Travel Weekly's Ireland E-Letter May 22, 2003

BYE-BYE, BORD FAILTE: Authorities in Dublin will merge Ireland's national tourism board, Bord Failte Eirann, with the State Tourism Training Agency (CERT) May 28 to form new tourism development authority, Failte Ireland. The move does not effect operations at Tourism Ireland, the joint body that markets the Republic and Northern Ireland as one destination in international markets, including the U.S. John O'Donoghue, Ireland's minister for arts, sport and tourism, said Failte Ireland will "focus on the experience of visitors when they get [to Ireland], by working ... to provide a one-stop-shop for strategic and practical support to develop and sustain Ireland as a high quality and competitive tourist destination." "Tourism Ireland ... will continue its focus on getting people here," he added. Last December, O'Donoghue appointed a Strategic Review Group to review tourism policy in Ireland; its recommendations are expected to lead to further revisions in the country's approach to tourism development.

ROYAL TREATMENT: Sceptre Ireland put its six-night, air-inclusive Emerald Castle package on sale at $499 per person for midweek travel from Nov. 1 to Dec. 16, when booked by July 15. The self-guided tour features accommodations in first-class hotels and a selection of 450 farmhouse bed-and-breakfasts, as well as a final night in the five-star Dromoland, Ashford or Waterford castles or Adare Manor. Also included are a rental car with unlimited mileage; breakfast daily; and taxes and service fees. Commission is 10%. Call (800) 221-0924 or visit www.sceptreireland.com.

MORE ROOM: The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) and low-fare carrier Ryanair called for construction of a second terminal at Dublin Airport to smooth tourist arrivals and allow access by more airlines -- moves the IHF described as "essential." "The airport is the first place that tourists see when they arrive in this country and delays at baggage collection coupled with congestion and limited public transport system, to and from the airport is not giving a good impression," the IHF said in a statement. For its part, Irish airports authority Aer Rianta claimed in a statement that any construction would require a jump in airport fees from today's "very competitive" levels. The authority did announce plans to construct a new Pier D facility, which will add 12 parking stands to speed aircraft turnaround times. Passenger traffic at Dublin has grown by about 1 million per year for the past eight years, and in 2002 topped 15 million, according to Aer Rianta.

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

SIGHTS UNSEEN: CIE Tours revamped its Irish Odyssey tour, taking in off-the-beaten-path attractions across Ireland and adding two nights to accommodate stops in Donegal and in Derry, Northern Ireland. The now-10-night, air-inclusive tour, priced from $1,297 per person, also takes in the 18th century Cabra Castle in County Cavan; Malin Head, Ireland's most northerly point; and the Dingle Peninsula. Rates include roundtrip air, first-class hotel and castle accommodations; 10 breakfasts and nine dinners; and attractions admissions. Rate quoted includes air via Aer Lingus from Baltimore, Boston or New York (Kennedy). Sunday departures run through Nov. 16; seniors are eligible for $55 discounts on June 1, July 13, Aug. 24, Sept. 21 and Oct. 19 departures. CIE pays a minimum of 10% on land and air. Call (800) CIE-TOUR or visit www.cietours.com.

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