By Peter Shelley, Managing Director, Australian Tourism Export Council
As this year pulls to an end, we look back on the last 12 months with a strong belief in our industry’s durability and with great pride in the sector we represent. While we may not be fully recovered – in fact we are still only halfway to our pre-COVID success for our high yield international holiday visitor segment – I have spent many hours and days with people across our industry who continue to show dedication, passion and hope. Much like the Pheonix rising, our 2023 tourism industry is born of the experiences and challenges it has worked through over the past few years and is hopeful of a brighter future.
Along with the energy I continuously see throughout our industry, one of the most exciting things is the spirit shown by our future leaders. Last month at ATEC’s Meeting Place in Adelaide, we celebrated the graduation of our 2023 Emerging Leaders of Inbound Tourism Excellence (ELITE) program. This was the 7th cohort featuring 16 participants and the latest group of over 160 young industry leaders to have graduated from the program.
ATEC designed ELITE to cultivate and empower the next generation of leaders for our industry, giving them both the theory and practice needed to excel and grow within the inbound tourism sector. We offer workshops and mentoring and immersive experiences which cumulate in participants presenting their ideas to real-life industry clients. By nurturing our young leaders, ATEC is seeking to support a strong, dynamic future for our industry which is built on the knowledge and experience of those who have already made huge contributions to its success.
As we celebrated the graduation of these young leaders, we also honoured the work of one of our most dedicated industry stalwarts with the Captain Trevor Haworth award which went to David Thorne. Known in the industry as the ‘trade-show king’, and now in his 80s but still on the road, David has not only shown remarkable commitment, drive and passion in setting up WA’s Caversham Wildlife Park in 1988, he’s been a respected mentor to many businesses and individuals looking to understand the export tourism industry. It was a rare opportunity to see our past, present and future all in the same room, and a wonderful way to end a year and look forward to the successes of the years ahead.