TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Year end records shatter as 1.62m visit Storehouse, 1.42m visit Moher & in other news, guess what country tops Spain’s growth liga?

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HEADLINES – AVIATION – AFLOAT – DEALWATCH – FOOD & WINE – HOTELS – INTERNATIONAL – IRELAND – STRANGE WORLD – TRAVEL TRADE

  • Things to know about Travel this week
  • Storehouse & Moher move to manage their record crowds
  • Ireland now has FOUR 1m visitor a year attractions
  • Ireland leads the pack in visitor growth to Spain at 37pc.
  • France stays top of world tourism charts despite flat year, Turkey down 31.3pc
  • ITIC wants government to treble tourism capital spend
  • January sales crank into action.

Travel Extra TV.

Video of the week: Throwback to when Etihad Airways teamed up with the UAE national aerobatics team to perform a flyby at the Formula 1 grand prix in Abu Dhabi. Watch here.

Behind the Headlines

Happy new year from the team at Travel Extra. See our Faces of Irish Travel video for 2017 here.

Visitor numbers at Guinness Storehouse grew to 1.62m in 2016 with the  USA the star performer. Guinness say it was an extraordinary year where most days never saw less than 5000 visitors. They are now successfully getting more online bookings to come at quieter times of the day and say this helps visitor flow and quality management  enormously.  Pictures shows Paul Carty and Fiona Herald of Guinness Storehouse.

if the Storehouse was not performing so well, the Cliffs of Moher would rank as one of the major visitor attraction success stories of our time. They are also victims of their popularity, as anyone who tries to negotiate the N67 in high summer will know. They have been working to manage peak flow conditions by offering discounted trade rates for offpeak arrivals since 2014, a policy they say really started paying off this year, having taken a little more time to have an impact than anticipated. Picture shows Katherine Webster of the Cliffs of Moher. Dublin Zoo which held the number one spot until 2002 and again in 2003 and 2010 also reported a record year, their sixth successive year in excess of 1m visitors, and  Ireland got its fourth 1m plus visitor attraction, the National Aquatic Centre. The National Museum in Collins Barracks (485k, 14th place) overtook National Museum Kildare St (466k, 15th place) for the first time thanks to the 1916 centenary exhibition.

The top ten list for the year should look something like this when figures are completed: 1 Guinness Storehouse up 8pc to 1.62m, 2 Cliffs of Moher up 13.5pc to 1.42m, 3 Dublin zoo up 2pc to 1.12m, 4 National Aquatic Centre up 6pc to 1.05m, 5 the National Gallery of Ireland up 21pc to 871k, 6 The Book of Kells up 12pc to 860k, 7 the Giant’s Causeway down slightly to 834k, 8 Tayto Park up slightly to 766k, 9 Titanic Belfast, recent winner of attraction of the year worldwide at the World Travel Awards, at 620k and 10 IMMA up 19.3pc to 580,000.

The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation accused the government of not being ambitious enough for the sector as they published their plan for tourism to 2025, using it as a softening up process to demand that spending on tourism capital projects be trebled when the capital budget allocations are decided by the government in the spring. Listen here to Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry speaking about the report on the RTE News at One. A lively media briefing (watch here) in Buswell’s Hotel, where ITIC chair Paul Gallagher is GM, was well attended on a cleverly chosen slow news day.  Paul Gallagher said Irish government capital spending on tourism is just spare change (watch here). Gallagher and ITIC CEO Eoghan O’Mara Walsh looked back on 2016 (watch here). Eoghan O’Mara Walsh looked forward to 2017 (watch here) and predicted 3pc growth in 2017 for inbound Irish tourism (watch here). Paul Gallagher predicts Irish tourism will create 50,000 extra jobs by 2025 (watch here) and said the 9pc VAT rate is as important to tourism as the 12.5pc corporate tax rate is to FDI (watch here). Eoghan O’Mara Walsh pointed out the importance of investment in that most tourism assets in Ireland are state owned (watch here). Paul Gallagher also spoke about Dublin’s hotel bed shortage as a hand-brake on tourism growth for the country as a whole (watch here). Questions afterwards included Airbnb (watch here), value for money in Irish tourism (watch here), Paul Gallagher said there was no need for a multiplicity of  tourism brands although the existing three were successful (watch here). Invited to criticise the performance of tourism minister Shane Ross, Paul Gallagher said the Tourism ministry had a reputation as the ‘ministry of fun’ and the industry had become more professional in recent years (watch here). Paul Gallagher and Eoghan O’Mara Walsh also spoke at length of the implications of Britain’s EU exit (watch here). See here the full document: Tourism 2025 ITIC (2.5 megs) or on the ITIC website.

