Brit city passes now sold online

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LONDON -- The Leisure Pass Group here continues to fine-tune its city visitor passes to the British capital and York, England, adding passholder benefits and making sales easier for agents.

The London Pass and York Pass, all-inclusive discount cards that offer free entrance to popular attractions as well as retail and dining savings and free public transportation, continue to sell well, according to Angus Rankine, founding director of Leisure Pass Group. The company expects to sell 110,000 of its London passes this year, a 10% increase over a successful 2002, when sales rose by 135%.

In hopes of solidifying that success, Leisure Pass Group -- which is paying retailers 5% to 10% commission on Web sales -- launched its Travel Professional program, which enables agents to buy passes online at www.lptravelpro.com, featuring online agent registration, or via www.londonpass.com.

In addition to commissions on Web-based sales, the company pays agents negotiated rates on sales via traditional channels.

About half of the firm's city- pass sales are generated by travel agents in the U.S. and abroad, Rankine said.

Director of sales and marketing Ian Fyfe said Leisure Pass Group is committed to strengthening its trade connections.

"At a time when other operators in the market are reducing their commission rates, we want to build support among our trade partners," he said.

"We believe our generous rates will encourage travel agents to build attractive packages for their clients."

In other improvements, the London Pass now offers free access to more than 65 attractions, including new additions Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and "football" (the English version of soccer) Chelsea FC Stadium, which offers free tours to passholders.

The London Pass -- which ranges in cost from about $29 for a one-day child's pass, without public transit, to around $177 for a six-day adult pass, with transportation included -- offers other perks, such as commission-free currency exchange and five days' cell-phone rental.

The York Pass offers entrance to about 30 area attractions.

Leisure Pass Group continues to negotiate with Birmingham, England, and an undisclosed Scottish city to launch local passes; however, earlier this year the company suspended its city-pass program for Bath, England, despite healthy sales.

"To make a city card work, you've got to have a very good relationship with a tourist board that supports it all the way," said Rankine. "Bath wasn't able to give the Bath Pass the commitment it deserved."

In North America, Leisure Pass Group continues to offer the similar New York Pass, introduced in July 2002.

For more information, call (011) 44-207 580-8060 or visit www.lptravelpro.com or www.leisurepassgroup.com.

To contact reporter Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].

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