal connections will be possible with a number of Aer Lingus partner airlines. Arriving into T2 will be quick and easy with direct access to all of the transport links, including Heathrow Express meaning Paddington Station can be reached in only 15 minutes.

Aer Lingus business class and Gold Circle customers will have use of Gold Circle check-in and fast track security facilities. The Gold Circle Lounge, which will accommodate 130 customers, will be 50 per cent larger than the current lounge at Heathrow and has been designed to the highest levels of comfort and style. The lounge offers some new and enhanced features including shower facilities, meeting rooms and a quiet area, making for a calm environment in which to work or just relax.





Aircraft Livery Honours Famous Lions Squad

Airline Flybe has paid a unique tribute to the 1974 British and Irish Lions Squad. 'The Invincibles', a specially named Q400 aircraft, has been unveiled in the presence of the squad members including team captain Willie-John McBride, by Fred Kochak, Flybe Routes Director accompanied by Andrea Hayes, Flybe's Regional Manager North.

The event coincided with the 40th Anniversary reunion of the Squad organised by the Wooden Spoon Children's Charity of which Willie-John McBride is currently President. The legendary players who were flown in from Scotland, England and Wales by Flybe, lined up to watch the unveiling and included Fran Cotton, Alan Morley, JPR Williams, Phil Bennett, Andy Irvine, Alan Old, Roger Uttley, Gareth Edwards, JJ Williams, Phil Bennett and Billy Steele. The Irish stars comprised Willie-John McBride, Syd Millar, Mike Gibson, Fergus Slattery, Tom Grace, Jonny Moloney, Stewart McKinney and Dick Milliken.

Fred Kochak explains: "In May 1974 a squad of 34 rugby players from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales formed the British and Irish Lions Squad to travel to South Africa. They were to play against a country not beaten in 78 years. When they returned in July 1974, having won 21 of their 22 matches and drawing the other, they returned as "The Invincibles" and are widely regarded as the greatest northern hemisphere side of all time."

Now the Flybe Q400 OE will feature a life size image of Willie-John McBride framed within a set of rugby posts. Below the cross bar are listed the 34 names of the full 1974 British and Irish Lions Squad and alongside the image is the new name of the aircraft, 'The Invincibles'.

Kids Go Free Offer Ends Soon

Stena Line have announced another kids go free offer which applies to every day and on every sailing on their Belfast routes when you book at least seven days in advance and before June 30 for travel by car until August 31, 2014.

A recent questionnaire carried out by Stena Line revealed that 35 per cent of people from the Northern Ireland who were surveyed had never been on a road trip and Diane Poole OBE, Stena Line's Head of PR and Communications explains why now is the perfect time to be adventurous and embark on a road trip that includes a Stena Line crossing.

"We are delighted to announce the return of our Kids Go Free offer which enables families to get away for less and not having to worry about the cost of travel for the children means there is more money to spend on having fun and children get an adventure onboard a ferry to tell all their friends about," said Diane.

The Stena Line questionnaire also revealed that almost 100 per cent of people from the Northern Ireland who were surveyed agreed that road trips offer greater freedom and flexibility when compared to other holidays.





Disruption Due to French Air Traffic Controllers Strike

UK air passengers are being warned to expect delays from today as French air traffic controllers begin a six-day strike which is likely to affect flights across Europe.

Some of the airlines affected include British Airways, Ryanair and easyJet. A British Airways spokesperson said that the level of disruption is likely to fluctuate in different parts of France at different parts of each day. "Unfortunately this industrial action is also highly likely to lead to delays on other short-haul services which have to overfly France."

Ryanair, which has cancelled 26 flights to and from France today, has urged the French Government and the European Union to intervene to prevent further cancellations and delays tomorrow. The airline said thousands of people are having their flights cancelled or delayed due to a small minority of air traffic controllers.

It said the EU should open up the skies over Europe and allow neighbouring ATC providers such as the Irish, British, German or Belgian ATC to keep the skies over France open while French ATC workers go on strike every summer.


One in Three Young Travellers Uninsured

Travelling abroad uninsured can cost thousands if a trip goes wrong.

Yet according to new research issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and The Travel Association ABTA, over one in three (38 per cent of young British travellers don't think it is necessary to take out insurance when they travel overseas, often leaving their families to pick up the pieces.

The findings from research conducted by ABTA come as the FCO and ABTA urge young holidaymakers to be better prepared for their travels abroad and ensure they are properly covered.

Medical costs arising from uninsured accidents abroad can be significant, and it is often parents who are presented with an unexpected and large bill with no hope of reclaiming the money.

And one in five young people also wrongly think that a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) acts as a full insurance policy when abroad. However, an EHIC only provides access to state medical care in the European Economic Area and does not cover other costs such as bringing the individual back to the UK.

Alvaro's New Challenge in Costa Rica

Alvaro Aravena, well known to the Travel Trade and formerly with Innstant Travel and before that Turkish Airlines, is moving to a new high profile post in Costa Rica.

Alvaro has been appointed Business Development Manager - Americas for the world's leading network for Airline Distribution and Financial Services, APG. From July 1 Alvaro will be be based in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.

Headquartered in Paris, APG is the world's leading supplier of distribution products and GSA services to the airline industry. The company currently has 111 international offices, covering 176 countries including Ireland which is managed by Paul Weir and Fredi Aravena.

Added Alvaro: "I am indeed delighted to be joining the highly successful and prestigious APG Aviation Group. Without a doubt I would not have achieved this new role without the great experience I have earned from the Irish travel industry over the past 20 years. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the many agents, operators and airline colleagues who have been so supportive and helpful to me during my travel career in Ireland."

