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.

Keynote Speakers

Prof Susanne Becken #

Professor, Griffith University

Susanne Becken2


Developing an Automated System for Rating Underwater Beauty

The aesthetic beauty of the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef is an integral factor in why people describe it as a world wonder, a tourist icon or a component of Australia’s national identity. The measurement of aesthetic value is inherently challenging, as perceptions of beauty are determined by multiple factors (E.g., beliefs, culture, personalities), including some that are highly subjective and experiential. However, earlier research has demonstrated that it is possible to derive a number of visual attributes that appear to transcend individual perceptions and that can be reliably linked to under-water beauty. Harnessing these insights, it is possible to build an Artificial Intelligence-driven architecture based on Deep Neural Network that is able to evaluate a beauty score accurately and on par with human evaluators for incoming imagery. This paper shares learnings from the process of integrating social science research with computer technology, more specifically deep learning. It also presents early findings on the AI system and its performance. Finally, it discusses the need for securing large volumes of underwater images from various sources to form part of a GBR-wide monitoring system of aesthetic value. The opportunity to link to ecotourism operators and visitors (e.g. through citizen science projects) will also be discussed.


Co-presenter of: Is it Wise to Invest in Active Coral Restoration on the Great Barrier Reef?
Presenting with Dr Ross Westoby.

Considering increasing interest and Government investment into climate change adaptation measures such as coral restoration in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), it is imperative that we take stock of what is emerging in the field of reef restoration. Through a systematic quantitative literature review conducted in May-July 2019 concerns exist in the reviewed papers about coral restorations perceived benefits. The findings suggest that active coral restoration’s utility lies in developing economies where implementation cost can be reduced by involving local communities and where the daily lives of local communities are intimately tied to the reef systems. In developed economies the soundest interventions are those in ‘house reefs’ where resorts or tourist operators can invest and manage through a symbiotic arrangement. The benefits for ‘house reef restoration’ is that tourist operators’ have financial capital to invest and their businesses directly benefit from coral restoration investment. Tourist operators and resorts have an imperative to restore the natural capital of the reef system because their business depends upon that natural capital. They also have opportunities to utilise the human capital of volunteerism and tourists’ themselves in the coral restoration process, as well as unique marketing and education opportunities for tourists provided by coral restorations’ role in awareness raising, encouraging environmental stewardship and reducing environmental anxieties that the operators are protecting the reefs. ‘House reef restoration’ provide tourist business in the GBR an opportunity to extend the life of their operations as reefs radically shift in the Anthropocene.


Dr Susanne Becken is the Director of the Griffith Institute for Tourism. She is a Professor of Sustainable Tourism at Griffith University, Australia, and an Adjunct Professor at Lincoln University, New Zealand. Susanne has led several government-funded research programmes in New Zealand and has also undertaken a broad range of consultancy work in Australia and internationally. Susanne has widely published on the topics of sustainable tourism, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, tourist behavior, environmental policy, and risk management. She was a contributing author to the Fourth and the Fifth IPCC Assessment Reports. Susanne is on the editorial boards of Annals of Tourism Research, Journal of Travel Research, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events, and the Tourism Review.

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.

Arturo Crosby #

Chief Executive Officer, Forum Natura International

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

Hugo De Jong


Coming soon.

John Doorbar #

Director of Regions and Capability, New Zealand Māori Tourism

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 Dousdebes #

Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Manager, Metropolitan Touring, Ecuador

Francisco Dousdebes (1)


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.

Ann Dumaliang #

Managing Trustee, Masungi Georeserve

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

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, Tourism Industry Development and the Commonwealth Games

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Liz Pechan #

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.

Keith Sproule #

Executive Director, Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy

Keith Sproule


Coming soon.

Molly Steer #

Straw No More Campaign

Molly Steer1


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.

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’.

Zuzana Zweibel #

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.