Alysia Brandenburg #

Director, Ecotourism Australia

CroppedImage250250 Alysia Brandenburg pic


Alysia has been in the tourism and hospitality industry since her teens, working in the family country hotel in Dimboola, Victoria. Since then Alysia has developed a passion and career in tourism in regional communities, grounded in the realities of small business, competitive marketplaces, changing labour needs and quality customer service. Alysia holds a Masters of Tourism from Monash University, is a Victorian Tourism Award Judge and has worked for multiple entities including resorts, tourism boards, membership-based associations and state governments. She is a personal member of Ecotourism Australia and VTIC.

Alysia has a passion and expertise for engaging with the industry sector in a collaborate manner, particularly focused on sustainable destination planning, accessibility and visitor experience development. She was the architect of award-winning tourism initiatives during her career at Parks Victoria and developed and delivered tour operator reforms to reduce red tape, promote resilience and create enabling environments for operators. Alysia is a strong advocate for accreditation programs and industry standards and champions the importance of maintaining quality standards, compliance activities and skills training. She has a personal commitment to the promotion of the health benefits of engaging with nature and is dedicated to experience development that connects visitors with people, place and storytelling in a sustainable manner.

Alysia has served on numerous tourism organisations, including being Chairman of Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges Campaign Committee and TAPAF. She demonstrates strong leadership attributes in governance, financial accountability, strategic planning and membership value. Since leaving Parks Victoria recently, after 19-year career culminating in the senior position of Tourism Manager, Alysia has been working with World Urban Parks, supporting the International Parks and Leisure Congress 2018 in a volunteer capacity.

She is highly regarded as a tourism specialist and industry leader, has a great team spirit, sense of humour and capacity to work together to progress concepts to reality.

Tony Charters AM #

Convenor, Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference

Tony charters ecotourism australia 1 w6001


Tony has over 25 years experience in tourism planning, development and management in the public and private sectors. He was a founding director of Ecotourism Australia and served continuously on the EA board from 1991-2016. He is Vice-Chair of the Global Eco-tourism Network and is on the Board of the Asian Ecotourism Network.

An environmental scientist and urban and regional planner by profession, Tony entered the tourism industry after a successful career in World Heritage Area and multi-tenure protected area management.

As Principal of Tony Charters and Associates he provides strategic advice to leading industry operators and government on tourism industry planning, development and investment; destination development; and the sustainable management.

Tony convenes the annual the Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference on behalf of Ecotourism Australia.

He has served since 2004 as a Finalist Judge in the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards hosted by the World Travel and Tourism Council and is an assessor for the National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World portfolio.

In 2014 he was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) by the Governor-General for his services to the ecotourism industry, nature-based recreation and environmental education. In 2016 he was made an honorary Life Member of Ecotourism Australia and was the inaugural recipient of Ecotourism Australia’s Tony Charters AM Medal.

Lina Cronin #

Communications and Audit Manager, Ecotourism Australia

Lina Cronin1


Lina joined Ecotourism Australia in October 2017 as Communications and Audit Manager, having previously worked for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, Flight Centre Travel Group and EarthCheck. She has written articles for Our Planet Travel, has edited international reports on tourism in the Asia Pacific region and received the Australian Young Talent Award at the World Tourism Forum in Switzerland for a research paper on New Zealand’s sustainability commitments.

Lina is passionate about the potential of tourism to create real and lasting change in people’s lives and in the natural environment, and has definitely inherited the travel bug from her two German parents. This combination has given her the opportunity to live and work in Australia, Spain, Norway, Germany, Scotland and Taiwan and do work in China, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam.

Dr Claire Ellis #

Chair, Ecotourism Australia

Claire Ellis


Dr Claire Ellis is the Chair of Ecotourism Australia. She has worked for over 35 years in tourism across a variety of roles. During this time, she has been a tourism operator (running her own business in Indonesia), employed by other operators, an academic and researcher, in State Government and is now working as a consultant. As a Director, Infrastructure and Industry Development, at Tourism Tasmania, she oversaw a number of key areas of work including growing the capacity of Tasmania’s tourism industry in the digital environment. Claire has also been Chair of the National Long Term Tourism Strategy’s Destination Management Planning Working Group. During her six years in Tourism Tasmania she worked closely with key projects including the selection and development of the Three Capes Track. Her consultancy work now takes her across Australia as well as overseas. She has built a reputation for creating long term positive outcomes, particularly in regional areas, and works closely with clients and stakeholders supporting strategic improvements. Claire is also a Board member of Australian Wildlife Journeys, Volunteering Tasmania, and NRM Southern Tasmania and an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Tasmania.

Sofie Formica #

Conference Master of Ceremonies

Sofie Formica1


Sofie Formica joins the Global Eco team

Sofie Formica will chair the single plenary sessions of Global Eco Asia-Pacific in Cairns, Queensland this year. With 30 years of high profile broadcast media experience in Australia and USA, Sofie Formica has earned a reputation as a passionate high-profile advocate for tourism in Australia. Hosting popular television shows along with public and industry events, she is one of the most experienced and trusted presenters in the tourism sector. Along with her loyal audience and social media following, she has extensive networks within the sector and provides a fresh and unique perspective to key industry stakeholders. Sofie is particularly passionate about the future of ecotourism and evolution of this critical sector of the tourism industry.

“Sofie was our MC at last year’s conference and brought a whole new dimension to the event. Her professionalism and knowledge of the tourism industry provides invaluable depth to the sessions she chairs” conference convenor Tony Charters AM said.

Daniel Gschwind #

Chief Executive Officer, Queensland Tourism Industry Council

Headshot   Daniel Gschwind   cropped (1)


Daniel Gschwind is the Chief Executive for the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC). QTIC is Queensland’s peak tourism industry body with more than 2,000 members throughout the state, including 13 regional tourism organisations and 15 sector associations.

Daniel represents QTIC on various committees and advisory boards including the GBRMPA Tourism Reef Advisory Committee (TRAC) and the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC, University of Queensland Industry Advisory Board (Business School), the Griffith Institute for Tourism Advisory Board and the Bond University Regional Advisory Board. He is a board member of Jobs Queensland, a statutory authority, and is the deputy chair of the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) and the chair of Australian Tourism Awards.

Daniel is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland Business School. He is the Honorary Consul of Switzerland for Queensland.

Daniel holds an honours degree in economics from the University of Queensland and has worked as a senior economist with Queensland Treasury. He is a Vice Patron of Surf Life Saving Queensland, an Ambassador for the Queensland Museum Foundation, an Ambassador for the 30-Year Queensland Plan and an Ambassador for the World Tourism Forum. Daniel is also on the Inspiring Australia – Queensland program reference group.

He has previously been involved in yacht charter operations in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean for ten years.

Wendy Hills #

Director, Ecotourism Australia

Wendy Hills


For over 25 years, Wendy has worked in the Australian tourism industry in various marketing and development roles, including destination, product and industry development with a proven expertise in sustainable indigenous tourism and the importance that this sector plays in identifying Australia’s cultural strengths and ‘point of difference’, in a very competitive global marketplace.

She has worked for private enterprise companies, two State Tourism Organisations, Indigenous Business Australia and Tourism Australia as the head of the Australian Experiences team, responsible for the development and marketing of Australia’s 7 key experiences, including ‘Natural Australia’ and ‘Aboriginal Australia’.

Wendy joined the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in December 2011, and has managed several portfolios, including Aboriginal cultural tourism development, marketing and campaigns, nature-based tourism and partnership development, and now currently manages the Volunteer and Education Teams, responsible for program development within relevant NSW National Parks and Reserves.

Wendy is a current Director of Ecotourism Australia, and a Board member of the Booderee National Park Joint Board of Management.

