Tourism Industry Coincil Tasmania

The Tasmanian Tourism Champion is the Tasmanian tourism industry’s highest individual honor.

This award is conferred each year by Tourism Industry Council Tasmania to an individual or individuals who has made an outstanding contribution to the Tasmanian tourism industry through their entrepreneurialism, investments, leadership, advocacy, professional, or voluntary service.

The Honor Roll of Tasmanian Tourism Champions is an outstanding testimony to the impact of the following Tasmanian's from all parts of the State and all walks of life, who have together shaped the evolution and success of Tasmania as a visitor destination, with a professional, organised tourism industry.

2021 - Mark Wilsdon

Mark Wilsdon was named the 2021 Tasmanian Tourism Champion in recognition of his leading role in the emergence of Tasmania as a leading cultural destination. A chef, Mark applied his trade through the fledgling days of Hobart's fine dining scene in the 80s and 90s, eventually operating his own signature restaurant, 'A Splash of Paris,' on the Hobart waterfront. Mark joined Moorilla Estate in the early 2000s and over the next two-decades as Business Manager and then Co-CEO, led a dynamic team of hospitality and creative professionals in together realising David Walsh's extraordinary vision for MONA. Beyond his immense contribution to the success of MONA, Mark emerged as a respected tourism industry leader in his own right, serving on the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania Board for 11 years, including 4-years as Deputy Chair, where he championed the value of tourism and hospitality careers and training pathways, along with the arts and creative industries.

2020 - Margaret Morgan

Margaret Morgan was recognised as the 2020 Tasmanian Tourism Champion for her service to the hosted accommodation sector in Tasmania, and contribution to tourism on the East Coast. Margaret and husband Alan, together developed and operated 'Sheoaks on Freycinet', an architecturally designed luxury Bed & Breakfast overlooking Great Oyster Bay. Sheoaks' is in the Tasmanian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame and won medals in the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards as an outstanding contemporary hosted accommodation experience. Margaret has been a long-time advocate for B&B operators across the State, serving on the board of the sector's national body, 'Hosted Accommodation Australia' for many year, and representing the B&B sector on the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania board. Margaret has also been a tireless contributor to tourism on the East Coast, holding leadership roles in many regional marketing initiatives and local industry bodies.

2019 - Vincent Barron

Vin Barron was named the 2019 Tasmanian Tourism Champion in recognition of his decades of leadership and advocacy on behalf of the Tasmanian tourism industry and broader visitor economy. Vin is a former Chief Executive of the State's peak business organisation, the Tasmanian Chamber of Commence, along with the State's convention bureau, Business Events Tasmania, where he oversaw sustained growth in Tasmania's lucrative conference and convention market. More recently, Vin initiated the establishment of a new Regional Tourism Organisation for Southern Tasmania, Destination Southern Tasmania, before serving as its inaugural Chair for five years. Vin was then asked by the industry to represent the industry's interests in a review of Regional Tourism on the North-West Coast, leading to the establishment of West by North-West Regional Tourism. Vin is the second longest ever serving member of the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania board, serving as a Director on the industry peak body for a combined 17-years representing the Business Events sector, and the Southern Tasmania region.

2018 - Simon Currant AM

A giant of Tasmanian tourism Simon Currant was named the 2018 Tasmanian Tourism Champion in recognition of his remarkable thirty years of investment and entrepreneurialism within the Tasmanian tourism industry, along with his equally impactful contribution as an industry advocate. Simon is the developer of some of Tasmania and Australia's most celebrated tourism assets, including Cradle Mountain Lodge, Strahan Village, Gordon River Cruises, Franklin Manor, Peppermint Bay, and Pumphouse Point. Simon also served as Chair of the industry's peak body, Tourism Industry Council Tasmania, for 15 years leading the industry through an extraordinary period of growth and development. He also served as a long-time director of Tourism Tasmania, and TT Line, operator of the Spirit of Tasmania service. In 2011 Simon became the first Tasmanian to be officially recognised by the industry as an Australian Tourism Legend.

