Biting Questions With… Sandra Moffatt, Market Manager, Tourism Ireland
Ballerina cum Marketer!

Sandra Moffatt, Market Manager, Canada - Tourism Ireland
Sandra Moffatt, Market Manager, Canada – Tourism Ireland

Where were you born?
Dublin, Ireland.

How long have you worked in the travel industry?
10+ years – beginning my career at the National Tourism Development Authority in Ireland, before subsequently moving to Canada and working for a digital media agency with travel clients. I now lead Tourism Ireland’s operations across advertising, publicity and trade partnerships, alongside our team based in Toronto.

What’s the best part of your job?
Travel, and all the fantastic people I get to meet along the way. The travel industry is a close-knit community and strong relationships are critical to success. I am really looking forward to re-building our industry and driving travel recovery alongside peers, colleagues and friends.

What job would you be terrible at?
I wouldn’t make a good web developer! I tried programming for a time; until I realized that being stuck to a screen just wasn’t for me.

What did you want to be when you were younger?
A circus artist or a veterinarian.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Probably move to a new country without a real plan – just a suitcase and a positive attitude! I don’t think I could have chosen anywhere more welcoming than Canada, and I’ve been very fortunate to be able to forge a career that merges my birthplace and my adopted home so well.

Any guilty pleasures?
Word play and puns! Language is a wonderful thing.

What’s your favourite airline?
Any that takes us where we need to go! I am just looking forward to being back in the sky once again.

Favourite hotel or accommodation?
Quirky and unique places always top my list. I am longing to stay in the bubble domes at Finn Lough, in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland – sleeping under the stars. It’s next on my list!

What’s on your music playlist?
From folk and bluegrass to showtunes – and everything in between. There’s a playlist for every mood.

What’s something not many people know about you?
I am trained in classical ballet, and taught dance in university.

When were you happiest?
Every time I try something new. I prefer to look forward not back, and there are many more happy times to come!

What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Just because you’re not the best at something, doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t do it. Sing even if it’s out of tune, paint in your own colours – don’t worry about things that do not matter, because if you don’t try you can never succeed.

Who do you most admire in the industry (outside of your own company)?
Travel advisors! In the past year, we have seen incredible engagement and tenacity from our agent community in the face of incessant challenges and adversity. The positivity and endurance has been truly admirable, and we couldn’t recover this industry without them.

What’s at the top of your bucket list?
Home! Otherwise, I am looking forward to exploring more of Canada, and hope to experience the Northern Lights in Yellowknife, NWT, on my next adventure.

Anything you won’t eat?
I’ll try anything once; but mushrooms are my least favourite.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
Sustainability is set to become a driving force in our industry – and perhaps it’s long overdue. I would love to see an increase in demand for responsible travel policies and a focus on recovery that prioritizes offsetting the impact of travel; all while continuing to enjoy it as much or more than ever before.

If you could sit next to anyone on a long-haul flight (and stay awake!) who would it be?
A stranger! I love meeting new people, from different backgrounds and life experiences, all with different perspectives and stories – and it’s been a while since the opportunity to connect with others outside of our bubbles has presented itself. I would also love to sit next to Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom, as I think it’s been an interesting year for the platform in a world that became virtual almost overnight!

Do you have a favourite charity?
Locally, I support Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), focusing on conservation and a commitment to creating sustainable environments for wildlife across the country. I am also an avid supporter of Aware, a mental health charity in Ireland, who do incredible work in raising awareness of depression and related illness as well as conduct fantastic “wellness at work” program, that are needed by so many particularly in challenging times such as these.

Have you picked up any hobbies during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I started stand up paddleboarding (SUP) in May of last year – and have hardly been off the lake since. I also bought my first snowboard and absolutely love it. I’ve also finally mastered the perfect Irish coffee and a good soda bread!

When and where was the last place you travelled?
Mexico, in February 2020 – right before the pandemic hit. It feels like a long time ago!

What will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months?
Uncertainty. I am confident that our industry will re-bound once vaccination rollouts progress and travel restrictions are lifted, however the time and pace is largely out of our control.

Anna Kroupina

Journalist

Anna's day starts at 5:30 a.m. each morning to scour daily travel news headlines to find the most relevant stories for Canadian travel advisors. She contributes to writing the daily news and covers events. The Alberta Rockies, Hawaii and France's Provence region are among her favourite destinations. She's a proud cat mom and a terrible snowboarder.

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