Travel Weeklys Ireland E-letter: Aug. 26, 2004

PEDALING EAST: Butterfield & Robinson, of Toronto, rolled out a new five-night biking and golf tour of Irelands east coast, from Belfast to Dublin, for 2005, with five departures scheduled next summer. The Belfast to Dublin Biking trip -- the firms first to include Northern Ireland -- takes in Belfast, Downpatrick and Newcastle in Ulster, then moves south to Counties Monaghan and Wicklow in the Republic, winding down in Dublin. Accommodations include the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, County Down, near the Royal County Down Golf Club, and the K Club Resort in County Wicklow, whose Arnold Palmer course will host the 2006 Ryder Cup. The biking difficulty level for participants is easygoing to moderate. The land-only price is $4,495 per person, with a $750 single supplement; dates next year are June 19-24, July 10-15, July 24 to 29, Aug. 14 to 19 and Sept. 11 to 16, 2005. Commission is 12% for Virtuoso agents, and 10% for others. Call (800) 678-1147 or go to www.butterfield.com.

FIVE FOR FOUR: Brian Moore International Tours (BMIT) promoting small-group travel from fall through spring with a book five, one goes free deal. Under the plan, whenever agents book a minimum of 10 clients on the four-night Irelands Pub Tour, every fifth passenger travels free; thus, agents can book 10 and pay for eight, or book 20 and pay for 16. Prices start at $429, land only; BMIT has guaranteed departures from November to March. The Irelands Pub Tour includes first-class hotel accommodation with breakfast daily; Irish Coffee reception; two dinners; sightseeing; and an optional farewell medieval banquet. Visit BMIT -- which pays commissions from 10% to 15% -- at www.bmit.com, or call (800) 982-2299.

FIT TO PRINT: Dublin Tourism said it upgraded its e-mail newsletter service, improving site security; adding the ability for users to update name, e-mail address and password at will; and allowing temporary suspension of subscriptions. Subscribers can take advantage of new features by visiting www.visitdublin.com/newsfromdublin/password.asp; users with spam filters should add a new list e-mail address -- [email protected] -- to their list of trusted addresses.

UP WITH IRELAND: The number of visitors to Ireland grew 5.4% in the first six months of 2004, compared with the same period last year, although revenue is remaining relatively flat. Arrivals from the U.S. showed the most growth, jumping 13%, according to Irelands tourism ministry, while continental European visits were up more than 7%. The British market, market, however, remained static for a five-month period until it grew 2.5% in June. Tourism minister John ODonohue said growth in short breaks and city stays outpaced vacations to rural areas and smaller accommodation venues outside Dublin, especially along Irelands western coast. A trend towards shorter, less expensive vacations, coupled with less spending, and the growing popularity of cheaper competing destinations in central and eastern Europe, may push Irish tourism revenue downward. For more, visit www.arts-sport-tourism.gov.ie.

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