Visit Isle of Man, an Executive Agency within the Department for Enterprise, has announced the appointment of Deborah Heather to its newly created role of Chief Executive Officer.
Deborah (pictured) joins the agency with over 30 years’ experience working with all sub-sectors of the hospitality and tourism sector. Most recently as CEO of a company specialising in hospitality and tourism business support; previous roles include working with National and Regional Tourism Boards, including Visit England, The Grading Council of South Africa, The States of Guernsey and Visit Isle of Man.
The new role has been created to implement Visit Isle of Man’s recently released 10-year Visitor Economy Strategy, ‘Our Island, Our Future’, leading a newly formed team structure to ensure the effective delivery of the agency’s objectives. As the current Chair of the Tourism Society, the sector body representing individuals working in the industry, Deborah’s extensive expertise will help to drive the agency forwards, supporting on sustainable economic growth and establishing the Isle of Man as a quality visitor destination.
A key priority for the agency throughout 2023 is to support partners within the local hospitality and tourism industry to ensure the delivery of first class visitor experiences and to aid business growth; providing guidance, training and promoting the assistance currently on offer to businesses. Developing relationships with the Travel Trade across the UK and Ireland, to build and boost visibility of the Island’s diverse offering for potential visitors, is also a significant focus for the agency, as outlined in their 2023 Visitor Economy Programme.
Ranald Caldwell, Non-Executive Chair of Visit Isle of Man, said: “We are delighted to welcome Deborah to the newly created role of CEO. Deborah has a wealth of industry experience and the enthusiasm and passion needed to develop the Island’s visitor economy. We have no doubt that Deborah’s contacts and broader commitments supporting the tourism industry across the UK and Ireland will be critical to the successful delivery of the strategy and raising our visibility within key markets. As an industry expert, and regarded as a thought leader in many key and emerging sectors of the industry, Deborah’s knowledge will benefit all our partners as well as the wider destination.
“There are huge opportunities for 2023 and beyond, and as we turn our focus towards our goal of welcoming 300,000 visitors this year, we are lucky to have Deborah lead us on the next stage of our exciting journey.’
Deborah Heather, CEO of Visit Isle of Man, commented: “I became a volunteer member of the Visit Isle of Man Agency Board in early 2022 having been impressed by their vision and drive. I am now thrilled to be taking on the new CEO role, leading on the delivery of the ambitious and exciting strategy. After a positive 2022, which saw visitor numbers recovering towards pre-pandemic levels, the future for the Island’s tourism sector looks incredibly bright and I am excited to use my experience to help further grow its visitor industry.
“The Isle of Man has so much to offer with many stories to tell, and I am looking forward to finding out more about our local partners and working with them to reach a wider community, so more visitors can explore the unique history and vibrant culture that the Island has to offer.”
Following an extensive selection process, which attracted considerable interest from the Isle of Man, UK and Europe, Deborah’s appointment will see her relocating to the Island with her family. Visit Isle of Man plan to host a series of ‘meet and greet’ sessions for local industry to engage with Deborah personally.