Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: Oct. 28, 2004

ADIOS, USTOA: Sceptre Tours resigned from the U.S. Tour Operators Association on Oct. 19. Sceptre Vice President Chris Accomando said the firm chose to drop its USTOA membership, which requires a $1 million consumer protection deposit, because it has its own consumer-protection plan, via a a fiduciary account at North Fork Bank. However, purchases made at Sceptre prior to Oct. 19 will still be covered by the USTOA's Traveler Assistance program, according to the association.

CASTLING: Meanwhile, Lynbrook, N.Y.-based Sceptre is offering its six-night Emerald Castle package in 2005 from $599 net, including air from New York (Kennedy) or Boston; standard rental car; and accommodations at hotels, bed-and-breakfasts and a 5-star castle. Also included: full Irish breakfast daily and an Irish Coffee welcome reception. Agents may mark up as they see fit. Call Sceptre Tours, which offers retailers net rates on packages, at (800) 221-0924, or visit www.sceptretours.com or www.sceptreagent.com.

EMERALD E-DUCATION: Tourism Ireland is preparing a Shamrock Club University educational trip to Ireland next year for up to 150 agent participants of its online destination specialist program. Catherine Gale, national marketing manager at the organization's New York office, said the "university" likely will consist of a fam trip, half-day educational program and workshop with Irish suppliers. The goal is to "qualify" all the Shamrock Club's 7,000 or so registered agent members; currently, only half of all registrants have completed the whole course. Also on tap for 2005: New special-interest travel modules for the program's www.shamrockclub.net Web site, and a continuing education seminar series for U.S. cities near clusters of Shamrock Club graduates. For more information, contact Tourism Ireland's Hillarie McGuinness at (212) 418-0826; to register, visit www.shamrockclub.net/register.

IN THE AIR: Directors of national tourism development authority Failte Ireland met Oct. 20 with Irish airline executives to discuss air travel and its impact on Irish tourism. After its meeting with leading carriers Aer Lingus and Ryanair, Failte Ireland said it sought an increase in capacity and services at Dublin's airport; introduction of new routes into Ireland from both Europe and the U.S.; and early renegotiation of air agreements with the U.S. For more, visit www.failteireland.ie.
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