Despite the ongoing challenges facing most tourism operators, we found some reasons to be inspired and feel more positive last week. Our QTIC start-of-the-year event brought together nearly 300 motivated guests, as well as the Minister for Tourism Industry Development and Innovation, Hon Stirling Hinchliffe; Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry, Michael Healy; Minister for Employment, Small Business and Training, Hon Di Farmer; Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Tourism, David Crisafulli; and Shadow Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development, Stephen Bennett.
No one would have been left in any doubt that our industry is determined to come back as one of the great drivers of our economy and our community. An effective partnership with the government will be key and QTIC is committed to providing a strong voice for our industry in all the decision making processes that will shape our future.
Particularly inspirational were the two associated events we hosted last Wednesday. We launched this year’s Young Professionals Mentoring Program which includes a record number of 45 mentees and 44 mentors. The energy, commitment and enthusiasm was palpable in the room and supported by Assistant Minister Healy’s speech about his professional journey in the tourism industry. Supporting young professionals in their careers with the experience and knowledge of the senior industry representatives, who all volunteer their time, is perhaps more important than ever.
We also celebrated the participants, finalists and winners of the 2020 Salute to Excellence Awards program which recognises the most accomplished Vocational Education and Training (VET) in school students in tourism, hospitality and cookery. Now in its 23rd year, the program continues to inspire not only new students but also the employers, teachers and parents who can witness the progress of those future industry professionals. Minister Di Farmer was on hand to personally congratulate the students who will be sought-after leaders in our workforce.
In other exciting news, the Federal Government has announced the eagerly awaited Indigenous Tourism Fund (ITF). The program worth $40 million will be made available to fund mentoring and product development for Indigenous tourism. It is a timely initiative, not least to add further momentum to Queensland’s Year of Indigenous Tourism. I am particularly pleased to also announce that QTIC’s very own Indigenous Program Manager, Rhonda Appo, has been appointed to the ITF’s National Indigenous Tourism Advisory Group (NITAG) that will provide an Indigenous voice in the implementation of the ITF and on future priorities for the sector. This is impressive recognition for the work that Rhonda has done over the last eight years in her role here at QTIC and for her ability to bring together different stakeholders for a common goal.