Rick has spent 30 years entertaining over 2 million visitors at his award winning sheep theme park, The BIG Sheep in North Devon,
He is on the boards of Visit Devon, North Devon Marketing, Devon’s Top Attractions and is the current chair of the South West Tourism Alliance. He works as a motivational speaker and business coach and runs the regional training company Purple Cloud Consultancy, a major supplier or soft skills training in the region
Alistair Handyside MBE
Alistair is the former Chair of the SWTA and Safe & Legal Spokesman. He owns the award winning Higher Wiscombe holiday cottages with his wife Lorna. In 2015, they won Best Self Catering in the Visit Devon Tourism Awards and have just won Gold at the 2016 Visit England National Awards for Dog-Friendly Business. Alistair was instrumental in the establishment of the SW Tourism Alliance believing a unified voice for the South West was critical when lobbying for the region, and that some key services could be maintained by the private sector. Alistair has previously held roles as the Chairman of the South West Coast Path, Chairman of Premier Cottages, and is currently a Director at the national Tourism Alliance. He is also Vice Chairman of the East Devon AONB.
Alistair was awarded the MBE in the June 2018 Queens Honours list for services to tourism in the South West.
Liz is a strategic communications professional, working in the industry for over 25 years. She started her agency, Coast Communications in Cornwall in 2005, moving from a roster of local clients to working with international blue chips in the environment, economy and tourism, infrastructure and education sectors. The company’s work now spans the UK although the majority of the team are permanently based in Cornwall, with colleagues also working in London and Cardiff. Specialising in stakeholder engagement and critical incidents, the agency has worked with central government on a number of tourism recovery plans ranging from the Napoli, Foot and Mouth and Dawlish rail line to restore regional economies.
Liz is on Great Western Railway’s Advisory Board, South West Infrastructure Panel, she chaired the BBC Audience Council SW, Heart of the South West Transport Board and has recently been appointed to be a trustee for the Institution of Civil Engineers and a Governor of the Association of Real Property and Infrastructure. She is a keen advocate of better connectivity, improving transport, communications and opportunities for business, leisure / tourism and communities.
Robin Barker FTMI
Robin Barker is Director of Services for Tourism Ltd, a consultancy/service company with a focus on delivering projects requiring commercial support. This follows 30+ years in travel and tourism, including 6 years at Saga Group, 12 years in consultancy, 2 years at National Maritime Museum Cornwall and 5 years at South West Tourism. Robin’s company heads the tourism awards for South West England and also manages the Beautiful South Awards. It runs the annual West Country Tourism Conference & recently won a tender planning a new model for Visit Devon. Robin is a spokesperson for the South West Tourism Alliance and is President of the Tourism Management Institute.
With experience of working within the tourism and hospitality industry and assisting with the family self-catering business from a young age, Helen understands what it takes to work within this sector. Helen worked for South West Tourism for 10 years and has spent the past 5 years running a successful training company specialising in tourism training. With 15 years’ experience of managing training programmes and projects, Helen understands business training requirements. An experienced manager and administrator with experience in developing courses and coordinating projects, Helen organises and oversees the delivery of the highly successful Welcome to Excellence programme, the highly acclaimed ‘Art of Being Brilliant’ seminars and a variety of other training courses. With experience in developing a range of new courses Helen can assist organisations to tailor programmes to suit their needs. Helen is passionate about delivering outstanding service and improving customer experiences. Helen is a judge for the SW Tourism Excellence Awards and knows what it takes for a business to succeed.
Malcolm Bell FTS, FTMI
Malcolm is a Cornishman and is the Chief Executive of Visit Cornwall, which was created as a private sector led Community Interest Company on the 2nd April 2015 to assume the role previous Visit Cornwall which was an arms length organisation of Cornwall Council. Visit Cornwall is the tourist board for Cornwall. Prior to this appointment he was Head of Visit Cornwall and before that, Director and Chief Executive of South West Tourism, (The Regional Tourist Board for SW England).
Previous appointments include Director of Economic Development Devon and Cornwall TEC where he was personally instrumental in supporting the development of key projects and initiatives, such as, The Eden Project and National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth. Before that he had 15 years in vocational education and training funding and management.
He is also Chair of South West Lakes Ltd, Trustee of South West Lakes Trust, a Governor of Cornwall College, a Trustee of Cornwall Food Foundation – Jamie Oliver’s Cornwall Fifteen Restaurant and Chair of Cornwall School of Tourism and Travel. Outside work and other commitments he is a keen dinghy sailor and coastal walker.
Manda has been working in Cornwall for the last 12 years in the field of sustainable development. Prior to moving to Cornwall, she worked on a range of third sector organisations over 14 years on local, national and international programmes around waste, homelessness and sustainable development-specific networking and communications.Board member, founder, chair and director of a range of community based enterprises and partnerships, she also co-founded CoaST, the Cornwall Sustainable Tourism Project, of which she has been Managing Director for 10years.
Sally’s career in travel and tourism began 15 years ago, working for IHG, then Macdonald Hotels. Target markets were corporate, leisure and incentive, working both domestic and international markets. Sally was a founder of the Oxford Marketing Group, effectively a new DMO. Working closely with Tourism SE, and VisitBritain, Oxford was promoted to all sectors, successfully raising awareness with very limited budgets. She remained on the steering group for six years.
Sally moved back to her home county of Devon 10 years ago, joining Bovey Castle as Director of Sales, After leaving Bovey Sally set up on her own, and offers a bespoke international representation service for venues across South West England, focused on the US, China, Germany and the UAE.
She is passionate about promoting the South West and helps to secure funding to enable the South West to be represented at national and international trade events and sales missions. Sally works closely with the UKTI and with VisitBritain and VisitEngland to both fund and promote these missions overseas.
Message from the SWTA Chairman
"Every Member of the Committee at the South West Tourism Alliance is a volunteer. They are not paid. They contribute because the health and wealth of the South West visitor economy is critical to the overall health and wealth of the region. We all love this region and live and work here.
As Chair it is a huge benefit to have such a wide spread of talent to call upon, and I thank them for their tireless contributions."