Keynote Speakers

Dr Mubarak Alrashedi #

Général Director, National Parks, Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Water, Saudi Arabia

Alrashedi Mubarak


Dr. Mubarak is an advisor of the deputy of the Ministry of Environment and the director of the National Parks Department as well. He is a membership of both Saudi Society for Agricultural Sciences and Horticulture International Society. In 2017, he was a consultant of the national parks at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Saudi Arabia. In 2013, he was the leader of Saudi Students’ Club in Western Australia for two years in row. He worked as an assistant Director of Projects Department, Operation and Maintenance Department at King Abdulaziz Military College. Meanwhile, he was a consultant for a landscaping skills company. In 2015, Dr. Mubarak got his PhD from the College of Science and Engineering, Department of Environment and Agriculture at Curtin University, in Western Australia. In 2007, he got his master’s degree in horticulture science from the College of Agriculture and Food Science, at King Saud University in Riyadh.

Tara Bennett #

Executive Officer, Tourism Port Douglas Daintree

Tara Bennett1


Tara Bennett is executive officer of Tourism Port Douglas Daintree, the local tourism organisation for the Douglas Shire. After growing up in country Victoria followed by a stint studying in Melbourne, Tara travelled and lived abroad for four years before settling in Port Douglas and forging a career in hospitality. After working her way through the ranks of Tourism Port Douglas Daintree, Tara’s current role sees her representing the region marketing to domestic and key international travellers and working with stakeholders to strengthen the industry for the region.

With a Masters in Ecotourism from James Cook University Tara has considerable experience in regional tourism issues and destination marketing. Tara is a passionate advocate for tourism and its role in achieving sustainable economic development for communities and conservation outcomes.

Greg Bruce #

General Manager Environmental Services, Division of Planning, Environment and Culture, Townsville City Council

Greg Bruce, Australia


Greg Bruce has worked in local government on environmental management and sustainability as a practitioner and an executive manager for 20 years. Greg has evolved and delivered innovative, adaptive and a community relevant “system designed for change” in the way sustainability and environmental outcomes are achieved for the city and community. He sees Ecotourism as a major opportunity to assist the planet with sustainability in practice. Greg led Townsville City Council to achieve Advanced Ecotourism Certification in 2006 for their Eco-education catchment tours. The Council has retained this certification. In addition, they have worked closely with Professor Sam Ham for the past 10 years building strategic and on-ground thematic communication practices across and within the community. He has also pioneered with his team and experts, collective learning and advanced technology (STEM) based approaches to NRM and Sustainability, including the cities Rowes Bay Sustainability Centre and NRM Hub.

Amy Carter-James #

Founder and Managing Partner, Rippl

Amy Carter James profile1


Amy is a global leader in the travel industry, having won every award of note in the “sustainable” tourism sector. She was tipped as one of the top 30 under 30 in London to watch as well as selected as the International Hotel Investment Forum’s “Young Leader”.

Having found her purpose at a young age, she developed a pioneering hotel in remote, rural Africa which continues to lift over 36,000 people out of poverty. However, 17 years on, in April 2019, an unprecedented cyclone destroyed the property and left the entire region without shelter, food and livelihoods; the situation providing a glimpse into the tragic reality of our climate crisis. Her foundation was the first to deliver food and is currently working tirelessly to facilitate a swift and sustainable recovery.

Amy has spent the last decade advising some of the leading hotel brands in the world on how to strengthen their brand while amplifying their own impact. Currently she is preparing to launch a new venture to enable the tourism industry to collectively contribute towards solving global challenges.

Cameron Costello #

Chief Executive Officer, Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation

Cameron Costello1


Cameron is a Quandamooka man from Moreton Bay off the coast of Brisbane in South East Queensland.

Cameron is a law graduate from the University of Queensland and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Leisure Management.

Cameron has worked previously in the legal industry and has over 15 years’ experience in local and state governments delivering First Nation policies and programs including the Backing Indigenous Arts Program and the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair. Cameron is currently the CEO for the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) ‐ the Native Title Body and Cultural Heritage Body for the native title determination over Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island).

He is on the Board of Minjerribah Camping, a 100% owned QYAC business that runs Holiday Parks and camping on Minjerribah.

Currently Cameron also is an active member on a number of committees including Queensland Tourism Industry Council, Economic Transition Strategy (ETS) Committee, Koala Advisory Council, Redland City Council (RCC) Tourism Sub-Committee and the Senior Implementation Working Group for the Naree Budjong Djara National Park.

Arturo Crosby #

Chief Executive Officer, Forum Natura International, Spain

Arturo Crosby1


Environmental Biologist, Postgraduate in Sustainable Rural Tourism Development. Founder of The School for Green Innovation and CEO, Forum Natura International (NGO, 1996).

Professor, Adviser, and consultant on tourism in rural, natural areas, innovation etc. for many different organisations (UNWTO, EU, UNEP, NGO’s, etc.). Editor & Director Natour Magazine, Blogger & Influencer for Reputation (Some other media). Project Manager of the Wine Tourism Association of Spain.

One of the pioneers of Tourism in rural and natural areas (Ecotourism) in Europe and Latin America. Writer (7 books and coming up a new one about the Neo Tourism in Rural Areas.) Rural Tourism Business Owner for 16 years, in Spain (Extremadura Region). Lecturer, speaker and adviser for different institutions in Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

Dr Matt Curnock #

Social Scientist, CSIRO

Matt Curnock


How do we Assess and Monitor Aesthetic Values of the Great Barrier Reef?

They say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but can the aesthetic values of a place be measured and monitored in an objective, scientific way? Aesthetic beauty is a major driver of tourist visitation to natural areas, and it forms a part of the selection criteria for the Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage listing. However, identifying reliable indicators for monitoring aesthetic values –to help Reef users and managers maintain or enhance those values– has been an ongoing challenge. In this presentation, we describe our research and key findings that are contributing to the development of an Aesthetics Long-Term Monitoring Program (ALTMP) for the Great Barrier Reef. We report on three phases of work: (i) identifying statistically robust indicators of coral reef aesthetics in photographs, via online surveys of 1400 Australians, (ii) accounting for inter-observer biases and establishing levels of confidence in data contributed by non-experts (e.g. tourists), and (iii) engaging extensively with end-users and stakeholders to define the objectives, data curation, and reporting needs for ALTMP. The program design also aims to incorporate A.I. analyses of Reef imagery (see abstract by Susanne Becken et al.) alongside human assessments. The benefits and opportunities offered by ALTMP will include greater engagement with and between tourists, tourism operators, local residents, citizen science groups, research institutions and Reef managers, in their collective efforts to restore and maintain the aesthetic and other social-ecological values of important places and habitats throughout the World Heritage Area.


Matt is a social-environmental scientist with the CSIRO, based in Townsville. His research career over the past two decades has included numerous ecotourism, wildlife management, and Great Barrier Reef-related projects.

Hugo de Jong #

Certification Manager and Co-founder, Green Destinations, The Netherlands

Hugo De Jong


Hugo de Jong is a sustainable tourism professional with an MSc degree in Leisure, Tourism & Environment. He developed expertise in sustainable destination strategy development in South America, policy advice for recreation and tourism in The Netherlands and community-based tourism in Central America and South-East Asia. Prior to Green Destinations he worked in for the European Centre for Eco- and Agrotourism on the development of Travelife Certification Program for Tour Operators. As co-founder of Green Destinations, Hugo manages the Award & Certification Program and helped developing its online sustainability assessment and reporting platform.

John Doorbar #

Director of Regions and Capability, New Zealand Māori Tourism, New Zealand

John Doorbar


John’s work includes building a framework for capability development in the Māori tourism sector and improving the gathering of Māori tourism data.

John was an integral member of NZ Māori Tourism from 2010 to 2014 as Chief Advisor to the Chief Executive. In 2015, he took on a role with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to lead the regional economic development work programme.

In his downtime, John escapes the city for the farm at Waitara, where he raises dairy heifers and is restoring the ecology of the farm lake. He also enjoys restoring and riding classic motorbikes.

