Convention Speakers

Speaker profiles and presentation overviews are provided for our speakers below, and there's still more to come!
Download your copy of the full ART Convention 2019 Program.



Bringing a fresh perspective to tourism, Coralie Bell is a business and creative marketing professional. With a diverse career in a variety of roles and industries, Coralie has worked in and around tourism for over 20 years. From business strategy, networking, report writing and stakeholder engagement to press advertising, public relations and marketing, you name it, she’s done it. Known for being extremely motivated, organised and disciplined she’s not only used to wearing many hats, but thrives in an environment where no two work days are exactly the same.

Having started life as a child in a front line tourism business on the beautiful South Coast, she has a direct insight into understanding the demands on small seasonal business. Looking forward to today, Coralie is currently working as the Tourism Manager for Shoalhaven City Council (quick brag – the most visited regional destination in NSW), and has also played an active role in the South Coast Regional Tourism Organisation (SCRTO). Whether running board meetings, coordinating marketing campaigns, presenting at conferences or stacking shelves at the local visitors centre – people and relationships are at the heart of what keeps her smiling.

Passionate about motivating teams and fostering relationships with everyone from Mum and Dad business owners to State Government organisations, Coralie is experienced in stakeholder communication and management. Importantly, she has been able to develop a detailed understanding of regional tourism and the local, state and national environment.

Appointed to ART Chair in October 2018, Coralie is passionate about regional Australia, both as a place to live and destination to visit. She is committed to working regionally and making a real difference to the Shoalhaven and greater regional tourism sector.



John Hart is currently the Executive Chair for the Australian Chamber – Tourism and the Executive Director of Restaurant and Catering Industry Association Australia, the peak national industry association representing the interests of the restaurants, cafes and caterers in Australia. John has spent over 30 years working in the hospitality industry in operational, human resources and industrial relations roles. He is a current Board Member for Australian Business Register, Western Sydney Unlimited Ltd, Restaurant and Catering Industry Association of Australia, Food Standards Australian and New Zealand, Tourism Australia and the National Tourism Industry Training Committee Ltd. John was also instrumental in developing Australia’s next long term tourism strategy, as a member of the Beyond Tourism 2020 Steering Committee.

(Photographed at the Great Hall, Parliament House, Canberra. 6 December 2017. Photo: Bradley Cummings)



With over  20 years working in the world of Technology across a range of industries including defence, private business, local government and tourism I am a passionate advocate for the power of data and the use of technology to drive positive change. 








Bernard’s reputation for providing sound tourism industry knowledge, based on 30 years of tourism experience, is built upon a desire to deliver practical solutions for clients, to improve their tourism capability, capacity and sustainability. Bernard has worked with industry at all levels to mentor organisations in understanding the dynamics of tourism as an economic driver, together with developing strategies to engage tourism businesses in generating destination awareness. 

Bernard has a sound operational knowledge of destination marketing bodies within the tourism trade, having sat on the national board of ATEC, Australia’s Coral Coast, Kimberley Tourism Association and as an industry contributor to multiple tourism marketing development and aviation strategies. 

Bernard has previously owned and operated retail travel agencies, a travel wholesale business and destination management company based in the Kimberley in Western Australia. His ‘first-hand’ experience in operating regional tourism businesses provides a tangible benefit to our clients through a practical approach to market readiness. 

Bernard’s most recent projects include developing a Destination Management Plan for the Ningaloo region, developing new day touring options for events in the North Territory, mentoring regional tour operators and Visitor Centres across Western Australia in distribution strategy through the Tourism Boost project in partnership with TWA and TCWA.
Working with the City of Albany in the development of the Albany Visitor Centre was another recent highlight. 



Suzanne Fisher has been the Marketing & PR Manager for Australia's Coral Coast in Western Australia over the past 4 years. She brings over 10 years’ experience in PR and Marketing, having worked in the education, recreational sports and community development, food and wine destination marketing industries. Australia's Coral Coast is the regional tourism organisation (RTO) responsible for destination marketing of the Coral Coast area, which starts north of Perth at the Pinnacles Desert and runs for 1,100km to the Ningaloo Reef and inland east to Wildflower Country.  
Suzanne will be presenting on the region’s newest initiative - the Coral Coast Highway - and the steps taken to establish a new touring route. She will talk partnerships, strategy for trade and consumer execution, industry engagement plus of course the highs (and lows) of taking a great idea to market.



