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New chief executive of VisitBritain sought

07 April 2014 by
New chief executive of VisitBritain sought

The search is on for a replacement for Sandie Dawe (pictured) who will be stepping down as chief executive of VisitBritain in the summer.

Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of VisitBritain, described the role of chief executive of the national tourism agency as "the best national marketing job in the world" as he looks to recruit Dawes' successor.

"People want to come to Britain," he said. "It will be the job of the new chief executive to ensure that they do come here in what is an increasingly competitive world."

Rodrigues said that while it would be helpful for the successful candidate to have a background within the tourism or hospitality industries, it is more important that they have solid international and partnership marketing experience, an understanding of the changing behaviour of consumers, strategic digital skills and be able to work with both the public and private sectors.

"Having the temperament to be able to deal with the public sector and engage with government ministers across a wide range of departments will be particular important," he said.

Rodrigues went on to say that there would be the opportunity for the next chief executive to build on the momentum of Dawes' policies which helped achieve a 13% increase to £21b in tourism spend last year. The figure was the highest seen in any 12-month period in nominal terms and the first time the £20b has been passed.

There were also 32.89 million visits from overseas in 2013, 6% more than in 2012, exceeding the previous calendar year record set in 2007 (32.78m).

"We will be beyond delighted if we are able to achieve another 13% increase in tourist spend this year and all signs are that we will," said Rodrigues.

He explained that simplifying the visa application process for overseas visitors will help raise visitor numbers, highlighting the Australian electronic visa system as a benchmark of best practice.

The new chief executive of VisitBritain will join the organisation at a particularly challenging time with the holding of the referendum on Scottish independence, a comprehensive spending review and general election expected in the next two years.

Dawe was appointed chief executive of VisitBritain in May 2009, having joined VisitBritain in 1991, She became director of strategy and communications in 1996. Following her departure from VisitBritain, she aims to take on a number of non-executive company roles.

Rodrigues himself will step down at the end of the year as chairman of VisitBritain after completing two four-year terms.

VisitBritain hails marketing success as inbound visitors hit record spend >>

2014 predicted to be a record-breaking year for tourism >>

Tourism - who's backing Britain? >>

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