Another African Destination for Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines' Africa network now encompasses 39 destinations with the addition of Cotonou, Benin; the 26th country in Africa and one of 107 nations served across the globe.

Turkish Airlines' service to Cotonou is its 256th destination worldwide. Roundtrip flights between Istanbul and Cotonou are operated four times per week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays in both directions. Turkish Airlines operates 12 flights weekly from Dublin to its hub airport Istanbul.


Tuesday June 17, 2014

This Week's Travel News

Everything Bigger at the Big Travel Trade Event

Everything about last week's Big Travel Trade Event was bigger... more exhibitors, more sponsors, more prizes and more travel agents! The fourth year of the exhibition was the best yet, with the second year of its new two-day format a huge success.

Key partner at last week's Big Travel Trade Event, organised by Northern Ireland Travel News, was Turkish Airlines, whose Night at the Races in the marquee was a real winner. Turkish Airlines also hosted a welcome reception for travel agents arriving by coach, the Golfers' Breakfast on the second day of the event and a stand at the exhibition.

In the picture above right, Murat Balandi, Onur Gul and Ann Marie Dalton of Turkish Airlines present the winner of the Night at the Races with her prize, two tickets from Dublin to Istanbul.

"We appreciate the support not only of our key sponsor Turkish Airlines, but all those companies who hosted events and donated prizes," said Big Travel Trade Event organiser Jonathan Adair. "The exhibition, the training and discussion events organised around it, and of course the Golf Classic were all hugely successful."

Doreen McKenzie, ABTA's NI spokesperson paid tribute to the two-day exhibition and the other events over the two days. Particularly useful was a meeting of the ABTA representatives with their counterparts in the ITAA. "We really appreciate all the time and effort the NI Travel News team put in to ensure that NI Travel is alive and kicking by events like this - I hear great reports about our events on the Mainland in my visits there - can't believe other regions are so jealous of us."

You can view more pictures from the day and the evening presentation dinner on our website.

Golf Classic Scorcher for Rob

The sun shone on the Northern Ireland Travel Golf Classic - and especially on Expedia's Rob Grover.

Rob was the winner of the highly successful established event, winning a fantastic Etihad Airways prize - two tickets to Perth, Australia - presented on the evening by Etihad's Liza Hammond. Winner of the Ladies Prize was Ann Marie Dalton of Turkish Airlines while Duffy Rafferty PR won the Team award.

There was wall to wall sunshine for the golf making it one of the best competitions in the event's 16 years, 15 of them played at The Hilton, Templepatrick. For four years now 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 and at the gala dinner in the evening prizes were handed over - again for all 18 holes. In the picture Liza Hammond of Etihad presents the top prize to Rob Grover watched by Jonathan Adair of NI Travel News. You can view more pictures from the day and the evening presentation dinner on our website.

Big Build in Romania Benefits from Ballot

The charity ballot at the gala presentation dinner following the Northern Ireland Golf Classic and The Big Travel Trade Event last week raised more than £1,500 for a house building project in Romania to be embarked on by members of the local Travel Trade.

The project, called The Big Build, will take place in Beius, Romania, under the auspices of Habitat for Humanity Northern Ireland in late September.

Winners of the ballot prizes were:

  • Irish Sea crossing Belfast-Liverpool, courtesy of Stena Line - winner Doreen McKenzie, Knock Travel
  • Overnight Stay, B&B in The Hilton - Avril Fulton, Orr's Travel
  • One Night B&B in Slieve Donard Resort and Spa - Roy Bennett, Antalis
  • Kindle Fire courtesy of Jet2holidays - winner Norma Hill
  • Return Crossing, Belfast-Cairnryan, courtesy of Stena Line - Andrew Roden, Thomas Cook
  • Case of Prosecco, courtesy of Topflight - winner Aubrey Irwin, Tourism Ireland
  • Bottle of Champagne courtesy of Travel Solutions - winner Janine Hay, Travel Counsellor
  • In addition, John McKibbin of Getabed, paid £145 for a signed Rory McIlroy golf cap.

    Three US Charters from Belfast Next Summer

    Thomas Cook Airlines has announced three long haul flights from Belfast International Airport for Summer 2015 to Orlando and Las Vegas, which includes the airline's first ever flight to Las Vegas from Belfast.

    Building on the success of previous flights to Orlando, Thomas Cook Airlines says that it will operate two flights to this popular Florida destination on-board a newly refurbished Airbus A330 aircraft on June 30 and July 7 in 2015, allowing holidaymakers to take 14 nights holidays on the East Coast of the USA, visiting theme parks and studio tours.

    And what Thomas Cook describe as a 'one-off', a brand new Thomas Cook Airlines flight to Las Vegas will take place on Sunday July 5, returning a week later, following demand from travellers form Belfast for a summer flight to the city.

    Christoph Debus, CEO Thomas Cook Airlines said: "It's great news that we'll be able to celebrate American Independence weekend with our flight to Las Vegas - we've already seen many holidaymakers book to travel on the flight in the first few days on sale. As we expand our long haul programme, it's fantastic that we are able to work with Belfast International to increase our flights from the airport and look forward to a great summer in 2015."

    New Virgin Holiday Store Opens Today

    Virgin Holidays, the UK's number one long haul holiday company, is opening its first store in Northern Ireland today.

    The store, located in Debenhams in Castle Court in Belfast city centre, gives Northern Ireland travellers the chance to discuss with local consultants where they should choose to jet off to with Virgin Holidays!

    A dedicated team of five holiday experts will be on hand to offer customers help and advice on a wide range of flexible and bespoke holiday experiences from around the world, from Barbados to Boston, Buenos Aires to Bhutan, and more!

