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Book now for Silver Jubilee fun at the 25th Irish Travel Trade Awards



Summer sun holidays may now be in full swing, but travel agents, and their more forward-thinking clients, are already turning their attention to the offerings for winter sun, ski, santa and seasonal savouries. Sarah Slattery reports on Winter Sun and Winter Ski options, while Neil Steedman searches for Santa Claus and Christmas Markets. Our Irish Travel Trade Awards celebrates its 25th Silver Jubilee this year – so turn the page to see how to avail of this event’s sponsorship opportunities and how to book tables or seats. (Heads up: a new award category this year will be Best Adventure Holiday Tour Operator, so reps for suppliers of niche activity holidays and expedition cruises can start lobbying now!)

Sarah Slattery reports on sun and ski options for the coming winter



This year’s ITTN+EMIRATES Travel Photographer of the Year competition commenced one month earlier, on 1st June, and will run for five months to 31st October. Photos taken since 1st November 2015 are eligible and the competition has been extended this year from travel agency and tour operator staff to include ALL members of the Irish travel industry, North and South. The overall prize will again be tickets for two from Dublin to anywhere on Emirates’ extensive worldwide network of 150+ destinations.

Neil Steedman searches for Santa Claus and Christmas Markets



Also in this issue, Neil Steedman reports from Whistler and Vancouver in British Columbia on Canada’s west coast; Michael Flood reports from this year’s Thailand Travel Mart in Chiang Mai, while Neil reports from the Germany Travel Mart in Magdeburg. Also, Aer Lingus celebrated a major milestone last month of 80 years flying since the Iolar transported five passengers from Baldonnel to Bristol on 27th May 1936.


Your ITTN Team Michael Flood reports from Thailand Travel Mart Plus in Chiang Mai

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Book Now for the 25th Silver Jubilee Awards 2016 The highlight of the Irish travel industry’s calendar, the Irish Travel Trade Awards, is celebrating its 25th Silver Jubilee this year at the DoubleTree by Hilton Dublin – Burlington Road on Friday 25th November 2016 – and special hotel rates are available for overnight accommodation.

n’ICE stilt walkers welcome 2015 Awards attendees

All the winners celebrate with the ITTN team at the 2015 Awards The Sunway team celebrates winning four Awards

The highly prized Irish Travel Trade Awards, which reward excellence in product and service as voted by Irish travel agents North and South, will include new categories this year, and the evening will also reveal the winners of this year’s ITTN Industry Achievement Award, the ITTN Travel Agency of the Year Award, and the ITTN+EMIRATES Travel Photographer of the Year Award. One new award category will be Best Adventure Holiday Tour Operator, which will put the spotlight on niche markets such as activity holidays and expedition cruises. Awards night sponsors to date include Amazing Thailand, Cork Airport, Emirates, Hertz, Salou Tourist Board, Shannon Airport, Silversea Cruises, Tourism Malaysia, Turkish Airlines, and Wendy Wu Tours. The event is also supported by DoubleTree by Hilton and Grant Thornton. SPONSORSHIP For details of sponsorship opportunities at the 25th Silver Jubilee Awards, please contact Ian Bloomfield, T: +353 (0)1 216 4222, Email: or Hilary Drumm, T: +353 (0)85 777 0400, E:mail: SEAT BOOKINGS There will be even more fun and surprises than usual at the Awards’ Silver Jubilee, so book your seats now! Tickets cost €150 each + VAT @ 23% (€184.50), a table of 10 costs €1,500 + VAT (€1.845.00), or a table of 12 for €1,800 + VAT (€2,214.00). Email: or or for booking details or complete the Booking Form at:





The 2016 ITTN+EMIRATES Travel Photographer of the Year competition is open to all travel industry personnel (i.e. staff or management) based on the island of Ireland. Photos taken by the entrant since 1st November 2015 are eligible, and up to five entries can be made per person during each month of the competition. Each photo submitted should be in jpeg format, at minimum 300dpi resolution, and be a maximum of 5mb in size. The photo competition is running over five months, from 1st June to 31st October 2016. The overall winner of the ITTN+EMIRATES Travel Photographer of the Year competition will receive tickets for two from Dublin to any destination on the Emirates worldwide network. Each month’s entries will be judged by Anita Thomas, Sales Manager Ireland, Emirates, the competition’s sponsors; Michael Flood, Editor, Irish Travel Trade News; and by Neil Steedman, ITTN’s News & Features Editor. Each of the five monthly winners will receive a voucher for €200. In addition, a wild card finalist will be chosen from all the entries submitted over the five months by a separate panel of judges comprising Enda Corneille, Country Manager Ireland, Emirates; professional photographer Paul Sherwood; and Michael Flood, ITTN Editor. The wild card winner will also receive a €200 voucher.

All the six winners will also be guests of Emirates at the 25th Silver Jubilee Irish Travel Trade Awards, which will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Dublin – Burlington Road on Friday 25th November 2016, when the overall winner will be announced and presented with tickets for two from Dublin to any destination on Emirates’ extensive worldwide network. HOW TO ENTER The competition entry form is at:

Overall Winner in 2015: ‘Coffee Break Time’, taken in January 2015 at Inle Lake, Myanmar by Brendan Barry, Discover Travel


Canary Islands and the Seychelles Beckon!

Lago Martiánez, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife

With summer holidays in full swing and most travel agents recording an increase in bookings, perhaps now is the time to focus on getting some early winter sun sales, writes Sarah Slattery. The lack of flights to Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco means that the Canary Islands will no doubt be in high demand this year. Ryanair’s three times weekly flight to Malta is also welcome as there is an overall lack of supply for winter sun destinations.

