“Irish Travel Trade News is pleased to present the first Irish Travel Trade Awards. The Awards are designed to recognise excellence and achievement within the travel industry. We feel that the travel agents of Ireland should have the opportunity to pick the best operators in the various categories. It is right and fitting that the electorate should be you, the travel agents of Ireland. For it is to you that the travelling public turn for professional advice, and no-one is better equipped to arbitrate on the relative merits of the various suppliers of the total travel product.” With these words ITTN launched the Irish Travel Trade Awards over 20 years ago in September 1992.
The inaugural Irish Travel Trade Awards were presented at a Charity Lunch in Jurys Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin, on Friday 22nd January 1993. The presentation ceremony was the first official engagement attended by Brian Cowen TD as Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications, who presented the awards.
There were 10 award categories, with three of the five airline awards being won by Aer Lingus and the others by Delta Air Lines and British Airways. The winner of the Best Tour Operator Ex-Ireland award was Joe Walsh Tours, with Falcon Holidays and Budget Travel coming in second and third place respectively.
Joe Walsh said: “It is a great honour for JWT to win this award – it means a lot to us to be voted number one by the retail agents – and I would like to say a special ‘thank you’ to our excellent staff. I also commend Irish Travel Trade News on the professional way in which the awards were organised and presented.”
The Best Ski Tour Operator category, introduced in the 1994 Awards, was won by Topflight, which has gone on to win the award every year since (with the exception of 2004 when the category was changed to Best Ski Destination, then won by Austria) – an impressive record.
One of the new categories introduced in the 1996 Awards was that of Best Travel Trade Representative – however, several supplier companies expressed reservations about this award, concerned that if one of their employees won it then they would be ‘highlighted for head-hunting’, and this category was subsequently dropped. For the record, the winner in 1996 was Grainne Caffrey, then a representative for Falcon / JWT Holidays, and the runner-up was Ray McDonnell of Irish Ferries.