Francisco Dousdebés #

Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Manager, Metropolitan Touring, Ecuador

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Tour Operators Must Be Agents of Change: the case of Metropolitan Touring, Ecuador

Tour Operators at all levels must get involved in protecting the destinations where they operate. While the level of commitment may differ in our industry, there is no doubt ecotourism can be the greatest contributor for keeping destinations pristine, and a platform for positive feedback amongst explorers. Since 1953, Metropolitan Touring in ECUADOR-South America has taken some remarkable initiatives that have become agents of change. The examples shown will hopefully inspire others, particularly our carbon neutral efforts where offsetting is happening at one of the most biodiverse places on Earth: the Chocó Biosphere Reserve.


The Unique Example of How Tourism is Managed in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands of Ecuador were declared in 1978 a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, both the land and the ocean surrounding the islands, are protected natural resources that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. They are also an icon for scientific studies to the high number of endemic species. Quite naturally, they are easily added to most traveller’s bucket list. How much tourism can the islands hold? How can we manage such high demand of visitors in front of limited areas for visiting? Can luxury ecotourism solve the puzzle? What is sustainable for such local realities?


From Logging to World-Class Ecotourism Lodge: Mashpi Rainforest Lodge, Ecuador

Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador has become a role model in conservation/transformation of environmental forces that integrate the local communities of the Chocó Bioregion. What used to be a logging and hunting area for extractive activities in the 1950s, is now a world example of forest conservation, community engagement, and ecotourism. Furthermore, it is where the most ambitious carbon neutrality projects reside. Mashpi Lodge fosters the understanding of the climate crisis, and allows guests to become part of this effort by travelling carbon neutral while in Ecuador.


Francisco Dousdebés is an Ecuadorian, born in Quito. Early in life he developed a special interest in natural sciences and a special feeling for the outdoors. After finishing high school in Ecuador, he travelled abroad as an exchange student and landed in the Midwest of the United States. Afterwards, studied Biology, and in 1986 a great opportunity landed right in his hands; to become a Naturalist Guide for the Galapagos National Park, and worked for Ecuador’s largest tour operator Metropolitan Touring. In 1988, he headed back to the United States, and studied Broadcasting Communications. There, he worked for the Science Museum of Minnesota, and got his Scuba Diving certification. Upon returning to Ecuador, Francisco went back working as a Naturalist-Dive Guide in Galapagos, where he developed a special interest in birdwatching, marine life, writing, and photography. He has led extensive scuba diving trips in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, and has completed over 500 dives there. Further education included Hospitality Management and was later appointed Cruise Director/Hotel Manager of Yacht Isabela II, a luxury expedition vessel in Galápagos for about four years.

In 2000 he was given the responsibility of leading the Galapagos Expedition Department for Metropolitan Touring, where he was in charge of developing the expedition philosophy, managing Naturalist Guides and training the sales staff of his company and clients all over the Americas. For many years, Francisco led the Environmental Affairs Department of Ecuador’s Metropolitan Touring and designed sustainable strategies that allowed minimizing the environmental footprint of tour operations, as well as corporate development. In 2009, he was a finalist in the Heart of Green Awards because of his environmental leadership. Attending international trade shows, fairs, and seminars has allowed him to understand the industry even further, as he represents his country in international forums with Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism. He also lectures on natural history of Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands, and focuses on natural selection, evolution, and sustainable tourism. Travelling has become a passion for him, and when free time lands on his hands, he is likely to have already arrived at his next destination. Until February 2014, Francisco was the Commercial Manager for three key markets in Ecuador’s inbound tourism: Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Recently, he completed his 5-year project as Product Manager for Yacht La Pinta, Yacht Isabela II and the Boutique Hotel Casa Gangotena in Ecuador. He’s back in the field as Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Manager at Metropolitan Touring-ECUADOR, and leads the company’s most ambitious initiative: becoming Ecuador’s first 100% carbon neutral tour operator.

He loves to promote the beauty of Ecuador all over the World, and has participated in many Trade Shows, International Forums, and Roadshows together with the Ministry of Tourism and Quito Turismo. He has lectured before at Australia’s Global Ecotourism Conference, including two keynote addresses. He has also contributed as a keynote speaker at the famous Incubatour Congress in Mexico, introducing the history of tourism development in Ecuador & the Galapagos, as well as the innovative concept of Mashpi Lodge. He is keen on explaining the role of sustainability at fragile destinations, and also lectures in Ecuador’s natural history, natural selection, evolution, and sustainable tourism. Traveling is certainly one of his passions, and when time is available he has surely arrived at his next exploring destination.

Dr Sally Driml #

Lecturer and Researcher, Tourism Discipline, UQ Business School, The University of Queensland

Sally Driml1


Queensland’s National Parks: an economically important tourism resource

A collaborative project between the University of Queensland and the Department of Environment and Science has shed light on the considerable economic value to the state provided by tourism to Queensland’s national parks. This is important in establishing an economic value for a resource that is generally free to enter and so has no obvious market value.

Economic value was established using two well accepted economic approaches. First, we found that a large proportion of visitors deliberately planned their visit to a national park before they left home, and many rated the national park as an important destination. Counting those visitors only, we measured their expenditure in the region surrounding the national park. This expenditure was then interpreted in terms of contribution to Gross State Product and employment supported.

The second economic approach was to estimate the non-market value of consumer surplus accruing to visitors over and above the cost to them of visiting national parks. When extrapolated into the future as an ‘asset value’ – this runs into the billions of dollars. Given these economic values, what do they say about Queensland’s investment in national park visitor management? The benefit cost ratios of visitor economic benefits to cost of park management show significant positive ratios, even under the most conservative of scenarios.

The research included four case study national park areas in representative tourism regions — comparisons across these four destinations demonstrate similarities and differences between sites.

Presenting with Assoc Prof Richard Brown.


Co-presenter of: Learning from Success: two Malaysian community based ecotourism case studies
Presenting with Dr Marcus Curcija and Dr Noreen Breakey.

Communities face numerous challenges when implementing community based ecotourism (CBE). As a result, projects often do not deliver on the planned or anticipated community and environmental outcomes. To understand how communities could mitigate negative impacts, increase the benefits, and create ‘successful’ outcomes, two CBE case studies were selected within Malaysia. The locations were chosen to derive insights based on a comparative analysis and interviews were conducted with community, government, NGO, academic, and private industry stakeholders.

Case Study Sabah is a ‘successful’ CBE destination and Case Study Sarawak is an ‘emerging’ destination. The classification of ‘successful’ is used as the CBE is self-sustaining and generating numerous positive outcomes. ‘Emerging’ recognises that the community is receiving visitation and some economic benefits for some community members; however, ongoing issues are limiting poverty alleviation, community involvement, and environmental sustainability.

A key difference between the cases was that Case Study Sabah had successfully implemented the planned ‘Five CBE Development Phases’: Research, Exposure, Brainstorming, Detailed Planning, and Operations. These can be adopted to develop a community’s capacity for economic development through CBE. Furthermore the case study research, in conjunction with the broader CBE study, identified ‘Six Main Requirements for Positive CBE Outcomes’ which aim to create ‘Successful’ CBE destinations: proper implementation of planning is necessary, dedicated leadership must remain diligent and support participation, the community’s goals and benefit scheme should be reviewed systematically, successful CBE takes time, the funding process must enable the empowerment of the community, and partnerships and networks need to be utilised.


Sally Driml holds a PhD in environmental economics and is a lecturer and researcher in Tourism at the UQ Business School, The University of Queensland, Australia. She is currently applying her economic skills to tourism research, including tourism in protected areas. She has published on economic values of visitor use of protected areas including Australian World Heritage Areas, the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics WHA, and Queensland National Parks. Prior to joining the University of Queensland, Sally had extensive experience in working in government in economic analysis, environmental policy development, and tourism planning and development for destinations and communities.

Ann Dumaliang #

Managing Trustee, Masungi Georeserve, Philippines

Ann Dumaliang2


Ann Dumaliang & Billie Dumaliang are managing trustees of the Masungi Georeserve - a privately-led conservation project in the mountains of the Philippines featuring massive pinnacle karst formations. The project, now spanning some 2700 hectares of land to restore, focuses on using geotourism and the geopark model as a bottoms-up approach to conservation, development, and supporting rural growth.

