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Hayley Armstrong is the Production Liaison Manager for the East & South East of England at Creative England.  Part of an England-wide team dedicated to providing a first-class free support service to feature film and TV production to shoot in England outside London. The service provides seamless access to locations, studios, crew, facilities and filming permissions.  Hayley is also responsible for developing partnerships with local government and key stakeholders to improve the filming infrastructure, including building regional crew capacity, and reporting the economic impact of filming activity in the English Regions. Starting out at the Film Commission for Hertfordshire, Hayley has over 18 years’ experience of supporting productions & championing England as a world class filming destination.

Robin Barker is Director of Services for Tourism Ltd, a consultancy/service company with a focus on delivering projects requiring commercial support. This follows a career of 30+ years in travel and tourism, including 6 years running database marketing at Saga Group, a year as an overseas resort rep, 12 years in consultancy, 2 years launching the £28m National Maritime Museum Cornwall and 5 years as Marketing Director of South West Tourism. He is President and a Fellow of the Tourism Management Institute. In business, Robin's company runs the tourism awards programmes for South West England, is a Director of the Tourism Alliance, and a spokesman for the South West Tourism Alliance.

Heather Cowper is a professional blogger and founder of Heatheronhertravels.com, writing about ‘Authentic travel with a little luxury’ for an affluent 50+ traveller, with a focus on themes such as food, culture, hiking and cruise. She is co-founder of Travelator Media, working with travel brands on marketing campaigns for the 50+ UK Quality Traveller as well as founder of Bristol Bloggers and Influencers, a community of 350+ bloggers in the Bristol area, organising blogger events, campaigns and training. Heather is also co-founder of the Bristol Travel Massive Chapter, organizing travel networking events in Bristol.

Carolyn Custerson is the CEO, English Riviera BD Company.  With over 30 years’ experience in the UK tourism industry Carolyn currently heads up one of the largest Tourism BID’s in the country representing over 1000 levy payers. The company was set up by the industry in January 2017 following Torbay Council’s decision to take the resort’s promotional budget to zero. Working as the official Destination Marketing Organisation the English Riviera BID Company now turns over in excess of £700k pa and has had a number of early successes including bidding successfully into the Discover England Fund and leading on the launch of the England’s Seafood Coast project.

Stephen Darke has been Head of Tourism at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport since July 2017.  During this time he has overseen the Department’s work around the proposed Tourism Sector Deal. He attends the VisitEngland Board as an Observer.  Stephen has worked in Whitehall for over a decade. His previous roles include Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Culture (2014-2017), Ministerial Speechwriter at HM Treasury (2012-2014), and Senior Arts Policy Advisor (2008-2012).

After spending 15 years as a General Manager/Senior Manager at some of South Devon’s premier hotels, Gemma Edmonds joined The Springboard Charity and Springboard UK Ltd as Head of the South West. In this role she focuses on inspiring young people through Springboard’s school, college and university educational programmes and supporting unemployed or people with multiple barriers into the world of work, all in the hospitality, leisure and tourism industries.  Combined with supporting businesses in the South West to attract, retain and develop talent. Gemma is also a Director of Visit South Devon and a St Julian Scholar.

Sam Groom has 20 years experience in the events industry and a track record of delivering successful major events for Cornwall including the start of the Olympic Torch Relay and award-winning Tall Ships Regattas. Sam joined Visit Cornwall in 2010 to develop a festivals and events strategy, support and promote events and deliver major events for Cornwall.  In 2015, Sam established Perfect Events Group, made up of a close group of highly motivated and energetic professionals who all bring individual event expertise to the table. Sam was awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2016 for her services to Tourism. 

In December 2012, John Hirst was appointed Chief Executive of Destination Bristol, leading a dedicated and high quality team promoting Bristol as one of England’s top tourist destinations. Prior to this John had focused for 10 years on retail regeneration in Bristol and between 1980 and 1997 was a retailer with an international organisation. Tourism in Bristol is worth £1.3b per annum, it should be double that figure and the challenge is to encourage even more visitors into the region from all over the world, an interesting task in these difficult times with the tight budgets. Bristol have had a lot of new interesting opportunities recently and are planning to maximise these to boost the Value of Bristol Tourism even further in the future. This will be done by working with partners locally, DMO’s in the region and VisitBritain.

