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Willie Walsh Honoured by ITIC at Irish Tourism Industry Awards

Willie Walsh Honoured by ITIC at Irish Tourism Industry Awards

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.

Willie Walsh and the Special Recognition Award

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.

Minister Shane Ross, Maurice Pratt, Ruth Andrews, and Eoghan O’Mara Walsh

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.

Sarah Fleury, Guinness Storehouse; Yvonne O’Mara Walsh, ITIC; Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, ITIC; Rhonda Fox, Guinness Storehouse; and Fiona Herald, Guinness Storehouse

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.”

Presenter Kathryn Thomas

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.”

Tim Fenn, Irish Hotels Federation, with Maurice Pratt, ITIC

Award Categories and Winners:

 Special Recognition Award – Willie Walsh

  1. Best International Marketing Initiative – Pharos Reizen
  2. Best Innovative Place to Stay – The Gleneagle Group
  3. Best Ireland’s Ancient East Tourism Experience, less than 50,000 visitors –Vagabond Tours of Ireland
  4. Best Ireland’s Ancient East Tourism Experience, greater than 50,000 visitors –House of Waterford Crystal
  5. Best Entrepreneurial Tourism Innovation – EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
  6. Best Dublin Tourism Experience, greater than 100,000 visitors –Pearse Lyons Distillery
  7. Best Dublin Tourism Experience, less than 100,000 visitors –The Little Museum of Dublin
  8. Best Meet in Ireland Business Tourism Innovation –Odyssey International DMC
  9. Best Food / Beverage Experience – Galway Food Tours
  10. Best Environmental Tourism Innovative – Vagabond Tours of Ireland
  11. Best Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands Tourism Experience –Lough Key Forest & Activity Park
  12. Best Festival / Event Experience – St Patrick’s Festival
  13. Best Wild Atlantic Way Tourism, less than 50,000 visitors –A Taste of West Cork Food Festival
  14. Best Wild Atlantic Way Tourism, greater than 50,000 visitors –Cliffs of Moher
  15. 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

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Michael Flood is the Editor of Ireland's leading travel industry publication, Irish Travel Trade News. With more than 35 years experience, he has accumulated an in-depth knowledge of the airline industry and the travel and tourism world.

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