Industry figures have paid tribute to British Hospitality Association (BHA) chief executive Bob Cotton, after it was announced last week that he would leave the position in 2010.
Cotton said he would be leaving the association in July 2010, after more than 10 years in the role.
He said the General Election was a good time to step down to allow his successor to "forge all-important relationships with members of the new Government".
"By the time of the General Election, I will have been the BHA's chief executive for more than 10 years, so the election of the new Government in 2010 is an appropriate time for me to step down and hand over the reins.
"Building up good relationships with Government departments is a key role and my successor will be able to do this right at the start of the new administration - no matter who wins the election," he added.
David Morgan-Hewitt, managing director of the Goring, said it would be a "great loss to the industry". "He's really raised the profile of our industry and, importantly, he's well thought of in the corridors of power."
Terry Holmes, executive director of Red Carnation Hotels, described Cotton as a "unifying voice for the industry".
Agreeing, Harry Murray, managing director of Lucknam Park hotel, said: "Bob Cotton has been a great ambassador for the hospitality industry during the past 10 years and he has made a major contribution to our industry. He has been tireless in trying to convince the Government of the value of tourism to the economy of the country."
When asked to predict a possible successor for the role, Morgan-Hewitt suggested Peter Hancock, chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels, as a possibility. "I think it will be somebody from a consortium, rather than a hotelier."
By Gemma Sharkey
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