Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: September 1, 2005

OFF-SEASON, ON SALE: CIE Tours International is positioning its six-night,air-inclusive Irish Spirit tour, priced in the off season from $950 per person, double, from New York or Boston, as perfect for budget-conscious and time-strapped travelers. The tour departs each week on Wednesdays and some Fridays from Sept. 7 to Nov. 20 and again Jan. 18 to April 28. The rate includes roundtrip air; two-night stays at the Mespil Hotel in Dublin, Killarney Towers Hotel in Killarney and the Salthill Hotel in Galway; a welcome get-together drink; and full Irish breakfast daily and five dinners. A land-only rate also is available from $698 per person. To contact CIE -- which pays agents 10% on land and varying commissions on air, call (800) CIE-TOUR or visit www.cietours.com.

RAMADA GOES GREEN: Ramada Worldwide is expanding in Ireland, where it opened its sixth hotel in June, is preparing another to debut in December and is developing a further 12 for openings in 2006. The new Ramada Hotel and Suites, Ballykisteen, Limerick Junction in Co. Tipperary opened its doors June 20, joining the Ramada Viking in Waterford; Ramada Hotel and Suites Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim; Ramada Woodland Court in Bray, Co. Wicklow; and Ramada Da Vinci's Hotel Derry. The Ballykisteen property is a mix of two-bedroom lodges on a golf course and standard hotel rooms. Facilities include a golfers' clubhouse; restaurant/bar; seven conference rooms; and the Sentosa Spa, withpool, steam room, sauna, gym and outdoor hot tub. Ramada hopes to run 37 hotels in Ireland within four years. For more, see www.ramada.com.

FAMTASTIC FALL: Brian Moore International Tours (BMIT) is offering four familiarization trip itineraries this fall, two only for agents and two for agents and a companion. Agent-only fams include: the three-night Ireland's Castles -- with a visit to Dromoland Castle, dinner at Bunratty Castle and a stay at Ballyseede Castle -- priced from $199 and departing Nov. 17 and Dec. 1; and the $399, five-night Undiscovered Ireland, which includes stops at Cabra Castle and in Northern Ireland, departing Nov. 9, 16 and 30. Agents and companions can opt for the $249, four-night Pub Tour, departing Nov. 8 and 22, or the $529, six-night Irish Spree, leaving Nov. 6. All rates are per person, double. Net air also is available from $225 plus tax. Agents who book a group of 15 or more get a fam free of charge. To book, call (800) 982-2299. For information, see www.bmit.com.

INFO E.T.A.: Belfast International Airport made permanent a new on-site arrivals-area tourist information center, that was begun as a pilot project by the Belfast Visitor and Conventions Bureau last June. Due to its popularity, and an increase in incoming flights and visitor demand, hours have been increased and the facility expanded. The pilot center fielded 53,000 inquiries in its first year and hopes to handle 70,000 in the year to come. Funding contributed by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the European Union, the Belfast City Council, the Antrim Borough Council and other tourism organizations, will amount to some $735 million over three years. For more on Belfast, visit www.gotobelfast.com.

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