Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Ryanair Connection Talks Near Deal

Ryanair has been in talks for a number of months with a number of airlines about providing feeder and connector flights for long-haul services.
The company says such a deal with Aer Lingus would be a “win-win” for Ireland.

It is currently waiting for a reply to proposals from the IAG-owned airline and expects to hear from it either this week or next. If the reply is positive, a service could commence sometime next year.
Meanwhile, Ryanair has firmed up its recently raised profit guidance for its current financial year, saying that it will also carry more passengers than previously anticipated.
On the back of a bumper set of first-half financial figures, the airline yesterday said that it expects to carry 105m passengers across its European route network during the 12 months to the end of next March.

This is marginally up from the previous guidance of 103m to 104m, but is a full 16% up on the 90.6m people carried in the company’s last financial year. The long-term passenger target of 160m by 2024 has been increased to 180m.

As of the halfway point in its current fiscal year, Ryanair had carried just over 58m passengers, representing year-on-year growth of 13%.
Ryanair says winter is looking tougher after a summer booking spree https://t.co/SOfL907S6i pic.twitter.com/vAcvGDkUbO

Net profit, for the six months to the end of September, came in at nearly €1.1bn; up 37% on the €795m for the same period last year. First half revenue grew by 14% to €4.04bn and basic earnings per share were up by almost 40% at 80c.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary hailed the strong showing but said the bumper summer by the airline was due to “a very rare confluence of favourable events” including stronger sterling, adverse weather conditions in northern Europe, “reasonably flat industry capacity and further savings on our unhedged fuel”.

Last month, Ryanair upped its full-year profit guidance by 25% from a range of €940m to €970m to one of €1.17bn to €1.22bn.
Management strengthened that forecast yesterday by saying it sees the final figure coming in at the upper end of that range.

However, despite the rising earnings, Ryanair is still not planning to commit to a consistent dividend policy and will only continue to return surplus cash to investors by way of special dividends or share buybacks.
While no more returns are planned, some expect another windfall payment for shareholders in the medium-term.
“The balance sheet remains formidable, with net cash of €976m at the end of the [second] quarter, before the €398m Aer Lingus distribution,” said Stephen Furlong of Davy Stockbrokers.

“We expect further significant special dividends in the following fiscal year.”

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Ranking of Locations Every Star Wars Fan Should Visit

Star Wars themed destinations including filming locations for The Force Awakens

GoEuro.com, in association with getyourguide.co.uk the search engine for comparing and booking flights, coach and rail travel across Europe, may not be able to take you to a galaxy far, far away, but the team partnered with GetYourGuide to rank the out-of-this-world locations used throughout the Star Wars franchise, including those for the highly anticipated Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
Taking the top spot as the top Star Wars experience is Legoland. The company features life sized wing fighters and movie characters and is the first introduction to the franchise for many children.
The top five Star Wars experiences include:
  1. Legoland
  2. Lars Homestead and Tatooine Desert Scenes, Tunisia
  3. Rancho Obi Wan, USA
  4. The exterior of Lars Homestead, Tunisia
  5. Madam Tussauds’ Star Wars Exhibits, United Kingdom and Germany
Although GoEuro may not know what the locations from the new film will represent in the Star Wars universe, Jason Ward from MakingStarWars.net and Crummy Gummy, Jeremy from FuriousFanBoys.com and Sander De Lange and Tim Veekhovem (Content Creators at StarWars.com) put together their predictions as to what each new location may be used for. 
To work out the position of the 31 sites and experiences, GoEuro combined the scores for accessibility, accommodation and amenities (each worth 10%) with the Strength of the Force (worth 70%) to work out the overall score.
The Strength of the Force rates how much a fan will feel the presence of Star Wars at a specified location.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Warming Winters in Cornwall

With the dark nights now closing in there’s lots of festive events happening in Cornwall.
T’is nearly the season to eat, drink and be merry whilst enjoying Cornwall’s fabulous festive spirit. Leisurely crisp strolls along the beautiful Cornish coast, warming hot chocolates by a rustic log fire and snuggling beneath fluffy blankets whilst the sea storms ripple in - winter is not to be missed in this Christmassy wonderland.

