Travel Weekly's Ireland E-Letter: April 10, 2003

MILE FAILTE: Aer Lingus is offering agents bonus perks as part of the joint "1,000 Welcomes" and "Welcome Fare" tourism campaigns it's developed with Tourism Ireland. The programs offer passengers departing the carrier's five U.S. gateways new spring and summer discount air fares and savings through Aug. 30. But there are perks for travel agents, too. For every 10 tickets booked through April 30, retailers can earn either $20 per ticket, one positive economy ticket for every 10 tickets sold or one positive Premier ticket for every 20 tickets sold: the choice is theirs. The "1,000 Welcomes" program comprises hundreds of discounts from more than 400 Irish companies; partners include hotels, car rental agencies, museums, golf clubs, spas, restaurants and retailers. Perks range from car rental upgrades to free extended hotel stays and spa treatments. Aer Lingus announced savings of up to 35% with its "Welcome Fare" campaign, with air fares starting at $149 one-way in spring and $199 in summer from the U.S. East Coast. Sale fares are available from Baltimore/Washington, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. The "1,000 Welcomes Passport" savings guide and new air fares are available on line at www.aerlingus.com; travel agent and phone bookings at (800) IRISH-AIR cost travelers an extra $10 each way.

US, TOO: Jumping on the "1,000 Welcomes" bandwagon, Albany, N.Y.-based operator Celtic Tours discounted select June departures of its air-inclusive nine-night Celtic Adventure and five-night Celtic Delight motorcoach tours by up to $199 per person. Clients also receive a complimentary Travel Protection Plan, worth $99; discounts apply to Aer Lingus gateway cities and must be booked and paid in full by April 21. All Celtic Tours' departures include roundtrip air, first- or superior-first-class hotel stays, breakfast, most dinners, entertainment, sightseeing, admissions and service charges. Travel agent pay is 10%. For more information or to book, contact Celtic Tours at (800) 833-4373; by e-mail at [email protected]; or on line at www.celtictours.com.

AND US: Joining the "1,000 Welcomes" effort, CIE Tours Int'l will award a free Travel Protection Plan worth $99 to any passenger booking an escorted or self-drive vacation using any Aer Lingus published fare through April 21 for travel in 2003. The escorted or fly/drive vacation must be purchased on an air/land inclusive basis; the offer does not apply to groups. For more, contact CIE Tours Int'l at (800) CIE-TOUR or www.cietours.com.

HOTEL DEALS: The following Irish hotels are pushing weekend packages:
• The Merrion Hotel in Dublin offers commissionable Easter weekend deals April 17 to 22. The Off to the Races package -- $139 per person, per night, double occupancy -- includes breakfasts and two tickets to the Easter Festival at the Irish Grand National Racetrack, April 19 to 22. The Easter Break Package is $123 per person and includes full Irish breakfasts; packages include VAT of 13.5% and there is no service charge. Travel agent pay on both packages is 10%. For reservations, contact The Merrion direct at (011) 353-1 603-0600 or by fax at (011) 353-1 603-0700.
• Hastings Hotels' four-star Slieve Donard property, in Northern Ireland's Mourne Mountains, offers Easter special rates of one-night's dinner, bed and breakfast at about $139 per person, double; two-nights of the same for $257 per person; and three nights at around $364 per person. Kids under 14 stay free and eat breakfast for $7.50; rates include full use of the Elysium Spa and kids' participation in The Great Egg Hunt and Children's Bunny Club. There is no commission on the Easter specials; the Slieve Donard normally pays 8%. To reserve, contact Deirdre at (011) 44-284 372-1006 or Annamarie at (011) 44-284 372-1018, or e-mail [email protected]. For more on the Slieve Donard, visit www.hastingshotels.com.

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