VisitEngland says its first ever appointment of a full-time trade marketing partnerships manager demonstrates its long-term commitment to the trade.

The organisation has recruited Claire Burdall (pictured) from Thomas Cook for the new role after purposely seeking someone from within the travel industry.

Burdall has previously worked for Thomas Cook retail as well as on the supply side of the business for Thomas Cook-owned brands like Flexible Trips.

She is reporting into VisitEngland head of marketing partnerships Stuart Heath, who said: “The deliberate hire from within the industry of someone with both retail and operating experience will mean we can really drive forward our travel trade engagement and strategy.

“We recognise we’ve been a bit absent from the travel trade channel but Claire’s appointment will mean we can do even more with our trade partners to grow our and their domestic business further.”

VisitEngland marketing director Alex Mawer added: “We have been seen to be successful with our efforts through the travel trade so far and so now it’s about showing real commitment to that channel. We can’t keep growing visitor numbers on our own.

“We have a fantastic relationship with both the main England tour operators and also the retail travel trade and the support that we’ve been getting from both the multiples and the consortia has been brilliant.”

Mawer said the good weather in the UK so far this summer had seen consortia like Advantage switching a lot of their promotional activity to domestic breaks.

“We are seeing more and more of this happening. This switch is an ongoing thing. Our tracker has always show more and more consumers booking holidays in England, but now we are seeing more of those holidays being booked through agents too. It’s really encouraging.”

Heath said VisitEngland would be deciding on its new strategy, involving Burdall, once it has analysed its latest brand tracker and also the results of a survey it is sending out via its partners to consumers who have booked holidays in England to find out what impact the tourist board’s Holidays at Home are Great had on their decisions.

Burdall said: “I am delighted to have joined VisitEngland at such an exciting time with so much focus and activity around the travel trade. There is so much potential for increasing domestic sales through this channel and I am looking forward to driving this forward this key aspect of the VisitEngland strategy.”