October Half-term events

‘Freak or Unique’ and ‘Weird and Wonderful Trail’ Exhibition, National Maritime Museum, Falmouth Oct 26th/1st Nov


 Marvel at the Maritime Museum’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Make your own Indonesian Red Devil masks, soap scrimshaw and more inspired by extraordinary artefacts from their collection. Also find the fantastical things from far flung lands once sold in Falmouth’s very own Old Curiosity Shop. 


Myths and Legends, Tintagel Castle Oct 27th/Oct 29th
Join TinTagel Castle for an exciting adventure this half term. Travel back to Victorian times with Florence Nightingale Richards, our castle custodian and her storytelling companion as they explore Tintagel's dramatic landscape and bring to life the legend of King Arthur and the stories it has inspired.
Come along in your best Halloween fancy dress and you could be rewarded!   

Wintry Events in Cornwall

Nadelik - A Cornish Christmas at Pendennis Castle, Falmouth 5th/6th December

Celebrate Christmas the Cornish way at Pendennis Castle with fireside tales, music and dancing plus find your perfect present from the range of craft and gift stalls. Enjoy mulled wine and mince pies and meet Father Christmas in the castle keep.

 Padstow Christmas Festival, Padstow Harbour,Padstow 3rd/6th December


40 star chefs, and 45,000 visitors will celebrate what Padstow does best: food, drink and Christmas! One of the main festive highlights is Sharp’s secret bar. Visitors who discover the secret bar will find themselves immersed in a unique beer tasting experience like no other. Led by one of Sharp’s beer sommeliers, the sessions are guaranteed to revolutionise the way you drink and appreciate beer. Slip away from the Christmas crowds and into a very different beer drinking experience, designed to focus and heighten the senses.

Frozen Ice Parties, Carnmarth Hotel, November/December dates


Newquay’s Winter Wonderland is coming this November and December. The Carnmarth Hotel will be hosting ?Frozen Ice Parties for children with cuddly Olaf and other mini magical characters who adorn this wonderful story. Sing-a-long with our Anna and Elsa, get glittery and take home a frosty goodie bag. Whilst the children play under supervisory Frozen on Ice child carers, parents can relax and indulge themselves with the coastal food and cocktails at the C-View restaurant. 
Rogue Theate presents Winter Wood, Tehidy Woods, December dates 11th/30th


One of Cornwall 365’s winter highlights is Rogue’s ‘Winter Wood’ extravaganza, pass through the Woodland Gate and follow the twisting path. Let the faeries and woodland spirits lead the way with stories and songs. Follow the wandering path and meet Old Man Winter who will weave a tale and reveal the path to your fantastical destination, an enchanted celebration, and a wondrous festivity of wintry marvels.
There will be a show with live music, festive stories, winter wonders, free hot chocolate, a warm place to relax, sparkly face painting and the chance to make your own traditional winter decoration to take home.

Winter Getaways

Greenbank Hotel, Falmouth

Float away in stylish surroundings then, submerge yourself in characterful Falmouth’s history before diving into delicious food and drink. Nestled on Falmouth harbour, the Greenbank Hotel blends the best of coastal living with the finest in contemporary comfort, so you can experience life – on the water’s edge.
Enjoy a special winter deal from £99 per room per night  inclusive of bed and breakfast with an added treat of a mini Cornish cream tea at the Greenbank’s Water's Edge Bar or a drink in the Working Boat on arrival.  

St Michael’s Hotel and Spa, Falmouth


The ultimate way to unwind on the Cornish coast. The 4 star, award winning hotel and spa is located overlooking Falmouth Bay. Wake up to an ocean sunrise and enjoy breakfast over sub-tropical gardens. Explore hidden coves, winding streets, and artisan markets.
Whether it’s spreading out king-size style, waking up in Egyptian cotton or filling the tub with ESPA bubbles – St Michaels Hotel offers amazing Winter rates, with an added free stay for your pooches.
2 nights: From £50 pppn 3 nights: From £45 pppn 4+ nights: From £40 pppn

Carnmarth Hotel, Newquay


Carnmarth Hotel combines the glory of a classic British cliff-top hotel with the best of modern facilities and furnishings to create breaks with an intimate, relaxed feel.
Escape to the cooler than cool Cornish coast and stay at the impeccably located Carnmarth hotel for just £99 – includes bed, breakfast & 3 course dinner for 2 people!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Star Wars Filming on Skellig Michael

Disney owned LucasFilm has been granted permission to return to Skellig Michael this week to film scenes for one of the upcoming Star Wars movies. The UNESCO world heritage site has already hosted film crews last year and serves as the location for Luke Skywalkers hideout in the next release in the saga.

