Two leading figures in Norfolk and Suffolk's tourism and hospitality scene have been appointed to head up a body promoting the region on the national and international stage.

Visit East of England has rebranded itself from Visit East Anglia and created the new position of president, which will be taken by Lord Leicester of Holkham, while Adnams chief executive Andy Wood will take over as chairman.

Among their priorities are cementing the industry's place as one of the largest employers and improving the development of skills to improve its image.

Lord Leicester said it was 'an exciting time for tourism', adding: 'The visitor side of my family's own business, Holkham Hall and Estate enterprise, has increased enormously in the past few years, so I am very aware of its importance to the region as the largest sector and one of the main employers.'

Mr Wood said he wanted to work with other organisations to speak with one voice, and ensure the East of England become a 'more top-of-mind destination'.

'There is a big agenda to tackle, not least encouraging skills development and training, improving the perception of the industry, growing the year-round visitor economy and attracting more overseas visitors, particularly post-Brexit when we must ensure that we are seen as a welcoming and attractive destination,' he added.

Mr Wood succeeds the retiring Richard Ellis, of the family-owned Original Cottage Company, who co-founded Visit East Anglia in 2011.

Pete Waters, executive director of Visit East of England, said the rebrand would help raise the profile of an industry which was worth £3.25bn to Norfolk and £2bn to Suffolk in 2017.

The national industry has submitted a bid to government for a sector deal which, if successful, would provide funding for long-term planning and training, or initiatives such 'tourism zones', where cash could be put towards transport schemes catering for visitors.

Mr Waters said: 'It is important that this region has a credible, authoritative voice for its visitor economy, particularly at a time when a sector deal with the government is on the horizon. Working with the Local Enterprise Partnership, we want to be on the front foot if initiatives like tourism zones come to fruition,' he said.

'Our objectives continue to be converting day trippers to stay visitors and raising the overall tide of tourism towards the high-water mark of summer, but as Visit East of England we also want to work with the sector to create careers for life and growth opportunities.'

Doug Field, chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: 'Tourism is worth more than £5 billion per year to Norfolk and Suffolk's economy. But more than that, our visitor and cultural assets are a vital part of our identity and offer to the world.

'We look forward to working even more closely with Visit East of England to support the sector to achieve even greater success in the future.

'The arrival of Lord Leicester and Andy Wood as president and chairman is a huge boost for Visit East of England. Both will bring a wealth of experience, talent and energy to their roles, which can only benefit the organisation.'

In Profile

Thomas Edward Coke, 8th Earl of Leicester

Thomas Edward Coke inherited the title in May 2015 upon the death of his father, but has been involved in managing the Holkham estate since 1993, when he left the army after six years.

He served in the Scots Guards, like his ancestors, and had previously studied at Eton College and Manchester University.

He has overseen the diversification of the estate away from its dependence on agriculture toward leisure, tourism and property development.

In 1996, 70% of the income at Holkham was derived from agriculture and the land. While the income from farming has continued to increase, the percentage has reduced to little more than 25%, as businesses such as Holkham Property Company, Pinewoods Holiday Park, The Victoria Inn and renewable energy ventures have developed.

Lord Leicester is chairman of Norfolk CLA (Country Land and Business Association), a board member of the Association of Large Visitor Attractions, chairman of the Treasure Houses of England and president of the Caravan and Motorhome Club.

Andy Wood OBE DL

Andy Wood joined Adnams in the mid-1990s, being appointed to the board in 2000 before becoming managing director in 2006 and chief executive in 2010.

He has an MBA, a doctorate from Cranfield University and was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2013.

From 2014 to 2016 he was HRH The Prince of Wales' Ambassador for Responsible business in the East of England.

Mr Wood is non-executive chairman of SGWM, an East Anglian wealth management company operating throughout East Anglia, and a non-executive director of Thorpeness and Aldeburgh Hotels.

Between 2010 and 2014 Mr Wood was the founding chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, helping to secure funding for the region and city deals for Ipswich and Norwich.