Speakers

*ETAG Conference Host 2024*
Amanda Wrathall, Sales & Marketing Director, EICC

Amanda Wrathall has over 30 years of experience in the hospitality and events industry and is the Sales and Marketing Director at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, whose vision is “To create an Environment which Inspires Ideas that change the world.”

Amanda heads up a team of 15 who are not only responsible for revenue generation within the EICC but also play a key role in delivering economic impact to the wider city through attracting international business events. Also included in her remit is the EICC’s Sustainability Programme, Step Change.

Part of the EICC Leadership team, Amanda is heavily involved in the EICC’s Hotel and Hotel School project. This will see the opening of Edinburgh’s first Hyatt Centric Hotel, located minutes from the conference centre this 349-bed upper upscale hotel will also provide significant opportunities for eating and drinking in its bars and food hall concept restaurant. The development will also see the creation of a hotel school, delivering quality education and industry-ready graduates.

Amanda is a member of the city’s Operational Advisory Group, who were established to implement Edinburgh’s Tourism Recovery Plan and the 2030 Strategy. Through this recovery plan, Amanda also directs the guardianship of the Convention Bureau function within the city.


Donald Emslie, Chair of ETAG

Donald became Chair of ETAG at the beginning of 2020 just before the Covid-19 Pandemic began to have an impact and before the first lockdown. Since then, through ETAG Donald has been working to support the city’s visitor economy.

Donald is well known in Edinburgh from his previous role as Chair of The Royal Lyceum Theatre and Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and as a NED at Scottish Rugby. He also served two terms as a Non-Executive Director of Scottish Water, the public water utility for Scotland. He is currently the Chair and owner of Thorpe Hall Leisure Ltd which owns the Lifehouse Spa & Hotel near Frinton on Sea and CHMC Ltd, a consultancy involved in the hospitality sector.

Donald is committed to making sure that the city’s visitor economy has all the support it needs to recover from the Covid-19 Pandemic, as well as advancing the delivery of the Edinburgh Tourism 2030 Strategy and its key areas of focus: People, Planet and Place. Donald is a firm believer that the tourism industry has a positive role to play in creating economic, social and cultural benefits for everyone in Edinburgh.


Cammy Day, Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council
Cammy Day is leader of the City of Edinburgh Council. He was elected in 2008 to represent Forth Ward in the north of the city and served as a front bench councillor under the Labour administration. He went on to become deputy leader of the Council from 2017 to 2022 before becoming leader in May 2022. He has also had previous portfolios on housing and education.

Cllr Day is Chair of the Policy and Sustainability Committee and was key in the approval of Edinburgh’s 2030 Climate Strategy, which outlines the actions required to deliver a net zero, climate ready city by the end of the decade, and was instrumental in the creation of the Edinburgh Poverty Commission, which set in motion plans to end poverty in the city by 2030. He also works closely with the city’s key visitor economy stakeholders in his capacity as Chair of the Edinburgh Tourism Strategy Implementation Group (SIG) and has led the campaign for Edinburgh to be given the powers to introduce a visitor levy.


Karen Christie, Programme Manager, Edinburgh Visitor Economy Partnership (EVEP)

Karen Christie is the Programme Manager for the Edinburgh Visitor Economy Partnership, a new collaborative initiative created to deliver Edinburgh’s 2030 Tourism Strategy and Two-Year Action Plan.

Karen recently joined the Partnership from the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) where she was the National Tourism Strategy Project Manager for nearly six years. During her time with the STA Karen led the collaborative development and launch of the national tourism strategy, Scotland Outlook 2030. She also coordinated the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group during the COVID-19 crisis, and latterly established the Scottish Tourism & Hospitality Industry Leadership Group.

Karen has wide-ranging knowledge of the tourism and hospitality sector in Scotland and beyond, developed through extensive collaboration and partnership working with industry stakeholders, public sector agencies, local government and the Scottish Government. Karen is experienced in strategy development and execution, stakeholder engagement, advocacy and project management.

Before joining the world of tourism, Karen enjoyed over 20 years in the food & drink industry where she held senior global marketing and project management roles, driving the growth and success of some of Scotland’s and the UK’s most famous food and drink brands, both domestically and internationally.


