The Cardiff Hoteliers’ Association has appointed the Vale Resort's Managing Director, Stephen Leeke, as the new chair for 2014 to continue its work of attracting tourism and business travel into the Welsh capital.
Stephen will be taking on the chairmanship for the set term of one year, replacing outgoing chair Marie Fagan, general manager of the Hilton Cardiff.
Made up of 30 members from key hotels in Cardiff and the surrounding area, the Cardiff Hoteliers’ Association was established more than two decades ago as the leading industry voice in the hospitality sector in Cardiff.
Amongst the association's recent achievements is the establishment of the “Cardiff Commitment”, where hotels work together with venues and Cardiff Council to attract major events into the city such as the Rugby World League Cup, WOMEX and the British FIM Speedway Grand Prix. It has also actively championed the construction of a purpose-built convention centre in the city.
Stephen commented on the appointment: “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to chair the Cardiff Hoteliers’ Association.”
“The organisation plays a pivotal role in keeping Cardiff on the tourism map of ‘go-to’ destinations. I’m looking forward to using my skills and experience to push all that Cardiff has to offer to businesses and visitors coming into Wales and the UK.”
Stephen has worked at the Vale Resort since 1995, and has been its managing director for the past 17 years, overseeing the company’s growth and increasing turnover from £500,000 to more than £10 million. The resort has been a member of the Cardiff Hoteliers’ Association since 1999 with Stephen Leeke being actively involved for the past three years.
Mr Leeke’s new role will complement the work he does with the Wales Tourism Advisory Board that advises ministers in the Welsh Government on its tourism strategy.
Stephen Leeke continued: “One of my key priorities as chair will be to address the challenge of working with Cardiff Council in light of the current climate of budget cuts in which the sector is constantly tasked to achieve more for less.
“At the Vale Resort, we have been fortunate to enjoy a very busy summer period, with record occupancy levels over the last three months, so it does feel that the market is improving in South Wales. And, the latest stats from accountancy firm BDO revealed Cardiff has achieved 80% occupancy rate in September up from 78.7% in September 2012. Year-to-date results also show improving occupancy figures in Cardiff of 73.2% up from 72% in 2012.
“However, we can’t afford to rest on our laurels. Mid-week demand is still comparatively weak and business tourism has not recovered to pre-recession levels. So we have to work hard in the face of these factors that are having a downward pressure on the market.
“Having said that, Cardiff does have a lot going for it. It is vibrant, cultural and crammed full of history. Its people are welcoming and friendly, and chain hotels consistently perform at the top of their group in terms of mystery shops.
“By working together as a team for the benefit of the city as a whole, and in conjunction with Cardiff Council, the Cardiff Hoteliers’ Association can help to ensure we punch above our weight and ensure that Cardiff remains a must-see city for tourists nationally and internationally.”