Irish tourism head resigns over Italian holiday

Ireland’s tourism chief resigned on Saturday for choosing to holiday in Italy after the government advised against foreign vacations.

Michael Cawley said he was stepping down as head of Failte Ireland, the country’s tourism development agency, because he did not want his actions “to become a distraction”.

Ireland’s tourism minister Catherine Martin said she was “disappointed” by Cawley’s decision to visit Italy and had accepted his resignation.

“He recognizes that solidarity with the industry is extremely important at this time, and I have accepted his resignation this afternoon because I believe his position was untenable,” she said in a statement.

With international visitor numbers hit by the pandemic, the Irish government has encouraged people to staycation this summer in a bid to boost an economy heavily reliant on tourism in many places.

The advice against non-essential travel was also aimed at stemming virus transmission inside the country, as coronavirus cases rise across Europe and around the world.

Ireland has seen 27,191 virus cases and 1,774 deaths since the pandemic began earlier this year.

The country announced 200 new cases on Saturday, its biggest daily tally since May.

Dublin has imposed quarantine restrictions on people entering Ireland from some countries with high rates of COVID-19, but Italy was not among them.

Cawley, a former Chief Operating Officer of budget Irish carrier Ryanair, said he “fully support the government’s policy on tourism”.

He added that he would continue to help the industry emerge from its current difficulties. (AFP)

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