Celebrating 10 Years of Champions

Over 120 business leaders, employers, government representatives, tourism organisations, native title holders and community organisations united at the Pullman Hotel in Brisbane to discuss and strategies opportunities for First Nations tourism in Queensland.

The event was hosted by the Queensland Tourism Industry (QTIC) Council under guidance from the QTIC Indigenous Champions Network, celebrating ten years of initiatives through the network.

Daniel Gschwind, Chief Executive, Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) said, “This year hasn’t been without its challenges from COVID-19, not only for First Nations tourism, but for the whole industry.  Bringing the industry back together is an important part of the recovery process and we are excited to have such commitment from First Nations people.

“It was great to see that the Queensland Government agreed to extend the Year of Indigenous Tourism to 2021 so that we can continue to drive the engagement, commitment and genuine progress to make the most of First Nations tourism in Queensland.

QTIC Deputy Chair, Cameron Costello, updated the forum on the progress of the implementation of the Queensland First Nations Tourism Plan, launched at last year’s event.  The Plan, a first for this state, will see major initiatives for Indigenous tourism in Queensland implemented over the coming years.

Mr Gschwind continued, “Our Destination IQ event looked a little different this year with the added online component, allowing people from across the state to listen in on speakers sharing their experience, challenges and opportunities available for First Nations people”.

The Keynote Speaker for this year was Rhoda Roberts, a member of the Bundjalung nation and Widjabul clan of Northern NSW and South East QLD.

Rhoda heads the First Nations Programming for the Sydney Opera House, is Festival Director of the Boomerang Festival / Bluesfest, Creative Director of the Parrtjima Festival (NT) and an Associate of Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA). ​

There was also an Indigenous inspired cooking demonstration by Sam and Luke Bourke from the National Indigenous Culinary Institute, and an interesting panel discussion and a presentation on unlocking the secrets to the ATO.

Following the event was a celebratory dinner for the Champion Network as they reflected on the accomplishes from over the past 10 years.

One of the founding members, Kim Harrington, Chief Executive Officer at Girl Guides, said it was wonderful to be a part of such a progressive group and to celebrate 10 years of the network.

“I am incredibly proud to have been a part of the network and feel very humbled to be here and to see the continued commitment.

“Words are easy, but actions are very difficult. To see 10 years on that the network is still here and the amazing opportunities and development it is providing is fantastic. I’m really excited to see the next 50 years with what the network can do,” said Ms Harrington.

Destination IQ was a sold-out event with participants leaving with a new understating of the opportunities and challenges First Nations tourism businesses face and a plan to move forward with a more sustainable approach.