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JUNE 2014


USA issue What your clients should know about America 2014

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GOLF tour operators group IAGTO said

worldwide golf holiday sales have grown by more than 20pc over the past two years and listed their top ten destinations: Spain, 2 Portugal, 3 Ireland, 4 Scotland, 5 Turkey, 6 USA, 7 Thailand, 8 France, 9 Morocco, 10 Italy.


Institute, a US think tank based in Washington DC, named the ten most miserable countries in the world, led by Venezuela (79.4), Iran (61.6), Serbia (44.8) and Argentina (43.1) with Spain (37.6) and Greece (36.4) also in the top ten.

the new seating area in Dublin’s Terminal 1: irish are travelling abroad in fewer numbers in Q1 2014

Our €5bn tourists


Irish spending more abroad but travel less

SO figures suggest that Irish people spent more than €5bn on foreign travel last year andtravel aborad was down again in thge first quarter of 2014 thanks to a later Easter. The total number of overseas trips made by Irish residents during the period January - March 2014 decreased by 4.6% to 1,153,500. This was down 4.6pc, compared with drops of 2.1pc in 2013 and 2.5pc in 2012. The CSO overseas travel figures for 2013 found that Irish residents took 6,323,100 trips overseas last year, down 2,700 on 2012 and an enormous 25pc short of the 2008 peak of 7,877,400 - a fifth child who no longer travels abroad because of the recession. Britain continues to be the favoured destination within the EU,

followed by Spain and France. Holidays accounted for 48pc of all outbound trips, while over a quarter (28pc) were for the purpose of visiting friends or relatives. The average length of stay on outbound trips was 7.9 nights, varying between 6.7 nights within the EU, 13.5 nights in North America and 31 nights in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania. Almost 1.4m outbound trips were undertaken in the last three months of 2013, with Irish residents spending a total of €1.09bn on outbound trips. Of this amount, €538.3m was spent on holidays, €229.4m on visiting friends or relatives, and €221.9m on business trips. In 2013, Irish residents who spent €1.3bn took 7.1m domestic breaks, resulting in over 20.6m bed nights.

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Irish residents took 1.5m domestic trips in the last three months of 2013, an increase of 3.6pc when compared to the same period 12 months earlier. Each trip had an average duration of 2.3 nights, resulting in a total of 3.6m bed nights. More than a third of all domestic trips (39pc) were classified as holidays, while 42pc were to visit friends or relatives. Total expenditure on domestic trips in the last quarter of 2013 amounted to €281.3m. The CSO reported a 7pc increase in overseas visitor numbers to Ireland in first 3 months of 2014 with growth from all market areas: Britain +11pc, N America +6pc, Germany +13pc, Italy (+13pc, Spain +16pc, Australia and developing markets +17pc.

FLYCRUISESTAY Declan Hughes' Limerick based Flycruisestay plans to launch its offers website next month offering deals with 20 partners. MAJORCA tourists in face fines for

leaving the beach dressed only in swimwear. Egypt raised its visa-on-arrival fee from $15 to $25.

DUBAI Tourism offered agents a chance

to win 2 nights for 2 people on a B&B basis at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah.

CANADA is to install Wi-Fi hotspots at 20 remote locations in its national parks. The London Telegraph listed the world’s weirdest wi-fi hotspots. The Telegraph also asked if tourism has spoiled Barcelona and listed their favourite loos with views.

EUROPE’s Tour Operators reported that last year the number of European city breaks matched the number of beach holidays for the first time, mirroring the global trend toward city-break holidays.

CELTIC Horizons added dates to its

Manchester soap tours before the Coronation Street set is demolished for redevelopment later this year, also visiting the Emmerdale set and the Cheshire Oaks Shopping Outlet.

TOPFLIGHT featured its Thailand

Programme on TV3 with Thailand Tourism and Turkish Airlines as partners.

TRIPADVISOR is now the world's most popular travel app having reached the milestone of 100 million downloads,

Book your Summer 2014 Holiday! ONLINE: CALL: 1850 45 35 45 VISIT: Falcon Travel Shops Local Travel Agent Subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply. Falcon is fully bonded and licensed by CAR (TO 021). Departures from Dublin, Cork and Shannon Airports.

Page 004 Knowledge 08/05/2014 09:17 Page 1

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THE KNOWLEDGE Travel Extra Advertising & Subscriptions 6 Sandyford Office Park Dublin 18 (+3531) 2913708 Fax (+3531) 2957417 Editorial Office Clownings Straffan Co Kildare Managing Editor: Gerry O’Hare Editor: Eoghan Corry eoghan.corry@ Publisher: Edmund Hourican Sales Director: Maureen Ledwith Accounts and Advertising: Maria Sinnott Picture Editor: Charlie Collins Chief Subeditor: Ida Milne Chief Features Writer: Anne Cadwallader Contributors : Eanna Brophy Marie Carberry Carmel Higgins Cauvery Madhavan Sean Mannion Conor McMahon Ida Milne Catherine Murphy

Travel Extra takes no responsibility for errors and omissions. Distribution Manager: Shane Hourican Origination: Typeform

Printer: WG Baird Limited Caulside Drive Greystone Rd Antrim BT41 2RS Contact 01-2957418 if you have difficulty getting Travel Extra.


3-7 News Where to go, how much to pay 6 Hotels: News 8 Postcards: News from the trade 10 USA: Shopping


12 USA: Chicago 14 USA: San Francisco 19 Rivercruise: Growing fast 22 Destination: Flanders war graves 23 Car hire: Special feature 26 Cavan: Walking festival

28-32 Flying: Airline and airport news 33 Afloat: Stena’s Celtic takeover 35 Global Village: Inside the travel industry 37 Window seat: Martin Skelly writes 38 Pictures: Out and about

Uncle Sam’s add-ons

hile everyone is complaining about new airline fees, the hidden charge has moved into the hotel industry Last year, US hotels took in a record $1.75bn in ancillary charges, up from $550m in 2002. Though not the preserve of the Americans, extra charges seem to develop and expand at a faster rate on the other side of the Atlantic than in Europe. Roger Dow of the US Travel Association told Travel Extra during a press conference at Pow Wow 2012 in Los Angeles that his thinking on excess charges is that the market will prevail and tourists will avoid the resorts that impose excessive surcharges. Customers call them hidden charges, hoteliers call them profit points. No longer are expensive telephone systems a profit point as cell phones and internet services such as Viber and Skype make them redundant. We are not just talking about the gratuity dance that takes pace for every service in a US hotel by underpaid employees. In some cities, employees are not paid at all and required to subsist on gratuities. Even if the employees are paid the legal minimum wage, the US tax system expects them to be earning a substantial stipend in tips, effectively asking the hotel or restaurant guest to pay the wages of the employees. Older fees were more straightforward. Use the phone, the mini-bar, room service, or the in-room

A place to shop in Boston

movies, and it's going to cost. Nowadays the game is much more about wi-fi charges

PARKING This is an old an enduring gripe. Valet parking has been mandatory in many hotels since the mid noughties (that is if they know you have a rental car, some customers simply avoiding declaring it) and it can be as much as $50 a night, a notorious fee charged in San Francisco. You then have to tip the valet guy $2 for the trouble of brining you back your car. PACKAGES

Has someone sent you a delivery? It can cost you $5 for the hotel to accept a package delivered to your room.

DAILYResort charge rates can reach $25 plus taxes per night per room in some hotels. The charges have been extended to cover services

that would be regarded as the norm among many people’s holiday expectations, things like towels and showers as well as services that many guests would be unlikely to require. A typical list of services covered by the resort charge in one hotel is: local, toll-free, and credit card calls. Internet access, coffee and tea, nightly turndown service, use of the spa, access to self parking facilities.

SAFE: Some hotels are charging for having a safe in your room even if it’s not used. You can hardy demand that the safe be removed from your room either. AIRCON: With

higher energy bills, hotels are charging up to $80 a day for turning the air conditioning on in your room.

MINIBAR: You don’t have to consume

anything from your mini bar to be charged for using it anymore, you get charged from minibars with sensors that bill guests if they move something around. Hotels then charge a “restocking fee.”


An old bugbear. The norm is $10 a day but can be up to $30 an hour in certain five star hotels. An anomaly is that the higher grade the htoel the more likely it is to charge for wifi. Small family run hotels and motels are less likely to charge for wifi. One Hyatt Travel Extra has encountered charges $20/day whilst guests could find free WiFi at the window from adjacent coffee houses.

BACK EMPTY: A new development for 2013 has been the requirement from certain car rental companies that the car is returned empty,

instead of the old out full, back full system. The idea is that the car rental company will do you “a favour” by allowing you to return the car empty, then hit you with a massive surcharge for the fuel costs. The traditional model for car hire is that the vehicle is expected to be returned with same amount of fuel as when it was picked up: usually “out full, back full”, occasionally “out empty, back empty”. With competition between rental companies intensifying, many firms have moved to an “out full, back empty” rule with customers paying inflated rates for petrol or diesel that they may not be able to use. Some contracts commit customers to paying an unavoidable charge with no refunds, with no idea how much the charge may be. This month Travel Extra’s editor was quoted three rates by a car hire company, $4.33 a gallon at the local pumps, $3.89 a gallon for a ‘no refunds’ fill to go, and $7.88 a gallon if the car had to be filled on return.


common complaint from the sun resorts of Florida is the excessive charge for use of chairs and cabanas especially given the rates that are charged for accommodation.

CHECKOUT A late check-out charge can take on a different meaning when check-out is moved to early in the morning.

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NEWS Frien goes d FREE !

Stay long enough and the price will come down



Resort prices falling across Europe

ocal prices have fallen in half the destinations surveyed by England’s Post Office. The company researched the price of ten tourist staples, lunch and evening meals, drinks, suncream, insect repellent and a daily newspaper. Prices have fallen up to 21pc in two-thirds of European resorts since last spring with Paphos registering the biggest fall with The basket of ten items cost €75 in the Cypriot resort, taking it to sixth place in the table from 10th last year. Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach came in cheapest of 20 resorts surveyed, overtaking the Costas and the Algarve. This was due to a 16pc fall in prices, most notably in the cost of eating out, At €52, Sunny Beach’s basket of 10 tourist staples is over £10 cheaper than its nearest competitor. Resort costs are over a third cheaper than 2009 in the Costas and the Algarve. Marmaris is this year’s runner-up with a barome-

ter total of €66. Despite a 13pc jump in local prices as the summer gets underway, the Turkish resort has moved five places up the top 10 because the resort rises have been offset by a rise in the value fo the euro. Another Turkish resort, Bodrum, will cost €116 – 76pc more - for the same items. At €66, the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca remain best value in the eurozone with only a few pence separating the two resort areas and Marmaris. Prices in mainland Spain, the most popular destination for Irish holidaymakers, are cheaper than they were five summers ago. In the Algarve, where resort prices are higher than a year ago, around three per cent more than on the Costa del Sol. Despite this, the cost of a round of drinks, lunch and evening meal is less than in Spain and second cheapest to Sunny Beach. Crete has emerged as 14pc cheaper than Corfu at €80 compared with €94, a reversal of previous results for the two Greek Islands. Istria (€87) is 11pc cheaper than another Croatian re-

sort Split (€98). Ibiza is the priciest Spanish destination. At €118, the 10 items cost around 77pc more than in the Costa del Sol, and over 25pc more than in Majorca. Lanzarote is almost as expensive at €106. Although prices are up by almost 25pc, Majorca is the cheapest Balearic Island. At €94, barometer prices are around three per cent lower than in Menorca (€97), where resort charges have fallen by 21pc. Barometer prices remain uniformly high in Italy where Tuscany (€123) and Sorrento (€102) are the most expensive resorts for the second year running. Despite price falls in both destinations, the overall barometer cost is almost twice as high as in the Costas, Marmaris and the Algarve and 135pc more than in Sunny Beach. Away from Europe, Orlando is still a good value option. A barometer total of €92 helped the theme park favourite to retain its place in the top 10 destinations in ninth place.

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KILLASHEE Faxhill builder Jack Tierney sought emergency High Court protection from creditors for Killashee House and Lawlor’s hotels in Naas. LOWCOST rates in Mojacar and

Roquestas de Mar opened up by Ryanair’s new Almeria route include the Oasis Tropical Mojacar RO from €23pppn and the Playasol Roquetas de Mar RO from €15pppn.

QUADRIGA launched a box called

SmartQubeTV which it says “makes any hotel TV smart.”

HRS said that London has become Europe’s

most expensive capital to stay in at an average of €140.14 per night, up 13pc compared to Q1 2013, ahead of Moscow and Zurich (both €134.84). Dublin average prices were €77.50, up 14.21pc.

MOUNT JULIET was put up for

sale by the Mahony family’s Killeen group for €15m.

TALBOT The Barony Restaurant at Belmullet’s Talbot Hotel was awarded an AA Rosette. MOUNT WOLSELEY Hotel in

Tullow, which owes €60m to various banks, asked the High Court for protection from its creditors to put a rescue plan in place and save up to 175 jobs.

MARRIOTT Rewards ranked highest

in the inaugural J.D. Power 2014 Hotel Loyalty/Rewards Program Satisfaction Report with an overall customer satisfaction score of 707 on a 1,000 point scale ahead of IHG Rewards Club (704) and Canada-based Delta Hotels' Delta Privilege (703). Price Index revealed that visitors to Dublin paid an average of €206 per night for 5 star accommodation. European visitors to San Francisco paid the most (€495) for a 5-star accommodation in 2013 followed closely by New York and Tokyo. Warsaw offered travellers the best deal on 5-star accommodation with an average price of €83 per night, followed by Budapest and Cairo at €121 and €131 per night.

JURYS Inn offered free wifi across its hotels but only for customers who book on the group’s website, including free premium wifi for heavier internet use such as streaming films, gaming and large file downloading. Those who don't book directly online will pay €4 per hour, €6 for 24 hours or €10 for 48 hours use of premium wifi.

ANDY Murray’s Cromlix hotel was Scotland's best luxury hotel weeks after opening. POWERSCOURT are organising a guided walk on Sunday May 4th at 4.30am for International dawn chorus day. WORLDhotels launched its global loyalty programme Worldhotels Peakpoints.


hotels were named as worst in Europe for offering free Wi-Fi.

BELLA Sky Comwell Hotel in Copenhagen was forced to let men stay in its womenonly bedrooms after a court ruling.


Solis solo run

Donegal hotel was first to bear new brand name

ew Solis Lough Eske GM Sean Carney has reason to be pleased with himself. Since his return from the USA he has added 1,000 occupied rooms in each month this year January, February and March. How did he do it? OTA’s. They demand a rate, and they deliver, he says. The Lough Eske hotel was in a group of one until earlier this year. Since then three more Solis hotels have opened in Sochi for the Winter Olympics and a fifth in Nanjing. The one in Donegal is still the path finder for the group. Why not Capella? Sean Carney explains that Capella was supposed to be the ultra luxury brand. Its first venture into the market was at Castlemartyr, a €40m exercise which has now been put on the market for less than €10m. The second Capella marquee hotel, Dunboy Castle in West Cork, was never completed and has descended into a labyrinthine mess of separate ownership which may end up being trashed out in the legal system. Capella moved away and focused elsewhere and now 14 hotels around the world but the hotel in Donegal has become the focus on something a lot more interesting. Transforming the hotel from a gothic ruin into a modern comfort zone cost around €37m. Geneva

€254 Venice

€226 London

€200 Milan

€182 Pairs

€178 Amsterdam

€173 Rome


Florence Stockholm

€165 Donegal

€150 Oslo

€148 Source:

Sean Carney: Task at Solis Lough Eske is to put Donegal on map The investment may never be re- it to be higher. That is just not the trieved but in the meantime guests case. “I think we bought the Berlin Wall can enjoy the fruits of the architectural vision and innovative design. and we put up from this imaginary He says five-star product in the line from Dublin to Shannon because north-west comes at a price point people are scared to come out of which is considerably more the Shannon and make a left and come up equivalent five- in other parts of the West Coast or come out of Dublin and make a right.” northern Europe. “it is lower than you are getting the To find Ireland what are you looksouthern part of the country. To get ing for within Ireland and what we people to come to this area, there has are offering is a county that is three to be some kind of incentive for peo- different counties the south, north Donegal and Innishowen. ple to come.. You can’t charge the same as you “The roads are there but the probcan in the south and south-west and lem is getting people to come up the Dublin for that matter. We would like road.”

EUROPEAN HOTEL PRICE INDEX €139 €115 €97 Copenhagen Barcelona



€133 Istanbul

€131 Vienna

€128 Munich

€124 Brighton Hamburg Manchester



€119 Brussels

€118 Prague Sevilla




€114 Frankfurt

€113 Lisbon


Glasgow Sligo


Berlin Kilkenny Madrid





Dublin Lyon








€106 €103 €102

Killarney Marseilles

€99 Belfast


Derry Malaga

Granada Toulouse Dresden




Athens Tralee

€84 Limerick


Bilbao Waterford





€79 Rigo







€66 Sofia



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Page 008 Postcard first 08/05/2014 09:28 Page 1

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niworld hosted a group of travel agents on board the River Countess on the Po River in

Flyaway Travel, Jean Cusack of Icon Travel, Isabel Russell of Freedom Travel, Michelle Lyons of Fahy Travel, Sharon Jordan of Uniworld who hosted the trip. Richard Cullen of Killiney Travel, Paula Dalton of Platinum Travel, Natalie Creaven of Cassidy Travel and Bernie Fenton of Heffernan's Travel on board the River Countess on the Po River in Italy.

ustsunshine, headed up in Ireland by the popular John Grehan, launched their programme of charter flights to the Irish trade. The tour operator will utilise a weekly Tunis Air charter service to Monastir from June 21 to September 27. Can Deniz said they planned to serve more destinations from Ireland. Sami Trosse of the Tunisia Tourist Board made a presentation on the coun-

trys offerings, pointing out that Tunisia is the second biggest destination for spa holidays after France. Matin Skelly President of the ITAA emphasied the familiarity of the Irish trade and the Irish consumer with many of the hotels on the Justsunshine programme. Picture shows the Justsunshine team of Can Deniz, Rosie Thornton and John Grehan at the launch in Marcel's Restaurant Dublin,

Italy. Sharon Jordan says she has already seen significant pre registration. She says 2014 saw a shift in consumer demand from the traditional 8-day river cruising itinerary to 10 days or longer. Picture shows Pamela Brownlee of



elphi Lodge, Connemara and Raheen Woods Hotel, Athenry joined Manor House Hotels of Ireland and Irish Country Hotels. The group is anticipating marketing and capital investment of more than €10m in 2014, adding 150 jobs new jobs and revenue growth. Manor House Hotels (a collection of 27 luxury boutique hotels and castles lo-

cated throughout Ireland. Picture shows Lester McNamara, Raheen Woods Hotel, Mary Fitzgerald Chair of Manor House Hotels & Irish Country Hotels, Paul Gallagher Brand Chair of Irish Country Hotels, Michael Wade of Delphi Lodge and in front, Maria McNamara of Athenry’s Raheen Woods Hotel and Hazel Wade of Connemara’s Delphi Lodge


man Tourism hosted a trade nigh ht Brooks’ Hotel in Dublin. with two film shows and a prize which was won by Susan Kiernan of Asksusan. There were six suppliers including Etihad and one fo the big unanswered questions fo the night is how Etihad can bring people to Muscat cheaper from Dublin than Oman airways can from London.