2017 - Josef Chromy OAM

Arguably Tasmania's most celebrated business identity, Joe Chromy added the title of Tasmanian Tourism Champion to his long list of honors in 2017. Josef was recognised by the tourism industry for his pioneering investments in the Tasmanian wine industry, and high profile visitor infrastructure in Northern Tasmania. After publicly listing his smallgoods empire in the early 90s, Josef set about acquiring and building up the Tasmanian wine industry, with strategic investments in now celebrated Tasmanian labels, Bay of Fires, Jansz, Heemskerk, and Tamar Ridge. In 2007, he established his signature 'Josef Chromy Wines' label including the development of one of Australia's premier wine tourism destinations, Josef Chromy Wines, at Relibia, just south of Launceston. Also a major property developer, Josef invested in high profile tourism developments in Launceston, including the Hotel Charles in the once derelict Launceston General Hospital site, along with the revitalisation of the Penny Royal attraction.

2016 - Peter Mooney

Peter Mooney was named the 2016 Tasmanian Tourism Champion in recognition of his lifetime contribution to the conservation and management of Tasmania's protected areas, including 12-years as General Manager of the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service. Under Peter's leadership, the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service emerged as leaders in nature-based tourism experiences, especially through the development of the famed Three Capes Track project. Peter also earned the respect of tourism operators for his knowledge and passion for Tasmania's wild areas, and desire to see more people experience them with quality, immersive visitor experiences. During his tenure with PWS, Peter also oversaw several major conservation initiatives, including the successful eradication of destructive vermin from Macquarie Island, Taman Island and Bass Strait Islands.

2015 - Julian & Tracey Jacobs

The 'First Family of Stanley Tourism', Julian and Tracey Jacobs were named Tasmanian Tourism Champions in 2015 in recognition of their extraordinary contribution to tourism in the North West. A sixth-generation Stanley local, Julian established his first business in the town before his 21st birthday, a fish and chip shop called 'The Cray Pot'. Over thirty years the Jacobs have together expanded their tourism interests in the town, including accommodation, dining, and the development of the famous Nut Chairlift. In 2001 the couple bought the town's run down pub, and transformed it into the now iconic Stanley Hotel. The pub has helped put Stanley on the Map, having featured on MasterChef and the movie production, The Light Between Oceans, and was named Australia's best regional pub in 2008.

2014 - Brett Torossi

Brett Torossi was named the Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2014 for her pioneering investments in high-end accommodation and leadership of Tasmania's arts sector. In 2004, Brett established the celebrated 'Avalon' - an upmarket, architecturally designed premium accommodation offering on Tasmania's East Coast. Through the success of Avalon, Brett proved there was a market for premium accommodation experiences in regional Tasmania, paving the way for many others to follow with high end offerings across the State. Brett subsequently added to her portfolio with the development of the award-winning Rocky Hills Retreat and the innovative Avalon City Retreat. A highly respected company director, Brett has served on the Tourism Tasmania board, and the Tasmanian Development Board. She is also a champion for the Tasmanian arts and creative industries, having served as Chair of the Festival of Voices, and the Board of Trustees of the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery.

2013 - Sarah Lebski

Sarah Lebski was recognised as a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2013 for her decades of service to the Tasmanian tourism industry as an academic, industry representative, consultant, and awards judge. Sarah has worked with dozens of Tasmanian tourism business, local, regional and State tourism organisations on strategic planning, destination management and product development. Sarah also served as Chair of Judges of the Tasmanian Tourism Awards and represented the industry on the Tasmanian Heritage Council.

