Director of Tourism Exchange Great Britain
James is the Director of Tourism Exchange Great Britain, which has been established in partnership with VisitBritain to unlock the full potential of the tourism sector; increasing the value, volume and dispersal of tourism. TXGB connects the whole tourism sector, enabling open trade and creating a platform for innovation and smarter destination marketing.James is an experienced leader with a focus on technology and how it can change the way organisations and markets work. For more than 15 years he has worked on transformative projects across the private, public and third sector.
Acting Deputy Director for Heritage, Tourism and Cultural Diplomacy - Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
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 Tourism Sector Deal and the response to the COVID pandemic. 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 and Ministerial Speechwriter at HM Treasury.
Head of Tourism Visit Bristol and Interim CEO Visit Bath
Kathryn Davis has spent almost all of her professional life working in tourism, hospitality and leisure, the last 20 years of which have been with Destination Bristol. This has taken her from a Marketing Executive to Head of Tourism, working on regional, national and international programmes across all areas of the visitor economy. A TMI member and a regular speaker at industry events, in 2018, she was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism at the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism awards. She is also currently interim CEO of Visit Bath, and a board member of Gloucestershire County Cricket Club.
Tourism Market Intelligence Consultant - Scattered Clouds
David recently founded Scattered Clouds to support tourism businesses in transforming data into insight. Prior to this David helped establish an evidence-base for the newly formed Visit Jersey.
For twelve David led VisitBritain’s Research team, ensuring the organisation was seen as an authority on inbound tourism through in-depth analysis and commentary.
In his earlier career he spent time conducting analysis for London Transport, followed by brief spells at ONS and DfT giving David an insight into central government before grasping the opportunity to apply his market analysis capabilities within the field about which he’s most passionate, tourism.
Student, University of Chester
Monica Escobedo is from Los Angeles, California and currently studying International Tourism Management at the University of Chester where she is President of the Tourism Society. During her time at University, she has achieved the Chester Difference Excellence Award and has volunteered for numerous events including being involved in a local festival which helps generate tourism in Chester. She has been interested in tourism from a young age and has spent most of her life travelling. Monica and her husband David have a travel Facebook page, David and Monica Adventures, with over 52k followers. Alongside her degree, Monica also works as a Marketing Assistant at Cheshire’s DMO where she is gaining practical experience in the tourism industry. As one of TMI’s student representatives, she aims to help improve the student experience and opportunities they are given on their way to becoming professionals in the industry.
Dr Xavier Font
Professor of Sustainability Marketing at the University of Surrey
Dr Xavier Font is professor of Sustainability Marketing at the University of Surrey, and Professor II at the University of the Arctic in Norway. He researches and develops methods of sustainable tourism production and consumption. He has published widely about sustainable tourism certification, and has consulted on sustainable product development, marketing and communication for several United Nations agencies, the International Finance Corporation, the European Commission, VisitEngland, Fáilte Ireland, VisitWales, VisitScotland and WWF amongst others. He has conducted over 140 courses for more than 2500 businesses on how to market and communicate sustainability, see www.travindy.com.
Account Strategist, Simpleview Europe
Sarah took a year out to travel in 2008/9, traveling across South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Shortly after her return she joined New Mind as an Account Executive, progressing to Senior Account Manager, supporting destinations predominantly in the North of England.
Director, Quality in Tourism
A seasoned hospitality professional, Deborah runs M Assessment services, a boutique company specialising in assessment/accreditation, data management and collection across various industries. Under the wholly owned brand Quality in Tourism, Deborah is focussed on revolutionising hospitality and tourism accreditation, offering schemes that are fit for purpose in this modern world. Consumer and operator focussed, the Quality in Tourism awards throw away the old rule books with schemes like REST™ (responsible, ethical and sustainable tourism) and Safe, Clean and Legal™.
Mayor of the Tees Valley
Ben Houchen was elected as the Mayor of the Tees Valley in May 2017. The Tees Valley area covers the five boroughs of Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland, and Stockton-on-Tees.
Ben is delivering on his plan to turn around the Tees Valley economy by bringing new jobs and investment to the region. He has delivered his manifesto pledge to bring Teesside Airport back into public ownership, and is now working to restore its fortunes.
Ben has secured the former Redcar Steelworks site and started worked to prepare the land for investment.
Ben has overseen the devolution of the Tees Valley’s £30million annual adult education budget, and the creation of a world-leading work experience programme, to make sure Teessiders of all ages have the skills they need to get good jobs.
He is now working to transform Darlington and Middlesbrough stations, and to get local businesses the investment they need. Ben has been instrumental in bringing major music and sports events to the area, including the Rugby League World Cup, BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend, and the Great North CityGames.
Dr Timothy Jung
Director, Creative AR & VR Hub Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr Timothy Jung is the Founder and Director of the Creative AR & VR Hub and Head AR & VR Research Group at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has been involved in a number of funded AR & VR research projects at national and international level. His research interests include AI, IoT, Big Data and 5G powered immersive technology innovation for well-being and quality of life. He is renowned for his work in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in tourism, cultural heritage, education & training and healthcare and he extensively published in these areas.
Executive Director, Destination Plymouth
Amanda Lumley is currently Executive Director of Destination Plymouth. She has a wealth of experience in tourism from leading UK national attractions such as Chester Zoo and Leeds Castle, to regional tourism partnerships Visit Essex, Visit Kent and most recently Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City where she has been involved in the Mayflower 400 programme for over 7 years.
As well as being the voice of the city’s visitor economy she leads on strategic issues including marketing and digital strategy, events, major development projects, public space and place making.