Adults-only all-inclusive Hotel Suite Princess, Gran Canaria

Aer Lingus has announced its largest ever capacity for winter sun, with over 400,000 seats to the sun for 2016/2017. Lanzarote is the airline’s most popular route with 100,000 seats available from Dublin, Cork and Shannon, equating to eight flights per week. Three weekly services to Fuerteventura, four to Tenerife and four to Gran Canaria are also scheduled. There are 80,000 seats to Malaga, a 25% increase, and a 50% increase to Faro, which is now operating five times per week. For those looking for city breaks with warm climates, the Aer Lingus daily flight to Lisbon is bound to be good value. Ryanair will compete with new winter routes to Athens, Bologna, Murcia,



Valle Taurito in Gran Canaria impressed Antointette Young, Distribution Manager, Falcon Holidays, on her recent product visit. The Paradise Valle Taurito, a SplashWorld property, and the adults-only Hotel Suite Princess are properties that are sure to sell well over the coming season, according to Antoinette.

Thomson Cruises Thomson Cruises is also showing strong sales as its current free all-inclusive upgrade is proving popular on Thomson Majesty, which is operating from Tenerife and Gran Canaria throughout the winter season.


Hotel Riu, Cancun, Mexico

Porto and Seville. Cork Airport will also benefit from Ryanair’s decision to introduce 50,000 seats to Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Malaga.

February Breaks

With four daily flights to Dubai / Abu Dhabi, maybe the UAE will be the go-to destination for those looking for somewhere other than the Canary islands for some guaranteed sun. Prices are exceptionally good value and are selling well in the cruise market as well as a stand-alone destination.

With Easter falling so late (16th April), the February midterm break will most likely be in high demand next year. Easter is already on sale but with the prospect of cheap sales in May, I don’t think Easter will have the same impact as other years, particularly for sun holidays. City breaks will be in higher demand at this time.

Sunway Sunway has yet to launch its European winter sun programme, but has confirmed that it will be operating to Tenerife this winter, as well as to Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura from November through to April. In its Worldwide programme, Sunway is featuring properties in the Mexican resort of Cancun and along the Riviera Maya, including a special offer of seven nights all-inclusive in the 5-star Hotel Riu on 18th February, while the USA & Canada programme includes a seven-night California Coast Fly-Drive in November as well as February breaks in New York (yes, it just might be sunny!) and Los Angeles.

Falcon Holidays Falcon Holidays, on the other hand, will not be starting their winter sun programme until Christmas. With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, it means there will be a six-night departure on 26th December. According to David Smith, Falcon Holidays, savings are already in place of over €100 discount per adult and there is additional capacity to Tenerife, which to date is leading the way in terms of sales over Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.


Anze Lazio, Praslin, Seychelles

Seychelles Secrets For guaranteed winter sunshine, the Seychelles is increasingly catering to the middle and lower price ranges with a diverse array of picturesque small properties with local charm. At the forefront of this initiative is the ‘Seychelles Secrets’ portfolio of small hotels, Creole guesthouses, villas and self-catering chalets that have been especially vetted, upgraded and refurbished to provide clients with comfort, a wide range of facilities and excellent value for money (


More Seats to the Sun Than Ever with Aer Lingus This Winter

Aer Lingus has announced its largest ever winter schedule with more seats to the sun than ever before. The airline‘s shorthaul programme for winter 2016/2017 is focused firmly on the sun with over 400,000 seats available to prime sun locations between October 2016 and March 2017. This latest expansion will see an increased capacity to already popular destinations such as the Canary Islands and the Algarve, as winter gathers pace and it becomes an attractive time to jet off for a second boost of sunshine during the Irish winter. Lanzarote and Malaga remain firm favourites for winter sun breaks for families and couples alike. That said, from October 2016 to March 2017 there will be over 180,000 seats available to these two destinations alone. The additional seats to Lanzarote will come by way of increased flight frequencies from Cork and Dublin along with the larger A321 aircraft flying from Dublin on weekends. Capacity on routes to Malaga will also see significant growth, with nine flights weekly from Dublin and four services weekly from Cork this winter. Key highlights of Aer Lingus’s biggest ever winter short-haul schedule are:

• • • • • • • 12

More than 100,000 seats to Lanzarote from Dublin, Cork and Shannon Over 80,000 seats to Malaga from Dublin and Cork Almost 50% more seats from Dublin to Faro with services five times a week 50% more seats from Dublin to Fuerteventura with three flights weekly Daily service from Dublin to Lisbon Dublin to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, will operate four flights per week 20,000 seats from Dublin to Tenerife, with four flights weekly

Explore More of the USA The improved winter sun offering follows directly on Aer Lingus’s largest ever expansion into North America with three new routes to the USA this year alone – Los Angeles, Newark and Hartford, Connecticut. • Since 4th May 2016, Aer Lingus has been flying four times per week from Dublin non-stop to Los Angeles. • There will be even more ways to get to New York and explore the East Coast of the USA with daily flights from Dublin to Newark from 1st September 2016. • From 28th September 2016 Aer Lingus will be flying into the heart of New England with daily flights from Dublin to Hartford, Connecticut.

Smart Way to North America With 12 non-stop routes across the Atlantic from Dublin and Shannon, connecting to over 140 destinations across North America, flying with Aer Lingus is the smart way to the USA and Canada. • Pre-clear US Customs and Immigration before you fly and arrive in the USA as a domestic passenger • New and improved Business Class experience with fully lie-flat seats and personal space to ensure a stress-free experience as you fly • Access to premium airport lounges before you fly and refresh and re-energise on arrival in T2 Dublin Airport with the Aer Lingus revival lounge • Top-class, free entertainment including new release movies, TV boxsets, classic movies, TV, games and music • Wi-fi and mobile network available on A330 aircraft, keeping you connected as you fly.


