British Tourist Authority Chair

Body: British Tourist Authority
Appointing Department: Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Sector: Culture, Media & Sport
Location: London for the majority of meetings, with occasional meetings in other locations across Britain. The appointee should expect to travel to represent British tourism nationally and internationally.
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: £40,000 per annum
Time Requirements: An average of two days a week. There are six board meetings a year. The Chair will represent Britain at major travel industry events, associations and forums both in Britain and abroad which will mean the time commitment will fluctuate over the year.

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications


  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description


The Secretary of State wishes to appoint a new Chair of the British Tourist Authority (“BTA”) Board. The BTA Board is responsible for the overall direction of the BTA (trading as VisitBritain/VisitEngland), working within a framework agreed with its sponsoring Government department, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (“DCMS”). The Board also monitors the BTA’s performance against targets agreed with DCMS.

DCMS is committed to eliminating discrimination and advancing equality of opportunity in its public appointments. We particularly encourage applicants from underrepresented groups, those based outside London and the South-East and applicants who have achieved success through non-traditional educational routes. This ensures that boards of public bodies benefit from a full range of diverse perspectives and are representative of the people they serve.


Tourism is a crucial industry for the United Kingdom and made up of a variety of different kinds of enterprises, including: accommodation providers, attractions, cultural activities, exhibition and conference facilities, passenger transport, and sport and recreational activities. 

Importance of the UK Tourism Industry

In 2019 (the most recent for which full figures are available), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that tourism industries directly contributed £75 billion to the UK’s economy (gross value added or GVA), with 1.7 million direct employees  This equated to 4% of all GVA.  

Impact of and HM Government’s Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

The tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit sectors affected during 2020 and 2021 by measures introduced to combat the spread of COVID-19, such as restrictions on travel, on leaving home for non-essential reasons and on gathering, and the mandatory closures of certain types of businesses and premises. The ONS estimates that overseas residents made only 11.1 million visits to the UK, a reduction of 73%, and only £6.2 billion, a reduction of 78%, in 2020 compared to 2019.

In June 2021, HM Government published The Tourism Recovery Plan, following the commitment reiterated in the Prime Minister’s Spring Reopening Roadmap announced in February.  It sets out the role that HM Government will play in assisting and accelerating the tourism sector’s recovery from COVID-19, along with a framework for how the government will work with the sector to build back better.

Looking ahead, the government wants to see a growing, dynamic, sustainable and world-leading tourism sector reaching its full potential and driving growth across all parts of the UK.  Specifically, some of the key aims are to:

  • Ensure that the sector’s recovery benefits every nation and region with visitors staying longer, growing accommodation occupancy rates in the off-season and high level of investment in tourism products and transport infrastructure.
  • Build back better with a more innovative and resilient industry, maximising the potential for technology and data to enhance the visitor experience and employing more UK nationals in year-round quality jobs.
  • Ensure that the tourism sector contributes to the enhancement and conservation of the country’s cultural, natural and historic heritage, minimising damage to the environment and is inclusive and accessible to all.
  • Return the UK swiftly to its pre-pandemic position as a leading European destination for hosting business events.

About the British Tourist Authority

The BTA is an Arm’s Length Body of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It was set up by the Development of Tourism Act (1969) and has just celebrated its 50th anniversary. The BTA has a statutory duty:

  1. To encourage people to visit Great Britain and people living in Great Britain to take their holidays there; and
  2. To encourage the provision and improvement of tourist amenities and facilities in Great Britain. 

The BTA trades as both VisitBritain and VisitEngland, with each organisation having different responsibilities. It acts as the Government’s strategic adviser on tourism matters.  

VisitBritain’s main activities are:

  • Running a global network of offices that market Great Britain as a tourist destination to consumers in those regions. VisitBritain have staff in Canada, USA, Brazil, UAE, India, China, South Korea, Japan, Russia, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Australia;
  • Delivering marketing campaigns in conjunction with commercial partners, including airlines and the travel trade;
  • Undertaking and disseminating research and data concerning inbound travel and analysing this to advise Government and industry;
  • Winning Business events including running the Business Events Growth Programme, which is focused on bringing international business events to the UK;
  • Hosting and attending international travel trade shows to promote Britain;
  • An online shop that delivers revenue to the business; and
  • Running an internal transformation programme to enhance digital and people capabilities.

VisitEngland’s main activities are:

  • Supporting the supply side to build digital skills and distribute in international markets with the recently developed TXGB platform;
  • Providing advice to tourism businesses on a range of topics, including making businesses more accessible/inclusive, customer insight and legal compliance;
  • Running awards schemes for tourism businesses; and
  • Running quality assessment schemes for tourism businesses.

Both organisations also play a major role in delivering the policy commitments in the Tourism Sector Deal. 

