Planet Business

Fri, Jan 20, 2012, 00:00


THE QUESTION: What does the Costa Concordiaincident mean for cruise tourism?

The cruise line industry has been obliged to defend the safety record of its business this week, pointing out that incidents such as the wrecking of the Costa Concordiaare “extremely rare”. According to maritime consultant Peter Wild, the safety record of the international cruise-ship industry is better than that of the aviation business, with fatalities averaging below 0.1 per million passengers between 2005 and 2010, compared with 0.3 fatalities per million passengers in aviation. Still, when it comes to booking so-called “dream holidays”, tourists may find that it is images of the Costa Concordia’s passengers scrambling over the side of the listing ship that come flashing to mind rather than the dry safety statistics.

Carnival Corporation, the owner of the Costa Concordia, on Monday gave initial estimates that the shipwreck would cost it $95 million – an estimate analysts believe is on the low side: the extensive damage to the ship, including a gash in the hull variously reported as being between 40 and 90 metres long, rather speaks for itself.

Citing negative publicity, stock-watchers at JP Morgan were quick to downgrade Carnival on Tuesday, warning that the fallout would compound the effects of a weak consumer economy in Europe and send bookings plunging. It won’t have helped that the Costa Concordia’s disastrous journey also occurred right in the middle of the industry’s key booking season.


It’s not the first time that his fondness for “cheap” watches has been observed, but multi-billionaire Roman Abramovich’s appearance in a London courtroom this week, as part of his £3.5 billion battle with fellow oligarch Boris Berezovsky, was nevertheless most notable for his wrist attire.

Sporting what the Daily Mailcalled a “budget timepiece”, Abramovich’s clunky digital watch was swiftly identified as the discontinued Finnish-made Polar M61, which is designed for runners and monitors the wearer’s heart rate while they exercise – perhaps the Chelsea FC owner fancied joining in a lunchtime training session with his players.

In any case, the Polar M61, which retailed for about the €100 mark, has a four-star rating from Amazon users, so Abramovich is not alone in liking it.


Like its licence plate equivalent, a vanity URL is a URL with your name in it somewhere:, say, or even of which exists). In any case that’s old-school compared to what’s coming down the tracks: vanity domains.

As of yesterday, organisations can begin applying to name and run their own internet domains instead of using .com, .org, .gov, .ieand others. It’s a virtual land grab that’s expected to see more than 2,000 applications to the body that oversees these matters, Icann.

At a cost of $185,000 per application and estimated start-up costs of $500,000, nabbing a .yournamehere domain during the three-month window will most likely be taken up by large companies and organisations, with Deloitte, Hitachi and Canon among a small handful of companies to have declared their intention to apply.


Recipes for success:Publisher Bloomsbury has reported strong sales from cook books by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Heston Blumenthal. It also shifted a few Harry Potterbox sets and saw a 38 per cent rise in e-book sales.

Knock-down prices: Shortly after Tesco’s share price slumped due to a profit warning, billionaire investor Warren Buffett stepped in to increase his stake from 3.6 per cent to 5.1 per cent.

Heathrow-bound:BA chief executive Willie Walsh has declared himself against proposals championed by Boris Johnson for an east-of-London airport on the Isle of Grain, now known as “Boris Island”.

162 millionNumber of times people viewed Wikipedia on Wednesday, after the site “went dark” for 24 hours in protest at planned US anti-piracy legislation.