The British Hospitality Association has announced that Bob Cotton's replacement as chief executive is to be Ufi Ibrahim, currently chief operations officer of the London-based World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
Largely unknown within the hospitality industry, Ibrahim, aged 38, has extensive experience in travel and tourism, advising on policymaking with governments and industry across the world.
As a keen promoter of public and private sector dialogue, she has been instrumental in the establishment of the Global Travel & Tourism Summit, the annual meeting of world leaders to discuss and agree key priorities for the industry.
Prior to joining WTTC in 2000, Ibrahim was in charge of the American Express Global Passport and Visa Unit for five years. She studied at the London Metropolitan University, graduating with a BA in leisure and tourism management and has recently graduated with distinction in her MBA from the Open University.
Ibrahim said she is delighted by the new appointment. "Hospitality is a key pillar of Britain's economy, particularly in the long-term," she said. "The half a million people collectively employed by BHA members represent not only the best of British hospitality and tourism but also the best of British industry.
Sir David Michels, president of the BHA, said that Ibrahim will bring a fresh approach to the organisation, although she is familiar with the world of tourism, hotels and related industries.
"She has a hard act to follow for the association has grown strong and powerful under Bob, but this very purposeful, experience and educated lady will, I am sure, take us to even better places."
Dudley Osborn, chairman of the BHA's National Executive recognises that Ibrahim's understanding of international tourism will stand her in good stead in her new position.
"At a time when we are in the middle of a campaign to ensure that the UK government takes tourism seriously, Ufi's experience will enable us to prosecute this campaign vigorously, whichever governments wins the next election," he said.
"I have no doubts that Ufi will be able to lead all sectors of the association - hotels, restaurants, catering, leisure, food and service management - with skill and understanding.
"Ufi is joining a new organisation and her biggest immediate challenge will be to get to know members and to deal with the complexities of the association and the key issues it faces now - such as skill shortages, the need for constant investment and reinvestment, marketing and promotion overseas and at home too, many government regulations and lack of government support.
Ibrahim will take over from Cotton on 19 July 2010. Cotton, who has held the post of chief executive for 10 years, said he is delighted with Ibrahim's appointment and wishes her well in the future.
By Janet Harmer
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