Mary McKeon

Team Leader, EU-funded Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism Capacity Development Program Vietnam

Mary McKeon

Team Leader, EU-funded Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism Capacity Development Program Vietnam


Mary McKeon is a highly experienced hospitality management and tourism expert. Mary has thirty years’ experience in the hotel, hospitality and tourism sector, gained both in the Irish and International fields through experience in international development cooperation and project development in EU member states, Middle East, Balkan regions and Asia. Most of her experience was as Chief Operations Manager, International tourism Expert and EU project Team Leader working in a multicultural environment in some 10 different countries (United States of America, Poland, United Kingdom, Ireland, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Mary is presently the Team Leader on the European Union funded Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism (ESRT) Capacity Development Programme. The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as the Executing Authority, and the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism is the Implementing Agency. It aims to build capacities and strengthen the foundation of the Vietnamese tourism sector for socially & environmentally responsible growth.

The programme works towards achieving the Government’s National Tourism Development Strategy until 2020 and policy priorities, namely: (i) Create a modern institutional framework for the industry towards sustainable tourism development, (ii) Promote public and private partnership development, and (iii) Develop human resources for tourism management. The overall ESRT objective is to mainstream Responsible Tourism (RT) principles into Vietnam’s tourism sector to enhance competitiveness and contribute to achieving Vietnam’s Socio-Economic Development Plan. Mary took up this position in January 2014.

Prior to this, Mary was Tourism Policy Expert/ Team Leader on a European Union project to develop a comprehensive and integrated tourism development strategy for Bosnia and Herzegovina in preparation for EU membership.

Mary has worked in a number of international tourism expert roles for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). Mary has been to the forefront of the development of tourism sector in her native Ireland. As Group Operations Manager for Great Southern Hotels (GSH), a company owned by the Irish government she was responsible for ensuring all operating standards within the ten property group were adhered to. She worked closely with CERT the national tourism training authority and the Irish Hotel Federation to ensure the group of hotels set benchmarks for the industry to follow.

Earlier in her career Mary held a number of senior management positions in the private sector in tourism and hospitality. She overseen the initial negotiations between the Irish and the British governments on the development of a hotel in Northern Ireland, a public/private partnership. This project was a joint project between both governments and was instrumental in progressing the final Peace Process in Northern Ireland.

In her capacity as a member of the Irish Government Training Council she worked with the national tourism training authority in the piloting of the initial training and placement of East European hospitality graduates in the Irish industry. Contributed to developing a ‘code of practice’ for hotel work placements, identifying language training needs and implementing a programme that filled the ‘skills gap’.   Selected by the Irish Hotel Federation to sit on a review committee of this initial pilot scheme initiated by the European Union and the Irish Government.

As a teacher in the Department of Education. Vocational Educational Authority (Ireland) involved in the development and implementation of an innovative programme in hospitality training. Developed training materials and implemented training programmes in entry-level (hotel) skills as well as a programme for adult learners. Mary is a graduate
Mary is a graduate from the Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin. She has undertaken executive education in business studies at the Irish Management Institute, Dublin and at Harvard Business School, Boston, United States of America.

Mary is a previous Director of the Irish National Tourism Development Authority which is charged with guiding and promoting tourism as a significant driver of the Irish economy. The authority provides both strategic and practical support to develop and sustain Ireland as a high quality and competitive tourist destination.

All session by Mary McKeon