The ball has been thrown in on the great Irish tourism debate of 2017: how much tourism capital funding should be left to county councils and (enthusiastically) abandoned by Merrion Street? Minister Patrick O’Donovan, a declared county man, set out his store at a recent briefing that more tourism funding should come from local authorities (watch here), a proposal which raised eyebrows through the industry and was questioned this week by ITIC chair Paul Gallagher (watch here). Many alarm bells were triggered by the minister’s surprise solo run, the very first raised (by veteran tourism writer Frank Corr) at the press briefing was whether this will roll back all those painful efforts by the tourism bureaucrats (toureaucrats?) to reduce the power of the bloated regional authorities. O’Donovan hastily back tracked to say that the infrastructure of the local authorities, local offices and libraries, could be used to overcome a shortage of tourist information facilities in rural Ireland (watch here). But the debate is unlikely to end there.

The minister does have a point. Until The Gathering of 2011 (conceived over a late-night pint in Boston in July 2009 by Redmond O’Donoghue and John Concannon), local authorities had little or no involvement in tourism. One of the more significant gatherings of that year was the very first meeting of county managers in history where tourism was the only item on the agenda. Having been empowered by what was a blatant recession-busting stunt, it is no surprise that the local authorities are queuing at the boarding gate to get into the tourism game, so much more exotic than collecting refuse or processing planning applications. That’s how revolutions happen, folks.

Donal Byrne’s programme for RTE Nationwide The Year of the Rising (watch here) looked back on the unexpected success that was the centenary year of the rebellion, featuring event co-ordinator, ex- Failte Ireland innovator John Concannon. John has been appointed Director of Creative Ireland (website) a five year  “all of government” initiative to place culture and creativity into the centre of Irish life. It’s the legacy programme of the centenary.

As more people nowadays comes up with their word of the year: post-truth (Oxford Dictionaries), unpresidented (the Guardian) xenophobia (Dictionary.com), paranoid (Cambridge), Brexit (Collins), what was the word of the year in travel? Travel Extra thinks disrupter, now a favourite word at those conferences we spend too much of our time attending (six in three weeks in November). It is a favourite of Michael O’Leary and Bobby Healy among others, O’Leary declaring that Ryanair are disrupting themselves. Everyone worth their salt has become a disrupter, but is it new at all? Joe Walsh, Gilian Bowler and Liam Lonergan were all classic disrupters in their time. Travel Extra is enough to rememeber when being a disrupter was enough to have you thrown out of a class in school. Who would have thought it would be so cool?

Travel Trade

The Travel Corporation Agent Incentive for 2017 offers prizes of €1,000 for an agent and another €1,000 for their client open to all agents who book an Insight Vacations Escorted Tour, Uniworld Luxury Boutique River Cruise, Contiki trip, or Red Carnation Hotel stay for their clients between now and February 28. The more bookings, the more chances to win. Send reference numbers by email or call 01 775 3803. Picture shows Marissa Beck, Egle Godliauskaite, Sharon Jordan, Eilish Wall and Brian Hynes at the ITAA conference.

Air Canada’s new travel agency support and groups department has been headed by Blaithin O’Donnell. Contact details are: email for sales support salessupport.ie@aircanada.ca, email for groups: groups.ie@aircanada.ca, telephone 1800 30036212 from a mobile phone +44 20 8917 2378, from the north +4420 8917 2378) Agency sales support service is open from Monday-Friday 9am-5pm and their groups department from 9am to 4pm.

