Simpson, who lost his job in a round of redundancies last year after only six months at Serco, takes over from Orla Farren, who has relocated to Ireland for personal reasons.
In his new role, Simpson will report to VisitBritain head of government affairs and corporate PR Bernard Donoghue as part of a four-strong corporate PR team.
‘We have a number of campaigns this year, but our priorities are for destination-style work,’ said Simpson.
VisitBritain receives a £15m annual budget from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to promote the UK, the vast majority of which is allocated for marketing.
Simpson’s brief covers high-profile promotional campaigns and crisis management.
In 2003 there were 24.8 million overseas visitors to the UK, who spent £11.9bn.
‘We are going to be doing a great deal more work on business-related tourism because a third of all travel to the UK is for conferences, meetings and business,’ he said.
Prior to Serco, Simpson spent six years as campaigns manager at the RAC Foundation.
VisitBritain has a 44-strong international network of PROs, whose strategy is directed by the comms function that reports to comms director Sandie Dawe.