Interview: VisitBritain's New CEO

Sandie Dawe

VisitBritain, the national tourist office for England, Scotland and Wales, announced the promotion of Sandie Dawe to CEO last week, and TravelAgent had the opportunity to chat briefly with the highly regarded lady. (How highly regarded? In 2008, Dawe was made a member The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire of by Queen Elizabeth II for her services to tourism. That’s pretty high regard.)

Rather than taking the tourist office in a new direction, Dawe says that she plans to continue implementing the existing strategy to bring more travelers to Britain, “making the most of the weak pound situation to push home [their] ‘Welcome and Value’ message."

Put simply, she explains, the message she wants to convey is that Britain can offer guests both a warm welcome and a great value. With great deals available from airlines flying to Britain, both corporate and leisure travelers can find better prices for every opportunity.

After 18 years of moving up through the ranks of Britain’s tourism scene, Dawe is no stranger to overcoming challenges. One of her proudest accomplishments, she says, was establishing and leading a tourism industry crisis response mechanism (TIER - the Tourism Industry Emergency Response group) in 2001 after 9/11, “which is now firmly established in the eyes of the industry, Government and media as the definitive source of intelligence and advice in the event of a crisis or emergency.” She was also the architect of VisitBritain’s 'big idea' strategies during the new millennium and the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002.

Today, she hopes to maximize the tourism benefits of London hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In a press release from the day of her appointment, she declared that “it will be a real privilege to lead VisitBritain in its support of the tourism industry in the toughest economic climate in years, to win market share for Britain and to ensure that tourism is recognized as an important British industry. As we approach the 2012 Olympic Games in London, I also look forward to making the most out of this exciting opportunity that will provide tourism benefits across the whole of Britain.”

Dawe joined the British Tourist Authority from the London Tourist Board in 1991 and since then has held a variety of positions in VisitBritain in communications, PR, policy, marketing and strategy, including Deputy Chief Executive of VisitBritain. Her early career included working for the Book Marketing Council and the BBC World Service.

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