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Our Board and People

Our Board


Our Board decides our overall direction, working within a framework agreed with the sponsoring Government department, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The Board also monitors the organisation’s performance against targets agreed with DCMS.

Six Board meetings are held each year; minutes from these meetings can be accessed here

Read biographies of our board members and senior staff below.

Penelope, Viscountess Cobham, CBE

Appointed at VisitEngland’s creation as Chairman, Lady Cobham has led the organisation through some exciting and challenging times. Under her chairmanship VisitEngland looks forward to continuing its drive to promote the England tourism brand in domestic and key overseas markets and to working closely with the sector to grow tourism by 5% year on year, with a focus on future opportunities such as the England Rugby World Cup 2015.

Lady Cobham became Chairman of VisitEngland in April 2009. In 2013, she was reappointed by Hugh Robertson, the Minister for Sport and Tourism, to continue her role until April 2017.

Lady Cobham is a board member of Pagefield Communications, voted in 2012 as the New Consultancy of the Year at the PR Week Awards. She is Chairman of global management consultancy the Highland Group’s Advisory Board and a Director of The Leadership Agency, which advises and trains some of the UK’s leading business CEOs and Chairmen in communication techniques. After 20 years’ entrepreneurial success building a corporate and private entertainment business at her home Georgian Hagley Hall in the West Midlands, restoring and opening it up to the public, in order to defray the cost of running and conserving the last great Palladian house to be built in England, she continues to exert influence on the heritage and arts sectors through board membership of the Historic Houses Association and Birmingham Museums Trust, and is Chairman of the Museum Prize Trust which has been responsible for running the UK’s largest arts prize, the Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries.

Previously she served on the boards of the English Tourist Board, English Heritage, the Countryside Commission and Historic Royal Palaces before moving to act as the Special Adviser on tourism and heritage in the newly created Department of National Heritage in 1992 (now DCMS). Subsequently, she was appointed to the boards of the V&A, British Waterways and the London Docklands Development Corporation, where she led on tourism. She was Deputy Chairman of VisitBritain from 2005 to 2009 and continues to serve on its board.

Her experience in the private sector includes chairing, for 14 years, regional radio station 100.7 Heart FM, the largest station outside London, and board membership of Heart London. Between 2000 and 2009 she chaired the British Casino Association, steering the industry through the period of the 2005 Gambling Act. She has been a consultant with accountants Ernst & Young and lawyers Farrers, Park Resorts and Citi Private Bank.

Lady Cobham was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2014 for her long service to English tourism.

Suzanne BondSuzanne Bond

Suzanne Bond is the Chief Executive of Cornwall Development Company and sits on our board in an ex-officio capacity. She has a 25 year track record in economic development, leading in both economic policy and strategy development and its delivery on the ground.

A political-economist and strategist by background, Suzanne has held senior executive positions with and within European, national, regional and sub regional organisations. She has led on aspects of regional economic development with organisations as diverse as the European Commission in Brussels, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in Whitehall, regional development agencies in France, Spain, Portugal and Scotland, the Government Office for South West in Bristol and the South West Regional Development Agency. The common theme/denominator of her working life is Cornwall and its economic prosperity; she has been an advocate and negotiator for Cornwall at EU, national and regional level for over 20 years.

Suzanne joined Cornwall Development Company (CDC) as Chief Executive in November 2010 and is responsible for the delivery of a c. £295m gross programme of economic development in Cornwall, on behalf of Cornwall Council and the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.

Suzanne has been a non Executive Director of Visit Britain’s England Marketing Board and of Visit England itself for the past 10 years. She speaks fluent French and Spanish and currently lives with her family in Falmouth. 

Nigel HalkesNigel Halkes

Nigel Halkes was a Managing Partner at Ernst and Young until December 2013. In a 36-year career with Ernst and Young, he held a variety of senior roles in the firm, advising major clients in tourism and hospitality, as well as the media and telecommunications sectors. He also served as an Elected Member of the CBI London Council for three years.

As well as VisitEngland, Nigel’s non-executive portfolio include the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon and Rowdeford School in Devizes.

John HoyJohn Hoy

John Hoy is the Chief Executive of the Blenheim Estate in Oxfordshire.

He was previously Commercial Project Manager at the National Museum of Science & Industry (2002-2003) and General Manager of Madame Tussaud’s in London (2000-2002). From 1997-2000 he was Head of Operations and Retail at Warwick Castle.

He is a Board Member of Experience Oxfordshire, having led the Shadow Board that preceded its existence. He is also a Member of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Forum, and a Member of the Tourism & Commercial Development Committee at the Historic Houses Association. He holds no other public appointments. 

Sarah StewartSarah Stewart

Sarah Stewart is Chief Executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative. From 1987 to 1991 she was Head of Regional Marketing Consultancy at Price Waterhouse, and then Marketing Director at the Sage Group plc until 1994.

She then worked freelance in marketing and brand development for a wide range of national and international organisations and companies, including One North East, Newcastle Science City, Bank of Scotland and Shell International, until taking up her present position.

A former Deputy Chair of both the Port of Tyne and the International Centre for Life, she is Chair of the Beamish Development Trust, a non-executive Board Member of Beamish Museum Ltd and a non-executive director of the Tyneside Economic Development Company. She holds no other public appointments. 

Denis WormwellDenis Wormwell

Denis Wormwell is Chief Executive of Shearings Group, a private equity backed tour operator and hotel business.

Prior to this he spent six years at National Express Group plc where he held Chief Executive positions at both the Bus and Coach Divisions.

