John Thurso appointed new chair of VisitScotland

Scotland’s tourism minister Fergus Ewing today, 7 March, announced the appointment of John Thurso as the new chair of the national tourism board VisitScotland.

“Scottish tourism goes from strength to strength and I’m sure VisitScotland will benefit hugely from John’s experience and expertise in the industry to grow and develop Scotland’s visitor economy,” said Ewing welcoming the new chair.

Thurso added: Scotland is an iconic national brand with a world-class tourist offering and VisitScotland does a great job promoting both. I look forward to joining the team where I hope the skills I have learnt in my hospitality career combined with my career in public service will make a useful contribution.”

The outgoing chairman, Mike Cantlay, said: “I’m sure that John – like me – will relish every moment that he spends selling Scotland on the global stage. It really is the best job in the world and I’m confident that, with his vast experience and outstanding credentials, he will serve the Scottish tourism industry with distinction.”

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland added his welcoming words to Thurso. “Our new chair joins us at an exciting time for the organisation with the launch of our first ever global marketing campaign just last month.

“Tourism continues to go from strength to strength in Scotland and I’m sure John’s vast experience, in both the hospitality industry and public sector, will be a valuable asset for VisitScotland in the years ahead, as we continue to showcase our country as the perfect place to visit and invest in.”

John Thurso became Europe’s youngest five-star hotel manager when appointed MD of the Savoy Group’s Lancaster Hotel in Paris at 27. After five successful years in Paris he was then founder GM for Blakeney Hotels of Cliveden, which became the UK’s highest rated hotel under his leadership.
He has also been CEO of Fitness & Leisure Holdings, whose main asset was Champneys Health Spa and chairman of his family company in Caithness. He is currently chair of the International Wine & Spirit Competition, a trustee of the Castle of Mey Trust and a board member of IPSA.

Having inherited his title on the death of his father in 1995, he sat in the House of Lords until 1999 and from 2001 to 2015 was MP for Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross.
In 2014 he was made a Privy Councillor.

The appointment as chair of VisitScotland is for three years, from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2019.

The appointment is part-time and attracts a remuneration of £400 per day for a time commitment of seven days per month.

The appointment is regulated by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland.

VisitScotland has a budget of £50m per annum. It is funded in part by the Scottish Government, and the Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism makes appointments to the Board which currently has nine members including the chair.

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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