Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: Dec. 2, 2004

ROADS LESS TRAVELED: CIE Tours created the Irish Interlude, a seven-night escorted tour spotlighting Ireland's Northwest and West coast, including the lesser-traveled counties of Antrim, Derry, Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Tyrone and Monaghan. Departures will operate weekly on Saturdays and most Mondays from March 19 through October 29, priced from $1,508 per person, double, including air from New York (Kennedy) or Boston; or from $1,537 per person, double, from Chicago. The cost covers first-class hotel accommodations, full breakfast daily, six dinners, sightseeing, government taxes, and hotel service charges. For more on CIE -- which pays agents 10% on land and varying commissions on air -- or a full itinerary, call (800) CIE-TOUR or visit www.cietours.com.

BELFAST ONLINE: The South Belfast Partnership Board launched a Web site devoted to south Belfast, VisitSouthBelfast.com, featuring sections covering the cultural attractions and art galleries; boutique shopping, cafes and restaurants; parks and outdoor spaces; nightlife and hotels. Speaking at the launch Gerry Doherty, CEO of South Belfast Partnership said, "Tourism is Belfast's fastest growing industry and forms a vital part of the south Belfast economy, both in terms of the revenue it generates and the jobs it sustains"

WELCOME RESULTS: The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) anticipates a 6% increase in visitor arrivals for 2004, with total visitors expected to exceed 2 million for the first time. In addition, holiday visits are expected to increase by 14%, to about 406,000, mainly from North America, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. According to the NITB, for North America "visitor numbers show a healthy recovery of 25%."

MORE PORK FOR CORK: Tourism minister John O'Donoghue announced additional funding of about $1.99 million for Cork 2005, Cork's coming role as the European Union capital of culture for 2005, bringing the government's support of the program to about $10.4 million. The additional funding will be directed toward "a number of events as well as some special events that will attract large numbers of visitors to the city," according to O'Donoghue. For more details on Cork 2005, visit www.cork2005.ie.

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