Friday 21 August 2009

Ryanair New Routes for Edinburgh

Reported widely today, Ryanair said it was increasing its winter services from Edinburgh to 26 from 19 last year between October and March.

The company said it was concentrating its efforts on winter sun destinations like Girona (Barcelona), Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife but is also adding city break locations like Brussels, Memmingen (Munich West), Gdansk and Oslo (Torp). The airline is also extending its summer routes to and from Malta and Rome (Ciampino).

Ryanair also claimed that the route announcements would increase annual passenger numbers at Edinburgh Airport to almost two million and sustain 2,000 local jobs.

Gordon Dewar, managing director of Edinburgh Airport, said: "We are delighted that Ryanair have once again committed to expanding their operation out of Edinburgh Airport, now the fastest growing airport anywhere in the UK. "These are exciting new destinations, which will give our increasing numbers of passengers an even greater choice of places to jet off to this winter. "We are particularly pleased to see new routes to Germany, Spain and Norway, key tourism markets for Scotland, particularly over the Christmas and New Year period."

Monday 10 August 2009

TripAdvisor and Hotels - Continued...

We've touched on TripAdvisor on a number of occassions over the past few weeks and no doubt this will continue as the debate goes on regarding its integration into sites such as

One of our most recent finds is a really well constructed and thought out Blog by an American Josian Mackenzie. It really is worth subscribing to his RRS feed.

Anyway he has just interviewed the VP of TripAdvisor and the article is of real interest to accommodation providers. Worth five minutes of your Monday morning for sure.
The one thing about TripAdvisor - you may love it or loathe but you cannot ignore it. Hotel and Guest houses must manage the process to the full and be pro-active when it comes to those guest reviews.

Read the TripAdvisor interview on the Hotel Marketing Strategies blog

Irish Golf Green Fees Slashed

Email received from Killarney Golf and Fishing Club in Ireland re-enforcing the difficulties that some in the Irish Tourism industry are facing.

The rates for 2010 are 70% of the same rates for this year. Similar rate reductions are expected across the island for 2010 from an increasing number of tourism operators.

Killeen this year is €130, 2010 is €90; Mahony’s €100, next year €70; Lackabane €39 was €80 will be €50. If you visit the website even greater discounts are on offer through August.

It may seem distant to us but the knock on effect will be a re-alignment of the cost of golfing in Ireland and may see some upturn in their visitor numbers over the year. If the dollar continues it's climb against the pound the cost benefits we're seeing in Scotland this year could be removed. Worth some of our own clubs considering their own rates for 2010?

Friday 7 August 2009

Loss of up to 150,000 Visitors Forecast

Quick follow up on last week's blog about the news that Ryanair were switching their emphasis more to outbound travel from Prestwick at least in the short term.

According to The Scotsman, "Scotland faces losing up to 150,000 visitors a year after the no-frills Ryanair announced it was axing three popular tourist routes to Prestwick to focus on sunshine destinations for holidaying Scots."
The article carried the story the right way round as far as we were concerned leading with the fact that Ryanair is to end flights between the Ayrshire airport and Frankfurt in Germany, Krakow in Poland and Stockholm in Sweden in October in exchange for flying fuller aircraft to the Mediterranean and Canaries.

For those in Ayrshire still in denial, three quotes which require no comment:
  1. Ken O'Toole, Ryanair's new route development director said: "This is a very strong message to be sending out, that we are the largest providers of sun destinations in the west of Scotland."
  2. Graeme Sweenie, Prestwick's chief commercial officer, said there would be "quite a significant reduction" in high-spending passengers from Germany and Sweden, which are among Scotland's key tourism markets.
  3. A VisitScotland spokesman said: "It is disappointing that routes for some of our important overseas markets have been cancelled. However, important air links still remain with these key inbound destinations."
The bald facts for Ayrshire:
  • 100,000 and 150,000 fewer people flying to Scotland (through Ayrshire) as a result of the changes. (Economically the equivalent of five Gatherings?)
  • This equates to anything from 200,000 bednights to more than half a million (depnding on whose economic impact calculator you pick up!)
  • Flights from Edinburgh to the three destinations axed from Prestwick are unchanged
  • As a result Ryanair seem to see Prestwick as an outbound carrier and are going to go head to head with charters from Glasgow and FlyGlobespan and others
  • Edinburgh is now being strategically placed as Ryanair's inbound Scottish hub
As Jim Mather wings his way to Ayr on Monday to take part in the Ayrshire Tourism Conversation, Ayrshire needs to recognise the threats to it's tourism wellbeing.
It truly is of little use to have world class golf, coastline, history and heritage and even accommodation if you can't actually get there...