    Peter Kelland, Head of Northern Sales at Virgin Holidays, said: "We already have hundreds of customers in Northern Ireland that currently book with Virgin Holidays via both our call centre and the web. By opening our first store in Northern Ireland we will continue to build our presence through offering that personal touch to help customers decide on which destination for their holidays whatever the occasion."

    Dublin Welcomes New Service to Canada

    The launch of WestJet's new flight to St. John's Newfoundland yesterday means that Dublin Airport now has up to four daily flights over the summer to three separate Canadian cities, which will make this year the busiest year ever for travel between Ireland and Canada.

    Said Kevin Toland, Chief Executive of the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA). "This is WestJet's first transatlantic service, so we're welcoming them to Europe as well as to Ireland," he added. "Given the strong connections between Ireland and Newfoundland, and the trade between Ireland and Canada, I have no doubt that the new route will be very popular on both sides of the Atlantic for business and leisure passengers," Toland said.

    Speaking at a reception at Dublin Airport to celebrate the new route, Gregg Saretsky, WestJet's President and Chief Executive Officer, Saretsky said that already the new service "was close to 90 per cent full... at the rate this is going we might have to make it year-round". The journey time between Dublin and St John's is four hours 15 minutes and WestJet is operating the new route with a Boeing 737 aircraft which seats 136 passengers.

    Something Different on Offer for Graham

    Following the launch of in Ireland two years ago, the experience and excursion expert has grown from strength to strength, building strong relationships with the Irish travel trade and establishing an excellent reputation for supporting agents and offering a great range of product.

    As a result, the company is investing in its Irish operation, based in Dublin, and has recruited Graham Hennessy as the Country Manager for Ireland.

    Graham, who has 22 years' experience in the tour operating and travel agency sectors, is well known in the industry and joins from TopFlight Travel. In this senior role, Graham will manage the Dublin office and be responsible for the sales and marketing.

    Annabel Cove, Business Development Director for commented: "As a result of the fantastic response we have had from the Irish travel agent community we are investing in our Dublin office to offer a wider service across the country. We are thrilled to welcome Graham to the team, he has a wealth of experience and is a great travel professional, he will continue to develop close relationships with the travel agent community, offer exciting incentives, events and help inspire the Irish travel trade to book-something-different and have fun doing so!"

    New Travelport Mobile Agent Tool Launched

    Travelport has launched an upgraded version of its popular Travelport Mobile Agent (TMA) tool introducing a range of new features and functionality for its agency users.

    The mobile app which was developed in partnership with TTS, an active member of the Travelport Developer Network, allows travel agents to make bookings for their customers from handheld devices. It was first launched in 2011 and now has over 41.5k installations globally.

    Version 3.0 of Travelport Mobile Agent includes new features which were implemented as a result of user feedback and are all designed to enable agents to provide superior customer service. TMA 3.0 will be available for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play from July 30.

    Sinead Reilly, Country Manager for Travelport Ireland said: "We've had excellent feedback from UK customers who use and value Travelport Mobile Agent and we're confident that the new enhancements will make the tool even more user-friendly and efficient. This forms part of our ongoing strategy in the UK to deliver superior point of sale solutions for our travel agencies customers, reflecting the important shift towards mobile as an access device."

    Restaurant Week in the Big Apple

    NYC & Company, New York City's official marketing, tourism and partnership organisation, has announced that NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2014 will take place from July 21 to August 15.

    The event offers New Yorkers and visitors four weeks of dining deals at top New York City restaurants Mondays to Fridays, with Saturdays excluded and Sundays optional. John Donohue, the NYC & Company representative in Ireland said: "Being in New York City for NYC Restaurant Week is simply heaven for foodies, the ability to dine at greatly reduced prices during this four-week period has become very popular with Irish visitors to the City."

    Diners can enjoy three-course prix-fixe lunches for $25 and three-course prix-fixe dinners for $38 (excluding drinks, tip and taxes). Starting on July 9 diners can view a full list of participating restaurants and make reservations at more than 300 restaurants at

    NYC & Company is inviting diners to share their NYC Restaurant Week experiences using hashtag #NYCRestaurantWeek.


    Tuesday June 10, 2014

    This Week's Travel News

    'Biggest' Big Travel Trade Event Opens at Templepatrick

    The biggest and most representative Travel Trade Exhibition ever held in the Province kicks off this afternoon at The Hilton, Templepatrick.

    The two-day Big Travel Trade Event organised by Northern Ireland Travel News, runs throughout today and tomorrow, with the Northern Ireland Travel Golf Classic being organised in conjunction with the Exhibition tomorrow.

    "If you haven't pre-registered it's not a problem," said Big Event co-ordinator Paula Breen. "Just come along today or tomorrow to the Hilton. You will have a unique opportunity to meet a wide range of suppliers." Countries represented include Egypt, Tunisia, Oman, Turkey and South Africa to name but a few.

    More than 80 companies will be represented over the two days of The Big Travel Trade Event, with hotels, luxury resorts, tourist boards and airlines all out in force. There are no fewer than 12 cruise companies alone, represented.

    Key sponsors of this year's Big Travel Event is award-winning Turkish Airlines, one of the world's fastest growing airlines.

    Travel agents who attend will be able to win fantastic range of travel prizes including worldwide tickets from Virgin Atlantic and Emirates.

    Two Tickets to Perth for Golf Winner

    The winner of the Travel Golf Classic tomorrow (Wednesday, June 11) will be presented with two tickets to Perth courtesy of Etihad Airways from Dublin via their Abu Dhabi hub.

