Dangan native Gerald Lawless was this week named as the new chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council.
At their meeting in Dallas, Texas, the Council announced that Mr Lawless, former Group Chief Executive Officer of Jumeirah Group and now Head of Tourism and Hospitality at Dubai Holding is to lead them for the next two years.
In his 18 years as CEO of Jumeirah Group, he spearheaded the growth of the hotel chain to one of the best-known luxury hospitality brands in the world, expanding the company’s portfolio to 22 hotels in 11 destinations and establishing Burj Al Arab Jumeirah as the most luxurious hotel in the world.
He has been a Member of the World Travel and Tourism Council since 2005, sitting on the Executive Committee since 2008, and as Vice Chairman since 2012.
Mr Lawless will take over from Dr. Michael Frenzel, Chairman Emeritus TUI AG. The WTTC Chairman is elected for a term of two years. Outgoing Chairman, Dr Michael Frenzel said “I am delighted to welcome Gerald as WTTC Chairman.
“Gerald has been an active Member of WTTC, responsible for bringing the Global Summit to Dubai in 2008 and serving on the Executive Committee and as a Vice Chairman.
“His commitment to WTTC’s Mission will be invaluable, as the organization continues to drive recognition of Travel & Tourism’s social and economic impact amongst governments around the world.”
Mr Lawless who is extremely proud of his Galway roots and who has worked tirelessly with the Irish community in Dubai for many years said that he believes that tourism can be a strong and influencing global force for good.
“Over the past 11 years, I have been privileged to be a member of the World Travel & Tourism Council. I believe strongly in the mission of the organization, which advocates the benefits of Travel & Tourism, not only to the global economy but also to society in general.
“Travel and tourism is and will remain a force for good. It deserves a lot more recognition from governments worldwide.”
Speaking some years ago, Mr Lawless paid tribute to the employees who work in Jumeirah. According to Mr Lawless, in Jumeirah the words ‘employee’, ‘boss’ or ‘manager’ are rarely used. Everyone is a ‘colleague’ from top to bottom and he is very proud of the sense of shared responsibility among the staff.
He worked in the Great Southern Hotel in Galway before graduating from the Shannon College of Hotel management.
His father Tom Lawless and his brothers Peter and Jack farmed the land in Dangan opposite Menlo Castle. His wife Neasa McDonagh, is from Devon Gardens in Salthill.