Keynote Speakers

Prof Jigang Bao

Jigang Bao is Dean of the Graduate School and School of Tourism Management of Sun Yat-Sen and Fellow of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism. He is on the editorial boards of several journals including Tourism Management, Journal of Sustainable Tourism and Tourism Tribune. Professor Bao expertise is in tourism geography and tourism planning. He has worked at national level and leading tourism development planning in Hubei and Hunan Provinces, and regions such as Shangri-la, Zhuhai, Guilin, Suzhou, Xishangbanna, and Huangshan.

Ms Vanessa Brennan

Vanessa Brennan is a partner in The Experience Centre, PwC Australia. A recognised leader in strategic brand and marketing strategy, she is a senior marketing professional, with more than 20 years’ local and international marketing experience as a CMO and in leading creative agencies. Vanessa has been a key adviser to a number of Australian and global brands. Her role with these organisations has been to help them connect, grow and retain their customers through unique and differentiated brand experiences.

Mr Edison Chen

Edison Chen graduated from University of South Australia. He is experienced in marketing and communication, destination promotion, media management, government cooperation and business development. Edison Chen, has more than ten years’ experience in the travel industry. He is now the General Manager of Destination Marketing in and responsible for business cooperation with global governments and tourism bureaus.

Prof Bin Dai

Bin Dai is President of China Tourism Academy and has extensive research and consultancy expertise in tourism policy, tourism enterprise management and tourism industrial economics related to China's tourism sector. Professor Dai has written numerous books, has been involved in more than sixty tourism research projects, and has published in Tourism Tribune, Nankai Economic Studies, Nankai Business Review, and Tourism Science. He is a member of the Expert Committee of State Council’s Emergency Office, and is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Tourism Management (Chinese).

Mr Bob East

Bob East is the CEO of the Mantra Group and has been responsible for the consolidation and strengthening of the Mantra Group brands. Bob has developed the Group into one of the leading accommodation providers and marketers in Australasia. Bob holds a Master of Business Administration, is Chairman of Tourism Australia and a Board member of the Gold Coast Suns Football Club (AFL).

Ms Phillipa Harrison

Phillipa Harrison joined Tourism Australia in February 2017 to head up the organisation’s international operations for Asia, the Americas, Europe and New Zealand as well as Global Distribution and Partnerships. Prior to her current role, Ms Harrison spent six years working for Hamilton Island Enterprises and before that held a variety of senior sales, marketing and product roles at Viator Systems (Sydney), Base Group (Sydney), STA Travel (London), Contiki Holidays (London), and Trailfinders (London).

Prof Ken Hughey

Ken Hughey is the Chief Science Advisor for the Department of Conservation, New Zealand, and represents DOC on National Science Challenges and the Natural Resource Sector science advisors group. He is also Professor of Environmental Management at Lincoln University. His research interests focus on the natural environment, but he is also involved in research on tourism and climate change, tourism and disaster management, and environmental perceptions monitoring.

Mr George Lawson

George Lawson is the Alipay Country Manager for Australia and NZ. His primary focus is to build merchant acceptance of Alipay so that Chinese customers can use a familiar payment method when they travel to these countries. Prior to joining Alipay he spent 4 years at Visa as Head of Emerging Products and Innovation, where he deployed bank mobile payment applications, as well as third party mobile payment applications such as Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

Prof Marianna Sigala

Marianna Sigala is Professor of Tourism at the University of South Australia Business School. Marianna is a widely published authority in the area of Service Operations Management and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) applications in Tourism and Hospitality. She also has an interest in e-learning models and pedagogies. Marianna has also served on the Board of Directors of several professional organizations.