The project has received special commendations for the Pathfinder Award granted by the IUCN, UNDP & WildArk for financing and resourcing innovations for conservation in 2018. In 2019, it is also currently a finalist for two tourism global awards with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) & the United Nationals World Travel Organisation (UNWTO).

Billie Dumaliang #

Managing Trustee, Masungi Georeserve, Philippines

Billie Dumaliang


Ann Dumaliang & Billie Dumaliang are managing trustees of the Masungi Georeserve - a privately-led conservation project in the mountains of the Philippines featuring massive pinnacle karst formations. The project, now spanning some 2700 hectares of land to restore, focuses on using geotourism and the geopark model as a bottoms-up approach to conservation, development, and supporting rural growth.

The project has received special commendations for the Pathfinder Award granted by the IUCN, UNDP & WildArk for financing and resourcing innovations for conservation in 2018. In 2019, it is also currently a finalist for two tourism global awards with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) & the United Nationals World Travel Organisation (UNWTO).

David Edwards #

Projects Chief Executive, Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development

David Edwards1


Partnering with Traditional Owners for Economic and Social Empowerment

Queensland is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, yet ecotourism remains an underutilised market in the ‘sunshine state’. The Queensland Government is actively changing this through its commitment to create world-class ecotourism experiences in collaboration with Traditional Owners and tourism operators through the Queensland Ecotourism Trails program. This program is designed to provide the opportunity for Traditional Owners to move back to Country and bring the economy to them.

On the Sunshine Coast, the Government is collaborating with the Kabi Kabi People Traditional Owners to identify their job and business aspirations for the Cooloola Great Walk Ecotourism Trail. The Government is coordinating relevant agencies such as Indigenous Business Australia and the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships to assist in capacity and capability building for the Kabi Kabi People. Already the Government is in the process of developing the first Kabi Kabi tourism business venture being, a guided walk which will be delivered as a sustainable and authentic Indigenous tourism product.

Traditional Owners play a vital role in the Ecotourism Trails program with a key objective being to secure genuine and long-term job and business opportunities for Traditional Owners. This is in hope that the skills, capabilities and knowledge can be transferrable to ventures outside of the trails and for future generations. This presentation will highlight how we are creating iconic ecotourism experiences that present Queensland’s natural and cultural assets while creating opportunities for social and economic empowerment for Traditional Owners.


David’s professional background is in economics, infrastructure, project management and public policy. He has had a distinguished and successful career at senior levels of the State’s public and private sectors. David is currently the Projects Chief Executive of the Tourism Development Projects Division at the Department of Innovation, Tourism Industry Development and the Commonwealth Games, with responsibility for the delivery of Queen’s Wharf Brisbane, the largest private property development in the nation and the procurement process for the Tropical North Global Tourism Hub in Cairns. David is also responsible for delivering adventure and nature-based tourism projects in and around national parks.

Bruce Elliot #

General Manager Reef Engagement, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Bruce Elliot


Bruce Elliot has over 30 years’ experience with the Commonwealth Government across three portfolios, including over 12 years’ experience as a senior executive.

Bruce has been with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (the Authority) since September 2008, most recently as the General Manager Reef Engagement, a position he has held since 1 November 2017. He was previously General Manager Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use and General Manager Corporate Services.

Prior to joining the Authority, Bruce was an Assistant Commissioner with the Australian Taxation Office, where he was responsible for capability leadership of Intelligence and Risk and the provision of support to compliance programs.

Prior to joining the APS, Bruce served in the Australian Army for 20 years retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2006. Bruce’s career highlights with Defence included two operational tours, command appointments, and overseas posting to New Zealand, Indonesia and the United States of America.

Bruce holds a Masters of Defence Studies, a Bachelor of Professional Studies and an Advanced Diploma in Indonesian Language.

Mark Evans #

Director of Marketing & Public Relations and Co-Owner, Paronella Park

Mark Evans


Director of Marketing & Public Relations, and co-owner of Paronella Park for 26 years.

This multi award winning attraction is Heritage listed and has Advanced Eco Certification.

It has Queensland’s first river driven Hydro Electric Generator, originally commissioned in 1933, and refurbished in 2010. It now provides most of the power to the Park.

This year will see Electric Vehicle chargers installed, powered by Hydro Electricity.

Mark’s background before Tourism was in the computer industry.

He joined General Electric (USA) in 1976, managing sales teams in most capital cities before a six year stint in Singapore as Managing Director, SE Asia.

Mark’s involvement in the Tourism Industry includes Cassowary Coast Development Bureau (including Chairperson), Great Green Way, Tropical Coast Tourism, founding chairman of Canecutter Way, and ten years on the board of TTNQ as Southern Region Director.

Currently, Mark is a committee member of Townsville Enterprise Strategic Advisory Committee, committee member of Friends of Ninney Rise in Mission Beach, and has rejoined the board of TTNQ, where he is involved in a number of sub-committees.

Sveva Falletto #

Consultant, Nitmiluk Tours & Cicada Lodge

Sveva Falletto


From the beautiful island of Sardinia (Italy), Sveva Falletto was born into a culture of Hospitality.

As an experienced Tourism and Hospitality professional, her upbringing remains at the core of her approach.

Holding a Postgraduate degree in Business Administration and a Graduate of Australian Institute of Company Directors, Sveva has held leadership positions in Europe, Middle East, South-East Asia and now Australia. From luxury accommodation to campgrounds, SCUBA diving to cruises, Aboriginal tourism to a variety of nature- based experiences, she has been working at multiple levels of tourism planning, destination development, management and project delivery.

A core focus has always been to invest in the effectiveness and future sustainability of the organisations she has been involved with.

Capacity building has been fundamental to every role Sveva is involved with. Engaging fishermen in North Sulawesi to help them understand the importance of embracing eco- tourism for present and future generations; cooperating with the Pemuteran Bay Coral Protection Foundation -winner of the United Nations Equator Prize 2012 - in North Bali on the Biorock Project; working on educational and women empowerment programs in remote Indonesia through hospitality initiatives; last but not least, sharing country with the Jawoyn people and the inspirational Jane Runyu-Fordimail as COO of Nitmiluk and Cicada Lodge, Katherine, Australia.

The above are just some projects Sveva has been involved with. Projects that share capacity building at their core. The perpetual, ever evolving improvement strategy aimed at ensuring all these organisations, no matter their size, geographical location or cultural history, worked towards sustainable effectiveness, fulfilling their mission for future generations.

Sveva now works as a consultant with the goal of sharing her experience and insight with organisations that require the benefit of her broad experience.

Kim Farrant #

Assistant Secretary, Marine Parks Branch, Parks Australia


Kim was responsible for the International Climate Change Branch and was previously leading the department’s Assessments and Waste Branch. Kim has worked in a number of public service departments/agencies including Prime Minister &Cabinet, Attorney-General’s, Customs and Border Protection, Industry, and Infrastructure and Regions before joining the Department of Environment and Energy in 2016.

Anthea Hammon #

Managing Director, Scenic World Blue Mountains

Anthea Hammon Profile1


Anthea Hammon is the Managing Director of Scenic World, a third-generation family business which has been operating in the Blue Mountains since 1945.

As Australia’s most visited privately owned tourist attraction welcoming more than 1.1 million visitors annually, Anthea has led the company through a strong period of growth and played a leading role in the company’s evolution, including the $30 million redevelopment of the Scenic Railway.

Anthea is actively involved in the tourism sector as the Vice President of Blue Mountains Tourism, and Director of the Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise.

She is a Director of Scenic World’s parent company Hammons Holdings, which also operates BridgeClimb on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and sits on the Board of the Western Sydney Airport which is slated to open in 2026.

Michael Healy MP #

Member for Cairns

Michael Healy1


Michael was born and raised on the North Shore suburbs of Sydney where he received his schooling at St Leo’s and St Joseph’s Colleges before gaining his Advanced Certificate in Sales & Marketing at the North Sydney Technical College.

After working for a real estate/developer and then in the hotel and hospitality industries in Sydney, Michael was transferred to North Queensland travelling up the Coast on his motorbike for a sea-change which has lasted for 26 years.