Catch up with the year ahead in tourism and travel with Travel Extra‘s Eoghan Corry on RTE’s Marian Finucane show this morning.

Strange world

A trip to the loo, not the Louvre. The only 767 in the fleet of BA’s Openskies diverted to Shannon for a wee wee stop on a flight from New York to Paris because the onboard toilets were not working.

An Air Canada flight made an unscheduled landing in Winnipeg after the airline says the cabin became too warm.

A heavy seasonal fog caused flight delays in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Servers and dealers on the Las Vegas Strip complained that foreign visitors are leaving smaller tips because the tourists are coming from countries like China, where American-style, 20pc gratuities are uncommon.

Passengers on a Virgin Australia flight on Christmas Day were served parmesan cheese and then complained the aircraft reeked for the five-hour journey, and some were physically sick

A Canadian man is being held on US $5,100 bond in Florida after driving a baggage-towing vehicle across the tarmac at Orlando International Airport.

International

Ireland continues to lead La Liga of inbound tourism growth in to Spain with a 37.2pc rise between November 2015 and November 2016 according to Spain’s Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, INE. Irish visits to Spain are up 22.7pc for the year so far to a record 1,742,615.

International figures for the top ten tourist destinations for 2016, due for release May 2017 by UNWTO, are likely to show: France 83.8m (down 0.8pc), USA 75.9m (down 2pc), Spain 75.1m (up 10.1pc), China 59.4m (up 4.5pc), Italy 54.8m (up 8pc), Germany 38.1m (up 9pc), Britain 36.8m (up 7pc), Mexico 35m (up 9pc), Thailand 34m (up 14.1pc), Russia 30.4m (down 3pc) with Turkey 27.1m (down 31.3pc), dropping out of the top ten. Figures should be treated with cautiona s some countries are slower than others in revealing statsitical trends. Picture shows Teresa Gancedo and Kathryn McDonnell of the Spanish tourist board office in Dublin.

End of an era, The USA’s oldest water park Universal’s Wet n’ Wild water park closes tonight to make way for Volcano Bay.

Irish passports were sought by 740,000 people in 2016.

A woman died and two children were injured after a ski chairlift fall at Ski Gamby ranch in Colorado.

Donald Trump is to appoint Brian T Burns as the new US ambassador to Ireland in succession to Kevin O’Malley. Ambassador O’Malley, pictured with Dee Burdock of the Visit USA committee in Dublin, was one of the most pro-active ambassadors in tourism matters in the history of Dublin’s second oldest embassy. He was at the heart of the Visit USA committee and their members’ efforts to promote visits to the USA. Brian T Burns was the leading fundraiser behind an effort to restore Marsh’s Library, in Dublin. He is the chief benefactor of the Irish Famine memorial in Massachusetts.

Visit Florida president and CEO Will Seccombe has stepped down ‘at the request of’ Florida Governor Rick Scott amid growing controversy over a contract with Miami rapper Pitbull, who was hired in 2015 as a tourism ambassador for the state.

Brian T Burns, US ambassador nominee

NYC & Company announced its nonstop NYC winter campaign that includes celebrated promotions NYC Restaurant Week® (Jan. 23–Feb.10), NYC Broadway WeekSM (Jan. 17–Feb. 5) and NYC Off-Broadway WeekSM (Feb. 27–Mar. 12), alongside the first-ever NYC Attractions Week (Jan.17–Feb.5). NYC Attractions Week offers two-for-one admission to 70 attractions, tours, culture and performing arts across five boroughs, including Gray Line CitySightseeing New York Bus Tours, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, New York Water Taxi, On Location Tours, Madame Tussauds New York, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Modern Art, One World Observatory and more. Sales begin January 5.

The Obama White House warned that hidden fees are a widespread and growing problem for the U.S. economy, according to a report commissioned to help boost competition on behalf of consumers.

EMITT Tourism fair between 26 – 29 Jan 2017 in Istanbul has attracted 1300 agents from 90 different countries.