Dinner Keynote

Mr Don Morris AO

Don Morris is the former Chair of both Tourism Australia and Tourism Queensland, and a former director of Harvey World Travel, the Tourism & Transport Forum, Port Douglas Reef Resorts, Tourism Asset Holdings and Hamilton Island Enterprises. Don was a founding principal of Mojo Advertising, creators of the iconic 1980’s “Shrimp on the Barbie” promotional campaign for Australian tourism, as well as “I still call Australia home” for Qantas. In the 2002 Australian Honours, Don was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) for services to tourism. Don is a current director of ASX listed Ardent Leisure Ltd (owners of Dreamworld theme park and a portfolio of international leisure businesses) and Chair of tourism Project Management specialists, Pure Projects.

Confirmed Speakers and Panellists

Ms Emily (Jinyan) Chen
Emily Chen is a doctoral researcher in the Griffith Institute for Tourism and Big Data Lab. Her particular expertise is in Big Data analytics, in particular sentiment analysis applied to Chinese social media.

A/Prof Karine Dupre
Karine Dupre is the Head of Griffith Architecture. She has a particular research interest in the impact of Chinese tourism on cities. Other research interests include urban development & sustainability, building heritage & identity, architecture and engineer education & employability.

Prof Larry Dwyer
Larry Dwyer is a globally renowned tourism economist who publishes widely in the areas of tourism economics, management and policy. Professor Dwyer is President of the International Association for Tourism Economics, a member of the International Advisory Board of the Business Enterprises for Sustainable Tourism Education Network (BESTEN), and a fellow of the International Academy for Study of Tourism.

Mr Jonathan Fisher
Jonathan Fisher is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Trust of Australia (Queensland) and has a strong interest in ecotourism and destination development. As CEO of Currumbin Wild Life Sanctuary, Jonathan has overseen reinvestment into the site and the return to profit at this iconic attraction plus the building of the very successful Wildlife Hospital.

Mr Chris Flynn
Chris Flynn is Regional Director-Pacific for the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), and is responsible for industry development and liaison within the public and private tourism sectors. He has 30 years experience in international and domestic tourism having held senior appointments within the airline, deluxe hotel, and high profile entertainment industries.

Dr Sarah Gardiner
Dr Sarah Gardiner has a PhD in Marketing and is a Senior Lecturer in tourism and hotel management at Griffith University. Through her research and industry engagement, she has helped many tourism businesses innovate and develop new tourism products, including working with Get Wet Surf School who was the recipient of the QTIC 2016 Prize for Innovation.

Dr Ronda Green
Ronda Green holds a PhD in zoology and has conducted much ecological and behavioural research, including in relation to wildlife tourism. She has had extensive experience in nature interpretation for all ages, and she is currently chair of Wildlife Tourism Australia and Scenic Rim Wildlife.

Mr Danny Huang
Danny Huang is General Manager, Strategy and Investor Relations at The Star Entertainment Group Limited. He was previously Director, Strategic Development and Research at Tourism and Events Queensland, following 20 years in funds management and investment banking.

Prof Leo Jago OAM
Leo Jago is a Professor in Hospitality and Events and Head of Department – Hospitality at the University of Surrey in the UK. Before joining the University of Surrey in 2014 he spent three years as the inaugural Chief Economist and General Manager of Tourism Research Australia, where he was responsible for the establishment and management of Australia’s national tourism research agenda.

Prof Janne J. Liburd
Janne Liburd is a Professor of Tourism and Director of the Centre for Tourism, Innovation and Culture at the University of Southern Denmark. Janne is the Chairman of the UNESCO World Heritage Wadden Sea National Park in Denmark.

Prof Betty Qiuju Luo
Deputy Dean of School of Tourism Management, Sun Yat-sen University. Prof. Luo is an expert in the area of exhibition, convention, mega event , event tourism and social media. She has published more than 60 academic articles in Chinese and international journals.

Emeritus Professor Colin Mackerras
Colin Mackerras is an Australian sinologist, Emeritus Professor at Griffith University, and specialist in Chinese culture. He has published widely on Chinese drama, national minorities of China, Australian-Chinese relations and images of China in the West. He is a member of the Asian Studies Association of Australia (President, 1992–95) and Chinese Studies Association (President,1991–93).

