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2023 JUDGING PANEL

A huge thank you to the leaders who offer their time and expertise to help further develop the the art tourism industry.
(Shown in alphabetical order by Surname)
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Bianca Acimovic

Bianca Acimovic is an experienced arts administrator with a demonstrated history of working across public and private sectors, supporting capital infrastructure development for arts, culture, and public spaces. Highly skilled in Business Case development, business planning, process improvement, business strategy, curatorial development, museum services and fundraising, Bianca collaborates to drive change and access to the arts. As a business development professional, Bianca has a record of positively contributing to the development and management of visual arts institution, expanding engagement, and breaking down stigmas to sit cultural activities at communities' hearts.

Michelle Braiuka

Experienced Sales and Marketing Manager with a demonstrated history of working within the tourism and hospitality industries. Skilled in Business Development, Marketing, Event Management, Customer Service, Advertising, and Publicity. Strong marketing professional graduated from Martin College.

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Alysia Brandenberg

I have a passion and expertise for the tourism sector, on both the supply and demand sides, with particular focus on sustainable planning, cultivating innovative visitor engagement and championing the benefits of nature-based experiences. I thrive on translating strategy into action, leading and developing visitor focused teams, engaging with stakeholders, influencing planning and making a positive difference to the overall visitor experience. I have a particular interest in using effective interpretation and storytelling to engage and create a relationship with visitors that encourages advocacy and awareness. I believe that sustainably planned tourism can benefit conservation outcomes and create resilient communities.
 

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Alex Brown

IAlex Brown is the director of her own freelance tourism development consultancy Alex Brown Project Company in Adelaide, South Australia. Having previously worked in the Destination Development Group at the South Australian Tourism Commission facilitating sustainable investment in South Australia’s tourism assets and managing the mainstreet board for Jetty Road Glenelg, Alex understands the importance tourism and placemaking can play on building cultural, economic and social opportunities for urban and regional communities. Alex is creative and intuitive. She is inspired by innovation and what this can do to drive sustainable business and destination growth and has worked with entrepreneurs and start-ups to create demand driven tourism accommodation and experiences. Alex is an experienced grant panellist, successful grant writer, tourism mentor, connector and supports industry and regional bodies with business planning and innovation.

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Peter Doggett

Peter had a 33 year association with Gold Coast tourism industry during which time he held senior management positions with Warner Village Theme Parks & Sea World Resort before opening his own tourism consultancy. For the 7 years before his retirement in 2019 Peter was the CEO of Connecting Southern Gold Coast (CSGC), whose role it was to foster economic development, tourism promotion & marketing, and manage events that stimulate tourism and community participation in the southern Gold Coast. He is a past judge of the Qld Tourism Awards & the” Women in Business Awards” for SEQ and served on the Joint Marketing Group (JMG) for the 2018 Commonwealth Games for 4.5 years. Peter is also the current Secretary of Skal International - Southern Gold Coast Branch, which he founded in March 2014. (Skal is a global networking organisation for senior members of the travel & tourism industry).

Tolita Dukes

Tolita Dukes is an experienced marketing professional with over 20 years of experience within the tourism industry. Tolita has worked for a number of tourism operators, including industry leader Hamilton Island, and is the Director of a boutique marketing agency, 8 Seconds, based in the stunning Whitsundays. 

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Donna Foster

Donna is an experienced tourism and economic development professional and former Deputy Chair of Australian Regional Tourism (ART) Ltd.  Committed to regional development Donna acts to ensure the value of the visitor economy is front of mind for decision makers at all levels of government. Senior economic development focused positions with Scenic Rim and Fraser Coast Regional Councils and City of Mount Gambier have followed a distinguished career of internationally focused economic development and investment roles.

Dr David Gration PhD (UQ) MBA (QUT)

 

David is the Director of Events Tourism Associates, a company established to provide industry relevant research, workshops and events tourism related design and planning services. He brings together a combination of academic qualifications and research skills with 30+ years of hands-on management and marketing experience in venues, festivals, special events, business events and tourism. His PhD focused on events tourism and David has worked in both metropolitan and regional centres, from Hobart to Townsville, helping communities to achieve success through sustainable event design. In 2011 he became only the second person to be made a Life Member of the Australian Performing Arts Centres Association, now known as Performing Arts Connections (PAC).

