Thursday 17 January 2019

Diary of a travel writer: Politicians in another failure of imagination


You know politicians are in trouble when they steal somebody else's tourism idea. The only thing the three leaders could think of to generate some jobs in the TG4 debate was very limited tourism initiatives. The gathering of the clans? An appeal to Irish-Americans? Not only are the political coffers bankrupt, their brains are as well.


Everybody else has downgraded their travel advisory for Tunisia from "essential" to "caution". But not Ireland. Panorama, the biggest operator to Tunisia from here, have delayed the start of their season, but there is a charter flight due to depart on Saturday, the first of the season for Sunway, so this is of more than passing interest to Irish holidaymakers.

Egypt's flights have also been stopped. It is going to be a bad year for North Africa and the Gulf. The advisory was changed overnight. But we need to be quicker to call off the all-too-common alarm calls we are getting nowadays.


Jedward get to play in Croker. No doubt that will replace all the jokes about the Westmeath men (Foster & Allen) playing on All-Ireland final day at centre field.


Continental is the latest airline to go premium economy. Delta has started the process, which means Aer Lingus is the only one left two-class across the Atlantic. It is only a matter of time.


Flight EI484 to the harbour city of Lisbon. It is hard to believe it took so long to get a direct service there, and popular it has proven, too.

I remember having a fascination with the Portuguese Atlantic coast from my childhood, based on nothing more than the way the sea-forecast weatherman used to pronounce Finisterre.

The coast lives up to its billing, huge Atlantic rollers sweeping in majestically from the ocean, crashing in falling towers of spray into the craggy rust-black cliffs.

Cascais is effectively a suburb, 30km from the city, a very posh Bray of Lisbon with the added prestige of having a royal summer residence just over a century ago which meant all the aristocratic forelock-tuggers built their neat villas there.

Check-in is at the Vila Gale in Cascais, a slightly over-starred property about 20 minutes from the beach.


Off to Oitavos Dunes and Cabo da Roca, the Dunquin of Portugal. It is a windblown place, with a lighthouse and a monument complete with an inscription by the national poet Luis de Camoes. We stop by the Estoril casino, product of another invasive culture.


Back to Lisbon to hear what is happening on the Portuguese tourism scene in 2011. It is a tale easily told. They want us to travel to the Atlantic coast but Irish people see Alentejo and Centro as a distraction from the main prize. The Algarve is booming. We are going to have 35 flights a week from Irish airports in 2011.

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