TIME IS NOW: Sceptre Ireland now offers agents
"real time," online bookings of air, car, accommodations or any
combination of the three at net rates -- with commissions retailers
determine themselves thanks to customized "mark-up technology."
Sceptre's air, auto and hotel options include: U.S. departures to
Shannon or Dublin on a choice of six airlines; standard or
automatic car rentals; 1,800-plus bed & breakfasts and more
than 350 hotels in addition to luxury castles, condos, townhouses
and cottages. For more, visit www.sceptreireland.com or www.sceptreagent.com.
UP WITH AMERICA: Ireland saw some 6% growth in
North American arrivals in 2003, according to Ireland's tourism
minister, John O'Donoghue, helping the country nearly achieve the
record overall visitor numbers of 2000. "A key element of this
story has been the restoration of key access routes and capacity
from the U.S.," he said in a Dec. 30 end-of-year statement. "I am
particularly pleased that the North American market appears to have
turned the corner." Overall, overseas arrivals grew by 4%, to 6
million visitors; O'Donoghue has set a further target of 4.4% more
growth in arrivals for 2004. For more, visit www.arts-sport-tourism.gov.ie.
B&B ABC's: Ireland's family-run
bed-and-breakfast establishments remain a top pick with
international visitors. Two marketing bodies, operated by host
families themselves, coordinate market development and travel trade
relations. Irish Farm Holidays represents 350 farm homes, while the
Town & Country Homes Association markets more than 1,600 homes
in urban areas and non-farm homes in rural locations. Both
organizations offer special brochures, pre-paid accommodations
vouchers, e-mail or Internet bookings, and other features for
travel agents and tour operators. For more, visit www.townandcountry.ie and www.irishfarmholidays.com.
ATHBHLIAIN FAOI MHAISE DUIT: We wish a
prosperous New Year to all our Ireland E-Letter readers.