2013 - Bill Lark

The undisputed Godfather of Tasmanian Whisky, Bill Lark was named a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2013 for pioneering the development of the Tasmanian whisky industry, that is now a major attraction to visit the State. Bill's vision of Tasmania producing world class malt whisky saw him successfully lobby to change century-old laws in the State, eventually becoming the first licensed distiller in Australia in 154 years. Bill released his first commercial whisky in 1998, launching his signature :Lark Distillery brand, and initiating the start of a now-burgeoning Tasmanian distilling industry.

2012 - John Hamilton

The pioneer of wildlife tourism in Tasmania, John Hamilton was named a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2012 for his contribution to nature-based tourism, the growth of tourism on the Tasman Peninsula, and in promoting Tasmania in international markets. A journalist by trade, John opened the Tasmania Devil Park near Port Arthur in 1979, establishing the first commercial wildlife experience in Tasmania. Over 45-years, John has pioneered wildlife tourism in Tasmania, and championed the conservation of threatened species, including the iconic Tasmanian Devil. John has also led co-operative marketing activities on the Tasman Peninsula, and been a much valued frequent participant in Tasmania's international trade missions.

2012 - Richard Davey

A beloved tourism personality on Tasmania's West Coast, author and play-write, Richard Davey was recognised as a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2012. Richard is the author of the iconic 'Ship That Never Was', the longest continuously-running play in Australia, and a much celebrated part of the visitor experience in Strahan since it was first performed in the town in 1994 . It is estimated Richard personally performed the play in Strahan more than 3,000 times over nearly two decades. He also researched and wrote the engaging visitor interpretation for tours of Sarah Island, and personally led countless daily tours of the unsheltered island as part of the Gordon River cruise experience.

2011 - Greg Farrell

Managing Director of Tasmania's largest tourism and hospitality organisation, The Federal Group, Greg Farrell was recognised as a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2011 for his own profound contribution to the industry, particularly in championing tourism careers, and his development of the exceptional Saffire Freycinet. Greg and his family lead a diversified tourism and hospitality business employing over 2,000 Tasmanians. Greg personally oversaw the design and development of Federal Group's ultra-luxury Saffire Freycinet, establishing in Tasmania one of the world's finest resorts and opening the State to a previously untapped global high end visitor market.

2011 - Robert Pennicott

In the stuff of Tasmanian tourism legend, fisherman, Robert Pennicott, began his tourism journey chasing tourists down the road of his beloved Bruny Island offering to take them out for a cruise along the island's stunning coastline. Robert was named a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2011 recognising his emergence as one of the State's great tourism and business success stories. Robert's family business, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, has become one the premier tourism operators in Tasmania and among Australia's most awarded visitor experiences. Robert has also become an icon of Australian tourism in his own right, with a deep commitment to sustainable nature-based tourism. He was announced an official Australian Tourism Legend in 2016.

2010 - Ian Johnstone

A civil engineer with no prior tourism experience, Ian Johnstone channeled his love of the great outdoors into a pioneering tourism venture in one of Australia's most pristine wilderness environments. Ian was named a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2010 for his vision, entrepreneurialism and tenacity in establishing the Maria Island Walk, a high end multiday walk on the World Heritage listed Maria Island. Ian's walk has won multiple Australian Tourism Awards and is widely recognised as one of Australia's leading nature tourism experiences. Ian also initiated the establishment of the The Great Walks of Tasmania Group, bringing together the operators of Tasmania's signature walking experiences to work together in promoting the State's reputation for nature based walks.

2010 - Ian Waller

Ian Waller was recognised as a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2010 for his outstanding leadership and advocacy on behalf of tourism operators on the West and North-West Coasts. As Regional Tourism Officer for the Cradle Coast Region, Ian served as the 'face' of tourism in the region for over a decade, and earned the respect of the broader industry for his integrity and energy in driving tourism outcomes for his region and the State. A passionate advocate for tourism quality, Ian also served as Chair of Judges for the Tasmanian Tourism Awards, while establishing the Cradle Coast Tourism Awards.