Chalet Laponia, La Plagne

Busy Ski Season Ahead

Particularly February Mid-Term Break! Following a bumper year for ski sales last year, the 2016/2017 season is bound to be a busy one, writes Sarah Slattery. The upturn in the economy, the lack of sun holiday destinations and the overall interest in healthy living is all good news for ski operators. CRYSTAL SKI Crystal Holidays had not yet released a brochure at the time of writing, but sales have been strong in many areas, according to Orla Milton, Product Manager for Crystal Ski. Last season Crystal booked 18,000 skiers and they are expecting a 15% increase for this year. The Chamonix

majority of the growth will be in Italy with flights to Verona proving very popular with easy access to the Dolomites. Val di Fassa, Passo Tonale and Selva all provide excellent skiing areas and should be in high demand. With Christmas falling on a Sunday it has lent to an opportunity to provide a short five-night trip on 3rd January to Andorra and Italy. This is ideal for beginners or families who are still on school holidays. The Turin flight should sell particularly well as short transfers to the family resorts such as Claviere and Sestriere will be very popular. For those who don’t get away at Christmas time, the February mid-term break will be the alternative. With Easter being so late next year (17th April), this is the only opportunity for families to get away during school holidays – so expect prices to be high! TOPFLIGHT Neal Collins, Product Director of Topflight, has seen an increase of beginners coming back to the market. Traditional beginner destinations such as Andorra and Livigno were in big demand in 2016 and he believes this trend will continue for 2017. With very low inflation over the past decade, Austria also offers great value for people looking to take up snow sports, particularly on dates outside of the school holiday periods.



The programme offers a wide range selection of ski holidays from Belfast to Andorra and Austria, and from Dublin to Andorra, Austria and France. Claviere in Piedmont, Italy

“With Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve both falling on Saturday this coming winter (the traditional day of travel), we are working with our flight partners to ensure our guests arrive into their ski resorts as early as possible on those days to allow people to enjoy the festivities,” said Neal. “Ski schools across Europe will operate as normal on Christmas day. Andorra, which normally operates on a Sunday to Sunday basis, will operate Tuesday to Tuesday for the first few weeks of the season and then we will operate a great value five-day ski holiday on Tuesday 3rd January, with prices starting at €446 for flights, accommodation and transfers.” Topflight has seen huge demand for catered chalets and the company now operates 50 fully catered chalets across five of the best resorts in France, including Val d’Isere, La Plagne and Meribel. Topflight plans to include Val Thorens in 2017 based on customer demand. This product is proving very popular for small to medium size groups who can take exclusive use of a chalet for their party.

SUNWAY / CLUB MED Club Med’s all-inclusive ski holidays feature some of the world’s finest ski resorts and are suitable for all experience levels. The biggest ski domain in the world, 3 Valleys in France, has a ski lift network that offers hundreds of kilometres of runs to choose from, 80% of which are higher than 1,800 metres. New this year is Club Med’s Val Thorens Sensations resort, which offers majestic panoramic views and snow sports in top conditions: downhill skiing, snowboarding, sledging and speed-riding. Val Thorens was awarded ‘The World’s Best Ski Resort’ and ‘France’s Best Ski Resort’ in the 2014 World Travel Awards.


Val Thorens Sensations resort



Searching for Santa


Sunway (

Santa usually finds that his time preparing for Christmas is best spent in Lapland, which spreads across the northern regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, but Irish Travel Trade News has learnt from the proverbial ‘reliable source’ that he is normally to be found in Finnish Lapland, particularly in Rovaniemi but also sometimes in Pyha or Enontekio. It is not just meeting Santa that makes a trip to Lapland so worthwhile, it’s also the snow-filled fun of husky and reindeer sleigh rides (the former can be quite fast, while the latter can have the downside that you are sitting ‘behind the behind’ of a fast-moving large animal prone to flatulence!), as well as snowmobiling, tobogganing and (whisper quietly, now) reindeer steaks on the menu. Check the websites for package prices.


For this coming season, Sunway is offering a 1-Night Santa Sleepover or a 2-night Sleighbell Spectacular. The Santa Sleepover comprises flights from Dublin or Cork to Rovaniemi on Saturday 10th or Saturday 17th December and choice of three hotels (two 3-star, one 4-star), while the Sleighbell Spectacular offers five departure dates from Dublin – Saturday 10th, Monday 12th, Wednesday 14th, Friday 16th and Sunday 18th December and choice of two 3-star hotels. Highlights of the Sleighbell Spectacular include meeting Santa Claus, snowmobiling, reindeer and husky rides, Elf school, Santa Park and Santa Village, and sleeping in a cabin, and, of course, the snowy weather!


Canterbury Travel ( Canterbury Travel is offering a 1-Day package from Dublin to Enontekio and 3-, 4- and 5-Day packages from Dublin to Rovaniemi this winter. The 1-Day Mystical Lapland departs on Friday 16th December, with a sleigh transfer from Enontekio Airport to a snow igloo beside a frozen lake and a visit with Santa. The 3-Day Idyllic Lapland departs on Monday 5th, Sunday 11th and Tuesday 13th December; the 4-Day Lapland Lullaby on Thursday 15th December; and the new 5-Day Magical Sojourn on Wednesday 7th December. All three of these tours feature the scenic, wilderness resort of Pyha, set on the edge of the National Park and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, an ideal setting for snowmobiling, reindeer and husky sleigh rides, tobogganing and meeting with, and a gift from, Santa.

Falcon Holidays ( Falcon Holidays offers a Santa’s Secret Grotto Day Trip from Dublin to Rovaniemi that includes reindeer and husky sleigh rides as well as meeting Santa in his

grotto – or booking a 4-night trip departing on Friday 23rd December means your clients will get to spend Christmas Day in this winter wonderland. Rovaniemi’s Santa Park is where Santa and his elves spend their days getting ready for Christmas. The huge underground grotto is made up of fairy-lit walkways, colourful workshops and festive shopping stalls, so there is much to explore. Children can enrol in Elf School, where they will learn elf words. They can decorate cookies in Mrs Claus’ kitchen, and take a short train ride through the elves’ headquarters. Another attraction is the Ice Gallery, where the Ice Princess tells tales about the frozen sculptures. The real highlight, though, is meeting Santa in person. Little ones will get a present from him, and can have a family photo taken.



