Name: Brendan Griffin
Title: Minister of State for Tourism & Sport
Company, city: Government of Ireland Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport; Dublin, Ireland
Recent project: Tourism Ireland recently launched a new brand advertising campaign, “Fill Your Heart with Ireland,” to inspire Americans to put Ireland on their vacation destination list.
First job: I was a porter at age 15 at a 5-star hotel in Killarney, my summer job
Little-known fact about you: I am a writer; I have self-published two books of fiction for children and have one planned for adults.
What innovations/initiatives do you foresee in the industry over the next years? We want to inspire more people to visit Ireland outside of the peak season and explore all corners of the island. We need to drive the extra mile to appeal to different dimensions of travel.
Best career advice you’ve received: Work hard and make yourself available — this is the way you will encounter luck.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the field? Don’t give up. I lost my first election; you have to dust off and keep going.
Brendan Griffin as a Traveler
Favorite travel memory or story: Going on holiday in West Cork with my children; it’s only a two-mile drive but is relaxing and good to disconnect. While traveling to Inishbofin Island off Galway, my wife inspired me to start writing again.
One travel tip you cannot live without: Pack lightly. When I was a porter I sometimes saw three suitcases for just one week of travel.
What do you think draws visitors to Ireland now?
More than 2 million North Americans visited Ireland in 2018, 14 percent more than in the previous year. These travelers want to see the beautiful scenery, meet the warm and welcoming people, experience the culture and enjoy the rich heritage.
Tell our readers about visiting movie and television filming locations in Ireland.
Our collaboration with the “May the 4th” locations for Star Wars, such as The Skellig Michael (the rock where Luke Skywalker camped out), and the Game of Thrones locations near the Giant’s Causeway offer great attractions. My father worked on the set of Ryan’s Daughter, driving the actors to and from locations, so we have a long history of filming locations.
What does Ireland offer luxury travelers?
We have a vast array of great hotels and world attractions, including Ashford Castle and Adare Manor, recently voted Best Luxury Hotel in the World by Virtuoso. Ireland has one-third of the world links golf courses, and we have temperate weather where you can play golf and sports year-round. Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland will host The 148th Open this July.
What would you say to people considering Ireland for a vacation?
I would say there’s never been a better time to visit Ireland, and with 18 direct gateways, it’s never been easier to get here! People look for unique and authentic experiences, and Ireland has plenty to offer — truly something for everyone.
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As another phenomenal year of travel comes to an end, it’s time, as always, for Global Traveler to celebrate and award those who do it best as we announce the 2023 winners of the GT Tested Reader Survey awards. But that's not the only cause for celebration here: We've hit another major milestone, as this marks our 20th year honoring the best of the best inn world of travel!
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