2009 - John Dabner

John Dabner was recognised as a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2009 for his outstanding advocacy on behalf of regional tourism destinations, particularly the North-West Coast. John is a long time director and General Manager of the award-winning Tall Timbers, a major tourism and hospitality asset at Smithton in Far North West Tasmania. Over many years, John has served in leadership and committee roles with nearly every relevant local, regional, and state tourism and hospitality marketing organisations and advocacy bodies, frequently jumping in the car for long return drives to Hobart to ensure regional operators have a strong voice in decision making. John is also an impassioned advocate for improving skills and workforce training opportunities in the hospitality sector.

2009 - Kim Seagram AM

Acknowledged as the 'First Lady of Tasmanian Hospitality', Kim Seagram AM was named a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2009 in recognition of her role in elevating Tasmania's reputation as a destination for outstanding culinary experiences. Kim and her business partners developed and operated the exceptional 'Stillwater' Restaurant in Launceston, widely regarded as among Australia's finest dining venues. In raising the bar for Tasmanian dining experiences with Stillwater, along while her passionate advocacy on behalf of the tourism and hospitality sectors, Kim emerged as the leading industry voice championing Tasmania's potential as a destination renowned for outstanding food based tourism. Kim served as a Director on the Board of Tourism Tasmania.

2008 - Terry McDermott

Pioneering tourism developer, Terry McDermott, was recognised as the 2008 Tasmanian Tourism Champion for his contribution to the development of tourism on the West Coast. A Strahan local, Terry first entered the fledgling local tourism industry in the 1970s with the development of Sharon-Lea Holiday Villas. With his brother, Harry, the McDermott's were significant contributors to the early development and vibrancy of Strahan as a visitor destination, at one point operating the town's general store, newsagent, and iconic Hamer's Hotel. Terry eventually added Marsden Court to his accommodation holdings. Terry and his wife Dawn were frequent participants in Tasmanian trade missions interstate through the 80s and 90s, promoting Tasmania and especially his beloved West Coast.

2008 - Karen Rees

Karen Rees was recognised as a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2008 in recognition of her voluntary service to the industry, and considerable contribution to Tasmania's growth as an international visitor destination. Karen operated her family business, Naturally Tasmanian Tours, for a decade. Offering specialist tours to international visitors, Karen was a regular participant in Tasmanian sales missions. Karen also founded her own boutique package holiday provider, Selfdrive Australia. Through this time, Karen was a leading voice in the Tasmanian tourism industry, serving as a Director and Deputy Chair of the TasSouth Regional Tourism Association, and served on the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania board.

2007 - Donald Wells

Donald Wells was recognised as a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2007 for pioneering aviation tourism in Tasmania. Don was Managing Director of Airlines of Tasmania, commercially known as Par Avion. Par Avion has been Tasmania's premier commercial airline for over four decades, running scheduled and charter services to some of the State's most remote locations. Don championed the tourism potential of Bathurst Harbor and Tasmania's pristine South-West wilderness. Par Avion's commercial tours to the Melaleuca air strip in the heart of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area remains one of the most exceptional wilderness experiences found anywhere in the world.

2007 - Peter Neilson

Northern Tasmania tourism stalwart, Peter Neilson, was named a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2007 for his extensive contribution and service to the industry. After a career with Ansett Airlines and the Tasmanian Government's Tourism Department, Peter operated his own travel agencies, before venturing into developing and operating innovative visitor experiences. He developed and operated Launceston Hovercraft on the Tamar River, along with Cable Hang Gliding. Peter has held senior roles with many industry associations including the Launceston Tamar Valley Tourism Association, and Skal International, where he reached the position of National President.

2006 - Ian Rankine

Ian Rankine was named a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2006 in recognition of his 25 year career across the Australian and Tasmanian tourism industries, and his invaluable support and encouragement for many tourism operators across the State. Beginning his tourism career with Tourism Tasmania and Tasmania Temptations, Ian joined Innkeepers Tasmania, in a marketing role, eventually becoming a director and CEO of the cooperative marketing and package holiday business, working with dozens of tourism operators across the State. Ian was a board member and Chair of Tasmania’s South Regional Tourism Association (Totally South),. and an active participant in Tasmania's international trade missions and representing the State at the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE).