Simon Jones co-founded Digital Visitor 10 years ago and has over 20 years marketing experience in tourism sector with both destinations and visitor attractions. Digital Visitor is an award-winning agency based in Bristol which specialises in digital marketing for destinations and are experts at driving visitors to a destination, especially from the UK. The agency has delivered social media and innovative content marketing for nationally and internationally renowned leisure and tourism brands such as The National Trust, Visit Britain, Japan National Tourism Office, AccorHotels, Virgin Holidays and many more.
Dr Fiona Jordan is Associate Dean (Strategic Partnerships) in the Faculty of Business and Law and the University of West of England, Bristol. In her role Fiona is responsible for providing overall leadership and strategic direction in creating mutually beneficial international, national, regional and local partnerships. She has worked on a number of transnational education and research projects and has recently been active in developing the relationship between UWE and event organisers, festival and community groups and charities in Bristol and the South West region. Fiona has worked collaboratively on a number of transnational research projects and publications in the subject fields of Events and Tourism Management. Her original research in Tourism focussed on exploring the experiences of women travelling alone and she currently carries out research on sustainability, working with a variety of festivals and events organisations in the UK.
Dan Knox is Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Events Management at UWE Bristol where he is responsible for running the MSc Events Management degree course.  He has teaching and industry engagement interests across the range of these closely-related subjects including in the fields of critical theory, destination management, creative tourism, and cultural events and tourism.  Particular topics of current research interest include emotional responses to leisure, brand activations, heritage cultures, wrestling events, retro-gaming and the relations between tourism and creative industries. 

Jude Leitch is Director of Northumberland Tourism, the Destination Management Organisation (DMO) charged with coordinating the tourism for the county, supporting tourism businesses and promoting the county’s tourism offer to potential visitors nationally and internationally. Jude has extensive international marketing experience and has won a number of major awards including UK Marketing Manager of the Year for her work at The Gate in Newcastle. Originally from the North East, Jude spent much of her childhood in New Zealand where she gained formal marketing qualifications. She has subsequently worked in both countries in a number of commercial and tourism marketing roles.

Ruth McAllister is the Marketing Director for Wild in Art, a leading producer of spectacular, mass-appeal public art events that connect businesses, artists and communities through the power of creativity and innovation. Since 2008 Wild in Art has animated cities across the world including Auckland, Sydney and São Paulo, and created trails for the London 2012 Olympics, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Historic Royal Palaces and Penguin Random House.  Ruth has extensive experience in events marketing and tourism including over 10 years managing multi-channel marketing campaigns for events in Manchester such as BBC Proms in the Park, the Great Manchester Run, Skyride, the Sport Relief Mile and the UEFA Cup Final. She has recently led the marketing team for Wild in Art’s Bee in the City art trail in Manchester.

Joel Murray moved to Lincoln to study in 2007 and has since fallen in love with the city. He now works as the digital marketing manager at Visit Lincoln, telling the world all about Lincoln and what it has to offer visitors. Joel has a passion for digital technology and uses this to raise awareness of Lincoln and Lincolnshire. His role has grown and developed alongside the growth of the website and the organisation. Launched in 2012, the Visit Lincoln website now attracts over 80,000 unique visitors every month and the team's engagement across social media has seen it be recognised in the English Tourism Social Media Index as the overall winner for 2017.

Kate Nicholls was appointed CEO of UKHospitality in early 2018, the trade association having been formed by the merger of the ALMR and the BHA. Kate had been the CEO of ALMR since September 2014, having previously worked as its Strategic Affairs Director and Head of Communications.  After gaining a degree in English and a post-graduate diploma in competition law, Kate worked as a researcher in the House of Commons and European Parliament before joining Whitbread as Government Relations Manager. She was a Director at a leading public affairs company before founding her own strategic communications consultancy in 2000. She is a graduate of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and Kings College London.

Natalie Parsons graduated with a first class BA Hons in International Tourism Management in 2016 from the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen and was also the winner of the TMI David Hughes Memorial Award 2016. Since graduating Natalie has gained experience from working as the Technical Assistant to the Chief Executive of Green Tourism, followed by a year as the Digital Marketing Executive for Dunkeld House Hotel and has now recently joined the marketing team as a Marketing Whizz for the Crieff Hydro family of hotels.
Anthony Pickles is Head of Tourism Affairs at VisitBritain/VisitEngland. Prior to joining the team at the British Tourist Authority, Anthony worked in the automotive industry, within Nissan Europe’s External Affairs team working across a number of different issues including electric mobility and the driverless car revolution. At VisitBritain, Anthony has been responsible for the coordination of the Tourism industry’s bid for a Sector Deal with the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy. Anthony is a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, a board member of Institute of Welsh Affairs and in his spare time, he enjoys hill walking and running. 

Since 2014 Martin Pople has been the Manager of the Bristol & Bath Cultural Destinations Project, a partnership of 28 of the region’s leading cultural and tourist organisations. Having trained and worked as an actor for many years, he has a varied career in arts administration, running art centres and festivals, lecturing at Bath Spa and City universities, creating courses for the Clore Leadership programme, as communications manager for music producers Serious and as a freelance promoter and producer of theatre, music and comedy.