MV and The Travel Broker hosted agents on board the marco Polo, an old favourite with the irish travel trade and the cruise industry. The Marco Polo is a classic traditional-style ships for 800 passengers and has been a frequent called in Dublin for direct pick-ups.


he Spanish Tourist Board hosted agents in the Costa Del Sol featuring Malaga, Antequera, El Torcal and Ronda. The itinerary included guided visits to the Cathedral, Alcazaba, Picasso Museum, Carmen Thyssen Museum and Roman Theatre. The group stayed at Hotel Tryp Alameda Malaga, Catalonia Reina in Ronda and Hotel Coso Viejo in Ante-

Visa issue kept away one fo the partners but the Ministry of Tourism delegation, led by Philip Georgiou improvised to keep the show on the road. Picture shows Toni Birthistle of Travel Escapes and Ray Lee of Travelbrokers with Philip Georgiou of the Oman Ministry of Tourism at the Oman Tourism event at Brooks Hotel in Dublin

Tom Maher of the Cruise Broker hosted agents on board and explained the appeal of the CMV product. Picture shows Julie Hanna, Tom Maher and Marie Corrigan of Cruise Broker with Will Walsh and Brian Purcell of Click & on board CMV Marco Polo during its call to Dublin port.

quera. Picture shows Gerry Bergin of Budget School Groups and Tours, Kathryn McDonnell of the Spanish Tourist Board, Arte de Cocina, chef of Antequera, Ciara Sweeney of Corrib Travel, Irene McCaffrey of Travel Department, Linda O’Donovan of J Barter, Kathy Cashe of Sunway and Natalia Boveda of Costa del Sol Tourism Office on the Spanish Tourist Board Costa del Sol fam trip.

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enny Rafter and Jennifer Callister of Royal Caribbean hosted 92 trade and consumers on board legend of the Seas in Cobh. Picture shows Jenny Rafter of Royal Caribbean International, Emma Barry of Falcon Travel Shop Savoy, Ciara Murphy of Falcon Travel Shop Savoy and Ben Bouldin of Royal Caribbean International during the agent visit to Legend of the Seas Derek gave an update to the


our America were presented with the Chairman's Circle Honours award at IPW 2014. Picture shows Chris Thompson CEO of Brand USA, Veronica Ahern and Linda Ryan of Tour America and Roger Dow CEO of the US Travel Association. Tite awards event honored 92 representatives from 46 of the world’s highest volume tour operators and buyers of the US travel product.


opflight hosted a group of travel agents in the Lake Garda region.

The group visited Desenzano to the south of the lake for one night, Riva to the north of lake for two nights and visiting Sirmione, Peschiera, Malcesine, Garda and Verona for the opera and the Romeo and Juliet balcony: Topflight have developed as the Italian specialist tour operator out of Ire-

trade visitors of the options that royal and the new concept of dynamic dining coming to Quantum class ships, this will see the main dining room be replaced by five complimentary dining rooms . Allure will be coming to Barcelona for a mini season in 2015. .Jenny Rafter and Jennifer Callister explained what Royal has to offer as a cruise holiday.

Tour America were presented with a custom-designed crystal award and a beautiful hand-cast bronze medallion as a “thank you” for their continuing excellence in promoting travel to the United States. “The Chairman’s Circle Honors provides a special opportunity to recognize the international companies that are leading the way in driving visitation to the U.S.,” said Roger Dow.

land. Picture shows Erica Archer of, Aoife O’Donovan of Douglas Travel, Sarah Brady of Barters Travel, Graham Hennessy of Topflight, Antoinette O’Connor of Travel Counsellors, Lorna Gannon of Topflight, Sharon McEvoy of Travel Solutions, Michelle Redmond of Cassidy Travel, Lisa Sheehan of Falcon Travel and Christine Mullane of Creation Travel.


alcon Holidays and the Spanish Tourist Board hosted an evening for agents in Dublin’s 4 Dame

Lane. The event featured music and prizes. Kathryn McDonnell made a presentation on behalf of the Spanish Tourist Board. Antoinette Young, pictured above, spoke about Falcon’s differentiated product in Spain. Falcon’s brand has


asis travel hosted a luxury travel event at its headquarters in Lisburn. Sandra Corkin’s Oasis based in Lisburn with offices in Belfast, is one of the most pro-active travel companies in the north of Ireland. At the event presentations were made by Silverseas, AMA Waterways, Starclippers, Caribtours, Kirker Holidays,


ripAdvisor users listed Ireland among the top three dream destinations for American travellers. The news came just as a delegation of 15 tourism companies and five American tour operator partners participated in a roadshow to three cities in Texas. It follows a similar Jump into Ireland series earlier in the year Tourism Ireland mission to Fort Worth, Houston and Austin coincides

taken a different strategy this year has concentrated on amore modern and contemporary feel, focusing on all-inclusive and the differentiated family product where Falcon have seen lots of growth in recent years. The majority of Falcon customers said in market research last year that while they like to research online they preferred to book with the travel agent.

Travel2, and Great Railway Journeys. Picture shows Carly-Ann Moore of AMA Waterways, Jennifer Ford of Oasis Travel and Danielle Dudley from Starclippers. Separately, Oasis Travel and Co-operative Travel won the Best Small Agency and Large Agency Awards in the North of Ireland Region at the Travel Agent Achievement Awards in London

with increased advocacy on the government’s part on the airlines to open a direct route to Texas. Picture shows Minister Michael Ring (centre) with participants at Tourism Ireland’s ‘Jump into Ireland’ event in Houston, Alison Metcalfe of Tourism Ireland, Debby Summerlin of Debby does Destinations, Houston, Carmel Flynn of Parknasilla and Paula Carroll of Ashford Castle.

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he American shopping trip is upskilling having remained unchanged over the years. The people who run the shopping industry are talking experiential, with fine dining, wine tasting and cookery classes as part of the day out at the mall. On the corporate side, much has changed. Chelsea the premium outlets brands has become subsumed by Simon, the giant conglomerate that now offers 117 destinations across America.


he big name malls such as Woodbury Common, as well known in Ireland and our indigenous department stores, have faced an increasing number of independent competitors. But, try as they might, tour operators and holiday companies cannot get us to transfer our allegiance to Jersey Shore, Franklin Mills, or any of the other contenders to Woodbury’s crown. Shopping event of the year will happen in Boston. A new mall will transform the visitor experience in the city. America’s Premier Shopping Places says that they have increased the experiential end of shopping. Kathy Anderson

Retail raiders America’s sensational shopping

Have cart, will travel;

says: “we know everybody loves the outlet shops. The motor coaches drop them off and they go from store to store. We are introducing a brand new outlet experience. When you go to outlets you don’t have the full service dining, you don’t have the entertainment that some of our centres have.” They include wine tastings and activities and net rates for groups. Elsewhere, much of the action is north of the border in Canada, to create even more excitement in a year Ireland gets four daily services to Toronto, we will get new outlet shopping opportunities. Simon are opening up

two locations in Canada, Toronto in 2014 and Montreal in 2015. Founded in 1998, Rosemary McCormick’s Shop America is a travel trade organization offering ongoing travel and tourism marketing support to its members and partners. It has 60 packages to 200 destinations on the market in 2015, sold via major tour operators worldwide and at The MasterCard Shop America Savings programme offers discount offers at 75 locations throughout the USA. Experiential tours include cookery classes.


he short stop shopping opportunity it is also a neglected art form for the Irish retail raider. North Georgia Outlets, 45 minutes from Atlanta, is a treasure trove of opportunity. Nor are the prices the same wherever you shop. Like high-street prices, outlets mall prices vary from state to state. Spending power in the locality, rather than anything related to location or proximity, determine the prices. Occasionally there are anomalies. Woodbury can beat a southern mall in price, and Napa Valley


Arizona Phoenix California Camarillo Carlsbad Desert Hills Folsom Gilroy Las Americas Napa Livermore Petaluma Village Pismo Beach Vacaville Connecticut Clinton Crossing Florida Ellenton International Dr

Vineland Ave Silver Sands St. Augustine Georgia Calhoun North Georgia Hawaii Waikele Illinois Chicago Indiana Edinburgh Lighthouse Place Maine Kittery Maryland Hagerstown Queenstown

Massachusetts Lee Wrentham Village Michigan Birch Run Minnesota Albertville Mississippi Gulfport Missouri Osage Beach St. Louis Nevada Las Vegas North Las Vegas South New Hampshire Merrimack New Jersey Jackson

Jersey Shore Liberty Village New York Waterloo Woodbury Common North Carolina Carolina Ohio Aurora Farms Cincinnati Oregon Columbia Gorge Pennsylvania Grove City Philadelphia The Crossings South Carolina Gaffney

Tennessee Lebanon Texas Allen Houston Grand Prairie Rio Grande Valley Round Rock San Marcos Virginia Leesburg Corner Williamsburg Washington North Bend Seattle Wisconsin Johnson Creek Pleasant Prairie

outlets can come in cheaper than Louisiana, but this is the exception rather than stop Many states do not have ANY outlet malls. The places that have the least money and could do something with a bit of cut price shopping are denied the opportunity by the logistics of retail management hands economies of scale.


he bargains are available on the high street as well. You can pick up amazing stuff even in cities with high public taxes. In Manhattan last year's fashion our as redundant as unused frequent flier points with British Airways. They are sold off with the ridicule and sneer reserved for a failed Broadway act, terrific prices for and end of Juicy Couture, sightseeing for the bargains (and how Irish shopping shapers love the word) you must head for Century 21. The shoe area is just to the left beside the entrance from Fulton Street subway station. Terrific ladies shoes and boots for $30, crying out not to be left behind. Most of the labels are there, at a fraction of fifth avenue prices for what

are last year’s cutting edge fashions. You rummage away at designer shirts from $60, Ralph Lauren $35, keen priced cosmetics and jewellery and a place to buy a bargain label suitcase in the luggage department for those who haven’t brought enough. It is good for bed linen and towels, evening bags sunglasses are downstairs beside the cosmetics. Nearby Pier 16 the seaport is a good place to explore, and the Abercrombie & Fitch there is less full on that A&F on Fifth Avenue. If you still have the energy (and Manhattan energises the most exhausted) out Chinatown for fake handbags Prada, Gucci, Louls Vuitton, Fendi for about $35. Make sure to haggle. On the way home Bloomingdales is full price but you have the luxury of walking around a proper department store.The Ugg shop is also worth a visit. For those with demanding fashion-plat teenage daughters, Juice Culture velour track suits are $110 in Century 21, they retail for four times that in Brown Thomas. And Woodbury Common is still a bus ride away.

page 011 06/05/2014 11:02 Page 1

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Page 012 USA Chicago 08/05/2014 09:42 Page 1

JUNE 2014 PAGE 12



o understand Chicago, take to the water. The river whose course was reversed is one of the first great engineering marvels of a city which still celebrates its engineers and architects. The architecture tour, appropriately, things place on a boat because this is the best position from which to view the towering structures of shining glass and collision between mid century modernism art deco and millennial flamboyance that erupts around you as you travel from block to block, bridge to bridge, through the watery artery of the city. Chicago no longer builds the great skyscrapers of the world in their own city. The Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower, and the Hancock building, one of the most iconic built structures in the world, will not be surpassed by anything higher in the immediate future. But that does not stop Chicago. The towering buildings of Taiwan, Dubai, and potentially, Saudi Arabia, are designed and connived here in the heart of American architectural culture. Look up, this is Chicago, glazed and confused.


hanks to Randy Stancik you can also look down.

He first came up with the idea of a glass deck on the viewing floor of the Willis Tower twelve years ago. The glass deck on the

Holy Cow Eoghan Corry looks up at Chicago

The best view of Chciago is from a waterborne archiitectural tour

103rd floor is safe as a house, or more likely safe as a 1,451-foot tall house. He didn’t tell this bosses what was happening until the designs were complete. Since the deck was installed, visitor numbers have gone from 1.1m to 1.6m a year at Willis. Just under 20pc of these are from overseas. They have revamped the queue system, upgraded the turned the old Sears office cafeteria into a 7,500 square foot gift store, where you can buy Lego models of the towers. If you have visited the Sears, forget the old experience and come to the Willis to renew the experience. Randy talks about the glass deck and his beloved tower like a father about a particularly overgrown child. They have added an

events area on the 99th floor and private dining to the experience. Randy says one of the fastest growing markets is Ireland


o experience the soul of the city seek exactly that, the music. The blues clubs of the city centre places like Blue Chicago are as genuine and authentic as Vegas is fake. On our night visit to Blue Chicago one of the audience members was invited to take the microphone with sophisticated and suave set that would take the breath away of the most cynical tourist. Chicago is still a hard drinking city, perhaps a relic of some of those extreme waves from beer swilling north Europe. it is a good place to party


■ Hancock Tower: One fo the world’s most important buildlings with views to the lake. Visit at dusk ■ Art Institute of Chicago, one of the world’s greatest art collectoins and home to American Gothic. ■ Museum of Science and Industry: Signature attractin is the intact german u-boat sinstalled inn the basement.

■ Shedd Aquarium: The world’s first salt water inland aquarium, frat with penguuins and swim with belugas. ■ Cloud Gate: Anish Kapoor's beanshaped sculpture and centerpiece of Millennium Par is selfie heaven. ■ Willis Tower: No longer highestin the world but by some distance the world’s best tallun’ visitor experience.

and tan easy place to find convivial conversation over a few beers. What more could anyone want on a trip to a foreign city?


ur tour guide Josh Eisenberg told us there are four people from Chicago that are well known internationally., Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Barrack Obama and Al Capone. Chicago is reluctant, to put it mildly, to celebrate its gangster history. The warehouse where the Valentine's Day massacre occurred is now a green swathe of parkland with no commemorative features. Al Capone’s house can be visited but is not promoted as a tourist attraction. But one landmark of the history of the gangster era is definitely worth a look: the Biograph Theater outside which John Dillinger was shot. Most of the bars around the Lincoln Park district started out life as speakeasies. Today, these working

streets are one of the best places to stroll the city, known for their Bohemian flavour and birthplace of icons of Chicago hospitality such as Charlie Trotter’s restaurant. Away from the neckache city centre sunblock skyscrapers, this is as good places any to explore and get under the skin of Chicago. Access is easy from the city centre loop line. Which is a blessing. Whoever designed the urban transport system in Chicago could not be accused of joined up thinking. The Metra lines do not meet. The bus system is effective but only if you travel to essential points. Getting from suburb to suburb, even from attraction to attraction, requires meticulous planning and, more often than not, departing public transport to get a taxi.


f the best place to see Chicago its from its water courses, the loop line comes a close second. Some of the stations have been restored

in all their period splendour to give a flavour of what it was like to live in the city when this was the most happening place in the world, its population bulging and doubling every 10 years with immigrants, wave after wave of them changing the character and pace of the city every few years like a continuous and serial revitalising blood transfusion. Of course the Irish were amongst them, infatuated with how much money could be made and how lives could be transformed emotionally and psychologically as much as by the freezing winter temperatures. A great uncle of mine once told me when he went to Chicago as a young man he could pit and hear the clunk of the ice as it hit the ground. When the wooden city burned down, as wooden cities usually do, in 1871, the Irish were blamed, or to be more exact, Daisy, Catherine O’Leary’s cow of 137 De Koven Street (the block is now the site of the Chicago Fire Academy.). The cow was pardoned by the city council in 1997, injustice victim of an over-zealous journalist who first spread the story that the cow started the fire by kicking over a kerosene lantern. Chicago being Chicago, the journalist, Michael Ahern, was also from Cork.


he lake is clear blue, like it was created by a painter. Not by design, zebra mussel ate all the marine life which left the environmentalists unhappy but makes for better pictures. That’s Chicago. A series of accidents, some unhappier than others. Ask Daisy the cow.

■ Aer Lingus fly twice daily between Dublin and Chicago O’Hare at 11.30 and EI125 at 15:45 Fares start €309 each way incl charges.

