Tourism Whitsundays, Queensland Australia, Whitsundays Holidays - Tourism Whitsundays QLD - 2019 Whitsunday Tourism Awards Judging Panel
The Whitsundays, Queensland.
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Judging Panel



Melanie Anderson - Department of Innovation, Tourism Industry Development and the Commonwealth Games

Melanie is a dynamic, highly motivated proven leader with almost 20 years of experience in leadership roles, the last 15 years in the public sector within economic development at a senior executive level.

Melanie in her current role leads the Tourism Industry Development Branch, within the Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development, which assists industry to create new tourism infrastructure and boost the sector’s revenue and sustainability.   The team increases investment in tourism product, improves transport access and connectivity within Queensland, and enters into partnerships to support tourism development. As GM Industry Development Melanie leads three units including Tourism Investment Attraction, Tourism Infrastructure Development and the Growing Tourism and Outback grant funds. Melanie has had extensive experience working with industry and stakeholders in the Whitsundays region leading the Whitsunday Tourism Recovery Fund project. Melanie established a local working group to develop new tourism products for the region including the development of new National Park walks including Hill Inlet Lookout, Langford Is, Border Is and Haslewood Is. Other projects include Peter Faust Dam and Flagstaff Hill new tourism developments, Underwater art at Langford Bird Reef and lead a process whereby local tourism operators could apply for up to $2M in grant funding.

Melanie has also worked closely with the Whitsundays significant investors such as CCIG on progressing the redevelopment of Daydream Island and will do so again with South Molle. Melanie is a passionate advocate for the region and is committed to assisting the tourism industry to achieve success.

 Tiffany McKinnon - Queensland Weekender

Tiffany McKinnon is the Series Producer for Channel Seven’s Queensland Weekender – a popular lifestyle and travel program that has been on air for the past 17 years.  For 10 of those years, Tiffany has worked on the show - travelling the state to share the best of its tourist attractions, experiences and characters.  Her favourite Whitsunday experience is sunset drinks at Langford Island Spit.

Nicole Passarelli -  Journey Beyond

Born and raised in Perth, Western Australia, Nicole Passarelli has worked in the Travel and Tourism industry for over 20 years. Currently the General Manager Sales & Marketing Marine for the Journey Beyond group, Nicole has an extensive background in Sales & Marketing within the Travel & Tourism sector. 

 Nicole has held roles across the airline, accommodation & tour operator sectors. In her present role as General Manager Sales & Marketing Marine, Nicole is responsible for the management of the local sales teams for all the Marine businesses in the group, including Cruise Whitsundays.

 Nicole’s past and present roles have seen her work closely with many RTO’s, STO’s and other tourism organisations and have formed strong relationships within the industry. Her current and previous roles have involved extensive sales and marketing experience within the Intrastate, Interstate and International markets.

 Nicole has previously been a judge for the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce Business Awards and is currently the Chair of the WA branch of ATEC (Australian Tourism Export Council).

 Allan Milostic - Whitsundays Chamber of Commerce & LiveLife Pharmacy Airlie Beach

Allan was born in Sydney and completed his tertiary studies there. Once registered as a pharmacist, he worked across the country gaining experience and perspective in a broad range of community pharmacy environments.

Settling in Airlie Beach, Allan met his wife Karen became well known in the region as a local pharmacist. In the late 90’s he became an owner in Airlie Beach Pharmacy and several in Port Douglas. He helped form the fledging pharmacy group called Chemcoast that has now evolved to the LiveLife Pharmacy Group and grown to more than 35 stores – still driven by a commitment to customers.

Passionate about the Whitsundays, business sustainability and the community, Allan has always been involved and active in the region including roles in establishing the original Airlie Beach Chamber of Commerce, Vice- President of Compass (the local aged care and disabled respite service) and various sporting clubs, currently Junior Coordinator and Committee member of the Whitsunday Football Club.

Denny-Lyn Dixon - Hamilton Island Enterprises

Experienced General Manager skilled in Marketing Strategy, Destination Marketing, Digital, Advertising, CRM, Partnerships, Corporate Communication and Public Relations. Strong marketing professional with a Bachelor of Economics focused on Marketing Major from the University of New England (AU).

Johnny Gaskell - Daydream Island Resort - Living Reef Manager

Johnny Gaskell is an experienced marine biologist with expertise in Australian marine life and marine education. Johnny has bachelor’s degree in marine biology and has authored two books and an iPhone App detailing the marine life found in both temperate and tropical Australia.  As a divemaster, he has conducted countless exploration dives throughout Australia’s coastline. His number one favourite place to explore is the Hard-line Reefs south-east of the Whitsundays where a network of Blue Holes and incredible reef formations can be found.

