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Holiday business upbeat and ready for the long haul

THURSDAY Dublin's air traffic controllers seem to be happy for the time being. What was all the fuss about?

Just as well because, tourism junkies, the movers and shakers of the travel trade are arriving in Dublin for the annual holiday fair. The mood is surprisingly upbeat. The cruise people and the long-haul people seem happiest of all. At a function in Dublin, Royal Caribbean report that it sold 30pc more holidays in Ireland in 2009 than it did a year earlier -- but apparently it had to discount to sell any at all.

FRIDAY Bertie Ahern comes to open the Holiday World show at the RDS and gets a surprisingly enthusiastic reception from both exhibitors and the crowds. MSC are selling second cruises for a euro. What's the catch? There is none. The cruise people are so happy to get anybody on board that they can flog a bottle of champagne to, they can afford to give a cruise away for a euro. Tonight is the annual Travel Extra Travel Writer of the Year awards. The Herald wins two. It is a long and involved day, but there is time for celebration.

SATURDAY John Fitzpatrick is home from New York for the holiday show. He reckons that hotel prices in America will creep up slightly during the summer. Liam Lonergan drops by the show, having just bought Budget Travel. He is going to put the Budget Travel name back in the market and charter planes to run services to the Budget honey pots. Most of the honey pots, however, are gone. Falcon Holidays has conquered Crete and the key properties, such as the Verdemar in Santa Ponsa, have migrated to former rivals.

SUNDAY The final clinic of the Holiday Show is scheduled for 3pm. My audience is older than in previous years but also more knowledgeable. Some ask about credit-card bookings, others about travel insurance for the elderly, about the Spanish subsidy for senior holidays, and most want to know about cruises. After an hour and 40 minutes the questions are still coming.

MONDAY The news of ET409's crash near Beirut comes like a thunderbolt. Ethiopian are one of my favourite airlines, a safe and efficient service whose last problem was the bizarre hijacking of ET961 in 1976. I think of the crew I have met over the years and wonder if any of them were on board.

TUESDAY Aer Lingus drags investors and journalists to London to say they don't want to be Ryanair anymore. They say they offer better service and, something that I can't get my head around in the online age, faster check-in. They are still charging for checked bags.

WEDNESDAY Statistics from the Spanish Tourist Board reveal the extent of the collapse in the package holiday business. It is down 34pc, while slightly more people took independent holidays in 2009. Ryanair are putting on 37 new services to the sun this year. They too have an eye on the Budget Travel market.