    The Golf Classic will be held on the second day of the Big Travel Trade Event at The Hilton, Templepatrick and the golf prizes will be handed over at the gala dinner in the evening.

    Meanwhile there has been a slight change in the ABTA programme on Day 2 of the Big Travel Trade Event. The 11.30 to 12.00 noon session 'Package Travel and ATOL Policy updates' will invite agents to come along and understand what their obligations are on ATOL and the Friday the 13th Regulations on customer information and premium rate phone lines.

    Orlando Targets Visitors Without Children

    Visit Orlando, the official tourism association for the most visited destination in the US, is increasing its investment in driving visitation within the young adult travel audience, specifically focusing on engaging with travellers without children. The destination plans to launch a five-week digital marketing campaign in the UK on Monday, May 26.

    "Fifty-seven per cent of our UK visitors travel to Orlando without kids, and without the constraints of school schedules, these travellers can benefit from great rates during off-peak time periods," said Danielle Courtenay, Chief Marketing Officer for Visit Orlando. "The new campaign targets this more flexible segment of travellers and aims to enhance the efforts of our travel trade partners to further drive off-peak bookings to Orlando."

    The exclusively digital campaign will use media platforms such as AOL, Channel 4 On Demand and Secret Escapes to reach those who travel without children, as research has demonstrated that these platforms resonate very strongly with this market. Campaign partners include: British Airways, Cosmos Holidays, Thomas Cook, Thomson and Virgin Holidays.

    To ensure the travel trade has all the essential tools needed to help sell the destination to its fullest; Visit Orlando has also enhanced its online training program, the Orlando Travel Academy.

    Agents on Fam Trip to Canada

    Eight travel agents from the Republic and Northern Ireland travelled to Toronto courtesy of Air Canada Rouge on the direct service from Dublin recently.

    The Trade Fam Trip was hosted by Jens Bachmann of Air Canada/Premair and Peter Friedrich of TravelCube. They explored Toronto's helicopter and jet boat tours, wine-tasting, shopping opportunities and visited Niagara Falls.

    Included on the Fam trip were Kieran O'Doherty of Premier Travel, Stephen Aston of Clubworld Travel, in the foreground of the picture right, and Rory Campbell of Trailfinders.

    Belfast City to Doncaster/Sheffield on GDS

    Passengers booking to fly between Doncaster Sheffield Airport to Belfast City on the new LinksAir route can now book through their travel agents and online agents including comparison sites.

    UK Regional Airline, LinksAir, has signed up to a GDS system which opens up their booking system to allow travel agents to book directly for passengers.

    Steve Gill, Managing Director of Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield, said: "This is great news for passengers as booking has been made easier thanks to LinksAir's move to appear on travel agent and online systems.

    "Prior to this people could only book through the LinksAir site or through the customer services team but now there are more booking opportunities available to them."

    Cruise Line's new Travel Agent Web Portal

    Norwegian Cruise Line has launched a new travel agent portal called Norwegian Central. The portal offers centralised access to a new booking engine, and a research and promotional tools section containing itineraries, deck plans and ship information.

    Agents can also browse a 'cruise enhancements' section with updated news about Norwegian's dining facilities, onboard activities and hotel and ground transportation programmes. There is also a 'Connect with Us' link to contact a regional business development manager or headquarters-based specialist.

    Agents can also view a timetable of upcoming webinars, or past presentations and access NCL University training modules with an existing agent log-in.

    "We want our partners to know that we are listening, and making meaningful changes to help serve them better," said Andy Stuart, Executive Vice President of Global sales and Passenger Services, whose regular blog is featured on the new portal.

    Curfew Restrictions Eased in Thailand

    Security restrictions are easing in Thailand with the military lifting its night-time curfew in seven more islands and coastal areas, including Hua Hin, Cha-am and Krabi.

    The country had already lifted the curfew in the most popular resorts of Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui earlier this month.

    The capital Bangkok and the popular northern trekking destination of Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand remain under curfew as a result of the political protests since the military coup on May 22.

    Travel Agents Party With Holiday Operator

    There was a good turnout of travel agents at the Jet2holidays On Tour party in 21 Social, Belfast last Thursday.

    With a buffet, complimentary drinks, club DJ, party games and prizes the night was a big success.

    In the picture right are Aaron Fletcher, Oasis Travel, Deborah Harris, Belfast International Airport and Colin Laffin, Laffin Travel. You can view more pictures from the event on our website.


    Tuesday June 3, 2014

    This Week's Travel News

    First-Time Visitors in Line-Up for Big Event

    What is believed to be the biggest and most representative Travel Trade exhibition Northern Ireland has ever seen will take place at The Hilton, Templepatrick, next Tuesday and Wednesday, June 10 and 11.

    More than 80 companies will be represented over the two days of The Big Travel Trade Event, organised by Northern Ireland Travel News, which on the second day is being run in tandem with the Northern Ireland Travel Golf Classic.

    "It's a unique opportunity for every travel agent in the country, whether office or home-based, to meet suppliers from a wide spectrum of the travel industry," said organiser Jonathan Adair of Northern Ireland Travel News.

    Hotels, luxury resorts, tourist boards and airlines will all be out in force, with no fewer than 12 cruise companies alone, represented.

    Making their first appearance in Northern Ireland will be organisations like Oman Ministry of Tourism, Cape Grace Resorts in South Africa, Tennessee Tourism and Maxx Royal Hotels in Turkey. Many other companies will be making their one and only 'pitch' of the year to the Northern Ireland travel industry via the trade exhibition which runs during both days of the Big Event. Key sponsors of this year's Big Travel Event is award-winning Turkish Airlines, one of the world's fastest growing airlines.

