The Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience crew in New Ross are celebrating having won a merit award at the prestigious CIE Tours International Annual Awards of Excellence which were held in Dublin's City Hall.
Now in their 29th year, the annual excellence awards recognise the best hotels and attractions across Ireland and are based on feedback from over 32,000 customers throughout the year.
The Dunbrody Famine Ship and Irish American Experience visitor centre - which employs 34 people over the winter months and 50 people during the summer - was one of 14 Leinster attractions to pick up a merit award.
CEO Sean Connick said: 'We were delighted to receive the award. We have won four out of five over the last five years. We missed out last year and we were really disappointed so it's great to win again this year.'
The honours were presented by CIE Chairman Vivienne Jupp and Elizabeth Crabill, Chief Executive Officer of CIE Tours International.
In total 77 hotels and tourist attractions won awards, with each of the destinations delivering an exceptional quality experience and welcome to tourists and achieving a customer satisfaction rating of over 92 per cent from CIE Tours International visitors.
Mr Connick said: 'There is a mixed age group profile of people visiting us. It's a great benchmark as the awards are hard to win.'
He said visitor expectations are very high, adding that social media has brought an added pressure for tourism business operators, as visitors can effectively post their own reviews of businesses based on a bad experience.
He said the centre is expanding its offering this year with a Savannah experience during the Dunbrody Famine Ship tour and a new entrance.
CIE Tours International is one of Ireland's longest established heritage tour operators, celebrating 87 years in business this year. In 2018, the company enjoyed €120 million in revenues and over 400,000 bed nights booked throughout the country, including in County Wexford.
Speaking at the awards, Elizabeth Crabill, Chief Executive Officer, CIE Tours International said: '2018 was a fantastic year for the tourism industry in Ireland, with next year expected to be as good, in spite of uncertainties created by Brexit and other external factors.
'The hotels and attractions which have been recognised here tonight all deserve acknowledgment for the roles they play in making Ireland a leading destination for visitors across the globe and ensuring tourists enjoy a memorable experience. And this is not me saying it, it is the 32,000 visitors who filled out our survey forms and told us about their experience.'
Ms Cabrill said the information the company obtain from these surveys is invaluable to its partners who use it to continuously improve their offering and the levels of service they give to their clients.'