However, concerns have been raised this time around, most notably by An Taisce and also by Clumnist, Fintan O'Toole. The cite concerns regarding transparency, the built heritage and environment on the island. These concerns, I'm afraid, are nothing more than a cry to be noticed. The screams of those who have not had reason to be in the public eye lately. The people who live and work on the island are not about to let something disastrous happen to it, they are passionate about protecting it and educating us as to the history surrounding it. There will be less people on the island while filming it, than there would be on a normal day at the height of the tourist season. There will be representatives from the OPW and minister for the environment on hand to monitor everything during filming.

As "fragile" as many claim the island is, it has withstood centuries of violent storms with hardly a scratch. Granted, Jedi knights are a different challenge, but I think the island will do just fine. This film will serve as an opportunity to promote the island, it will bring massive revenue to the local area (particularly south Kerry) and the negative impacts are minimal. The film crew will leave the island exactly as they found it. Any concerns, therefore, are unfounded.

What happened when I posted Nazi propaganda on TheJournal.ie

Recently in the UK, someone decided to see what would happen when they posted Nazi anti-semitic propaganda on the daily mail. They took the English translations, replaced Jew with migrant and posted in the comments section. The results were worrying as they received massively more upvotes than downvotes. I decided to try the same on the comments section of thejournal.ie, posing under the name “John Rexford” to see what happened.

I had planned on continuing this experiment for longer but, to their credit, thejournal.ie have blocked me from posting anymore comments and have removed some of the more blatantly obvious ones, which would be considered incitement to hatred.

The first three comments were posted during the day, the last one on an article which was a couple of hours old. The last comment was posted shortly after 5pm. From the screenshots below you can see that the comment posted after 5 was almost completely downvoted, which leads me to think that the demographic reading the journal changes at that point. However, the comments posted during the day were the opposite. Thankfully some people, as you will see in the comments below, are willing to stand up against this kind of bigotry. Unfortunately, they seem to be in the minority among this particular readership. It must be pointed out that the reporting on the refugee crisis by the journal has been impartial and objective; they have in no way encouraged these kinds of comments or support of them. The people upvoting these comments have done so of their own free will. I doubt very much they are aware of the source of these comments.

Had I stated that I was about to post nazi propaganda, I doubt people would have voted so enthusiastically in favour of it, but this goes to show how easy it is to latch onto peoples (in this case unfounded) fears and lead them into support of something terrible. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past, not repeat them.

I do not believe the readership of the journal to be representative of Ireland as a whole and, had I been able to continue to post, I believe the evening readership of the journal would have rejected these comments completely. At least that is what I would gather based on the last two comments below.

We need to stand up to hatred and bigotry. We must remember that these refugees coming to Europe are not terrorists, they are innocents victims fleeing a warzone. They desperately need our help. The comments I posted, and their responses are below. Some of the later comments were removed by thejournal.ie before I could gather any reaction, either positive or negative, so they are not shown here.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Some Facts on immigration

Related to the UK but let's have a look.

  • 26% of NHS doctors were born abroad
  • The BMA advises that without immigrants many NHS services would struggle to provide effective care
  • Almost 5.5 million British people live permanently abroad (economic emigrants?)
  • Immigrants are 60% less likely to claim benefits than British born people
  • Between 1995 and 2011, EU immigrants contributed £8.8 billion more than they gained
  • Most studies suggest immigration has no significant impact on employment or unemployment
  • UK had fewer first time Asylum applications in January to March 2015 than six other EU countries
  • Registered Syrian refugees: 4,015,256, 2.2m in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, 1.8m in Turkey, 24,000 in North Africa. 49.5% males, 50.5% females.
  • 610,000 empty homes in England, 200,000 dwellings unoccupied for over six months

or if you want more expansive info

The Refugee Crisis, call it what it is.

