Irish tourism boss resigns after taking vacation in Italy


The national flag of Ireland flies above the President’s residence, prior to the arrival of Pope Francis, in Dublin, Ireland on August 25, 2018. REUTERS / Dylan Martinez

DUBLIN (Reuters) – The chairman of the Irish Tourism Authority, former Ryanair chief executive Michael Cawley, resigned on Saturday after going on holiday to Italy, contrary to government advice to avoid non-essential travel ‘foreign.

Cawley, a director at Ryanair who has also served as the airline’s chief financial officer and deputy managing director, has faced calls from opposition parties to resign after confirming to the independent Irish newspaper on Saturday that he was on vacation in Italy.

Cawley is Ireland’s first senior official to resign for flouting coronavirus guidelines. Scotland’s chief medical officer resigned in April after ignoring his own advice to stay home during his COVID-19 lockdown.

Italy is one of 10 countries on the government’s green list, which means anyone arriving in Ireland can avoid a 14-day quarantine requirement that applies to travelers from anywhere else.

However, official travel advice since the coronavirus outbreak in Ireland began in February has remained that non-essential overseas travel should be avoided and people have been encouraged to spend their holidays at home to support the hard hit tourism sector.

Failte Ireland, the tourism development authority, has provided additional funds to promote domestic tourism.

Cawley said in a statement he decided to step down because he did not wish to let the issue distract from Failte Ireland’s work in rebuilding Ireland’s tourism industry.

Tourism Minister Catherine Martin said she was disappointed to learn Cawley was on vacation in Italy and believed her position was untenable.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Christina Fincher

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