The board consist of fifteen representatives from the industry who are prepared to give their time, input and experience on the varying aspects of the tourism industry which they represent. The board members act as representatives of their organisation and as champions for their sector of industry and the overall tourism industry in Essex. The board shall endeavour to ensure a balanced and sustained representation of all relevant sectors including public and private sectors.
George Kieffer - chairman
George Kieffer is Chairman of the Haven Gateway Partnership, a public private sector partnership for the growth area of North Essex and South Suffolk, to encourage economic development and build on the area's significant maritime assets. He is also currently Vice-Chair of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership comprising the local government administrative areas of East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend & Thurrock after being the first interim Chair.
He is Deputy Chairman of the Harwich Haven Authority, the conservancy and pilotage authority for the Haven Ports, covering the ports of Felixstowe, Ipswich, Harwich International, Harwich Navyard and Mistley. George holds a number of non-executive directorships and is Vice Chair of Swan Social Enterprise Group Ltd; he is a member of the Enterprise Board of the University of Essex. He is Deputy Chair of the European Regional Development Fund Local Management Committee.
He served on the East of England Tourist Board as the nominee of EEDA from 2002 until 2007 and was instrumental in restructuring the business and the Board.
Councillor Kevin Bentley - vice chairman
Kevin Bentley was elected to Essex County Council in 2009 where he sits for the Stanway and Pyefleet Division and was appointed as the Deputy Cabinet Member to the Leader. Having served two years in this post he was promoted to the ECC Cabinet in 2011 where he is Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Regeneration, Waste Strategy and Trading Standards. Kevin is also a Colchester Borough Councillor and Leader of the Conservative Group. He has also served in the Cabinet of CBC holding the Portfolio for Business, Tourism and Leisure. He has previously stood for Parliament twice in Colchester. Outside of politics Kevin is the Chairman of the awarding winning PR agency Mosaic Publicity and is a journalist by profession. Before leaving to set up Mosaic Publicity in 2000 he spent 20 years working for the BBC as a radio and television reporter and producer.
Chris is a director of the family owned and operated tourism destination, Barleylands. He has been heavily involved in the development of the business over the last 19 years. Chris has always been keen to see all sectors of the Tourism Industry in Essex working together and is very pleased to serve on the new Visit Essex board.
David is Managing Director of Standing Ovation Entertainments Ltd who since 2007 have operated the website www.essex-live.co.uk a one stop shop for Essex entertainment and events tickets. Over 15 years David has gained a wide range of experiences working in the entertainment ticketing, international travel trade and restaurant industries.
He helps his father, Lord Petre, to run the family estate, including Ingatestone Hall, which comprises of both in-hand and let farms, woodland a historic house open to the public and a variety of let residential property. Since the year 2000 he has served on the management committee of the Essex Tourism Association, now part of Visit Essex, including a period as chairman (2003-2008). He is also involved in a diverse number of societies, organisations and charities.
Graham is the hotel manager of the County Hotel in Chelmsford, with some 28 years experience in the industry, for the last 12 years he has been a general manager. He is as enthusiastic now about delivering high levels of hospitality as he was when he started. He also believes in supporting local suppliers and buying fresh and seasonal produce, and actively encourages training and development of his team.
Proprietor of the Battlesbridge Antiques Centre and Frasers Guest House. Also involved with the Motorcycle Museum and associated Classic Car and Motorcycle Shows held throughout the year at our showground. We also host other events including The Essex Boat Jumble several Caravan Rallies and Classic Vehicle Club Days. Jim has been a past Chairman and Director of the ETA.
Karen has worked in economic development and tourism for Colchester Borough Council for 20 years having previously worked in marketing in the private sector. She is responsible for promoting Colchester and the surrounding area, developing the destination and tourism infrastructure of Colchester and working with tourism operators to improve services for visitors once they arrive.
J Peter Murphy - Owner & Chief Executive of CHMC - Lifehouse Spa & Hotel
Peter developed over 20 years’ experience working within Starwood, one of the world’s leading hospitality companies across the Scottish, UK and European marketplaces. He then moved on to be Managing Director for Macdonald Hotels where his role was to spearhead change, people, innovation and structural initiatives to enhance the profile and profitability of the business. Peter is now Chief Executive of CHMC. He is an established figure in the hospitality industry, with a reputation within the sector for delivering operational excellence, leadership and financial performance.
Following an extensive career at sea, he is now the Marine & Cruise Manager at the Port of Tilbury. As an active member of both UK and European cruise associations and Cruise Britain, Richard is working to attract this vibrant tourism source back into the Thames and to Essex. With the ports close proximity to London and the ‘hub’ airports, Richard is liaising with the cruise lines, encouraging the use of the Terminal and local hotels for British and international guests before embarking as well as visiting the many attractions within both Essex and London.
Richard is Managing Director of regional media business, Local World in the South East. Local World was formed on 1 January 2013 to lead a rejuvenation of regional media in the UK and is the parent organisation for familiar and popular newspaper brands like the Essex Chronicle and Brentwood Gazette and websites like thisistotalessex.co.uk. Richard’s responsibilities for the last eight years cover publishing strategy and editorial/commercial performance across four publishing centres based in Chelmsford, Redhill, Tunbridge Wells and Folkestone.
Scott is the Group Manager for Enterprise and Tourism at Southend Borough Council. With tourism marketing, resort management and visitor attraction all in Scott's brief, he has a close liaison with various aspects of the industry. Prior to joining Southend in 2008, Scott was the destination marketing manager for the Suffolk Tourism Partnership setting up some of the early stages of its development. Scott's aspirations for the Visit Essex board are to help improve the perception of the county, which he knows to be of high quality but can suffer from negative misconceptions.
Sheila and her husband Nick are the owners of Layer Marney Tower where they live with their children. Sheila and her family have been heavily involved in the restoration of this magnificent Tudor Gatehouse. Sheila is involved with the following organisations: East of England Tourism and is Chairman of their Commercial Members Advisory Panel; Chairman of Invitation to View and a member of Essex Houses and Gardens.
Stephen is Head of Communications at Lee Valley Regional Park, a 10,000 acre, 26 mile mosaic of attractions which follows the River Lee. Stephen previously worked at the Science Museum in South Kensington where he led award winning PR and Marketing campaigns and has been a reporter on newspapers and news wire services here and in Australia.
Sue joined RHS Garden Hyde Hall in 2006 and is responsible for the marketing, PR and events at this beautiful garden. Having lived in Essex all her life, she has a keen interest in tourism and was one of the original members of the Essex Tourism Association.