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Anna Heaton

 

I have been working in the tourism industry for around 25 years. In 2016, I founded Anna Heaton Tourism Consulting and have since worked with many small businesses in the key areas of Business Development, Marketing, Communications, Product Development, Mentoring and Brand. I have been involved with the Victorian Tourism Awards program since 2007 as a business manager, writer and mentor. Since 2019, I have worked with the team at Tourism Geelong & The Ballerine, mentoring the region's entrants. Since 2021, I have held a rewarding role as a virtual mentor in the Business Victoria Small Business Mentoring Program, which has allowed me to help hundreds of small businesses across Victoria.. I am passionate about Sustainable and Regenerative Tourism.

Alva Hemming

A dynamic results oriented marketing professional with expertise in tourism, industry development, new tourism product development, market research, strategy, design, sales and tourism training. Above all, a proven ability to create strategic alliances, inspire tourism operators and the media with award-winning presentations and memorable experiences. I have worked in all sectors of the tourism industry including local government, regional tourism organisations and cross regional touring routes. I created Mornington Peninsula Tourism from a fledgling alliance of a few tourism businesses into an award winning peak regional tourism organisation, recognised internationally for best practice. I developed and launched a best practice Tourism Award mentoring program to help businesses to prepare winning submissions.

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Iain Lygo

I'm a tourism professional who started out on the ski industry front lines in 1993. This was followed by stints in visitor information centres, museums, the accommodation sector, and corporate team building. In 2009, I started Adventure for Life, an award winning corporate team building and events company. My latest venture is SEE YOU NEXT SEASON, established in late 2022. We help great seasonal workers and employers in the adventure connect.

Susan Maynard​

Susan Maynard is passionate about tourism and she has extensive experience of all things digital. With over 25 years experience in the tourism industry Susan's roles have included tourism lecturer at Tafe, digital coach for TEQ, Destination Development for VSC and tourism consultancy both within Australia and the Pacific. Susan is also a judge for the Queensland Tourism Awards and former President of Skal International - Sunshine Coast (Skal is a global networking organisation for senior members of the travel & tourism industry).

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Paul Matthews

Paul has been involved with the tourism and transport sectors for over 25 years. He is qualified in Business, Special Event Management, Public Relations, Marketing and Workplace Training. In 2017, Paul commenced as the Head of Regional Tourism and Strategy for Visit Victoria., Over time Paul's role changed to the Head of Regional Tourism Planning & Development at Visit Victoria where he continued to work with Regional Tourism Boards with a renewed focus on supporting the revival of Victoria's visitor economy through the implementation of recovery and reform initiatives. Paul started the Visitor Economy Tourism Consultancy in July 2021 specialising in visitor engagement, mentoring, destination planning, project management and dark tourism. He is a retired national judge for the Australian Tourism Awards and Victorian Tourism Awards. Paul has been a mentor in the Victorian Tourism Awards program assisting entrants with award submissions since 2010. In 2014, he became the Chair of the Victorian Tourism Awards Mentoring panel.

Justine Sinclair

Justine Sinclair has over 20 years experience in Marketing Communications and Stakeholder and Community Engagement. She has extensive experience in the visitor economy and community development sectors and has developed strategies and plans from government to commercial businesses. Prior to joining Sparrowly Group, Justine led a number of complex programs and teams with local government including the Regional Strategic Alliance of Hawkesbury, Blue Mountains and Penrith Councils and Visitor Economy development for the Blue Mountains region. She has expertise in nature tourism including in Eco and slow tourism. Strategically she has experience in developing strategies and action plans to guide destinations into sustainable practices.

