Travel Weekly's Ireland E-Letter June 12, 2003

AUTUMN IRELAND: Europe Express is offering a six-night "fly-drive-stay" Web special to Ireland, priced from $759 per person for travel Sept. 1 to Oct. 31. Rates include roundtrip airfare from the U.S., a three-night hotel stay in Dublin, three nights in a bed and breakfast, a three-day rental car rental, breakfast daily, hotel taxes and services fees. Sample prices, based on double occupancy, include: New York, $759; Boston, Philadelphia or Washington, $839; Chicago, Atlanta or Seattle, $959; Dallas or Minneapolis, $1,059; and Los Angeles or San Francisco, $1,139. Agent commission is 5% for online bookings only. For more information or to book call (800) 927-3876 or visit www.europeexpress.com.

HOW'RE WE DOIN'?: An interim report on the state of Irish tourism by the Irish government's Tourism Policy Review Group made several recommendations to boost bookings to the Emerald Isle and improve the experience of foreign visitors. For example, the "Irish Tourism: Responding to Change" report calls for renegotiation of Ireland's bilateral aviation agreement with the U.S. to increase air service, particularly from the Midwest, and upgrades at Dublin Airport to improve turnaround times. The report notes most visitor complaints involve road quality and a lack of signage; remedies include completion of a ring road around Dublin and an upgrade of roads in tourist spots such as Connemara and Kerry. The report also advocates construction of a conference center and stadium in Dublin and an increase in the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. Accommodations-wise, a mandatory hotel classification system and a national bed-and-breakfast organization would also be beneficial, said the report. The full text of "Irish Tourism: Responding to Change" can be viewed at www.arts-sport-tourism.gov.ie.

NOT TOO LATE: Remember, Tourism Ireland will treat top graduates of its Shamrock Club destination-specialist program to sales calls, seminars and evening events next week. The "Shamrock Trail" promotional from June 16 to 20 aims to boost bookings from the Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, southern California and Washington/Baltimore/Philadelphia areas. The Shamrock Club program, first launched five years ago, now counts 7,500 members. To join the Shamrock Club, visit www.shamrockclub.net/register. For more information on the Shamrock Trail promotion, contact Catherine Gale at Tourism Ireland in New York at (212) 418-0850.

GET FESTIVE: Ireland boasts a wealth of summer festivals to delight and entertain clients. Top events set for this summer include:
• ESB Dublin Jazz Week, July 4 to 6, www.esb.ie
• Galway Int'l Arts Festival, July 15 to 27, Galway City, www.galwayartsfestival.ie
• Irish Coffee Festival, July 18 to 20, Foynes, County Limerick, www.irishcoffeefestival.com
• Nissan Irish Open (golf), July 24 to 27, Portmarnock, County Dublin, www.gui.ie
• Waterford Spraoi (free outdoor arts festival), Aug. 1 to 3, www.spraoi.com
• Puck Fair (horse fair), Aug. 10 to 12, Killorglin, County Kerry, www.puckfair.ie
• Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann traditional Irish music competition, Aug. 22 to 24, Clonmel, County Tipperary, www.comhaltas.com

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