Lord Thurso appointed as new Chair of VisitScotland

March 7th, 2016 | Posted in: News,People

Lord Thurso has been appointed as the new Chair of VisitScotland replacing outgoing Chairman Mike Cantlay. Announcing Lord Thurso’s appointment Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said, “I am delighted to welcome John Thurso as the new Chair of VisitScotland and wish him well in his new post. Scottish tourism goes from strength to strength and I’m sure VisitScotland will benefit hugely from John’s experience and expertise in the industry to grow and develop Scotland’s visitor economy.”

Lord Thurso has been involved in hospitality all his working life. He became Europe’s youngest 5-star hotel manager when appointed Managing Director of the Savoy Group’s Lancaster Hotel in Paris at 27. Five years later he became founder General Manager for Blakeney Hotels of Cliveden, and then he became Chief Executive of Granfel Holdings – a small company with three hotels. From 1995 to 2001, he was CEO of Fitness & Leisure Holdings whose main asset was Champneys Health Spa.

John has served as a non-executive on a number of public company boards including The Savoy PLC, Millenium and Copthorne PLC and Walker Greenbank PLC. He is also Chairman of his family company in Caithness and for many years owned The Ulbster Arms in Halkirk. He was Grand Master of the Keepers of the Quaich of which he remains a patron and currently he is Chair of the International Wine & Spirit Competition, a trustee of the Castle of Mey Trust and a board member of IPSA.

Having inherited his title on the death of his father in 1995, he sat in the House of Lords until 1999 and from 2001 to 2015 was MP for Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross. He served on the Treasury Select Committee and was a member of the Parliamentary Banking Standards Commission as well as being a Commissioner of the House of Commons and Chair of the House Finance Committee. He was awarded a “Catey” for services to Tourism 2003, was made an honorary DBA by Oxford Brookes in 2004 and is a Master Innholder and a Fellow of The Institute of Hospitality. He is President of the Tourism Society. In 2014, he was made a Privy Councillor by The Queen.

Lord Thurso comments, “Scotland is an iconic national brand with a world class tourist offering and VisitScotland http://www.visitscotland.com does a great job promoting both. 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.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said,“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.”

Stephen Leckie, Chairman Scottish Tourism Alliance, said, “I very much look forward to working with Lord Thurso, Chair to Chair and in my role as Chair of the Industry Leadership Group, to share and inspire industry with the Tourism Strategy 2020 vision and deliver that important milestone of £5.5 billion by the year 2020.

“His breadth and depth of experience and his knowledge and understanding of the hospitality and tourism industries along with his numerous high profile and esteemed roles in the world of politics and business will undoubtedly bring an exciting, impassioned and innovative approach to this hugely important position within our tourism industry.”

Which Scottish pub excels at customer service?

Thu 18th April 2019

Customer service is paramount when it comes to running a successful business. BII Scotland is on the lookout for a pub, restaurant or hotel ... Read more.

Which Scottish pub wins the woof and wag test?

Thu 18th April 2019

The Scottish Bar & Pub Awards is hunting for a pub that provides a welcome for pet dogs.... Read more.

Desperately Seeking the Greatest Scottish Bars and Pubs

Thu 18th April 2019

Scotland’s home to some of the best pubs and bars in the world but ‘which bars and pubs have made an impression on Scottish cust... Read more.

Do you know a budding Scottish entrepreneur? Are you one?

Thu 18th April 2019

Buzzworks and Flow are partnering to offer one emerging entrepreneur the opportunity to be mentored by one of the industry’s most experien... Read more.

Sue Says! Straight talking from our very own publisher

Thu 18th April 2019

Research from Rotary Great Britain claims that more than half of all UK adults are lonely, particularly when they get home from work. Perhap... Read more.


Thu 18th April 2019

NEIL FORBES Cafe St Honore, Edinburgh and JUDITH FISH The Applecross Inn, Strathcarron... Read more.

Scottish hospitality industry unites to demand fair rates for all

Wed 17th April 2019

Glasgow’s hospitality industry has been unfairly discriminated against by rates assessors. That’s the view of industry bodies, Scottish ... Read more.


Wed 17th April 2019

HRAFN GIN  has won a Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. HRAFN GIN ‘Thought & Memory’, created in 2... Read more.


Wed 17th April 2019

Here are the first two, FRED BERKMILLER OF l’escargot bleu, Edinburgh and MARK GREENAWAY Grazing by Mark Greenaway, Edinburgh.... Read more.

Star Pubs & Bars extend recycling agreement to leased estate

Tue 16th April 2019

Star Pubs & Bars is offering its leased pubs the same commercial terms for recycling and waste collection it has negotiated for its Just... Read more.

British Embassy adds Edinburgh chef to the menu in South America

Mon 15th April 2019

Edinburgh chef, Barry Bryson, is representing Scotland in a series of  events hosted by the British Embassy in Uruguay, South America, ... Read more.

Sunshine boost for pubs and restaurants

Mon 15th April 2019

Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales grow 3.8% in March compared to the same month last year whe... Read more.

Organic Wine Forecasted to Reach 87.5m Cases Globally by 2022 European Markets Drive Demand and Growth

Mon 15th April 2019

Though organic wines represent a small subset of the total global still wine industry, new research from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis shows a... Read more.

Are you an aspiring young Scottish chef? Then you should apply for the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship

Thu 11th April 2019

 As the application process opens for the inaugural Andrew Fairlie Scholarship, Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland announce the ... Read more.

Scots chef isn’t sheepish about hogget

Thu 11th April 2019

A leading Scottish chef is championing a new campaign to revive a traditional springtime dish. Derek Johnstone, Head Chef at Borthwick Castl... Read more.

Civerinos Food Club opens ‘pizza pub’ on third site

Thu 11th April 2019

Edinburgh-based Civerinos Food Club has opened its third site in the city – The High Dive pizza bar. The new “pizza pub” is on St ... Read more.

Highland Park and SCRAPbook collaboration set to help clean up Orkney coastline

Wed 10th April 2019

Orkney is set to become the first Scottish island to be photographed from the air in a project that will help local communities tackle the g... Read more.


Wed 10th April 2019

Belhaven Brewery recently celebrated 300 years of brewing excellence with a reception at the Scottish Parliament, hosted by East Lothian MSP... Read more.


Tue 9th April 2019

 Portobello Road Gin has collaborated with rock musician and Dire Straits frontman, Mark Knopfler, to launch a special edition gin for ... Read more.

New design crowns Kingshouse

Tue 9th April 2019

The £12m Kingshouse in Glencoe has been unveiled – and what a transformation. It was designed by Covell Matthews Architects for owners Bl... Read more.