Thurso new chair of VisitScotland

John Thurso

John Thurso, former Liberal Democrat Westminster MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, has been appointed the new chair of VisitScotland.

VisitScotland has a budget of around £50 million a year and is Scotland’s national tourism organization.

Its main objective is to contribute to Scotland’s “Tourism 2020 Strategy” ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.

“Scotland is an iconic national brand with a world class tourist offering and VisitScotland does a great job promoting both,” said Thurso, who will hold the job for the next three years..

“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.’

Mike Cantlay, outgoing chairman of VisitScotland, 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, said: “We are delighted to welcome John Thurso as the new chair of VisitScotland.

“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.”

Thurso was trained by The Savoy Company and became Europe’s youngest 5 star hotel manager when appointed managing director of the Savoy Group’s Lancaster Hotel in Paris at 27.

After five years in Paris he became the founder general manager for Blakeney Hotels of Cliveden, which became the UK’s highest rated hotel under his leadership.

After that he was appointed chief executive of Granfel Holdings — a small company with three hotels and the East Sussex National Golf Course.

From 1995 to 2001, he was CEO of Fitness & Leisure Holdings whose main asset was Champneys Health Spa where he was the subject of the BBC documentary “Trouble At The Top — Shape Up With Lord Thurso.”

Thurso has served as a non-executive on a number of public company boards including The Savoy, Millenium and Copthorne and Walker Greenbank.

Inheriting the title on the death of his father in 1995, Thurso sat in the House of Lords until 1999.