Coming with over six years working in regional tourism organisations, Brendan is currently the Business Manager for the peak tourism body of Victoria’s second largest city, Geelong and The Bellarine Peninsula. Overseeing the financial management and strategic direction of the organisation Brendan also leads both the international tourism initiatives and development of the local cruise industry. Before returning to Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine, Brendan worked for the one of the most iconic institutions in Australia, the Melbourne Cricket Club taking up the role of Tourism Marketing Executive, promoting the Melbourne Cricket Ground and National Sports Museum globally for more than two years. It was through this role that his understanding of the international travel trade eco-system stemmed and the importance of developing strong partnerships and relationships. Brendan is a Melbourne Tourism Leadership Program graduate and recipient of 2019 Lynette Bergin Fellowship. Through the fellowship Brendan aims to uncover how purpose-driven business models have become a competitive advantage in the tourism industry and can help drive a better future environmentally, socially and culturally. The learnings of such will be presented at the 2020 VTIC Conference.



Craig has over 40 years’ experience in private industry, local government and the not-for-profit sector.  In addition to extensive ‘hands on’ service delivery experience, he has held positions which have had a senior management and strategic planning focus at a local and regional level.  He has also led and worked with multi-disciplinary teams and interagency task groups.
With over two decades in senior management roles within local government, Craig has strong working knowledge in how to achieve best practice outcomes for an organisation while delivering quality services to regional communities. 
In February 2018, Craig left his role as Director of Finance Corporate and Community Services with Shoalhaven City Council on the NSW South Coast, to take up the position of General Manager with Kempsey Shire Council on NSW’s Mid North Coast.   



Geoff Dobson is Convention and Arts Centre Director for Devonport City Council. His portfolio encompasses the arts and cultural activities of the Devonport Council, as well as the Visitor Information Centre, as it co-located within the newly built arts centre.  

Presentation Overview | Relocating and co-locating your VIC
In 2016 the Devonport City Council began the largest urban renewal project ever undertaken in regional Tasmania - Living City.

Living City is a unique opportunity for Devonport, devised to transform Devonport through the creation of new retail, business/service and waterfront precincts focused on highlighting tourism, arts, food and services. It’s a project that will benefit the entire North-West region and is estimated to generate $250 million investment over the next decade.

Geoff's presentation will cover the panning, benefits and pitfalls or relocating and co-locating your Visitor Information Centre.



In the past decade, Christian has helped shape the digital marketing landscape, especially within the tourism industry for data-driven marketing and economic development. Previous to his role with the Outdoria Group, he started and ran his own forward-thinking video production company in Adelaide. He completed two acclaimed accelerator programs during this time, run by both Business SA and Flinders University. 

Christian now looks after DMO sales and product development in Australia for the Outdoria Group, which manages four international tourism brands and around 30 apps and websites.

He has played a critical role in shaping the Visitor Economy Dashboards and Reports that are leading the way in tourism data today. Most recently, Christian has joined a new venture which is breaking ground in Chinese specific marketing capabilities while continuing his involvement with the Outdoria Group. 



Simon is the CEO of Visit Sunshine Coast, Board member of Sunshine Coast Major Events Board and Association of Australian Convention Bureaux. He is Chairman of the Queensland Regional Tourism Organisation Committee and is a member of Queensland Tourism Industry Council Tourism Workforce Steering Committee, Australia China Business Council Tourism Working Group, Sunshine Coast Business Awards Management Committee as well as the Sunshine Coast Chamber Alliance Management Committee. 

He has been involved at senior levels in the marketing and development of regional tourism destinations such as The Margaret River Region in WA and the Whitsundays and Sunshine Coast in Queensland. 

Simon also played a founding role with major projects such as Americas Cup Challenge, Virgin Blue flights into the Whitsunday Coast, Backpacking Tourism Advisory Group and the Queensland Marine Academy amongst others. 

Simon has received recognition by industry in winning Regional, State and National awards such as Tour & Transport Operator, Unique Accommodation, Destination Promotion, GWN 7 Top Tourism, RAC Marketing & Business Award (WA) and the Most Significant Contribution To Tourism By An Individual Award for services to the Whitsundays. 



A serious lover of all things tourism, Cara is passionate about the visitor journey.  

