Dreamtime by Rhonda Appo inspired at Lorne
After being totally inspired at Lorne, I was ready for our very own Forum. Now it its eighth year, the Tourism Indigenous Employment Forum hosted by the Queensland Tourism Industry Council and supported by The Star Entertainment group has become a firm favourite in my diary.
A lot of hard work goes into developing a program filled with the perfect mix of speakers, breakout sessions and networking time. As the event has grown year after year, the thing I find hardest is limiting the speakers to ensure that the program we have facilitates insightful discussion and engagement with the audience. I hate to blow my own trumpet, but I have to say this year was one of the best! We managed to secure some fantastic sponsors for the event, and through them we were able to have Dale Stephens, Chair of New Zealand Maori Tourism, as our key note speaker. His address was everything we could have hoped for. He provided the history of development of Maori Tourism in NZ and offered insight into some of the challenges they have faced, challenges that resonate with Indigenous tourism here in Queensland. His presentation was a real stand out of the day!
The other stand out for me was the young talent that we are starting to see come through the industry. Looking at Reef Education and the connections with sea country highlighted the passion that the next generation Indigenous tourism leaders have. Jeremy, a cruise attendant from Reef Magic Cruises really managed to steal the show! His genuine love of land and desire to pass stories on to visitors to the Great Barrier Reef was magic (pun intended) to say the least. To know that our future is in the hands of people like this is amazing, but work still needs to be done to ensure that we nurture this talent, support the development of the next generation and make sure that they don’t fall into the same traps as us. Lessons have been learnt over the past ten years and these need to be applied to minimise burnout and ensure that the future of these incredibly talented young leaders reaches its potential.
It wasn’t just at the conference itself that we saw young talent. The biggest surprise of the day came from the networking drinks afterwards. After a beautiful welcome by Luther Cora and the Jellugal dancers, we were treated to a superstar performance from a young fella – Budjearah Slabb. He captivated the room with a mix of covers and his own music. Soon enough this guy will be shining brightly globally and we can say we saw him here first! An incredibly uplifting end to a great day, meeting new people, listening to inspiring stories and discussing the topics that matter to the Indigenous Tourism Sector. I am so proud to be a part of such an important forum for the sector and look forward to next year’s event on 6 November on the Sunshine Coast!