Pat Dawson, chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association, last night expressed his delight at being awarded the Medal of the Order of Civil Merit at the behest of King Felipe VI of Spain.

The award was made in recognition of the travel industry veteran’s contribution to strengthening relationships between Ireland and Spain over four decades of work in the tourism industry.

Mr Dawson was presented with the medal yesterday at a ceremony hosted by the Spanish embassy in Thomas Prior Hall, Ballsbridge, Dublin.

Spain benefits from visits by more than 1.7m Irish visitors a year and the country is now becoming a year-round destination for Irish people due to its cultural attractions and sporting events.

Mr Dawson said he was honoured to receive the medal, highlighting the fact that Spain and Ireland have been hugely important partners in tourism for many years.

“I consider it a pleasure to foster this important relationship and I am appreciative and humbled to be acknowledged in this way,” he said.

“I was delighted to accept the award on behalf of the Irish travel industry and on behalf of my family who have been so supportive. Throughout my career in tourism with Joe Walsh Tours, Aer Lingus Holidays, and Dawson Travel, Spain was always to the forefront. I have had great relationships over the years with various industry partners and friends in Spain; I have done business there all my life, and I have a great time for all the people I have dealt with over the years.”

The director of the Spanish Tourism Office in Dublin, Gonzalo Ceballos, praised Mr Dawson. “Pat is extremely deserving of this honour and I am delighted that his tremendous work in building trade relations between Ireland and Spain has been recognised by King Felipe VI. This award is a symbol of Spain’s appreciation of Pat,” he said

The Order of Civil Merit was established by King Alfonso XIII in 1926 to “reward the civic virtues of civil servants as well as the extraordinary services to the Nation of Spanish and foreign subjects”.


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