Thursday 6 August 2009

Aviemore Innovates Again!

Once again the bods up at Aviemore and The Cairngorms recognise the potential of new techonology in increasing information provision to visitors.

For the first time in the UK, tourists will be able to access tourist information 24/7 when three new Bluetooth terminals are launched in Aviemore and the Cairngorms. The technology is being launched by Aviemore & the Cairngorms Destination Management Ltd and will bring an end to the long-running concern held by tourism operators over the opening hours of tourist information centres not always matching visitor requirements and arrival times throughout the year.

Visitors to the Aviemore area who activate the Bluetooth reception on their mobile phones will be able to find details of local summer events. If successful the scheme will then be rolled out to provide visitors with last minute room availability, things to do, places to eat or drink, events listings for the area and local promotions.

Users will have the option to accept or reject the free content via their mobile phone and the system is set up so that no spam will be sent out from the terminals. The Bluetooth system does not rely on mobile telephone coverage, which can be a problem in the Highlands and is completely free to use for the visitor.

Alan Rankin, Chief Executive of Aviemore & the Cairngorms Destination Management Ltd, says: "Our website is very successful at providing information pre arrival and we have a printed guide of events for visitors once they are here. However, we will now be able to communicate in real time to our visitors and we are delighted to be the first in the UK to offer the technology in this way.

"With more than 1.2 million visitors throughout the year we are one of the countries leading tourist destinations, therefore it is vital that we provide the most up-to-date services possible. Given our location and the fact that we have year-round attractions, many of our visitors can arrive outside tourist information opening hours or out of season when the offices are shut. However, this new technology means visitors will always have correct and current information at their finger tips. "

The Aviemore and Cairngorms area has a wide visitor mix, attracting many young families, sports enthusiasts and media-savvy youngsters to the area. This was evident in the first stage of the pilot scheme, which took place throughout April and May and which identified 28,000 individual mobile handsets in the area that were Bluetooth enabled.

Heather Galbraith, Sustainable Tourism Officer at the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: "This initiative will give visitors up to the minute information and has the potential to be used in a variety of innovative ways. For example, if bad weather closes Cairngorm Mountain, this technology could allow snow sports enthusiasts to receive an instant message telling them the mountain is closed and issue information on alternative activities instead. This scheme is an excellent example of the type of ideas that are developing within the Cairngorms National Park with funding support from Clim-ATIC, via the EU's Northern Periphery Programme."

The three trial terminals will be based around Aviemore - one in the town centre, one at Rothiemurchus Visitor Centre and one in the car park at Cairngorm Mountain. It is hoped that the scheme will be developed throughout the Cairngorms National Park later in the year.

Congratulations again Mr Rankin!

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Multi Billion Plans For Perthshire

One of those headlines that catches the eye if nothing else...
Perthshire Advertiser - as they're the local paper - published their spin on the press release.

"ROYALTY, global capitalists and international playboys could soon be heading for a remote Perthshire destination earmarked as the ultimate playground for the world’s super-rich.

Mind-blowing plans worth £1.3 BILLION for the creation of a private members’ club near Kinloch Rannoch were submitted to Perth and Kinross Council yesterday, with developers insisting the project would put even the Middle East’s most luxurious resorts in the shade."