Upon his arrival in Cairns, Michael worked for the South Pacific Hotel Corporation at the Palm Cove Travel Lodge in the capacity of Chief Concierge and so began his foray into Queensland tourism where he has gained a wealth of experience and for the past 14 years was responsible for the Sales & Marketing division of one of the largest marine tourism operations in the Tropical North. Michael has also served as a Director on the Boards of Tourism Tropical North Queensland, Port Douglas Daintree Tourism and Tourism Events Queensland.

For 10 years Michael served in a volunteer capacity on the Board and then Chairman of Access Community Housing, the largest non-for-profit community housing initiative in Far North Queensland.

Since a small boy Michael has always been passionate about politics and was successful in the last Queensland State Election to win the seat of Cairns on the platform of generating new ideas that will boost local jobs and the economy whilst not losing sight of the bread and butter issues that are important to families such as continuing to improve our local frontline health and education services.

Rod Hillman #

Chief Executive Officer, Ecotourism Australia

Rod Hillman


Rod has a life-long involvement in tourism, protected areas management and education with lengthy stints as a tour operator, National Park Manager and teacher all over Australia, and many years overseas. He has been involved with Ecotourism Australia since 2001 when he was elected as a Board member (then Deputy Chair) for six years where he created the ‘Tourism in Protected Areas Forum’ (TAPAF) and managed the Annual Conference program. After four years in Papua New Guinea, managing the Kokoda Track, he returned to Ecotourism Australia as its Chief Executive.

Ben Klaassen #

Deputy Director-General, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Partnerships, Department of Environment and Science

Ben Klaassen


Ben leads the management of Queensland’s parks and forests, including partnerships with First Nations People to protect cultural values, support sustainable use, and provide eco-tourism opportunities. He is also responsible for protecting threatened species, managing interaction between people and protected species, overseeing World Heritage management of selected sites, and the Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program. Ben also delivers the Great Barrier Reef Joint Field Management Program, in partnership with the Australian Government.

Ben’s extensive experience in Queensland’s public service has included senior positions within the Department of Local Government and Planning and the Department of Innovation and Information Economy, Sport and Recreation Queensland, as well as roles in Queensland Health and the Department of Public Works.

Ben holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Graduate Certificate in Management, and is a fellow of CPA Australia.

Cr Julia Leu #

Mayor, Douglas Shire Council

Julia Leu1


Cr Julia Leu was elected Mayor to the new Douglas Shire Council in November 2013, and for a second term in March 2016, following 6 years as an independent Councillor with Cairns Regional Council. Julia holds a Masters in Business Administration, a Bachelor of Arts and Graduate Diplomas in Education and Communication. Julia is a Director of Tourism Port Douglas Daintree, an Executive Member of the Australian Coastal Councils Association, Executive Member of the Northern Alliance of Councils and is the Deputy Chair of the War on Wrecks Taskforce. Julia is also a member of the Library Board of Queensland as well as the Chair of the Public Libraries Advisory Group. Julia has a wide range of experiences, including running her own business and has been a secondary teacher, lecturer and senior commonwealth employee in Indigenous, health, housing and community services. Julia is passionate about ensuring the financial, environmental, cultural and social sustainability of our region. Julia has 2 adult sons and lives with her husband on an organic fruit farm, which they established 28 years ago in Lower Daintree, Far North Queensland.

Dr Kaewta Muangasame #

Faculty Member of Tourism and Hospitality Management Division, Mahidol University International College, Thailand

Kaewta Muangasame1


Dr Kaewta Muangasame was completed a doctorate degree at School of Tourism and Hotel Management, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She holds a M.Sc. in International Hospitality Management from Leeds Metropolitan University, The United Kingdom. Currently, she have been working as a faculty member and researcher in Tourism and Hospitality Management Division, Mahidol University International College, Thailand since 2006. For Academic service, Kaewta is strongly involved in both Tourism and Hospitality consultancy projects for government agencies such as Department of Tourism, Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration, Ministry of foreign affairs and ASEAN Tourism Marketing and Communication Working Group (ATMCWG). She also served as a Marketing trainer of Tourism Authority of Thailand and being as a project leader to create the National Strategic Planning for Sustainable Tourism Destination in Thailand. Her projects mainly focus on Eco and Green tourist behaviour, Destination branding, Sustainable Tourism planning & policy, Interpretation in Tourism, Visitor management, Community Based Tourism, and Gastronomy tourism, Military tourism and Over-tourism.

Dewayne Mundraby #

IPA Tourism & Infrastructure Manager, Mandingalbay Yidinji Aboriginal Corporation

Dewayne Mundraby1


Dewayne is a ninth generation Mandingalbay Yidinji man and graduated from the Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelor of Arts (Justice). Dewayne has over 20 years experience in native title, six years as the CEO for a native title representative body and achieved 17 native title determinations during that time. Since 2012 Dewayne has been engaged by MYAC as the IPA Tourism and Infrastructure Manager to enhance and progress socio-economic opportunities through the establishment of network partnerships with industry and levels of government. During this time, Dewayne has been instrumental in the negotiating outcomes particularly primary agreements to enable commercial tourism activities to occur on MY lands, whilst ensuring the natural and cultural values remain intact. Dewayne is currently managing the development of the Mandingalbay Yidinji Eco Cultural Tourism Infrastructure Project located at East Trinity Lot 158 adjacent to the Cairns CBD. Dewayne is also the Chairperson for the Gunggandji Mandingalbay Yidinji Peoples PBC (GMYPPBC) and guiding the GMYPPBC to develop a Masterplan Project for the Trustee Area, and volunteers his time to local PBCs to assist them to achieve their aspirations for country by thinking beyond borders.

Kauahi Ngapora #

General Manager, Whale Watch Kaikōura, New Zealand

Kauahi Ngapora1


Ngāi Tahu (Ngāti Kuri), Waikato-Tainui (Ngāti Hauā/Ngāti Mahanga)

Kauahi is General Manager of Whale Watch Kaikōura (WWK) one of New Zealand’s leading and most recognised Māori tourism experiences and a multi-national and international award winning nature-based tourism company. Kauahi was first employed by WWK as a fifteen-year-old. He has moved through the ranks from his entry role as a caregiver (spew bucket emptier) rising to learn all facets of the business to guide, guide trainer, skipper, skipper trainer, supervisor, frontline manager and Chief Operating Officer. He considers himself a proud product of the tourism industry, apart from his first paid job which was mowing the lawns at Takahanga Marae he has developed through the tourism and maritime industry’s.

When Kauahi was promoted to lead the organisation back in late 2009 it was a challenging time and the tourism industry as a whole was entering an uncertain period with the on-going repercussions of the global financial crisis. These effects were further exacerbated regionally by the Christchurch Earthquakes in 2010/11, and then the 2016 Kaikōura Earthquake occurred which effectively halted operations and severely impacted tourism across the Kaikōura district. Despite a succession of significant economic shocks Kauahi has provided exemplary leadership, dedication and drive to help ensure the business continued to trade on through successfully particularly when responding to the impacts of the Kaikōura Earthquake, and now driving the effort to fully recover the business which has been through one of its most challenging periods since it was established in 1987. Kauahi is also a Director on the Tourism New Zealand and Tourism Industry Aotearoa boards, a Member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee the Kaikōura Marine Guardians, a panel member of the Governments Tourism Infrastructure Fund and a Trustee of the Marlborough-Kaikōura Trail Trust.

Kauahi was awarded the Outstanding Māori Business Leader Award at the 2018 University of Auckland’s Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards.

Willem Niemeijer #

Chief Executive Officer, YAANA Ventures, Thailand

Willem Niemeijer


Willem is the CEO of YAANA Ventures, an owner, partner and operator of entrepreneurial travel and hospitality ventures in Asia. Through YAANA, Willem builds brands that share real experiences that are grounded in the cultural richness of Asia. More importantly, Willem drives each venture to champion the triple bottom-line: to nurture the people with whom YAANA works, to sustain the planet we all share, and to pursue profits to expand YAANA’s mission.

