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Tributes for committed outgoing Chair of Experience Oxfordshire

Joanna Davidson
Joanna Davidson

Ms Davidson was awarded the CBE for services to local government in 2011 and an honorary doctorate from Oxford Brookes University in 2014. She now specialises in change management in the third sector, working as an independent consultant and coach, and regularly chairs cross sector leadership programmes in a voluntary capacity.

Joanna Davidson CBE, Chair of the county’s destination management organisation (DMO), Experience Oxfordshire has now stepped down from her long-standing role at the organisation with current Board Director and Trustee, Stuart Crook, being appointed as her successor.

Through effective collaboration Experience Oxfordshire works to build the value of the county’s visitor economy and maintain its profile as a world-renowned, desirable destination for tourism, culture and business. The organisation speaks on behalf of the visitor economy sector on local and national issues and is a trusted partner of VisitEngland, the national tourist board.

During Ms Davidson’s tenure Experience Oxfordshire has developed a strong partnership ethos, embracing businesses and stakeholders across the county. Against a background of significantly reduced public sector funding it has managed its operational activity to ensure its resources are used to greatest impact. This was most evident during the global pandemic when the organisation pivoted its focus, expanding its business support and online communications. Digital communications have since grown by 93% while direct face-to-face contact with visitors has been maintained through the Experience Oxfordshire managed, award-winning Oxford Official Walking Tours and working directly with travel trade operators and conference and event organisers.

In response to the impact of the Covid pandemic the organisation ramped up its support to business, responding to thousands of enquiries. Experience Oxfordshire was subsequently recognised as an example of best practice in an independent government review of destination management organisations in England and in March this year was one of the first Local Visitor Economy Partnerships* (LVEPs) announced by VisitEngland.

Commenting on her time as Experience Oxfordshire Chair, Joanna Davidson CBE, said: “It has been a privilege to work with so many talented people during my time with the Experience Oxfordshire Board. Recent years have presented challenges which, I am proud to say, the organisation rose to meet whilst consistently delivering award-winning services. Its work, on behalf of the county, continues to attract the highest praise and I was delighted Experience Oxfordshire was recognised in the independent de Bois Review and with the recent LVEP status from VisitEngland.

None of this could be achieved without the extensive support of our Partners and Ambassador Partners, for which I offer sincere thanks. I wish them and, the resourceful Experience Oxfordshire team, continued success.”

Incoming Chair, Stuart Crook, commenting on Joanna’s legacy said: “Joanna’s period of office corresponded with unprecedented times for the visitor economy in Oxfordshire. We’ve had difficult decisions to make but Joanna has steered us with confidence to a place where we can ensure the organisation will continue to thrive. I am extremely grateful that due to her excellent management, I will inherit a Board of invested and experienced Directors and Trustees.”

Dominic Hare, CEO of Blenheim Palace said: “It has been both a pleasure and a privilege to work as a Director and Trustee of Experience Oxfordshire under Joanna’s leadership of the Board. She has a deep appreciation of the issues affecting the development of the county’s visitor economy and has worked hard on behalf of its businesses in making the case for recognition and support with key influencers locally and nationally.”

Richard Venables MRICS DL, Past High Sheriff of Oxfordshire and Experience Oxfordshire Board Member (2009-2020) said: “Joanna brought to the Experience Oxfordshire Board her extensive experience of senior leadership in the public and voluntary sectors which includes past roles as Chief Executive of two local authorities and a national charity, an advisor to the Local Government Association and a member of a range of government advisory groups. Under her leadership the Board has benefitted also from her previous commitments as a trustee or non-executive director of a range of organisations, including the former Government Office for the South East, and chairing the Board of Oxford Brookes University. She has been an exemplary Chair and leaves the Board and organisation in good, resilient health.”

Hayley Beer-Gamage, CEO of Experience Oxfordshire, said: “The team at Experience Oxfordshire are so very grateful to Joanna for the time and energy she has contributed during her years as Chair. She has a great love of the county’s heritage and recognises the county’s strengths and opportunities as a world-renowned destination not only for visitors, but also as a place to live, to study and do business. Her enthusiasm for Oxfordshire’s success and her commitment to Experience Oxfordshire as an enabling organisation has been unswerving. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Joanna during her tenure and I wish her the very best for the future”.


Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website | + Posts

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.