VisitBritain forecasting is 36.7m visits in 2016 and forecast a 4pc rise in 2017 to 38.1m. Spend is predicted to reach £24.1bn up 8pc on this year’s £22.3bn.

Groot news as the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction at Disney California Adventure Park is closing January 2, to be replaced in Summer by the Guardians of the Galaxy-themed ‘Mission: Breakout!’

Hotels

As Dublin’s RevPar roars up to €94.80, 16pc ahead of 2015, and ADR to €121.03, Former IHF President, chair of ITIC and Gm of Buswell’s Paul Gallagher explained to Travel Extra how this would enable beleaguered hotel owners to bring much needed investment to their properties and release some much needed European finance for the sector. He said high rise is not the biggest road-block on addressing Dublin’s hotel bed shortage. Watch the interview here.

Galway’s Radisson Blu hotel recorded pre-tax profits of €4.2m after €2.68m in debts owed to Bernard McNamara’s firms was written off.

IHG warned of a possible data breach at some US hotels.

Sandals said LaSource St Lucia will be the group’s fourth resort on the island.

Aviation

A ten year old girl called Madra, who suffered from suffered from sickle cell anaemia died in Limerick after a flight from Toronto to London was diverted to Shannon airport. Her sisters launched an appeal to meet the costs of the funeral.

The preliminary report on the Medellin air disaster was released.

India’s Jet Airways says 12 passengers were injured during an emergency evacuation after one of its planes veered off the runway before taking off on a domestic flight in western India

Snow in Istanbul caused Turkish to cancel 258 flights due to bad weather. Thousands of customers missed connections at Heathrow due to fog.

Gatwick warned passengers to double check its locations: on January 25 British Airways will move to the South Terminal and Virgin Atlantic will move to the North Terminal, On January 24 easyJet, which currently operates out of both terminals, will consolidate its entire operation in the North Terminal.

100 members of Congress sent a letter to Donald Trump asking for the Norwegian Air permit to be revoked or suspended ‘on Day One’ of his presidency.

United Airlines reached a settlement in a lawsuit over the working conditions for baggage handlers.

Mexico’s Interjet followed Aeroflot in grounding their Sukhoi superjets for safety checks following reports that cracks were found in the lugs of the stabilisers’ lower and upper bracket attachment bands.

A pilot for Citilink in Indonesia was accused of being drunk after a video showed him staggering through the airport in Surabaya, and giving an irregular announcement. On board footage here.

Afloat


Kevin Sheehan who resigned unexpectedly from NCL Line in January 2015 after seven years as CEO with a severance package of $13.4m, is back in the cruise industry with joint ownership of Paradise Cruise Line. Wil the Irish pubs on the NCL fleet still be called O’Sheehan’s?

Carnival cruise line introduced one Touch payment to pay for cruise deposits and balance.

Engine failure on Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Orion has forced the ship to cancel upcoming Antarctica sailings.

Ireland

January is Turner month at the National Gallery of Ireland and it is free. This year they are showing the popular Vaughan Bequest of Turner’s watercolours in the print gallery alongside a selection of Turner’s 1807 Liber Studiorum prints divided into categories such as marine, architectural and epic pastoral. Adrian Le Harivel, Curator of British Art, will talk on Turner’s Inspiration from Music and Theatre today Sun January 1 at 3pm.

