Willie Walsh, Chief Executive, IAG, was honoured at the Irish Tourism Industry Awards, receiving the 2019 Special Recognition Award for his contribution to Irish tourism. The Awards, organised by the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland along with industry partners, gathered the ‘crème de la crème’ of the Irish tourism industry, announcing 15 winning companies as best in their category from 75 shortlisted finalists.
The event encourages, recognises and celebrates excellence in the tourism sector, which was reflected in a record number of entries from across Ireland. Presenter Kathryn Thomas hosted the gala evening, which took place in Dublin at the Clayton Hotel Burlington Road and was attended by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, who presented the awards.
In his speech the Minister alluded to the VAT increase for the industry, which immediately generated a very negative and loud mixture of hissing coupled with some booing from the attendees. He also mentioned the increase in long-haul airlines serving Dublin, in particular Emirates, Etihad Airways and Cathy Pacific, but omitted to include Turkish Airlines and Hainan Airlines.
Maurice Pratt, Chairman, ITIC, presenting to Willie Walsh, said: “As Chair of ITIC and on behalf of the industry, I congratulate Willie Walsh on his significant contribution to Irish tourism. His work as Chief Executive of Aer Lingus, and latterly as Chief Executive of IAG, has been instrumental in delivering positive change to Irish tourism and we are thrilled to recognise that this evening and congratulate him on his achievements.”
Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, Chief Executive, ITIC, said: “The Irish tourism industry is worth an estimated €9.2 billion annually and employs 270,000 people right around the country. It is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry and is a massive asset to our economy. With the uncertainty of Brexit and the impact that may be felt, it is imperative that our Government continues to support the sector, so that we can ensure success for many years to come.”
Award Categories and Winners:
Special Recognition Award – Willie Walsh
- Best International Marketing Initiative – Pharos Reizen
- Best Innovative Place to Stay – The Gleneagle Group
- Best Ireland’s Ancient East Tourism Experience, less than 50,000 visitors –Vagabond Tours of Ireland
- Best Ireland’s Ancient East Tourism Experience, greater than 50,000 visitors –House of Waterford Crystal
- Best Entrepreneurial Tourism Innovation – EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
- Best Dublin Tourism Experience, greater than 100,000 visitors –Pearse Lyons Distillery
- Best Dublin Tourism Experience, less than 100,000 visitors –The Little Museum of Dublin
- Best Meet in Ireland Business Tourism Innovation –Odyssey International DMC
- Best Food / Beverage Experience – Galway Food Tours
- Best Environmental Tourism Innovative – Vagabond Tours of Ireland
- Best Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands Tourism Experience –Lough Key Forest & Activity Park
- Best Festival / Event Experience – St Patrick’s Festival
- Best Wild Atlantic Way Tourism, less than 50,000 visitors –A Taste of West Cork Food Festival
- Best Wild Atlantic Way Tourism, greater than 50,000 visitors –Cliffs of Moher
- Best International Access Initiative – Aer Lingus
For more information on the Irish Tourism Industry Awards and a full list of the finalists in each category, visit www.irishtourismindustryawards.ie