It's the journey, the story of how we got here and our hopes for the future that sustain us. Looking back we can see the footsteps of the future... and it all makes sense.
Working in a variety of public and private sector roles from the very local to the global, in different sectors and cultural contexts, The Tourism CoLab is the next step in a journey in co-creating a sustainable and regenerative future for tourism. This is the Founder's Story...
DESTINATION PLACE DESIGN, AUSTRALIA
URBAN DESIGN AND REGIONAL PLANNING CONSULTANT
Working in Queensland in the last 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 like The Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforests became a core focus of my work. The need to ensure land use planning and policy was designed to protect the very essence of special places and communities led to working with stakeholders to integrate tourism into planning schemes, tourism and place design, environmental management and policy.
This training in design, a capacity to work across scales from global to local, over time, and across disciplines are important attributes of systems and complexity thinking.
TOURISM-RECREATION LANDSCAPES, CANADA
With a thirst for learning and seeing how the rest of the world was coping with tourism growth, I undertook a Masters degree at the University of Waterloo, Canada. Continuing my interest in the way tourism impacts landscapes and communities, my research focused on muti-use landscapes, place identity and attachment. I count myself lucky to have worked with amazing scholars examining competitive advantage in Niagara Falls, the scoping of environmental impact assessments.
ECOLOGIES OF PLACE, XALAPA, MEXICO
COMMUNITY EDUCATOR, JARDÍN BOTÁNICO CLAVIJERO
One of life's curveballs took me to regional Mexico 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 vegetation corridors and the drivers of deforestation during rapid urbanisation took me on an intercultural journey that profoundly shaped my understanding of place ecologies. It's a perspective informed by culture, politics, ecology, economics and social dynamics, and is the very basis of working with complexity in tourism.
PLACE IDENTITY, BRANDING & POLICY, AUSTRALIA
Embarking on a PhD, I was eager to explore the connections between place identity, regional development and the role of business and government. I helped to establishing a local 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.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION & DESIGN
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.
Managing Local Tourism Guide (2006)
STAKEHOLDERS, POLICY & ORGANISATIONAL DESIGN
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, SOUTHERN CROSS UNIVERSITY
This was a time to consolidate thinking around tourism and its role in community well-being, place change and policy. Fascinated by the stories of policy making, I authored a book highlighting the value of storytelling as a way of learning and reflecting. I also continued my commitment to tourism education by leading the largest national study of tourism and hospitality education. The OECD invited me to contribute research and thought leadership by examining overlapping policy and policy complementarities in tourism.
Building a Stronger Future: Australian Tourism, Hospitality and Events Education (2012) - 5 reports
ELECTED MEMBER, INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY FOR THE STUDY OF TOURISM
THE TOURISM COLAB, AUSTRALIA
After so many roles as consultant, sole trader, professor, policy analyst and expert, the next logical step was business owner! The Tourism CoLab has allowed me to be creative and innovative and to share all this experience, knowledge and insights with the world! Combining decades of consulting, higher education research, award-winning teaching and community engagement, The Tourism CoLab guides the change that is needed in tourism.
COMPLEXITY, CO-DESIGN & THE NEXT ECONOMY
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
Collaborative economy tourist accommodation policy responses
Policy supports for the blue economy
Diverse economies, innovative business models and the platform economy
TOURISM EDUCATION FUTURES
CHAIR, TOURISM EDUCATION FUTURES INITIATIVE
Invited to take over the co-chairing of the Tourism Education Futures Initiative, a global network of innovative tourism educators, I continued TEFI's journey. Based on a commitment that education should be values-based (not only outcome-focused), taking this leadership role made perfect sense given a career-long commitment to the power of transformational learning.
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.