National tourism agency VisitBritain/VisitEngland have announced that its deputy CEO Patricia Yates is stepping up to CEO. The interim appointment comes as the agency’s current CEO Sally Balcombe steps down from 8 April.
The appointment was announced as VisitBritain/VisitEngland brought tourism industry leaders together at a ‘Rebooting the visitor economy’ event on March 29, outlining its focus to ensure tourism rebounds to once again become one of most successful and productive sectors of the UK economy.
Commenting on Yates appointment, British Tourist Authority (BTA) Chair Dame Judith Macgregor said: “On behalf of the BTA Board and VisitBritain/VisitEngland, I am very pleased to announce that Patricia Yates has agreed to step up to CEO in the interim, ensuring a smooth transition for the organisation as well as for the industry. Under Patricia’s leadership and experience I am confident that we can make great progress as we continue to support the industry as recovery begins to get underway.”
As for Yates, she said: “I am honoured to be stepping up as CEO, continuing our focus on building back visitor spend as quickly as possible and supporting the industry, playing our part to deliver the ambitions of the UK Government’s Tourism Recovery Plan.”
She continued: “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.”
Yates noted that: “I look forward to continuing to working with all our stakeholders, rebuilding our industry to ensure it is one of the most successful and productive sectors of the economy and to making the strongest possible case for one of the UK’s greatest sectors.”
VisitBritain’s latest forecast estimates 21.1 million inbound tourism visits to the UK this year, 52% of the 2019 level, and overseas visitor spending of £16.9 billion, 59% of 2019. 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, competing hard for international visitors who contribute billions to the economy.