Tourist board is given first woman chief: Authority's new chairman promises to 'listen to the needs of the industry'

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(First Edition)

A WOMAN who was once responsible for promoting the sale of millions of cheap foreign package holidays has been given the job of encouraging foreign travellers to come to Britain.

Peter Brooke, the Secretary of State for National Heritage, said yesterday that Adele Biss, 48, will be the new chairman of the British Tourist Authority and English Tourist Board - the first woman to hold the job.

Ms Biss worked at Thomson Holidays through most of the Seventies when the company became Britain's biggest package holiday company. After starting in 1970 as assistant in the marketing department she eventually become head of the company's advertising and public relations.

At Thomson she met her husband, Roger Davies, who went on to become chief executive of Thomson Travel and vice-president of the Thomson corporation before leaving four years ago to work for the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

In 1978, after leaving Thomson Holidays, Ms Biss helped set up Biss Lancaster, which quickly became one of the principal public relations companies in the leisure industry, handling PR for the Association of British Travel Agents and a number of major travel companies.

After Biss Lancaster was sold in the Eighties, Ms Biss remained director of the group until 1990. She maintained her contacts with the travel industry by serving as a non-executive member of the British Railways Board and is currently a director of European Passenger Services, the company responsible for the InterCity trains which will operate through the Channel tunnel.

Ms Biss takes over at the BTA and ETB from William Davis who on leaving the job launched an angry assault on the Government's attitude towards tourism. He said that the pounds 25bn-a-year industry was not being treated seriously.

Ms Biss said yesterday: 'The first thing I want to do is to listen to what the industry needs.'