Cara’s previous role as Director of Guest Experiences, at Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, prepared her for the challenge and opportunity to re-awaken awareness of, and preference for, the stunning Mudgee Wine Region in NSW. 

With a whole destination focus, and ability to get the best out of stakeholder engagement opportunities, Cara’s journey has led to outstanding collaborative success for the Mudgee Region.  

Mudgee Region Tourism is now multi-award winning. Most notably taking out Gold for Destination Marketing at the 2016 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, Gold for both Destination Marketing and Visitor Information Services at the 2017 NSW Tourism Awards and being inducted into the Hall of Fame for Destination Marketing at this year’s Regional Tourism Awards. 

Not one to let a unique opportunity pass by, when the occasion arose to relocate from Sydney to the small heritage village of Hill End five years ago, a tree change was inevitable. Now, mum to twin toddlers, Cara is also the owner/operator of popular ‘escape from the city’ country retreat The Guesthouse – Hill End.    



An accomplished practitioner with almost 30 years’ experience in the Australian tourism industry, Karen Fitzgerald’s career has spanned a range of senior managerial and influential roles with tourism industry councils, tourism businesses, state/regional/local tourism organisations, visitor information centres and all levels of government.  From the Northern Territory to South East Queensland and now Tasmania, Karen believes she has the best job in Australia! 

Currently Global Manager, Experiences, Karen leads Tourism Australia’s Signature Experiences of Australia program, which is designed to inspire travellers from around the world to visit Australia by highlighting special interest sectors that align to their passion points.    

This Program includes 8 marketing collectives representing 175 tourism businesses offering a qualified inventory of over 700 fully commissionable tourism experiences that have been carefully designed to capture the imagination of consumers around the world.  Karen’s presentation will outline how she grew the program into a highly successful brand alignment platform by encouraging industry to collaborate through a shared vision and a common goal.  



Kate Shilling is a strategic sales and marketing executive, with a strong track record in partnership marketing across all tourism sectors.  She has worked with leading travel distributors, media, creative and digital agencies to develop, promote and sell innovative travel experiences in Australia and overseas. With a CV that includes leadership roles at Flight Centre in Australia and the USA, Tourism NT, NRMA Travel, Qantas Holidays, Helloworld and Australian Traveller Media, Kate is the founder of Straightforward Tourism Solutions, a Director on the Board of Destination Riverina Murray, and is currently the Executive Officer of Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia.
This hand-selected collection of Australia’s premium wineries offers unique experiences based around world class wines, culinary excellence and warm and knowledgeable hospitality.  

Kate will discuss how the members of Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia have worked with each other and the wider industry to create solid partnerships that maximise opportunities and engage consumers (no matter where they are on the path to purchase)to get them travelling to regional Australia. 



Ben is Australia’s worst injured survivor of the 2002 Bali Bombings Terrorist Attacks, losing both his legs, most of his stomach muscles and receiving 63% full thickness burns to his body. He was given a 5% chance of survival. Not only did he fight on and survive his horrific injuries, Ben’s inspiring ‘never say die’ attitude saw him learn to walk again on two prosthetic legs and he is living proof that life is worth living regardless of challenges and obstacles. 

Ben hit the road earlier this year with the Dometic Follow the Sun Relay, a collaboration of Dometic, Winnebago and Caravan Industry Association of Australia. Ben travelled in the Follow The Sun Winnebago showing holidaying in a motorhome for a people with disability. Ben was named the Inclusive Ambassador at the recent Caravan Industry Association National Conference held on the Gold Coast. 

Ben brings substantial awareness to communities via the media, raising the awareness of disabled sports, participation and it’s benefits, as well as increasing the profile of disabled people not just locally, or interstate, but nationally as well. Ben is now noticed for a lot more than just being our country’s worst injured survivor of the Bali Bombings, his contribution to the disabled community is exemplary.



Giovanna Lever, Managing Director of management consultancy, Sparrowly Group is well known for building and transforming brands into sustainable business models.

Over the past 20 years, Giovanna has worked as a business strategist and integrated commercial marketer in the tourism, agribusiness, hospitality, entertainment, health, disability, community development and sport sectors across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.

She began Sparrowly Group with a clear vision to create a better workforce for the future with a particular passion around enabling and empowering regional Australia and that starts at the grass roots with an engaged community.