    "If you haven't signed up yet, there is still time to do so," said Paula Breen, co-ordinator for the Big Travel Trade Event. "We have even more exhibitors and suppliers than last year and every travel agent in the Province will find plenty to interest them, whether it is making new contacts or acquiring information about their products."

    To sign up for next week's Big Travel Trade Event email Paula Breen.

    Worldwide Travel Prizes on Offer to Travel Agents

    Agents will be able to vie for a sensational range of top travel prizes at this year's two-day Big Travel Trade Event on June 10 and 11, ensuring the Hilton, Templepatrick exhibition is the place to be for the Province's travel agents. Headlining the prizes are two worldwide tickets with Virgin Atlantic and two tickets to Dubai courtesy of Emirates.

    Other prizes include a five-night hotel stay courtesy of LUX hotels, five nights accommodation courtesy of Thanos Hotels, and one-week's stay at an Algarve property courtesy of Lowcostbeds. Other accommodation to be won includes prizes offered by Innstant Travel, Travel Cube and VIK Hotels, Seaside Hotels, Gran Canaria and many more! Turkish Airlines are key sponsors of this year's Big Travel Trade Event. The Turkish Airline's Grand Marquee will host agents on Day 1 and Day 2 - providing a Welcome Reception with a taste of Turkish Cuisine for Travel Agents, as well as Turkish-themed food and great entertainment on the evening of Day 1.

    "Any agents that attended the Night at the Races last year will know what a great night's craic they had," said Big Event Co-ordinator Paula Breen. "And this year promises to be even better..."

    Etihad Airways, which operates a daily service from Dublin, is offering the winner of the Travel Golf Classic a spectacular prize of two seats from Dublin to Abu Dhabi.

    Turkish Airlines will also be hosting the golfers at breakfast on Day 2 of the event. Turkish Airlines, in conjunction with Maxx Royal & Millenium Golf, are offering competitors a chance to win two business class seats and four nights all inclusive for two people in Double Room at the Maxx Royal Belek Hotel & Spa and two Green Fee 18 holes on Montgomerie Golf Course.

    ABTA Lines Out Strong Team for Templepatrick

    ABTA will again have a strong presence over the two days of The Big Travel Trade Event. Meeting the local Trade will be Ilana Rapaport, Senior Public Relations Manager, Simon Bunce, Head of Legal and Member Services, and Julie Jones, Senior Member Services Manager.

    This year ABTA are putting a focus on accessibility guidance; there has been growing awareness on this subject amongst consumers and ABTA has recently released guidance to ensure good customer service to this growing market. ABTA will also present a travel trends session again and an update on the latest policy changes for PTD and ATOL.

    There will be a session entitled 'Opportunity for All, how to sell to customers with disabilities and accessibility needs' from 4.45pm to 5.15pm.

    Then on the second day, June 11, the timetable is as follows:

    10:00-10:30: Travel Trends: What's hot and what's not.

    11:30-12:00: Package Travel and ATOL Policy updates: Will the new regulations benefit UK consumers and will they help or hinder business?

    1.00pm-2.00pm: Practical Guidance on Accessibility: Understanding legal requirements and how to give excellent customer service to clients with disabilities.

    Chill, Chat, Try & Play

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

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

    If that doesn't attract you then the many training sessions from MSC, Silverseas and ABTA will maybe interest you as well as plenty of hospitality from top travel companies and the chance for a cocktail or two!

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

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

    Free Coach Travel to the Exhibition

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

    Coaches will be picking up agents at Banbridge, Lisburn,Belfast, Enniskillen, Dungannon, Lurgan, Londonderry, Limavady, Coleraine and Ballymena.

    Travel agents will be welcomed off the coaches with a Turkish Airlines' Welcome Reception, with loads of top prizes to be won, complimentary canapes and drinks, and great entertainment. Travel Agents wishing to take advantage of the free coach travel offer must register by this Friday, June 6.

    New Carrier Announces Ticketing System

    Low cost Canadian airline WestJet, which begins a service from Dublin to St John's Newfoundland/Toronto later this month, has announced that is now available with the Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) in Ireland, France, Germany and the UK.

    The airline says that travel agents can now ticket WestJet on WS 838 ticket stock in their GDS and accept cash payments, credit card or UATP.

    WestJet's code-share agreement with British Airways, KLM and Air France, and interline partnership with Condor Airlines, will provide agents' clients with more travel options to get where they need to be.

    WestJet, which hosted a Trade event in Belfast recently for the Northern Ireland Travel Trade, was founded in 1996 in Calgary, Alberta as a western Canadian regional carrier with three aircraft flying to five cities. Today Westjet offers scheduled services to over 85 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe.

    Cruise Line Aims to Help Agents Smile

    To celebrate the launch of its new 2015 worldwide cruise brochure, Royal Caribbean International says it is aiming to put a smile on agents' faces by giving away a free pair of European flight tickets for each and every day throughout June and July.

    For every automated 2015 booking made before July 31, 2014, agents will be entered into a daily prize draw to win one pair of flight tickets. With some incredible offers available and more than 60 flights up for grabs, agents should have no trouble racking up the bookings this June and July and cracking out the smiles.

    Plus, with a fully refurbished European fleet, three ships sailing from UK ports of call and new itineraries from Southampton on both the world's newest and most technologically advanced ships, there's plenty for agents to shout and smile about.

    Agents can also increase their chance of winning free flights by sharing a snap of their happiest face on the Royal Caribbean trade Facebook page. A team of five Royal Caribbean International judges will choose five lucky winners with the happiest faces at the end of July.