Tom Pridmore’s career started as National Park Ranger on Dartmoor. After promotion to Countryside Officer with Wyre Borough Council he progressed to Director. His work in accessibility and sustainable tourism was recognised by various awards and an invitation to address the European Union of Tourism Officers. Tom is now Tourism Officer for Ribble Valley, pioneering Wedding Tourism and developing food tourism. He is also Director of the consultancy ‘Teap Associates’, and Assessor for the David Bellamy Conservation awards. Completing his Masters as a mature student, he was awarded Lancashire’s Most Promising Student. Tom’s particular enthusiasm is supporting new entrants into the industry; he is TMI’s Head of CPD

Simon Quin co-founded the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2006. He is now a Director and Visiting Professor with the international professional body that supports people working to make places better (www.placemanagement.org). Most of his current work concerns High Streets and the development of new solutions for them.

He was a Town Centre Manager for 10 years in Romford then Reading before becoming CEO of the then Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM). He has served on the Boards of the International Downtown Association and Town Centre Management Europe. 

Samantha Richardson is the NCTA Director. She has directed the research, visitor experience, business support and communications programmes of the National Coastal Tourism Academy (NCTA) since its launch in 2013, including Coastal Communities Fund, UKCES and Discover England Fund projects.Sam’s work focuses on national engagement and partnerships that will help boost tourism and the economies of coastal communities.  Working closely with a wide range of stakeholders including central government, VisitBritain, coastal businesses, destinations, Coastal Community Teams and LEPs.She is currently leading on the England’s Coast project, which aims to increase the number of visitors from Germany, the Netherlands and France coming to our stunning coastline. 

Lydia Rusling has 14 years’ experience working across Lincolnshire’s tourism industry and has played a central role in many of the county’s prominent tourism projects.  Since January 2017 Lydia has headed up the team at Visit Lincoln, overseeing partnership growth, 5 industry awards and the transition of the organisation to an independent Community Interest Company. Visit Lincoln represents businesses and organisations in the city and across Lincolnshire through various projects and is playing a pivotal role in secturing new funding for the benefit of the whole county.

Alex Saint is a founding-director of Creative Tourist Consults, which bridges the worlds of culture and tourism to help create dynamic and compelling cultural destinations – the kinds of places cultural tourists actively want to visit.  CTC works nationwide in places of all types and sizes from the Isles of Scilly to the whole of Northern Ireland. Creative Tourist’s work includes supporting Arts Council England Cultural Destinations partnerships such as Bristol and Bath; delivery of a Visit England DEF funded project in 5 Northern cities; cultural-tourism and visitor-economy strategies such as in London, Carrickfergus and Buxton; digital capacity building in Coventry, Stoke-on-Trent, Wakefield and Calderdale, and ongoing work on Manchester’s cultural destination programme from 2007-today. Alex holds an MBA from Durham University and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Cassie Stewart is a Plymouth University student studying Tourism Management and is in her final year of study. Cassie has just completed a year’s work placement at Visit Eastbourne, expanding on her practical experience in the industry. Since beginning her study at Plymouth she has attended every TMI Convention, where her knowledge of the tourism industry has increased. In 2016 Cassie and another fellow student (Abi Rivers) were elected to be student representatives for the TMI. Since then they have been actively engaging with the TMI to ensure students voices are heard and taken into account.

Dr Matthew Tanner MBE was appointed as Director & Chief Executive of the ss Great Britain Trust in 2000. In 2010, Matthew led the project to create the new Brunel Institute learning and archive centre in Bristol. He is a Vice Chairman of the Association of Independent Museums, a member of the Canal & River Trust Museum Advisory Board, a Trustee for Bristol Old Vic and is a Non-Executive Director of Destination Bristol Ltd and the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Initiative. He chairs the Bristol Harbourside Forum, and is a Vice President of the Underfall Trust. 

Ian Thomas has had an extensive career in tourism research having held roles at Northumbria Tourist Board, One North East and NewcastleGateshead Initiative helping to provide insight into visitor performance and the tourism economy. More recently Ian has led on wide range of commercial research projects for clients across the UK including local authorities, BIDS, attractions and cultural bodies. This research has helped these organisations to identify new strategic priorities, attract funding and provide evidence that demonstrates the social and economic impact of projects.

Jon Young has worked in the Tourism team at BDRC for 10 years.  He is a sector blogger and author of BDRC’s free annual Holiday Trends report, which looks at the holiday destinations, motivations and marketing influences of the UK holiday market.   In 2016, Jon led on a comprehensive piece of research of international visitors to the UK for VisitEngland, and recently spoke about international visitors’ perceptions of Britain post-Brexit.  In 2015 he co-authored BDRC’s Global Tourism Monitor - a study of holiday intentions amongst 13,000 people across 24 different markets.  Jon has also directed projects for VisitScotland, the NCTA and Visit Wales.