Savouring the Christmas Spirit – and Glühwein! THE ‘HOLIDAYS’ ARE COMING, WHICH MEANS THOUGHTS TURN TO CHRISTMAS GIFTS, FESTIVE CHEER AND SAVOURY (AND SWEET) SNACKS, SO NEIL STEEDMAN REPORTS ON WHERE TO FIND THE BEST AND SOME UNUSUAL GERMAN CHRISTMAS MARKETS. CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN IRELAND First, let’s acknowledge that there are Christmas Markets in Ireland, including those held in Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Tralee and Waterford, but let’s also acknowledge that their quality varies and that, once your clients have been to a Christmas Market in Germany, they will most likely want to go back or discover a new one! BIRMINGHAM’S FRANKFURT CHRISTMAS MARKET & CRAFT FAIR However, if one short sea crossing appeals to your client, then the largest authentic German market outside Germany and Austria, and the centrepiece of the city’s festive event calendar, returns to Birmingham each year in mid-November at Victoria Square, New Street and Centenary Square. This year the dates are from Thursday 17th November to Thursday 29th December, daily from 10.00am to 9.00pm. Over 180 stalls sell gifts, jewellery, decorations, handmade toys, German sausages, beer and pretzels, and, of course, the ever popular Glühwein! Adjacent to the Frankfurt Christmas Market, the Christmas Craft Fair extends into Chamberlain Square where Birmingham’s own traders offer their own selection of handcrafted items, created by local artisans. Visitors can also enjoy the popular ice rink and big wheel. PAB Tours offers four-day and three-day tours, with accommodation at the Holiday Inn Express in Birmingham. CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN GERMANY Klaus Lohmann, Director of the German National Tourist Office in London, estimates that over 2,000 Christmas Markets are held in Germany. The GNTO website provides details and dates of 67 of them for this coming winter, plus YouTube videos of 17 markets, at: The Christmas Fairs and Christmas Markets of Germany are unique. If your clients are tired of commercialism and would like to get away to a real traditional and romantic Christmas Market they can head for Germany where Christmas gifts are not mass-produced but offer quality craftwork. Crib figurines, toys, wood carvings, marionettes, candles and lambskin shoes are traditional gifts – and the mulled wine and baked apples will be welcome on crisp winter days, as will hot chestnuts, grilled sausages and other tasty snacks. Youngsters will enjoy the gingerbread biscuits known as Lebkuchen, marzipan figures and other sweets.


With so many Christmas Markets throughout Germany the most difficult choice is which to visit. The best solution is to sample at least two, perhaps one in a city for some serious shopping and another in a small town or village for something a little more romantic. Most Christmas Markets start in the last week of November and run through to Christmas Eve or a day or two before. They are usually open every day from 10am to about 8pm or 9pm. In 2016 most Christmas Markets are expected to start two days earlier (one extra day), in comparison to 2015, due to the season of Advent beginning on a different date each year. In 2016 the first Sunday of Advent will be on the 27th November 2016. The fifth Sunday before Christmas (20th November this year) is ‘Totensonntag’, a Remembrance Day in Germany, so for many German cities (mainly Catholic areas) this day is a public holiday with many attractions closing. Some early starting Christmas Markets may also be affected. This decision is usually made at short notice, so agents are advised to contact the local tourist office to check if the Christmas Markets your clients intend to visit will be closed on that day. DRESDEN CHRISTMAS MARKET Germany’s oldest Christmas Market, dating back to 1434, is held in Dresden and is traditionally called Striezelmarkt, derived from Hefestriezel, a sweet delicacy that centuries later has become know as ‘Dresden Christstollen’ (German Christmas Cake). The Dresden Striezelmarkt is located on the Altmarkt Square, in the historical city centre, and is surrounded by various themed Christmas Markets, stretching up to the main railway station and the Albertplatz. Visitors will find Christmas pyramids, smoking figures and candleholders from Erzgebirge Mountains, indigo-dyed printed textile products and pottery from Lusatia, gingerbread from Pulsnitz,

filigree lace products from Plauen, Herrenhut Advent stars, blown glass tree decorations from Lauscha, and, of course, specialities from Dresden itself, such as the traditional ‘Pflaumentoffel’, a chimney-sweep figure made of dried prunes. Visitors can also watch the carvers, glass-blowers and bakers in action at the crafts market.


The focal point of the Dresden Christmas Market is the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid, with a height of 14 metres and the world’s biggest nut cracker. Event highlights are the Stollen Festival on the Saturday before the second Sunday in Advent and the Pyramid Festival on the Saturday before the third Sunday in Advent. COLOGNE CHRISTMAS MARKET The largest Christmas Market destination in Germany is Cologne, which offers seven in total. The four biggest are located at Cologne Cathedral, on the Alter Markt, on the Neumarkt and on the Rudolfplatz. Cologne Cathedral provides an impressive backdrop to the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland and well over 160 festively designed wooden pavilions, while the Neumarkt, Cologne’s oldest Christmas Market, is located on the ’New Market’ amid the backdrop of St Aposteln’s Church and Cologne’s main shopping area. The other three are the Cologne Harbour Christmas Market, lo-

cated at the Chocolate Museum; the Stadtgarten Christmas Market, located on the edge of Cologne’s oldest park; and the ‘Christmas Avenue’, a different kind of LGBT Christmas Market located in the centre of the ‘scene-quarter’, a Bermuda Triangle near the Rudolfplatz. EMDEN ENGELMARKT The Engelmarkt in Emden, a small harbour town in northwest Germany, offers a Christmas Market with a difference, as it is partly set on boats, including the museum ship and traditional sailing ships. MUNICH PINK CHRISTMAS Finally, if your clients want to be ‘camp as Christmas’, Pink Christmas in Munich has also been developed by the city’s LGBT community to provide an original and witty alternative to the traditional German Christmas Market. A highlight is the live stage, offering a broad range of music and entertainment, wild costumes and lots of glitter!




