Travel talk: Lots of competition for Disney’s Chinese enterprise

Here are some snippets from the travel industry. See Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement for more news.

From around the globe

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Disney unveiled details of its $5.5bn Shanghai Disneyland theme park, planned since 2009 and due to open spring 2016.

The park promises six themed lands and attractions based on Star Wars and Marvel characters, a Mandarin-language production of the Lion King live show, two resorts — Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and Toy Story Hotel — Disneytown shopping and entertainment district, and an Enchanted Storybook castle.

There’s going to be lots of competition: The number of Chinese amusement parks is expected to reach 850 this year, and Universal Studios and Dreamworks have their own Chinese attractions in the pipeline.

Thanks to the one-child policy and the Chinese trend of travelling with extended family, adult visitors will outnumber children 4 to 1, which means there will have to be more of everything: seating areas, restaurants, open spaces for older family members.

And since most Chinese companies do not provide paid holidays, visitor numbers will surge around national holidays, so there will have to be a system in place to avoid excessive queuing.

This will be Disney resorts’ largest foreign investment. It will be interesting to see how they adapt to suit the Chinese traveller.

Swim city

London docks

East London’s Royal Docks near London City Airport will be open for casual and competitive swimmers, but only during set periods on weekdays and Sunway mornings.

There will be 400m, 750m and 1,500m stretches for those looking to train and a separate area for doggy-paddlers.

Water temperatures promise to hover around 18C, but there are wetsuits available to rent if you need them. There are also showers and hot and cold food on site.

My complaint? It seems a bit too nannied. Punters can’t just pop down for a lunchtime dip like they can in Stockholm. They are restricted to Wednesdays 4-8pm, Thursdays 6-9.30am, Fridays 4-8pm and Sundays 7-10am.

Plus it costs £8 to use and children as old as 16 must prove that they can swim 200m without stopping, and, most embarrassing of all, wear a wetsuit and tow float. What’s more, they can only swim with a parent and within a set course.

I understand the importance of safety, but sometimes it’s better to relax some of the rules.

Parlez-vous touriste?

Paris launched the Yes I speak touriste mobile app. It helps visitors find shops, hotels and attractions where their native language is spoken.

The business

business traveller

A report by travel expense management company Certify suggested that business travellers in the USA are warming to alternative travel options.

The survey claimed that 31pc of ground transport receipts in Q2 were from Uber, compared to 24pc from taxis and 45pc from rental car.

Receipts from Airbnb are small, but the room rental site grew 143pc over Q1.

Another survey by laterooms.com found that 60pc of business travellers suffer from homesickness, but only 8pc said this resulted in a drop in productivity. In fact, it might even be good for productivity: A third of the respondents said the cure for homesickness is — you guessed it — keeping busy. Just don’t tell your boss that.

Pillow talk

Dublin docks

Trivago’s Hotel Price Index shows that average hotel prices in Ireland increased 15pc YoY this month to €124.

Unsurprisingly, Dublin topped the list with an average price of €168, up 9pc YoY. Belfast is up 46pc YoY largely thanks to the weakening of the euro. Limerick had the lowest price at €99. Galway and Kinsale saw the biggest increase compared to last month, both up 7pc MoM.

EUROPE

Geneva

The usual suspects topped the European index: Geneva’s average price for July is €284, followed by London at €263, and Venice at €250.

As expected, the lowest prices can be found in Eastern Europe: Warsaw €62, Sofia €62, Bucharest €70. Paris prices are up slightly by 1.4pc YOY to €181. Berlin is up 5pc to €102. Rome up 5pc to €136.  Barcelona up 7pc to €160. Lisbon up 5pc to €114.

WILD ABOUT KERRY

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Ballygarry House Hotel & Spa in Tralee — which hosted me on a press trip last month — launched their Wild About Kerry packages and brochure, capturing hidden gems along Kerry’s Wild Atlantic Way. See the brochure.

This week in the sky

Dublin Airport T1

Dublin airport passenger numbers were up 15pc in the first six months of they year. That means Dublin is on course for 25m passengers in 2015. The current record is 2008’s 23.4m passengers.

Average ancillary revenue per passenger is $17.49, up 8.5pc, according to a study sponsored by Dublin-based CarTrawler. Sixty-three airlines participated in the study, with low cost carriers alone seeing a 32.8pc jump in ancillary revenue to $2.9bn.

Aer Lingus Regional reported a 4pc YOY increase in load factor to 74pc for June. Passenger number on the Kerry-Dublin route was up 39pc and Donegal-Dublin up 11.3pc.

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Fashion brand Wunderkind designed two elegant, unisex amenity kits for Air Berlin’s long haul flights.

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Architecture graduate Alex Sutton won a distinction for his design of an airport above the streets and canals of Stockholm. Sutton proposed a short runway, city-wide baggage system, taxi-track system to move aircraft and self-service baggage kiosks.

Travel tech

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ID2015 launched their Design Ireland app. The app features recommendations for design-focused attractions around Ireland. Download the app for free on Google Play or the App Store.

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Living the Dreamliner dream

Thomson’s B787-8 Dreamliner flew into Dublin Airport yesterday to mark the launch of Thomson and Falcon Holidays’ summer 2016 routes to Cancun and Jamaica.

Chris Browne with her nieces
Chris Browne with her nieces, Victoria and Charlotte Grieves

It was a big moment for Chris Browne, who’s the chief operating officer of TUI Aviation.

She was dubbed the “woman from Strabane, off her rocker” when she placed the order for the Dreamliner in 2005. “Who’s crazy now?” she asked after a victory flight around Ireland.

The Thomson Dreamliner is fitted with 253 economy class seats in a 3-3-3 configuration and 47 Premium Club in a 2-3-2 configuration.

Economy class feels spacious thanks to the wider seats (32” pitch), bigger windows and generous legroom.

Multi coloured B787-8 Dreamliner interiorI think the modern interiors help create that sense of space as well. The family holiday theme is toned down big time to a subtle palm tree motif at the front of the cabin — although the lighting can be adjusted to a multicoloured “disco”, so maybe I’m wrong on this one. We’ll have to see what it’s like when there are kids on board and not just giddy journalists.

An upgrade to Premium costs from €259pp. The benefits include a bigger seat (38” pitch with bigger recline), fast track through security, airport lounge access, four-course meal, afternoon tea and complimentary amenity kit. The additional comfort is good, but you can still get complimentary drinks (alcoholic included) in Economy and can access the IFE system on the same 9” seatback TVs.

The Dreamliner’s USP with customers is its noise reduction. The aircraft is just so quiet on take off and decent. It makes for a seamless experience — an attractive feature if you are flying long haul.

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Falcon Holidays and Thomson will operate direct non-stop flights from Dublin to Montego Bay, Jamaica from June 12, 2016 and from Dublin to Cancun, Mexico from June 13, 2016.