Picture this, your neighbors house is burning down. The family, let's say there's 5 of them, come to you looking for help. You vaguely know them, you know one of the kids as been in trouble in school.

"No sorry, one of you might cause trouble, go back to your house, or maybe try next door".

This is the reality of what we in Europe are doing. Our neighbors across the Mediterranean, their house is burning down around them. Yet people call for them to be kept out because "there might be terrorists with them", or "we have our own problems", or worse still "we can't afford them"...as if money is more important than human lives?

We have all seen the horrific images of Aylan, the young toddler who washed up, drowned, on a Turkish beach. Do we really have to wait until enough of these people die before we act? What will it take before we decide to show some basic human compassion and help our neighbors, our fellow human beings?

"They will change our culture" you shout, "they'll take advantage of our welfare system" say more. Do you really think that people who are fleeing for their lives are worried about what benefits they can get? They want to work, make a better life for themselves. The proportion of "spongers" from these refugees will not be any greater than the proportion of spongers within a native population.

They will not either, change our culture. They will keep their culture for themselves, as is their right. Now, if the native population starts to oppress them, discriminate against them and blame them for what's going wrong in society, then of course they are going to push back, as has happened in many places in the UK.

"We should sort our own homeless crisis first". Yes we do have a homeless crisis in Ireland, well in Dublin at least. But that is a separate issue, just because we have one problem, doesn't mean we can't help with another. The homeless issue needs to be addressed, yes, but it is not an excuse to turn these refugees away.

 We need to learn from the lessons history has taught us. When was the last time there was such widespread discrimination against a particular race? How well did that work?

I live in hope that the online comments, calling to keep them out or even let them drown, are being posted by the minority who happen to be louder than the rest. Otherwise, the "Ireland of 1000 welcomes" is dead and gone. We were welcomed the world over, time for us to return the favour.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


I have been somewhat of a holiday hipster for the last couple of years, avoiding the "tourist traps" of the Mediterranean, sticking to city breaks, fitting in as much as possible in the one trip. It's a rewarding experience to take in new cultures, visit museums etc. However, this summer, we decided to pack that in. A few months ago we called into Abbey Travel in Killarney and booked ourselves a package holiday to Kusadasi in Turkey. For the first time in forever, we left the entire thing in the hands of someone else, they booked our flights from Cork to Izmir, bus transfers, and a week at the Golden Day Wings hotel. We were met by a guide at the airport who saw us right to the reception desk.

It was brilliant, completely stress-free and relaxed. We made a conscious decision to spend our holiday actually relaxing for a change, usually we'll go to museums, historical sites etc, but not this time. We spent our days by the hotel pool, strolled through the town in the evenings and caught up on our sleep. We took a cruise around the Aegean sea, stopping off in some gorgeous beaches and jumping off the boat.

It's such a wonderful feeling to wake up in the morning and feel the heat on your skin (something we just don't get in Ireland). It's invigorating, relieving almost. I feel as if my skin got to breathe for a change. 

Kusadasi is a charming town, full of life, loads of places to eat out, shop and chill out with a drink. A word of warning though, it seems as if everyone is out to sell you something. Lots of restaurants have "grabbers" in the street who will do their utmost to convince you to dine with them, usually starting off with "where are you from?" and proceed to tell you how their place is great for your nationality, they use this same line in the markets on Wednesdays. Some places have started to take advantage of their pushy competitors by highlighting the fact that they won't hassle you, these are the places we tended to go to.

Of course, no trip to Kusadasi would be complete without a trip to the waterpark. We spent our penultimate day in Aqua Fantasy park being the big children we really are. There are so many things to see around there, the town  of Selcuk was a bus ride away, where they have to house of the Virgin Mary. Ephesus, the ancient roman city was also nearby as well as pamukkale. I would definitely recommend a visit, it is well worth it.

