VisitBritain chief executive, Sally Balcombe, has announced that she is stepping down from the role in spring this year.
Balcombe, who has been chief executive, first of VisitBritain then of VisitBritain and VisitEngland, for more than seven years, is leaving the national tourism agency to pursue new opportunities.
She said it had been an honour to lead the national tourism agency.
“When I joined, in 2014, we were already a high performing agency supporting a world-class, successful industry.
“Until the pandemic, our industry went from strength-to-strength, attracting record numbers of both visits and spend, creating jobs and economic growth.
“Then Covid-19 struck, hitting our industry first and hardest.
“Our sector has always been able to adapt, and Covid-19 was no different, with conference centres becoming hospitals and museums and attractions taking their collections online.
“As we enter 2022, our industry continues to be confronted by many challenges and our focus is to drive immediate tourism recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic by building back visitor spend as quickly as possible and supporting the industry.”
British Tourist Authority (BTA) interim chair, Judith Macgregor, will lead the search for a replacement.
She added: “On behalf of the BTA Board and VisitBritain/VisitEngland I would like to extend our huge thanks to Sally for her outstanding and creative leadership over so many years of successful development and for steering the agency through the difficulties of the pandemic, setting its priorities and longer-term strategy to support this hard-hit industry through crisis to recovery and beyond.
“Sally has made a significant and lasting contribution to the UK’s tourism industry, not only during her tenure as chief executive of VisitBritain/VisitEngland, but with a career spanning more than 40 years in travel. We wish Sally all the very best for the future.”