2006 - Richard Sattler

Best known now as the developer of Tasmania's famed Barnbougle and Lost Farm Golf Courses, Richard Sattler was recognised as a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2006 for his far-reaching investments across the industry. A farmer, Richard and wife Sally, made their first tourism investments in the 1980s with the Mount Nelson Motor Inn, Woolmers Inn, St Ives Motel and Apartments before purchasing a major shareholding of the Innkeepers Hotel Group. Their portfolio of investments eventually included Penny Royal World, Penny Royal Watermill and Village Apartments, Penny Royal Queenstown (now Gold Rush Motor Inn) Colonial Motor Inn, and Lenna of Hobart. Richard was also a Director of Innkeepers/TasVillas, a statewide marketing group that worked together to promote Tasmania and a large range of accommodation and attractions around Tasmania, and a long serving Board Member of the Port Arthur Historic Site.

2005 - Brian Inder

'The Mayor of Lower Crackpot', Brian Inder was recognised as a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2005 for his impact on tourism in the State's North-West. A farmer, entrepreneur and visionary, Brian established TasMAZIA in the early 90s, establishing one of the largest Maze attractions anywhere in the world. Brian and 'Lady Crackpot', his beloved wife Laura, developed and grew TasMAZIA into one of Tasmania's premier visitor attractions and an iconic feature of the North-West region. Brian was also instrumental in the establishment of Sheffield as the Town of Murals. An impassioned advocate for tourism, Brian served on many local and regional tourism associations.

2005 - Christine Dewer

Christine Dewer was recognised as a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2005 in recognition of his long contribution to grassroots tourism, especially on the East Coast. Christine established a book-keeping business in St Helens in the early 80s, Over the next two decades, Christine expanded her services and worked with literally dozens of small tourism businesses across the region on their accounting, marketing and business planning. She eventually partnered with Tourism Industry Council Tasmania to support operators on the East Coast in meeting the requirements of tourism accreditation. Christine operated the St Helens Travel Centre, was a long time director and Deputy Chair of the Regional Tourism Organisation for Northern and North-East Tasmania, and served on the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and TICT boards.

2004 - Tony Park

Tony Park was recognised as the 2004 Tasmanian Tourism Champion for his championing of the campervan and caravan market in Tasmania. With his father, Arthur, Tony established Cosy Cabins, innovative modular style cabin and tourist parks across Tasmania. Tony was a vocal advocate for the campervan and camping market in Tasmania, and increasing capacity on Bass Strait, leading advocacy for the purchase of twin Spirit of Tasmania ship. Tony was one of a handful of senior industry leaders through the 1990s who established a new strategic approach to industry advocacy and leadership through the establishment of the peak body, now known as Tourism Industry Council Tasmania, and the development of the Tourism 21 partnership with the Tasmanian Government.

2004 - Richard Dax

Richard Dax was named a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2004 for his service to the industry in a variety of capacities. Richard with wife Anne, were developers and operators of Lakeside St Clair, visitor facilities including accommodation, hospitality and camping at Cynthia Bay on Lake St Clair, within the boundaries of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Richard was a passionate advocate for the early development and success of Tourism Industry Council Tasmania, serving as a long-time Director, where he led the industry's engagement with Tasmania's resource sectors. Richard was Chair of Judges for the Tasmanian Tourism Awards. He was President of the Tasmanian Trout Guides Association, and established Anglers Alliance Tasmania, a representative voice for recreational anglers in the State.

