Industry veteran Bob Cotton has become the first patron of Experience Oxfordshire.
The new Patron Scheme aims to see high-profile individuals align themselves with the destination management organisation for Oxfordshire and champion its work.
Cotton has held senior positions with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and was chief executive at the British Hospitality Association (now UKHospitality) for a decade.
He retired from the BHA in 2010 and became an independent consultant to the hospitality industry.
At the launch of the Patron Scheme, he said: “I am absolutely delighted to be the first Patron of Experience Oxfordshire and get behind this new initiative.
“Oxfordshire is a world-class destination and the work of the DMO is critical to its success in destination management.
“The public and private sectors across Oxfordshire should collaborate on driving sustainable growth in the visitor economy and I will do all I can to help influence this.
“It was great to see so many businesses and decision makers at today’s launch event and I urge all businesses across Oxfordshire to join Experience Oxfordshire.”
Tourism topics were debated during the event including skills, homelessness, sustainability, visitor flow, transport, bed stock and visitor experience.
Hayley Beer-Gamage, chief executive of Experience Oxfordshire, added: “Bob is such a credible figure in the sector and we are delighted to be working with him.
“A key theme that has come out of the lively debate today is that of collaboration and working in partnership, which is vital to not only having a successful DMO but also a successful destination and we look forward to working with our partners going forward to drive growth in the visitor economy across the county.”
The launch event was hosted by the Mogford Group at The Old Bank Hotel and Quod Restaurant.
Businesses and organisations represented at the event included Oxford Brookes University, Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford Mail, Oxford Preservation Trust, The Mogford Group, Stagecoach Oxford, The Macdonald Randolph Hotel, Chiltern Railways, Heythrop Park Resort, Wellers, Christ Church, Jurys Inn Oxford, the Pint Shop, Ashmolean Museum and JackFM.
Pictured from left are: Jeremy Mogford, owner of the Mogford Group; Hayley Beer-Gamage; and Bob Cotton.