He has vast amount of travel, leisure and transport experience having held Director roles at Thomas Cook, Flying Colours Leisure Group and Club 18-30 Holidays, as well as previously sitting on boards for Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), ABTA and Federation of Tour Operators (FTO). 



Our Senior Team

Led by our Chief Executive, James Berresford, our three key directorates, Marketing, Enterprise and Strategy & Development, work together to carry out our purpose and Business Plan. For contact details of our office, staff and departments visit the Contact Us section. 

Image of James Berresford, Chief Executive of VisitEnglandJames Berresford

James Berresford has overall responsibility for VisitEngland activity.

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7578 1421 | Email: Candida Janson


James was educated at the City of London University. He acquired an early taste for the tourism industry during his stint as an ice cream van driver in the late 70s. 

His career in tourism started in arts administration and theatre marketing before moving to countryside recreation. He then went on to Nottinghamshire County Council as Tourism Officer and subsequently became Assistant Director of Leisure responsible for the management of various tourist attractions including Sherwood Forest.

He was appointed to the Heart of England Tourist Board as Regional Director in the East Midlands before joining the Northwest Development Agency as Regional Business Manager for Tourism. He was subsequently appointed a Director of the Agency with oversight for Tourism and Culture.  

On 2 July 2009 James took up the post of Chief Executive of VisitEngland. VisitEngland is the official tourism body for England. Its role is to work in partnership with Government and industry to grow the value of the visitor economy at all levels. 

James is married with one son. He lives in Battersea but has a small bolt hole in the Peak District where he likes to make the most of his love of the countryside. He is a Director of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) and the National Skills Academy for Hospitality. James was recently given an Honorary Doctorate in Business from Chester University.

Chief Executive office overview

The Chief Executive is responsible for the day-to-day running of VisitEngland, developing and leading strategies for the marketing of England as a visitor destination and working in close partnership with all stakeholders in improving the quality of England’s tourism offer. Alongside the Chairman, the Chief Executive works to ensure that England tourism is high on the political and economic agenda.

Together, their leadership will help us maximise the UK-wide tourism benefits of major events like the Ryder Cup in 2010, the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

Tim Holt, Acting Director of MarketingTim Holt

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7578 1400 | Email: Tim Holt


Tim Holt is Acting Director of Marketing for VisitEngland and is responsible for the organisation’s domestic and international consumer campaigns, advertising, public relations, digital, web, CRM, international, marketing partnerships, visitor information, business tourism activity and the Rugby World Cup 2015.

Departmental overview

The Marketing department covers a number of areas including:

  • Domestic and International Consumer Campaigns
  • Partnerships
  • Digital
  • Public Relations
  • Business Visits and Events 
Image of Jenny McGee, Director of EnterpriseJenny McGee

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7578 1417 | Email: Jenny Mcgee


Jenny heads up the Enterprise team which focuses on the needs of businesses, providing intelligence, supporting businesses to realise growth opportunities, sharing best practice and managing VisitEngland’s quality schemes.

Enterprise department overview

The team is responsible for:

  • Working with and managing the relationship with the tourism industry;
  • Business support, (accreditation and assessment schemes to assist tourism businesses across England to continually increase the quality of the visitor experience and online tools e.g. The Pink Book Online, sustainability, accessibility and Quality Edge publication);
  • Showcasing excellence and best practice through the annual VisitEngland Awards for Excellence, helping to raise the profile of England as a world-class destination. 
Image of Louise Stewart, Director of Strategy and DevelopmentLouise Stewart

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7578 1462 | Email: Louise Stewart 


Louise Stewart is Director of Strategy and Development at VisitEngland.She is responsible for developing and monitoring the delivery programme in support of VisitEngland’s strategic direction. Her team covers corporate and business planning, research and insights, policy analysis, destination management corporate communications and strategic engagement to ensure the successful implementation of the national tourism framework. Louise is also the Director responsible for the three-year, £41m Regional Growth Fund Programme of activity.

She has previously held tourism and culture positions at regional level covering strategy, policy, investment and regeneration. Prior to this, Louise worked in local government and in the private sector in hospitality, events and adventure tourism; both in the UK and overseas.

Strategy and Development department overview

Louise manages the Strategy & Development Team who form the corporate centre of the organisation, driving forward organisational planning and performance, research and insights, policy and analysis, corporate communications, destination management, strategic partner engagement and  delivery of the Regional Growth Fund tourism programme.

The team are responsible for:

  • Engaging partners in delivering  a coordinated approach to achieve the 5% annual Tourism Growth ambition as stated in the England Strategic Tourism Framework 2010 – 2020, monitoring and communicating its progress and ensuring the actions that VisitEngland have committed to deliver are progressing.
  • Ensuring effective engagement with local organisations across England with an interest in tourism and the visitor economy in order to grow and develop tourism, including Destination Organisations/Destination Management Organisations, Local Enterprise Partnership’s, Local Authorities.
  • Communicating key news and information to Stakeholders and partners, reputation management, crisis communications, corporate branding and handling corporate media enquiries and liaising with the media on VisitEngland’s major projects.
  • Managing a portfolio of major tourism surveys running throughout the year. These include studies measuring the volume and value of domestic overnight tourism and of day visits, studies which measure business performance in the attractions and accommodation sectors, as well as a continuous survey looking at perceptions of England, campaign performance and visitor satisfaction.

Louise manages the RGF Project Team who are responsible for;

  • The successful delivery of the £41m Regional Growth Fund (RGF) Project between 2012 and 2015.
  • Coordinating the project across the VisitEngland and shared services team and external delivery partners.
  • Reporting to government on project performance.

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