The strategic business consulting Giovanna and her team do at Sparrowly Group is backed by their custom leadership, development and mentorship programs delivered for small business through to international organisations including Virgin Australia, InterContinental Hotels Group and Reserve Bank of Australia.



With over 20-years of senior executive experience inside some of Australia’s most prominent companies, (including the Qantas Group, Tourism Australia, BHP and Medibank Private), Simon is a leader in corporate, regulatory, government and public affairs.  He has headed Corporate Communication functions inside two ASX listed companies and led Corporate Affairs Departments for companies across a diversity of sectors including resourcesprivate health, aviation and tourism. 

Simon has made a major impact in his roles around Australia’s visitor economy. A former senior manager at a regional airline, he was executive Head of Corporate Relations and a member of the start-up executive for Jetstar Airways for 7 ½ years during its formative development and rapid evolution as a major domestic and international airline group.  

He became an Executive GM for Corporate Affairs and Strategy at Tourism Australia for almost two-years overseeing TA’s China Strategy and the successful implementation of Tourism 2020. After senior roles held at Orica Limited and BHP, he was CEO of a national agricultural export body for two years, prior to heading Strategy at 50-year old national boutique business advisory firm, Royce at the beginning of 2019. 

In August this year Simon was appointed as Executive Director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC), enthusiastically marking his returto Australian tourism policy and advocacy, whilst retaining his tenure at Royce.



Paul was appointed as the Head of Regional Tourism and Strategy for Visit Victoria in November 2017. He has been involved with the tourism and transport sectors for over 30 years with qualifications in Business, Special Event Management, Public Relations and Marketing.

He is a retired national judge for the Australian Tourism Awards and Victorian Tourism Awards. In 2014, he became the Chair of the Victorian Tourism Awards Mentoring panel after mentoring businesses with award submissions since 2010.  He is also a past mentor for Destination Melbourne’s Tourism Leadership program.

Paul has held senior leadership positions in communications, marketing, business development, stakeholder engagement, research and digital roles with Yarra Trams, V/Line and VicRoads.  In 2010 he headed up his own transport and tourism consultancy.

Prior to Yarra Trams, Paul held management and marketing roles in the bus industry, a travel agency and the interstate coach sector. He is a keen traveller, musician and enjoys a bit of dark tourism.



Kathryn entered tourism with a background research and subsequently combined her skills in researching emerging tourism trends with on-the-ground, grass-roots industry experience by working in hotels and resorts domestically and around the world. Kathryn has excelled in development focused roles working with tourism businesses, particularly small businesses. Her aptitude in assisting small businesses led Kathryn into the Indigenous tourism sector, where her impacts on businesses can have broader implications beyond single. She routinely demonstrates her desire and passion for Indigenous tourism and her experience and expertise are valuable assets for the businesses she works with. Kathryn has a Bachelor of Psychology from the Queensland University of Technology, and in 2017 was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to investigate and design new, innovative approaches to grow and market Indigenous tourism experiences.



Paige and Rebecca are passionate tourism consultants, with more than two and a half decades’ combined experience working in tourism and destination marketing including with the South Australian Tourism Commission and in their own consultancies. For the last eight years, they’ve trained hundreds of local government, visitor centre, regional and local tourism organisation staff around Australia to help grow visitor economies and business profits through tourism strategy development and marketing mentoring and training programs.

Workshop Overview | Strengthening your Destination’s Visitor Economy from the Inside Out
Engaging your residents, the industry and elected members in the value of tourism and best practice destination marketing is the key to growing your region’s visitor economy. Working with LGAs around Australia on strategy development, they’ve seen first-hand how a fragmented, parochial and uneducated community can impede regional growth. In their practical workshop, they’ll cover strategies on getting your community stakeholders behind your organisation’s vision and direction and how to get buy in from residents to be positive advocates for your destination.



Since creating Kiikstart in early 2008, Ali Uren has specialised in business planning and development for the corporate, government and tourism sectors. Our purpose is to build stronger regions that are better positioned to meet the changing needs of visitors. In turn this results in better bottom lines with more engaged, connected teams.  

Presentation Overview | Beyond 2020 – visionary business and people development

This session will unpack the organisational considerations to grow and remain competitive into the future, from a cultural and team perspective. We have tourism as an internal super sector but serious gaps in the capability of businesses to be innovative and respond to the threats that already exist or will exist.  This session will address what it takes for Operators, of all sizes, to be able to fight smarter in a rapidly changing industry.   