Deal Watch

Aer Lingus January seat sale is under way, book by January 16. Travel April 1 to October 31 with 50pc off destinations in Europe, including new routes to Porto and Split (from April). US fares start from €249, slightly up on previous years. Offers include: flights from Dublin to Brussels from 34.99, Paris from 34.99, Dusseldorf from 39.99, Milan from 39.99, Frankfurt from 39.99, Porto from 39.99, Lisbon from 39.99, Faro Algarve from 39.99, Warsaw from 43.99, Barcelona from 43.99, Nice from 43.99, Madrid from 43.99, Amsterdam from 44.95, Prague from 46.99, Budapest from 46.99, Rome from 46.99, Malaga from 48.99, Munich from 48.99, Venice from 48.99, Zurich from 48.99, Bordeaux from 48.99, Lyon from 48.99, Bilbao from 48.99, Alicante from 48.99, Toulouse from 48.99, Verona from 48.99, Santiago de Compostela from 48.99, Berlin from 49.99, Nantes from 49.99, Hamburg from 50.99, Perpignan from 51.99, Marseille from 51.99, Montpellier from 51.99, Geneva from 51.99, Athens from 52.99, Dubrovnik from 53.99, Naples from 53.99, Stuttgart from 53.99, Vienna from 53.99, Rennes 55.99, Bologna 55.99, Palma Majorca 55.99, Catania 60.99, Pula 60.99, Gran Canaria 61.99, Lanzarote 61.99, Santa Cruz de Tenerife 61.99, Furteventura 61.99 Izmir 63.99, Split 63.99, Burgas 70.99, Pisa 71.99, Corfu 82.99. Cork to Paris 37.99, to Amsterdam 44.99, to Faro Algarve 44.99, Dusseldorf 45.99, Palma Majorca 47.99, Rennes 48.99, Malaga 44.99, Munich 50.99, Alicante 55.99, Barcelona 55.99, Lanzarote 55.99, Santa Cruz de Tenerife 62.99, Gran Canaria 62.99. Shannon to Faro Algarve 54.99, to Malaga 57.99.

BA fare sale continues until January 26.

Brittany Ferries have 15pc off, book by February 7 and save 15pc on return sailings from Cork and holiday accommodation in France. Four people travelling from May 27 to June 9 can nab a holiday from €230pp, staying at Camping Les Brunelles.

Camino Ways is offering a free roof top tour of the Cathedral in Santiago for pilgrims.

Carton House Maynnoth is offering B&B with dinner and a €10 golf or spa credit from €99pp from December-March. 01 651-7720; cartonhouse.com.

Cassidy Travel has Alvor from €1,028 in total, including Ryanair flights. The price is based on a June 17 departure (deals are available from €569pp in early May) and doesn’t include baggage or transfers. 0818 332500; cassidytravel.ie.

Castlemartyr Resort has a €99pp winter package including B&B, a two-course evening meal and a €20 spa credit each for a 50-minute treatment. Valid midweek from January to March.

Celebrity Cruises is offering up to €600 off per stateroom on select 2017/18 sailings booked before February 28. The offer includes a free classic drinks package. See celebritycruises.ie.

ClickAndGo.com summer holidays can be secured with a €1 deposit. Highlights include Algarve from €229pp in May, Majorca 2+2 from €959 in May.

Croatian Holidays offer €190pp off holidays to Dubrovnik, valid on bookings made this January. The charter season runs from March to October. Seven night packages start from around €425pp in June..

Croke Park Wear your club or county jersey to Croke Park this January, and you get half-price on the stadium tour! The offer includes free entry to the GAA Museum with its Interactive Games Zone. The tour & museum combo usually costs €13/€8.50/€35. Not available to pre-purchased online tickets).

Falcon Holidays has flights plus 14 nights’ all-inclusive accommodation at Jamaica’s 3-star Holiday Inn Montego Bay from €1,399pp, departing June 8. 4 and 5-star options are also available. 1850 45 35 45; falconholidays.ie.

Flynn Hotels  room sale kicks off at midnight on January 6. Running for seven days, it has nightly B&B rates from €69pp, along with early check in or late checkout on a selection of dates. Hotels featured are The Imperial in Cork, The Old Ground Hotel in Ennis, The Newpark Kilkenny and The Park in Dungarvan.

G Adventures is offering €150 off all small group adventure trips priced over €1,000 for travel before July 31, 2017. Use the promo code 17GA150ADV01EUR. Sample trips include with days sailing in Montenegro from €1,099pp, and a National Geographic ‘Wonders of Namibia’ tour from €2,399pp exclluding flights.

Irish Ferries return ferry crossings for a car and a family of six, including a seven-night break in a holiday home at a Welsh holiday park from €946. It departs July 3, and can be booked with a €50 deposit. 0818 300 400; irishferries.com/haven.

