Leading figures from the West Midlands’ tourism and hospitality sector have been appointed to a new board aiming to drive forward the region’s visitor economy. The line-up was unveiled at a regional tourism forum at Park Regis Birmingham, where more than 100 hospitality and tourism leaders gathered to address the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.
Replacing the West Midlands Regional Board for Tourism, which was established in 2019, the group’s remit has been expanded to include hospitality. Once appointed, the board will be joined by the incoming West Midlands Night Time Economy Advisor, a new position that will act as a focal point and champion for the region’s pubs, clubs, bars, concert venues, theaters and restaurants.
Facilitated by the West Midlands Growth Company, the region’s official tourism and investment promotion agency, the board will meet quarterly and bring together all areas of the industry. Reporting into both, the West Midlands Combined Authority and West Midlands Mayor, the group will use its influence to advise on policy and funding needs at a regional and national level, informing the region’s domestic and international tourism strategy.
The full list of West Midlands Tourism & Hospitality Advisory Board members is as follows:
- Andrew Lovett – Black Country Living Museum (Chair)
- Becky Frall – West Midlands Growth Company (Secretariat)
- Al Titterington – Birmingham Airport
- Kate Nicholls – UKHospitality
- Kelly Haslehurst – NEC Group
- Nicola Underhill – Hilton Metropole and Vice Chair of Birmingham Hoteliers Association
- Ninder Johal – Black Country enterpreneur
- Sala Blair-Manning – Birmingham Botanical Gardens
- Sarah Rennie – Accessibility and Inclusion Specialist
- Wendy Parry – Herbert Museum and Art Gallery
- WMCA Hospitality Skills Taskforce Chair / Vice Chair
- New West Midlands Night Time Economy Advisor
Andrew Lovett, Chair of the West Midlands Tourism & Hospitality Advisory Board and CEO of Black Country Living Museum said, “These are especially challenging times for the region’s tourism and hospitality businesses. However, a hugely successful 2022 provided confidence that a return to growth is possible and likely.
“Our job, alongside our partners, is to support the region’s fantastic museums, galleries, theatres, hotels, bars and restaurants and to champion the role they play in creating a dynamic and diverse play to live, work and visit. The team we’ve assembled, soon to include the new Night Time Economy Advisor, is the right one to help us to do just that.”
Andy Street, West Midlands Mayor said, “Hospitality is a real strong suit for us here in our region. The sector has the potential to be a major growth area and job creator in the months and years ahead – despite the many pressures and challenges we’re facing today.
“To help support businesses during these tough times, we’re introducing a top-notch West Midlands Tourism & Hospitality Advisory Board. We now have a vastly experienced team in place, with some of the region’s biggest and brightest names taking part to drive the sector forward.
“If we can work together to get this right, our hospitality sector will support our efforts to promote pride in place as well as attract more people to visit, live and work in our wonderful region. Our new West Midlands Tourism & Hospitality Board will bolster these efforts – tapping into the wealth of expertise we are blessed with to reinforce some of our natural strengths as a region.”
Pre-pandemic, the West Midlands visitor economy was worth £10.1 billion, attracting over 100 million visitors in 2021. The region enjoys a host of internationally recognised cultural assets, including Birmingham Royal Ballet, Warwick Castle and Peaky Blinders, boasts 11 Michelin-starred restaurants and houses the world’s largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art.
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