Thanks to Abbey Travel and Sunway.ie 

Friday, 14 August 2015

Stupid things Travel Agents hear

from http://notalwaysright.com/tag/travel-agency/page/2
I work in a travel agency and we handle a lot of rental car bookings. Note: if you book a car early, and want to change something about the booking, the rate for the car will change. This exchange takes place with a customer who has booked a car about three months prior:)
Customer: “I’d like to change my booking to pick the car up a day earlier.”
Me: “I’d be happy to take care of that.” *pulls up new booking info* “Your new rate is going to be  [several hundred dollars more].”
Customer: “For that much, I could just go buy a car. The new rate is supposed to only be $30 dollars more for an extra day.”
Me: “That’s not how it works. You booked this three months ago and that rate isn’t available anymore. That extra day rate is if you return it a day later, not if you pick it up a day earlier.”
Customer: “Can’t you just go back to then and re-book it for me?”
Me: “You want me to travel back to March and book this for you again?”
Me: “I can’t travel through time to re-book this for you. I’m sorry. If you want to change it—”
Customer: “—well never mind. I’ll just take care of it myself.” *storms out of the office*

I have a long-time repeat client, old but quite nice. As I am finishing up going through the paperwork and vouchers for his identical biannual holiday with his wife, I inform him I won’t be able to assist with his next trip as I’d be on maternity leave but I’ll pass his file over to my manager and she’ll be quite happy to assist.)
Client: *blank look* “But you’re not… married.”
Me: “Well… no…?”
Client: “How can you be going on maternity leave, then?”
Me: “Because I’m having a baby?”
Client: But you’re not MARRIED?!”
Me: “Uh, I know, but I appear to be pregnant and as I am having a child I need maternity leave…”
Client: “BUT. YOU’RE. NOT. MARRIED. How can you be PREGNANT?”
(Every week for the next seven months he came into my office, sat in front of me, and implored me to go and get married, to anyone – maybe that man over there? – because I needed to be married to have a child. Well, I have a child and I’m still not married. Occasionally he goes back into my old store and asks if I’m married yet.)

(It is the late 1990s. A couple walk in. She is obviously Jewish, he not-so-much. As it turns out, he is a Lebanese Druze.)
Female Customer: “We’d like airline tickets flying into Tel Aviv and back from Beirut.”
Me: “Okay, let’s see what we can find.” *types into the computer* “Meanwhile, how will you get from Tel Aviv to Beirut?”
Female Customer: “Oh, we plan to rent a car and drive.”
Me: “I don’t think we’ll be able to find a rental car for that.”
Male Customer: “Why not?”
Me: “Well, right now the Israeli-Lebanese border is a war zone.”

I always like to follow up after a trip I have booked for a customer. A couple had booked a plane flight to Florida, a small rental car, and a few nights hotel on the beach.)
Me: “Hi, Mrs. [Name]. This is [My Name] calling from [Travel Agency]. I just wanted to make sure you had a wonderful time on your trip.”
Wife: “You’ll have to speak with my husband. I’m too upset to speak with you.”
Husband: “I can’t believe you have the courage to call, after what you did. I’ve dealt with incompetence before, but you are the worst!”
Me: “I’m so sorry. What happened?”
Husband: “When I booked the flight, I told you that I wanted an aisle seat, and my wife preferred a window seat. You had us backwards on all four flights!”
Me: “I’m so sorry. Why didn’t you just swap seats? Or, say something to a flight attendant, who would have told you to just swap seats?”
Husband: “…” *click*

We have a screen with special offers on the wall. Customer #1 is reading the board as offers flash by.)
Customer #1: “Wait, Paris is in Europe?”
Customer #2: “Really? Where did you think it was? Asia?”
Customer #1: “I never really paid much attention in Geometry class.”
(Customer #2 starts laughing as Customer #1 realizes what she just said.)
Customer #1: “Yeah… didn’t pay much attention at all.”

Customer: “Hello, I’m calling to make sure that my flight back to Israel departs as scheduled, and that my request for a kosher meal has been approved.”
Me: “Sir, your ticket has already expired. Your flight was on May 15th.”
Customer: “What?!? That’s not possible! I am absolutely sure that my flight is on May 29th!”
Me: “Sir, have you perhaps changed your ticket’s return date?”
Customer: “No way! I would remember that! I’m not senile. My flight is on May 29th and I did not change my ticket!”
Me: “The computer says your flight was on May 15th. Could you look at the printout of your ticket and tell me what date appears there?”
Customer: “Oh, my God…”
Me: “Sir?”

