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Sally Balcombe named new CEO of VisitBritain

Balcombe will continue to deliver agency’s Golden Strategy, which includes support of business events

Pictured: VisitBritain's new CEO Sally Balcombe

National tourism agency VisitBritain has announced Sally Balcombe as its new CEO, replacing Sandie Dawe, who steps down after five years.

Balcombe is said to bring ‘strong digital and commercial skills’ to the role, following three years as chief marketing officer at travel commerce platform Travelport GDS and two years as commercial director at online travel agency Opodo. Prior to that, she was MD of British Airways Holidays.

She was appointed a board member of VisitBritain last year and is also a governor of the Museum of London, commissioner of English Heritage, and non-exec director of boutique hotel website Mr & Mrs Smith.

Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of VisitBritain, said Balcombe would be responsible for
ensuring inbound tourism continues to deliver growth and jobs across Britain.

“Our inbound tourism figures continue to break records and the GREAT marketing campaign continues to raise the aspiration to travel to Britain. The challenge now is to ensure that inbound tourism, Britain's fifth largest export industry, continues to deliver jobs and growth across the country in partnership with the other Visits."

Balcombe added: "I'm looking forward to leading VisitBritain in an era in which marketing has become global and digital. VisitBritain is already a high-performing agency with a clear growth strategy for Britain through to 2020.

"My commercial experience and time as a board member means that I understand the need to focus on our customers, target our marketing to inspire them to explore Britain and work seamlessly across public and private sector partners to ensure we continue to deliver our ambitious plans for growth."

axed its business visits and events arm in 2011 following budget cuts, but the organisation has since pledged its support to the Britain for Events campaign. Led by the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) it is designed to increase demand for UK events on a global scale.

The support forms part of the tourism agency’s Golden Strategy for the period 2012 – 2020, which recognises that events both boost Britain’s image abroad and provide an opportunity to turn delegates into tourist by extending their visits.

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