Brian Stack, managing director of CIE Tours International reports a 20 percent increase in travel to Ireland, crediting the gains to The Gathering, which pulled in an estimated 4,500 additional visitors to CIE Tours and generated revenue in the neighborhood of $9.5 million. The Gathering is a nationwide effort to bring the Irish diaspora home.
Confidence is booming – and hopes for continued and even increased success in 2014 is on everyone’s radar, Stack said. “CIE Tours brought 30,000 visitors to the Cliffs of Moher, 17,000 to Bunratty, 20,000 to the Guinness Storehouse and 13,000 to the Titanic exhibition in Belfast," Stack reported.
That kind of volume translates into a great ability to fine-tune the visitor experience so it remains top-notch and a consistent value for the money, Stack noted.
Stack also said CIE Tours International recently held its 24th Annual Awards of Excellence that recognized 80 Irish hotels and visitor attractions with Ireland’s Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, presenting awards. Ring noted increased air access from the West Coast, as well as from Canada and Australia (via global hubs in the Middle East) that has made Irish travel simpler. He also noted that U.S.-to-Ireland air capacity is set to rise more than 10 percent this year – after a 25 percent increase in 2013. Canadian access is up 71 percent.
Overall Category Winners — Gold Awards
Best 5 star hotel Killarney Park Hotel, Kerry
Best 4 star hotel Ashling Hotel, Dublin
Best 3 star hotel International Hotel Killarney
Best Hotel Accommodation Conrad Hotel Dublin
Best Hotel Dinner Cabra Castle Hotel, Cavan
Best Hotel Service and Hospitality Granville Hotel, Waterford
Best B&B / Farmhouse Applecroft House, Killarney, Co Kerry
Best Event Dinner / Entertainment The Merry Ploughboy, Dublin
Special Dinner Feature Killeen House Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry
Best Tour Feature Brendan Ferris - Sheep Dog Trials
Best Walking tour Ronan McNamara - Derry Walking Tours
Best Visit Slieve League Cliffs, Donegal