National tourism agency VisitBritain has announced deputy chief executive Patricia Yates is stepping up to the top job.
The interim appointment comes as current chief executive, Sally Balcombe, steps down from April 8th.
The appointment was announced as VisitBritain brought tourism industry leaders together at a ‘Rebooting the visitor economy’ event on Tuesday.
British Tourist Authority (BTA) chair, Judith Macgregor, said: “On behalf of the BTA board and VisitBritain, I am very pleased to announce that Patricia Yates has agreed to step up to chief executive in the interim, ensuring a smooth transition for the organisation as well as for the industry.”
Latest forecasts suggest 21.1 million inbound visitors will arrive in the UK this year, just half of the 2019 level.
Overseas visitor spending will total £16.9 billion, 59 per cent of the 2019 figure.
With all travel restrictions for arrivals to the UK lifted and with its latest international research showing strong pent-up demand for travel, VisitBritain’s priority is driving the quickest return of inbound visitor spending, prioritising markets that will quickly drive back value including the USA and its major European markets.
Yates said: “I am honoured to be stepping up as chief executive, continuing our focus on building back visitor spend as quickly as possible and supporting the industry.
“We know there is pent-up demand for travel, Britain is a destination that people want to visit and in 2022 we have a year of landmark events.
“Our tourism businesses have innovated to survive through a myriad of restrictions and now is the time to drive the visitor recovery.”
The agency is currently out in international markets with a £10 million GREAT ‘Welcome to another side of Britain’ campaign.
As well as highlighting messages of welcome and reassurance, the campaign is promoting the major events this year, set to be global tourism draws, offering visitors once-in-a-lifetime experiences they can only have in the UK including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.