Aer Lingus Celebrates



EIGHTY YEARS AGO, ON 27TH MAY 1936, AER LINGUS TOOK TO THE SKIES FOR THE FIRST TIME, FLYING FROM BALDONNEL TO BRISTOL. IN ITS INAUGURAL YEAR AER LINGUS OPERATED THREE ROUTES, CARRIED 892 PASSENGERS AND EMPLOYED 12 STAFF. IN 2016 THE AIRLINE FLIES 117 ROUTES WITH 62 AIRCRAFT, CARRIES 12 MILLION PASSENGERS AND EMPLOYS 4,000 STAFF. To recognise this milestone, 80 years later on Friday 27th May 2016 Aer Lingus flew the Iolar, a replica of the six-seater De Havilland 84 Dragon that made that first journey with only five passengers, to Bristol once again. Aer Lingus’s first transatlantic flight, from Dublin and Shannon to New York, came in 1958 and now the airline operates 12 non-stop services to North America. 2016 in particular is a standout year for transatlantic growth as Aer Lingus introduces three new non-stop routes to North America: Los Angeles, which began on 4th May; Newark, which will commence on 1st September; and Hartford, on 28th September. Stephen Kavanagh, Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to celebrate 80 years of flying at Aer Lingus. 2016 has been a very exciting year for us so far – we recently commenced our new Los Angeles service and in September our Newark, New Jersey and Hartford, Connecticut services will commence, offering improved connectivity through our Dublin Gateway. We are proud of our 80-year history of connecting Ireland to the world and will continue to fly the shamrock high for the next 80 years.”



Milestone Events Through the Decades 1936

Aer Lingus Teoranta registered as an airline. Teoranta means ‘limited company’ and ‘Lingus’ is derived from the Irish ‘loingeas’ meaning fleet. Aer Lingus took delivery of its first aircraft, registered EI-ABI, on 26th May at Baldonnel Aerodrome, the Irish Army Air Corps base, and named it ‘Iolar’ (Eagle). At 09.00 on 27th May the aircraft took off from Baldonnel to Bristol. Within weeks, summer service began to the Isle of Man and in September to London (Croydon Airport) using a newly acquired De Havilland DH86.


A De Havilland DH89A Dragon Rapide was acquired (February) to replace EI-ABI, which was sold to British airline Channel Air Ferries and restored to British registry as G-ACPY (19th February).


Aer Lingus moved into the newly completed Dublin Airport and the first Douglas DC-3 was delivered (April).


Paris became the first Continental European city to be served.


First Viscount 700s delivered (March). Aer Lingus was the third airline to introduce the Viscount, the world’s first turboprop airliner.


Continental European network expanded, mostly using new rights via Manchester.


The DC-3s (widely known by its RAF name, the Dakota) replaced by new Fokker F27 Friendship twin turboprops. Aerlinte Eireann, originally formed in the 1940s, is re-established and on 28th April the first transatlantic service leaves Dublin and Shannon for New York. Shamrock replaces Irish flag on tail of Aerlinte Eireann aircraft and a year later is extended to the European fleet.


Aer Lingus enters the jet age, with Boeing 720s serving routes from Dublin and Shannon to New York and Boston.


BAC One-Eleven jets introduced on Continental European network.


Montreal and Chicago added to the transatlantic network in April, and Fokker F27s replaced by Vickers Viscount 800s.


New corporate identity introduced (February) and Chicago service reintroduced.


Newark service inaugurated (May).


Airbus A321s introduced into service (May), initially on Dublin-London Heathrow route, and daily Cork-Amsterdam and Cork-Paris services started (June) using BAe146s.


Launch of Los Angeles service (May) using newly delivered long-range Airbus A330-200.


First Airbus A320 service (June) on busier Continental routes.


Survival plan implemented following 9/11 with introduction of low fares model to compete with low-cost carriers.


Last B737-500s withdrawn from service in October and Aer Lingus becomes an all-Airbus airline.


Aer Lingus celebrates its 70th Anniversary, is floated on the Irish and London Stock Exchanges, and launches first long-haul destination outside of North America, Dubai.


Open Skies agreement provides new opportunities to expand long-haul network and, within an hour of the announcement, Aer Lingus announces three new routes to Orlando (October), San Francisco and Washington DC. Aer Lingus takes delivery of two new A330s and carries more than one million transatlantic passengers.


Aer Lingus announces an industry-first partnership with JetBlue Airways connecting transatlantic passengers with over 40 US destinations. A codeshare agreement with United Airlines also provides access to over 200 US destinations. Fifty years of transatlantic flying is celebrated on 28th April and a long-haul aircraft upgrade is rolled out from the year-end.


Boeing 737-200 introduced into service, becoming the mainstay of the short-haul fleet for many years.

Aer Lingus celebrates 70 years of flights at Dublin Airport. On 19th January 1940, Dublin Airport was officially opened when an Aer Lingus Lockheed 14 aircraft departed for Liverpool at 09.00, having been positioned over from Baldonnel Aerodrome the previous evening.




First Boeing 747 delivered.


Revamped livery featuring two new green colours and a blue, plus a new white shamrock on the fin (provoking purist outrage!)


Pope John Paul II flies Rome-Dublin then Shannon-Boston on a specially chartered aircraft.


Aer Lingus celebrates 50th Anniversary.


First of five Boeing 737-400s, the largest 737 to date with capacity for 156 passengers, enters service.


