The Emerald Isle

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or the past several days we've been reporting on our editor in chief's trip to the U.K. with the 2001 Travel Leaders Summit. The delegation, at the request of the British Tourist Authority, embarked on a hoof-and-mouth fact-finding mission and came up with some ideas to spur travel.

Nadine Godwin traveled to Scotland and England, and visited the tourism destinations hardest hit by a drop in arrivals. She met with local tourism officials and with top-level elected officials including Prime Minister Tony Blair.

This week, we are happy to be sending a reporter to Ireland, along with a contingent of U.S. travel agents and several representatives from ASTA, including Bill Maloney.

From Travel Weekly, Laura Del Rosso will join the group, which is being hosted by the Irish Tourist Board. Laura is our San Francisco bureau chief and a longtime reporter of retail issues.

They'll start the trip in Dublin, meeting with tourism executives and officials, then move west to Shannon and the Limerick area.

Like their British counterparts, the Irish are eager to show travel agents and journalists that the countryside is open and that travelers should have no anxiety about visiting.

It's the right thing to do, and I believe it will go a long way toward improving trade and consumer awareness.

Check our home page and news pages for Laura's report on the trip early next week.

Dublin is a fun town, but the Irish countryside is truly incredible. I've seen just a little of it, but I will never forget landing at Shannon Airport and looking out the window across the emerald green landscape. It was the most beautiful shade of green I had ever seen -- almost mesmerizing.

And that was on a cold, overcast day in February. I can only imagine what it must look like in May, or June or September. I hope one day to find out.

Donna Tunney is executive editor of Travel Weekly, Travel Weekly Crossroads and Travel Management Daily.

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