Customer: “I forgot! I completely forgot! I am calling you from Netanya! I already amback in Israel!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Airbus Supersonic Jet Patent

From TheJournal.ie
LAST MONTH, THE US Patent and Trademark Office approved an application from Airbus for an “ultra-rapid air vehicle and related method of aerial locomotion”.
In other words, the aerospace manufacturer just patented a hypersonic jet.
Airbus expects the jet to reach speeds as high as Mach 4.5 — or 4 1/2 times the speed of sound.
According to PatentYogi’s Deepak Gupta, this means the Airbus jet could make the trip from Dublin to New York in under an hour.
screen_shot_2015-07-28_at_11_01_56_amSource: Screenshot via YouTube/PatentYogi
That’s a significant improvement over the 3 1/2 hours it took for the now retired Mach 2 Concorde to make the same trip. The Concorde was a joint venture between Airbus’ two predecessors, France’s Aerospatiale and British Aerospace.
The hypersonic jet would also demolish the seven to eight hours it takes a conventional airliner, such as Airbus’ own A330, to cross the Atlantic.
In addition, Airbus thinks the patented craft would be able to complete trips like Paris to San Francisco or Tokyo to Los Angeles in just three hours.
In the patent, Airbus describes the craft as “an air vehicle including a fuselage, a gothic delta wing distributed on either side of the fuselage, and a system of motors able to propel the air vehicle”.
The jet is powered by three different types of engines that work in sequential order to get the craft aloft, into cruising altitude, and then up to its cruising speed of more than 4,800 kph:
  • To get off the ground, the craft will use two turbojets mounted under the fuselage as well as a rocket motor mounted in the rear.
  • As the Airbus lifts off the runway, it will climb vertically like the Space Shuttle.
  • Right before the jet reaches the speed of sound, the turbojets shut down and retract into the belly of plane — leaving only the rocket motor to guide it up to an altitude of more than 100,000 feet.
  • At cruising altitude, the rocket motor will shut down and retract into the fuselage. Then the plane’s pair of wing-mounted ramjets take over and propel the aircraft to a top speed of Mach 4.5.
Airbus suggests it will be powered by various forms of hydrogen stored aboard the craft.
According to Airbus, much of the plane’s aerodynamics are designed to limit and reduce the sonic boom it will create when it reaches supersonic speed.
In the 1970s, the Concorde was beset by complaints of sonic booms and noise pollution created by its four Rolls-Royce Olympus turbojet engines.
Concorde test flightSource: EMPICS Sports Photo Agency
Consequently, it was prevented from operating over land.
As a result, the supersonic Anglo-French airliner was never able to become the financially viable mainstream passenger transport its creators had hoped for.
Instead, the 14 production Concordes spent their 27-year career shuttling well-heeled VIPs across the Atlantic.
Airbus believes the hypersonic jet could have both civilian and military applications. In civilian trim, the craft could serve as private jet or as an airliner with room for 20 passengers.
In addition, Airbus has also proposed a variant armed with high-power electromagnetic pulse weapons to conduct precision strikes on high-value targets.
As with most patented ideas, it’s unlikely the jet will ever enter production. But technology derived from the hypersonic plane could make its way into Airbus’ other less extreme products.
For more information on the Airbus jet, check out the full patent at the USPTO database or this video from PatentYogi.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Technology in the Travel Industry

A couple of years back I wrote a report for college on the impact of ICT application in the Travel/Tourism industry. I wrote about how I felt that the industry, and travel agents in particular, seemed slow to adapt and evolve with new trends and technologies. I wrote how the industry was playing catch up somewhat, but looked to be getting up to speed.

It's been two years now since I wrote that report, and things seem to be quite a bit better, travel agencies and tourism bodies are much better with their adaptation of social media , websites are much more modern and attractive looking, and it would be very hard to find a company that doesn't have an app or mobile friendly website for its customers.

Portman Travel has recently updated the website

Social Media has become almost an essential part of the customer service experience. Travel agents, airlines, hotels etc are all interacting well with their customers. Many airlines and tourism groups have designated Social Media Managers to look after their Facebook and Twitter accounts and they do a good job (mostly) of providing excellent customer service and promoting their brand. It is necessary for any company these days, who claim to have excellent customer service, to have staff dedicated to monitoring and interacting with customers through social media, if they want to be viewed as up to date. This is evidence of the industry catching up very quickly, and in terms of Social Media use, getting ahead slightly. If you look at the Ryanair twitter account, they are very good at promoting themselves (their occasional arguments with Aer Lingus are very entertaining).

