Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: Jan. 8, 2004

THE TOPS: Dublin Tourism named its fourth annual Enterprise Awards winners for 2003. The winners include Jury's Hotels in the accommodations category, for its Jury's Inns concept; Irish Ferries in the Web site category, for www.irishferries.ie; the Abbey Tavern in Howth for food and drink; luxury motorcoach operator Aircoach, in travel and transport; and The Centre for English Studies on Dame Street for tourism products and services. The top prize for overall excellence, meanwhile, went to the city-center Guinness Storehouse attraction [www.guinnessstorehouse.com]. For more from Dublin Tourism, visit www.visitdublin.com. Tourism employs more than 40,000 Dubliners, and one in three jobs created in the Irish capital since 1998 has been in travel and tourism.

IRISH AIRS: There's much ado at Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus in 2004. First, the airline launched a new "groups procedures policy" that features low fares without restrictions, modest deposits and no instant-purchase requirements. For more, contact Aer Lingus Groups at [email protected] or (631) 577-5765. And on May 1, Aer Lingus will launch direct service to Shannon from Chicago [O'Hare]. Flight EI 124 will operate daily, departing O'Hare at 7:40 p.m., arriving at Shannon at 9:10 a.m. the following day; return flight EI 125 also will operate daily, departing Shannon at 2:45 p.m., and arriving at O'Hare at 5 p.m.

PRICE-WISE: Aer Lingus offers "quick trip" fares from Boston, Baltimore, Chicago or New York [Kennedy] starting at $114 each way for midweek travel Jan. 9 to Feb. 29. To qualify, a minimum four-day or a Saturday-night stay is required; the maximum stay is month. Meanwhile, "Aerfares" from Los Angeles start at $164 each way, for midweek travel [with no minimum stay] from Jan. 9 to March 31. For more, visit www.aerlingus.com.

ROYAL TREATMENT: Sceptre Ireland's seven-night Kingdoms and Treasures tour, priced from $939, net, per person, offers what the operator calls "the perfect blend of sightseeing, accommodations and the true Irish experience." The roundtrip, air-inclusive deal also includes weekly car rental or chauffeur; full Irish breakfast daily; admission to the Waterford Crystal Factory; and one-night's accommodation at a Shannon-area bed-and-breakfast; two nights at the Int'l Hotel, Co. Kerry; one night at the Towers Hotel, Co. Waterford; two nights at the Berkeley Court Hotel, Dublin; and one night at the Adare Manor, in Co. Limerick. For more, visit www.sceptreagent.com or call (800) 221-0924.

FARE'S FAIR: Citing rising costs, Irish national coach network Bus Eireann raised fares by an average 2.7% as of Monday, and set a maximum weight limit of 15 kilograms, or about 33 pounds, for parcels carried on its buses. The route network covers most of the country and offers an affordable intercity transport option for clients on budget-oriented FITs. Bus Eireann also offers one-night Breakaway trips priced from about $90 that include roundtrip bus fare, twin/double accommodations in one of 14 hotels across the country and full Irish breakfast. Extra nights are priced from about $54. For more on Bus Eireann, visit www.buseireann.ie.

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