Johnny joined the Living Reef team on Daydream Island in 2014 and lead the team that created the new Living Reef Observatory and reef lagoon where visitors can now fully immerse into the water on snorkel tours.  In 2018/2019, after his Instagram page got a few hits, he was selected to be one of the Ambassadors for Tourism Queensland.  He has been in the Whitsundays now for over 5 years and has constantly been amazed by the underwater exploring that this region has to offer. Each day there is a new island with a new reef to explore where marine life interactions still surprise him every time.

Johnny’s mission for the past two years has been to explore all of the 74 Whitsunday Islands underwater to get the full perspective of what marine life lives throughout. He is currently up to 51…

Leonie Arthur - Bendigo Bank Cannonvale and Proserpine

My husband and I have owned land in the Whitsundays since 1990  and relocated to the region after building our home in 2013. We travelled the east coast on many occasions, with our four children, taking in the delights of our country, especially here in the Whitsundays. We actually honeymooned on Brampton Island and made the decision to move here.

I have been employed in the banking industry since 1985  and have been with the Bendigo bank for the past 15 years. As the Customer Relationships Manager and the main lender of the branch, I have a passion for assisting my customers to achieve their financial goals.

Margie Ryder - Townsville City Councillor and Mad Maggies Outback Event Promotions

Margie Ryder, commonly known as “Mad Maggie”, is what some call the little pocket Dynamo. Margie cut her teeth in events management as a committee member for the Julia Creek Dirt n Dust Festival. Managing pubs, running an engineering business and looking after small children meant that there was not a great deal of ‘me’ time for Margie early on in her career. She was forced to learn ‘on the job’ and quickly learned that she was not immune to making mistakes. Margie saw this as an opportunity to surround herself with people and organisations that she could learn from and grow. Finally, at the age of 40, Margie achieved a Diploma in Front Line Management, which has aided her to grow several businesses, events and community organisations from strength to strength.

Margie’s sometimes unconventional way of networking and securing sponsorships has worked in her favour, but her passion for the volunteer sector is what drives her. Without volunteers, NOTHING happens.

In addition to previously organising the McDonald’s® Townsville Running Festival for 6 years, Margie business Madmaggies Outback Promotions does the Event Management for the Julia Creek Dirt n Dust Festival, Townsville Fishing and Outdoor Expo and her own event Townsville Rock Fest. Under Margie’s stewardship, the Julia Creek Dirt n Dust Festival was awarded Queensland’s Best Festival/ Event at the Tourism Queensland Awards and was also Highly Commended at the Australian Tourism Awards in 2011.

Before becoming a full-time event manager, Margie spent more than 10 years as a councillor in Julia Creek, and numerous years as a volunteer in various roles, in addition to overseeing the HR and finance arm of her family engineering business, Rydweld, which now employs 40 people in Townsville. Margie is passionate about Tourism, Events, Volunteers and North Queensland and is so excited for life's new ventures! 

Tas Webber - Mackay Tourism

Tas Webber has been the General Manager for Mackay Tourism since June 2016, during which time he has developed strong relationships with Governments, Media, Stakeholders and Tourism Operators locally, nationally and internationally. Under Tas’ leadership, The Mackay Region brand has generated strong growth in consumer demand, including nine successive quarters of visitation growth. Mackay Tourism has also developed incentive programs to foster investment across the region’s growing tourism industry.          


Special Guest Judging Mentor 

Elizabeth Hackett - Executive Chair of Jimmy Crow, Owner/ Operator Magnums Backpackers & QLD Tourism Awards Judge

With over six years working with Queensland Industry Council as an active supporter and judge of the Tourism Awards process, Elizabeth has volunteered her time to support and develop the Whitsunday Tourism Awards program. Developing and delivering a thorough judges induction and briefing, Elizabeth is passionate about aligning regional judging process with to the state awards. 

Elizabeth Hackett is a hands-on tourism industry professional with 30 years’ experience in the development and implementation of management, marketing strategies and operations.

Elizabeth is an Executive Chairperson in the boardroom of an NSX listed company that has owned and operated tourism assets in Queensland over 20 years and she is currently its Director of Operations and Marketing.

An active traveller with professional and customer exposure to accommodation and tourism activities from backpackers to 5 star international, Elizabeth also understands the operator need for a sharp focus on the bottom line of business profitability/value for money and customer service best practice at all levels of the industry.



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