Two of Norfolk and Suffolk’s foremost tourism and hospitality businessmen are today announced as the new President and Chairman of the region’s visitor economy organisation.
Lord Leicester of Holkham becomes President, a newly-created position, and Dr Andy Wood OBE, chief executive of Adnams of Southwold, becomes chairman of Visit East of England, formerly known as Visit East Anglia.
Lord Leicester said: “I’m delighted to be the organisation’s new President. The visitor side of my family’s own business, Holkham Hall and Estate enterprise, has increased enormously in the past few years, so I am very aware of its importance to the region as the largest sector and one of the main employers.”
“This is an exciting time for tourism and I look forward to working with the industry to continue its success.”
Dr Wood said: “There is a big agenda to tackle, not least encouraging skills development and training, improving the perception of the industry, growing the year-round visitor economy and attracting more overseas visitors, particularly post-Brexit when we must ensure that we are seen as a welcoming and attractive destination.”
“Working with partners and stakeholders in the sector, particularly the transport providers, gateways and local enterprise partnership, we want to ensure the East of England becomes a more top-of-mind destination. We must also work together to offer a collective voice when we are talking to government and national visitor organisations.”
The rebranding of Visit East Anglia as Visit East of England will culminate with the launch of a new website in the New Year, working closely with the New Anglia Cultural Board.
Executive director Pete Waters said: “This is great news for the region’s tourism industry and will give us the higher profile we need to represent the sector’s interests and help address its many challenges.
“It is important that this region has a credible, authoritative voice for its visitor economy, particularly at a time when a sector deal with the government is on the horizon. Working with the Local Enterprise Partnership, we want to be on the front foot if initiatives like Tourism Zones come to fruition.
“Our objectives continue to be converting day trippers to stay visitors and raising the overall tide of tourism towards the high-water mark of summer, but as Visit East of England we also want to work with the sector to create careers for life and growth opportunities.”
Doug Field, chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Tourism is worth more than £5 billion per year to Norfolk and Suffolk’s economy. But more than that, our visitor and cultural assets are a vital part of our identity and offer to the world. We look forward to working even more closely with Visit East of England to support the sector to achieve even greater success in the future.
“The arrival of Lord Leicester and Andy Wood as president and chairman is a huge boost for Visit East of England. Both will bring a wealth of experience, talent and energy to their roles, which can only benefit the organisation.”
Councillor Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “I welcome the appointment of the new President and Chairman of Visit East of England. The region deserves strong leadership to ensure that collectively we promote the extent of the opportunities available, and also the allure and beauty of the region as a holiday destination.”
Councillor Andrew Proctor, Leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “I congratulate Lord Leicester and Dr Wood on their appointments and I look forward to working with them to further promote Norfolk’s outstanding tourism offer, which is an important part of our economy.”
The news follows the retirement of chairman Richard Ellis, of the family-owned Original Cottage Company, who co-founded Visit East Anglia in 2011 with leading tourism business owners after the demise of the East of England Development Agency and East of England Tourism.
The board has long-standing members including Martin Dupee of Banham Zoo and Africa Alive, Ian Russell MBE of Wroxham Barns and Keith Brown of Roost Hotels. Full details of the board here.