An astronaut’s view of
Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority
Paul Kelly is the Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority. Paul leads Fáilte Ireland as it builds on the success of brands and initiatives including the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Dublin and Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. He sets the strategic direction for Fáilte Ireland to significantly shape the future development of the tourism industry, and the key priorities are driving balanced and sustainable regional and seasonal growth to best generate increased employment, exchequer and an even bigger contribution to the national economy. Paul was appointed to the post in February 2017 and brings extensive management and marketing leadership experience following a lengthy career in marketing. He is a native of Wexford and a Commerce graduate from the University College Dublin. Prior to his appointment he started his career with Procter & Gamble UK, Paul then went on to hold senior executive positions with Diageo Ireland, Aviva and the UCD Smurfit Business School. During his career, he was also involved in the development of many of the most iconic and best-known Irish and international marketing campaigns.
Director, Regional Development for Fáilte Ireland
Paul is Director, Regional Development for Fáilte Ireland. Since joining the tourism development authority in 2004 Paul was actively involved in the development of the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and Dublin brands. Paul is also accountable for developing and implementing the organisation’s Product Sales & Distribution, Business Tourism and Industry B2B Promotional Platform supports.
Prior to joining Fáilte Ireland, Paul worked with well-known businesses including Musgrave SuperValu Centra; Eircell, Vodafone, Diageo, Beecham of Ireland and Cantrell & Cochrane.
Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland
Niall Gibbons is Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland. He oversees the marketing of the island across the world, leading a team of over 160 staff in 21 markets, whose work is underpinned by sustainable destination marketing principles. Over 11 million overseas visitors in 2019 contributed over €5.8BN to the island economies and supported 325,000 jobs. He led Tourism Ireland’s expansion into new markets such as China and the Middle East and oversaw the organisation’s emergence as a leader in digital marketing and social media. He developed ground-breaking partnerships with LucasFilm and HBO which allowed Tourism Ireland to leverage the global success of Star Wars and Game of Thrones to showcase the island of Ireland overseas in a new way. He led the development of Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening initiative, which has brought tourism to the heart of St Patrick’s Day celebrations across the world. He was a member of the Irish Government’s Tourism Recovery and Aviation Recovery taskforces and of the Northern Ireland Tourism Recovery Steering Group. The World Economic Forum has ranked Ireland 3rd in the world out of 136 countries for ‘effectiveness of marketing and branding to attract tourists’.
Eoghan O’Mara Walsh
CEO, ITIC – Irish Tourism Industry Confederation
Eoghan has had a varied career in tourism having previously managed; O’Mara Travel Ltd, a leading tour operator; Heritage Island Ltd, a marketing company for visitor attractions; and O’Mara Consultancy Ltd, a tourism consultancy business.
In his earlier career he was Procurement Executive with Diageo in London and Dublin.
Eoghan has been CEO of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) since September 2015.
About the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC)
The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) is the umbrella group representing the leading tourism interests throughout the country including airlines, ferry companies, the hotels federation, tour operators, B&Bs, and visitor attractions.
Vice President Clients & Operations – Kenes Group
Ori Lahav joined Kenes in 2013 as VP Marketing, bringing more than 15 years of marketing experience to the management team. Ori’s expertise includes implementing marketing strategies, ATL/BTL and leading digital campaigns in online/social media channels. He began his career in the communications industry, where he held marketing positions at Internet, voice and mobile telecom providers. This was followed by a senior role in the automotive sector with a start-up that raised US$ 900M to manufacture electric cars.
After 4 years in Kenes Group, Ori moved to manage the Client Accounts & Operations business unit.
At the beginning of 2017, Ori also became an IAPCO Council Member (IAPCO – the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers), currently, serves as the association’s President.
In addition, Ori speaks at different industry events: IPACO EDGE Seminars, PCMA Convening Leaders, ICCA, Event Innovation summit, IMEX and more.
Ori holds a BA in Statistics from the University of Haifa and an MBA from the University of Derby, UK.
Enterprise Vice President, Maritz Global Events
Ben helps lead Maritz’ global efforts, the Maritz Global Meetings Network and Industry Presence efforts. He represents Maritz Global Events with specific responsibility for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and the overall global coordination. He provides counsel and supports global strategic solutions for clients, and contributes to the company’s business development, industry presence and thought leadership efforts. His long-standing career has been in international association management, meeting planning and conference management, industry professionalization and skills development as well as convention center management (in the UK).
Head of Global Business Events, VisitBritain
Kerrin, a leading industry figure, has a wealth of senior level international business tourism experience within the convention bureau, association, hotel and convention centre sectors. In her role at VisitBritain/VisitEngland, Kerrin is building the sector and help secure major international business events across the UK, developing the national strategy to win more international events, reinforcing partnerships across Government and industry, and continuing to build Britain’s international brand for business events. Prior to this, Kerrin was Director of Conference and Exhibition Sales for 11 years with ACC Liverpool where she played a key role in driving business growth for the venue and the Liverpool City Region, in addition to developing the successful Ambassador Programme, ‘Club Liverpool’. Kerrin is former chair of the UK and Ireland Chapter of ICCA and has sat on numerous industry boards and groups, including BVEP, ABPCO and The Meetings Show
EXPLORER, INNOVATOR & COLLABORATION CATALYST
Unbroken by blindness in 1998, Mark became an adventure athlete competing in ultra-endurance races across deserts, mountains, and the polar ice caps including being the first blind person to race to the South Pole. He also won silver and bronze medals for rowing at the Commonwealth Games and set up a motivational speaking business (www.markpollock.com).
In 2010 a fall from a second story window nearly killed him. Mark broke his back and the damage to his spinal cord left him paralysed. Now he is on a new expedition, this time to cure paralysis in our lifetime by exploring the intersection where humans and technology collide. As a speaker, Mark is best known for his 2018 TED Talk focused on resolving the tension between acceptance and hope (go.ted.com/markandsimone) delivered jointly with his fiancée, Simone George. It gathered over 1.5 million views in its first 6 months online and has been translated into 12 languages. He has inspired millions of people in hundreds of organisations and is a Davos, World Economic Forum, InnoTown, F.ounders, EG and Wired speaker.
Co-Founder of the global running series called Run in the Dark (www.runinthedark.org), Mark has been selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and is a former member of the Global Futures Council on Human Enhancement. He is a UBS Global Visionary, is on the Board of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (USA) and is a Wings for Life Ambassador (Europe). In addition, Mark is the subject of the acclaimed documentaries ‘Blind Man Walking’ and ‘Unbreakable – The Mark Pollock Story’, he has been awarded honorary doctorates by The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and also from Queens University Belfast. And, he holds a diploma in Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century from Harvard University, degrees from Trinity College Dublin and The Smurfit Business School.