Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: Feb. 10, 2005

URBAN DELIGHTS: Sceptre Tours is peddling four-night Emerald City breaks in six Irish cities, priced from $297 per person, net, including hotel, daily breakfast and standard car rental with unlimited mileage. Clients can choose from two types of city breaks -- first-class or deluxe -- to Dublin, Galway, Cork, Killarney, Belfast or Shannonside. Sceptre also offers six-night Hotel Freedom Pass vacations from $425 per person, net. The stays include a first night pre-booked into a hotel, followed by five nights' hotel accommodations, throughout Ireland, of the client's choosing, as well as weeklong car rental with unlimited mileage. For more, call (800) 221-0924 or visit www.SceptreTours.com.

EURO BE DARNED: Aer Lingus is promoting itself as the "Euro-Buster" among transatlantic airlines, with discounted one-way airfares to Ireland from New York or Boston starting at $153 in February and $193 in March. The carrier also is offering guaranteed dollar rates and partner-supplier offers at www.aerlingus.com, such as 10% discounts from Hertz, Blarney Woolen Mills and the Guinness Storehouse; a free extra day from the Dublin Pass visitor city card; and $99 land-only, two-night bed-and-breakfast packages from its tour operator arm. For more, go to www.aerlingus.com.

ONLINE EDUCATION: Brian Moore International Tours (BMIT) will offer online seminars to travel agents this month. On Feb. 15, 16 and 17, BMIT president Ronan Ryan will present four seminars a day on destination and product training, as well as use of www.bmit.com for booking and tracking reservations. Agent participants get special benefits such as $100 in bonus commissions, 14% commission on bookings and door prizes from Ireland. To request registration, send an email to [email protected] or log on to www.bmit.com.

STATE OF IRISH TOURISM: A new book backed by Ireland's tourism ministry has found that sweeping views have replaced price and hospitality as the country's chief attraction, according to Cork newspaper The Irish Examiner. The book -- "Ireland: Tourism and Marketing" -- claims the Irish landscape is cited as the destination's biggest draw, particularly by U.S. visitors as the euro soars against the dollar (raising the cost of an Ireland vacation), and as more Irish staff are replaced by foreigners in hotels and restaurants. Authors Angela Wright and Dr. Margaret Linehan suggest several remedies, including increasing value for money spent, decreasing reliance on Americans, and promoting shorter breaks. To order the book, priced at about $19.50, visit www.blackhallpublishing.com.

NEW AER LINKS: Travelers combining Ireland with Britain on one vacation have a new low-cost air travel option, as bargain U.K. carrier EasyJet launched its first services from three smaller airports in the Republic to London's Gatwick Airport. EasyJet offers twice daily service from Cork, once daily from Shannon (going to twice daily April 21) and once per day from Knock. All flights are priced from 17.99 euros one-way (about $23) or 25.98 euros roundtrip (or $35). For more, visit www.easyjet.com.

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