Diary of a travel writer: O'Leary gives 'world' as good as he gets
The Algarve rules. Glamour weekend for the travel industry and a hatful of awards are being dispersed at the Oak Room in the Mansion House to the leading tour ops, airlines, cruise companies and destinations. Quite a few surprises, the sun destination award was won by the Algarve -- a sign of shifting sands.
Michael O'Leary finally does it. He answers a question with: "I don't give a sh*te." Nobody minds, because MOL is being honest. He really doesn't. The Holiday World Show has erupted into life, creating its own volcanic ash cloud, because I have persuaded a human volcano to come to the event.
Michael O'Leary has more valuable things to be doing than answering questions from the woman whose bag weighed 15kg on the bathroom scales but 18kg at the airport, but he came. He is in full flow providing stand-up entertainment for the hundreds of people in the small space that has been provided for my Holiday World clinics.
Somebody asks for work experience and he launches into a tirade against the concept: "Transition-year students are the scourge of the earth." At the very end a young lad asks how he started, and he gives the most amazing, three-minute whirlwind tour of his rise to the top.
In the end he goes among the punters, getting his picture taken with the Austrian girls in costume and the woman who came from Castlebar, the transition-year student and the two pensioners who want to thank him for making their travels so affordable.
Friday evening the travel writers of Ireland are gathered for the Travel Extra writer awards. The Herald's Jane Last is among the recipients.
Cruise is the word. There are 50,000 people at Holiday World over the three days and they cannot get enough info about cruising.
Is escorted the new independent? Sharon Jordan is talking about her plans to launch three products: escorted tour operator Insight Vacations (luxury coach travel), Uniworld (river cruises) and Contiki (18-35 tours). The Explore and Exodus companies were also at the show, and Travel Department has opened a whole new vista of escorted tours in the Irish market. We are getting back on the bus, big time.
Trouble in Egypt and the Irish are phoning up looking for cheap deals in Sharm.
Fatcheese have a lunch launching their travel product. Internet travel is being invaded by the big sales sites. EBay are already auctioning off holidays to the highest bidder. A trend to watch.
The Thursday flight to Sharm El Sheikh, shared by Falcon and Panorama, is a casualty of the unrest in Egypt. North African countries seem to be falling out with their dictators like honeymooners in rainy season.