Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: April 21, 2005

KERRY CHIC: Four executives from new, family-owned and -operated spa resort The Brehon, which opened on the outskirts of Killarney, County Kerry, last November, toured the U.S. the week of April 17, promoting the property to Stateside agents and operators. The 125-room, $34 million resort - home to the first European franchise of the Asia-based Angsana Spa chain - is offering guaranteed introductory rates of $270 per night, double occupancy (some 22% off high-season rates) including breakfast and taxes, through Oct. 31, and then $250 per night Nov. 1 to March 31, 2006. Agent pay is 10%. To book, call Waterstone Marketing at (800) 528-6069. For more information, call direct to Ireland at (011) 353 643-0700 or visit www.thebrehon.com.

UNSTOPPABLE CORK: Visits to Cork jumped 25% in the first three months of the year, largely thanks to the citys year-long reign as the 2005 European Capital of Culture. Event organizers said more than 350,000 people attended official Cork 2005 events, such as art exhibitions and performances, in January, February and March; the figure also includes 100,000 attendees at opening ceremonies in January and 70,000 at the first-ever Cork St. Patricks Festival in March. Corks cultural institutions report a 30% jump in attendance, and 25% more airline passengers have passed through Cork Airport. For more, visit www.cork2005.ie.

WHAT GALWAY: Speaking of culture, Galway, in the west of Ireland, hopes to give Cork a run for its money as the Irish arts hot spot in 2005, at least for two weeks this summer, as the 28th annual Galway Arts Festival takes over the town center from July 11 to 24. With 69 events at 19 unconventional venues, the festival attracts about 100,000 attendees annually, with 25% to 30% from abroad. At press time, festival organizers and Irish tourism authorities were working with U.S. operators and Galway hoteliers to craft vacation packages. The effort to draw U.S. vacationers goes hand in hand with Ireland West Tourisms efforts to promote Counties Galway, Mayo and Roscommon as a key international culture destination. For updates on packages, online event ticket booking and visitor information, go to www.galwayartsfestival.ie. For all western Ireland, visit www.irelandwest.ie.

AIR TO PUB: Agent-exclusive operator Sceptre Tours said its purchased a block of air tickets so it can guarantee retailers a $623 net rate on 13 November departures of its four-night Sights & Sounds Pub Tour package. The rate includes roundtrip airfare from New York or Boston; two nights each at the Galway City Hotel and Dublin City Hotel; two hotel dinners; daily breakfast; private, guided coach tour; and sightseeing. Agents may mark up as they see fit; call (800) 221-0924 or visit www.sceptretours.com.

GROUPS PLUG: Brian Moore International Tours (BMIT) debuted new air-inclusive group itineraries starting at $699 for 3 nights, $799 for four nights and $1,199 for six nights. Packages include roundtrip air from the U.S. East Coast, central hotels, daily sightseeing, breakfast daily, most dinners and the services of a tour director. All prices include commission on air and land ranging from 10% to 17% and up to four free places, depending on group size. For more information, contact the BMIT group department at [email protected] or (800) 982-2299.

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