Irish Welcome Tours sold to UK rival for reported €20m

Michael Holland’s operation sells tours to holidaymakers travelling to Ireland

Merrion Square hosting the city spectacular. Irish Welcome Tours  has a relationship with more than 600 hotels and visitor attractions throughout the country

Merrion Square hosting the city spectacular. Irish Welcome Tours has a relationship with more than 600 hotels and visitor attractions throughout the country

 

Hotelier and entrepreneur Michael Holland has sold his holiday business, Irish Welcome Tours, to a UK rival for a reported €20 million.

British-based Hotels and More said on Wednesday that it has agreed to take over Irish Welcome Tours.

Neither party revealed the purchase price but it is understood to be €20 million. Ampleforth, the holding company for Mr Holland’s hotels and tourism businesses, sold the tours company and its US arm, Winebookings. com, to Hotels and More.

The deal resulted from an approach to Ampleforth from Mayfair Equity Partners, which funded a management buyout of Hotels and More from Austrian group Travel Partner in October 2015.

Irish Welcome Tours sells individual and group tours to holidaymakers travelling to Ireland. It has a relationship with more than 600 hotels and visitor attractions throughout the country.

Based in Sandyford, Co Dublin, it 65 staff people and arranges holidays for more than 70,000 tourists every year through its businesses, which include Authentic Vacations, Hotels Ireland and Irish Horizons.

Single packages

It provides travel, accommodation and entry to tourist attractions in single packages to mainly US and European travellers. Hotels and More sells similar packages for both Ireland and Britain.

Mr Holland owns the five-star Fitzwilliam hotels in Dublin and Belfast, the Bailey Bar in Dublin, the Four Star Pizza franchise for Ireland and Britain, and a number of other property and financial concerns.

Accounts show that Ampleforth earned profits of €4 million in 2015 on a turnover of €36 million. It had net assets of more than €23.5 million at the end of that year.

Irish Welcome Tours managing director John Waldron will continue to run the business independently. He will work closely with Karin Urban, his counterpart at Hotels and More.

Mr Waldron said that the deal would “allow much broader access to the UK market, which we can offer to our clients in Europe and America”.

“This is a hand in glove marriage, an exciting step in the evolution of our business and we are enthusiastic about the future opportunities available to both parties resulting from the partnership,” he said.

Ms Urban said the two brands would continue to grow market position.