Penelope, Viscountess Cobham CBE

Chairman of VisitEngland

Lady Cobham became Chairman of VisitEngland in April 2009. She has 20 years’ entrepreneurial success building a corporate and private entertainment business at her home, Georgian Hagley Hall in the West Midlands, restoring and opening it up to the public in order to defray the cost of running and conserving the last great Palladian house to be built in England.

She continues to exert influence on the heritage and arts sectors through board membership of the Historic Houses Association and Birmingham Museums Trust, and is Chairman of the Museum Prize Trust which has been responsible for running the UK’s largest arts prize, the Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries.

Previously she served on the boards of the English Tourist Board, English Heritage, the Countryside Commission and Historic Royal Palaces before moving to act as the Special Adviser on tourism and heritage in the newly created Department of National Heritage in 1992 (now DCMS).

Subsequently, she was appointed to the boards of the V&A, British Waterways and the London
Docklands Development Corporation, where she led on tourism. She was Deputy Chairman of
VisitBritain from 2005 to 2009 and continues to serve on its board.

Her experience in the private sector includes chairing, for 14 years, regional radio station 100.7 Heart FM, the largest station outside London, and board membership of Heart London. Between 2000 and 2009 she chaired the British Casino Association, steering the industry through the period of the 2005 Gambling Act. She has been a consultant with accountants Ernst & Young and lawyers Farrers, Park Resorts and Citi Private Bank.

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Of the 29 million trips made to England by overseas visitors, just 12 percent are to the north. Not only are these tourists missing out on some of most stunning landscapes and hippest cites in the world, but our regional economies are also suffering with England's £106bn tourism industry dominated by London.
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