Cahill Plan introduced to address commercial challenges facing the airline.


Airbus A330 introduced on transatlantic routes. Aer Lingus was the first airline to operate an A330 under ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operation Performance Standards) over the North Atlantic.


On 2nd October the last Aer Lingus B747 flight took place after 25 years of service. Over eight million people had crossed the Atlantic in Aer Lingus ‘Jumbo Jets’. In April BAe146s replaced turboprops on UK routes.

The Iolar aircraft undergoes a restoration to once again be airworthy. On 24th March, Aer Lingus takes delivery of a new A320 aircraft, St Coleman, in an especially commissioned retro 1960s ‘Irish International’ livery that marked its 75th anniversary celebrations.


Aer Lingus Facebook page is launched.


In April non-stop services to San Francisco and Toronto commenced and Aer Lingus became the first airline on Snapchat. In October the new Business Class is unveiled on transatlantic routes, including a Vantage Seat that transforms into a fully flat 6’6’’ (2m) bed, complimentary wi-fi, and new menu created with Irish food consultant Hugo Arnold.


Became official airline partner to IRFU (April) and Green Spirit was unveiled with special branded livery featuring four ambassadors that carried the team to Rugby World Cup and Six Nations. Inaugural flight to Washington DC (May) and 88 Team Ireland athletes supported to Los Angeles for Special Olympics World Games (July). Acquired by International Airlines Group (September), joining British Airways, Iberia and Vueling. In October three new transatlantic routes announced, Los Angeles, Hartford and Newark, to offer a total of 12 non-stop transatlantic routes from Ireland.


Inaugural non-stop service to Los Angeles (4th May).



Diversity of Germany’s Attractions Continue to Attract Increasing Numbers of Irish Visitors

The huge variety of reasons to visit Germany, including value for money, is continuing to attract increasing numbers of Irish visitors, up 10.8% in 1Q2016 on top of a 13% increase in 2015 and 22.3% in 2014. They also registered the second highest average camping overnight stays after Croatia. 22

At this year’s Germany Travel Mart, held in Magdeburg, capital of Saxony-Anhalt, Petra Hedorfer, Chief Executive, German National Tourist Board, told Irish Travel Trade News: “Inbound tourism to Germany reached almost 79.7 million overnight stays in 2015 – up 5.4% and a record result for the sixth year running. This exceeded our own expectations and also the UNWTO global forecasts of 3-4%. “We are expecting the upward trend to continue this year but because of various elements of uncertainty – including the security situation in Europe and around the world, the difficult conditions in parts of the global economy and the refugee crises – our forecast is for a slightly slower growth rate of around 1%-3%.” Germany has been investing heavily in barrier-free infrastructure in recent years and the GNTB has been promoting this strongly. Responding to a question from ITTN, Petra Hedorfer said: “We regard barrier-free as an important factor: there are six million people in Europe who are able to travel but who have disabilities and, of course, barrier-free infrastructure also improves the visitor experience for the elderly, the temporarily infirm, children in pushchairs, and so on. We are seeing more and more demand and we estimate that 0.51.0% of our growth in international overnight stays is attributable to Germany’s barrier-free environment.” Overnight stays by Irish visitors (including camping) increased by 13.0% in 2015 to 435,494. Klaus Lohmann, Director, GNTB London, told ITTN: “Irish visitors stayed an average of 7.3 nights, which is quite high and shows that many are now coming to Germany for long holidays, as well as for city breaks and business trips. While business trips account for 17% of Irish visitors – compared with an overall level of 9% – some 72% come for leisure and 11% for visiting friends and relatives. Irish visitors spend an average of €121 per day, or €880 in total.

“Camping (along with walking, hiking and cycling) is popular among Irish holidaymakers, who account for some 13,000 overnight stays each year. Indeed, the average camping stay is 3.6 nights, which is second only to Croatia at 4.8 and significantly above the international average of 2.8 and the UK figure of 2.7. "It is perhaps no accident that the country’s name is GerMANY, as we have so many diverse attractions and reasons to visit, including our landscapes and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, castles and cities, cultural events, river cruises, Formula 1, great soccer teams, over 2,000 Christmas markets, and many more.” MAJOR EVENTS IN 2017 500th Anniversary of Reformation: Martin Luther campaigns in 2017 will commemorate 500 years since the Reformation and will further enhance Germany’s image as the number one cultural travel destination for Europeans. documenta 2017: The documenta, one of the foremost exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, will take place for the 14th time next year. There will be an important change in 2017, as the documenta takes place at two locations. Adopting the theme ‘Learning from Athens’, it will be held in the Greek capital from 8th April to 16th July, and in its traditional location in Kassel from 10th June to 17th September. International Garden Show 2017: In 2017 the International Garden Show will be held in Berlin. The capital is expecting two million visitors from Germany and across Europe for the country’s biggest festival of horticulture. GTM 2017: The 2017 Germany Travel Mart will be held in Nuremburg.


Winter in Whistler, Vibes in Vancouver

Neil Steedman travelled to British Columbia with Air Transat to discover what Whistler and Vancouver have to offer in winter and summer.


Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains’ Peak 2 Peak Gondola. (Photo: Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane)


Whistler is a year-round resort destination in the Coast Mountains 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of Vancouver, British Columbia. The Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains are consistently ranked the Number One ski resort in North America and offer 3,036 hectares of terrain that receive an average of 1,16 metres of snow annually. Getting to Whistler involves flying to Vancouver and then driving along the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99), which is no hardship because the ‘Whistler Highway’ offers scenic ocean and mountain views. VIP Whistler offers a variety of transfer services, including luxury SUV (www. The two side-by-side Whistler Blackcomb Mountains, which celebrated their 50th anniversary as a

ski destination last winter, are, since 2008, connected by the CDN$51 million, 28-cabin Peak 2 Peak gondola. Between them, the mountains offer skiers and snowboarders steeps, deeps, chutes, bowls, glades, superb corduroy, long cruisers, high alpine and gentle rollers ( Whistler Blackcomb also offers North America’s Number One lift-accessed Mountain Bike Park with 5,000 vertical feet of trails, and bobsleigh, skeleton and luge at the Whistler Sliding Centre, as well as many hiking trails with majestic mountain views including the 9.4km High Note Trail on Whistler and the 5.5km Overlord-Decker Trail on Blackcomb.

