Paul Hackett elected President of the Irish Travel Agents Association

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The CEO of Click&Go, has been elected President of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) which was confirmed today, writes Shauna McCrudden 

Paul Hackett, the new President of the ITAA

Paul Hackett, who has served as a Board Member of the ITAA since 2017, has been elected the new President of the ITAA. This was confirmed at the ITAA virtual AGM this morning. With over 30 years of experience working in the travel sector and his company, Click&Go having been ITAA members for over seven years, he is the perfect candidate for the role.

Paul has been instrumental to the ITAA’s public affairs work and has been involved in lobbying for the travel industry alongside ITAA CEO Pat Dawson, presenting on behalf of the ITAA to three Joint Oireachtas Committee meetings over the last fifteen months.

Pat Dawson, CEO of the ITAA, said, “I would like to wish Paul the very best of luck as he begins his new term as ITAA President. His passion for the industry is evident in the hard work he has put in as a Board Member, particularly throughout the Covid-19 crisis.”

The ITAA represents Ireland’s travel industry, bringing together 100 travel agent members and 70 affiliate partners. ITAA members cover over 140 outlets in different towns and cities throughout the Republic of Ireland.

Pat continued, “I also wish to take this opportunity to thank Michael Doorley, our outgoing president, for his service and commitment to the ITAA and to wish him well. Michael has served three previous terms as ITAA President:  from 1982 to 1983, when the ITAA negotiated with the Department of Transport to introduce legislation to give consumer protection which is still the cornerstone of travel agents licensing; again from 2002 to 2003; and most recently from 2020 to 2021. Present at the very first meeting of the ITAA, Michael‘s passion for the organisation and our work is clear.”

The ITAA Presidential campaign this year was very positive, with good dialogue and discussion between members about the future of the Irish travel sector and the necessary steps needed to restart the industry as Ireland begins to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. This year’s election had an outstanding 95% voter turnout, with counting overseen by ITAA legal adviser Anne Dolan and ITAA external auditor Richard Boden. 

Speaking at the AGM, Paul Hackett, incoming President said, “I am honoured to have been elected as the President of the ITAA, as the organisation does great work in representing Irish travel agents, bringing issues to the public consciousness and inciting positive change. Since 2017 I have served on the Board of the ITAA and have always been happy to act in that capacity. It has been a pleasure to work with some great talented people over the past few years and I look forward to continuing to do so in my role as President.

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“I believe that as a trade representative body, we need to both retain and attract new members, we need to reach out to the entire industry, and we need to continue to be seen as the representative voice for travel. We must be relevant and support the members and we should focus on sharing best practice.  Considering we have had pretty much zero trading since March 2020, the small number of collapses is a testimony to our resilience and strength as a sector. With an end in sight, there are challenges ahead which need to be acknowledged, including managing the return to international travel and ensuring business supports are kept in place as we continue to restart our industry.”

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Other appointments to the ITAA board were:

–        President – Paul Hackett

–        Vice-President – Clare Dunne

–        Treasurer – Des Abbott

 

Regional representatives:

–        Emma McHugh

–        Martin Skelly

–        Clare Dunne

–        Sara Zimmerman

–        Valerie Metcalfe

–        Suzanne O’Leary

–        Angela Walsh

–        Tour Operator Council Alan Lynch

It has been a difficult sixteen months for travel agents, as they were effectively prevented from trading due to COVID-19, and yet remained open to assist customers with refunds and rescheduling bookings. The ITAA continue to call on Government to provide added tailored business supports for travel agents, due to the delay between advance booking and travel which means that travel agents often have to wait for a period of many months before they see any revenue from bookings.

Speaking about the urgent need for business supports, Paul Hackett stated, “Our industry was the first to close and it seems will be the last to re-open. We want to open up. We want to get our staff back to work but the reality is that international travel will be slow to restart and anticipated volumes in 2021 are severely limited as already mentioned. Travel agents need assistance to meet the shortfall to bridge the gap from now to when international travel resumes normal service, anticipated to be 2022. With the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) now ending, the sector needs support to the end of Q1 2022.”

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The ITAA AGM is usually held as part of the Irish Travel Trade Show, however, due to Covid-19 safety restrictions, the sixth annual Irish Travel Trade Show has been postponed until the autumn, with dates still to be confirmed.

Visit itaa.ie for more information

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