The West Midlands Tourism & Hospitality Advisory Board image

The West Midlands Tourism and Hospitality Advisory Board (THAB) is facilitated by the West Midlands Growth Company, bringing together all areas of the tourism industry to drive growth in the region’s visitor economy.

The Tourism and Hospitality Advisory Board was established in March 2023 and meets quarterly. It comprises representatives from sectors across the tourism industry and reports to the West Midlands Combined Authority and the West Midlands Mayor.

The Board’s vision is to align the activity of partners working in the tourism and hospitality industry in a way that builds a strong profile of the West Midlands as a tourist destination.

The West Midlands Tourism and Hospitality Advisory Board represents and speaks on behalf of the tourism and hospitality sector in the West Midlands. Members of the Board work to advise regional partners, aligning efforts to achieve the vision for the West Midlands.

The Board reports to both the West Midlands Combined Authority and the West Midlands Mayor. The Board can advise on policy and funding needs at a regional and national level, informing the region’s domestic and international tourism strategy.

From the Board’s perspective, a key point of growth is the success of Coventry being named the City of Culture and the incredible Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. These keystone events and achievements give the region a jumping-off point for further economic growth in the tourism and hospitality sector.

To this end, the Board meets quarterly, attending further meetings and appointments where necessary, while serving or leading any relevant task forces in between.

The Board also:

  • Acts as a sector consultee for proposals (such as from the UK Government or the British Tourist Authority)
  • Give weight to the sector when lobbying to decision- and policy-makers
  • Provide a high-profile voice for tourism and hospitality in the region
  • Review progress made by the West Midlands Growth Company and other relevant hospitality bodies to deliver sustainable tourism and hospitality services, such as ensuring that national initiatives are properly leveraged for action in the region

Decisions of the Board are made by discussion and consensus, rather than a vote, although a formal vote can be called for should the Board be unable to reach a shared decision.

“Hospitality is a real strong suit for us here in our region. The sector has the potential to be a major growth area and job creator in the months and years ahead – despite the many pressures and challenges we’re facing today. 

“To help support businesses during these tough times, we’re introducing a top-notch West Midlands Tourism & Hospitality Advisory Board. We now have a vastly experienced team in place, with some of the region’s biggest and brightest names taking part to drive the sector forward. 

“If we can work together to get this right, our hospitality sector will support our efforts to promote pride in place as well as attract more people to visit, live and work in our wonderful region. Our new West Midlands Tourism & Hospitality Board will bolster these efforts – tapping into the wealth of expertise we are blessed with to reinforce some of our natural strengths as a region.” 

The Tourism and Hospitality Board members are passionate, knowledgeable individuals with experience and influence in the sector. They share the core value of wanting to grow the sector sustainably, generating and protecting jobs for the people of the region, while creating memorable experiences for visitors

Alex Claridge

Restaurateur Alex Claridge is the region’s Night Time Economy Advisor, appointed by the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA). In his role, Alex will act as a champion for the region’s pubs, clubs, bars, concert venues, theatres and restaurants.

The night-time economy is mission critical to the success of the West Midlands but has faced an onslaught of challenges in recent years, having been particularly hard hit by the Covid pandemic, the fallout from Brexit, and the implications of the ongoing cost of living crisis. Alex brings businesses together with wider stakeholders to lobby for investment and action, and acts as strategic advisor to help the WMCA and local authorities create a thriving and safe night-time economy.

Born and raised in the West Midlands, Alex has been part of the region’s hospitality scene for over a decade and is currently the chef-patron of The Wilderness restaurant, as well as the owner of cocktail bar and creative studio, Atelier Birmingham. He has long been a vocal advocate for the sector, spearheading campaigns for sector support throughout the Covid pandemic and beyond, alongside working as a consultant for a number of local hospitality businesses and projects.

In additional to Alex’s role on the THAB, he works alongside the WMCA’s Hospitality Skills Taskforce chair Glynn Purnell, and maintains a close relationship with the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) trade body.

Andrew Lovett

Andrew has 30 years senior-level experience working across the museums, leisure, tourism, arts, heritage and protected landscape sectors. He moved into museums after 11 years working for the Lake District National Park, joining York Museums as Head of Visitor Services in 1996.  Senior roles at STEAM – Museum of Great Western Railway in Swindon (as founding General Manager), and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (Deputy Chief Executive), Newcastle-Gateshead followed.  He started in his current role as Chief Executive of the multi-award-winning Black Country Living Museum, Dudley, West Midlands in August 2009.

Since 2019, he has chaired the Association of Independent Museums (with 1,250 members across the UK). In March 2022, he was elected Deputy Chair of the National Museum Directors’ Council, representing the UK’s national museums, alongside British Library, British Film Institute, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and The National Archives and 40 of the UK’s largest regional museums.

He was appointed to Chair the West Midlands Tourism Board by Andy Street, West Midlands Mayor, in 2020.

He is also Chair of the Dudley Towns Fund Board (a regeneration body), and Chair of West Midlands Arts Trust.  In July 2022, and was appointed a Director of West Midlands Growth Company; a public-private-sector partnership charged with creating new jobs, attracting inward investment, and encouraging tourism in Birmingham and the West Midlands.