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Page 014 USA San Fran 06/05/2014 09:51 Page 1

JUNE 2014 PAGE 14



lower power songs followed a pattern. San Francisco, to them, was not so much a place as a state of mind. It was not just defined by landscape, striking as the Golden Gate bridge and the islands, not by Isla de los Alcatraces or its more beautiful and less well known counterparts, or the alpine streets through which speeding cars bounced in Bullet and other car chase movies, but instead this is a city demarcated most by its smells, its sounds, and its people. The sound is ubiquitous. When you walk the streets the most distinctive noise to back the hum of hump-bounce San Francisco traffic (even the traffic sounds different here) is the sound of the tram cables cranking under the paved roads. Tourists, who comment about the large number of street people are demonstrating the city and its reputation not just as a centre of counter culture but a bastion to tolerance in an increasingly angry United States. And the smells, the sea air ensures that these are special too. San Francisco’s restaurant and kitchen culture is inclined towards the east, and its huge populations of Asian ethnicity. And this, in what people often call, the most European of American cities.


ntertainment is different here. Burlesque shows fronted by a brasher cast of characters than you find in Hollywood ob-

San Fran High

Eoghan Corry takes a hike on Aer Lingus

Alex Kenin walking through Filbert Street stairs, still classed as a Street of San Francisco

sessed Los Angeles, and the ubiquitous peacocking transgender types, making a night out truly unique. Beach Blanket Babylon is the best and the cleverest (one line stands out in memory: “thanks to Gavin Newsom, we can be a twosome”) but even when the quality falls short of what might be found elsewhere, you know you are in San Francisco. At Supperclub visitors don’t sit at a table, but eat on oversized white beds with their shoes off The people are different too. You cannot carry a Louisiana belly if you climb through these streets on a daily basis never mind tackling the 600 steps of Filbert Street through the bush. San Francisco people are fitter and mentally more agile than their counterparts elsewhere. It might be imagination, it might not, but in a city and is largely the creation of someone's post-Apoc-


■ Marin Headlands at the Point Bonita Lighthouse, these headlands offer a suspension bridge and hiking tra ■ Golden Gate is the most visited and photographed bridge in the world, do it by bike for the best experience. ■ Alcatraz, infamous prison at end of a pleasant ferry ride, every time you go you see something new.

alyptic imagination after the fire of 1904, imagining the people and the culture to match its landscape is a useful and rewarding pursuit.


ou get the impression that people have to be fit to live in San Francisco, with its hills, steps and chilling Pacific winds. We did not realise how fit until we joined Alex Kenin of UrbanHikerSF through the walkways of San Francisco. Many of these trails, and trails is not an inaccurate term, are listed on as streets the maps. They bring you through urban bushland, up steps, past people’s back gardens and past various ornaments and pieces of public sculpture of which visitors would be unaware. There are public stairways dating back to the 1850s, the longest as 600 steps. If that doesn’t take your


■ Lands End: stunning views at every turn in this wild and windy trai ■ Twin peaks: A twenty-minute ride from downtown, rated the best place to catch a San Francisco sunrise. ■ Greenwich Street steps, n two sections from Sansome Street, across Montgomery and up to Coit Tower, builtas a tribute to local firemen.

breath away the views will. We hiked four and a half miles from North Beach up Russian Hill, Telegraph Hill, Filbert and Greenwich street steps, Molinari Mana Park, Vermont street, Potrero hill, Macondray Lane and the breath-sucking Filbert Street stairs listened to Alex’s urban urbanities (“Levi Strauss never made a pair of jeans”), the statue of Christopher Columbus looking like Superman, Jack Earley park, Red Field Alley. In between the bushes and ever changing foliage, the view changes. Snatches of the Golden Gate bridge and infamous Alcatraz islands can be glimpsed, but San Francisco is more than its postcard scenes. The urban staples such as church steeples can be caught and if the view tires you out, you can always count the calories that you are losing. One of the trails involves a climb of over 170 steps.


s Chicago learned in 1871 and San Francisco learned in 1904, there is nothing like a decent conflagration to put

you on the architectural maps Some of San Francisco's most magnificent buildings came out of the ashes. The Palace Hotel, dripping in ostentation of another age, offers a Second Empire haven from the noisy streets outside. It drips of “I’ve just found a nugget” ostentation, a 1989 renovation having transformed its public reception areas flooding with natural light (rare in an American city) and its 553 rooms, waiting for your custom since 1875. The nightlife, inevitable has some of the best Irish pubs on the planet, notably Myles O'Reilly’s in North Beach and the more touristy Johnny Foley's. This is where Irish Coffee was invented, by a returned migrant who picked up the tip in Shannon airport and brought it to the Buena Vista on Fisherman’s Wharf. The serve as 2,000 Irish cof-

fees each day. The food hall at the ferry port was renovated in 2003 and has become a showcase for local produce, a California certified farmers market operated by a nonprofit organisation. It is a great place to nurture the taste buds for breakfast. The city has just under 6,000 restaurants. If you only have time to get to one, Scoma’s Restaurant on Pier 47 is the city writ small. The signature is its licensed fish preparation station for the public to view the seafood as it is prepared. Scoma’s may have the best house wine on the plant. If San Francisco was a meal it would be breakfast. Amazing fruit, eggs Benedict, and all the trappings that its Pacific European culture entail. Breakfast at Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco perhaps.


lower power has been consigned to the cliché book of San Francisco, a phase of history like the gold rush or the fire that had a defined beginning, middle, and agreed end. You can still find the residue but, interestingly, you have to look hard. It is surprisingly odd that you find the summer of love commemorated best is in the district of Haythe. The 1960s never really went away. They went to San Francisco and stayed there. Who needs hallucinogens when you have a landscape like this?

Postcard row on Alamo Square

■ Aer Lingus flies five times a week to San Francisco and on to 16 destinations on the west coast. Fares start at €369 each way inc charges.

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JUNE 2014 PAGE 15

he winter was long so the leaves were late. Sprinklings of lavender could be seen along the roadside. The smell, though, was of burning, for since the days of the native Americans they burn the prairie each year to keep the cedar trees from seizing this ground. The burning lasts for weeks, and sometimes locals grow tired of the smell. But they know there will be a reward. Lush green grass they come to fill the vacuum and the black will turn to green. The surviving prairies of the Flint Hills define the image that Kansas conveys to the world. Dorothy and the tornado won’t be dislodged from popular culture very easily but now there is an alternative icon of Kansas for everyone to talk about. The quick explanation goes like this: the hills were too stony to yield to the plough, so the USA was left with something approaching a preserved belt of prairie land. It took ages for anyone to pay attention to this legacy, and, now they have they wonder why it took so long. People of the prairie and proud of their landscape and love to show it off to whoever passes through. This is one of the world’s great drives. The grain silos are the skyscrapers of the rural countryside, like cathedrals in the skyline.


Call of the Prairie Eoghan Corry crosses Kansas and Oklahoma goes here


Mary Cronemeyer of Circle S Ranch and Country Inn: had her first fall of a horse when she was not yet one year old

o really see this country, ditch the car and saddle up. My companion Mary Cronemeyer of Circle S Ranch and Country Inn near Lawrence could not have been a more experienced horsewoman. For Mary fell off a horse before she was one year old. Her mother, apparently, brought her riding at the front of the saddle as she tackled the chores at the farm on horseback. One day the little baby fell off the front of the saddle where she had been perched. She did not land on her head, or so it would appear, so all ended well. And Mary still loves to ride. When I came to her ranch on a sunny day in April, it was still cold and the last residue of winter

wind was gusting across the prairie. The wind has such a presence here, it is like an extra character in every story. I assured her I was made of strong stuff, and we took to our horses. With great scenery, great conversation, and lots to talk about, it may have been one of the best afternoons I have ever spent in my rambles across seven continents. Mary grew up on rural farm in Kansas but the canvas was enormous. Her hobby was bringing home stricken animals, a coyote cub, a nest of baby skunks. Her parents patiently tolerated Mary’s multi-species menagerie. Nowadays the menagerie is still around. You can hear the coyote’s relatives howl at night under the


■ Flint Hills Discovery Centre Manhattan, ■ Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve ■ Schlitterbahn waterpark Kansas city. ■ Flint Hills Discovery Centre: nice interpretatin of the signiicance of the Prairie in Manhattan: “the little apple” ■ Wichita Museum of World Treasures

■ Circle S Ranch and Country 3325 Circle S Lane Lawrence, KS 66044 P: 785 843 4124 ■ Woolaroc Ranch ■ Standing Bear Pkw Ponca City, OK 74602 P: (580) 762-151 ■ National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum ■ Chickasaw Cultural Center Sulphur,

big wide open, starry sky. Was it lonely? She laughs it off and tosses her hair to tell me that in summer time the farm boys would come to mend fences and help with the hay. And everyone who comes from a rural background who has been a teenager knows exactly what hay is best for.


eather Brown, in a glamorous, dressed in period costume to show visitors to an old farmhouse at Tallgrass. Things have changed here since America in Bill Clinton’s time decided to recognize its last remaining prairie for the first time. Visitor numbers have grown, and with it, the sense of place of these inspired grassland people. If the green swathe of Tallgrass prairie is now the centre of attraction for sightseers, it is town of Cottonwood Falls that you come to find what life was like in the golden age of calves being fattened on grassland left behind after the demise of the buffalo. “The seasons is what makes the difference here,” Sue Smith “In

Texas you have two seasons, hot and hotter and hell.” “I was asked why I came back 16 years ago. My ears heard my mouth say: the sky.” “When it is mean and ugly it is still amazing. When it is clear and bluebird sky it is amazing. The thunderstorms are amazing. Out here you can see stars.” “Verdant is the word. It describes our prairie.” “We believe in grass routes. And our grass has long, long routes.” The rural economy of Kansas has changed. Where once there were lots and lots of farmers and cowboys, now a handful of ranchers control the region like 19th century Irish absentee landlords. It is the day trippers and the people looking for the residue of old Kansas that keep towns like Cottonwood Falls and Council grove together. In Council Grove I had the most polite petrol retailer I may have ever men and welcomed me. A previous trip in 2007 met its high point in Council grove when a few impromptu songs, as one needs to when one

comes from Ireland (to fulfill the national stereotype), lead to an all-night party with a violin accompanied rendition of home on the range.


ou can tell the border between Oklahoma and Texas by the giant casino that sits on the skyline of the flatlands. It is a cacophony of noise and whoops, not like Saturday matinee Indians from those old movies, but the whoops of modern-day gamblers, most of them from across the Texas border coming in quest of dollars. It is the largest casino in the world, or so the roadsigns say. Vegas it ain’t. But it does have a hotel, some decent entertainment and good array of food offerings by casino standards. It also provides something much more significance, the funding for a cultural fightback by one of the Indian nations. The WindStar World Casino funds the cultural ambitions of the Chickasaw nation. At the end of the erosion of the pride and the self esteem of native

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JUNE 2014 PAGE 16

DESTINATION USA America came something unexpected, money. Lots of it. Not many of Oklahoma’s 37 native American nations has a cash cow like this, but, it is intriguing to visit the cultural centre and see what they are doing with the money. They have craft works where Larry Seawright and Glenn Laming demonstrate woodcarving and bow making amid the stimulation of a stockade like that around the 18thcentury village visited and described by English writers Arrel Gibson and John Swanton. The stockade, like the nation, is not in the right place because these people were forcibly moved to Oklahoma like many others. The story is sad, not as sad as the Cherokee, but it means there is little to work on. The language was illegal until the 1990s. This is ironic because the Americans at war used the code talkers, native American speakers, to communicate their secrets. Just three languages survive at sustenance level: Choctaw, Cherokee and Chickasaw. Native speakers are dying off, praying to Ana' binni'li that the language does not die out. There are text books and signage and the start of a language revival movement with some lessons, CDs and talk of an immersion school and a full university pro-

Robbery to Lonesome Dove). Cowboy culture is alive and well and their exploits fill the stadiums of the west. Jim Shoulders is revered, the Christy Ring or Stanley Mathews of rodeo. Here you can see the rope that broke on Dean Oliver rope and deprived him of the championships. The big rodeo championships moved to Vegas. Oklahoma still grieves.

The Route 66 sign at Oklahoma City gramme. If money could revive a shattered language and a shattered culture, nobody is going to resent a few more quarters in those slot machines from the Texans.


f Ken Meek, curator at Woolaroc Ranch museum is to be believed, Frank Phillips was first a barber, second a banker and third an oil man. When he shows off his paintings he itemises the treasures and the frauds because sometimes Frank was taken for a ride. The one constant was that he ALWAYS got a deal. Frank wanted a few percentage points off each price and it shows: the entire collection, in a way, is a few percentage

points off. Vanity collections are a curiosity of the American circuit. The collection accumulated by Frank Phillips an oil baron from Bartlesville Oklahoma is situated in a truly beautiful environment on an overlook above several artificial lakes. It looks like a Mayan temple as you approach and indeed the cabinet of curiosities in the entrance hall has some shrunken heads from Ecuador. His collection of art includes some in and includes some of the most iconic American West images. John Mulvany, an Irish artist who specialised in paintings of Custer and his escapade at Little Big horn is accorded a place in the cluster corner. Frank's

nephew is responsible for the collection of Colt revolvers some going back to the 1830s. The house itself, as curator Tim Meek describes as, is a man's house. There are heads of almost every conceivable variety of animals. Most died naturally, as opposed to falling to a hunters butter, which is a relief as the casualties include some giraffes. The story behind the elephant's head is more exciting. While playing poker here with his friends, Frank Phillips won a circus and then lost it again the following night.


o ponder bigger questions like the moral harms of

frontier conquest, stop in to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma city. It tells the classic frontier tale of wilderness versus civilization and like all good matinees the verdict of the fight is never in doubt. When the centre first opened the story of the native Americans was not as well told as it has today. Now the cowboys are still the heroes, but the Indians are too. There is lots of western art and a chance to get close to the real living breathing cowboy culture that Europeans usually miss, beyond John Wayne and John Ford (although there is lots of that too, an interpretation of cowboy movies from the Train


he rivalry between Kansas and Missouri is very European, to the extent that they had cross border skirmishes in the lead-in to the American Civil war. The rivalry is still there. Tax breaks and investment opportunities, instead of cannon, are now the weapons of choice in the battles between KC Missouri and KC Kansas. Last time I was in town they whisked me through KC Kansas, a sort of “nothing to see here” travel writer experience. All has changed. KC Kansas is making a splash, literally. KC Kansas opens a biggie this year, the largest water slide of in the world at its water park Schlitterbahn, the German for insane: Verrückt. It is vertigo central, 264 steps to the top, 17 stories high and a technological innovation: jets that pro-

Restaurateur Sue Smith and hotelier Suzan Barnes in Cottonwood Falls, heartland of the prairie, land run monument in Oklahoma City

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JUNE 2014 PAGE 17 pel the riders uphill to make a real water coaster. This side of the state line also has an 18,000 capacity soccer stadium home of Sporting Kansas and a favourite home venue for the US soccer team. For fun accommodation, you can’t beat Steve Beaumont’s intriguing Chateau Avalon in Kansas City KC, with its 71 rooms fitted in 23 concepts. Steve spent more time travelling to Vegas than to the places it inspired and it shows: room 327 Tuscany, 213 is the Colorado frontier, 229 is Venetian, 221 is Camelot. His bar is called d'Nile and its floor is called quicksand.


here’s the beef? Everywhere along the road, apparently. There is much conversation at every stop of the percentage of prime beef they serve up in the local restaurants. “Enjoy what the soil round you has produced, Kansas fed grass beef,” Jeff Schauf who runs a food truck in Wichita says. The top 2pc of premium beef, they say, they keep for themselves, a local carnivore secret that is revealed only to visitors. Americans like huge portions. In Oklahoma I found the biggest portions I have ever sat beside. It is beside the Arbuckle mountains (Chickasaw Country Marketing Association says “for Oklahoma these are mountains for other states they are speed bumps”) in Smokin’ Joe’s Rib Ranch. They serve up - 3,000 lbs of meat of meat each night, and much of it was on my plate. Nearby Nancy Fulton makes the best fried pies on the far side of the Atlantic. Abeline Kansas is where slider burger was invented, The founder of White Castle burger

joints was from Wichita, and apparently stole the burger idea. Lots of places claim the best barbecue. Kansas City is a contender and this is a serious claim for the barbecue is a six hour cook, and has to be manned because it is charcoal while a slab of Sunday is cleanup time. A previous visit to Cattleman’s in Oklahoma served up one of the best steaks I had in the world, but there were several others to dispute the claim. There is more to please the taste buds. Bill Copeland has put Tulsa on the chocolate map with his confectionary in the revitalised Bricktown downtown area. Then something unexpected: an Oklahoma winery using Oklahoma grapes. “You have to listen to the grapes,” Tulsa wine maker Chris Girouard says. “Oklahoma gets 40 inches of rain a year compared with 30 in most wine regions, it is too humid for the classic grape varieties.” Chris’s father bred some wild local vines varieties with the more familiar grape vines, with interesting results. “They grow in open clusters which enables them to dry out more quickly and means they are not susceptible to black rot.” His winery is a work in progress. I will be returning to taste.


o back to the road. Not just ANY road. The most famous road in American culture. Susan Pordos welcomed me to the Route 66 Interpretive Centre at Chandler to try to get my head around it. What defined it: neon. Is it still there? Very much. The Route 66 of the 1950s, the motels and diners where girls with tossed hair and flouncy dresses hung out, was


Bill Copeland : Putting Tulsa on the chocolate map

something that was created by Hollywood to entertain the rest of the world. The gritty Route 66, where the car would be stuck behind a slow-moving, smoke-belching truck, unable to pass for mile after mile, was something a lot less glamorous, something that tourists even if they could experience it, would find less enjoyable than the romantic version that they have imagined and reimagined and these reimaginings have been reinforced by marketing campaigns crewed by people who were not even born when Route 66 was at its heyday. It is in the small towns that you find Route 66 at its most original and glamorous, red brick, red tiled roofs the signage from all ages and vintages, large trucks ferrying produce, it gives you a sense that the Route 66 golden age was not long ago and they even be just beginning. Route 66 has become a tourism cliché, of course. But the cliché mongers are happy to confine this to the roadside cafes and merchandising opportunists all of whom have attached imagery declaring their allegiance to Route 66 (the legend) rather than do with anything that would interfere with the relentless march of modernisation and covering up the past that

is such a delicious feature of the America we know and love to visit. There is enough real stuff flying by as you drive to convince you the journey is worthwhile: AJ's gun and pawn shop, Sonic, Star Tyres, Donut palace, stop and shop markets, Golden Arches, spirit bank and American

flags inside the houses with porches. The ubiquitous churches, lots of Baptist but not just Baptist, Methodists occasional Presbyterian or Catholic and the Episcopalians who still own America. The question is how much of Route 66 has ANY historic value. The

road has been repaved so often the contours have been cut through. The conflict between operating a working roadway where people live drive and preserving an original road bed was no contest in America. Maybe we are looking for something 4/22/14 10:15 AMthat never existed in the first place.


the gateway to Washington State and Alaska.