2003 - John Luscombe

John Luscombe, widely known as 'JL', was recognised as a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2003 for his considerable contribution to the growth of Tasmanian tourism. John arrived in Tasmania with wife, Patricia, in the mid-70s, before purchasing and operating the Bicheno Holiday Village. The Luscombe's soon joined a cooperative marketing group called the Tasmanian Holiday Units Association, a group of similar self catering apartment style properties around Tasmania. JL was instrumental in rebranding the organisation as TasVillas, subsequently forming a strong and enviable partnership with Innkeepers Hotel Group. The combined resources of Innkeepers/TasVillas at one stage had over 50 properties across the State which they took to market across Australia and globally. John was also very active with numerous regional and state industry bodies, and was a founding director of Skal Launceston.

2003 - Malcolm Wells

Testament to the respect he earned across the industry, Malcolm Wells was the first Tasmanian public servant to be recognised as a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2003. Malcolm held a long career with the Tasmanian Government's former Tourism Department, along with Tourism Tasmania, where he served as Deputy CEO. Through these roles, Malcolm was intrinstincly involved in nearly every major policy and strategic decision of Tasmanians government shaping the industry from the 80s through to the mid 2000s. Malcolm also emerged as a respected thinker on tourism policy design, particularly tourism in protected areas, and obtained the position of Adjunct Professor in Tourism with the University of Tasmania.

2002 - Lloyd Clark

Lloyd Clark was recognised as a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2002 acknowledging his lengthy and significant contribution to the development, marketing and leadership of Tasmania’s tourism industry. Together with his wife, Jan, :Lloyd launched one of the first youth market coach tour programs around Tasmania in the mid 70’s called Van Dieman Ventures. Numerous tourism investments followed including ownership and operation of Thrifty Car Rental, along with several accommodation properties all leading to the purchase of the statewide Innkeepers Hotel Group in 1986, which included at the time well known properties Penny Royal Watermill and Village, Colonial Motor Inn and the Hobart properties of Lenna of Hobart, Salamanca Terraces, Salamanca Suites. Lloyd has been a passionate and active promoter of Tasmania representing the industry at many interstate and international tourism trade events over many years. He was a long time board member and Deputy Chair of Tourism Industry Council Tasmania and Director of Innkeepers/TasVillas – a statewide marketing group responsible for the promotion of a large range of accommodation and attractions around Tasmania.

2001 - Ken Latona

The pioneer of multi-day walking tours in Tasmania, Ken Latona was recognised as a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2001 for his contribution to Tasmania's emergence as a nature tourism destination. An architect, Ken, with business partner, Joan Masterman, won a Tasmanian Government tender in 1985 to establish guided walking huts on the famed Overland Track within the newly declared Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Cradle Huts Walk has since become a signature Tasmanian experience winning multiple Tasmanian and Australian Tourism Awards. Ken then developed the outstanding Bay of Fires Lodge Walk, firmly establishing Tasmania's reputation as a global walking mecca.

2000 - David Reed

One of the leading contributors to the evolution of Tasmanian tourism over the past thirty years, David Reed was named a Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 2000. David held a wide variety of roles across the industry through the 80s and 90s, most notably as General Manager spearheading the development and growth of Strahan Village and Gordon River Cruises, along with periods overseeing the West Coast Wilderness Railway, and the Port Arthur Historic Site. A serial entrepreneur, David has since ventured into attractions, accommodation and restaurant ventures across the State, while working as a consultant with many tourism businesses. He is a long-time contributor to the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania board, Skal International, and various regional and local tourism forums across the State.

1998 - Jenny Cox

The inaugural Tasmanian Tourism Champion in 1998, Jenny Cox was recognised for her passionate championing and leadership of tourism in Tasmania's North-West. Jenny joined the tourism industry in the 1980s before accepting a position as the first tourism development officer for the Cradle Coast region. Jenny soon earned the respect and admiration of the broader Tasmanian tourism industry for her direct but considered advocacy on behalf of the interests of tourism operators in the North-West, while galvanising her industry around the Cradle Coast brand and seeing themselves as one holistic destination.