Willem founded Khiri Travel in 1993 with a vision of creating a travel company delivering Thailand and Indochina as “4 countries, 1 destination”. He created Khiri Reach, Khiri Travel’s dedicated foundation, which adopted projects that aid underprivileged communities, promote animal welfare, protect local heritage and steward the environment. Over the following years, he expanded Khiri Travel into Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and the Maldives. Willem then turned his eye to transplanting the seeds of success to the businesses that today form the core of YAANA Ventures: Anurak Community Lodge, GROUND, Khiri Travel, Cardamom Tented Camp and HMP

Willem lives in Bangkok and is married with two daughters. He speaks Dutch, English and Thai fluently.

Steve Noakes #

Chair, Board of Directors, Binna Burra Lodge

Steve Noakes 1


In 2008, Steve Noakes was awarded the inaugural ECOTOURISM MEDAL at the Ecotourism Australia annual Conference held in Adelaide, recognising his (then) extensive 30 years active engagement in the Australian and international industry … “particularly his interest and experience in ecotourism and the broader sustainable tourism agenda.’

Fast-track another 11 years and this 40+ year veteran of the Pacific Asia tourism industry continues as Director of the international sustainable tourism project management company, Pacific Asia Tourism, part owner/Director of Ecolodges Indonesia and Chairman of the Board of Binna Burra Lodge, one of Australia’s pioneering ecotourism businesses, located within the World Heritage Listed Lamington National Park, Queensland.

In September this year, he has faced the devastation and heartache of the major bushfire that destroyed ten of his neighbours houses adjacent to the Lamington National Park and razed most of the heritage buildings iconic Binna Burra Lodge. Out of the wreckage comes opportunity to reinvent the spirit of Binna Burra

Fred Nucifora #

Director, Reef Education and Stewardship, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Fred Nucifora2


Mr Fred Nucifora holds a Bachelor of Education. Fred has worked at the Authority since 2001, he was the Director of ReefHQ Aquarium for ten years. After studying education at James Cook University with majors in biophysical geography and marine biology Fred gained a position teaching senior geography and biology at Ignatius Park College, Townsville. Fred’s first real involvement in environmental education was when he took on the role as the school based coordinator for the G.L.O.B.E (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) program, an initiative of the then Vice President of the United States, Al Gore. It was from this moment on that Fred wanted to focus on education for environmental sustainability. Fred joined the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority as its Senior Education Officer in 2001, this career move gave him the opportunity to focus on two of his passions in life, the marine environment and education. The establishment and implementation of the Reef Guardian Schools Program and growth of Reef Videoconferencing nationally and internationally have been two highlights. Since 2018 Fred has led the Education Stewardship and Partnerships section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Mark Olsen #

Chief Executive Officer, Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Mark Olsen1


Mark has recently joined Tourism Tropical North Queensland as the CEO after 25 years in the tourism and hospitality industry. From washing dishes to national and international strategy development, Mark has worked in over 70 countries with a focus on sustainable tourism, experience development, destination strategy including aviation and access, commercial operations and feasibility and consumer marketing.

Ben O'Hara #

General Manager, Land and Environment at Turner Family Foundation

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Ben has more than 20 years of experience in the finance and property industry. He has worked in management, client management and origination roles with local and international institutions that saw him develop skills in project analysis and assessment, investment analysis and execution, relationship management, strategic planning, instigation and ongoing review and business development.

In 2012 Ben began working in the environmental sector as General Manager for the Queensland Trust for Nature where he oversaw the extraction of QTFN from the Qld state government, engage with practical work in establishing wildlife corridors, ecological restoration and biodiversity offsets within QTFN the revolving fund. Ben joined Gainsdale to assist develop the Turner Foundation, the ecological vehicle of Graham and Jude Turner. The Turner Foundation is currently developing the Hidden Vale UQ Wildlife Facility and the Little Liverpool Range Initiative, a community led wildlife and ecological corridor.

John O'Sullivan #

Chief Executive Officer, Experience Co Limited

John O'Sullivan


John has over 25 years’ experience in the tourism and related industries sector, having held senior executive roles with Football Federation Australia (Chief Commercial Officer), Events Queensland (Chief Executive Officer), Fox Sports (Chief Operating Officer) and for the last 5 years Managing Director of Tourism Australia where he managed a team of more than 200 staff in 13 locations, including China, London and Germany, and led the restructure of teams and people to improve performance and to placed increased investment where required to achieve the best results. John has extensive leadership capabilities and experience in sales and marketing, event management and digital technology on a local and global stage. John holds an Executive MBA and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Liz Pechan #

Owner, The Havannah, Vanuatu

Liz Pechan2


Elizabeth (Liz) Pechan is co-owner of the Havannah Resort, a beachfront boutique hotel on Efate Island, Vanuatu. Liz is ni-Vanuatu and is a graduate from the University of Sydney. She began her professional career in national government with information management systems prior to establishing an environmental and financial services and property management business. Liz developed her property management skills with an increasing environmental awareness that manifested in landscaping for important country institutions including the National Archives Building and the National Hospital. She is MYOB certified and is a recipient of MYOB Australia’s Overseas Sales award for excellence across client service and sales.

Liz partnered with her husband Greg in hospitality and catering businesses; providing Film production catering for US & Australian Survivor, French Kolonta, hosted Pacific Leaders events and the Pacific mini-games in 2017. Together, they opened the multi award-winning Havannah resort in 2008. The Pechans’ commitment to cultural preservation and safeguarding the environment has most recently been recognised as a National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World 2019.

Liz is a passionate gardener and active community volunteer. She is a proponent of women in business and promotes local small-scale enterprises such as nature-based handicrafts and other sustainable environmental livelihood practices. Liz is an advocate for people living with a disability, through educational and work placement opportunities and has served as Treasurer for the Vanuatu Paralympic Committee since 2017.

Andy Ridley #

Chief Executive Officer, Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef

Andy Ridley


Andy Ridley is CEO of a new foundation - Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef. The organisation is being developed to engage millions in the future of the reef, and by implication the future of our planet. Central to the development of the organisation will be the use of digital connectivity and the role of the circular economy in reducing emissions and providing a prosperous future both in the region and globally. A focal point is the use of digital to activate citizens behind our common purpose. Launch will be late 2017.

Prior to this Andy led the rapid growth and evolution of Circle Economy in Amsterdam. He believes the circular economy provides many of the answers to some of the biggest environmental challenges that we face as population grows beyond 9 billion, and we address the great generational challenges such as climate change. At Circle Economy, they focused on practical and scaleable tools and programs to help accelerate the adoption of the circular economy in cities, businesses and communities around the globe. These circular principles form the base for his work on the Reef.

As founder and CEO of Earth Hour, Andy spent eight years growing the award-winning campaign from concept and inaugural event in Sydney, to the largest mass participation movement in history, engaging hundreds of millions of people in more than 7000 cities on every continent. Earth Hour was not only a ‘lights off hour’ but also delivered significant environmental outcomes through local digital and on the ground campaigns in multiple countries around the world, including leading to the protection of several protected areas in South America and Russia.

Prof Brent Ritchie #

Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, UQ Business School, The University of Queensland

Brent Ritchie


The University of Queensland/Ecotourism Australia Partnership Update

At the last Global Eco Conference The University of Queensland signed a partnership agreement with Ecotourism Australia. The agreement focused on developing a evidence base to help Ecotourism Australia and their members address complex challenges. This paper outlines the progress made since the agreement was signed. It will highlight the topics of four PhD scholarships which have been secured as part of the agreement and the role that Ecotourism Australia members can play in assisting these projects and the broader partnership. It is hoped that this relationship can inspire other stakeholders to partner with universities for mutual benefits.


Professor Brent Ritchie is Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Queensland. Brent’s research interests are related to tourism crisis and disaster management, sustainable tourism and resident attitudes toward tourism.