vi s i t s e a t t l e . o r g

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t was one of those invitations that could not be ignored. Somebody in Oregon wanted to launch an Irish whiskey. It didn’t have an Alice in Wonderland label on the email (“drink me”) but I am sure they meant to attach one. Tad Seestedt of Ransom Distillery was launching his virtual Irish whiskey in Sheridan Oregon, put together from an 1865 mash bill that he uncovered. He has mixed in oats for the occasion. Oregon is the Ireland of USA, I tell him. It rains on cue. “May your climate never change,” is the toast. Oregon, famous for its wine, its volcanos and caldera lake, is now becoming famous for its craft distilling. Cue the Myles na gCopaleen joke about a drop of the crater. Tad is an enthusiast, who believes when it comes to distilling that cooperage and proofing are not talked about enough. He makes terrific grappa, but the Americans don’t drink much grappa either. Oregonians, in contrast to the commonly held perception of Americans in general, have a great sense of irony. Andrew Volstead, the congressman who managed to get prohibition on to the statue books in 1919, has had a vodka named here in his honour.


his news deserved further investigation so I head to Portland to do some imbibeful research. A pedaltaxi comes to the wonderfully eccentric crystal hotel, owned by the McMenamin Brothers. “We are the Clydesdales of the cycling community,” my guide Matthew Cruz tells me. His job is to bring me to distiller Stephen Mc-

Hops & vines Counter culture capital Portland has taken to the drink. Eoghan Corry investigates

Portland is the cycling cpaital of the USA, and much more Carthy, a fifth generation Corkman who has spent his life trying to introduce Americans to the pleasures his Eau de Vie. Americans don’t like Eau de Vie much, but Stephan doesn’t mind. He distills lots of other things as well. From a standing start, the still Stephen bought in Germany in 1985, the Oregon whiskey movement has gained pace and now there are 35 craft distilleries in the state and 15 more on the way, many within Portland itself. Stephen has a unique Douglas Fir liquor, but I found it an acquired taste. A visit to Ireland inspired Stephen to make a single malt whiskey called McCarthy’s, rated by whiskey writer Jim Murray as one of the best in the world, of which he has a limited edition. He finds a bottle for us to taste. His is the first of four distilleries I visit, Patrick Bernards’ Bull Run Distilling (one of their rums is known as Temperance), Andrew Tice’s House

Spirits of the betterknown Aviation vodka (where they named a vodka named after Temperance pioneer Andrew Volstead), and Eastside Distilling, best known for Marionberry Whiskey, with lunch in between at the lunch at Michael and Sasha Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon, a sanctuary of wine and cheese.


randon Wise, the president of the Oregon Bartender’s Guild no less, (“my name is a bit of an oxymoron” is his opening line) serves me a selection of his best in the Imperial, an impressive new bar with chandeliers made from bicycle chains. He sees his role as a cultural one (hic), to “help people engage history of drinking.” He says prohibition created the cocktail, because the alcohol available was of such mixed quality, and that prohibition cocktails are being resurrected al the time. He says Oregon pro-

Eoghan Corry flew to Portland with Aer Lingus and their partners Jetblue through their shared terminal at New York JFK airport, Terminal 5. See

duces great Pacific rum for mixing. The cocktails have creative names as well: “A radish walks into a bar,” “Sleight of Hand,” “East of Eden,” “Exit through the gift shop.” He also has two cocktails on draught, Vieux Carre (based on rye, brandy, vermouth, Benedictine, angostura and Peychaud’s bitters from Kentucky), and another called Attention c1930 based on gin, vermouth, crème de violette and whiskey. Brandon creates new rhythms like a DJ mixes music. “It is a lot more like baking than it is like cooking. The better the ingredients the better the product. That flavour arc can absolutely affect your mood.” At 2am it is difficult to argue with that.


here the Pacific rolls into the USA, bringing its vapours and rain, it has created Oregon. Great collisions like that affect both landscape and people. The mountains were covered with rich forest, promulgating both the logging boom on which the state was founded and the rich

farmlands on which it now sustains itself, but also affecting the people who settled here. Only those who have never been to Portland can say San Francisco is the most European of cities. The joke goes that when the trekkers reached the fork in the road, one sign read “California” and the other “Oregon.” The ones that could read went to Oregon. Portland is the heart of counter-culture. Two people behind me at the baggage carousel in Portland airport were talking about Shakespeare The sign for the light rail system also says directed newly arrived passengers to “bicycle assembly.” When I checked in to McMenamin’s Crystal Hotel the backing track was Shane McGowan singing: Whiskey You’re the Devil, you’re leading me astray. Over the hills and mountains, and to Amerikay. Art imitating real life, or is it the other way round?

fter my whiskey day, what better to clear the head than a wine day? So I head up to Beverly Cleary country in McMinnville. Wine tasting has moved on from the days of a pokey cellar door smelling of stale yeast. Today’s American wine Taste-Mahals are like automobile showrooms, all trendy architecture and glass fronts, a regulated cover charge of $15 or $20 a flight of six tastes and an exit through the gift shop. Where Napa and Sonoma have gone, Oregon is following. Seven of the Oregon wineries have new tasting or show rooms and I stop by at five of them. Laurel Dent welcomes me to a pioneer vineyard, Ponzi Vineyards near Sherwood, where they started growing vines before Oregon earned its reputation. The family developed their own pinot noir clones with the help of the University and ushered the Oregon wine industry into life in the 1970s. The trail leads on a well-lubricated path, to a lunch in the five star spa resort Allison Inn, to other new tasting room showrooms at SokolBlosser and Stoller, and a chance meeting with Brian O’Donnell, first generation from Scarrif, whose Belle Pente pinot noir is among the best in the state, and Trish Rogers from Louth who markets Stuart’s wines. The night is punctuated with a terrific steak in McMinnville’s best restaurant, Thistle, drinks in the rooftop bar in McMenamin’s Oregon hotel and a big finish with beers and a session on the pool table in the De Luxe Bar. If Ireland had a wineland, it would be like McMinnville.

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JUNE 2014 PAGE 19


What your clients should know

The banks of my own lovely Loire


ore of us are taking to the rivers than ever before. One of the fastest growing sectors of the travel industry has been the rush to river holidays, a fast-changing sector in itself. In the past two years two of the major players on the Irish market moved further into all-inclusive to include alcoholic drinks. Outside balconies have become the norm on river cruises and schedules are tweaked to offer the finest

scenery during daylight. In fact 2014 will be the best year ever for river cruise out of Ireland, well ahead of the Celtic Tiger days. This follows five years during which this segment of the industry has seen already high growth rates increase year on year out of the Irish market, The age Group buying cruises tends to be over 65 retired people with disposable income. Although the recession created a demand for discounted holidays, River Cruise passenger

numbers have kept growing each year. With all this growth, it is important for River Cruise customers to understand that they need to book well in advance so they can book the most popular cabins (those with balconies) as ships are smaller than the ocean going variety. Sharon Jordan of Uniworld, which company helped drive much of the growth in recent years and who won the Best Specialist Cruise Company award in 2013, the first year the category


was included at the Irish travel industry awards (a reflection of the trend in itself), reports growth of 25pc year on year in 2013 and further growth in 2014 at the same level . Sharon says 2014 has seen a shift in our consumer trend from the traditional 8-day river cruising itinerary to 10 days or longer. She anticipate further growth of 25pc-30pc in 2015. While Uniworld are new to the market, AMA Waterways, represented in Ireland by Sunway, re-

Uniworld’s splendid decor on SS Catherine

port January and February 2014 sales were back to pre-recession levels. Consumers have become more familiar with the product, air access to the main riverport cities increases,, the boats become more luxurious and the major players in the

river cruise industry become more innovative. River Cruising is growing in popularity because: ■ Clients want something different to an Ocean Cruise ■ Word of mouth is greatly spreading for this product


ALL-INCLUSIVE Ultra-Luxury Boutique River Cruises in Europe


Reservations: 01 775 3838

Page 019-021 Rivercruise 07/05/2014 16:56 Page 2

JUNE 2014 PAGE 20


■ The ship is your floating luxury hotel ■ Fewer passengers (average of 150) than ocean vessels ■ More personal space on board ■ More intimate environment for sharing experiences and developing new friendships ■ No lines for embarkation/disembarkation ■ No tendering ■ No seasickness ■ Fine Dining with wine included ■ Internet, Hollywood movies, satellite television and music library included at no charge ■ City Tours with professional guides included ■ Visit destinations that ocean cruises cannot reach ■ No checking in to hotel after hotel ■ Unpack once and settle in for a relaxing vacation. ■ No riding in buses for hours on end; no traffic ■ Most long distance travel is done in the evening so daytime can be spent visiting cities, towns, museums and historic sites ■ Time in cities and towns is maximised on a river cruise versus travelling to/from destinations by coach.


urope's waterways can be experienced in a variety of ways including self skippered boats, short tour-cruises and canal barge. But it is the river cruise sector that has seen the biggest change. These may range from older ones whose price points have been driven down by the rush to more luxurious craft by the big lines, to the newest ships, inspired by classic ocean yachts, which have spas, gyms and, wi-fi access. A few of the newest have pools, though these are sill a rarity for river cruise vessels. River cruise combines the advantages of an

What your clients should know

No ocean cruise can match the views on the Rhine

ocean cruise with those of a bus tour, river cruises show you the best of Europe, Russia and China, and bring passengers small quaint villages as well as the large cosmopolitan cities. One of the main comforts is that you only have to unpack your bags once, and that all you need is provided on board. Most offer all-inclusive meals and many have additional services such as spas featuring relaxing massages and facials. Some also include wine with dinner. The cruise lines offer local evening entertainment, lectures and demonstrations. Shore excursions hosted by an English speaking local guide are part of the experience. These may be charged separately and it is worth checking before you book for a client as it can have a significant impact on the price. More companies are including excursions as part of the package price, in contrast to what is happening in the ocean cruising sector. The major European routes are the Danube and the Rhine. Uniworld’s Castles on the Rhine tour is one of their most popular cruises, while Enchanting Danube takes passengers from Budapest to Passau, and European Serenade voyages from Vienna to Amsterdam. Other cruises include Paris and Normandy on the Seine. In Portugal

while one of the most exciting new ships on the water is the Duoro Spirit that plies its trade on the Douro River. In Russia you can cruise Moscow and St Petersburg. Ama has introduced an African River Cruise and Safari that visits the Chobe River, South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Tanzania


niworld’s new river ship SS Catherine was named by French actress Catherine Deneuve in Lyon this spring. Like its sister ships, the SS Antoinette and River Beatrice, the SS Catherine is an elegantly appointed vessel with a bright, cheerful decor full of personal touches brought in by the Tollmans. It follows the pattern of Uniworld design and decoration with original hand-selected art, classic furnishings, and old world antiques rich in character. The two-deckhigh lobby of features an elaborate Murano chandelier, a cascading waterfall and a glass-enclosed elevator. Among the unusual features is an interior pool SS Catherine will sail Uniworld's seven-night Burgundy & Provence itinerary, which includes visits to Lyon, Avignon and several other destinations in southern France. Uniworld have been especially active in the

Irish market, with the team headed by Sharon Jordan. Their big selling point is the fact that shore excursions are all inclusive. Uniworld are regarded as European specialists with ten ships plying the waters of the major European rivers, In business for more than 30 years, their launch of the allsuite River Beatrice in 2007 changed standards through the industry. They have expanded to become a world wide operations with more than 20 countries on their itinerary, and more than 500 sailings a year. They have interests in Asia and Egypt, offering cruises on the Yangtze, Mekong and Nile Rivers Uniworld also operates (though does not own) the famous MS Litvinov, a sleek 220-passenger, 423 foot cruiser that is a popular Russian river cruise vessel. All cabins on Uniworld’s river cruisers are outside. They range from standard cabins to luxury suites and the deluxe rooms include floor to ceiling windows. Uniworld is one of the few river cruise companies to handle all of their own hospitality and hotel management efforts, as well as food delivery. “At the forefront of everything we do is attention to detail” Sharon says. “No corners are ever cut at the expense of our guests. With the popularity of river cruising growing and more ships being

built, Uniworld’s goal is to not be the biggest but to deliver a consistently outstanding experience to our guests.” Uniworld offers cleaning service twice a day and the beds come with wool blankets and fluffy duvets. Dining aboard consists of breakfast and lunch buffets. Dinner is open seating and menus often feature country-specific themes. Many ships have spas or fitness facilities and a few have pools. Medical facilities, beauty salons, lounges, and large sun decks are options on which Uniworld boat you chose. Entertainment is of the quiet variety, and is often by local musicians, guitar players and/or singers. Shore excursions with local guides can be arranged with the Cruise Manager. Next up for Uniworld is the SS Maria Theresa, due to launch in spring 2015, named after the Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, who reigned from 1740 to 1780. The ship will sail this very region on Uniworld’s European Jewels itinerary from Budapest to Amsterdam. She will also sail on Tulips & Windmills, European Holiday Markets, and Grand Christmas & New Year’s Cruise. “We are delighted to name our new 2015 Super Ship after such a great historical figure as Maria Theresa who had a wonderful and long legacy,” said Sharon Jordan, Country Manager Uniworld. “Maria Theresa was the mother of Marie Antoinette, so in the spirit of our awardwinning ship, SS Antoinette, we are confident the SS Maria Theresa will be equally as magnificent.” Couples who pay in full at the time of booking can save up to €1,500 on the SS Maria Theresa’s

all-inclusive itineraries. This value-packed savings programme expires June 30, 2014. Uniworld continues to be a trade only supplier with no direct booking function on their website. Sharon says this means agents can recommend the Uniworld website to clients with confidence knowing that the website is purely an information service. For 2015 Uniworld is turning 100pc all-inclusive following in to footsteps of luxury ocean cruise liner SilverSea.


iviera Travel are introducing a new cruise in 2015, along in Portugal’s Douro Rivera. . The new cruise comes at a time of renewed interest in the once precariously wild river Douro, which winds through Portugal’s famous wine region and a Unesco World Heritage site. Now tamed by a series of locks, we navigate several of them, always intensely fascinating and enhancing the valley’s charm. The Riviera brand claims some of the best appointed cabins on any European river cruiser on a choice of eleven cruises with fully inclusive touring programmes They recently added the five-star MS Jane Austen, our third new ship in 3 years, you can see how every single aspect and element has been designed to the highest possible specification and our own exacting standards to bring you the very best and most enjoyable river cruising experience, in the most luxurious manner. Your comfort is assured with our spacious and tastefully appointed cabins, all of which benefit from hotel standard beds and well-equipped private bathrooms. The cabins are some of the largest, best appointed and most luxuriously furnished on the rivers.

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Riviera offer five days from €839pp, Eight days from €1239pp, Fourteen days from €1,939pp on selected departures up to November 2014 and April to November 2015. Cruises include return flights from Dublin, fourstar superior and five-star cabins with hotel standard beds, private bathrooms and river views, high end cuisine with full board throughout.


ew for Ama Waterways in 2014 is a package of unlimited beer, wines and soft drinks with lunch and dinner (until 2013 it was just dinner). Ama launched two new 164-passenger ships AmaReina and AmaSonata in Vilshofen this spring. Last year’s AmaPrima won the Cruise Critic Editors’ Pick for Best New River

What your clients should know

The Duoro is the new Danube Cruise Ship in 2013. Both feature spacious staterooms (most with French Balconies or Twin Balconies) measuring up to 300 sq. ft., open lounges with panoramic riverside views, multiple dining venues including an intimate Chef’s Table Restaurant, a heated pool on the Sun Deck, fitness room, and onboard salon and massage services. Other highlights include complimentary bicycles, Internet and a comprehensive Infotainment System, which features

first-run Hollywood movies, news, music and popular TV shows. AMA Waterways, founded in 2002 by river cruise pioneer Rudi Schreiner, are represented in Ireland by Sunway. Destinations have increased. AMA began cruising the Rhine and Danube. Now we cover Russia, Portugal, France, Vietnam and Cambodia, Kenya and new for 2014 is Myanmar. River Cruises are pretty much sold out for Summer 2014 although

there is still availability on our Rhine and Danube Christmas Market Cruises.. Sunway are now booking Summer 2015 with an early booking discount of 5[c for bookings by July 30th. Ama Waterways uses 14 ships in Europe with six ships based elsewhere and operates exclusively for the English speaking market. Ama ships are distinguished by their spacious cabins, French balconies and marble-appointed bathrooms and most offer fitness centres, beauty salons, gift shops, and splash pools. The flagship is the AmaKatarina, with 108-cabins. Ama has made great efforts in its European fleet to incorporate additional dining venues, and it has maintained that tradition here: An alfresco dining area adjacent to the main restaurant can seat 32 passengers for a

separate three-course dinner. Seating in this dining area must be reserved in advance. . Their limited hours drinks package is cheaper than other all-inclusive River cruises and cocktails are very cheap (about Eu6.50) outside of these hours when the clients are usually on excursions or at an entertainment event. n 2015, two more brand-new ships, the AmaVista and AmaSerena, will join the AmaWaterways European fleet. In addition, the newly-built AmaDara will begin cruising the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. On St Patrick’s week Viking River Cruises surpassed its own Guinness World Record for "The Most Ships Inaugurated in One Day by One Company" with the simultaneous naming of 16 new

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Viking Longships over a 24 hour period in Avignon, 14 of which will set sail this year and two of which were introduced into service last summer. This is the third consecutive year that Viking has christened a massive amount of new vessels at once. Avalon Waterways has a fleet of 15 ships offering river cruises to Europe or China. It has partnered with Globus, to offer shore excursions. The Victoria Anna and Jenne are beautiful ships sailing in China while the Royal Lotus sails the Nile River. Avalon Panorama, is described in the marketing material as the industry's first "Suite Ship.” European Waterways offers a fleet of 15 ships sourcing existing old trading barges and converts them into boutique hotel barges of between four and 12 cabins.

