Brendan Vacations has become the first major U.S. tour operator to create an Ireland product specifically for the LGBT market: trips for couples who want to take advantage of the Emerald Isle’s recent vote to legalize same-sex marriage.
“It’s a new step for us,” said Paul Wiseman, president of Trafalgar and Brendan Vacations. “It’s a substantial change in the way that we are going to create and market [to the LGBT community]. We’ve done all kinds of different custom departures over the years. But this isn’t a one-off. This is now a much broader program that all agents would be able to get access to.”
Brendan is likely the first of many suppliers that will develop an Ireland wedding product for the LGBT market.
Barely a month after the May 22 plebiscite in which the people of Ireland voted to legalize same-sex marriage, Brendan has created a 10-day Romantic Ireland itinerary, priced from $5,750 per person.
Brendan worked with LGBT-friendly hotels and suppliers to create a chauffeur-driven FIT package for agents to sell to same-sex couples.
Among those partnering with Brendan on the new product is Dan Mullane, owner of the Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge.
“We are so proud the Irish people voted yes for marriage equality, making us the first country in the world to do so,” Mullane said. “Nobody blinks an eyelid here. Everyone is equal at the Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge, where they’ll be greeted by the warm, friendly welcome that Ireland is known for.”
The Romantic Ireland package begins with two nights in Dublin at the Merrion Hotel and continues on to one night at the Cliff House Hotel in County Waterford, two nights at the Malton Hotel in Killarney, a night at the Mustard Seed and two nights at Ashford Castle before returning to the Merrion for a final overnight in Dublin. Guests will travel between destinations in a luxury, private, chauffeur-driven vehicle with free WiFi.
Sightseeing will include Dublin, Glendalough, Blarney Castle, the Ring of Kerry, Torc Waterfall, the Cliffs of Moher and Strokestown Park House. Participants also will be offered a chance to cycle along the Wild Atlantic Way, drink Irish coffee at the Foynes Flying Boat Museum and eat St. Tola goat cheese on a working farm.
“The bottom line,” Wiseman said, is that “Ireland is a big bucket-list destination for people, it’s a big volume destination and [the LGBT market] is a big market.”
He added that when Catherine Reilly, managing director for Brendan Vacations in Dublin, called Wiseman to ask if he thought that the general trade community would benefit from a product specifically designed for the LGBT market, his immediate response was “absolutely.”
“I know a number of agents from all of the consortia that would immediately be pleased to take this product on and promote it,” Wiseman said.
The itinerary, which is customizable and is expected to be the first of several Ireland itineraries that Brendan will develop for the LGBT market, will be available for booking on June 30 for immediate departures upon request.
Legislation to amend Ireland’s constitution is still being developed in the aftermath of the vote, but Tourism Ireland has stated that it expects the new law guaranteeing the right to same-sex marriage to be ready by the end of July and possibly implemented by fall.
Until then, there is no way of knowing specifics of the legislation, including how and whether same-sex marriages performed in Ireland will be recognized overseas.
Nevertheless, Tourism Ireland already launched a campaign to promote same-sex weddings and honeymoons in Ireland, and suppliers like Brendan aren’t waiting either.
At World Travel Market in November, Out Now, an LGBT marketing solutions provider, valued the global LGBT tourism market at more than $202 billion annually.
It is not known what portion of that total might derive from same-sex weddings and honeymoons.