Prof Bob McKercher
Bob McKercher is a Professor in Tourism at the School of Hotel and Tourism Management, Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Previously, Bob has worked in the Canadian tourism industry in a variety of advocacy and operational roles. He has published over 250 scholarly papers and research reports on a variety of subject areas, and he is a member of the International Academic for the Study of Tourism and a fellow of the Council for Australian University Tourism and Hospitality Education.

Mr Stewart Moore
Stewart Moore is the founder and CEO of EarthCheck, the world’s leading benchmarking certification and environmental management programme used by the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that help owners, operators and designers reduce costs and reduce their environmental impact on our planet. He is one of Asia Pacific’s most experienced planning and destination management consultants.

Prof Andrew O'Neil
Andrew Neil is Dean (Research) and Professor of Political Science in the Griffith Business School. Andrew’s research expertise focuses on the intersection of strategic, political, and economic change in the Asia-Pacific with particular emphasis on the security dimension of international relations, and he is a frequent media commentator on these topics.

Ms Margy Osmond
Margy Osmond is an Australian businesswoman and current Chief Executive Officer of the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF), the peak national industry group for the tourism, aviation and transport sectors. Prior to joining TTF in October 2014, she was CEO of the Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA). Margy’s previous Board appointments include the Retail Employees Superannuation Trust, Tourism NSW, the NSW Major Events Board, the NSW Police Minister's Advisory Board and NSW State Transit Authority. In addition Osmond chaired the bid and official Organising Committee for the largest non-elite sporting event in the world, the International World Masters Games, held in Sydney in 2009.

Prof Yu Qin
Yu Qin is Professor of Management at School of Hospitality Management in Beijing International Studies University and the Executive Editor of Tourism and Hospitality Prospects, a newly launched Chinese academic. Professor Qin's primary expertise is hospitality management and operation, and his research focuses on the strategic managements in dynamic and fast evolving hospitality industry in China. Professor Qin's research has been published in top Chinese and international academic journals. His current research is focused on the environmental change, the business model and strategy, and the entrepreneurships in China’s hospitality industries.

Mr Gary Waldon
Gary Waldon is CEO and Founder of Localyokl, a company connecting travellers with locals for real, unique and immersive experiences. He has managed the creation of a billion dollar business in Westpac and has worked in several sectors in the world of finance, transport and education.

Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Wall
Geoffrey Wall is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo. He was the recipient of the UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge. The Prize recognized Professor Wall’s pioneer research on tourism and climate change and his work on ecotourism and tourism planning. His ecotourism assessment framework and economic impacts assessment models have been effectively implemented in parks and protected areas in many parts of the world. Most of his research has been undertaken in Asia, with a recent emphasis on natural and cultural heritage and indigenous people.

Mr Shuangwu Wang
Shuangwu Wang is the General Manager, Queensland Branch of China Southern Airlines. He is one of the most popular columnists for some Chinese aviation websites and a special guest writer for the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) newspaper.

Mr Christopher Warren
Christopher Warren is an international expert in Responsible Tourism for Accommodation Providers applying technology and creativity to develop innovative sustainable solutions. In 2010 Christopher received the Eco Medal at the Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference in recognition of "extraordinary personal and professional achievement and contribution by an individual over many years to the Australian tourism industry."

Dr Lei Wu
Dr Lei Wu is an Associate Professor at Hunan Normal University. Her research interest include hotel managements, service quality, tourist worry, and rural tourism.


Prof David Simmons

David Simmons is the founder of tourism studies at Lincoln University, New Zealand. In 2008-2010 he held the position as Director of Research at the Australian Sustainable Tourism Co-operative Research Centre where he provided content design and editorial oversight of the sustainable tourism online research portal. David led a number of FRST funded multi-year programme examining both tourism planning and aspects of tourism yield. David has worked on tourism planning issues in Cambodia (WWF), Mauritius (UNDP), Niue, Vanuatu (WTO/UNDP), Nepal (MFAT and WWF), India (WWF), Sarawak (E. Malaysia), and DPR (North) Korea (UN/WTO).