our
Backstory

Love of place is in our DNA

Places that are flourishing and vibrant make great places to visit. It's those transformational moments of genuine connection that are a source of magic in tourism!

It's the community members who take the time to connect in genuine ways and who gift us something so much more valuable than mere information.

It's the awe and wonder of nature, and the restoration and regeneration it provides us.

It's learning something new that can't be unseen and new insights that transform how we think.

It's connecting with ourselves, and with our travel companions, that replenishes and reminds us what really matters.


The Tourism CoLab is founded on the love of place, a passion for authentic connections between hosts and guests, and nurturing local ground-up stewardship for the places we care about.
It's our backstory that sets us apart. Being place-based, community-led and environment focused is part of our DNA. Our purpose to transform tourism for good that shapes our work always has been and always will be part of out DNA.

 

The journey

Our purpose and direction are often defined by our journey and how those experiences have shaped us. The founder's story is an international, intercultural, and interdisciplinary journey.

ELECTED MEMBER, INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY FOR THE STUDY OF TOURISM

DESTINATION DESIGN, AUSTRALIA

TOURISM-RECREATION LANDSCAPES, CANADA

TOURISM, DESIGN AND REGIONAL STRATEGY 1985-1995

 

Working in Queensland in the late 1980s and early 1990s, tourism was on a massive growth trajectory. The role that tourism played in the transformation of urban, rural and natural landscapes and communities in places such as the Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforests became a core focus of my work. A passion for place-based design with nature led me to develop frameworks and approaches to protect the very essence of special places and communities I worked with. Deep listening, community engagement, and a sense of place were core aspects of the way we worked at that time. 

MASTERS RESEARCH - TOURISTED LANDSCAPES 1988-1990

With a thirst to see how the rest of the world was coping with tourism growth, I enrolled in a Masters degree at the University of Waterloo, Canada. Continuing my interest in the way tourism transforms landscapes and communities, my research focused on muti-use landscapes, place identity and attachment. Extra courses in protected areas planning supplemented my coursework. I count myself lucky to have worked with amazing scholars examining competitive advantage in Niagara Falls, and the scoping of environmental impact assessments.

ECOLOGIES OF PLACE, XALAPA, MEXICO

COMMUNITY EDUCATOR, JARDÍN BOTÁNICO CLAVIJERO 1994-2000

PLACE IDENTITY, BRANDING & POLICY, AUSTRALIA

I found myself in Xalapa, Mexico in 1991 where I worked for 5 years in community education at one of the most important botanical garden and seed banks in Latin America. Examining the role of regional biodiversity, urban regeneration and socio-cultural drivers of deforestation took me on an cross-cultural journey that profoundly shaped my understanding of the social, cultural, environmental, and economic ecologies of place. It's a perspective informed that profoundly changed my perspective of places as dynamic, evolutionary landscapes and the need to work in adaptive ways as we continuously learn.

PhD RESEARCHER/CONSULTANT 2000-2002

Embarking on a PhD, I was eager to explore the connections between place identity, regional development and governance. Different levels of government and tourism organisations adopt different narratives and brand the same place differently, leading to fragmentation and competing narratives. During my PhD I helped establish a local government-led tourism network after the closure of the steelworks in Newcastle. I designed and implemented tourism professional development seminars which kept me grounded and connected to the pragmatic perspectives of business, governments and communities.

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION & DESIGN

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY 2002-2008

National Teaching Citation

Being told to 'not worry my pretty little head' (true story!) about research, my first academic position was an intensive teaching role. I decided to make the most of it by developing an approach to experiential transformational learning. Several teaching awards resulted including a National Citation for Teaching Excellence. Drawing from experience in Mexico, it was clear that learning, in various forms, was the key to understanding our environmental footprint and to changing attitudes, behaviour and connection to Nature. Educational journeys consolidated as a cornerstone of my work.

Griffith University 2006

For leadership in the development and delivery of planning education that links theory and practice, and instils in students a passion and enthusiasm for environmental planning (read the citation here)

NATIONAL TOURISM EDUCATION PROECT (OLT)

Future of tourism and hospitality education in Australia, analysis and recommendations. A collaborative project involving 24 universities, 2008-2011.

Building a Stronger Future: Australian Tourism, Hospitality and Events Education (2012) -  5 reports

POLICY INNOVATION & ORGANISATIONAL DESIGN

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, SOUTHERN CROSS UNIVERSITY

Consolidating thinking around tourism and its role in regional change, community well-being, place-making and policy, this publication highlights the value of storytelling in learning and professional development. I also continued my commitment to tourism education by leading the largest national study of tourism and hospitality education examining the future of tourism education. .

POLICY COMPLEMENTARITIES IN TOURISM (2012)

OECD research and polcy advice that examined policy complementarities in tourism and allied policy areas, recommending changes for national governments

TOURISM EDUCATION FUTURES

CHAIR, TOURISM EDUCATION FUTURES INITIATIVE

Invited to Chair the Tourism Education Futures Initiative, a global network of innovative tourism educators. Based on a commitment that education should be values-based (not only focused on economic outcomes), I embraced a global leadership and mentoring role. Between 2012 and 2018, I we broke new ground by exploring conferences themes in co-creation, values-based education, tourism and social enterprise, stories as tools for learning, transformational learning, and the ethics of care. 

HANDBOOK OF TOURISM & HOSPITALITY EDUCATION

39 chapters on the future of tourism, hospitality and events education and curriculum spaces in a complex, interdisciplinary world with David Airey and Michael J Gross.

TOURISM AND SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP

TEFI CONFERENCES ON TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP, 
VALUES BASED EDUCATION, PURPOSE AND CARE ETHICS

An important theme during this time was a commitment to unlocking the link between social enterprise and tourism. This produced a partnership with the amazing Roberto Daniele (Changemaker's Lab), several walking workshops in Nepal and conference and book on the topic.

Elected memer of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism (IAST) 2016

for contributions to tourism research and eduation. 

TOURISM CO-DESIGN & INNOVATION 

PROFESSOR, AALBORG UNIVERSITY

Ever curious to learn and experience new ways of thinking, I headed to Europe in 2014 to extend my thinking. With collaborations across Europe, the OECD and the European Commission, I delivered policy advice, research and presentations to European Tourism Ministers.These included:

Digitalisation and tourism SMEs  policy supports

Policy research and advice to the OECD and European Commission

Collaborative economy tourist accommodation policy responses

Policy supports for the blue economy

Picture 1.png

Diverse economies, innovative business models and the platform economy

Tourism and Co-creation

Diverse economies and tourism 2019

THE TOURISM COLAB, AUSTRALIA

FOUNDER | DIRECTOR

Founding The Tourism CoLab in 2019 has allowed the opportunity to return to create a place to share, inspire, provoke thought and new ways of working in tourism. Combining consulting, higher education research, activism, thought leadership, award-winning teaching and community engagement, The Tourism CoLab was created to help guide the change that is needed in tourism.

DESIGNING TOURISM, AUSTRALIA

CO-FOUNDER | DIRECTOR

Designing Tourism was founded in 2021 to experiment with new ways of working in tourism. It's an experimental lab on Flinders Island Tasmania, where we are exploring, testing and building new ways of working in tourism.

www.islanderway.co. 

Flinders Island Regenerative Tourism Living Lab