At the 2020 Spending Round, the BTA received clarity on their funding settlement for 2021-22. VisitBritain receives £20m in grant-in-aid from DCMS and VisitEngland will receive £7m in grant-in-aid. An additional £5m pot was allocated to deliver the transformation programme, business events and domestic marketing, The BTA also receive around £22m a year from the GREAT campaign led by the Cabinet Office 

The Chair of the BTA Board reports to the Secretary of State for DCMS and the Minister for Sport, Tourism, Heritage and Civil Society on the BTA’s performance. The Secretary of State’s current priorities for the BTA are:

  1. Help the tourism industry recover swiftly from the impact of COVID-19;
  2. Ensure the BTA’s work is fully aligned with the cross-Government post-COVID Tourism Recovery Plan, and ensures the BTA makes a full advisory contribution to Government policy making related to tourism;
  3. Strengthen the marketing of Britain overseas to achieve growth in international leisure and business tourism, particularly in terms of value;
  4. Continue to maintain distinct activities to develop and market English tourism; and
  5. Continue to prioritise improvements in procurement, compliance and wider corporate functions, ensuring that the BTA delivers high standards of regularity and propriety.

Aside from the Chair, the BTA Board consists of 7 other members, including representatives from VisitScotland and VisitWales. One Board member is the Chair of the VisitEngland Advisory Board, which provides advice on tourism matters pertaining to England only.

The Role

The chief responsibilities of the new BTA Chair will be to:

  • Ensure that any statutory or administrative requirements for the use of public funds are complied with, that all expenditure is in accordance with Treasury rules for the management of public money and that the BTA maintains high standards of corporate governance at all times. The BTA Chair has an important role to play in supporting the organisation’s Accounting Officer in delivering high standards of regularity and probity.
  • Provide effective leadership of the Board and support to the Chief Executive to deliver on the aims and objectives agreed with DCMS – principally ensuring that:
    • Targets to grow inbound tourism in value terms are met. These include specific targets for the Devolved Administrations; 
    • International activity is designed and delivered in light of the views of the VisitEngland Advisory Board, VisitScotland and VisitWales;
    • The Tourism Recovery Plan acts as a key driver for activity to build back value more quickly than predicted and ensure a sustainable resilient industry that contributes to Government priorities; and
    • An appropriate separation is maintained between England-only and Britain-wide activity and funding.
  • Ensure that the BTA maximises investment in English and British tourism and the promotion of Britain overseas, through partnership engagement and commercial activity, and that all expenditure is in accordance with HMT rules for the management of public money.
  • Actively build collaboration and alignment in activity across an extensive network of stakeholders, working with and through national tourist boards.
  • Act as an ambassador for British tourism, working across Government to further the promotion of Britain as part of the GREAT campaign and through commercial partnerships.
  • Represent Britain at major travel industry events, associations and forums operating at a national and global level.
  • Actively support the Government in meeting the objectives as set out in the Integrated Review of Security Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, using tourism as a soft power tool by promoting the UK to visitors from around the world, promoting familiarity with UK values. 

Person Specification

  • The ability to lead a board and support the leadership of a high profile organisation by providing strategic guidance and effective challenge.
  • An outstanding board-level track record at a senior level including partnership working and the management of organisations through periods of change.
  • Strong relationship building skills, with the ability to command respect, and work with and through others to achieve objectives.
  • An ability to develop an understanding of the tourism landscape across Britain.
  • An ability to understand and oversee compliance of public sector spending principles.
  • Excellent communication skills including the ability to operate effectively as an ambassador for the organisation and work in a hybrid/remote working environment. 
  • A strong commitment to engaging communities outside of London, and factoring UK-wide strategies into all decision making.
  • Senior experience of at least one of the following. Experience and understanding/insight of both would be desirable:
    • Tourism/travel industries; and
    • Operating and developing partnerships within an international arena.

In addition, for those currently employed in the industry, candidates will need to be clear about any potential conflicts between this role and their other professional activities and be able to propose ways to manage conflicts should they arise.

Term of appointment

The term of appointment will be three years.

Additional Information

If you are not completely satisfied

We aim to process all applications as quickly as possible and to treat all applicants with courtesy. If you have any complaints about the way your application has been handled, please contact

Supporting information

This appointments process adheres to the Cabinet Office Governance Code on Public Appointments, which is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. 

All applicants are expected to abide by the Seven Principles of Public Life and the 12 Principles of Governance.

Code-of-Conduct-for-Board-Members-of-Public-Bodies (1)
OCPA-Complaints-Procedure (2)
Public-Appointments-Privacy-Notice-2021 (1)
Declaration-of-Conflicts-of-Interest-Form-1 (3)
British Tourist Authority Chair Information Pack for Applicants (3)
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