Celebrating our Tourism Leaders the Storytellers of our Destination

Written by: Townsville Enterprise | November 29, 2019

The Townsville North Queensland tourism and events industry contributes over $1.2 billion to the regional economy each year, supporting more than 7,000 jobs and is the sixth largest employer in our region. But what exactly is tourism? 


Tourism is not just one experience, it’s not an airplane ticket or a boat transfer, it’s not packing a bag or paying for a bed in a new town – tourism is so much more than that. It’s a journey which opens your heart, broadens your mind and fills your life with stories. Travel has become a way of life across generations, it cuts through the barriers of language and for many, that much needed holiday or experience is a reset and a mission of discovery.

Those operating in the industry play a key role in the community, as the storytellers of our destination, the conductors of memories, the home away from home for visitors and the global educators of the reef, rainforest, outback and island landscapes that sit on
our doorstep.

This sector is essential to the fabric of our community, region, state and nation, which is why the hardworking individuals and businesses involved in this special industry were recently celebrated and acknowledged in Townsville.

Townsville North Queensland tourism businesses, events and identities were recognised as leaders in their industry in October at the 2019 Townsville North Queensland Tourism and Events Awards, with Owner/Operator of Hidden Valley Cabins and North Queensland EduTourism Chairman, Ross McLennan, awarded the highly esteemed Richard Power Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual. The Richard Power Award recognises the extraordinary personal and professional achievement and contribution by an individual over many years to the local tourism and events industry and Ross was a standout nominee.

Ross has been working in the tourism industry for three decades across Australia and the world but chose to return to Townsville to continue to diversify and grow his family’s tourism offering in North Queensland. 

His parents were trailblazers in the tourism industry and Ross has continued that legacy, building not only the business but importantly the entire industry, particularly through his strong leadership and promotion of our region’s biodiversity and natural assets of rainforest and reef.

Ross has been a strong voice for the tourism industry and is an incredibly valuable asset to our region and for generating visitation. His advocacy for building the educational tourism market in North Queensland over the past seven years has been instrumental in the success of growing this now highly sought-after program for international students. Under his leadership, the Townsville North Queensland EduTourism Program is now recognised as a global leader in study abroad teaching and learning for the international education market which injects over $1.7m annually into our local economy.

As a region, we are entering an exciting period, with the support of visionaries like Ross and the local tourism and events industry key to the success of major developments. These include the Museum of Underwater Art, new Stadium, and the Tourism Marine Precinct, as well as supporting major events such as the 2021 ITU World Multisport Championships to be held in Townsville. These projects would never have been realised without the bold visions and constant support from our local tourism and events sector. Our region is richer for the contributions of those operating in this ‘quiet achiever’ industry and they are a true credit to Townsville and North Queensland.


Winners of the 11 award categories are:

New Tourism Business
Aquascene Magnetic Island

Customer Experience – Hotel and Resort Accommodation
The Ville Resort-Casino

Customer Experience – Motels, Caravan Parks, and Bed and Breakfasts
Secura Magnetic Gateway

Customer Experience – Tours and Attractions
Aquascene Magnetic Island

Customer Experience – Restaurants
A Touch of Salt

Customer Experience – Pubs, Clubs and Casual Dining
Cowboys Leagues Club

Major Festivals and Events
Watpac Townsville 400

Festivals and Events
Australian Festival of Chamber Music 

Richard Power Award
Ross McLennan

Young Achiever Award
Alicia Masters (Owner/Operator – NQ Tours) 

Travel Associates People’s Choice Award
SeaLink Queensland

Success North Queensland