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Page 022 Flanders r 06/05/2014 10:42 Page 1

JUNE 2014 PAGE 22



illing the arable plains of Flanders throws up an unwanted second harvest for local farmers each year. They call it the Iron Harvest, old munition, shells, grenades and bullets which are uncovered during ploughing and harvesting in the tillage land surrounding Ypres (or the more pronounceable Ieper in Flemish), where much of the fighting in World War One was concentrated. An estimated 300 million shells and grenades were launched in the Ypres Salient, and many of them never exploded, and have yet to be recovered. It’s a reminder of the enormity of war, a heritage that is only a family memory or a page in history for those of us who do not live with it. For the Flemish, it’s a daily and sometimes dangerous part of their lives. Their war still continues. The Belgian government ordered that all tillage land was to be ploughed a metre deep after the war, to avoid trouble, but the larger machinery of modern farming is helping to bring more material to the surface. Flemish farmers who find munition move it to the side of the road, leaving it for the Belgian army bomb squad to pick up on its regular rounds. Sometimes it is just a shell or two, but at the beginning of March, a farmer near Paschendaele made a spectacular uncovery of several hundred deadly mustard gas cannisters. His farm was cordoned off until the bomb squad could make it safe again. Since then, construction workers were killed by exploding WWI munition in Ypres.


oday, battle tourism is a significant employer around Ypres and the local other towns whose history is forever linked

Ida Milne in Flanders

Ypres clean 100 years later a bunker still stands to attention to this incredible war. As a visitor experience, it’s perhaps oddly attractive, tasteful and informative, dealing with the awesome sadness that is a perpetual companion of WWI. The visitor moves between museums, battlegrounds still dented from the blasts, and the ubiquitous graveyards. The Belgians have maintained a great respect for the foreign soldiers who died on their soil, Allied and German. Local tourism interests are gearing up to tackle the hoped-for influx of visitors for several hundredth anniversaries. Most of those who come have a family connection. The interest from local history groups and schools in Ireland is already substantial, and Flemish tourism organisations are keen to make sure that they experience quality audience-specific visits. At the heart of the Irish-focus war experience is a small group of highly trained guides who have an astute knowledge not only of Irish soldiering, but also of the political and social dimensions to the Irish participation in this ‘war for the freedom of small nations.’ They tailor group visits to the battle fields and other sites, trying to find things of particular interest to the groups.


he Irish specialist for our trip is Simon Louagie, who grew up in the area; it’s more than a job to

him, it’s a way of life. He produces facts and stories almost as though he was pulling them straight out of a scene from 100 years ago, fresh from battle. Taking us through a newly-sown cornfield on the Messines battlefield, he swoops on a patch of slightly redder soil, the sign of Iron Harvest booty, and after a few moments’ digging, produces a piece of shrapnel we eagerly collect. A primary source, straight from the battlefield. We can only imagine the excitement of school groups in the same situation. My granduncle, Royal Army Medical Corps doctor Captain King Elmes from Old Ross, died in Flanders at the age of 25. Simon gives me a glimpse of his war, following the London Regiment he served with. I wonder did he cross this same field, under rather different circumstances, when the air was thick with smoke and gunfire, the bangs and blasts and cries and smells and fears of war. He was doing his job tending the wounded and dying, when he too was killed by a shell at the end of September 1918. So close to Armistice Day, so nearly home safe to his family; my grandmother named her first-born son after him ten months later. She never spoke of the loss of her beloved brother. The pain must have been too intense.


ncle King’s body lies in Kandahar Farm, one of those pretty resting places for the Allied fallen plentiful on the modern landscape, their graves marked with white Portland stone by the War Graves Commission. There are fewer German graveyards, as more German soldiers’ remains were repatriated. Most of the graveyards are small as soldiers were buried near where they fell, fixing evidence of their story forever into the landscape. Each life lost, another desolate family, more dreams unachieved, but the marking helps. The renovated interactive museum, In Flanders Fields, located in the centre of Ieper, focusses on the personal experience of war, trying to enable visitors to see the war through the eyes of soldiers, nurses and doctors, stretcher-bearers and the few locals who remained. Their stories are told through touchscreens, video projections and soundscapes to create an intense experience for the visitor. Visitors are given an interactive Poppy bracelet to wear as they enter. The visitor uploads a screen with information about themselves – where they come from, their age, and interests – and at various places in the museum they press the bracelet against the

screen to produce matched information. For me, coming from Wexford, it kept producing details about the war experiences of Captain Willie Redmond, the Irish Parliamentary Party MP from Ballytrent who was fatally wounded at Wijtschate during the Battle of Messines. Most of the story focuses on Redmond’s political position, age and unfitness for battle, but the detail surprises me. Redmond’s presence and death made a bigger local impact than I would have thought. He’s a sort of war celebrity in Flanders. The museum has a particularly moving film exhibition about the traumas suffered by the soldiers, told through the writings of American neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing and nurses.


he battlefields are still essentially rural, and the towns – completely rebuilt after the war – seem small for the impact their names have had on our lives. Paschendaele, Messines, Ypres. Paschendaele is so tiny that it was considered too small to house the museum commemorating the battles which took the lives of around 500,000 Allied and German troops, over a period of 100 days. The Paschendaele museum is located instead in the grounds of a chateau in Zonnebeke. Ieper itself feels like about the size of Enniscorthy; the very smallness and ordinariness of the town brings home the impact that the war must have had on the locals. Most took flight, travelling to Brittany, the United Kingdom, and some to Ireland. About 3,000 Belgian refugees came here, housed in various locations, including

Celbridge and Dunshaughlin workshouses. Some remarkable characters braved it out. Madame Tack, an octogenarian, refused to leave, insisting on staying in her house, an isolated civilian in the heart of the arena of war, and provided lodgings for visiting kings and queens who came to see firsthand what was going on. She voyaged beyond the battlegrounds to get provisions, on her donkey, and brought back chocolate and other goods to sell to the soldiers. The donkey’s nocturnal brayings disturbed the soldiers’ precious sleep, and eventually the temptation of available ordnance proved too much.


he Menin Gate in Ieper marks the deaths of British and commonwealth soldiers who died in the Ypres salient, but whose graves are unknown. It felt slightly odd, visiting this tomb so revered by our domestic enemy, but the unease evaporated looking at the lists of names of the Irish soldiers lost etched on an outer wall of the memorial, alongside those of the Welsh and the Scots. Their deaths in war tied them into a cause, a statistic for historians, and prevented a later opportunity to explain what motivated them to fight, or to deny the interpretations others put on it. At 8pm each evening, crowds gather to commemorate the fallen, in a simple but moving ceremony. Traffic through the gate is stopped, members of the local fire brigade play the Last Post, and visitors lay wreaths to remember their dead. It is perhaps a fitting end to a trip to the WWI battlefields, we take away a reminder that we must not forget the long-lasting trauma of all wars.

■ Aer Lingus flies double daily to Brussels 06.40 & 18.00 ■ In Flanders Fields open daily to Nov 15, 10-18.00, visit takes two hours.

Page 023-025 car hire 08/05/2014 09:47 Page 1

JUNE 2014 PAGE 23


What your clients should know

The keys to a growing margin


hire deal may not necessarily be the best one for your client. Many will arrive in the agency concentrating solely on price. They can almost always save money and safeguard against expensive unexpected charges by going through a travel agent. Point out that, with the

help of an agent, charges are shown up front at the time the booking so consumers can make the right choice and compare prices easily. Going it alone offers no such safeguards. Tease out what they will need from their hire car - for example, how many passengers and

Car hite companies pay 15pc commissioin to boost the bottom line

bags do they need to fit into the vehicle? If they are travelling with children, they may want a family hire car with five doors while if they are travelling to a

destination with high temperatures, air conditioning will be a priority. Don't assume that they will pay the same price for identical extras with the same car hire com-

pany in different destinations. A car seat in Faro costs Eu20 more than in Nice. A satnav costs Eu40 more in Nice than in Faro.

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JUNE 2014 PAGE 24



What your clients should know


Beware of a nasty surprise on the return to the Aeropuerto riving a rental the rental company in extra costs. Fuel is an increasingly prominent one. vehicle abroad case of a breakdown. Not knowing the drivcan be stressful and expensive if they ing laws - such as speed any car hire don't prepare. Get a and drink driving limits companies now check-list for your client: in the country they are have fuel Check the driving li- visiting could result in incence is valid and make advertently breaking the empty policies where consumers are charged sure they have all parts of law. As you would at home, for a full tank of petrol it together and ready to pack before they go away. shop around for petrol when they pick up the car And, well in advance, when away and look out and told to return it empty find out whether they'll for competitive prices in with no refund for unused need an International local supermarkets and fuel. Consumer research has Driving Permit (available petrol stations rather than from the AA) to drive relying on motorway sta- shown that unavoidable where they are going. A tions. Find out whether fuel charges can triple the credit card is necessary to the vehicle runs on petrol price of a rental, turning leave a deposit at the or diesel as well as what what seemed like a good the fuel is called where deal to potentially a very rental desk. expensive one. Research what is they are. Research common When clients pick up legally required to have in the car when they are road signs in the country their hire car with a full driving in their destina- visited. Remembering to tank of petrol they are tion and remind them to stick to the correct side of charged for it at a price check these items are in the road for the country set by the car rental comthe hire vehicle before they are in and being pany, not the local pump they set off. Not having aware of road signs in a price which is almost alcertain equipment, such different language will ways lower. They are then expected as reflective jackets, can help navigate around a new place without stress to return the car with an result in fines. empty tank at the end of Remind them to get the and worry. Warn about unexpected their rental period. So emergency number from

Paul Manning from Hertz accepts the Best car hire award from event MC Miriam O’Callaghan and category sponsor Declan Mescall of Travelbiz at the Irish Travel Industry Awards

they are aware what the company's policy is, check with it before booking, Some of the extras the client simply won't want. Others are more obvious.


ar hire excess insurance (also known as excess waiver insurance) is useful to buy as it prevents having to pay any excess charges should their hire car be damaged or stolen. Many drivers who have had their fingers burnt will be wary of dropping this. This can add on as much as Eu45 a day. Excess insurance to bring their waiver costs to zero costs a typical Eu120 for a week but one company is charging Eu200 in Barcelona If they don't take it they could be liable to pay a typical Eu2,000 if the car gets damaged or stolen or even more: one company's starting excess in Faro is Eu3,000. Taking out excess waiver insurance here in Ireland rather than with their car supplier is generally cheaper. A standalone policy is significantly cheaper and gives they greater levels of cover and protection in case of accident or damage to their vehicle. If clients wait until they get to the rental desk to purchase this, they're

likely to be met by a pushy salesperson trying to an expensive policy. Standalone car policies are available at a better rate for the client and commissionable for the agent.


lients travelling with children or needing to rely on a sat nav while they are can prevent steep daily rental charges by prebooking. Hiring a child's car seat costs a typical Eu60. The most expensive was in Milan at Eu100. Borrowing a satnav typically costs around Eu75. It is most expensive at Eu120 from one company at Heathrow. If they already have a portable satnav, they can usually buy a card compatible with the country they are visiting to put in it. Alternatively, they can buy a new satnav that covers both the UK and Europe for around Eu50Eu60. Adding an extra driver, particularly one under the age of 25, can raise the price of their car hire significantly in some cases more than the price of the actual hire. An extra driver over 25 costs around Eu60. This can vary: with one company in Barcelona they pay Eu90.


ertz won the Irish Travel Industry Award for 2013, succeeding the 2011 and 2012 champions Holiday Autos. They say they experienced excellent growth and positive feedback from trading partners throughout 2013 which continues into the start of 2014 and they plan for further integration with the travel trade to ensure that all agents have a point of contact here in Ireland that can deal with any queries promptly. Paul Manning says “we see the Travel Trade as a valued partner now more than ever as customers turn back to their local Agencies for advice and value that they can trust when reserving their travel arrangements. Hertz also employs over 1,200 people in Ireland through their rental locations, head office in Wexford and our European Services Centre in Swords, as Paul Manning says, “making us your local Car Hire Company for the road ahead.” “We are humbled to have been voted Best Car Hire Provider and promise to respond to this accolade with further improvements and promotions throughout the year.

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JUNE 2014 PAGE 25

“We are constantly striving to improve our products and services through initiatives such as Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Carfirmation, Hertz Collections and many other offerings which are all designed to make the car rental process faster, easier and more pleasant. With Hertz your customers can choose from premium on-airport locations to multiple downtown locations throughout the world, transparent rates with no catches, competitive one way fees and much more, giving you more options when making your car hire reservation.”


ffordable Car Hire is growing rapidly in Ireland. CEO Angela Day says the commitment to offering comprehensive training to agents was the key to its success. The e-learning programme comprises train-


ing modules that are designed to help agents build add-on revenues by making car hire easier to sell. The courses are boosted by weekly training alerts and monthly free prize draws for those who pre-register. Angela said that its Affordable Complete Affordable Car Rental System website makes it easier to book car hire and compare prices between models and boasts a host of innovative time-

What your clients should know

saving features. Pages have a series of enhanced features that allow web users to find more easily on the car results pages details about fuel policy; excess policy; airport location; and availability. Webinars last between 20 and 40 minutes and are designed to be fun. The modules cover topics such as how to book, insurance options, up-selling and overcoming obstacles with local supplier charges.

Affordable also run courses on specific destinations and can even arrange in-house training for agency teams who want to build their knowledge in a specific area. Agents can discover the secrets of selling car hire, upselling insurance and children’s car seats, as well as go through a step-by-step guide to understand the website and the booking process to ensure they are confident and knowledgeable. The latest webinars to be added to the e-learning suite are booking car hire with Budget and Dollar in the USA, and booking with Goldcar in Spain and Italy. The company now works with a network of 583 car rental suppliers in more than 193 countries and more than 15,210 locations worldwide. In January 2013, the company formed a partnership agreement with

ATTS in Dublin, Ireland’s leading travel representation solutions company, and has gone from strength to strength, working closely with agents across Ireland to ensure they gain the skills they need to sell car hire to their customers. In the 18 months since it established a presence in Ireland, Affordable has won a string of high-profile outlets, with new sign-ups more than doubling and car hire revenues showing a steady increase. Agents can download “Nitty Gritty Guides” and “How to Book on our Website” pamphlets, which are useful handy counter guides to answer clients’ questions. Commission rates, which average 15pc, mean agents want to acquire the skills to sell well. “Their customers and clients will only want to buy from someone who has all the answers at the fingertips so it is important that they understand how each of our suppliers work so they can answer any questions,” she says. “We do what we can to respond to the needs of the travel industry and believe that is central to our success.” Affordable was launched ten years ago by CEO Angela Day and has grown to become one of most respected independently owned car hire

companies in Britain, picking up many travel trade awards in the past few years for its work.


nternationally the big trend in the car hire market is the comeback of car-sharing after a false start ten years ago. The roadscape for car sharing was transformed when Zipcar and Flexcar merged to create a single brand in 2007. In 2011 Zipcar’s IPO valued the company at $1bn and the big boys started to sit up and take notice. Other companies are now contending that car-sharing can be the future of car rentals. In America, startups FlightCar and Hubber recruited airline passengers to make their own cars available for short-term rentals while they were out of town. Avis Budget paid $500m last year for leading car-share operator Zipcar and its 750,000 members. Hertz added self-service technology (Hertz 24/7) for hourly rentals to thousands of cars in its fleet. The service is now available in some 300 locations in six countries. Enterprise got into the act by combining several acquisitions to create Enterprise CarShare, and then acquired Zimride, which matches drivers with passengers online.

Affordable Car Hire offers: Fully inclusive pre-paid prices with ‘no hidden extras’ Book online in ‘3 easy steps’ Call centre with 24 hour emergency assistance Dedicated Irish sales team Over 15,000 locations with over 500 car rental suppliers

T: 076 680 1164 |

In Partnership With

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n Kerry, where they still resent the Polo Grounds final of 1947 they wilt tell you Cavan has no mountains. Try telling people that. Especially those that drive by the road sign for Mountain Lodge every day or the group that made it, short breathed and red faced, to the top of Cavan’s highest mountain Cuilcagh on day three of the county’s burgeoning walking festival. This is Cavan walking festival has been going for four years and turns the county into a hive of hiking for nine days each May. Trails, small and great, are opened up to groups of 20-60 walkers who take their poles and boots over a variety of local terrain. The energy does not stop in mid-May. This month Cavan opened five new trails, one of them multiple access for wheelchair users, and a Eu1m interpretative centre to open up what may be the most important unknown stretch of parkland that the island’s archaeologists have uncovered since the Céide fields. The Cavan Burren is part of the cross border Marble Arch geopark. They hope 20,000 visitors a year will come to this side of the mountain.


he map on the walking festival brochure makes all of Cavan look like the map of Austria, with trails and mountains and walking routes and high speed trains to bring you speedily to your ski resort. You could theorise that they speak a different type of German in West Cavan from East Cavan. If the map the county in the brochure far the walking festival tells you that it looks like Austria, it sometimes it feels like

Beckoning of a new Burren Eoghan Corry joines Cavan walking festival

Historian Séamus ÓhUltacháin points out features on a wlk through the Cavan Burren

it too. Cavan is a big, or more accurately, a long strungout county, bigger than one thinks at first sight but the joy is how water separates the townlands and terrain so dramatically. You could imagine sweeping across a vast continent on even a relatively short drive, pampas, boglands, rushy glens, exploding furze, tiny hills, rivers of both the rushing and strolling variety, and all of this before you have reached Bailieborough. Lakeland Dairies tankers, plantation towns with hilltop diamonds and squares with ardnósach residences, nowadays bookies shops interspersed with pubs, their capstones gaily painted in yellow and blue, and Georgian doored town homes racing awaiting the return of prosperity of the 1780s. It might come yet. Manicured gardens with cherry blossom, 18th century grandee estates as

For the Cavan Burren see

ruined as the draughty house which once sustained them, pokey little country roads (where are the potholes they used to have raucous and rumbustious songs about?), and of the fruits of the road building spree of the noughties which has landed Cavan with clean arteries and a €2.80 bill in tolls for anyone who wants to drive to Dublin. A sign on the Shercock road in Kingscourt declares say noo (with a double O) to potholes so this must be pothole country. The road continued over brooks and dykes to a crossroads. Real rushes in the green fields on either side this was Cavan straight out of central casting. The lambs the Green hills they sported and they played. This landscape must have been beautiful when the forests were ancient and fashioned in oak. The modern forests are a creation of the Sean McBride dream, more Scandinavian evergreen

than our ancient habitat would require, but hey, the walks here are beautiful too.


he Dûn an Rí (Kingsourt, geddit?) walk assembled at Cabra primary school down a boreen with grass growing and real potholes from the 1980s. Dûn an Rí is the third most utilised coilte facility in the country judged by car park income at €5 a vehicle (it sounds high, although frequent users can get an annual Collte pass for €35) It is a beautiful walk, and a timely one, with bluebells by the million on the forest floor. The wood itself is on a low ridge perilously close to the border with Louth. When you go beyond Castle golf club you leave Ulster, not just Cavan, behind. As you travel from East to West Cavan you step off the path into Fermanagh or Louth or Leitrim and realise Cavan is much more than a county. It is also a state of

mind. There is a sign on a tree asking to please help somebody find their dog.


o the journey rumbles on, driving past election posters with the name and face of a stern looking woman who rejoiced in the name of Argue. Do those little rivers like the Cladagh really make a difference outside of the football field where all identity is forged and all people are hardened for conflict. A sunny day, or even a damp day, for many days are damp in the border counties, would suggest otherwise. The high limestone karst hills near Blacklion would do justice to many parts of Austria, or Asturias, or more famous Ben Bulben. The road from Florence Court was marked with yellow on each side, dandelions, pretending to be daffodils, or maybe a few daffodils that fell into bad company amongst them.


rom here historian Seamus Ó hUltacháin and Gráinne O’Connor of Cavan County Council’s heritage office led the walk to the country’s newest treasure, the Cavan Burren. Most of the group thought there was one Burren in Ireland, Seamus contends this Burren is just as good. He says the Giant's Grave is the finest wedge tomb on the island, more akin to the Breton allée couvert rthan the classic Irish passage tomb, the nearby Calf’s House portal tomb one of the finest.and again more akin to what is found in Wales. He lightens the hike with anecdotes and introductions to the mountain life: the scent of raideog or bog myrtle which was once used to repel insects, the difference between graveyard yews and the real thing, how to tell blackthorn from whitethorn (whitethorn leaves before it flowers, blackthorn flowers before it leaves).

