There was a good attendance at the trade day for Holiday World 2020 at the RDS, Dublin, and exhibitors were generally positive about their prospects for this year, but, inevitably, the coronavirus outbreak in China has resulted in some adjustments to programmes and, on a more general level, is causing some concern about the effects on global travel in 2020, reports Neil Steedman.
Ciara Foley of Platinum Travel was proudly displaying their ITTN Travel Agency of the Year 2019 Award and said that this year they were placing particular emphasis on fly-drives out of New York City, such as to Dutchess County and New York State, as well as Memphis and Arkansas.
Amanda Middler of Silversea is looking forward to “an exciting year”, with five new ships on order, of which two are due for delivery this year: the 100-guest Silver Origin in July and the 600-guest Silver Moon in August.
Martin Penrose of Emirates Holidays reported “a fantastic response” from agents in the few months since the tour operator launched in Ireland, which he partly attributed to their agent-friendly online booking portal.
John Booty of Wendy Wu Tours is looking forward to the six new tours – four for groups and two private – that the 70-guest/35-cabin Victoria Mekong is offering this year. “The ec0-friendly ship will reach parts untouched by tourists, such as Tiger Island – and Vietnam is the top destination for us with Irish clients. With regard to the coronavirus outbreak, our business is normal – we have no tours to Wuhan, but have had to change to another airport for some tours. We have offices on the ground and can monitor the changing situation closely.”
Brian Young of G Adventures said that sustainability is becoming a big issue when the travelling public are choosing tours and more and more they want ‘experiences’, rather than ‘beach boredom’, particularly the younger market who seek inspiration. “The Irish market is absolutely right for that – and now has a big network of flights. Family holidays are also becoming very popular – and they want total immersion as a family, sometimes multi-generational or even ‘skip-generational’ when grandparents take their grandchildren and leave the parents at home!”
Tolene Van Der Merwe of the Malta Tourism Authority welcomed Ryanair’s decision to increase their flight rotations and start operating daily flights from Dublin to Malta from 26 March 2020, in addition to the two flights per week currently in operation from Cork to Malta. Visitor numbers from Ireland to Malta from January – November 2019 saw an increase of 29.4% from 2018 to 50,696, increasing dramatically from 39,182 in 2018 and 34,402 in 2017.
This year is set to be a big one for Malta with a variety of events set to take place throughout the year, including the famous Carnival in Malta and Gozo (21 – 25 February), the Malta International Fireworks Festival (18 – 30 April) and the Annie Mac Lost and Found Festival (30 April – 3 May).