SCANDINAVE SPA The perfect place in Whistler to relax and unwind after a day’s skiing or hiking (or, perhaps better still, skip the


exercise altogether and relax for hours on end!) is the Scandinave Spa, out along Highway 99 off Mons Road where a feast of saunas, eucalyptus steam baths, outdoor hot baths, cold baths, waterfalls, and solariums await you for CAN$60, as well as a range of massages and relaxation packages ( whistler/). There is a rule of silence in the Spa, but if you end up falling asleep in a solarium and snoring, they don’t mind at all!

authentically local experiences off the beaten track, Fairmont’s Whistler Experience Guide offers daily tailored summer and winter excursions (www.fairmont. com/whistler/).



Whistler was traditionally a shared meeting place of the coastal Squamish nation and the inland Lil’wat nation, who together in 2001 signed an historic Protocol Agreement, the only one of its kind in Canada, committing them to continued co-operation in cultural and economic development, and co-management of the shared territory – out of which the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whister was born ( The centre showcases the history, art and heritage of the two First Nations and is well worth a visit.

A good view of the Vancouver skyline is to be had from Queen Elizabeth Park, a 130-acre municipal park on Little Mountain at 152 metres (500ft) above sea level. The Bloedel Floral Conservatory, opened in 1969, comprises a triodetic dome 43 metres in diameter, 21 metres high, made up of 1,490 plexiglass bubbles. Its enclosed tropical garden has 500 exotic plants and flowers and more than a hundred free-flying tropical birds. The dome has also been used as a film location for several movies and TV series, including Battlestar Galactica and Stargate SG-1 ( parks-recreation-culture/queen-elizabeth-park.aspx).

VIBES IN VANCOUVER British Columbia’s capital city, Vancouver, sits between the Pacific Ocean and Coast Mountains and is a lively, outdoorsy but relaxed city with a multi-cultural vibe and a large Chinese population.



WHERE TO STAY ITTN stayed at the magnificent Fairmont Chateau Whistler, a landmark ski-in ski-out hotel and golf resort located at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. Facilities include on-site tennis courts, scheduled yoga, a golf club and driving range, Vida Spa, and bus shuttle to Whistler Village Shuttle. For guests seeking

The Port of Vancouver’s cruise ship terminal at Canada Place welcomes upwards of 900,000 passengers each year as the homeport for many Alaska cruises. The three-berth terminal can service up to four luxury cruise ships at any one time. The terminal is also the location of one of Vancouver’s ‘must see’ visitor attractions: FlyOver Canada’s 30-minute virtual flight ride from east coast to west coast (

Celebrity Infinity and Holland America’s Noordam in Vancouver’s Cruise Ship Terminal, Canada Place



WHERE TO STAY ITTN stayed at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel, conveniently located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, a short walk to business and entertainment neighbourhoods, and just steps from the boutiques on Robson Street, Yaletown restaurants and popular attractions, including the Art Gallery, Granville Island and the famous Stanley Park.

Irish media get a pre-tour training in sea kayaking at Ecomarine Paddlesport Centres on Granville Island, Vancouver

GRANVILLE ISLAND An energetic and fun way to see Vancouver and its harbour is by taking a guided kayaking or standup paddleboarding tour (half-day, full-day or multi-day) with Ecomarine Paddlesport Centre based on Glanville Island ( The island is a short Aquabus ride from Yaletown dock and the Public Market is a popular dine out spot offering a wide variety of restaurants.


Chief Skedans Mortuary Pole in Stanley Park, Vancouver,

If you like Italian cuisine (and who doesn’t?), booking dinner at the Osteria Savio Volpe that opened last October at Kingsway in Fraserhood is a must. This up-and-coming neighbourhood may not be the first choice for visitors to Vancouver but as soon as you enter the door of this osteria (the culinary predecessor of the public house) the atmosphere is electric, the food delicious, and the grill and spit wood-fired, but the wine, due to British Columbia’s high tax rate, a little expensive (

STANLEY PARK A good way to discover Stanley Park, the 405-hectare public park surrounded by Vancouver Harbour and English Bay, is by taking a guided tour with Cycle City Tours. If this sounds daunting, ITTN’s elderly and unfit reporter managed a 12km, three-hour tour (with stops) and only had to push the bike up two short hills, so almost anyone can do it (www.cyclecitytours. com). Alternatively, there are guided tours by horsedrawn carriage, shuttle trolley, tour bus, or take the Stanley Park Train (


Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel

Facilities include 733 guestrooms and suites, 24hour business centre, fitness centre, and Vida Wellness Spa (

HOW TO GET THERE Air Transat Air Transat is currently operating four flights a week from Dublin to Toronto until October, with onward sectors to Vancouver. Flights to Toronto are operated with A310-300 aircraft with 12 seats (2x2x2) in Club Class and 238 in Economy Class in a 3x3x3 configuration (with eight rows of 2x3x2 at the back) and a smart, bright cabin interior. Economy Class has a 23kg allowance for checked-in luggage, meals and soft drinks onboard, plus inflight entertainment (accessed by downloading an app on the wi-fi). Air Transat offers flexible Eco fares, allowing passengers to make changes for free up to the day of departure. Passengers can also book Option Plus for more Economy Class benefits, including priority baggage and boarding and a welcome 200ml bottle of Bottega Gold prosecco onboard, or upgrade to Club Class, a separate cabin Premium Economy service with a 40kg baggage allowance, 15gk carry-on wider leather seats, individual 12” touch screens, and choice of gourmet meals. Winter Season For the winter season, clients can fly Aer Lingus/ASL Airlines to Toronto and on to Vancouver with Air Canada or WestJet.