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he planting of fzzrest may have saved many of the monuments here. An Improving farmer with a well fuelled JCB and a few rain free days in Spring on his hands could have undone 5,000 years of artifacts. Instead, the trees silently spread over the remains and protected them under a cloak of state sponsored green. When Coilte were eventually (and slowly) convinced of the heritage value of the Buren Cavan site and started to cut the trees away, it uncovered an Aladdin’s cave of archaeological, geological and biodiversity artifacts and treasures, captured in time and preserved as in an anaerobic case.. Seamus brought me off the path, not far, maybe 40 paces, to point out where there were carvings in the rock. These ancient painters painted their surroundings, the imagery and abstract spirituality transformed into images to inspire their colleagues and, should the opportunity arise, future generations. They also carved out some of their images, ensuring their survival even the age of heritage officers and interpretative centres. “This,” said Seamus, “is a vagina motif.” “ Don't write that down,” he added. I didn't. I felt inspired as the creative, innovative Neolithic artifacts


Dry boots for walking in the bog

undoubtedly felt I should be. On a narrow road an undistinguished ruin, home to nothing except some avaricious whitethorn bushes, is the inn from which Blacklion got its name, the original Blacklion inn as marked in Taylor and skinner roadmap in 1775. The local Irish speakers used to call it “An Bleac.” It is where travellers used to stop, The Black Lion and the red Lion were known for their ale and hospitality. The inn which gave its name to the village isn't even in the village any more but hospitality is still what they do. Ask anyone about Blacklion nowadays and one name comes to their lips, Neven Maguire.


he Shannon Pot has a pathway, fresh mown grass

on either side, and some sheep to discard their organic waste and keep the tourists alert as to where they might put their Hush puppy shoes. The Pot is the same dark pool of water that enchanted visitors 200 years ago (“a very copious spring”). There is some nonsensical signage that patronises visitors like they had come straight out of a screening of Darby O’Gill. It alludes to the subterranean activity around that suggests the real source of the Shannon is elsewhere, Tullynakeeragh Gravel lake, Sruth Crappa River, Aginrawn and Owenbream, enough to tempt people further the mountain, quite an appealing prospect both for the visitor and their tourism holds. The furthest away is Pigeon Pot, 10km away in Fermanagh. Some plastic cartons have been discarded in

distant drumlins wear a halo silver and shining, spreading the horizon in directions that really should not be possible as the evening runs out of daylight. But this is Cavan, imagination is what they do. And then, like the wind blowing the seeds of a dandelion away, the landscape changes and the fog lifts high to the soaring levels that mean you cannot notice the gray above the green.

the very first few metres of the Shannon’s course, and if to warn he water what it has to expect on the other 386 km on its route to Loop head. There is a steel bridge without esoteric value which serves the same purpose. Bu the dark brown boggy water has an enchantment which no amount of destructive waste discard of tourism hiccery can take away. This is the longest watercourse of my homeland, a record that has defined and cultivated civilisation for thousands of years and across the entire world whatever the fables of the Irish have been carried by its diaspora. It feels good to be here, where it all begins.


n the late evening a cloud has parked itself on top of the mountain. The colours

are 50 shades of brown and green and above the cloud line, gray. If the national tree of Monaghan, as one of its writers once declared, is the mushroom, the national tree of Cavan must be the reed. On the high points . the land turns into blanket, the road bouncing through the bog, and the skyline of fog and cloud gets lower and lower until eventually you find you're driving through a fairy mist that waves like a tea towel on front of you enticing to go a little further where something magical might just be about to happen. There are not many places in the world where clouds come to play with you at such close range with such amazing landscape revealing itself when the puffs of grey pass by or clear momentarily. Here is a mountain that means what it says. The


avan gets 80,000 international tourists a year, 51,000 of them from Britain. The county has 17 hotels with 846 rooms, reliant almost wholly on the domestic market. In the county’s largest hotel, the Slieve Russell hotel near Ballyconnell, international guests make up 5pc of the total. If Cavan was a country, and there are smaller countries (like Trinidad or Luxemburg) attracting large numbers of tourists, you could imagine the tourist board turning this walking labyrinth into something of international importance. In the meantime, the people have made the Cavan Camino a playground for at least one week in May and less a secret it once was. Give them another few years and who knows what might happen?

Clockwise: Eoghan Corry in Dun an Rí Forest Park, Kingscourt, one of 30 events during Cavan Walking festival, the Giant’s Grace perhaps Ireland’s finest wedge tombs), photographing horses, Gráinne O’Connor of Cavan County Council and Séamus ÓhUltacháin talks from the top of the tomb.

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HEATHROW Research firm Frontier Economics said that the average ex-Heathrow ticket prices could be £300 lower by 2030 if the airport was allowed to expand. London’s Civil Aviation Authority named Heathrow as England’s worst airport for flight punctuality last year. The airport’s CEO Colin Matthews claimed lack of capacity at Heathrow costs £14bn a year and additional hub capacity must be prioritised over point-to-point. Gatwick reported a boost in business passengers. Gatwick’s Christmas chaos which left passengers without drinking water and access to lavatories on Christmas Eve was described as a “wake up call.”

Aviation with Gerry O’Hare

RYANAIR confirmed an order for 5

more Boeing 737-800 aircraft increasing its new order from 175 to 180 units, with 4 in 2015 & 1 in 2016.

LONDON CITY airport CEO Declan Collier said Flybe will bring an immediate uplift of up to half a million new passengers to the airport after it unveiled new routes from London City Airport almost a year after it announced it was withdrawing from the capital. Flybe is to offer flights from London City Airport to Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, Inverness and Exeter from October 27 in opposition to recently sold Cityjet.

AER LINGUSs Gold Circle members travelling from Gatwick and Manchester airports now have access to the Aspire (Servisair) Lounges at these airports. In addition passengers travelling from Belfast will have access to the Aspire Lounge at Belfast City Airport from 5 May 2014. Belfast, at least, is probably a downgrade (from the BA lounge).

DUBLIN was the fourth largest European route from Chicago in 2013 (passenger numbers) after London, Frankfurt and Paris.

US carrier capacity share (seats) on Irish routes was 44.7pc in 2012, 43.4pc in 2012 and 46.1pc in 2011. For the US as a whole Dublin ranked with 1,726,000 seats (43.7pc on US airlines) ranked eighth in Europe after Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris CDG, Amsterdam, Munich, Madrid and Zurich and just ahead of Rome.

GERMANY's Federal Court of Justice reversed an appeal court ruling that had found in favour of Ryanair in its battle to stop travel website from "screen-scraping" information from the airline's official site to sell Ryanair tickets. It said that the travel portal's business model promoted price transparency and helped customers to find the cheapest flights. The federal court said that the Hamburg court would now have to review the case again and investigate Ryanair claims on the grounds of misleading customers.

QATAR The first flight landed at the vast

new Qatar airport, boosting aviation ambitions. Dublin Airport monthly scoreboard reports 50pc of Irish traffic came from the Dublin region, 24pc for the rest of Leinster, 10 from Connacht and the three Ulster counties, 9pc from Munster and 6pc from the six Ulster counties.

The long walk to the 77-90 Aer Lingus gates in Heathrow wil come to an end in July

Fares down in Q1


New Aer LIngus meals drive up revenue

er Lingus reported flat revenues and higher losses in its first quarter and said it expects 2014 operating profits to be 'broadly in line with levels achieved in 2013' despite a €48.5m loss in the first months, up 6.6pc. Retail spend per passenger was up 10.1pc to €21.09 for the quarter, overall retail revenue (mostly short-haul) was up 6pc to €38.7m. Online booking fees and commission based revenue streams were up compared to 2013 Q1 as were baggage and seat selection revenue. Average inflight retail spend per passenger increased by 1.3pc reflecting the positive impact of the refreshed inflight food offering which launched in late 2013. Average fare yield was €84 in short haul (down 3.1pc) and €327.47 in long haul (down 1.7pc). Short-haul passenger fare revenue was down 7.2pc to €138.8m. Since revenue passenger kilometres were down 4.1pc, that

means revenue yield was down 3.1pc. Other revenue was up 540pc to €12.2m. This includes the Aer Arann franchise revenue (also last year) and, or the first time, revenue from operation of 4 A320s for Virgin Little Red and an A330 for Novair Donal Moriarty said in a conference call the airline is looking at more B757s and incremental possibilities 2015 and beyond: “both B757 and A330 are very cost-efficient. We have to ask ourselves if we can keep adding significant capacity growth.” he said Toronto connections for Britain "are good, in line with the JFK and Boston connections." Forward booking trends on short haul routes indicate that revenues for the majority of the short haul route network should be broadly in line with, or marginally ahead of, 2013 levels. The short haul operation remains an attractive and profitable business despite the continuation of intense

price competition in European markets and large capacity increases on some routes (e.g. Dublin-Lisbon, Belfast and Shannon to Faro and Malaga). Some aspects of Ryanair’s recent changes are helpful, including early capacity releases, as the passenger booking profiles are quite similar and pricing decisions can be more rational. Aer Lingus remains satisfied with long haul revenue performance in 2014 Q1 despite the lower level of leisure travellers compared to prior year. Aer Lingus launched its inaugural Dublin to San Francisco direct service on 2 April 2014 followed by the Group s first direct service between Dublin and Toronto on 14 April 2014. Based on current visibility, the forward booking profile for both these new routes is in line with expectations. Forward volume and yield trends for the remainder of Aer Lingus long haul network are satisfactory and are ahead of prior year in overall network terms. Long-haul lie-flat seats are

due end 2014 and will be effective from 2015. Toronto is attracting good connecting traffic at both ends of the route (on a par with JFK and Boston). The scope for SFO connections is much less. UK-US connections via Shannon are developing. Aer Lingus is looking at incremental transatlantic possibilities 2015 and beyond, both B757 and A330. both of which are very cost-efficient, but with some caution about continuing to add significant capacity growth. There is broad interest by small and large carriers, short-haul and long-haul, in “white-tail operations” on the lines of Virgin Little Red or Novair. Airlines are impressed by Aer Lingus ability to work off-shore (but there are some staff-related issues that need to be resolved). Forward trends are positive, especially in long haul. Aer Lingus continues to expect that the operating result for 2014 will be broadly in line with 2013.

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Aviation with Gerry O’Hare

BLOODY MARY Scientists argued that the Bloody Mary vodka and tomato juice cocktail is the best tasting beverage at 38,000 feet because tomatoes are rich in 'umami', the fifth taste, which is meaty and savoury when the drone of an aircraft diminishes our ability to taste some flavours NORWEGIAN Air Shuttle CEO Bjo-

ern Kjos told Leo Varadkar he may quit Ireland and rebase his long-haul fleet in Norway. Norwegian suspended talks on buying 20 Dreamliner aircraft from Boeing because of a delay in receiving US. backing for its long-haul plans, Irish Aviation Authority CEO Eamonn Brennan complained to US FAA Administrator Michael P Huerta that “there has been an exceptional delay in the issue of appropriate approvals .”

CAMBRIDGE is the latest destination to be announced by Cityjet to launch twice daily on May 12 using a Fokker 50, with capacity of 50, from €59 one way and €119 return. analysis at Western European Peter Oncken, MD of INTRO Aviation, Christine Ourmières CEO of Cityjet and Hans Rudolf Wöhrl, Founder of the INTRO Group at the Cityjet-Intro Aviation announcement.

Cityjet’s new era


Swords airline breaks free from Air France parent

ityJet will unveil a new logo, look, and livery in June after its sale to German firm Intro Aviation, kicking off a complete rebrand for the airline. The newly independent airline will be starting debt-free after it received a further €22.3m from Air France-Finance just as the acquisition of the carrier was being finalised. Cityjet also received €41m from Air FranceFinance last December, on the day Intro made its formal offer to buy the airline. The airline, which has 18 Avro RJ85s and 11 Fokker 50s through subsidiary VLM Airlines, said its business plan includes fleet renewal for the Avro RJ 85s as soon as possible with range to access more holiday routes. CityJet will continue to operate around 700 flights a week from its operational hub London City Airport, and satellite networks from Cardiff Airport and Cambridge International Airport. CityJet will also operate flights on behalf of Air France from Charles de Gaulle airport but has no longer has any ties with Air France. “I am no longer an employee of Air

France,” Christine Ourmières says./ Sh will continue to serve as CEO and a member of the Board, and the CityJet senior management team will remain the same. Members of the Board include, CityJet CFO and Deputy CEO, Michael Collins, Peter Oncken, MD of INTRO Aviation as the Chairman, Eberhard Simon, Senior Advisor to the INTRO Group as Director, and Hans Rudolf Wöhrl, Founder and CEO, of the INTRO Group will be the Chief Advisor of the Board. In order to empower and fully integrate the management, it is INTRO policy to have the management team as partners and shareholders, so both the CEO, Christine Ourmières, and Deputy CEO [and CFO], Michael Collins, are now 7.5pc shareholders of the company. “With this new independence, CityJet has embarked on an auspicious journey for a complete rebrand for the Irish based airline to create their own unique identity with a centre of activity from London City Airport. This rebrand will convey CityJet’s distinctive service and style, while also retaining the CityJet name as it is known by passengers. Christine Ourmières told an event

that marked Cityjet’s 'independence as a European regional carrier' in Dublin that fleet renewal for Avro RJ 85's will begin as soon as possible Commented on the arrival of Flybe on the Dublin to London City route, the Cityjet CEO said: “we have to fight for this route (Dublin-LCY) as this route is key for us.” She anticipated a complete rebrand for the Irish based airline to create their own unique identify with centre of activity from London City Airport. Journalists at the question and answer session after the announcement were told that investment in the fleet would begin immediately. Christine Ourmières said the two aircraft types in the Cityjet fleet (95 seat and 56-seat) offered flexibility. Hans Wöhrl said the AVRO is still the best airplane performance-wise for London City. "It is a fuel burning machine and it is difficult to get spare parts, but there is no right airplane for the time being to replace it." Christine Ourmières described the move as a fresh start for the airline and Hans Wöhrl outlined Intro Aviation’s history of investment in airlines.

airports of which airport-pairs that were served with at least daily flights in June 2013, shows 40 routes with daily service saw at least one airline ceasing to operate them in June 2014. Many of the city-pairs will still be served by other airport pairs and/or other airlines.

BA flights from Heathrow T5 will start to Mykonos from May 3 (BA650) and Santorini from May 4 (the BA652). AER LINGUS

celebrated 50 years of pilot cadetships as twenty new cadet pilots were given their wings at a graduation ceremony in Hangar 6 at Dublin Airport. Five of the seven veterans from the 1962 class attended the ceremony.

AIRBUS’ initial A320neo reached an advanced stage in its final assembly.

SPIRIT Airline’s staff were voted the rudest in the air among 14 airlines surveyed by (26pc) ahead of Air Canada and Frontier.

EMIRATES will launch a Dubai daily service to Brussels from September 5th 2014. KLM celebrated the first anniversary of its Wild on Wednesday fares.

FRONTIER Airlines cut fares by an average 12pc but increased a number of add-on fees. IBERIA launched its own scent Mediter-

ráneo de Iberia on aircraft and in VIP lounges.

DUBAI overtook Heathrow as the busiest airport for international passengers.

AIR FRANCE pilots union SNPL called on its members to walk-out for set periods of each day from May 3 to 30 in a strike over right to strike.

EU Single EU-wide safety authorisation was

introduced for foreign airlines flying to the EU.

HEATHROW 's Terminal 2 will offer

personal shoppers for fliers.

€ €

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EMIRATES said there was significant demand for their second daily non-stop flight between Dublin and Dubai which launches from September 1st. Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will add 5,000 seats a week, 22,000 seats each month in both directions, connecting to 140 destinations across the globe. The second daily service will feature 360 seats in a threeclass configuration - eight seats in First Class, 42 in Business Class and 310 in Economy Class. Flight EK164 will depart Dublin at 2220hrs, and will arrive in Dubai at 0855hrs the next day. The return flight EK163 will leave Dubai at 1600hrs to reach Dublin at 2050hrs. Fares start at €569 Dublin-Dubai

reUS federal judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly approved the November settlement between the US government and merger partners American Airlines and US Airways. Etihad CEO James Hogan said "We are bringing competition in the market. Some legacy carriers are using the European Commission to challenge us rather than challenge us through competition We are open with our strategy, we can't own or control any carrier because of bilateral, ownership rules."

