The landmark Westport House has been the recipient of a major tourism award. The 18th century house and estate was named as Ireland’s Best Leisure Tourism Innovation in the county category at the Irish Tourism Industry Awards ceremony at the Clayton Hotel in Dublin last weekend.
The Browne family, who had owned Westport House for generations, recently announced the sale of it to the Hughes family, another Mayo family. Minister for Tourism Shane Ross presented the award to Biddy Hughes from Westport House at the gala event in Dublin.
The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC ), the umbrella group for the tourism industry in Ireland, organises the awards, along with Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland, two of its industry members. The Irish Tourist Industry Awards, known as the ITIAs, is a national scheme that identifies and honours those who are making major difference in the tourism industry. ITIC designed the awards to reward innovation in tourism, significant initiatives at home and overseas, and the best examples of improvement to the tourism experience.
Despite facing a very strong and competitive field, the awards ultimately identified Westport House in Mayo as a worthy winner. Speaking at the awards ceremony, Minister Ross said: “This award is recognition of the great work that has gone into Westport House in recent years. It is a treasure to the county, and I believe some €50 million was spent in Mayo and surrounding areas by visitors to the house throughout the past year. I’m delighted to hear of the new investment proposed by the Hughes family, both in terms of job creation and development of the estate. This means that Westport House will continue to be one of the west’s main attractions.”
Speaking at the event, Eoghan O’Mara-Walsh, chief executive of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, said: “This award validates all of the hard work that the team at Westport House have put in in recent years to make it a world-class attraction. We’re very excited to see what the future holds for the estate as it comes under new ownership. They faced some very stiff competition in this category, and it speaks volumes about the high level of the facilities and its overall tourism offering that it is the winner. ITIC hopes that this award will further enhance Westport House as one of Ireland’s must-visit tourist attractions.”