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11 Nov 2014

Minister Ring unveils National Tourism Awards Initiative

Leading Businesses to Compete for an ‘ITA’

The Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring TD, today officially launched the Irish Tourism Industry Awards 2015, the first ever national scheme to identify and celebrate those leading lights that are making a difference in the tourism industry and actively contributing to recent growth in the sector.
 
Rewarding innovation in tourism, significant initiatives at home and overseas and the best examples of improvement to the tourism experience, the Irish Tourism Industry Awards – already dubbed the ‘ITAs’ – seek to identify those players in the tourism sector who have made a difference and are setting an example for the rest of the industry.
 
Speaking today, Minister Ring emphasised: “This Government recognises tourism as a key sector, driving initiatives that enhance our tourism performance and create further employment.  For its part, the industry continues to strive for excellence and value for money in its tourism offering.  Our combined efforts are paying off, as evidenced by recent strong performances, but we cannot become complacent.  

“With these new awards, we now have a high-profile platform to champion excellence and reward success.  Award winners will set the standard for others in the industry to aim for, with their achievements serving as ‘lessons’ in how to get things right.”

 
Tourism businesses throughout the country and overseas are being invited to apply and submit their examples under 11 different categories (see editor’s note for more detail) and the ultimate winners will be selected by a high profile panel of experts chaired by Maurice Pratt, the Chairman of the Uniphar Group who also previously chaired the last national policy review for tourism. The inaugural 2015 Irish Tourism Industry Awards will ultimately be presented at an Awards Event on 24th April 2015.
 
Anticipating the event, Eamonn McKeon, CEO of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, said: “The industry is delighted to be partnering with the tourism agencies in presenting these awards which will recognise success, leadership, and innovation in Ireland’s tourism industry. The awards will honour those who have made a dramatic impact for their respective area, by showcasing Ireland’s best tourism products, services and experiences, as well as acknowledging outstanding overseas marketing initiatives.”
 

Supporting the concept of a national scheme to identify the best examples of tourism talent, Fáilte Ireland CEO Shaun Quinn emphasised: “Fáilte Ireland is very happy to support these awards and we are particularly pleased with the emphasis on innovation and the visitor experience. I am always very impressed with the way that tourism businesses rigorously keep their focus on the customer and there are some great examples out there of individual businesses which have raised the bar to ensure that the visitor experience of Ireland is one not only to remember but also to share and recommend to others.

“I am sure that we will identify many great case studies in excellence out there who can point the way ahead to their tourism peers and to the wider business community.”

 
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Tourism Ireland is delighted to support the inaugural Irish Tourism Industry Awards. This is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge and applaud the outstanding contribution of our colleagues in the tourism industry, at home and overseas, who have worked so hard to help build tourism into the success it is today. And, our tourism industry is indeed a positive story. For a small island on the edge of Western Europe, we have punched well above our weight, in terms of growth and market share, and we aim to continue this success.

“Tourism is now one of our most important indigenous industries, worth about €5 billion to the economy each year, and it is vital that we consolidate and build on this, in 2015 and beyond.”
 
Finally, it is envisaged that the Irish Tourism Industry Awards will be held every two years and, in addition to rewarding best tourism practice, it is planned that each event will have a special themed award which responds to a particular topic for that year. For the inaugural Irish Tourism Industry Awards, this will be Irish Design 2015 to showcase the best of Irish design at home and internationally and this aspect will be co-ordinated by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland which is also designing the ‘ITAs’.

To mark the importance of this theme, there will be a special ‘Best Design in Tourism’ award to encourage all tourism operators to consider design as a mechanism to add value in the development of new products, services or visitor experiences. In addition to receiving this award, the eventual winner will be offered the services of a designer to work with them for six months on a particular project.
 
Full details of the awards and application process are available at www.irishtourismindustryawards.ie

For further information
Please Contact:

Eamonn McKeon
Chief Executive, Irish Tourist Industry Confederation
087 2564630, eamonn@itic.ie


Alex Connolly
Head of Communications, Fáilte Ireland
086 7966320, Alex.connolly@failteireland.ie


Sinead Grace
Media & Public Relations Manager, Tourism Ireland
087 6859027, SGrace@tourismireland.com


  Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland; Eamonn McKeon, CEO of ITIC (Irish Tourist Industry Confederation); Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring TD; and Alex Connolly, head of communications, Fáilte Ireland, at the launch of the Irish Tourism Industry Awards in Dublin Castle.