ETIHAD CEO James Hogan said "We

are bringing competition in the market. Some legacy carriers are using the European Commission to challenge us rather than challenge us through competition We are open with our strategy, we can't own or control any carrier because of bilateral, ownership rules."

AIR FRANCE will increase services to Miami with an additional flight AF090/ AF099 to operate on Tuesdays during the 2014-15 Winter schedule meaning Miami will be served daily from CDG during this period, operated by Boeing 777-300. Air France will increase services to Bangkok (BKK) from CDG during the 2014-15 Winter schedule, offering 6 flights a week as of 26 Oct (daily except on Tuesdays). From Dec 8 until Mar 8, an additional flight on Tuesdays will be scheduled, resulting in daily services. turn, IAA

reported that 70 companies and 130 entries were submitted to the inaugural Aviation Industry Awards on June 10th at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, Nominees include Emirates (Aircraft Operator category), Avolon (Leasing Achievement category), Dublin Aerospace (MRO of the Year), Shannon Airport Authority (Aviation Sustainability and Environment category), University of Limerick (Aviation R&D category) and GECAS (People Development category).

SINGAPORE Airlines and the Singa-

pore Tourism Board embarked on a strategic partnership aiming to attract more visitors from key source markets to Singapore.


pilots called a strike. Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz said pilot strikes cost the airline US$62m.

RYANAIR kept its lead over European

low-cost rivals. Ryanair got a stern (but funny) talking to in a customer's Facebook rant.

Aviation with Gerry O’Hare

Air Canada rouge crew is ready for the take-off of their first flight from Dublin to Toronto


Painting us red

Air Canada Rouge innovates onboard video streaming

lex Pittman senior director of Air Canada Rouge said the bookings out of Dublin were the strongest non-Canadian bookings in the airline’s route network. He was speaking at the launch of Air Canada Rouge’s Dublin to Toronto service, the only wide bodied service to Canada this summer on a route where Air Canada’s group now has three competitors for the first time. Robert Atkinson of Air Canada pointed out the major innovation of the route is Rouge's pioneering entertainment streaming technology to personal electronic devices. Passengers without their own tablets will be supplied with a device on board. These have the added advantage of saving the airline fitting seat back video on demand. The Rouge service replaces parent airline Air Canada's seasonal DublinToronto service and continues year round for the first time, using a 280seat wide-body Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. The newly designed aircraft interior features a two-cabin configuration with 24 Premium rouge seats offering both additional legroom and enhanced meal and beverage service


in the front cabin, and 256 rouge seats with 35 rouge Plus seats with additional legroom in the rear cabin. Air Canada rouge Dublin-Toronto flight, AC1909, will depart Dublin four times per week (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) at 12:10 p.m. and arrive in Toronto at 2:30 p.m. local time the same day. The return flight, AC1908, will depart Toronto four times per week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday) at 11:10 p.m. and arrive in Dublin at 10:40 a.m. the next day (all times local). Robert Atkinson said the cabin will offer our customers in Ireland competitive fares, a relaxed in-flight environment and outstanding customer service. “As well as benefiting from direct access to our Toronto hub, customers can take advantage of convenient connections to destinations across North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.” Robert Atkinson participated in the celebrations at Dublin Airport and was joined by Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, The Honourable Loyola Hearn, and Vincent Harrison, Managing Director Dublin Airport, for a rib-

bon-cutting ceremony at the departure gate to inaugurate the new service. The Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, Loyola Hearn commented on the new service: “We are very pleased to see the new service established. We also want to express gratitude to the Direct Flight Committee which worked to make this a reality. Yearround direct service will greatly benefit business, tourism and the travelling public generally, and strengthen the links between the two countries.” Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison said he was delighted to welcome Air Canada rouge’s new year-round service to Toronto. “There are strong economic and cultural links between Ireland and Canada so this is great news for both business and leisure passengers. With over 60 Irish companies based in Canada and almost four million Canadians claiming Irish heritage, Canada is a very strong market for Dublin Airport and Ireland. We wish Air Canada rouge every success with its new route and we look forward to working closely with them to promote the new service.”


yanair dropped out of the top 100 Google flight search results after its website overhaul. Analysts point out that aA change in web addresses without proper redirects means many re-

sults found by Google now simply return error pages. Data from web search analytics firm Intelligent Positioning suggests that Ryanair is no longer in the top 100 results on millions of searches made each month for flights to Euro-

pean destinations where Ryanair was the first airline to appear, such as Romania and Belgium. The Ryanair website now allows users to book using as few as five clicks. This is a major departure from the old site where

customers had to negotiate security checks and opt out of buying extras before booking a flight. The airline appears to have omitted some basic precautions in the relaunch.

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Aviation with Gerry O’Hare

JUNE 2014 PAGE 31

SOUTH AFRICAN airways out-

sourced its domestic network services and its desktop and associated server support services to SITA for five more years

BOEING's first-quarter results for 2014

showed profits above estimates. United Airlines reported a $489m first-quarter 2014 loss excluding special items.

AIR TRANSAT will be first to offer RAVE Wireless, Zodiac Inflight Innovations content streaming technology. Zodiac has also been selected to provide the Economy Class seats and IFE system for Gulf Air’s refurbishment of its A330 fleet.

LONDON CITY Airport had the

most flights on time of all England’s airports during the last quarter of 2013.

ETIHAD is offering personalised travel

tips to social media users on #EtihadSuggests.

Relaxation area in Pier B


Transformation Dublin’s Terminal 1 300 gates get a new look

ublin Airport’s Pier 300 has just entered the last phase of its refurbishment with the relocation of some shopping facilities. Much of the refurbishment of the departures level was completed last summer with new boarding gate desks designed to modernise and create unity within the area. DAA’s Asset Management and Development department say that the desks are more appropriately angled and allow more efficient boarding with two desks instead of one. Floor space was redesigned, low ceilings removed replaced by a new ceiling at a higher level, and the seat-


ing area was extended with new spatial alignment, a new floor finish and the coloured borders removed to improve light reflection. The centrepiece of the project was the introduction of a new comfort seating area within the central core of the Pier pavilion. The DAA says this space was designed t”o create a sense of openness across the pavilion and create a line of sight across to the boarding gate area.” “The new comfort seating space offers a quite area to rest and relax and provides a complementary phone/laptop charging area where passengers can surf the net.”

The project was delivered in four separate construction phases which resulted in taking two of the eight airline boarding gates out of service at a time and by increasing passenger boarding by using adjacent boarding gates. Flynn Management & Contractors were appointed as the main contractors on the project which called for “an increased useable floor space, enhanced natural and artificial light levels, improved queue configuration, upgrade existing finishes and to consider sustainability within the asset life of the building.”


tihad’s new luxury first class offering on board the airline’s A380 aircraft wil have an onboard ensuite shower room, a personal butler, a living room and separate double bedroom. The airline’s The Residence by Etihad wil be in the completely new forward upper-deck cabin on the A380,accommodating single or double occupancy. The new product was unveiled as part of the release of details of the con-

figuration on the Airbus A380 and Boeing B787 Dreamliner aircraft, including the world’s most luxurious living space in the air. 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 system has video touchscreen handsets, offering an additional screen for guests to maximize their entertainment, so they can play games or view the moving map while watching a movie. Noise cancelling headsets are provided across all cabins, with built-in magnetic audio jacks to ensure the best sound quality. The A380 aircraft will have full mobile and Wi-Fi service while the B787 will be equipped with Wi-Fi.

KLM will resume seasonal (5w, 332 operated) Amsterdam service to Dallas as of May 2. AIRBERLIN launched their facility

for users of their iPhone app to send a digital boarding pass to their Pebble or Pebble Steel Smartwatch.

ARAN ISLANDS Residents of the

Aran Islands expressed concern that Ernst & Young, the consultants tasked to review the need for Public Service Obligation flights have submitted a draft report without visiting the islands or meeting any of the stakeholders. Islanders said closing the air service could lead to island depopulation.


pilots are to use iPads instead of in-flight paperwork.

CAPE TOWN Ireland implemented Alternative A of the Cape Town Convention, a regime substantially similar to Chapter 1110 insolvency in the US relating to leased aircraft. It says this gives Irish leasing companies and airlines access to reduced cost funding. PILOT unions claimed the cost of repay-

ing for flight qualifications is at odds with the stereotypical image of pilots’ jet set lifestyles.

IAA The Irish Aviation Authority's profits

rose 45pc to €21.3m. The Authority reported strong growth for Dublin’s cross-channel air traffic.

AMERICAN Graham Bell has decided to leave American Airlines. His successor will be Gianni Tronza. RYANAIR It was speculated that

Ryanair's URL restructure is to blame for its massive drop in search rankings. Ryanair dropped out of the top 100 Google flight search results after its website overhaul

DARE Sean Thompson of ad agency Dare

who devised the Ryanair campaign said “it was important that we tackle people's negative perceptions of Ryanair head-on and do it with a charm and wit that people would expect of the brand,"

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€ €

JUNE 2014 PAGE 32


FBO Chain Avflight took over general avia-

tion handling operations at Belfast City Airport.

Aviation with Gerry O’Hare

LINKSAIR launched their 11w service from Belfast City airport to Doncaster with one-way fares from £64.

ETIHAD talks on the Alitalia deal continued. Etihad are to increase services to Athens and Larnaca.

SHANNON Leo Varadkar and John Bruton declared a new future for the Shannon region with a Bill to set up the new Shannon Group commercial State PLC company. The Clare Champion reported this is a step closer to a legal Shannon Group. LUFTHANSA is to introduce a self-

service baggage tags on selected flights and will introduce long-haul seat reservation fees from April 28. Istanbul caught up with Frankfurt and Amsterdam as an aviation hub.

SYDNEY A second Sydney airport located at Badgerys Creek, about 45km west of the Australian city's central business district, has been given the go-ahead.

AIR CANADA ROUGE is expanding to the west of Canada to serve a number of predominantly leisure markets from Vancouver and Calgary to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Anchorage.

AIR FRANCEe-KLM say a new electronic luggage tag could put an end to airport queues and lost bags.

DUBAI Airport is to close its runway be-

tween May 31 and July 20 for engineering work.

NORWEGIAN Bjorn Kjos re-

sponded to the campaign against Norwegian Air Shuttle from American unions. “You have to bear in mind, if you have a crew based in Oslo, it’s regulated by Norwegian law: if you have a crew based in Stockholm, it’s regulated by Swedish law: if you a crew based in Gatwick, it’s regulated by English law. It’s not regulated by Irish law.”

BA is to add fish and chips to its menu on a number of short-haul services departing Heathrow.

KAZAKHISTAN The EU lifted restrictions placed on Kazakh airlines first imposed in 2009, which will allow Air Astana to expand into Europe.

RYANAIR WI-FI Wireless IFE provider Arconics is working with Ryanair and says it is seeking to differentiate with price. SINGLE EUROPEAN SKY

The European Commission launched infringement proceedings against EU member states it believes are impeding progress on the Single European Sky.

EASYTRIP has partnered with Quick-

Park at Dublin Airport to offer savings of up to

€60 for stays of 14 days or more.

Mike Rutter of Aer LIngus with the new Aer LIngus check in desks at T2 in heathrow


Lingus T2 to T2

London route boost by Heathrow T2 move on July 9

er Lingus move to Heathrow Terminal 2 on July 9, a move that will change the experience of flying between Dublin and Heathrow forever. As Aer Lingus revenue manager Mike Rutter told the launch event for Heathrow T2 in London: “what it means to the consumer is brand new state of the art facilities, Aer Lingus used to be in Terminal 1 in a pier which was built in 1990 and had a ten-year shelf life and looks like it has gone beyond its shelf life.” “We are going to have a 50pc reduction in the time that it takes that it takes to get from the gate to the kerb, which is a massive important change for time sensitive passengers.”


Aer Lingus have invested in a brand new business lounge that has natural light. 50pc more space, quiet areas, it rivals Dublin. “We have a major seamless city to city product which is attractive for people making connections.” Mike Rutter said that Aer Lingus position “as a natural, free of any of the burdens in terms of connections, hopefully allows us to be an absolute choice. We think it is a win in terms of the consumer and in terms of the travel trade.” “The benefits fall into three categories. A brand new state of the art services, connection with Dublin, brand new product that reduces dwell time,”

“For the travel trade we have a lot of options. This is a great business opportunity. We are very pleased to be her and it is a great opportunity to drive our business.” “In terms of our product offering we have taken a position in recent years of being a value carrier, which provides a modular product from the business traveller who wants a fully involved service down to the leisure traveller, who wants a simpler service, a leisure experience.” “We have made fairly large investments to meet each of those segments. We are proud to be Ireland’s airline and work closely with the potential connections that exist with the Star alliance.”


ir France and KLM have developed the e-tag and e-track, technology that turns suitcases into connected devices Passengers using the eTag will be able to enter their flight details online before leaving their suitcase at a “fast drop” point, removing the need to visit a check-in desk and have labels attached. A separate GPS device, dubbed the eTrack, will also allow the owner to trace their bag’s exact loca-

tion in the event it is lost or misplaced by airport staff. Both gadgets have been developed by Air France – KLM, and will be offered to a small group of frequent fliers in December for an initial trial. The eTag is designed to replace current luggage stickers, as a permanent electronic label which can be updated with new details before each flight. Passengers can wirelessly upload the information via their smart phone so that details stored on the tag, such as flight number,

update automatically. The eTrack sits inside the suitcase, and responds to “pings” sent by computer from either the passenger or the airline informing them of its precise location. Its battery will last for approximately 10 flights, or fewer if the passenger “pings” it too often, before needing to be recharged. It remains unclear how much each device will cost, but designers said they hoped the products would be adopted by other airlines if they prove they prove

successful. Manuel van Lijf, product innovation manager for Air France-KLM, told “We've worked closely with our suppliers and with Delta to try to make this an industry initiative, not just an airline initiative. “The idea was to create a product that can be used by a passenger flying with Air France, KLM, Delta, Lufthansa or another airline, for instance. Why would a passenger buy a permanent tag that can only be used on one airline?”

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JUNE 2014 PAGE 33


EMERALD Sky, Europe's newest river cruise ship set sail from Amsterdam this Month, with godmother duties performed by Twiggy.

MSC Divina will return from the Caribbean to operate the Mediterranean from Rome for summer 2015. CELEBRITY

Ian Davies, Stena Line’s Route Manager Irish Sea South and John Lynch, GM Rosslare Europort

French connection


Stena’s new Rosslare-Cherbourg sparks fares war eltic Link Ferries Rosslare to Cherbourg route has been operated by Stena Line since last

Month. The route will operate on an all year round service with three weekly sailings from Rosslare and Cherbourg accommodating up to 1,000 passengers, 200 cars and 120 freight units per sailing. Thje service operates 3 weekly sailings from Rosslare at 21.30 on Tuesday and Thursday with a Saturday sailing at 16.00. From Cherbourg the schedule is 21.00 on Wednesday and Friday with a Sunday sailing at 16.00 with a journey time of


approx 17 hrs. The service will have an impact on their competitors Irish Ferries, Brittany ferries and the cost of landbridge options through Britain, many of which are offered by Stena as well as Irish Ferries thorugh its partnerships. Stena offer landbridge fares from €115 single for car and driver with a deposit of €100 (fares they claim can save Irish holidaymakers €2000 on air fares when travelling to Europe this summer) Stena Line saya family of four going on holiday to Bordeaux, customers can travel from Dublin to

Holyhead on Saturday 28 June and onward from Dover to Calais for as little as €472 return with no baggage restrictions or excess charges, compared to €2447.12 return, departing on the same date charged by a major airline from Dublin to Bordeaux with an additional €160 baggage charges for luggage. It says further savings can be made by customers travelling by ferry as they will have no airport parking or car hire. The service launches on may 14 with a cereony at Rosslare Europort.


n a change of plan, for Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas is being replaced on its Southampton sailings by sister ship Explorer of the Seas from next year. They are virtually identical Voyager-class vessels, each carrying 3,114 passengers. Adventure entered

service in 2001, Explorer a year earlier. Explorer will spend a month in dry dock before the 105 season during which it will be fitted with Quantum style virtual balconies (wall-sized screens providing a real-time image of the view outside the ship) .a Flowrider surf

Kate Wooldridge, International Sales Manager of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines with Alan Lynch Managing Director and Celine Kenny General Manager of Cruisescapes.

simulator a 3D cinema, and the speciality restaurants familiar on Royal Caribbean's newer vessels. Explorer already has a shopping mall, ice rink and rock climbing wall features associated with Royal Caribbean's fleet. The ship will operate three and eight-night

Northern Europe itineraries, 11 to 16-night Mediterranean voyages, and 10-14-night sailings to Madeira and the Canary Islands. Adventure of the Seas will remain in the Caribbean, sailing sevennight southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico.



red Olsen has appointed Alan Lynch’s Cruisescapes as its ‘Preferred Partner’ for trade and direct business. It marks a return to the

Irish market for Fred Olsen who had a prominent customer base in the days when Ken Lendrum operated for the cruise line and there were direct pick-ups in Dublin.

Cruises will offer wine master classes with Tom Doorley onboard 12night France & Iberian Discovery Cruises onboard Celebrity Infinity departs from Harwich (September 19 or October 1 to call at Le Havre, La Rochelle for an overnight stay, overnight in Bilbao (Spain), Vigo (Spain) and Porto (Leixoes, Portugal) before returning to Harwich. The wine immersive cruise starts from €1627 per person based on two people sharing a balcony stateroom.

IRISH Ferries services to Britain and France this Summer allow fare paying motorists who book by May 26th to bring an additional adult free, fares from €79 single for a car and driver to Britain. Stena Line launched a "Thelma and Louise" best friend free offer and similar €79 single fare to Britain.

NCL Norwegian Coastal Voyage is to allow children under 15 years old travel on full board basis, free of charge when sharing a cabin with their parents on voyages booked before May 31 for travel during July, August and September 2014.

AIDA prima touched water at the Tategami Shipyard in Nagasaki, Japan. The 3,300 passenger cruise ship will depart on its maiden voyage from Yokohama on October 1, 2015. Luxury boutique resort, The Sarojin, has introduced a website facility enabling holidaymakers to book charters aboard its private yacht. ADVENTURE Canada revealed its new expedition ship the Ocean Endeavour for the upcoming 2015 season.

