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17.07.14 News

Costa Concordia is finally raised, with salvage costs to hit $1.5bn

Adam Coulter in Giglio Calder will speak at the September event SPEAKER LINE-UP

Stars come out for Elite’s conference

THE ELITE Travel Group has announced that TV presenter Simon Reeve, travel journalist Simon Calder, astronomer Pete Lawrence and the CAA’s Andy Cohen will be speaking at this year’s conference. The event, which is being held

from September 26-29 in Seville, is open to all independent agents, not just the consortium’s members. Chief executive Neil Basnett

believes the variety of speakers will prove to be a major draw for the conference, which will be covered by official media partner TTG Media. He said Reeve had been booked

for the event due to his work as a travelling journalist, which has seen him frequently focus on some of tourism’s less responsible practices. Basnett added: “His travel

programmes are completely different to the run-of-the-mill travel programmes.” He said Calder will also be popular,

after he appeared at last year’s conference in Edinburgh, adding: “He was winding up the industry after saying he’d gone online and found a lot of £300 holidays.” Basnett also believes that the

appearance of the CAA’s head of Atol, Andy Cohen, is timely, particularly in the wake of the collapse of Villa Parade and the association’s proposal to end the Small Business Atol. Basnett said: “I was keen to get

him back this year since Villa Parade was one of our members and there have been concerns the CAA didn’t properly scrutinise Villa Parade; I want him to focus on that.”

THE FINAL operation to shift the Costa Concordia took place this week, the cost of which the cruise line’s chief executive said had now soared to more than a billion euros. The ill-fated liner has been

resting on a platform since the last stage of the operation to move the hull was carried out in September 2013. The latest and final step to raise

the ship began on Monday morning and continued throughout the day until it was two metres above its platform. It was then towed 30 metres away from the shore. The operation is set to last a week,

with the wreck later being towed to Genoa and scrapped. Costa chief executive Michael

Thamm admitted the cost of the procedure to remove the capsized liner had soared to more than a billion euros, once the towing and scrapping were taken into account: “The €1 billion will go up, that

figure does not include transport or demolition. It will be nearer €1.5 billion once that has been taken into account.” He also spoke again of just how

Time Travel This week in...

US-based chain Travelsavers International revealed plans to move into the UK and signed up more than 1,000 agents as part of a new consortium offering “unparalleled” benefits to members. It was also announced that Ken McLeod, Scottish Passenger Agents’ Retail Consortium chief executive, was to become the new venture’s UK and Europe managing director.

2000 17.07.2014 07

“US retail chain eyes independent agents”

The wreck will later be towed to Genoa to be scrapped

badly the capsizing of the Concordia had impacted the cruise line’s image: “The brand was damaged, particularly in 2012 following the accident.” Part of the predicted €1.5 billion

has also been spent on repairing that brand damage, he added. The Costa Concordia capsized

after striking a reef off the Italian island of Giglio in January 2012, killing 32 people. One body still remains to be found. Thamm – who was not chief

executive when the accident occurred – gave special praise to the islanders, who offered food, blankets and in many cases beds for

the night when passengers escaped from the ship. “When it comes to the Island of

Giglio, I have a number of thoughts. The people on this island opened their doors when 4,200 people were in distress,” he said. Meanwhile life goes on in Giglio,

with both tourists and locals sitting down to watch the operation to remove the wreck from the port. Young boys now play football on a

small beach with the looming hulk of the mangled ship in the background. And holidaymakers sunbathe on

those beaches that have not been cordoned off for the salvage traffic.

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