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CIE Tours 31st Annual Awards of Excellence Event

Ireland’s best holiday destinations and experiences recognised based on feedback from nearly 20,000 visitors. Company committed to sustainable and responsible tourism for the benefit of local communities throughout Ireland.

February 8, 2023:   After a three-year hiatus due to the covid-19 pandemic, senior representatives of Ireland’s tourism sector came together to, once again, celebrate the diversity and richness of experiences offered by Irish tourism at the CIE Tours annual Awards of Excellence.

Launched in 1990, the Awards recognize Ireland’s hospitality ambassadors – the people and businesses throughout the country who put Irish tourism on the global stage through the warmth of welcome and quality of service provided to our international visitors. CIE Tours, which celebrates 91 years in business is the largest operator of guided tours to Ireland in the North American market, bringing over 25,000 visitors here last year.

Speaking at the presentation of CIE Tours Annual Awards of Excellence Elizabeth Crabill, CEO said; “The Irish holiday experience is unique, and its popularity is very evident in the strong rebound we witnessed once international travel re-opened following the pandemic.  I want to acknowledge the resilience of our tourism partners who, having had a very difficult few years, enthusiastically welcomed back our visitors once restrictions were lifted.  Your professionalism is reflected in the feedback from our visitors and in these Awards this evening.  Overall satisfaction levels in 2022 were only slightly less than 2019 despite a very challenging year for travel[1].

“We are very encouraged by the pipeline of bookings for the coming year, which are ahead of expectations, and we look forward to ensuring that our partners and our host communities continue to benefit from our success in attracting visitors to travel with us to Ireland”.

Ms Crabill said that as one of the longest established tour operators in Ireland, CIE Tours is well placed to help Ireland capitalise on the growing interest in sustainable and responsible tourism.   Citing a recent Expedia survey[2] which showed that consumers are increasingly seeking ways to have more conscientious travel experiences and options to support local culture and communities within a destination, she pointed to CIE Tours’ 91-year track record  of bringing visitors to high quality tourism destinations in rural locations, where visitors have a rich experience gaining an understanding of local culture.

“Our itineraries visit many rural areas of Ireland and over many years we have helped local tourism operators to survive and thrive, creating valuable local employment.   With our experience and knowledge, we can be a strong partner in to Fáilte Ireland in achieving its ambition to develop Ireland as a high-quality tourism destination that facilitates a healthy and sustainable industry, while having positive impacts on host communities, and contributing to the preservation and enhancement of the environment.” she said.

“As we develop and implement realistic and meaningful sustainability actions and behaviours, we are committed to working closely with our partners because it is their businesses which are facing first-hand the changing dynamics of tourism, the cash-flow concerns of seasonality, and the climate change impact on local communities and natural spaces.  It is encouraging that so many have already begun their own sustainability journeys and together we can build an even stronger sector with responsible tourism at its core”.

Ms Crabill concluded by warmly congratulating this year’s winners of a CIE Tours Award of Excellence on their achievements and thanked all the company’s partners who work closely with CIE Tours throughout the year.

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Award Winners 2023

The CIE Tours Awards of Excellence were first launched in 1990.  This year’s awards are presented based on post-stay feedback received from nearly 20,000 customers surveyed throughout 2022.  The data and information obtained from these surveys is invaluable to CIE Tours’ partners who use it to continuously improve their offering to their clients.  

Each of the CIE Tours’ partners who qualified for an award, delivered an exceptional quality experience and welcome to visitors, achieving a customer satisfaction rating of over 92%.

Fourteen overall award winners were announced, who each achieved the highest customer rating in their category:

Best 5 Star Hotel

Grand Central Hotel, Belfast

Best 4 Star Hotel

Cabra Castle Hotel, Cavan

Best 3 Star Hotel

Dooley’s Hotel, Waterford

Best Hotel Accommodation

Dunraven Adare Hotel, Limerick

Best Hotel Dinner

Ballygarry Estate Hotel & Spa, Kerry

Best Hotel Service & Hospitality

Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road, Dublin

Best Event Dinner / Entertainment

The Crosskeys Inn, Antrim

Special Dinner Feature

Killeen House Hotel, Killarney, Kerry

Best Tour Feature

Marine Bar, Waterford

Best Walking Tour

Westport Walking Tour, Mayo

Best Visit

Cliffs of Moher, Clare

Best Lunch

Taylors Three Rock, Dublin

Best Sheep Dog Trial

Atlantic Sheepdogs, Sligo

National Heritage Award

Brendan Ferris Sheep Dog Trials, Kerry


Merit Awards were also presented to 54 hotels and tourist attractions who achieved a customer rating of 92% or higher (see full list below).

CIE Tours International Awards - Merit Winners 2023:



Leinster Hotel Merit Winners



Ashling Hotel


Clontarf Castle Hotel


Davenport Hotel


Herbert Park Hotel


Hilton Garden Inn


Hyatt Centric, The Liberties


Radisson Blu Royal Hotel


Maldron Hotel Pearse St


Royal Marine Hotel


Barberstown Castle Hotel

Munster Hotel Merit Winners



Dromoland Castle Hotel


Kinsale Hotel and Spa


Dingle Skellig Hotel


Great Southern Killarney


Killarney Avenue Hotel


Killarney Plaza Hotel


Killarney Towers Hotel


The Brehon Killarney


Granville Hotel

Ulster Hotel Merit Winners



Europa Hotel


Connaught Hotel Merit Winners



Salthill Hotel


Kilronan Castle



Leinster Visit Merit Winner



Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre


Experience Glasnevin


EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum


Guinness Storehouse


Kilmainham Gaol


Little Museum of Dublin


Castletown House


Irish National Stud & Gardens


Greta Power Bungalow B&B


Sullivan’s Tap Room


Listoke Distillery & Gin School




Sean’s Bar


Dunbrody Emigrant Ship


Johnstown Castle


Glendalough Visitor Centre

Munster Visit Merit Winner



Blarney Castle


John B. Keane's Pub


Killarney Horse & Carriage Tours


Tangney Tours Jaunting Car


South Pole Inn

Ulster Visit Merit Winner



Giant's Causeway


Donegal Castle


Slieve League Cliffs


Hillsborough Castle

Connaught Visit Merit Winner



Connemara Celtic Crystal


Dan O’Hara Homestead


Dún Aonghasa


Kylemore Abbey


Ballintubber Abbey


Killary Harbour Cruise


About CIE Tours:

CIE Tours (, a member of the CIE Group, is one of Ireland’s longest established speciality tour operators, celebrating 91 years in business this year.  In 2022, the first full year of tourism following the global pandemic, the company booked over 250,000 bed nights throughout the country. Employing 100 people, with offices in Dublin and New Jersey, it operates all-inclusive coach tours, custom group and private driver holidays and fly-drive programs in Ireland.  It also provides combined tours of Ireland and the UK, as well as tours to Britain, Italy, and Iceland.   

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[1] (Satisfaction Ratings of 94.6% for full year 2022 vs. 95.5% in 2019).

[2] Expedia Media Solutions inclusive Travel Insights Report 2022

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