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Andrew Sinclair

Andrew Sinclair is the founder of Tourism Partners.  He has more than two decades experience working in the tourism industry at the regional, state and international levels.  Andrew is an accomplished project manager, destination marketer and has volunteered previously as a judge for the Queensland Tourism Awards.

Linda Stevens

 

An art lover, Linda’s tourism career kick-started in Asia, where she lived, worked and consulted for many years. During that time she contributed to the tourism transformation of numerous destinations, including Bali, Hong Kong, Hanoi and south east China. Upon returning to Australia Linda purchased a holiday resort and devoted the next two decades to achieving excellence for that venture as its CFO. Under her guidance, the resort won multiple business awards, Queensland Tourism Awards and an Australian Tourism Award. Linda now travels both within Australia and internationally to embrace new opportunities, and spent part of 2019 in Chile, Cuba and Costa Rica touring street art precincts.

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Sondra Stewart

 

The magic of travel was planted by her parents with photo slideshows of their 1960's overseas adventures. With these alluring images and growing up on the gorgeous Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia, Sondra embarked on a 20 plus year career in hospitality, travel and tourism. During this time Sondra has had the opportunity to judge the South Australian Tourism Awards, and as the South Australian representative on the Australian Regional Events Alliance, giving a common voice and representation to Events and Festivals across the country. Recently Sondra has worked as the Regional Tourism Manager to some of the most remote and largest regions in South Australia - Far North & Outback and the Eyre Peninsula. To the precise opposite currently working as the Tourism Partnership Advisor for the City of Adelaide.

Fiona Sweetman

 

Fiona is an enthusiastic supporter of creative ideas and activations of Melbourne and Victoria. As past Board Member of Cultural Tourism Victoria she has been exposed to so many versions of art in our streets and landscapes. Fiona’s business, Hidden Secrets Tours has spent the last 19 years seeing the evolution of how we Australians observe street art, invest in it and in the end craze over it, as she and her team deliver walking tours in Melbourne’s laneways. Her interaction with clients both domestic and international offers her a unique position to understand the various appreciation within the community of this art in the journey of our visitors. Fiona is a Melbourne Award winner in recognition of her efforts in contributing to the profile of the city, and in such efforts, she ensures her celebration of the city is in context with visitor experiences elsewhere. Fiona understands how street art is an important cog in the value of tourism. tourism.

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Angela Williams

 

Angela is bringing her 30+ years travel and tourism industry experience to the Awards.  A former WA Manager for WA Tourism, she also held senior managerial roles in Thomas Cook Travel. With a highly developed understanding of visitor motivation and expectation, Angela has leadership-level understanding of tourism promotion, sales and product development. She developed a reputation for identifying ways to provide cost effective tourism services within the confines of limited budgets. Having lived and worked in tourism positions in Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, as well as the UK and New Zealand, Angela has a detailed understanding of the sometimes-conflicting challenges that face destinations, operators and visitors.

Brian Wright

 

A versatile person with extensive experience in Leisure and Tourism Industries including twelve years in the Travel Industry in South East Asia and almost eight years in Regional Tourism in Australia. Areas of experience include: product development; experience development; contract negotiation; team building and leadership development using outdoor experiential education methods; relationship management; planning; adventure travel; cultural immersion; risk & crisis management; project management and assessment of hotel and resort properties. Relevant interests include: sustainable tourism, regeneration; adventure travel; accessible travel; web design; tourism development; tourism analysis; travel writing and photography.

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Leanne Layfield

 

A leading business development advocate Leanne’s education and background is strongly aligned to tourism. Following on from her foundations as Regional Manager for Tourism Queensland, Leanne went on to lead the Caloundra Tourism for 7 years until it was disbanded due to amalgamation. She was later appointed CEO of the Caloundra Chamber with a membership of over 500 local businesses. Leanne is currently Association Secretary of the Sunshine Coast Chamber Alliance and a committee member of Regional Development Authority Australia Sunshine Coast. Leanne has lived the Grey Nomad life having travelled extensively across Australia and has volunteered at events such as the Big Red Bash and the Craft Beer and Cider Festival.

And a last minute addition to the panel:

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