Inaugural Irish Travel Industry Summit: Leisure Travel

Inaugural Irish Travel Industry Summit: Leisure Travel

“Travel industry issues are on our radar in the European Parliament and we recognise that the industry is intimately connected with with where the economy stands,” said Brian Hayes MEP in his opening address to the inaugural Irish Travel Industry Summit organised by Irish Travel Trade News at the Clayton Hotel Burlington Road, Dublin 4, on Friday 24th November 2017.

Brian Hayes, MEP

Brian Hayes MEP

“I would like to see the travel industry speaking with one voice at a pan-European level, and I hope that Irish travel agents will have a dialogue with the Irish Government on the new EU Package Travel Directive,” he added.

Industry Summit Chairman, Martin Skelly,

Industry Summit Chairman, Martin Skelly, Managing Director,

The Summit was chaired by Martin Skelly,, and the first session considered three leisure travel sectors that were showing significant growth: cruising, adventure holidays and long-haul holidays.


Andy Harmer, CLIA, highlighted the huge growth in cruising – “25 million will take a cruise this year” – by revealing that 74 new ocean cruise ships worth US$50 billion are on order, of which 23 are luxury and expedition ships.

Andy Harmer, CLIA

Andy Harmer, Director UK & Ireland, Cruise Lines International Association

He emphasised that today’s cruise ships, and those to come, are “All About the Experience”, showcasing the sea experience, offering ‘branded’ entertainment, and using new technologies such as onboard apps and medallions to help guests to maximise their time onboard and for onshore excursions.

“Talking about the destinations is a great place to start educating clients about cruising,” he said, “beginning with agency staff knowing about five destinations from which 9.6 million people begin cruises: Barcelona (2.5m), Rome (2.3m), Palma (1.7m), Venice (1.6m), and Marseille (1.5m).”

Among his eight key points were ‘River is the New Ocean’ and ‘Expedition is the New River’, as well as ‘Taking Responsibility’, with more than €1 billion being invested in new treatment, recycling and environmental protection technologies.

Adventure Holidays

Brian Young, G Adventures, said that just as cruising has grown significantly in recent years, so now the growth rate in adventure holidays is huge and the sector is now mainstream. “This sector is growing faster than you think,” he asserted.

Brian Young, G Adventures

Brian Young, Managing Director EMEA, G Adventures

New air routes such as Aer Lingus to Miami, Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and Turkish Airlines to Bali will create new opportunities for Irish travel agents to sell adventure holidays.

He emphasised that G Adventures is the largest small-tour operator in the world, with 700+ tours in seven continents, that they have a high average sale price with “80% of our sales being made with our trade partners”, and that the company offers eight different styles of adventure holidays.

“We have a high percentage of single, female travellers, agents have telephone sales support 24/7/365, and once booked the tour is guaranteed,” he added. “Our company is also big on social enterprise, with 50 projects in 31 countries, with 50 more to come, and 90% of our clients will get in touch with local communities.”

Long-Haul Holidays

John Booty, Wendy Wu Tours, said that there are now 60 flights a day from Ireland and the UK to China and these offer travel agents great potential for sales. China is now the third largest destination for international travellers (after France and the USA) and number one if Hong Kong and Macau are included.

John Booty, Wendy Wu Tours

John Booty, Manager Ireland, Wendy Wu Tours

China has 51 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (second only to Italy) and there are 12 top destinations, not only Beijing, Shanghai and Xian, while the Mekong is the longest river in Asia.

Even though Wendy Wu offers the largest range of tours in China (61 in 2018 and 2019), it is interesting to note that in Ireland a high level of tailor-made tours are booked – and there is currently a 33% level of repeat clients.

A Summary

As rapporteur for the Irish Travel Industry Summit, Neil Steedman, News & Features Editor, Irish Travel Trade News, provided a brief summary of the afternoon’s proceedings, which can be viewed at:

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NEIL STEEDMAN has been a trade journalist, copywriter, editor and proofreader for 50 years, and News & Features Editor for ‘Irish Travel Trade News’ for the past 40 years.

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