Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, has been appointed to the role of chairman of the British Hospitality Association.
He will assume the position when incumbent Alan Parker steps down on January 1st 2015.
In his new role, Varney will join the BHA Board of Directors, working with chief executive Ufi Ibrahim and the executive team in the important lead up to the UK general election and the new political environment that will follow.
Already leading the Cut Tourism VAT Campaign which strives for the UK to be more competitive in Europe with a lower tourism tax, Varney’s immediate priority will be to make all political parties aware of the importance of the hospitality and tourism sector both in economic terms and as a key employer, particularly for 16-24 year olds.
He has worked in the visitor attractions industry for 22 years, and led the management buyout from Vardon in 1999 to form Merlin Entertainments.
In the 15 years since, under his leadership, the company has grown from a small UK based business with a handful of SEA LIFE and Dungeon attractions in the UK and Germany, to a multi-billion pound publicly quoted company with over 100 attractions as well as a growing number of hotels, operating in 23 countries and across four continents.
Commenting on his new role Nick Varney said: “I am delighted to take up the role of the Chair of the BHA at a time when it is so important that the industry voice is heard at a political level.
“Now with a general election imminent we have a very short window of time to build on this, and to make sure that the economic and social importance of the hospitality and tourism sector is understood by all political parties; and that our issues are on their agenda for the future.
Parker will retain his role as president of the British Hospitality Association.