A new CEO has been appointed to Ballarat Regional Tourism, which advocates on behalf of tourist businesses in the area.
Natalie O'Brien, who used to run Food and Wine Victoria, will become interim CEO for the organisation from November 13.
A press release announcing the appointment said Ms O'Brien would be helping the organisation provide a "strong, independent voice for tourism, hospitality, transport and allied services sector in Ballarat."
The chairman of the Ballarat Regional Tourism board Iain Gunn said he was "thrilled" by the appointment.
"We're very, very happy to have someone of her standing with us," he told The Courier.
Ms O'Brien has also been the CEO of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival as well as a former product marketing manager for Tourism Victoria.
- THE INITIAL STORY: Visit Ballarat/ Made of Ballarat to be taken over by council
She was named in the 2019 Australia Day honours list as a member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to wine, tourism and the community.
Now running a consultancy business in Melbourne, Ms O'Brien is expected to be in Ballarat frequently as part of the role advocating for the local tourism industry at local, state and federal levels.
We're very, very happy to have someone of her standing with usIain Gunn, chair of Ballarat Regional Tourism board
She described her appointment as "an exciting opportunity to lead an organisation that represents a destination with such a proud and rich history."
Ballarat Regional Tourism emerged from Visit Ballarat, the arm's length tourism and marketing organisation, which disbanded at the end of September after Ballarat City Council withdrew its funding.
While the council has taken responsibilities for tourism marketing in-house, Ballarat Regional Tourism continued to advocate for businesses independently. As the peak body representing tourism and hospitality businesses, it is a non-profit organisation.
Local businessmen Iain Gunn and Paul Martino were confirmed as chairman and deputy chairman of the board last month.
A state-wide regional tourism review is also currently under way, and the Ballarat Regional Tourism board is seeking to keep the city front of mind during that process.
Mr Martino confirmed to The Courier that Ms O'Brien would carry out the role at least until the outcome of the review, which is expected mid-way through next year.
Have you signed up to The Courier's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.