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Europe BriefsOctober 15, 2012 By: Travel Agent Central Contributor Travel Agent
|Shopping on Garfton Street in Dublin|
Regent Hotels Partners with Rezidor Group
Regent Hotels and Resorts has signed a long-term strategic alliance agreement for the Regent brand with Rezidor Hotel Group. Effective immediately, Rezidor will exclusively develop and operate Regent hotels in Russia/CIS, Baltics, Middle East and Africa; and jointly with RHR develop and operate new Regent hotels in the rest of Europe. Regent will continue operating existing Regent hotels in Europe.
Kurt Ritter, president & CEO of Rezidor, said that the acquisition of the Regent brand and business by Formosa in 2010 allowed Rezidor to focus on the company’s core brands Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson, and to strengthen its network in 70 countries across EMEA. “A luxury brand was, however, never off our agenda, and we are delighted to complement our portfolio with Regent now,” he added.
Ireland Reducing VAT…
Ireland is seeing a downturn in visitor numbers—in fact, Kier Matthews, vice president of sales for Europe Express, told Travel Agent that the country’s numbers fell two points between 2010 and 2011. In conjunction with lowering hotel prices, Ireland has extended the temporary reduction of its VAT through the end of 2013. From a previous of 13.5 percent, the new 9 percent rate offers lower prices at Ireland’s restaurants and visitor attractions including museums, art galleries and music performances.
…Iceland Raising It
Iceland, on the other hand, is looking to raise its accommodation VAT from 7 percent to 25.5 percent as of May 2013, which will be the highest in Europe. The proposal has been criticized by the Icelandic Travel Industry Association, which has reportedly seen a strong increase in visitor numbers in the wake of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption. (The disaster may have been bad for the airlines, but it put the nation front-and-center for geological tourism.) Iceland had nearly 600,000 foreign visitors in 2011 according to the ETOA, and that number is expected to rise by 16 percent this year.
|Utrecht, The Netherlands|
The government, for its part, has argued that the increase is necessary to help ensure that the nation’s travel industry grows “under realistic conditions” and not with an advantage over other industries. The tourism industry is currently exempt from the full VAT rate.
Holiday Inn Express Opens in Utrecht, The Netherlands
Interstate Hotels & Resorts recently opened the 118-room Holiday Inn Express Utrecht Papendorp in the Netherlands. The hotel is the fourth to open in a nine-hotel portfolio being developed across the Netherlands. The portfolio is jointly owned by Interstate Hotels & Resorts and TVHG and operated by Interstate under long-term contracts.
Located close to the intersection of highways A2 and A12 and within walking distance of CapGemini, Mercedes, Siemens, KPN and ATOS, the Holiday Inn Express Utrecht Papendorp provides travelers a convenient location for many of the Netherlands’ main business and leisure centers.
Lufthansa Consolidates Germanwings and Direct Services in Cologne
Lufthansa Direct European services, which include all German domestic and European services outside of the Lufthansa Frankfurt and Munich hubs, will be merged commercially and organizationally with Germanwings to form one company on the basis of Germanwings GmbH beginning January 1, 2013. The company’s headquarters will be Cologne.
The new company is to operate the Germanwings aircraft and the Direct Services fleet beginning in 2013. In addition, the aircraft of Eurowings GmbH are set to fly on behalf of the new company, meaning that around 90 aircraft will cover direct services in Germany and Europe. In the first year, over 18 million passengers are to be transported.
Crystal Cruises Offers New Monaco Grand Prix Option
Crystal Cruises announced four new opportunities for guests to experience the Monaco Grand Prix. Three options offer different ways to watch the automobile race: from either the exclusive driver/team-prep paddock area, a chic private verandah/residence above the renowned Casino, or the best of the fan grandstands near the start/finish line, overlooking the port.
A fourth new excursion brings guests to the official Formula One VIP party celebrating the race’s end. The four Crystal Adventures were created exclusively for Crystal Serenity’s May 18-30 Esprit du Grand Prix-themed Mediterranean cruise. The itinerary features two days positioned in Monte Carlo, from Sunday, May 26, the race’s last day, through May 27. Prices for the four May 26 outings range from $829 to $14,199 per person.
Slovenian Tourism Up
Central and Eastern Europe are continuing to see a steady increase in visitors. The Slovenian Tourism Board, for example, is reporting that the country saw “a moderate growth of arrivals and overnight stays at Slovenian tourist destinations” in the first six months of the year. The number of foreign tourists in the half year rose by 6 percent, creating a 4 percent increase of overnight stays.