    Etihad Offers More Connections to India

    Etihad Airways, which operates a daily service to Abu Dhabi from Dublin, has announced a major expansion of its codeshare agreement with Jet Airways, offering travellers enhanced connections throughout India, and linking India with even more destinations worldwide.

    The two airlines have obtained regulatory approval to codeshare on 43 additional routes, bringing the total number of services in their codeshare agreement to 71.

    As part of the expansion, Etihad Airways has placed its 'EY' code on domestic services in India for the first time, with the codeshare agreement now including 31 Jet Airways routes from hubs in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore to regional centres all over India.

    The codeshare agreement has also been updated to incorporate Jet Airways' international connections from Mumbai and Delhi to the Asian tourism and economic hubs of Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok, together with services linking Chennai to Abu Dhabi and Singapore. Furthermore, Jet Airways has strengthened its offering to the US and Europe by codesharing on additional Etihad Airways routes between Abu Dhabi and Chicago, New York, Dublin and Milan.

    Rock 'n Roll Big Hit with Agents

    Falcon Holidays were delighted with the response to their fun-filled Rock 'n Roll Bingo Night in the Baby Grand at Belfast's Grand Opera House last week.

    Between 60-7O agents attended the event and by all accounts a great night was had by all.

    Pictured right are Andrea Jackson and Kelsey Smith from Co-Operative Travel. You can view more pictures from the evening on our website.


    Tuesday May 27, 2014

    This Week's Travel News


    New Sponsor and New Agent Award Announced

    An exciting new award for travel consultants, whether office or home-based, and a new category sponsor for the Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards have been unveiled at the Trade launch of the 2014 Awards in an eclectic new venue, The Dark Horse in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.

    A leading world name in cruising, Celebrity Cruises, is the new sponsor of Category 6 at the Awards gala. Said Celebrity's Tyrphavana Cross, who will be on stage at this year's Awards on Friday, October 17 at the Slieve Donard Hotel to make the presentations: "We at Celebrity Cruises are delighted to be one of the category sponsors at this year's Awards. The Awards gala is the highlight of the year for many in the Travel Industry in the Province and we are pleased with this opportunity to support the Trade and get involved in such a prestigious occasion."

    And there's great news for travel consultants who deal with customers and suppliers on a daily basis in agencies up and down the Province, and for the increasing number of home workers - this year will see the introduction of a new individual Award to the Best Travel Consultant.

    Open to all travel consultants, employees of independent agents and multiples alike, and home workers, the Award will be voted for both by the Travelling Public and Principals in the travel industry. The public will be able to vote through Northern Ireland Travel News, and the website while the new award will be promoted through the paper's public e-zines and social media. Principals of travel companies, whether tour operators, cruise and ferry companies, airlines - indeed all companies whose products are sold through agents, will also be able to have their say.

    When the eventual votes are counted, the five finalists - the travel consultants with the most votes - will then be assessed by a panel of judges drawn from the industry, to decide the actual winner. Pictured above are Tyrphavana Cross of new sponsor Celebrity Cruises with Jonathan Adair of organisers Northern Ireland Travel News. You can view more pictures from the launch on our website.

    Sign Up for Coach Travel to Big Event

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

    Coaches will be picking up agents at Newry, Banbridge, Lisburn,Belfast, Enniskillen, Dungannon, Lurgan, Londonderry, Limavady, Coleraine and Ballymena.

    Travel agents will be welcomed off the coaches with a Turkish Airlines' Welcome Reception, with loads of top prizes to be won, complimentary canapes and drinks, and great entertainment. For further details contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 02890 666151.

    Cruise Bookings Could Land London Glamour Trip

    Cruise agents who make a Silverseas Cruises booking between the June 2 and 30 on any 2014 or 2015 sailing will be entered into a prize draw to win a night in a London hotel and one of 20 1994 themed prizes.

    Twenty winning agents will be drawn at random and invited to London on the August 3 for the exclusive prize-giving event that will be held at an iconic London venue. Each agent will choose a prize from a lucky dip with top prizes including return Eurostar tickets for two, Lion King theatre tickets for two and an Amazon Kindle Fire. Following the prize draw agents will join the Silversea team to watch Silver Cloud sail under Tower Bridge before enjoying a night in a London hotel. A surprise bonus prize will also be available on the night for the top seller.

    To enter agents simply need to make a booking between June 2 and 30, 2014 on any 2014 or 2015 departure and fill in a redemption form. Redemption forms must be completed and returned to sales support by no later than Friday, July 4. Winning agents will be notified by Tuesday, July 8.

    Check Travel Insurance After Thai Coup

    Travellers to Thailand are being urged to check their travel insurance if they are due to travel to the country in the next few weeks.

    Apparently, some travel insurance policies exclude cover during a coup d'etat and therefore insurance may be invalid. Travellers are advised check with their insurance provider to make sure they will be covered for claims arising from the current situation.

    A curfew remains in place across Thailand, which means tourists and locals must stay indoors between 10pm and 5am. For the latest travel advice log on to the FCO website.

    Turkish Airlines Recruiting Pilots in Ireland

    One of the world's largest and fastest growing airlines is looking to recruit pilots in Ireland.

    Turkish Airlines, which operates a daily service from Dublin to Istanbul and to well over 200 destinations worldwide, is running a Pilot Roadshow in mid-June.

    The Turkish Airlines Pilot Roadshow is being held on June 12 and 13 in the Maldron Hotel, Dublin Airport.

    Further details can be had from the Turkish Airline's website.

    Overpriced Insurance Excess Charges Under Fire

    Ireland's leading providers of excess cover for foreign car rentals, is urging travellers to be aware of the overpriced additional insurance excess charges charged by car hire companies at their desks abroad.

