HomePast ConferencesSpeakers (2019)

David Edwards

Projects Chief Executive, Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development

David Edwards


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.