Convention Speakers

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


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)



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.



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.



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.



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.



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. 



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.