Kiikstart will provide checklists and resources to participants that will allow them to self - assess the health and talent of their organisation to attract not only guests but the best people to their teams.  This will focus on current and future role design, recruitment and welcome processes for new staff plus insights into the most effective approaches to ongoing learning and development of teams. 



Emma Terry is the Chief Marketing Officer for Tourism Tasmania.  Emma is responsible for the delivery of Tourism Tasmania’s marketing program to increase demand for the State. She has over 18 years’ experience in business strategy and planning and development as well as developing and implementing brand and marketing strategies to achieve business objectives for local and international markets. Prior to Tourism Tasmania Emma has held a number of senior leadership roles including GM Business Development Tasports and Director Strategy Sales and Marketing at Entura (Hydro Tasmania). 





Nadine Dawood Morgan is currently the Head of Marketing at Qantas, she has over 15 years of global marketing experience, working across the UK, Canada and Australia.
After building the foundations of her career in advertising agencies; working on brands like Qantas, BMW, MasterCard, Telstra, UNICEF and Woolworths, she decided Qantas was her favourite and made the jump client side in 2011.

Over the last eight years at Qantas she’s led a variety of marketing teams across the Group, focusing on Brand, Data, Loyalty, B2B, Partner Marketing, and most recently Marketing Design which includes all Tourism Partnerships. This has allowed her to bring all her skills together whilst building a solid understanding of the Aviation and Tourism industry.   



After graduating from La Trobe University, Andrew entered the business events arena managing events and operations at what is now Albury Entertainment Centre. The world of destination marketing then called as Andrew took on the challenge of heading up the Albury Wodonga Convention Bureau for Destination Albury Wodonga in 2005. In 2008, Andrew was lured to the Great Ocean Road where he established the Convention Bureau, Business Events Geelong, for the now Tourism Greater Geelong & The Bellarine. With a vision of improving Regional Victoria’s reach into the business events market, he was appointed Chair of the Regional Victoria Conference Group the following year, were he led the rebrand to Business Events Victoria and the successful campaign calling on the Victorian Government to invest in the Regional Victoria Business Events Program.

After securing “Hall of Fame” status for Business Events Geelong at the National Meetings & Events Industry Awards in 2012, Andrew took on the role of Chief Executive Officer for the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux and holds a position on the Business Events Council of Australia board. Andrew also holds the positions on the Tourism Visa Advisory Group, convened by the Department of Home Affairs, and the Australian Regional Tourism Ltd board.



Matthew Burke is the Regional Manager – Pacific STR - leading the growth in the Pacific, Japan and Central South Asia. He has over a dozen years of experience in hospitality with a specialisation in revenue management. With a passion for analysis of the hospitality industry he works to increase the engagement in hospitality data intelligence and clarify the decision making for hospitality, research and investment companies across the regionsMatthew frequently presents the latest trends and updates at industry events in the region. 

STR track supply and demand data for the hotel industry and here in Australia produce the Australian Accommodation Monitor supported by AUSTRADE. This provides valuable market share analysis for accommodation operators, investment companies and agencies across the globe. 



Melissa Ritchie has 20 years industry experience, and holds a senior position as Account Manager and Art Director at WISDOM. Melissa has managed a number of award winning advertising campaigns, brand developments and large scale website projects whilst at WISDOM. With a creative background, her role has developed into a harmonious mix of account management with strategic and creative direction.







Steve Rosa is the Group Manager – Tourism & Economic Development for Destination Southern Highlands, a business unit of Wingecarribee Shire Council which acts as the tourism body for the Southern Highlands NSW.

Steve is a passionate and innovative ‘Destination Practitioner’ with a zest for best practice whilst redeveloping, reinventing, rebranding and repositioning places and people.

During Steve’s leadership, Destination Southern Highlands has been acknowledged nationally as regional tourism ‘innovators’ for its award-winning Welcome Centre, destination marketing, VFR development along with unique product and experience development.

Steve has served on the board of the Australian Regional Tourism Network & has 40 years’ experience in the travel and tourism industry, having held senior management positions with NT Tourism, Scenic Tours and Commonwealth Bank Travel.