Corrs Corner

Editor Frank Corr gives his views on the hospitality and tourism industries, shares anecdotes and gossip and welcomes your contributions.

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Two Ministers

Many organisations struggle to get a Minister to attend their annual dinner or conference- but the Restaurants Association of Ireland 'netted' two this week. Despite all the mayhem in the Dail Leo Varadkar found time to be at the RAI Conference where he delivered a typically brisk and informative address during which he complemented the Association on its 'Keep 9% VAT' campaign. The acknowledgement was welcome for ceo Adrian Cummins who managed the campaign but who was gazumped by IHF President Micheal Vaughan who got all the tv coverage on Budget Day.

The RAI Double was completed in the evening when Minister of State Michael Ring was guest at the President's Dinner.

Incidentally- I now have something in common with Minister Varadkar- we are both recipients of the RAI's Mike Butt Award, named after the Associations founder.

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Titanic Centre is World Claass

Finally, Ireland has a world-class contemporary visitor attraction with the opening of the Titanic Centre in Belfast. A visit yesterday was a revelation in terms of the quality of the centre and the level of business it is attracting.

Even before we arrived at the centre the taxi ride from Belfast Central opened up a new vista of a modern, confident Belfast. The area around the Docks, which I remember as being semi-derelict a decade ago has been transformed into a modern urban precinct with offices, residential blocks, entertainment venues and now the iconic building that is 'Titanic'.

Rising from the flat waterside like the giant ship which it commemorates, the building creates an immediate impression of strength and beauty with its multi-angled cladding and spacious plaza. Inside is a large lobby area with a busy self-service bistro and coffee shop which was serving a constant queue of visitors. Food in the bistro is creative and appetising but service is slow because of the necessity to heat up items from the salad section.

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Tripping TripAdvisor

Not for the first time do I find myself agreeing with chef Oliver Dunne of  Malahide's Bon Appetit restaurant, who backed the Carlton Hotel Grioup over the weekend.

Carlton was in the news last week, accused of encouraging staff to post positive reviews of their hotels on TripAdvisor.

'Fair play to them', said Oliver.

'Fair play to them' say I.

Fiirst up- who knows a hotel better than the staff and if they post positive reviews they know what they are talking about. Conversely of course disgruntled employees can post negative reviews.

TripAdvisor may be hugely popular, but it is a flawed system which allows reviewers to remain anonymous without any check on their genuineness, motivation or knowledge. It is therefore wide open to abuse from rival hotel and restaurant owners or from mischief-makers. In these circumstances, I don't see why hotels cannot also use the syetem to boost their ratings.

Sorting out TripAdvisor is a job for its management- not for the hotel industry.




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French are 'Most Rude'


For once we can be happy that Ireland does not feature in a tourism poll. A survey conducted by an international travel search site reveals the French have taken the title as the 'rudest nation in the world'. Taking 19% of the vote, the French have been known by many of their European neighbors for their abrupt and curt nature, especially when dealing with foreign tourists, which has often been taken as rudeness by visitors.

However, surprisingly China was ranked fifth in the poll, deemed ruder than Americans.  Brits were voted third rudest nation, taking 10% of the vote. The accolade comes just months after Brits voted themselves the world's worst tourists.

At the other end of the scale, Brazilians, those from the Caribbean islands and Filipinos were voted least rude.


World's Rudest Nationalities:


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Homeless at Christmas

Despite the loss to the restaurant, my heart warmed to the story of the homeless men who found themselves in Brasserie66 one Christmas Day and were able to avail of a festive feast.Somebody must have ben praying for them.

It got me thinking that restaurants all over Ireland end up with surplus food on Christmas Eve while hundreds or maybe thousands of homeless and underprivileged people have less than enough to eat over the holiday period. Wouldn't it be nice if some restaurants invited the homeless in for a meal after they are finished on Christmas Eve or at least donated their surplus food to SVP, Penny Dinners or other organisations who care for the homeless. They might even include a bottle or two of wine.

Now there's a little project that the RAI might pursue.







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