Jane Runyu-Fordimail #

Chief Executive Officer, Nitmuluk Tours

Jane Runyu1


Jane grew up in Barunga, one of the Jawoyn communities just south east of the township of Katherine. At age 16 she began her first job with the Barunga Council working in various administrative roles. After some time, the Barunga Council promoted Jane to bookkeeper for the Community Development Employment Program. With support from the Council, Jane completed her Certificate 2 in Business Administration.

In 1993, Jane was elected to be a member of the Jawoyn Board, where she was also nominated to be on the Nitmiluk Tours subcommittee. This experience allowed Jane to develop her leadership skills which later led to her being elected to the board of the Nyirrungunlung Madruk Ngardberdre Regional Council, now known as Roper Gulf Shire, where she served for 8 years. In this role she supported indigenous people living in communities by creating employment opportunities and providing municipal services.

Following her employment at the Regional Council, Jane wanted to take a more hands-on approach to the Cultural Program offered by Nitmiluk Tours. In 2013 she stepped into the role of Cultural Tours Manager, where she continued to encourage indigenous employment and further developed her professional skills by completing a Certificate 2 in Tourism.

Jane’s commitment to the Nitmiluk Cultural Program and her passion for indigenous development led to her being appointed Chairperson of Nitmiluk Tours in February 2013. In 2014, Jane was selected to undergo training for the position of General Manager of Nitmiluk Tours, and then in April 2016 she was asked to take over the role of CEO of Nitmiluk Tours. As CEO, Jane is committed to sharing country with the ongoing development and promotion of tourism and cultural products at Nitmiluk, and she continues to encourage and support indigenous training and employment opportunities across all operations at Nitmiluk Tours.

Tony Sharley #

Managing Director, Murray River Walk

Tony Sharley1


Tony Sharley is the Managing Director of Murray River Walk which he recently established in 2016. Murray River Walk joined the Great Walks of Australia collective in 2017 and won the Ecotourism category in the South Australian Tourism Awards in 2017 and 2018.

Murray River Walk enables people to discover the magic of Australia’s greatest river by being there experiencing its sunsets and sunrises, its red gum forests and spectacular coloured cliffs and the stories of its Aboriginal custodians, pioneering past and its challenging future imparted by passionate guides.

Tony’s knowledge of the Murray River and a career working on wetlands and rivers led to the idea of a multi-day walk along the river and staying on a houseboat each night that moves to the new daily walking destination. Local foods including farmed Murray Cod and yabbies paired with local wines add to the authenticity of the experience.

His career has included working on rivers in the Australian Capital Territory, Kakadu National Park, the Murray-Darling Basin, international rivers and wetlands in his role as Manager of Banrock Station, governance and leadership roles in nature conservation, the automobile industry, the arts, local tourism and a stint on the board of Ecotourism Australia.

Yvonne Shepherd #

Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Women's Fitness Adventures

Yvonne Shepherd1


The Road Less Travelled: why middle age women matter

This presentation will focus on current marketing trends within the female travel market (specifically women 45 plus) and the subsequent opportunities for Ecotourism Operators in Product Development and Strategic partnerships.


  1. What women want from travel and what does that mean for operators?

    • How to capture the segment that is no longer content to simply “retire to the couch” or “tow the van” and drink wine.
    • Experiences create the action of ecotourism warriors
    • How women can help spread the values and vision of ecotourism
    • Why middle aged women matter.
  2. How travel and adventure contribute to wellbeing and social inclusion amongst women (and the wider community at large)

    • Why “being well” matters to a certain segment of consumers
    • Why being part of “something bigger than themselves” is important
    • Why we all need to feel we belong
  3. How slight tweaks to existing tourism/product offerings can differentiate you from your competitor

    • Delivering a ‘bucket list” experience without breaking the bank
    • Using the customer experience to grow your brand through “raving fans”
  4. The pros and cons of Strategic Partnerships, how passion and profit can co-exist and the long term benefit of business relationships.
    • Work in partnerships to create unique product offerings
    • How partnerships can create learning experiences
    • Deliver real benefits to the local operator/community


Yvonne started Women’s Fitness Adventures over 5 years ago and is most proud of the impact she has had and is having on women’s lives.

Her passion is to help middle aged women become fitter, stronger and more active through a shared fitness adventure whilst connecting to a like -minded community.

Since inception, Women’s Fitness Adventures has grown over 500% predominantly via word of mouth.

Yvonne has over 30 years Marketing some of the world’s largest household brands, a thirst for travel and adventure and a lifetime of “gathering women together.

She is an active member of Fitness Australia and was the Her Business Member of the Year 2017.

As one of 20 women in the 2019 Queensland Voices Campaign being delivered in partnership with the Queensland Governments Office for Women, she represents 5 women in the Health and Wellness pillar as recognition for her work in helping to deliver the Queensland Women’s Strategy.

Fuchsia Sims #

Co-Founder, Adventure Junky

Fuchsia Sims


The Millennial Mindset: can we harness it to combat overtourism?

With almost 4 million travellers crossing international borders every day – a number set to double by 2030 – we have to ask whether our environments and cultures are resilient enough to withstand the stampede?

Overtourism not only threatens the very people and places we love to visit, but our entire industry and planet’s wellbeing - cultural erosion, climate change, plastic waste, irreversible species and habitat loss are just some of the serious side effects that are happening right now.

We’re at a critical turning point, without radical change and a united vision a Tourism Apocalypse could be on the horizon.

While the travel industry at large must shift its mentality from growth to yield and become more accountable of its impact, critically so too must the traveller.

There is hope. In this engaging and insightful talk Fuchsia unpacks the Millennial Mindset - now the largest, highest earning, socially competitive, travel addicted and environmentally conscious demographic on Earth - their decisions will shape the future of travel for decades to come…

So we better understand their drivers and motivations to be in a position to nudge them towards the experiences that are ‘high’ on experience and ‘low’ on impact.

When managed well tourism is a powerful force - it,creates jobs, attracts investment and drives infrastructure development. Sustainable travel practices can improve livelihood, education levels and quality of life for local people. It can also refocus energy and action towards conservation, and help to preserve cultural traditions.

It’s our collective responsibility to protect the world in which we love to explore. Together let’s ensure there is a diverse and thriving planet for many generations to come.


By age ten, Fuchsia had visited 30 countries and knew how to say ‘I’m a vegetarian’ in 12 languages. After school she ran away to the jungles of Costa Rica, where she worked as a river guide, helping troubled youth re-build their self-esteem.

Having spent the past decade juggling marketing and mountains, Fuchsia has found her calling as co-founder of the Adventure Junky App – Earth’s Sustainable Travel Game.

In 2019 Fuchsia embarked on a PhD expedition, her focus: AI enabled Adventure Travel to help adventurers create a more positive personal impact.

With literally billions of travellers circling the planet every year, Fuchsia and her team are on a mission to transform the future of adventure travel and enhance the overall wellbeing of our planet and society.

In July 2017 Adventure Junky became a B Corp, so they really walk the talk.

Keith Sproule #

Executive Director, Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy

Keith Sproule


Keith Sproule is dedicated to utilizing tourism as an economic tool for the sustainable development of local and regional economies. Currently serving as the Executive Director of Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy (AKP), a leading private sector travel philanthropy with the mission to “positively impact lives and livelihoods in the communities where A&K guests travel.” Keith manages a portfolio of 44 AKP investments in 24 countries, with a total impact of over $3,500,000.

Through June, 2014, Keith was the Tourism Business Advisor for the World Wildlife Fund in Namibia, where he supported initiatives to develop both private sector and community tourism capacity across some of the most rural, isolated regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Keith has more than 25 years of experience in the public and private sectors focused on tourism planning and development. He has worked in Asia, Africa, Central Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. As an analyst and tourism development specialist, he has focused in particular on the economics of cultural heritage and nature-based tourism, most often in association with rural communities.

His professional background includes serving as an advisor to governments on three continents and operations consulting with hotel and tourism companies globally. Keith has a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Agriculture at the University of Vermont, and has completed a masters’ degree in international economics at Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He was a Fulbright Scholar in Belize, studying tourist expenditure patterns at protected areas archaeological sites.