Travel to Thailand from Ireland Continues to Show Growth

Bangkok’s Grand Palace, with eight million visitors a year, is the eighth most visited attraction in Asia

The decision to move Thailand’s most important travel trade show, Thailand Travel Mart Plus, to the northern capital of Chiang Mai turned out to be a good one, with most attendees availing of the opportunity to experience what is becoming a rapidly-emerging destination, reports Michael Flood. This year, the event was held for the first time outside Bangkok and the choice of Chiang Mai was designed to showcase Thailand’s northern region as a gateway to the northern ASEAN nations of Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The love affair between Irish long-haul travellers and Amazing Thailand continues apace, as the latest figures show that 21,260 visitors came from Ireland in the first four months of this year, an increase of 7.5%. Thailand is still a great value for money destination, particularly for honeymooners. Last year a total of of 64,716 Irish went to Thailand, according to Tanes Petsuwan, European Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand, speaking at TTM+ in Chiang Mai.



He pointed out that Thailand is a highly attractive country for couples looking to get married or enjoy honeyTanes Petsuwan, European Director, moons, and offers Tourism Authority of Thailand a wide range of wedding packages, romantic settings and luxurious, private accommodation. In addition, Thailand’s own wedding planners have great expertise in helping couples enjoy memorable and romantic nuptials.

while learning a little self-defense. Lots of boxing camps are now offering women-only training where you get to learn Muay Thai skills with other women and even meet some of the big-name female fighters. With initivates such as these, Thailand looks set to continue as a major destination for Irish holiday makers.

Women’s Journey and Sports Tourism The kingdom is running a new campaign aimed at women travellers. The Women’s Journey campaign will focus on all aspects of travel and health, and many spas, hospitals and clinics are taking part, offering a range of special services at lower prices. Thailand is also positioning itself as a dream destination for sports tourism by promoting the kingdom’s world-class sporting facilities, wide-ranging expertise, and reputation for hosting successful regional and international sporting events and tournaments.

Sports such as golf are already popular among tourists coming to Thailand, and the kingdom offers over 300 world-class courses, but now the Royal Thai Government, with the support of the Sports Authority of Thailand and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, wants to help visitors discover other facilities where tourists can enjoy sporting activities. These include 5,000 boxing rings, many with Muay Thai training centres, over 50 diving clubs, and an increasing network of urban and rural cycling lanes that are spreading across the country and are being promoted at government level. Muay Thai is becoming hugely popular with women who see it as a great way to enjoy ultimate fitness

Bangkok’s Grand Palace Makes Top 50 List The Grand Palace in Bangkok has outpaced the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Great Pyramids in Cairo, and the Colosseum in Rome to make the list of the World’s 50 Most Visited Tourist Attractions, according to travel magazine ‘Travel+Leisure‘. Based on the gate count, Bangkok’s Grand Palace draws eight million visitors a year, making it the eighth most visited attraction in Asia and 40th in the magazine’s world’s top 50 list. “A listing among the World’s 50 Most Visited Tourist Attractions illustrates how Bangkok’s iconic Grand Palace continues to inspire and appeal to international visitors,” said Yuthasak Supasorn, Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Governor. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey, topped the global list with an astonishing 91.25 million visits. The Zocalo in Mexico City was second, generating 85 million visits, and Times Square, New York City, third with 50 million. Results were based on either visitor ticket sales, or visit estimates sourced from attraction management, government agencies, industry reports and media. In most cases the study adopted the 2013 data. In the list’s preamble, Travel+Leisure editors said attractions were “defined as cultural and historical sites, national landmarks, and officially designated spaces”. The Grand Palace, built in 1782, is one of Thailand’s most revered heritage sites. It was the official residence and seat of government for monarchs of the Chakri Dynasty for over 150 years.

The kingdom is running a new campaign aimed at women travellers. The Women’s Journey campaign will focus on all aspects of travel and health, and many spas, hospitals and clinics are taking part, offering a range of special services at lower prices.




Silversea’s ‘Silver Spirit’ in Santorini

ITTN PUBLICATIONS Irish Travel Trade News will be including the following special features in our next two print publications: September: Agency Services + Technology + Bed Banks + Cruising January: 2016 Irish Travel Trade Awards These entries are free of charge and the 25 categories range from airlines, bed banks, car rental companies, cruise lines, ferry and rail companies to airport transfers, theme parks, tour operators, tourist boards, travel agents, travel goods, travel insurance providers, and travel technology companies. In addition, product suppliers and tourist boards can book a Company Page to promote their messages in greater detail – including descriptive text, photos and a video link. Silversea is the most recent industry supplier to use a Company Page ( home/silversea). For further details and to book a Company Page, contact Hilary Drumm, Mobile: 085 777 0400, Telephone: +353 (0)1 216 4222, E:, or Ian Bloomfield, T: +353 (0)1 216 4222, E:


Special packages combining either a Full Page or Half Page advertisement with editorial support are available. For details, please contact Hilary Drumm, Mobile: 085 777 0400, Telephone: +353 (0)1 216 4222, E: hilary.drumm@advantagegroup. ie, or Ian Bloomfield, T: +353 (0)1 216 4222, E: YOUR NEWS AND VIEWS As ever, we welcome receipt of your news, photos, views, suggestions and invitations. Please send them to michael.flood@ BON VOYAGE Happy and safe travels to all our readers until we meet again with our September issue – and in the meantime keep up with the latest Irish travel industry news on

Irish Travel Trade June 2016