NCL cancelled calls to Roatán in Honduras after a crew member was murdered during an attempted robbery CONDITIONS The cruise industry

refuted claims that it is ignoring the welfare of staff, a week after crew members on board an MSC ship were rescued from “slave-like” conditions.

ROYAL Caribbean‘s Splendour of the

Seas will be based in Dubai for 16 roundtrip sailings from December 2015 through March 2016, with calls to Oman’s capital of Muscat and Khasab and Abu Dhabi.

HURTIGRUTEN launched its main 2015/2016 brochure and reduced voyage-only and inclusive packages. Explorer and Coastal voyages also appear in one main brochure for the first time in several years.

CELEBRITY Cruises offered guests $500 onboard spend as part of its ‘Celebrity Future Cruise Holidays’ programme, along with the added benefits of 123go! promotion for those choosing to book their next cruise whilst onboard.

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Inside the Travel Business


Lynch’s Travel Escapes have cancelled five Introduction to Ukraine and the Crimea tours. Cruises that were going to the Black Sea have been diverted to Bulgaria. Conditions imposed by cruise companies allow them to alter the itineraries without any compensation to the client, in the interest of safety. The DFA has been advising Irish citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Crimea and suggesting those already there should leave, and that anyone planning to stay in Ukraine, should register their details with them.Another regional tour by Travel Escapes, to Armenia has been boosted by the change.


the Travelsavers consortium.


has joined

Ireland fronted by Don Shearer has centralised all membership administration, communication, marketing and commercial activity under one roof and will be unveiling their new Website to all members and trade partners over the next week.


is offering agents the chance to win a luxury all inclusive holiday to Mexico if they book the AM Resorts from April 14 to May 31. Agents receive one point for every night booked in Zoetry Wellness Resort, Secrets Resort & Spa, Dreams Resort & Spa, Now Resort & Spa & Sunscape Resort & Spa and 2 points for every night you book to the 5* Dreams Tulum Resort. Email your confirmed bookings to and the agent with the most points wins the prize.

VIRGIN launched a trade wide booking

incentive in conjunction with the Las Vegas CVA throughout May for agents in win a space on a Vegas Fam Trip in October.

TRAVEL COUNSELLORS group ws awarded the English Queen's award for Enterprise in recognition of overseas expansion. The homeworking group now has 1,300 agents in eight countries.

BELLEAIR Holidays Ireland offered

Martin Skelly President and Pat Dawson CEO of the ITAA at the Justsunshine launch

The €2 question


Agents ‘quadruple bonding’ at €2 a passenger

ll members of the Irish Travel Agents Association licenses have been renewed in the May round of licensing. The Commission for Aviation Regulation awarded a new licence, to TravelPlan Corporate and two new trading names for Club Travel. The Commission also published on its website a list of Frequently Asked Questions on Airline Licensing and Groundhandling.

10pc discount on all accommodation only bookings for the Summer.

The ITAA is pushing that bonding should not be necessary and replaced by a small contribution on each airline ticket to be paid towards a fund. The ITAA says would be cheaper in the long run as agents are currently paying €2 per passenger for protection from various sources, IATA, the Commission of Aviation regulation, the separate credit card bonds imposed by some companies and the tour operators bond. At its recent AGM Association

members contended that in many cases this leads to double and even quadruple bonding meaning agents are paying four times for the same protection. The ITAA is to have a cross-border meeting in June with ABTA to discuss licensing and bonding options. The Irish Travel Agents Association is in ongoing talks with aiurliens offering services to Canada Air Canada and Westjet about forming a strong working relationship.

BOOKABED Donna Gibbons of Blackpool Travel, Cork & Liana O'Shea of East Cork Travel, Midleton were the first 2 winners of Bookabed’s €100 a day prize offer between April 15th and May 15th in conjunction with the website revamp to include TripAdvisor reviews and attraction tickets TRAVELUGO

invited Irish travel agents to sign-up for an account via, enabling agents to view net rates for products alongside suggested consumer selling rates. All rates will be available in Euros. The default mark-up between the Agent net rate and suggested

ROYAL Caribbean Cruises promoted Adam Goldstein to President and COO.

MSC Stephen Moffett left MSC after eight





madeus will continue to be headline sponsor for the Travel Industry

awards at the Mansion House on January 22nd next. The awards commenced in 2011 with 26 awards in

2011 and 2012, increased to 31 in 2013 and 33 in 2014. The prestigious travel agency of the year award

has been won twice by Lee Travel , Tour America, and O’Hanrahan Travel.

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JUNE 2014 PAGE 35


CWT appointed Denise Harman as country director, Ireland. She wil take up her position in early June.

INSIGHT Vacations launched its Autumn Winter & Spring Europe including the Eastern Mediterranean and Christmas Markets brochure. The new programme includes 34 holidays now featuring signature hotels, dining experiences and offering greater value.


Members of the FCm team accepting the award for best corporate travel agent at the Irish Travel Industry Awards Jan 23 2014: Brenda O’Keeffe, Clare Dunne President of the ITAA, Graham Aldren of category sponsors BA, Anne Martin, Valerie Metcalfe, MD of FCm Ireland, event MC Miriam O’Callaghan, Jim Tobin, Rhona McCann and Bláthnaid Brady.


Abbey sell FCm Flight Centre purchase award winning agency

light Centre Travel Group acquired Abbey Travel’s business travel division FCm Travel Solutions. The new owners gave a reassurance that there would be no change in Dublin management and staff. Abbey Travel’s business travel division has traded as FCm Travel Solutions since 2005 having been their partner company in Ireland and part of FCm’s global travel management network. Valerie Metcalfe will continue as Managing Director and all staff of the Dublin office will retain their jobs. Valerie Metcalfe heads up the Irish operation based in Abbey Street, upstairs from Abbey Travel and was a


major contributor to industry and corporate events last year, including discussions on NDC at the IATA conference and the CAPA conference in Dublin. FCm Ireland is also recognised as a company who place the quality of their workplace at the centre of their success, being named as one of Ireland’s best workplaces in 2012 and 2013. FCM is the only travel company to hold the Excellence Through People standard and highlight their investment in staff training as their key feature. They have been recruiting staff in Dublin in recent months and were presented with Great Place to Work Award .

The company’s five year business plan includes significant growth, further developments of key technology and the provision of additional jobs. Flight Centre Travel Group has headquarters in Brisbane Australia and is a listed company on the Australia Stock Exchange. This does not affect Abbey Travel which will continue in business as an exclusively leisure and sports travel company. The corporate sector is the best performing in the Irish travel trade. Corporate agencies are still in double digit growth and business looks good for the year so far. The sector is dominated by three main players, FCm, CWT and Club Travel.


madeus has launched a newgeneration hotel distribution marketplace for the travel industry that it says will bring buyers and sellers of hotels together more efficiently. The marketplace can be accessed via Amadeus’ travel agency retail platform (Amadeus Selling Platform), our corporate online booking tool (Amadeus e-Travel Management) and by any third

party through their web services. The ‘multisource’ marketplace now provides integrated content from all hotel sources into one format within the platform, so bookers can access providers through a single channel. The depth of integration means bookers’ search results appear in a standardised format, which makes comparison shopping quick and easy. They say the new search algorithms features deliver sub-

second response times. Amadeus has over 690,000 hotel shopping options in production covering over 235,000 unique properties, derived from agreements with regional and global hotel providers such as Albatravel, Bedsonline, Destinations of the World, GTA,, HRS and Transhotel. T marketplace will be adaptable to reflect its customers’ different business models: content can be

managed in real-time at different points of sale to reflect a commission-based model, a service charge or net-rate/mark-up model, or negotiated rates, depending on the booker. Further partners in the pipeline include Sunhotels, Teldar, Travelboutique and Travelguru. This is in addition to almost 300 hotel chains, representation companies, and thousands of independent properties.

The Irish Travel Agents Association say that 85pc of travel agents have reported an increase in ‘Dynamic Package’ bookings in the first three months of 2014 compared to 2013. The survey found that corporate Travel is increasing and that Spain, Portugal and the USA are the top Summer destinations for 2014.

CLUB TRAVEL Liam Lonergan’s Club Travel reported a pre-tax profit of €3.3m, down from €4.4m a year earlier, for the year to October 31 2013. Turnover was €80m down from €86m. It employed 136 people and paid €3.6m in wages. WEBSITES An investigation by the

National Consumer Agency found just 5 of 21 Irish travel websites complied with European Consumer Rights legislation. Since then 12 of the websites are now compliant and 14 require further action. Ireland’s compliance proportion of 46pc compared with an EU average of 62pc.

TRAVELPORT Lesley Kane of Ryanair told Statesman Travel that the airline has chosen Travelport over Amadeus and Sabre because of the launch of the Travelport Merchandising Platform last year. Virgin Atlantic renewed its content agreement with Travelport.

TRAVEL CENTRES started distributing copies of the second edition of their preferred supplier manual to its 74 member agents. The publication is 132 pages.

WORLDCHOICE consortium have moved their awards ceremony and conference from the weekend of November 28-29.

launched local tourism offers in 6,000 free accommodations all over the world.

E-TRAVEL Irish Company e-travel

launched, a price comparison system which compares 154 world-wide airlines.


launched a new Round the World mini-site on their website.


Airlines hosted travel trade and their families on an Easter Egg Hunt in the Rathwood woodlands.

BULGARIA SKI Peter McMinn’s Travel Solutions is introducing a ski programme from Belfast to Bulgaria for winter 2013/14 to fill the gap left by the withdrawal of Radka Lynn's Balkan Tours. It will be the only ski programme from Ireland to Bulgaria next winter MERCURY Direct appointed Abbey Travel as their GSA in Ireland.

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Busman’s holiday: Martin Skelly

The mountains above Westendorf

Every month we ask a leading travel professional to write about their personal holiday experience. This month: Martin Skelly of Navan Travel, new President of the Irish Travel Agents Association


or me holidays are not so much about a particular place but rather what you do when you are there. I like a holiday with a bit of activity… walks, golf, ski, history, family adventures and activities etc. I have played golf, badly, most of my life and I have enjoyed many golfing trips both with Miriam and with friends and colleagues in the trade so it seems like the obvious choice for an ideal holiday.


My loyalties, however, must be fickle because I would swap in a heartbeat for a few days skiing. I went on my first ski holiday with

Harry Cahill in Topflight (an educational) in the early 1980’s. We went to Soll in Austria and we had a ball. Our endeavours on the slopes were brutal and the après ski was relentless. I was hooked immediately. I went back the following year with Miriam. My skiing improved little by little and the après ski lost none of it’s appeal. A young family and work ruled it out for a few years but the yearning persisted. About 15 years ago I took my eldest son Thomas out of school and we stole a week in Westendorf. I was hooked again and I have been lucky to


ravel Extra has been visiting five or the seven continents in recent weeks to check out the mood of the travel industry worldwide. Buoyant is not the word of the moment for the mood of the travel industry. People are travelling in increasing numbers, but while Europe and America are ailing, and their airlines consolidating and cutting capacity, the rest of the world not growing fast enough to fill the void.

All we can do is hope that the new airlines of Europe, led by Ryanair, will continue to stimulate and excite the industry with cheap fares and direct flights Ireland has new routes this summer. Many are filled with people who do not originate in Ireland. We would like flights to fill with bargain chasing passengers but that day has passed, Instead, we have opportunities to travel to places that would never open up otherwise and for that we

must be grateful. Every direct route with a high fare attached to it, there is the opportunity of an indirect route with lower fares. It is cheaper to fly from Dublin to almost every mid haul and long haul city in the world than with British Airways from London of with Air France from Paris. The travel industry works in weird and wonderful ways. Our little island with its small open economy and all of its inhabitants have reason to be grateful that it does.

get skiing almost every year since. I have enjoyed some great ski trips with friends in the trade. Family holidays took on a delightful new meaning. Four different ski schools during the day gave us lots to talk about, activity around the pool, and “light” après ski followed by a relaxing family dinner. When the snow is good (and it usually is) there is nothing better. My two adult sons Thomas and John are now accomplished skiers who regularly book groups of their friends on ski trips….pay back. Earlier this year I travelled with three friends and our sons on a boys only ski holiday to Zell am See. We were on the first lift every morning and we skied till the lifts stopped, well almost. I can’t wait for the first dump of snow.

IN YOUR NEXT TRAVEL EXTRA: Available to Travel Agents or online June 16 2014

CANARIES ISSUE Lanzarote Gran Can Tenerife Fuerteventura WINTERSUN TRENDS

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JUNE 2014 PAGE 37


Out and about with the Travel Trade

n Kathryn McDonnell of nda Rouge and Eamo Martin Skelly of Navan Travel, President of the the Spanish Tourist Bo Alex Pittman of Air Ca the ard rk ma to with Leila McCabe and y on em cer the Irish Travel Agents Association and Can Deniz of at ir ma Clare Hoog of Falcon Flanagan of Pre blin Du m Ho fro lida ht ys flig at the Falcon Holidays ugural Justsunshine at the Justsunshine launch & Spanish Air Canada Rouge ina

Cynthia Raymond, Sa rah Slattery and Tatian a Soukhanova of Skytours at the Falcon Holidays & Spanish Tourist Board event

Fitzgerald and Colette Monica Rossi, Rachel vel at the Oman Tourism Pearson of Abbey Tra in Dublin tel event at Brooks Ho

Lisa Coady, Louise Do yle and Belinda Donega n of Budget Travel at the Falcon Holidays & Span ish Tourist Board event in 4 Dame Lane Dublin

of and Denise Sheridan Eoghan O'Mara Walsh n sig De ny ken Kil the ing Kilkenny Deisgn launch gramme cafe tourism brekfast pro

Paulette Moran, Edmu nd Hourican and Maure en Lediwth of Business Ex hibitions with Gabrielle Kennedy at the Oman Tourism event

Mary Murphy from Oasis Travel with Amanda Middler from Silversea Cruises at Oasis Travelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Luxury Travel Event at the Merchant Hotel

at ie O'Connor of Falcon Clare Hoog and Debb ard Bo Spanish Tourist the Falcon Holidays & Dublin ne La me event in 4 Da

Richard Cullen of Killiney Travel, John Grehan of Gordon Penney and Andre Migliarina of Atlas Travel at the Oman Tou Justsunshine and Sami Trosse of the Tunisia rism event at Brooks Hotel in Dublin, Tourist Board at the Justsunshine launch

Niki Stanford and Lisa Kiernan of Clickandgo at the Oman Tourism event at Brooks Hotel in Dublin

A Kevin Toland of the DA Cormac O'Connell and e ug Ro da na Ca Air the rk at the ceremonty to ma to on Tor blin Airport to inaugural flight from Du

Shauna Hughes and Lis a Kelly of Falcon at the Eimear Carroll, Eva Jancichova and Suzanne Falcon Holidays & Span ish Tourist Board event Reynolds of Cassidy Travel with Claire O'Connor in 4 Dame Lane Dublin of 747 Travel at the Falcon Spanish TB event in

Claire Murphy, Antoinette Young and Ruth Polion of Falcon Holidays at the Falcon Holidays & Spanish Tourist Board event

t ling O'Connell of Orien Jeremy Marie and Ais oks Bro at nt eve rism Travel at the Oman Tou Hotel in Dublin

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JUNE 2014 PAGE 38


Out and about with the Travel Trade

Travel receiving an Sandra Corkin of Oasis of all agency in the north award for the best sm ioreland in London

Sarah Slattery and Tatiana Soukhanova of Skytours at the Justsunshine launch in Marcel's Restaurant Dublin

Andrea Power of Falco n and Nicola Stenhou se of Cassidy Travel at the Falcon Holidays & Span ish Tourist Board event in 4 Dame Lane

Ger Hurley and John Cassidy of Cassidy Travel at the Justsunshine launch in Marcel's Restaurant Dublin,

Sarah Slattery of Skyto urs, Leila McCabe and Clare Hoog of Falcon and David Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Hagan of Donabate Travel at the Falcon Spanish TB eve nt

ane Cullen og Killiney Elaine Massey and Sh the Monagle of Falcon at Travel with Charlene Mc nt eve ard Bo rist Tou ish Falcon Holidays & Span

ren Hogan of Keith Silvia Lopez and Amy Yuksel of Budget Travel at Joanne Sheedy and Barry Little of Tra Debbie Murray and Ka ilfinders at ish Tourist the Falcon Holidays & Spanish Tourist Board the Oman Tourism eve an Sp & ys lida Ho n lco nt at Brooks Hotel in Prowse at the Fa Du blin event in 4 Dame Lane Dublin Board event in Dublin

Vincent Harrison of the DAA and Bob Atkinson of Air Canada at the cerem ony to mark the Air Canada Rouge inaugura l flight

ited and Chritian Bob Schumacher of Un at the launch event for Schinlder of Lufthansa Heathrow Terminal 2,

Will Walsh of Clickand go and David Lacey of Padraic Keogh Travel at the Oman Tourism event at Brooks Hotel in Dublin

Sharon McEvoy of Travel Solutions, Christine Mullane of Creation Travel, Antoinette Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Connor of Travel Counsellors, Sarah Brady of Barters, and Graham Hennessy of Topflight on the Topflight visit to Lake Garda.

Kaitie Keyes and Mary Murphy of Skytours with Clive Field of Falcon Holidays and Cian Scanlon of Justsplit at the Falcon Spanish TB event

Suzanne Halil of the Oman Ministry of Tourism speaking with David O'Hagan of Donabate Travel and Mary O'Sulivan at the Oman Tourism event

d Karen Maloney of Eti Hamdah al Mansoori an tel Ho oks Bro at event had at the Oman Tourism blin in Du

Dave Smith, Paula Sm ith and Rod Sheppard of Falcon Holidays at the Falcon Holidays & Span ish Tourist Board event in 4 Dame Lane Dublin

Lee of Travelbrokers at Orla Kerrigan and Ray Spanish Tourist Board the Falcon Holidays & Dublin event in 4 Dame Lane

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Travel Extra june 2014  

Ireland's leading source of travel information, June 2014 is the USA issue with features on car hire and river cruise.

Travel Extra june 2014  

Ireland's leading source of travel information, June 2014 is the USA issue with features on car hire and river cruise.