Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: April 22, 2004

READ ALL ABOUT IT: Brian Moore Int'l Tours, reborn from the ashes of defunct conglomerate Far & Wide Travel, which had acquired it in 2000, launched Travel Agent News, its new electronic newsletter for retailers, according to president Ronan Ryan. Distributed via the Mailpound online e-marketing tool, the "e-newsletter" features a help desk where agents can request brochures, e-mail booking requests or contact sales managers. The product features weekly package specials a separate link for members of Vacation.com--which designated BMIT as a preferred supplier. "We want to keep travel agents up to date on the latest happenings at BMIT and, of course, our specials and commission levels," said Ryan. The inaugural issue included specials such as an air-inclusive, fly-drive deal priced from $739 for travel in May and June.

WHAT'S MORE: In more product news, BMIT unveiled "Web Specials" at www.bmit.com. The specials can be booked online or through the company's call center. One example of a Web Special is the Ireland's Friendly B&Bs offering, priced from $739 for May and June travel, and then $599 this November through February 2005. It includes airfare from New York, car rental, and a six-night bed-and-breakfast stay. Add $115 for Chicago departures, or $160 for Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami. BMIT pays up to 14% commission, including 10% on all air booked with packages; the firm offers air on seven international carriers, "which means clients can get the best deals available," Ryan said . The call center number is (800) 982-2299.

NEW PLAYER: De novo Ireland operator Hammond Tours, Albany N.Y., is teaming with charter carrier Ryan Int'l Airlines to offer commissionable escorted and independent tours priced from $52 per person a day, for bed-and-breakfast programs; $59 a day for first-class hotels; $110 for manor homes; and $179 for castle stays. Sample escorted tours include the six-night Irish Holiday and six-night Irish Postcards, both priced at $729 for travel in July and August, with first-class hotel; full Irish breakfast daily; two dinners; sightseeing and touring via deluxe motorcoach with a professional driver guide; and baggage handling, taxes and service charges. All programs, including air transportation, are commissionable to travel agents at 10 percent. For more tour information, contact Hammond Tours at (866) 486-8772); [email protected] or www.hammondtours.com.

IN THE AIR: Flightwise, Ryan Int'l will fly nonstop between Boston and Shannon and between New York [Kennedy] and Shannon and Cork, from June 23 to Sept. 12. The nonstop Cork service--an industry first--will run June 23 to Sept. 8, departing Wednesdays and returning Thursdays; fares range from $214.50 to $299.50 one-way. See www.flyryan.com for more information.

OFF-SEASON SPECIALS: Meanwhile, Aer Lingus also added to its online inventory with four new Aerpackages Choices vacations, priced from $599 per person for travel Nov. 1 to Feb. 28 when booked at www.aerpackages.com by June 15. The tours include the six-night Royal Grand Finale self-drive, with hotel, castle and "go as you please" farmhouse bed-and-breakfast stays with vouchers; the eight-night True Emerald Escape fly-and-drive, also with farmhouse B&B vouchers; four-night City Slickers stays in Dublin, Cork, Limerick or Galway, with hotel and standard-car rental; and a four-night Sights & Sounds Pub Tour, with sightseeing by coach and two nights in Dublin and Galway. Aer Lingus does not pay commission on these Web-only deals.

MORE YANKS ON TAP: American tourist arrivals--which numbered more than 800,000 in 2003 in Ireland--could double "within a short time frame," predicted Aer Lingus chief executive Willie Walsh at a recent tourism conference in Dublin. But, that's if current restrictions in the U.S./Ireland Bilateral Air Agreement were lifted, Walsh said earlier this month at the Failte Ireland EU Tourism Conference at Dublin Castle. According to preliminary figures from Tourism Ireland in New York, U.S. visits to the entire island grew by 5.7%, to 823,000, last year. But the south got the lion's share--or some 89%--of guests, as the Northern Ireland Tourist Board reported a 3% drop, to 94,000 arrivals, from North America, compared with 97,000 in 2002. Still, Tourism Ireland predicts a 6.6% jump in U.S. arrivals in all Ireland for 2004--and that's with the air-agreement status quo.

CIE UPBEAT: Tourism Ireland's optimistic prognostications jibe with the goings-on at CIE Tours Int'l, which added extra inventory to its 2004 tour departures to Ireland and the U.K. because of high customer demand. "Demand is strong in all categories, from the deluxe castle tour, [with] bookings up 53% on last year, to the five-day Taste of Ireland tour, up 40%," said Brian Stack, president. "Even though the dollar is weak and some currency surcharges apply, the booking climate is definitely upbeat," Stack added. For more information, visit www.cietours.com, send an e-mail to [email protected] or call (800) CIE-TOUR.

ANGLER ALERT: Sceptre Tours offers the fishing enthusiasts among your clientele a six-night Reels and Rivers Fishing package to two of Ireland's reputed best fishing regions. First, clients fish in County Mayo, on the Moy River--which produced more than 6,000 salmon catches in the past five years--or Lough Conn, an excellent location for brown trout. Then, travelers head to the Boyne Valley, with salmon-, sea trout- and brown-trout fishing on rivers such as the Castletown, Dee, Glyde and Boyne. The deal includes roundtrip airfare; three nights each at the Pontoon Bridge Hotel on Lough Conn, and then the Newgrange Hotel, in Navan, County Meath; four days' fishing with a guide; one week's car rental and breakfast daily. Net, per-person prices come in at $1,569 in May; $1,639 in June; $1,729 in July and August; and $1,569 in September. For more information, call (800) 221-0924 or visit www.sceptretours.com.

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