Visit Kent confirms Deirdre Wells to replace Sandra Matthews-Marsh

Former government tourism chief Deirdre Wells been confirmed as the new chief executive of the Visit Kent organisation.

Mrs Wells will take over at the helm of the county's tourism champion from Sandra Matthews-Marsh who announced earlier this year she was leaving after 14 years.

She is currently CEO of UKinbound, the travel trade association, and was former head of tourism for the government.

Deirdre Wells
Deirdre Wells

She spent over 20 years in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, during which time she was programme manager for the Olympic Legacy Board and relationship manager for Liverpool Capital of Culture 2008.

In her new role she will also lead Visit Kent’s trading company Go to Places, which offers services to other UK destinations and runs a number of government and UK funded programmes. She will take over the reins in September.

Jonathan Neame, chairman of Visit Kent, said: “We are delighted to have attracted such a talented and high-profile figure in the tourism industry to lead the business. Deirdre’s knowledge and experience will support the company’s ongoing growth and ambition to continue to be the market leader in destination management and marketing.

“She has held a number of very senior positions in both government and the private sector and she has a strong reputation as a dynamic and effective leader. We look forward to welcoming Deirdre to the business when Sandra steps down in the late summer.”

Visit Kent chief executive Sandra Matthews-Marsh is stepping down after 14 years
Visit Kent chief executive Sandra Matthews-Marsh is stepping down after 14 years

The new appointment said: “I hope to bring a wide network of contacts and a strong understanding of the visitor economy to the role. I have witnessed the success of Kent, Hertfordshire and the many partnership programmes in the company’s portfolio over the years and feel honoured and delighted to have been selected to lead the company onto even greater things.

“I look forward to getting to know the businesses and partners and following in Sandra’s footsteps to continue to build reputation, brand and success for our destinations.”

Sandra Matthews-Marsh added: “Deirdre is an impressive leader and passionate advocate of the sector. I simply can’t think of a better qualified person to take the business forward. She will be working with a fine team, partnership network and incredibly strong board. So, with Deirdre’s passion and flair, the business is in very safe hands.”

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