Keith was a 2 term Chairman of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), 4 term member of the Board of Sustainable Travel International (STI), a 5X inspector for the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Tourism-For-Tomorrow Awards program and 2X inspector for the National Geographic World Legacy Awards. He has worked and traveled in over 140 countries.

He is the founder and Managing Director of the Bentwood Inn in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a member property of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World Collection.

Molly Steer #

Straw No More Campaign

Molly Steer


Molly Steer is an 11-year-old from Cairns in far north Queensland, Australia, who is making waves of exactly the right kind. After watching the documentary “A Plastic Ocean” in February 2017, Molly began a campaign to rid schools in her local community of all single-use plastic straws. In just a little more than a year, this inspiring environmental activist has over 600 schools around the world, totalling more than half a million students who are currently not using plastic straws at schools every day. In addition to this number, over 1000 individuals have taken the pledge, and 500 businesses. Molly is a natural public speaker, she spoke on local and national radio and gave an inspiring talk at her local TedX Cairns event. But even more inspiring than the reach of her campaign, is her no-nonsense approach to activism. Molly tells it like it is. Straws really do suck.

Helen Tait #

Special Adviser, Mandingalbay Yidinji Aboriginal Corporation

Helen Tait


Helen graduated from the Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelor of Arts (Justice) and her career in native title spans over 18 years. Helen commenced her career with the Carpentaria Land Council in 2001 and was engaged as their CEO from 2008-2014. Helen has supported and assisted the Mandingalbay Yidinji Aboriginal Corporation behind the scenes to develop their tourism enterprise business, Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours.

Helen joined the Gunggandji-Mandingalbay Yidinji Peoples Prescribed Body Corporate as their Executive Officer in 2016 and is responsible for implementing the GMY Masterplan Project with a consortium of expertise to deliver socio-economic benefits to the GMY People and the wider community of Yarrabah.

Helen is an active member of the Yarrabah Leadership Forum (YLF) and has assisted the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council to secure funding from DATSIP to deliver the Yarrabah Social Reinvestment Project, and transition to the new Job Active Service Provider Wugu Nyambil in July 2018.

Helen has completed the AICD Fundamentals of Directorship and is a Justice of the Peace (Qualified). Helen is also a Director on the Djunbunji Ltd Board and the Wugu-Nyambil Yarrabah Job Active Service Board of Directors. Helen has also served a term as the Vice President of the Cairns Business Women’s Club in 2017/2018, and was Chair of the 2018 CBWC Business Woman of the Year Awards.

Helen is a champion for change and member of the global Arbonne Charitable Foundation Empowerment Taskforce and an advocate for building capacity in indigenous communities, which she believes is fundamental to creating intergenerational change and achieved by thinking beyond borders.

Masaru Takayama #

Chairperson, Asian Ecotourism Network, Thailand

Masaru Takayama1


17 Country Strategic Partnership for Ecotourism in Asia and Pacific

Now with Chaire with Ecotourism Australia joined on the board of Asian Ecotourism Network, on top of Tony Charters who has been from the foundation, AEN is becoming an authority in the Asian region and Pacific to actively promote authentic ecotourism through 17 country partnership. Masaru will demonstrate the challenges and opportunities in the region to create a momentum to fill-in the gaps among public and private sectors, and the communities.


Mr. Masaru Takayama founded Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN) to promote authentic ecotourism in the region by creating a networking platform for ecotourism fraternity. In 2018 Japan Alliance of Responsible Travel Agencies (JARTA) was also created to enhance responsible tourism movement in Japan. Masaru serves a number of key positions in the organizations both home and abroad. Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2013-2015 Judge, The World Legacy Awards 2015-2017 Judge, United Nations Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Committee Member of 10 YFP Sustainable Tourism Programme until earlier this year. GSTC authorized trainer, Green Destinations auditor/trainer, Travelife auditor. Owner of Shunyoso, a cultural heritage building in Awaji Island, Japan.

Simon Talbot #

Chief Operating Officer, Parks Victoria

Simon Talbot


Simon is Chief Operating Officer at Parks Victoria, Australia’s most visited national park agency with over 106 million visitations per annum across 3000 urban, metro and marine parks.

Simon is charged with leading Visitor Economy investment across Victoria’s Nature Based locations – projects include:

  • The 12 Apostles Great Ocean Road - 2.7 m visitors per annum
  • Grampians Peak Trail – 1.5 m Visitors per annum
  • Wilsons Prom Sanctuary - 700k visitors per annum
  • Falls to Hotham Alpine Walk – 400k per annum
  • Yarra River Activation and Management – 4m visits per annum

He describes his role as a 3 legged stool – “Cultural Heritage, Conservation and Visitation” if one of those legs get out of balance the stool falls over. He is passionate about both protecting Australia’s natural and cultural values and sharing deep connected stories with visitors who become ambassadors.

His teams face over visitation challenges at a number of sites but he believes that we can move from a transactional click and collect visitor mentality to meaningful relationships and connected communities. He loves the Danish move towards from ‘tourists and locals’ to ‘short and long-term residents’.

Andrew Wagg #

Project Manager, Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service

Andrew Wagg


Success factors: developing tourism experiences in parks and reserves

The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service developed and now operates the award winning Three Capes Track, in the Tasman National Park, and is planning its next iconic multi day walk in the Tyndall Range, on Tasmania West Coast. Share the journey and explore with us how to plan for success.

The Three Capes Track was planned and constructed over 12 years. The next iconic walk is a new four stage project and the journey has just begun. 35 locations were assessed to select a preferred location for a feasibility study. That study will design a new visitor journey and test whether it can be developed and operated sustainably in a natural environment. Based upon its experience, the Parks and Wildlife Service has identified success factors related to visitor, environmental, economic, community, and operational considerations that will assist the selection and planning and development of new visitor experiences that will protect sensitive natural areas and deliver economic and community benefits to regional areas.


Trained as an architect. For four years, delivered business development services for a Tasmanian Government department of economic development. 16 years planning and delivering visitor experiences and infrastructure projects for the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service. After working with a dedicated team on the Three Capes Track Project, his focus is now on repeating that project’s success by developing Tasmania’s next iconic multi day walk in a uniquely different form in a spectacular Tasmania West Coast location.

Zuzana Zwiebel #

Founder, Ayurveda Trails & Journals, India

Zuzana Zwiebel1


In 2007, Zuzana Zwiebel, was brought by work in tourism and passion for discovery to Sri Lanka. Her personal experiences with long term political problems influencing tourism in South Asia inspired her for further studies of geopolitics at Manipal University in India and Asian history, culture and politics at Metropolitan University in the Czech Republic. She holds master degree in Economy (2007) and Asian Studies & International Relation (2012).

Since 1999 she has been cooperating with several reputed NGO’s focusing on tourism, regional development and self-financing of NGO’s. She wrote, managed and cooperated on projects funded by European Commission, Open Society, European Centre for Ecological and Agricultural Tourism (ECEAT) and etc. Subsequently she run her private tourism business license offering holistic destination management services.

In 2013, inspired by her studies and meetings with ayurveda experts she established her own travel agency SHAKTI TRAILS‘s (registered as AYURVEDA TRAILS in India), which tries to create “Healing Travel Collection Inspired by Art & Ayurveda”. Her philosophy of ART OF TRAVEL (When & Where to travel?) is based on three words: SPIRIT (Who to meet?) – Spirits (local experts) are people who can inspire others; STORY (What to do?) – Stories of spirits are transformed into the trails, which connect not only places on the map, but also creating meaningful connections with local people. STYLE (Where to stay?) – Style does not mean luxury, it is experience and personal artistic signature.

Soon, her activities were noticed by general public, but also experts. In 2015, her company was chosen among Top 12 Start-Up Innovation Award by five international judges of World Tourism Forum Lucerne. In 2017 she was invited as consultant for ayurveda resorts by magazine Condé Nast Traveler India and in 2018 she was featured among 50 foreigners who are helping to create modern picture of India with their activities by prestigious magazine Vogue India.