Marken Travel owner Carla Hesketh has been crowned the Malta Tourism Authority’s first Travel Agent of the Year after single-handedly taking on the agency’s burdens during the coronavirus crisis.
Hesketh, who has worked for Marken in Wigan for 30 years and now runs the business, took the difficult decision to furlough her entire team and manage all day-to-day agency operations by herself.
MTA’s search got under way on National Travel Agent Day UK (24 July) when it appealed for nominations for the new accolade; Hesketh was was nominated for her efforts by colleague Mandi Grundy.
She wins a three-night city break for two at Casa Rocca Piccola in Maltese capital Valletta, while Grundy has been invited to MTA’s 2021 Malta Academy fam next April.
MTA trade marketing manager UK and Ireland, Natalie Swinburne, said: “Carla has dedicated 30 years to Marken Travel. The business has built a strong community of loyal customers over the years and the focus is and has always been customer service.
"Carla had to make the difficult decision to furlough her entire team [at] the height of the pandemic, and went above and beyond to reorganise customers travel plans alone.
"She has been an inspiration to her team for 30 years, and continues to be during such a challenging time. We are really pleased to also reward Carla with a trip to Malta’s capital city Valletta for a well-deserved break.”
Hesketh added: "I have visited Malta twice and the last time I visited was more than 17 years ago so I am very excited to return.
"I have always loved the diversity of the island and now I have the opportunity to revisit them, so a big thank you to the Malta Tourist Authority for the amazing opportunity to visit Valletta and to Mandi for nominating me.
"I am so lucky and proud to be working with wonderful people who form a great team.”