CROP: Belfast had a bumper year for tourism in 2004,
according to new figures released by the Belfast Visitor and
Convention Bureau (BVCB) June 23. According to BVCB chairman Ciaran
Roger, the Northern Ireland capital recorded a 19% increase in
overnight stays, to 841,000; 62% growth in leisure visitors, to
235,000; an 11% rise in total visitor numbers, to 5.9 million; and
13% growth in visitor spending. Business travel also rose by 14%.
Cruise visits look set to rise, too, in 2005; 16 cruise ships
carrying 37,000 international passengers will dock in Belfast this
summer. Encouraged by these results, the BVCB has set a goal of
growing local tourism by 50% in three years, said Roger. For more,
EXPRESS: County Kerry tour operator Slatterys Travel will
launch first ever nonstop, transatlantic air service from Cork to
the U.S., with new twice-weekly charter flights from Cork
International Airport to New York (Kennedy) via Ryan International
Airlines starting Oct. 27. The flights to operate from Cork on
Mondays and Thursdays, with eastbound service on Sundays and
Wednesdays are priced from 399 euros round-trip, or about $479 at
press time. Ryan International will fly a 210-seat Boeing 757
single-aisle jet on the route. Tickets for trips from Cork to New
York are currently on sale in Ireland; no word yet on planned sales
of tickets in the U.S. for roundtrip flights to Cork. For more on
Slatterys Travel, visit www.slatterys.com.
CAPS: The Guinness Storehouse attraction in Dublin
introduces later hours this summer, staying open until 8 p.m. daily
in July and August. Guinness also
debuted a program of 10 to 15 minute evening classes, including tasting sessions;
guided brewery-floor tours; an insiders look at the brewery; an
advertising class focusing on noted designer John Gilroy; and a
nightlife tutorial at the on-site Gravity Bar, now open until 9:30
p.m. daily. Free shuttles to the Storehouse depart Bewleys on
Westmoreland St., in the city center, at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.,
returning at 7:00, 8:00, 9:00 and 9:45 p.m. For more, visit www.guinnessstorehouse.com.
IDEA: Dublins new Luas light-rail transit system
introduced state-of-the-art, smart-card ticketing this spring.
Customers pass their smart-cards over blue platform validator
before boarding and after exiting trams; the validators emit
audible confirmations and the fare is deducted from the cards. Luas
cards cost from 10 euros and can be topped off with a maximum 100
euros in value at Luas machines. For more, visit www.luas.ie.