Dame Irene Hays

Dame Irene Hays

Chair, Hays Travel Limited

Dame Irene Hays is the owner and chair of Hays Travel, the UK’s largest Independent Travel Agent which was founded in 1980.

With her late husband, John, she was instrumental in the growth of the company and particularly in the acquisition of Bath Travel in 2013 and Thomas Cook in 2019. 

During her early career she worked in local and central government as CEO and Director General respectively. Awarded a CBE in 2008, she was made a Dame in the 2021 New Year’s Honours list for her services to training, education and young people.

Dame Irene has served on a number of boards and governing bodies, including the boards of Sport England, The Football Foundation and the Academy for Sustainable Communities.  She has recently retired as a Non-Executive Director on the Board of the Department of Education where she was also Chair of the Education and Skills Funding Agency.