Amanda is a Director on the Board of the Tourism Management Institute and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Tourism Officer for the Tees Valley
Julia is Tourism Officer for the Tees Valley Combined Authority with a focus on Destination PR & Communications. In this role since 2017, Julia has been involved with the creation of the destination brand Enjoy Tees Valley, which launched in March 2018. Since then Julia has been instrumental in growing the brand to promote Tees Valley as a visitor destination, including the launch of a brand new destination website and digital presence, the production of the first printed guides and materials and managing seasonal marketing campaigns. Julia, alongside the Enjoy Tees Valley team has also been key in the delivery and support of key events such as BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend in Middlesbrough and the Great North CityGames in Stockton.
Dr Maeve Marmion
Head of Department for the Experience Economy, Chester Business School
Dr Maeve Marmion is Head of Department for the Experience Economy at Chester Business School, University of Chester. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and specialises in teaching the social, cultural and ethical aspects of International Tourism. Her PhD in Heritage Tourism Management explored the different ways people understand, value and engage with heritage as part of their lives and through their varied visitor experiences. Maeve is interested in how experiences can be shaped through effective communication, shared expectations and a willingness to embrace change.
Director of Digital Strategy, Simpleview
Aaron started his career with the Government of Alberta, building and managing websites for all 23 government ministries. He then spent six years in his first tourism role as Director of e-Strategies at Travel Alberta, where he led organizational change to streamline processes and pioneer new marketing efforts. He also sat on the National Digital Committee for Canadian DMOs for three years. Prior to joining Simpleview, Aaron was a Senior Strategic Consultant at Destination Think! where he created highly effective digital, content, social media, organizational, product development, and visitor services strategies for leading destinations around the world, establishing himself as a leader in tourism marketing. His deep knowledge of DMOs and destination websites helps bridge the gap from digital marketing to DMO business plan. Aaron holds an Associate’s Degree in Computer Engineering Technology from the Northern Alberta Institute for Technology.
Eoghan O’Mara Walsh
CEO, Irish Tourism Industry Confederation
Eoghan has had a varied career in tourism having previously managed; O’Mara Travel Ltd, a leading tour operator; Heritage Island Ltd, a marketing company for visitor attractions; and O’Mara Consultancy Ltd, a tourism consultancy business. In his earlier career he was Procurement Executive with Diageo in London and Dublin. Eoghan has been CEO of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation since September 2015.
The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation is the umbrella group representing the leading tourism interests throughout the country including airlines, ferry companies, the hotels federation, tour operators, B&Bs, and visitor attractions.
CEO of BWH | Hotels
Over 20 years in Hotel Sales, Marketing, Revenue and Distribution, Rob has worked for a range of brands including international chains like Accor Hotels through to local and National Boutique lifestyle brands such as Malmaison and Hotel du Vin. In recent years, Rob has managed several Hotel transformational programs including a major technology overhaul at Village Hotels. Rob was appointed CEO of BWH | Hotels GB in January 2018 and has overseen a record expansion of Hotels joining BWH Hotels.
Tourism Officer, Ribble Valley
Born in Devon, Tom started as National Park Ranger on Dartmoor. After promotion to Countryside Officer with Wyre Council, Lancashire, he progressed to Director. His work on accessibility and sustainable Tourism, was recognised by various awards, a government case study and an address to the European Union of Tourism Officers. Tom is now Ribble Valley Tourism Officer pioneering both Wedding and food tourism. He is also Director of 'Teap Associates', and an Assessor for the David Bellamy awards. Completing his Masters in Tourism as a mature student, he achieved the awards for Lancashire's 'Most Promising Student'. Enthusiastic about supporting entrants into the industry, he works with students and universities in UK and Europe. Tom is currently TMI Vice President and Head of CPD.
Hospitality Programme Lead, Be the Business
Alex leads the Be the Business Collaborative Networks for Hospitality & Tourism Programme. Alex spent his early career in project management before moving into the events industry where he designed and delivered a wide range of training and conference events before moving to direct large-scale international congresses and trade shows. He is now working nationwide to support the tourism and hospitality sectors as part of the Be the Business national movement.
Strategic Analyst, Simpleview
Paris Taylor Flint
Student, University of Chester
Interested in tourism from a young age, and currently studying International Tourism Management with Spanish at the University of Chester, Paris Flint is an ambitious individual with hopes of becoming a skilled destination manager in the future. Throughout her time at the university, Paris has been fortunate enough to have secured a number of opportunities from volunteering in Chester-wide festivals, to interning at a luxury tour operator, which have helped her to achieve the Chester Difference Excellence Award, and she now finds herself working for her local DMO as a Marketing Assistant alongside her degree. As a national student representative, she hopes to inspire her fellow cohort of future tourism professionals.
Managing Director, Simpleview Europe
The extensive knowledge gained during this time enabled Richard and his business partner Andy Abram to take their startup, New Mind to become one of the fastest growing technology companies in the UK as recognised by the Deloitte Touche Fast 50 and Inner City 100 awards received in 2004. Over a 5 year period the company grew by over 1000% and eventually employed 50+ staff covering a multitude of skill sets and professional disciplines.
Head of England Marketing, VisitEngland and VisitBritain
Emma Wilkinson is Head of England Marketing and has been at VisitBritain / VisitEngland since 2012 working in various roles across consumer PR, brand partnerships, and brand strategy. Emma leads the creation and execution of the England marketing strategy with the aim of increasing and demonstrating tourism value for England. Over the past few months, Emma has led the development of the pan-Britain marketing recovery response to Covid-19.