Dr Xavier Font, Professor of Sustainability Marketing at the University of Surrey

Dr Xavier Font is professor of Sustainability Marketing at the University of Surrey. His research focuses on sustainable product development, marketing and communication.

He currently serves as advisor in the Travalyst coalition of Amadeus, Booking, Google, Expedia, Skyscanner, Travelport, Trip, TripAdvisor and Visa. He has conducted over 200 courses for more than 5,000 businesses on how to market and communicate sustainability.

Recently, he was the Principal Investigator for the University of Surrey for the €24.5m Interreg project Experience to develop low season sustainable tourism visitor experiences.


Andy Hadden, Founder, Lost Shore Surf Resort

Andy is the founder of the Lost Shore Surf Resort, and has managed the project from concept to where it is today.  His background lies in real estate surveying as well as successfully owning and operating a flexible office workspace called ‘The Lighthouse Business Centre’ in North Berwick.


Marshall Dallas, CEO, EICC

Marshall Dallas joined the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) as Chief Executive in 2014 spearheading a new direction for the venue, and hitting record profit, ahead of schedule.

Marshall set out a new vision for the company, which is “to create an environment which inspires ideas that change the world”. Under Marshall’s vision and leadership the EICC recorded sustained growth, resulting in 2019 being its most successful year to date, both in terms of profits and in generating economic impact for the City of Edinburgh.

With a background in hotels, events and hospitality and as an award-winning Director, Marshall has consistently demonstrated success in financial management, achieving strategic objectives and developing a wide range of businesses with turnovers ranging from £500k to over £30m per annum.

In recent years Marshall has been awarded the Institute of Director Scotland’s (IoD) public sector ‘Director of the Year’ Award, and the IoD Scotland’s Director of the Year SME Award.

More recently Marshall’s vision has seen the development begin on a new hotel and hotel school, in Edinburgh’s Haymarket area. The establishment will be run under the EICC’s management and will be one of Scotland’s most sustainable hotels.


Sarah Prior, Brand Home Head of Sales & Marketing Manager

Sarah Prior, the Brand Home Head of Sales and Marketing Manager at Edinburgh Gin, brings over 3 decades of expertise within the events, hospitality and spirits industry. Sarah leads with a passion for crafting immersive brand experiences, the Brand Home plays a vital role in establishing Edinburgh Gin globally. With a focus on strategic sales and innovative marketing, she is dedicated to maintaining the brand’s reputation for quality and excellence. A proud ambassador for Edinburgh Gin, she regularly engages with influencers, attends industry events, and connects with the brand’s community. In essence, she is not only driving sales; she is shaping the narrative and future of Edinburgh Gin worldwide.


Cat Leaver, Head of Brand & Global Marketing, VisitScotland

As Head of Brand & Global Marketing at VisitScotland, Cat is responsible for providing leadership and innovation across all elements of brand identity, creative and marketing activation, and a portfolio of strategic projects.

Her department – comprising of Design, Multimedia, Global and Partnerships Marketing, and PR – plays a pivotal role in driving responsible growth of the visitor economy through guardianship of our destination brand and creative production, close working with industry and sectors, and delivery of award-winning international marketing activity.

Formerly Director of Brand Scotland and with almost a decade’s digital agency experience prior to this, Cat also sits on the Brand Scotland Strategic Forum Group; chairs our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Steering Group; and beyond VisitScotland has held non-executive and advisory board positions, as well as being an ambassador for the Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice.


Joshua Ryan-Saha, Edinburgh Futures Institute, University of Edinburgh

Joshua is the Director of Traveltech at the University of Edinburgh’s Edinburgh Futures Institute where he leads on the application of AI and data-driven innovation for the travel, tourism and festival sectors.

He has worked in the area of AI and technology for over ten years. He previously worked at The Data Lab where he led programmers to improve data science skills across Scotland. He joined from Nesta where he established the £10m Longitude Prize, that featured on BBC Horizon’s 50th Anniversary Episode. Prior to joining Nesta in October 2013, Joshua worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina developing and delivering projects related to constitutional reform and reconciliation.