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Diary of a travel writer: Grounded view of the industry


Two weeks without seeing an aircraft and I am suffering withdrawal symptoms. Not that you can miss the airline sales. The Aer Lingus 75th birthday sale is in full swing and some flights for April and May are already quite full at €199 a pop. BA has launched a biggie and the Asian airlines have prices jacking up €100 a week as the quota sells out.


A former hotel inspector once told me that in the 1970s, to qualify for top hotel grade, you had to have a sink in a quarter of your bedrooms. There are now 15,454 upscale and 13,132 "upper upscale" hotel rooms under construction in Europe and 5,890 luxury rooms. This compares with 10,454 mid-scale and 4,939 economy rooms. The prices for the good stuff are coming down and soon there will be no bad stuff left.


Although it's frosty and slippy again, the airports are all open. The last thing the industry needs is another enforced shutdown.


Aer Arann put out a press release on Sunday morning. The Sunday morning press release is always the cause of some suspicion -- it is easier to make the business pages on Monday than any other day of the week. It has three newish routes -- seasonal routes that used to be served by bigger Aer Lingus planes. This is what the recession has come to mean: smaller planes and larger prices.


The American immigration people have caused no end of hassle by not moving when they were supposed to on December 10. They have left us with a deserted airport terminal, shops with stock they cannot sell and workers with nothing to do. The news from the Homeland Security outpost is that they are postponing their moving date once again. Delta Airlines has made a brave move in the meantime. It is going to get its customers to check in at Terminal 2 and walk them back to Terminal 1 to board the plane. In the current climate it makes just about as much sense as building T2 did.

Monday night

Mauritius is one of our preferred honeymoon destinations. The Legends Hotel is a favourite, featured in five different holiday companies' brochures operating out of Ireland. Everyone involved in the industry is devastated tonight by the news of Michaela Harte's murder.


Failte Ireland have an event in Amiens Street and Tourism Ireland have an event in Cork at the same time. Nothing like having two -- no, three -- tourism bodies running things. The Northern Irish Tourist Board even have two headquarters, one in Coleraine and one in Belfast. No wonder the tourist is confused. Who does he ask what time the museum opens or the pub closes? Why Shannon Development of course, the ones who really run tourism in Ireland.


In fairness, the Failte Ireland marketing plan makes sense. Four years ago the theme of their TV ads was repositioning the home holiday product, then convenience (no 10kg allowance), then value for money. Last year the focus was on events with that lovely Heathers song. Next year it will be ghost estates.