Tourism Leaders

Tourism Assessment Leaders in alphabetical order of first name.

Angela Williams


Angela is bringing her 30+ years travel and tourism industry experience to the Awards.  A former WA Manager for WA Tourism, she also held senior managerial roles in Thomas Cook Travel. With a highly developed understanding of visitor motivation and expectation, Angela has leadership-level understanding of tourism promotion, sales and product development. She developed a reputation for identifying ways to provide cost effective tourism services within the confines of limited budgets. Having lived and worked in tourism positions in Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, as well as the UK and New Zealand, Angela has a detailed understanding of the sometimes-conflicting challenges that face destinations, operators and visitors.

Dr David Gration PhD (UQ) MBA (QUT)


David is the Director of Events Tourism Associates, a company established to provide industry relevant research, workshops and events tourism related design and planning services. He brings together a combination of academic qualifications and research skills with 30+ years of hands-on management and marketing experience in venues, festivals, special events, business events and tourism. His PhD focused on events tourism and David has worked in both metropolitan and regional centres, from Hobart to Townsville, helping communities to achieve success through sustainable event design. In 2011 he became only the second person to be made a Life Member of the Australian Performing Arts Centres Association, now known as Performing Arts Connections (PAC).

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Leanne Layfield


A leading business development advocate Leanne’s education and background is strongly aligned to tourism. Following on from her foundations as Regional Manager for Tourism Queensland, Leanne went on to lead the Caloundra Tourism for 7 years until it was disbanded due to amalgamation. She was later appointed CEO of the Caloundra Chamber with a membership of over 500 local businesses. Leanne is currently Association Secretary of the Sunshine Coast Chamber Alliance and a committee member of Regional Development Authority Australia Sunshine Coast. Leanne has lived the Grey Nomad life having travelled extensively across Australia and has volunteered at events such as the Big Red Bash and the Craft Beer and Cider Festival.

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Linda Stevens


Linda’s tourism career kick-started in Asia, where she lived, worked and consulted for many years. During that time she contributed to the tourism transformation of numerous destinations, including Bali, Hong Kong, Hanoi and south east China. Upon returning to Australia Linda purchased a regional holiday resort and devoted the next two decades to achieving excellence for that venture as its CFO. Under her guidance, the resort won multiple business awards, Queensland Tourism Awards and an Australian Tourism Award. Linda was treasurer of the Sunshine Coast SKAL Club for 3 years and is a current member. (Skal is a global networking organisation for members of the travel & tourism industry). 


Mike Mahoney

Mike has over 35 years experience in the Tourism industry. This experience has included the development and management of iconic tourism products both in Australia and overseas. These products have included Thredbo Alpine Resort,   Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Ski Dubai - UAE, Majid Al Futtaim Leisure (Tourism Attractions) Dubai - Egypt, Mt Wellington Cablecar, and Whitsundays Skyway.

Mike operated his business Extra-Mile Tourism Management out of the United Arab Emirates from 2006 to 2010, developing a number of significant tourism products across the MENA region and has now returned to Brisbane providing tourism project management and advice to a wide range of private and government organisations. Mike has been a judge for the Queensland Tourism Awards for the past 4 years and 3 years for the Australian National Tourism Awards.

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Richard Beere

Richard Beere is the Managing Director of Fastrak Asian Solutions which he established  in 2011 to “ help companies build business with Asia” after over 30 years experience in the tourism sector  living and working in Australia, USA, and Asia. Described as an Advisor, Facilitator, and Educator, he is an active participant in industry forums and panel discussions. In 2011 Richard received the Outstanding Individual Contribution to the Industry Award from the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) in recognition of his efforts, especially in relation to Asia. 

In addition to his role at Fastrak Asian Solutions, Richard has been  Chair of Destination Southern New South Wales Ltd since January 2017.

Sondra Stewart

The magic of travel was planted by her parents with photo slideshows of their 1960's overseas adventures. With these alluring immages and growing up on the gorgeous Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia, Sondra embarked on a 20 plus year career in hospitality, travel and tourism. During this time Sondra has had the opportunity to judge the South Australian Tourism Awards, and as the South Australian representative on the Australian Regional Events Alliance, giving a common voice and representation to Events and Festivals across the country. Recently Sondra has worked as the Regional Tourism Manager to some of the most remote and largest regions in South Australia - Far North & Outback and the Eyre Peninsula. To the precise opposite currently working as the Tourism Partnership Advisor for the City of Adelaide.

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Tolita Dukes

Coming soon...

​Yogita Ridgley

Yogita started her professional career in the corporate world as an Accountant. She moved her young family from New Zealand to Australia in 2005 and commenced her first job in hospitality as a Finance controller at Ramada Pelican Waters Pre-opening. She also worked at Novotel Twin Waters before she bought a Hotel business in 2007 taking on the role of General manager for ten years. Yogita was a committee member of Mooloolaba Business and Tourism and member of Visit Sunshine Coast. These days she is an Entrepreneur, Influencer, Solo Travel Specialist, and Travel Blogger. Yogita is very well travelled having visited over 40 countries solo and 59 countries in total. Yogita believes Traveling is the key to good mental, emotional and physical health and is the Founder and CEO of “Traveling with Me, Myself and I”. 

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