Leon Thompson has been named successor to Willie Macleod who is retiring as executive director of UKHospitality Scotland.

Thompson will take office on 4 May after more than eight years leading VisitScotland’s policy agenda.

His time at the tourism body included building links with ministers, Scottish parliament members, cabinet secretaries and key industry players.

Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, said Thompson brought many years’ worth of expertise and a huge amount of political acumen working with policymakers in Scotland.

“He knows the sector inside out and has done brilliant work in positioning Scotland as a world-class tourist destination.”

She said his predecessor at UKHospitality Scotland, had ensured that hospitality businesses in Scottish communities had a voice at the highest levels of government.

Macleod championed Scottish hospitality businesses for nearly 10 years, originally as Scotland’s executive director of UKHospitality forerunner the British Hospitality Association

Thompson said he knew the sector was an immensely diverse and exciting one and looked forward to ensuring central and local government officials worked with UKHospitality to get the best out of businesses.

Calum Ross, chair of UKHospitality Scotland, said Macleod had always been the Scottish hospitality community’s “most vocal and committed supporter”.