Al Titterington

Al Titterington joined Birmingham Airport as Terminal Operations Director, in February 2020, responsible for the safe, secure and efficient management of the terminal operation and the 550+ strong team across the Customer Experience, Capacity, Baggage, Control Centre​, Engineering, Ground Transportation and Security Teams, the largest colleague group in the entire company. He has been instrumental in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Airport’s recovery in terms of reorganising the operational teams and how to best use the existing capacity and infrastructure more efficiently as passenger volumes grow beyond 12mppa.

Al has worked in the aviation industry for 20+ years, and before joining Birmingham Airport, he was Managing Director at Cornwall Airport Newquay, where he worked for 15 years. During that time Al was instrumental in positioning the Airport as a key tourism gateway working closely with tourism bodies, Government agencies and the industry itself.

Ninder Johal

Experienced Managing Director and Board Level Director with a demonstrated history of working in the public relations and communications industry. Skilled in Negotiation, Business Planning, Coaching, Sales, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Strong business development professional with a MBA focused in Finance and Marketing from Aston University. 

Past president of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and current Board member of the Black Country LEP, Ninder continues to play a role in the regions business landscape and represent the LEP on the West Midlands Combined Authority. He is also chair of The Wolverhampton Towns Fund, NED at West Midlands India Partnership, NED at WM5G, and Governor at Wolverhampton University. He is also a trustee at the Albion Foundation which is part of West Bromwich Albion FC and is also a board member of housing association – The Accord group. As a runner up in the Peel Hunt/Sunday NED Director of the year - he is now one of the judges on the judging panel. He also continues to perform as a tabla player for his band – Achanak

Ninder is extremely passionate about business, careers for youth and entrepreneurship; he certainly knows the value of recognising people’s success too. At such a level he created four awards evenings that have been sold out for the last few years. Recently he was asked to bring these awards to the East Midlands and London. These awards sell out and are a highlight of some of the best in their industries business social calendars, with 500 plus attendees at each event. These events attract sponsors from local, national and global organisations along with attendees from the very best businesses in their respected industries.

His business Nachural has now diversified into a media house with the launch of The Business Influencer magazine and the launch of a weekly podcast covering business, leadership and entrepreneurship.

Nicola Underhill

Nicola joined the Hilton Birmingham Metropole team in September 2021 and brought with her vast experience and a customer-focused approach.  Her previous role was General Manager of Hilton St George’s Park Hotel, home of England Football and under Nicola's management her team were able to showcase their first-class service and facilities to the world when the hotel served as the England Men’s Senior football team’s basecamp throughout UEFA Euro 2020.

Nicola’s appointment marked a historical moment in the 45-year history of the Hilton Birmingham Metropole, as she joined the team as the first female General Manager. Previous to Hilton St George’s Park, Nicola spent time at Hilton Garden Inn Birmingham and Macdonald Hotels and Resorts’ Craxton Wood property, where she was a finalist in the 2011 Women in Business Awards. More recently, Nicola was included in the Women to Watch in Hospitality, Travel & Leisure Index 2019, which aims to highlight talent in the industry while also inspiring women to pursue a career in the sector and reach senior roles. 

Sara Blair-Manning

Sara is a visionary and creative leader of heritage and cultural visitor attractions and large-scale capital projects. With over 30 years of ethical leadership, she delivers success by working collaboratively a range of stakeholders. Passionate about diversity, inclusion and education she has been successful in establishing and managing effective, multi-disciplinary and diverse teams of staff and volunteers. She believes that a high quality, creative and accessible visitor offer leads to a strong sense of community ownership and long-term support of local assets, leading to successful place making.

Sarah Rennie

Sarah is an accessibility and inclusion consultant, trainer and non-practising solicitor. She predominantly works in the transport sector, advising companies and authorities including West Midlands Trains, Birmingham Airport and Transport for London. Her work focuses on delivering inclusive services to disabled and older consumers.

Recently, Sarah was part of the Legacy and Benefits Committee for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and chaired its Accessibility Advisory Forum.

Sarah’s focus is on identifying and tackling barriers – social, economic, procedural, physical and digital - and, by doing so, supporting organisations to welcome a wider range of visitors and customers.

She was raised in the West Midlands and made Birmingham her home in 2008. Outside work, Sarah enjoys exploring the region’s impressive offer of bars, restaurants, museums, theatres and green spaces and she is also a Deputy Lieutenant.

Wendy Parry

An archaeologist by training, Wendy has worked in the museum sector for over 35 years, from looking after a Roman Bath House to being responsible for opening the first Museum and Art Gallery in Rugby. Spending 10 years with Arts Council England she was responsible for maintaining relationships and acting as a critical friend  with a number of museums in the Midlands, including Birmingham Museums Trust,. Ironbridge Museums  and Leicester Museum.. She has extensive experience in business improvement including   working for the National Audit office undertaking  Comprehensive Area Assessments on  Local Authorities. She passionately believes in the power of culture to improve  and enhance the places people live and visit.. Currently living  in Coventry she is also a Trustee for Culture Coventry. She enjoys going to Italy for both the food, and culture - and is a devoted ( some might say obsessive book collector) with currently 4,000 books on her shelves.

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