Sandra Matthews-Marsh, Visit Kent chief executive
The chief executive of tourism promotion group Visit Kent has been elected as chairman of industry body the Tourism Society.
Sandra Matthews-Marsh will take up her new role in January, after being promoted from her current role as vice-chairman.
She will take over the reins of the tourism professionals’ network from David Curtis-Bignell, who has headed the organisation since July 2012.
Establised in 1977, the group has more than a 1,000 members covering hotels, attractions, destinations, operators and travel companies, as well as consultants, writers, academics and students.
Mrs Matthew-Marsh has more than 25 years experience in the tourism industry.
She has led not-for-profit organisation Visit Kent for the past nine years.
As chief executive she has played a key role in securing European funding to support numerous projects and campaigns promoting the county and its tourism businesses at home and abroad.
This summer she was selected to join the Women 1st Top 100 Club, marking her out as one of the most influential women nationally in hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism.
As chairman of the Tourism Society she will be supported by vice chairmen Hayley Beer, tourism services manager at West Oxford District Council, and Michael Jones, managing director of consulting group Delta Squared.
Mrs Matthew-Marsh said: “This is a great honour and privilege. The Tourism Society plays a very important role in shaping our industry by bringing together a wide range of experts to share their professional knowledge and understanding.
“Now, more than ever, we need to pool all our resources and experience to grow our industry even further.”
She added: “According to two leading studies, one by Deloitte with VisitBritain and one by Trajectory for VisitEngland, tourism is currently the most vibrant and productive industry in the UK.
“Working together across the board we can contribute even more to the UK economy.
“We need to redouble our energies to deliver a better quality visitor experience, an improved welcome and be even more savvy when we are talking to and looking after our customers.
“Bland, vanilla and ordinary are now unacceptable – exciting, fun, quality and sustainable are the new normal.”