Paul Hackett, Managing Director of Click&Go, has officially been confirmed as President of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) at the Association’s AGM, which took place virtually today via Video Conference Call.
Paul has over thirty years of experience working in the travel sector and has served as an ITAA Board Member since 2017. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in Ireland, He has been instrumental in lobbying for the travel industry, presenting on behalf of the ITAA, with the CEO Pat Dawson, at three Joint Oireachtas Committee meetings over the last fifteen months. These meetings were critical for the ITAA, earning good cross-party and public support for the Irish travel industry which continues to this day.
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.”
He continued, “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.”
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, Mr. 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 CRSS now ending, the sector needs support to the end of Q1 2022.”
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, dates to be confirmed.