Nick Varney, previously the CEO of Merlin Entertainments and recently the president of UKHospitality, has been honoured with a knighthood in recognition of his contributions to the visitor economy, as announced during the King's birthday honours.
After 23 years of spearheading Merlin's growth, Varney stepped down as CEO last year. This knighthood not only acknowledges his personal achievements but also highlights the vital role played by the hospitality sector in the UK.
With over three decades of experience in the tourism and leisure industry, Varney expresses gratitude to all those who were part of Merlin's remarkable journey, both past and present. In light of the challenges faced by the hospitality and tourism industry during the pandemic, this knighthood serves as a reminder of the sector's significant contribution of over £130 billion annually to the British economy.
Varney takes pride in his role within the industry and remains committed to advocating for and supporting this remarkable field. Other notable figures, including Simon Vincent from Hilton, Andrew Stokes from VisitEngland, and chef Robert Thompson, have also been recognised for their outstanding contributions.
Vincent, the executive vice-president of Hilton overseeing operations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, received a CBE for his services to the tourism industry. Stokes was awarded an OBE for his contributions to tourism, while Thompson, chef patron of Thompson's restaurant on the Isle of Wight, received an MBE for his services to hospitality, tourism, and charity.