Shade throwing at its finest!

The one part of the industry which still is slightly behind the rest is the travel agents booking engine. The GDS has been around for a long time now, they have changed slightly over time, but largely are still not the most user-friendly way of booking. You still need an awful lot of knowledge and training to fully understand and use the various GDS systems, they are a skill that takes time to master.

This is a traditional GDS (Galileo) screen
I spent time in college learning the basics of Galileo, and have been exposed to it in a working environment for over a year now and I still don't know it all. Shortly, I may not have to use it at all. I'm lucky enough to be working in a company that has taken a massive leap forward in this area, Portman Travel have developed a web-based booking engine which has nearly all the functionality of the GDS with none of the jargon. This is what I have been using primarily since I started here and it has made my life an awful lot easier.

I don't think think it will be long before other agencies, or even the GDS companies themselves, follow along these lines. For now, it's nice to be at the forefront in the industry.

Responsible Travel publishes accessible tourism guide for 1 in 5 global travellers with a disability

Responsible Travel

As recent research shows that with adequate services demand in the accessible tourism industry could potentially increase by 44% a year, Responsible Travel has published an inspirational Accessible Tourism guide for the 1 in 5 travelers globally who have a disability.

Since 2008, it has been illegal for airlines and holiday companies to refuse to fly people in and out of the European Union (EU) because they are disabled. Yet recent research shows that the European tourism sector is still missing out on as much as €142 billion due to insufficient services and in the UK alone two-thirds of businesses and attractions are not accessible causing a loss of £2 billion-a-year.

The accessible tourism guide represents Responsible Travel’s first steps towards establishing a more permanent and cohesive inclusive tourism service, not just incorporating access for wheelchair users but holidays which welcome people with a wide range of disabilities, visible or not. The aim is to provide a detailed overview of the inclusive tourism industry, to celebrate success stories such as Catalonia’s ‘Tourism for All’ scheme, and to increase awareness on the different forms of disability.

Ahead of this year’s annual Disability Awareness Day on 12th July, the Responsible Travel guide aims to encourage people to expand their horizons when it comes to travel. The key message is that the inclusive tourism industry is much broader than many people think, with accessible safaris, small ship cruises, cycling, scuba-diving trips all available. It encourages travellers to be brave with their holiday choices, with advice from experts on how to push travel boundaries and how they can help educate the industry on providing more accessible tourism.

Reflecting how important the topic of accessibility is becoming in the responsible tourism movement, in 2014 the World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM, organized by Responsible Travel, introduced its first category for accessible tourism. Commenting on this, Awards founder and managing director of Responsible Travel, Justin Francis, says:

“When Campo & Parque Dos Sonhos, an inspirational and inclusive Brazilian adventure park, was announced as the joint-overall winner of the 2014 World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM it sent a clear signal to the responsible tourism industry that we need to do more to encourage and develop inclusivity.

Our new guide aims to inspire both disabled travellers and the tourism industry to be braver and to break down barriers to understanding accessibility needs. As a site we know we have a long way to go to offering truly inclusive tourism, but ahead of Disability Awareness Day we hope this guide is just a starting point for a process of positive change.”

Catalonia, Spain has emerged as a forerunner in the accessible tourism industry and is now offering 22 holiday options via Responsible Travel.

A spokesperson from the Catalan Tourist Board, which sponsored the creation of the new guide, said:

“Accessible tourism must be based on the principle that tourism is a fundemental social right for all, since for people with disabilities or reduced mobility and for everyone, the activities included under the categories of tourism and leisure are key to enjoying quality of life.”

Based on Responsible Travel’s 2014 bookings, the top 5 accessible holidays are:

Disability Awareness Day (‘DAD’) is held annually in the grounds of Walton Hall gardens in Warrington and attracts 250 exhibitors and 25,000 visitors, making it the largest ‘not for profit’ voluntary-led disability exhibition in the world.