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Visit Kent's new CEO Deidre Wells ready for her first day

By Chris Britcher

Tourism champions Visit Kent welcomes the arrival of its new chief executive next week.

Deidre Wells, currently CEO of inward tourism agency UKinbound and the former head of tourism for the Government, will take over from Sandra Matthews-Marsh.

Her appointment to the destination management organisation was announced earlier this year.

Deirdre Wells takes over as Visit Kent CEO next week
Deirdre Wells takes over as Visit Kent CEO next week

Mrs Matthews-Marsh, who has been in post for 14 years, will remain with Visit Kent until the end of the year during the transition between the two.

Mrs Wells 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 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.

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

“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.”

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."

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.”

Tourism in the county is worth an estimated £3.6 billion and supports more than 72,000 jobs.

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