News story

Culture Secretary appoints new chairs of British Tourist Authority and VisitEngland

Steve Ridgway and Denis Wormell to commence their new roles on 1 April 2017.

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Culture Secretary, The Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, has appointed Steve Ridgway as the new Chair of the British Tourist Authority (VisitBritain/ VisitEngland) and Denis Wormwell as the new Chair of the VisitEngland Advisory Board.

Mr Ridgway will take over from Christopher Rodrigues and Mr Wormwell will take over from take over from Lady Penny Cobham.

The incoming chairs will commence their roles on 1 April 2017 for a term of three years.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley said:

Steve Ridgway and Denis Wormwell bring with them a wealth of experience and will be dedicated champions of British and English tourism at a very exciting time for the industry.

I would like to thank Christopher Rodrigues and Lady Penny Cobham wholeheartedly for the invaluable contribution they have made to the tourism sector over the past decade and beyond.

The appointments were made by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley.

The British Tourist Authority post is remunerated at £40,000 per annum and the salary for the VisitEngland Advisory Board Chair is £345 per day, or up to £16,320 per annum.

The appointments have been made in accordance with the OCPA Code of Practice. It is a requirement of the Code that political activity by those appointed is declared. Both chairs have declared no such political activity.

Biography of Steve Ridgway

Steve Ridgway worked for Virgin Atlantic for more than 23 years in a variety of roles. He was on various Virgin Atlantic Boards during this time and did periods as the Marketing Director, Customer Services Director and for his last 14 years at Virgin Atlantic he was the Chief Executive.

Steve Ridgway met Richard Branson in 1984 a few weeks after Virgin Atlantic’s first flight to New York. The company became the sponsor of the two Virgin Atlantic Challengers, which with Steve Ridgway and Richard Branson as crew members went on to break the Blue Riband Liner record from New York to the Scilly Isles in 1986.

Steve Ridgway then set up, with Chay Blyth, what was to become the highly successful BT Global Challenge series of yacht races around the World. By this time Virgin Atlantic was growing fast and Richard Branson asked Steve Ridgway to join Virgin Atlantic, which went on to define many great aviation innovations.

Since leaving Virgin Atlantic, Steve Ridgway has pursued his personal interests, which includes St Moritz Hotel in Cornwall, which he owns with his brother. He has also taken up Advisory Board roles with Global Infrastructure Partners and Aim Altitude Ltd. He is Chairman of Scandlines, a large Baltic Ferry operator between Germany and Denmark. He has been an independent Board member of VisitBritain since 2013.

Biography of Denis Wormwell

Denis Wormwell has served as a VisitEngland Board member since 2009.

Until December 2016, Denis Wormwell was CEO of UK tour operating and hotel business Shearings Leisure Group, a position he held for almost 10 years. During this time he led a management buyout of the business and under his stewardship the business grew to carry over 1.1 million customers a year.

Initially starting out in manufacturing, Denis Wormwell was bitten by the travel bug in 1986 and has spent the last 30 years in the Travel & Leisure sector beginning as an overseas rep. In the early 90’s he was part of the management team that bought Club 18-30 and then Sunset Holidays before setting up a new airline called Flying Colours and selling the combined business to Thomas Cook in 1998.

He spent three years as a Director of Thomas Cook Tour Operations, before joining National Express Group where he held the role of Chief Executive of the coach business for six years and was credited with growing and transforming the iconic brand. He left the business in 2007 to become Chief Executive of Shearings.

Denis Wormwell has a vast amount of experience in travel, hospitality and transport and in addition to his executive board roles he has held board positions with the Confederation of Passenger Transport, ABTA Tour Operators Council and the Federation of Tours Operators. He is presently a Non-Executive Director of Uniform Brands Ltd.

Published 19 January 2017