CIE Tours has named the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare as the best place to visit in Ireland as it was awarded the CIE Gold Award of Overall Excellence for Best Visit in Ireland during 2012. reports on CIE’s annual awards ceremony, which was held at Dublin’s National Gallery of Ireland. 2013 marks 81 years of CIE in operation, and its 23rd annual awards presentation.

At the ceremony, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar presented plaques to the winners. 62 locations around Ireland were acknowledged for their excellence in 2012.

Winners at the ceremony were chosen following independent evaluation of feedback surveys by 17,000 CIE Tours International customers.

The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience in County Clare took home the top award of CIE Gold Award of Overall Excellence for Best Visit in Ireland during 2012.

The center at the Cliffs of Moher was opened in February 2007, and since then, O’Brien’s tower has been restored and reopened. There were 873,988 visitors to the Cliffs of Moher in 2012, an increase of 65,000 since 2011.

Katherine Webster, Director of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience said, “This award is a tribute to the staff of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience and the agencies that have made considerable investments in developing the attraction during recent years. While we have won CIE Tours International awards in each of the past three years, this is the first time that we have been awarded the Gold Medal.”

Other awards were presented to The Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens, which each won a silver merit award. Overall, there were 12 gold category winners.

Best hotel accommodation was given to Harveys Point Country Hotel in Donegal, Best 5 Star Hotel to Dromoland Castle, and Best Tour Feature to the sheepdog trial run in Kerry.

Brian Stack, Managing Director of CIE Tours International, said: “Since 1932, CIE Tours International has brought in excess of three million visitors to Ireland. The company’s success is due to the excellent service provided by hundreds of service providers around the country.”

“These awards celebrate the efforts of those in the tourism sector. Winners have been chosen based on feedback from over 22,000 customers who gave their views on over 400 suppliers of accommodation, dining and tourist attractions.”

Stack is optimistic for a successful 2013, especially with the help of The Gathering tourism initiative: “I’m pleased to say that bookings are strong for 2013 and expected to surpass 2012 levels. We have definitely experienced an increase in interest in early bookings that we are attributing to the efforts of Tourism Ireland in marketing The Gathering along with ‘earlybird’ discount offers we made across our range of tours.”