Scotsman Obituaries: Jack Munro, Scottish tourism chief

Jack Munro, tourism executive. Born: 18 September 1949 in Cromarty in the Black Isle. Died: 18 June 2021 in Poole, Dorset, aged 71

Jack Munro believed in working hard and playing hard, but getting the job done always came first
Jack Munro believed in working hard and playing hard, but getting the job done always came first

During years of travelling the world as the head of tourism for Scotland’s capital, few of those who encountered Jack Munro would suspect that his career began on the sports field.

Born to William and Jane Ann Munro in Cromarty on the Black Isle, Jack was one of five children, with older sisters Sheila, Jean, brother Alasdair and younger brother James.

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Jack was an accomplished athlete as a young boy, excelling in most disciplines at Fortrose Academy, including sprinting and football, but it was his love of rugby that spurred him on to become a PE teacher and rugby coach. He went on to study Physical Education at Jordanhill College of Further Education in Glasgow and subsequently took up a PE teaching post at Madras College, St Andrews in 1970. Within a few years he became involved with a community education project at Wade Academy, Anstruther and in 1975 he was appointed Assistant Director for Tourism and Recreation for North-East Fife District Council, where he prepared and implemented tourism policy and programmes for council and private sector partners, developing a series of fixed-period events and festivals.

He moved to Inverness District Council as Conference Manager in 1984, creating and developing one of the first independent public sector conference marketing units in Scotland. Such was his success that two years later he was recruited to the Greater Glasgow Tourist Board and Convention Bureau, the first formal Convention Bureau in Scotland.

Due to his achievements in Glasgow, Jack was appointed Director of the newly formed Edinburgh Convention Bureau.

He was again responsible for creating, staffing and managing a new bureau, including the establishment of a highly effective “Conference Ambassadors” programme with more than 400 ambassadors from public and private sector supporting the Bureau’s efforts to secure major national and international conferences for the city of Edinburgh.

Jack took up the position of Chief Executive, Greater Glasgow Tourist Board and Convention Bureau in 1993, with the role expanded to assume responsibility for the Clyde Valley from 1995. Under Jack’s leadership the Bureau was hugely successful at winning large international conferences, most notably Rotary International, the World Science Fiction Congress and the American Society of Travel Agents, the latter having never been held in the UK until its 67th year, when it was staged in Glasgow.

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After a successful four years in Glasgow, Jack was wooed back to Edinburgh as Chief Executive, Edinburgh & Lothians Tourist Board (ELTB) in 1997. He continued to drive change and innovation and worked tirelessly to expand the ELTB’s role and influence, making it a dynamic partner in the city’s wider economic development, community planning and transport initiatives. One of his former colleagues remembers that he was instrumental in bringing together what had been four different tourism entities with different priorities and merging them into one powerful regional body that worked effectively to increase the value of tourism to all parts of the Edinburgh and Lothians region.

One of the many notable events he presided over during his tenure was the relocation of Concorde to the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune Airfield in East Lothian. He retired in 2005 when the area tourist boards were incorporated into VisitScotland.

Jack possessed finely tuned qualities which made him successful in his field. He was an innovator and moderniser in the tourism sector and served as Chairman of the British Association of Conference Towns from 1992-93 and was a member of the Board of Directors of the International Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaux from 1999-2002.

In recognition of his achievements, he was a joint recipient of the Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland Award in 2003 and was a founder member of what is now the Best Cities Global Alliance. In 2004 he was awarded the prestigious IMEX Academy Award for his contribution to Business Tourism in Europe.

Colleagues remember Jack had a knack for putting together great teams which complemented one another. One ex-colleague affirms that he fostered a culture of working hard and playing hard but always striving to deliver, continuously giving constructive feedback and in possession of a very acute political antenna.

Jack married Lynn Roberts in 1984 and they lived in Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh following Jack’s career. Sadly, Lynn passed away after a long illness in 2003.

In 2007 he reconnected with a former industry colleague, Sue Potton. They married at the Mayfair Library in London and had their marriage blessed at the Scots Kirk in Paris in 2014. Jack then moved from St Andrews to Sue’s home county of Dorset, in the town of Poole.

Jack greatly enjoyed his retirement, firstly in St Andrews and then Dorset, cherishing precious and memorable moments with Sue, being involved with voluntary and community groups, and playing golf, most recently as a member of Parkstone Golf Club Poole, where he is fondly remembered. He took great pleasure in walking the beautiful Purbeck Hills with Sue and their dog, Rory.

Jack Munro’s funeral took place at Harbour View Crematorium, Lytchett Minster in Dorset on 2 July 2021.

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