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Travel News March 2017



ND SO as we hurtle on relentlessly through 2017 with national and international news headlines dominated seemingly exclusively by the outworkings of Brexit and associated side- shows, or by the daily tweets of President Trump, it is so easy to lose sight of the doings and dealings whirring away within the confines of our own beloved Travel Industry.


And for those with their ear to the ground, there are indeed a vast array of discussions ongoing within the deep corridors of power – distant from the frontline news media radar - which might conspire to impact how business is done and how our travel and leisure habits may be impacted in the future. Take for example the ferry industry. For some time strong expectations have abounded that a bridge to surpass the record-breaking construction almost complete to link Hong Kong, Macao and mainland China would be given the green light for construction across the Irish Sea from North Down into south west Scotland.

But higher political considerations appear to have stalled that project in the short term. That being the case, ever the opportunists, the erstwhile management of Seacat have observed the removal of high speed vessels from the Irish Sea routes by Stena and P&O and are said to be far advanced in discussion with senior officials to construct infrastructure for the absolute shortest and fastest ever Irish Sea routing linking brand new berthing facilities in Donaghadee and Portpatrick. Informed sources suggest that the project will be complete and fully operational by the start of April 2019, and that the return of Seacat’s catamaran onto such a

short journey will put them into an unassailable position to out-manoeuvre the incumbent ferry companies.

Elsewhere many initiatives are taking shape within the ever-dynamic arena of air travel. Perhaps one of the higher profile developments in recent weeks has been the confirmation by Norwegian Air that they will be opening a range of new Transatlantic air services from Scotland and Ireland, including new direct routes from Belfast to New York and Boston, and all starting at highly attractive headline fares of £69. Whilst this development has grasped significant media coverage, what has failed to be picked up by the journalists is the confirmation by senior airline spokesperson (Boll Derdasch) that Norwegian have committed to re-introducing Concorde onto these routes as they grow and mature! So, not only a glorious future prospect for those travelling on the routes, but a veritable quiver-fest in store for the legions of spotters stationed on the various grassy knolls in the vicinity of these airports.

And just to be sure that they remain competitive BA have abandoned an outline idea to create another low cost off-shoot to compete with the new Norwegian services and have instead placed their faith in technology with plans well-advanced with Boeing for newly engined fleet exclusively powered by methane to dramatically reduce fuel costs on North American services, and to produce enhanced lift on take-off. To compliment this new departure they will also be pinching one of Michael O’Leary’s trademark ideas by removing all toilets on board these aircraft, as accumulating any more animal

waste on-board could compromise the vessel’s prospects of taking to the air. It has also been confirmed that the payback for receiving clearance to use Michael O’Leary’s royalty-protected idea is the commissioning of a ten-part reality TV show starring Willie Walsh and Michael O’Leary and following the process of delivering this technology from concept stage to first test-flight. The programme will be titled “The Great Irish Take Off” and will stream throughout the summer months on Netflix.

But adventurous as this initiative is, it is surely outdone by the soon-to-break confirmation that the UK’s very first Spaceport is to be constructed in an optimally identified site along the Glenshane in the Sperrin Mountains. Apparently the determining factor was the identification of a high number of space cadets residing in the locality, from which to draw the astronaut pool. When interviewed under embargo, local entrepreneur Phelan Devine could barely mask his elation, enthusing “This is going to transform the entire social and economic landscape in the North West. We’ve already had local architects out to draft plans to remove the saloon doors from The Ponderosa and to install two twenty second century prototypes of Scotty’s Starfleet Transporters so we can send Seamie and Big Merv up there as an advance party to things kicking off in earnest.”

Meanwhile more concerningly it appears that impending Brexit negotiations has caused an unfamiliar stirring in the extensive corridors in Brussels and led to an in-depth review of latent EU legislation which might be employed to poke the

unruly Brits in the eye. It appears from this initiative that a lesser applied EU Travel Directive ETD/1973/69/Bllx/EC has been trawled from the files banning travel agents from receiving Commission for services rendered, and that this Directive now appears set to be comprehensively applied as part of a suite of stage one initiatives by Brussels officials to effectively disable the UK’s travel sector. A taskforce is being assembled in Whitehall to muse about the grave ramifications of this action.

Finally – closer to home – it has emerged that the last act of the most recent Northern Ireland Assembly was to debate the critical matter of trade descriptions with regards to place names in the province and, in a highly unusual move, a motion was actually passed prohibiting the term “New” being applied to places which evidently are not new anymore. As such a review of signage has been set in motion to re-define towns as follows: Buildings, Castle, Mills, Townabbey, Townards, Townbutler, Townhamilton and Townstewart.

A motion to maintain the name Towncrommelin was roundly defeated as that was simply stretching credulity too far. And, in other related business, it was resolved that Whitehead either had to call itself Blackhead for six months of the year, or simply change to Anycolourofheadyoulike. Likewise Upperlands had to become more objective and politically acceptable by re-designating as Middlelands, and preference was noted for favouring totally ridiculous names like Buckna, Macosquin, Stranocum and Tullywiggan for any new residential clusters created in future!

Balkan Ski, local tour operator Travel Solutions ski brand, hosted members of the local Travell Trade on an educational to Bulgaria, recently. Travel agents are pictured on the slopes with Travel Solutions/Balkan Ski staff

Hilary wins agent promo

HILARY Alexander of Greers Travel, Ballymena was the winner of Topflight’s Valentine’s Giveaway recently. Topflight’s next travel agent promotion offers places on a fam trip to Italy, destination unknown, on April 6-9. To enter, book an Italian holiday with Topflight.

To launch the promotion, Topflight are giving double entries into the draw for week 1 for any Lake Garda or Venetian Riviera booking from Dublin, Cork or Belfast. Picture shows Hilary receiving her presentation from Jill Russell of Topflight after winning the Topflight Valentine's Giveaway agent promotion.

Turkish Airlines’ new partnership

TURKISH Airlines and Live Nation Ireland have just announced an exciting new partnership, in which Turkish Airlines becomes ‘The Official Airline Partner’ of 3Arena Dublin for the next three years. 3Arena,the Live Nation Ireland owned 13,000 capacity Amphitheatre-style Dublin venue, plays a significant role in the Irish entertainment industry, hosting up to 100 events per year. In the coming months some of the biggest acts in the world are set to take to the stage at 3Arena, including Ed Sheeran, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kings of Leon,

Take That and many more.

Since the venue re-opened in 2008 following a complete refurbishment it has welcomed over five million visitors through its doors for one world-class show after another.

The innovative new partnership between 3Arena and Turkish Airlines will allow concert-goers to experience the airline brand through a range of experiential activities at 3Arena.

Turkish Airlines operates from Dublin to Istanbul and onward to more than 200 destinations worldwide.

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