Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: Nov. 25, 2004

CAPITAL IDEA: Faced with data showing a 6% drop in visitor bed nights over the past four years, Dublin Tourism launched a new international marketing initiative with the debut of a 6-minute DVD promotional tool. Officials said the DVD will be distributed worldwide to promote Dublin's attractions old and new to both the leisure and business travel markets. Other marketing tools will include a new trade Web site, a self-catering guide, new posters, a Dublin city map and a CD-ROM targeted at overseas travel agents. Dublin Tourism CEO Frank Magee said the overseas promotions were important as 1,538 new hotel rooms will be added in 2005 to the 1,311 new units that opened in the city this year. New Dublin-area hotels include the Clarion Liffey Valley, Castleknock Hotel and Country Club, Jurys Doyle Croke Park, New Hotel Smithfield, Cardiff Lane, Ardmore McEniff, Hilton and Bewleys-Airport. For more, visit www.visitdublin.com.

CELTIC TOURS: Celtic Tours, Albany, N.Y., launched redesigned Ireland, Britain and Europe brochures for 2005. Product refinements include enhancements to the 8-night Celtic Adventure Tour. Priced from $1,389, land, the tour offers castle, hotel and farmhouse accommodations, breakfast daily and seven dinners. Independent travelers can choose from six types of vacations, such as self-drive, go-as-you-please trips from $57 per day. Celtic offers rates inclusive of car rental insurance, meaning less paper work to process on arrival.

Travel agents booking the inclusive rates earn commission on insurance costs. Call-center reservations earn agents 10% to 15% pay on land, while those booking online at www.celtictours.com get 12% to 16% on land. Celtic pays 5% on air from published gateways.  Contact Celtic at (800) 833-4373, www.celtictours.com or [email protected].

PADDY'S PARADE: CIE Tours International will celebrate St. Patrick's Day with one-week escorted Irish Heritage trips.

For those who want to be in Dublin for the city's famed parade, the March 11 to 18 departure priced at $1,288 per person from New York (Kennedy), Boston or Baltimore   takes in capital, Blarney, the Clare coast, the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney, the Ring of Kerry, Waterford and Kilkenny. Rates include round-trip airfare, six-nights' hotel, full Irish breakfasts daily, five dinners, escorted sightseeing program, and more.

Clients can extend the tour by one extra day and night to visit Galway, Connemara, and Clonmacnoise for an additional $158 per person. For the city-shy and crowd-averse, CIE also offers a March 16 to 23 Irish Heritage departure that spends St. Patrick's Day at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, instead of Dublin, as well as other escorted tours that spend the holiday in the countryside. To contact CIE which pays agents 10% on land and varying commissions on air  call (800) CIE-TOUR or visit www.cietours.com.

GO NORTH: Addressing delegates at the World Travel Market show in London Nov. 9, Sue Ward, director of marketing at the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said the British province is the fastest growing destination in the U.K., with jumps of 20% and 50% in arrivals and available beds, respectively, recently. General attractions and products the tourist board will actively promote in 2005 include the walled city of Derry/Londonderry; the Giants' Causeway; the Titanic in Belfast; golfing; the "quirky" side of Northern Ireland; and rural accommodations.

More specifically, the board is trumpeting the opening of boutique hotel the Malmaison Belfast on Nov. 29, and the scheduled debut of a new exhibit on the Spanish "Armada in Ireland" at the Tower Museum in Derry come spring. For more, visit www.shamrock.org.

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