Travel Weekly's Ireland E-Letter June 26, 2003

FRIENDLIER SKIES: Irish airports operator Aer Rianta said that passenger traffic at its three major airports grew by more than 4% in 2002, to 19.3 million. To accommodate further growth, Aer Rianta will build a new terminal, pier, apron, stands and other facilities, along with a major bus and rail transit station, for Dublin Airport, where annual passenger numbers--now at 15 million--are projected to surpass 20 million within six years. Meanwhile, Cork's airport, which handled 6% more passengers--or 1.9 million--passengers last year, also will get a new terminal, parking garage and fire station, roadways and updated utility services. At Shannon Airport, however, traffic slipped by 2%, to 2.35 million passengers, in 2002, according to Aer Rianta.

TOP O' THE LINE: CIE Tours' 11-night, Irish Supreme tour--priced from $2,308 from New York (Kennedy), Boston and Baltimore--offers a coastal circuit around the Republic of Ireland, with accommodation in five-star castles and deluxe hotels. Clients check in at world-class hotels such as the Ashford and Dromoland castles, Killarney Park Hotel, Tinakilly House in County Wicklow and the Berkeley Court Hotel in Dublin. The tour, which begins and ends in Shannon, takes in castles, manors and gardens from the Ring of Kerry and Galway to Waterford and Dublin. In addition to airfare and accommodations, rates include daily breakfast; nine dinners, including a six-course meal at Malahide Castle; a horse-drawn carriage and boat ride in the Gap of Dunloe; a cruise on Killary Harbor with seafood lunch; sightseeing with a guide; and other perks and gifts. Departures operate weekly on Thursday and some Saturdays, through Nov. 8; CIE pays agents a minimum of 10% on land and air. For more, contact CIE Tours at (800) CIE-TOUR or www.cietours.com.

TOURISM IRELAND'S recent "Shamrock Trail" promotional sales blitz was a resounding success, attracting 1,200 travel agents to six trade shows in major U.S. markets, according to Catherine Gale, national marketing manager at the organization's New York office. The promotion, from June 16 to 20, aimed to boost bookings from top-producing travel agent members of Tourism Ireland's Shamrock Club destination specialist program in the Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, southern California and Washington/Baltimore/Philadelphia areas. The "Shamrock Trail" also included sales calls at more than 1,000 travel agencies in the targeted markets. The high agent turnout represented approximately 40% of the qualified Shamrock Club specialists in those markets. Eighty-three Irish and U.S.-based supplier representatives from 23 Ireland and 16 U.S. companies--including tour operators, hoteliers and airlines--also took part. The Shamrock Club program, first launched five years ago, now counts 7,500 members.

ONLINE E-DUCATION: Speaking of the Shamrock Club, check out the destination specialist Web site at www.shamrockclub.net/register. Once you've joined, you can log onto the site for access to five online education and certification modules and other interactive features. For more information, contact Tourism Ireland's John Daly at (212) 418-0835.

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