Speaking at the annual Irish Travel Industry awards, Mr Donohoe said he was very much aware of the importance of the industry to Ireland.
“Looking at the numbers, the value of business conducted in Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) members’ offices amounts to a staggering €1.5bn every year and the trade employs 5,500 people throughout our country,” he told the attendees at Dublin’s Mansion House.
Navan Travel from Meath and Club Travel from Dublin were crowned the 2015 ITAA Travel Agencies of the Year.
Navan Travel was judged the best for a company with fewer than 10 staff while Club Travel received its award for a business with more than 10 employees.
The awards, compèred by Miriam O’Callaghan, were held in advance of the Holiday World Show in the RDS this weekend. It will see 1,000 exhibitors from more than 50 countries attend and is expected to attract more than 50,000 visitors.
Both of the winning agencies were praised for their customer service, expertise, and wide range of travel options available to customers.
Other big winners included Atlas Travel Group which won Best ITAA Corporate Travel Agency and Tour America which won Best ITAA Member Marketing Campaign.
The award for Best ITAA Corporate Travel Professional went to Catherine Monaghan from FCm Travel Solutions and the award for Best ITAA Leisure Travel Professional went to Louise Brennan Ormsby from Club Travel.
Meanwhile, the Irish Tourism Industry Awards, a new venture, will be held in April and businesses from across Cork are being encouraged to participate in the event.
Irish Tourist Industry Confederation chief executive Eamonn McKeon said: “With these new awards, we now have a high-profile platform to sing the praises of local tourism high achievers.
“We are looking to identify those who set the standard for others in the industry to aim for, with their achievements serving as ‘lessons’ in how to get things right. I am more than confident that Cork is well placed to provide such examples.”
Tourism businesses throughout the country and overseas are being invited to apply for the awards, with the deadline to submit their examples set for Monday, February 16.