It's worth reading the article and some of the statistical bullet points that were produced by the national titles as well but what we found most surprising was that the proposal was apparently underpinned by a consultancy study written by The Moffat Centre in Glasgow. The report is widely quoted, for instance,

“The development is predicated upon targeting the world’s highest net worth individuals in an exclusive private club environment that will maintain exclusivity and ensure privacy and security. The minimum liquid asset net worth of individuals will be set at £100million.

Describing the proposals as virtually unprecedented globally, the Moffat Centre predicts the impact on the local economy will be “dramatic.”

“The development has been benchmarked against luxury iconic hotel operations throughout the world, this has included resort operations in the five-star and ‘above’ quality level operated by Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons Hotels, Intercontinental Hotels and Jumeriah Hotels and Resorts, most particularly the Burj al Arab Hotel.

Describing the scheme’s scale and orientation as “closer to the high marque operations of the US and Middle East”, the Moffat Centre believes Rannoch’s natural and secure setting, remoteness and exclusivity will appeal to elite clients such as Prince Albert of Monaco.

“The development will be of such quality and scale that it will make Scotland an aspirational ‘must see’ destination in the same way as the Burj al Arab Hotel has impacted on Dubai,” the report adds.

This must be perhaps one of the boldest consultancy predications ever made by this august body and makes The Trump claim of building the world's finest golf course a minor achievement.

Someone on one of the national paper blogs asked about the midgies... at £16,000 a night (quoted!) I think the midgie problem may be resolved at last...

Stephen Carter Joins VS Board

Good news we think that Stephen Carter has been appointed to the board of VisitScotland for the next two years.
Currently the Managing Director of the Cameron House Resort on Loch Lomond, "Mr Carter was chosen for his "deep understanding" of the accommodation industry."
Having been involved in the industry for years he was presented with an OBE in 2007. It can only be hoped that his expertise at the sharp end will add momentum to the changes mentioned by his peer Peter Lederer recently and that Stephen can bring some guidance in shaping the structures required in developing the industry.
It will be interesting also to see whether he can influence the golf strategy as well having been so heavily involved with two of Scotland's finest golf resorts on Loch Lomond and at Fairmont St Andrews.

Bannockburn 700 Celebrations... An Alternative

I noted in the Daily Record or Sunday Mail that "tourist bosses are planning a second massive Homecoming celebration honouring Robert the Bruce to mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, generating millions of pounds and according to the paper the follow-up is to be staged on June 24, 2014, at Bannockburn, where Robert the Bruce fought off Edward II's army."

The paper also noted that the clan gathering in 2014 would be held the same year as the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

What it forgot to look up is that it's also slap bang in the middle of Scotland's finest ever World Cup campaign in Brazil 2014 which may also vie for the venue of the biggest Tartan Army Gathering seen since Paris!

As proud as being at Bannockburn would make me I have to say that come June 24th 2014 I could only say that there could be no finer place to celebrate the day than the Copacabana with the kilt, The Tartan Army and some Factor 50 waiting to play our first ever World Cup Quarter Final tie - against the English.

Anyone care to wish with me...

New VisitScotland Homepage has undergone a refresh to its portal site. "Introduced on 29 July 2009 the new homepage for Visit Scotland has been redesigned to give a more comprehensive shop window for Scottish tourism, with dynamic and exciting content visible from the first click of the mouse."
The homepage certainly features a host of dynamic images and new media embedded. The release puts it thus, "Emphasising the use of rich media (images and videos), these changes are designed to inspire users and draw them further into the site. The new homepage gives quick and more direct access to accommodation, event information, attraction and activities and features a new improved site search. Current marketing campaigns will also be featured on the homepage."
The site appears to be still powered by the same Tiscover content management system and booking engine and still we note features the TripAdvisor ratings - much maligned in a recent post.
It will be interesting to see what direction VisitScotland take the new site; the question of a public sector body operating for instance a (private sector) booking engine is certainly now a dilemma.How will it face up to the costs of managing content in house? Will it still maintain the call centre functionality developed by or instead look towards directing calls towards the private sector directly.
The answers should be interesting.