The chairman of Ireland’s tourism authority, Fáilte Ireland, has resigned after it was revealed he was on holiday in Italy.
Michael Cawley (pictured above) handed in his resignation after receiving a call from the Minister for Tourism, Catherine Martin, who said she was “disappointed” in his decision to travel abroad after the Irish government asked all citizens to avoid non-essential travel.
“While Italy is on the green list, meaning that people who return from there do not have to restrict their movements, the government has called on people to avoid all non-essential travel,” she said in a statement.
“Many of our citizens and residents have followed this guidance at some personal and financial cost to themselves.”
She said Cawley recognised that solidarity with the industry is “extremely important at this time”.
Martin also said that her department was encouraging people to holiday in Ireland this year.
Cawley told The Irish Independent that he had also planned to take two holidays in Ireland this year and that he was visiting family while on the Italy trip.
According to The Irish Times, Cawley said in a statement that he resigned so his trip did not become a distraction.
“As has been reported in the media this morning I am on a pre-arranged family holiday in Italy, which is on the government green list,” he said.
“As I have no wish to allow this issue to become a distraction from the important work of Fáilte Ireland in rebuilding the Irish tourism industry, I have decided after six years in the position to step down.
“I fully support the government’s policy on tourism and I will continue to help the industry emerge from its current difficulties. It has been a privilege to serve as chair of Fáilte Ireland and to have contributed to the massive growth which Irish tourism has enjoyed prior to this global pandemic.”
Cawley has copped widespread criticism from government officials and the hospitality industry, with Adrian Cummins, the chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland telling The Irish Times Cawley should lead by example.
“Leadership starts at the top and this is definitely poor judgement and shows how out of touch the chairman of Fáilte Ireland is at a moment in time when our tourism industry needs every support it can get,” he said.
“Restaurants and tourism businesses across the country are struggling to stay afloat, but when you see the chairman of the national tourism board not leading by example it’s shocking optics.”
Featured image source: Fáilte Ireland