The appointment of Michael Hirst as chairman of the Tourism Alliance puts two veteran hoteliers at the heart of the umbrella body which represents more than 50 industry organisations.
Hirst will work alongside the Alliance's president, Sir David Michels, who as sales director and then managing director of Hilton International reported to Hirst when he was chairman and chief executive of the company in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
"In our roles now in the Tourism Alliance I am figuratively reporting to David," said Hirst, who succeeds Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association.
Hirst, chairman of the Business Visits & Events Partnership and a consultant to CBRE Hotels, has experience within a broad range of tourism activities, including holiday and leisure centres, restaurants, pubs, and attractions.
On being appointed to his new position, he said that the alliance's role must be to maintain the momentum for tourism created by the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and ensure that government support continued so that the tourism legacy could be maximised.
"The Alliance's new three-year strategy identifies five core issues that affect the international competitiveness of the UK tourism industry that the Government must address if the tourism legacy of hosting the Olympics is to be realised," Hirst said. "These issues are: reducing regulatory burden, facilitating visa applications, providing adequate aviation capacity, reducing VAT and reviewing Air Passenger Duty.
"Resolving these key issues will put the tourism industry in its rightful place as a mainstream growth sector of the UK economy, generating jobs, skills, exports and investment, as well as being a leading contributor to the fortunes of local businesses, the nation's image and community wellbeing.
"Over the past 10 years the alliance has created the one voice for tourism so desperately needed by such a diverse but vitally important economic sector. Stressing tourism's pivotal role in the country's growth agenda and highlighting its economic and social relevance to policy-makers and the general public is a task that all members of the alliance are committed to".
By Janet Harmer
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