Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: Aug. 12, 2004

ULTIMATE PACKAGE: Talk about commissions. Five-star hotel The Merrion in Dublin is paying agents 5% on "Out of this World," a three-night, ultra-luxury package available through December 2005. What's the big deal? For one, the package is priced at around $840,000 (more accurately, 700,000 euros), making the agent take 35,000 euros, or about $42,000. That sky-high rate covers accommodations in a penthouse duplex suite, chauffeured vintage Rolls Royce or S Class Mercedes, and many "bespoke" experiences such as a private guided tour of Dublin Castle; helicopter transport to Ballybunion Golf Club for 18 holes with an Irish golf professional; lunch with the 30th Knight of Glin at his castle; a ball at 13th century Leixlip Castle with a performance by Riverdance; a portrait by artist Graham Knuttel; an eco-safari by Land Rover to the Wicklow Mountains; and much more. Contact The Merrion at (011) 353-1-603-0600 or, or The Leading Hotels of the World at (800) 223-6800, [email protected] or


MORE AER SERVICE: Aer Lingus said it would boost service from New York's Kennedy Airport to Ireland this winter season, increasing flights to 20 per week, from the current 14, from Oct. 31 through March 26. Clients will have their pick of three flights daily (at 6:00 p.m., then 6:50 p.m., and finally 8:00 p.m or 9:20 p.m., depending on the day) save Tuesdays, when Aer Lingus will offer just two departures, at 6:00 p.m. and 8 p.m. In addition, the carrier flies daily from Boston and Chicago; four times per week from Baltimore/Washington; and three times weekly from Los Angeles. For more, go to

BRAND IRELAND: Tourism Ireland rolled out plans for promotional campaigns in the U.S. this fall and next summer aimed at increasing consumer demand; driving more business to Northern Ireland; helping tour operator partners; and developing transport links, in both the short and long term. Target niches include affluent suburbanites and city dwellers in U.S. gateways, bargain hunters, active travelers and the "VFR" (visiting friends and relatives) market. Products to be stress range from value vacations -- namely, escorted, fly-and-drive and golf packages -- to short breaks and city stays, and small groups. Outreach channels include TV ads; ads in magazines such as Travel & Leisure and Gourmet; a six-week online campaign at; and direct mailings to 5,000 "activity specialist" operators. In addition, a similar 2005 Kick Start Campaign is planned for next July. For more, visit

ACTIVE INTEREST: In related news, Tourism Ireland launched a new sub-Web site at, to promote active vacations in Ireland. The site lists all tour operators found in the organization's Special Interest Activity Brochure 2004 brochure, along with individual itineraries and new tour operator partners that came "on board" since printing.

IMPRIMA-TOUR? The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris gave its stamp of approval to Irish tourism policy, according to the officials in Dublin, concluding the government's action plan through 2005 was "well-designed with a long-term vision and strategy." Irish tourism minister John O'Donoghue noted the OECD highlighted a number of factors contributing to Ireland's tourism success, including government support for sustainable growth; streamlining of  state support; an emphasis on the "tourism experience" for visitors; and "significant" improvements in sea and air access. Future priorities identified by the OECD were a recovery in Irish competitiveness, development of more tourism careers and an information system measuring tourism's economic impact; and building of competitive advantage through networks of enterprises. For more, visit


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