Norwegian Cruise Line sale is under way

Project Travel has direct flights from Dublin, two nights in Tromso and a three-night Hurtigruten cruise from €1,090pps. It also has five-day packages to Tromso from €795pp (from February 23 to March 23).

Royal Caribbean offers buy one and you can get a second for half-price on select 2017 Mediterranean and Caribbean cruises. The offer also includes drinks package and 50pc off children rates. Deposit is €30pp.

Stena Line has 25pc off , book by January 13. Log onto stenaline.ie/sparkle and use the promo code SPARKLE.

Sunway Alghero June departures start at €614pp. Sunway also has 3-star packages in the Algarve and Majorca from €399pp in May. Sunway offers include: 7 nights self catering 2* apartment accommodation, Morocco from €199pp. 7 nights self catering 3* apartment accommodation, Fuerteventura from €299pp. 7 nights self catering 2* apartment accommodation, Gran Canaria from €299pp. 7 nights self catering 2* apartment accommodation, Lanzarote from €299pp. 7 nights self catering 3* Salou Suites Apartments from €449pp, travel June. 7 nights B&B 3* San Marco Hotel, Sardinia, Alghero from €629pp, travel June. 7 nights self catering 2* Los Lentiscos Apartments, Menorca from €394pp, travel May. 7 nights self catering 2* Puertocarmen Apartments, Lanzarote from €399pp, travel May. 7 nights self catering 3* Clube Oceano Aparthotel, Algarve from €399pp, travel May. 7 nights self catering 2* Verdemar Apartments, Majorca from €399pp, travel May. 7 nights B&B 4* Golden Day Wings Hotel, Kusadasi from €449pp, travel May. 7 nights self catering 3* Puerto Playa Apartments, Gran Canaria from €449pp, travel May. 7 nights self catering 3* Flathotel Apartments, Costa Del Sol from €449pp, travel May. 7 nights self catering 2* Carmen Apartments, Sicily from €499pp, travel May. 7 nights B&B 3* Orquidea Hotel, Madeira from €544pp, travel May. Visit sunway.ie or call 01 231 1800.

Sunway is offering 2016 prices on 2017 trips to Lapland, €899pp/€799pp for one night, including flights, tours, excursions and activities such as husky sledding and Santa’s village.

Topflight’s January sale is under way, with summer holiday offers including a week at the 4-star Bella Italia resort in Lake Garda from €499pp (self-catering in May), and a five-star week in Madeira from €799pp (also in May). Offers include 7 nights self catering 3* Kolpinghaus Apartments , Kitzbühel, Austria from €329, depart Jan 7. 7 nights half board 3* Hotel Austria, Söll, Austria from €559pps, depart Jan 7. 7 nights self catering 3* Aparthotel Olimpiades, Pas de la Casa, Andorra, from €369pps, depart Jan 8. 7 nights half board 4* Hotel Euro Ski, Soldeu, Andorra from €499pps, depart Jan 8. 7 nights self catering 3* Résidence L’Altineige, Val Thorens, France from €369, depart Jan 14. 7 nights catered chalet 3* Chalet Papillon, La Rosière, France from €598 depart Jan 14. 7 nights self catering 3* Casa Antonietta/Pozzi, Livigno, Italy from €429, depart Jan 28. 7 nights half board 4* Hotel Bruckenwirt, St Johann in Tirol, Austria from €599, depart Jan 7. Visit topflight.ie.

Tour America has flights plus seven nights at the Avanti Resport from €579pp based on two adults and two kids sharing. The holiday departs June 6 (REF: 526324, touramerica.ie). Meanwhile, Sunway (sunway.ie) has a seven-night package staying at the 3-star Rosen Inn at Point from €525pp in May, based on four sharing, and American Holidays (americanholidays.com) has Orlando from €555pp.

Trailfinders has a seven-day tour of South Africa’s Garden Route, including flights, accommodation (3 & 4-star hotels) and five days’ car hire from €799pp.

WOW air has sale fares from Dublin and Cork to Reykjavik from €59.99 each way when Cork flights take off in May 2017. Transatlantic connections include Boston and New York from €155.99, and LA from €169.99 each way.

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