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

WIN ON THE WEB: Sceptre Tours revamped its online vacation planner at www.sceptretours.com to offer agents dynamic packaging, which includes the ability to book more than one room under one reservation, live inventory -- airfare, car rentals, accommodations, excursions and more -- and immediate pricing. In addition, the company now lets consumers book at the site, but they're asked to select a preferred Sceptre Tours Emerald Partner before booking so that commissions can be credited to the appropriate agency.

TO LAUNCH THIS FEATURE, Sceptre's running an online sweepstakes Mondays to Fridays, from July 26 though Aug. 6, in which agents who make test bookings online are entered to win $500 in a daily prize drawing. For more, see www.sceptretours.com or www.sceptreagent.com online and an upcoming article in the July 26 print edition of Travel Weekly.

NEW TRADITIONS: Celtic Tours rolled out a Celtic Tradition tour priced from $519, land, per person, with a choice of two itineraries. Itinerary "A" features two nights each in Killarney and Galway, while itinerary "B" features two nights in Galway and two more in Cabra Castle. The escorted motorcoach tours also include full Irish breakfast and dinner daily, and comprehensive sightseeing. Weekly departures are available October through April. Celtic pays 10% to 15% on land for individuals and up to 17% on land for groups. Call (800) 833-4373 or visit www.celtictours.com.

FAMILY FUN: Luxury Dublin property The Merrion created a summer package for families, priced at 450 euros (or about $560), including VAT and service fees, per night through Aug. 31. The deal includes accommodations for up to two adults and two children in interconnecting deluxe double and twin rooms, full Irish breakfast and welcome cocktails for adults and "mocktails" for children. Children also enjoy special room-service menus with Winnie the Pooh or Barbie dinnerware, mini-robes at the hotel's Tethra Spa, child monitoring and a babysitting service. Contact the Merrion, which normally pays 10% commission, at (011) 353-1-603-0600, via e-mail at [email protected] or at www.merrionhotel.com, or The Leading Hotels of the World at (800) 223-6800 or at www.lhw.com.

FESTIVE FUNDS: The Irish government earmarked nearly a quarter-million dollars for festival and cultural events development across Ireland. Tourism minister John O'Donoghue announced some $221,000 in total grants to the Wexford Festival Opera, Oct. 14 to 31 (www.wexfordopera.com); the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival in Longford, Sept. 24 to 26 (www.johnnykeenan.com); the Samhain International Poetry Festival at Gortahork, County Donegal, Oct. 29 to 31 ([email protected]); and the Sligo International Choral Festival, set to run Oct. 28 to 31 (www.sligochoralfest.org).

NEW GUIDE: Brian Moore International Tours (BMIT) published its fall 2004/summer 2005 brochure, including previews of some of next year's escorted programs -- with scheduled departure dates and pricing in place. Examples include the seven-night Irish Spree from $699, eight-night Leisurely Ireland from $669 and 11-night Unforgettable Ireland from $1,329; itineraries include breakfast daily, most dinners and all sightseeing fees. BMIT is accepting block space requests for up to 20 seats per coach, with no deposit. Commissions range from 10% to 15% depending on group size; each group receives up to two free places. BMIT is also introducing six-night, air-inclusive city-stay packages to other European destinations, starting at $399. Visit www.bmit.com or call (800) 982-2299.

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