    The company claims that each year, thousands of holiday-goers are being ripped off by car hire companies when they reach their holiday destination.

    The company gives as an example, a traveller renting an Opel Corsa car with a leading UK rental company for 14 days in Malaga. They will be charged £260 at the car hire desk to cover the excess of their car rental. says it will cover this excess charge for £27.86 - a massive 89 per cent saving to the traveller of £232.14!

    Travellers can cover the excess online with before they travel on holiday at a much cheaper cost than what they would be charged when they arrive to the car hire desk, claims the company. Cover can be purchased from as little as £1.99 per day for European rentals. also offer year round car hire excess cover from just £39.99 on European rentals.

    Sign Up Now for Agents' Party Night

    It's not too late to sign up for Jet2holidays party night in Belfast next week.

    The Jet2holidays On Tour party night is Thursday next week, June 5, starting between 5.30-6.30pm at Belfast's 21 Social.

    According to Jet2holidays' Nikki Porter on the night there will be buffet, drinks vouchers, club DJ, party games and prizes.

    To sign up for one of the last few places travel agents need to email Jet2 with shop name, ABTA number and number of places required. The event is open to Jet2holidays registered travel agents only.

    Still Time for Agents in Prize Draw

    There's still time for cruise agents to win a prize in Celebrity Cruises' 'Last Minute Luxury' campaign. Celebrity is giving agents the chance to win one of five £100 Red Letter Day lifestyle vouchers until this Saturday, May 31, 2014.

    The offer gives agents the chance to secure their clients a great value summer holiday for July and August 2014. The winning agents can spend their vouchers on a wide range of Red Letter Days activities from shopping and dining, to sport events and family days outs across the UK and Ireland.

    To be entered into the prize draw agents simply need to create and confirm any new booking for July or August 2014 between up until May 31, 2014.

    Rock 'n Roll Night at Baby Grand

    Falcon Holidays, in conjunction with Belfast International Airport, are running a Rock 'n Roll Bingo Night for the local Travel Trade tomorrow night (Jun 28, 2014).

    To be held in the Baby Grand at the Grand Opera House, there will be drinks and canapes with some fantastic prizes to be won.

    The evening begins at 6.30pm and agents are asked to RSVP to Clare or Leila as soon as possible.


    Tuesday May 20, 2014

    This Week's Travel News

    ABTA Announces Lineup for The Big Event

    ABTA will again have a strong presence at The Big Travel Trade Event on June 10 and 11 organised by Northern Ireland Travel News at The Hilton, Templepatrick.

    Meeting the local Trade will be Ilana Rapaport, Senior Public Relations Manager, Simon Bunce, Head of Legal and Member Services, and Julie Jones, Senior Member Services Manager.

    Bianca Williams, Events Co-ordinator for ABTA says: "We are putting a focus this year on accessibility guidance; there has been growing awareness on this subject amongst consumers and ABTA has recently released guidance to ensure good customer service to this growing market. We'll also present a travel trends session again and an update on the latest policy changes for PTD and ATOL."

    There will be a session entitled 'Opportunity for All, how to sell to customers with disabilities and accessibility needs' from 4.45pm to 5.15pm.

    Then on the second day, June 11, the timetable is as follows: 10:00-10:30: Travel Trends: What's hot and what's not. 11:30-12:00: Package Travel and ATOL Policy updates: Will the new regulations benefit UK consumers and will they help or hinder business? 1.00pm-2.00pm: Practical Guidance on Accessibility: Understanding legal requirements and how to give excellent customer service to clients with disabilities.

    Sharon Turns Business Win to Her Advantage

    Advantage Travel Partnership has launched the 2014 competition for one member to win £10,000 worth of consultancy services. This follows the success of the contest last year which was won by Sharon Fleming from Thompson Travel International in Portadown.

    Indeed Sharon has just returned from the Advantage Conference in Dubai where she talked about how winning the competition in a Dragon's Den format had strengthened her business.

    She said: "The knowledge and expertise of the 'dragons' and the central Advantage team have been invaluable to me. After 20 years in the business, I feel like I have re-trained and re-focused and the £10,000 of consultancy services is being well used on what I need to take my business to the next level."

    To enter the competition members must describe in less than 1000 words, why they feel their business merits winning. Shortlisted entrants will then be invited to present their submission to the judging panel. All applications must be received in writing by close of business on June 30, 2014. For more information contact David Moon at Advantage Travel Partnership on 020 7324 3931.

    Leesa Manager of New Virgin Holidays Store

    Leesa Campbell, (pictured), formerly of Thomas Cook, has been appointed manager of a new Virgin Holidays store in Belfast city centre.

    The Virgin Holidays shop will be in Debenhams, in Castle Court in central Belfast but it is understood a number of other Virgin Holidays outlets will be opening in the coming weeks as well.

    Virgin, which specialises in worldwide package holidays including Cruises, Tours, Safaris and Fly-Drives, is also opening a store in the huge Tesco store at Knocknagoney, just off Belfast's Holywood Road.

    Rock 'n Roll Night at Baby Grand

    Falcon Holidays, in conjunction with Belfast International Airport, are running a Rock 'n Roll Bingo Night for the local Travel Trade next Wednesday.

    To be held in the Baby Grand at the Grand Opera House, there will be drinks and canapes with some fantastic prizes to be won.

    The evening begins at 6.30pm next Wednesday, May 28 and agents are asked to RSVP to Clare or Leila as soon as possible.

    Belfast Flights Not Affected by Aer Lingus Dispute

    Due to industrial action by Impact, the trade union representing the majority of Aer Lingus cabin crew, the airline says it is being forced to revise its flight schedule for Friday week, May 30. The strike action is planned for a 24 hour period commencing at 00:01 on May 30.

    Aer Lingus says that In the event of the strike going ahead it will affect flights to and from Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports. However, all Aer Lingus flights to and from Belfast City airport will operate as normal. The airline says that in order to minimise the disruption to customers' travel plans it has hired in additional aircraft and crews, added larger aircraft to a number of routes and added extra flights on the affected dates.

    "Unfortunately, despite these efforts, if the planned strike goes ahead, it will cause major disruption to our schedule. In that event we will be forced to cancel a large number of flights to and from Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports."

    Aer Lingus says that it is offering the option to move your flight to another day or request a full refund.

    Annoying Children Top Travellers' Hate List

    Children kicking or banging seatbacks and late departures or arrivals head the nation's list of 'plane annoying' behaviour, according to new research from a major UK insurance company.

    More than 1,350 UK adults who had flown abroad in the last five years were asked to pick their top aeroplane annoyances. While many passengers had gripes about the service provided by the airlines - inconsiderate behaviour by fellow passengers was the cause of most malcontent.

    Children kicking or banging the back of the seat was the top hate by travellers who responded to the survey by Gocompare. This was followed by a late departure or arrival and children who are unruly or crying. Drunk passengers, rude cabin crew and a chatty stranger in the next seat were other main complaints.

    FCO Advice on Thailand After Martial Law Imposed

    Travellers to Thailand are being warned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to take extra care and avoid all protest sites, political gatherings and marches following the imposition of martial law across the whole of the country by the Chief of the Royal Thai Army today.

    The FCO says there is an increased military presence in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces. "The situation is evolving and you should monitor local news and social media for developments. Allow extra time for journeys, including to the Bangkok airports."

    Martial law provides an enabling framework for the Royal Thai Army to take action it deems necessary to enforce law and order, and instructions can change rapidly, says the FCO. Political demonstrations continue in and around Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand. Protest action has caused significant disruption to roads in affected areas, with knock-on effects across the city. "The situation is unpredictable and further protests are expected." For more info go to the Foreign and Commonwealth website.

    Get Ready for the Travel Trade Fun Day!

    This year's Irish Travel Trade Family Fun Day will take place on July 13 in Wanderers FC Rugby Club in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

    There are new events and fun activities taking place this year and details will be announced very soon. Five-a-side football is back and companies are encouraged to register their teams early as this year's tournament will be restricted to 16 teams. This year's main charity is the Make a Wish Foundation and a number of smaller charities have been chosen to benefit from the "Travel Fun Day Helping Hand Fund."

    Last year's event was a fantastic success and raised over 45,000 Euro for the very worthwhile charities. The committee are appealing to the Travel Trade to show their support again so they can surpass their targets again this year.

    Committee chairperson Sinead Reilly, Travelport, said, "The success of the last two years has been down to the support that we have received from the Trade so we really do hope that they show the same support and enthusiasm for this year's event."


    Tuesday May 13, 2014

    This Week's Travel News

    Turkish Delight for Local Travel Agents

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

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

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

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

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

    Free Coach Offer for Big Event Very Popular

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

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

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

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

    New Canadian Low Cost Option from June

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

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

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

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

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

    'Rouge' Service to Canada Takes Off

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

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

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

    Independence and Adventure Embark on Summer Season

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

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

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

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

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

    Belfast Oasis Agents In the Pink

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

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

    New Departure for Ticket Attractions Provider

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

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

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

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

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

    Cruise Vouchers to Boost Summer Sales

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

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

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

    New Summer Spot for New York Visitors

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

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

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

    For more, visit


    Tuesday May 6, 2014

    This Week's Travel News

    Poker Night Raises More than £5,000 for Charity

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Star Alliance Moving to Heathrow Terminal 2

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

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

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

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

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

    Big Mervyn Hits the Road for Big Event

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

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

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

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

    Commission Increased by Cruise Excursion Company

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

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

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

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

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

    Etihad's 'Unparalleled Luxury, Comfort and Service'

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

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

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

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

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

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

    'Astonishing' Business from Northern Ireland

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

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

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

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

    ABTA Guidance on All Aspects of Accessibility

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Travelport Renews Agreement with Virgin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Tuesday April 29, 2014

    This Week's Travel News

    Belfast-Bulgaria Ski Programme to Go Ahead

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

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

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

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

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

    New Route to London City Airport

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

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

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

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

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

    Unashamed Luxury on Offer at the Merchant

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

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

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

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

    New Try & Play Area at Big Event

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

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

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

    Clubworld Wins Travel Trade Promotion

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

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

    Good Turnout of Agents for Fam Fridays

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Success for Wendy Wu in Belfast

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

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

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

    You can view pictures from the event on our website.

    Second Queen's Award for Travel Counsellors

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

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

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

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

    MSC Cruise Ship Visits Belfast

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

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

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

    Sudden Death of Tom Donnelly

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Tuesday April 15, 2014

    This Week's Travel News

    Poker Night to Raise Funds for Charity Big Build

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Big Event - Tunisia Will Get You There!

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

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

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

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

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

    Quality Award for Belfast Travel Company

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

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

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

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

    New Trend for Business Flying Visits

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

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

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

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

    Buoyant Mood at Opening of New Offices

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

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

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

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

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

    Airline Eases Restrictions on Electronic Gadgets

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

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

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

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

    Good Weather Forecast for Bank Holiday Getaways

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

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

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

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

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

    Two New Awards for Etihad

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

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

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

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

    Cruise Line's New Group Sales Programme

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

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

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

    Taking a Break for Easter

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


    Page 81 of 82


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