Founder of EarthCheck
Q) What’s your link to Townsville?
Townsville is where I developed my interest in ecotourism. Studying tourism at James Cook University and picking up subjects in Environmental Management and working in hospitality, national parks and the Conservation Council started me on the road of making the tourism industry more sustainable globally. I fell in love with the Wet Tropics rainforests, waterfalls like Jourama and Wallaman Falls and the Great Barrier Reef and that inspired me to carve out a career in sustainable tourism.
Q) What does your work involve now?
My business, EarthCheck, works with businesses and communities in over 70 countries to reduce their environmental footprint and to plan for a more sustainable future tourism industry. We do that through certification of more than 1400 businesses and working with destinations like Ireland, Iceland, Mexico and communities in Australia to find smarter ways to develop tourism that not only create jobs but support a better environment.
Q) Where are you living?
I live part-time in Brisbane and the rest of the time in airports. Travelling constantly for work is inspiring but challenging with a young family – so when I’m not on a plane I try to spend as much time as I can at home with my wife and two boys, who are in primary school. It’s a great privilege to travel the world and meet with so many fun, welcoming and inspiring people and to make a difference where and when we can.
Q) How did your time in Townsville set you up for success?
Townsville was the perfect place to study tourism, in particular sustainable tourism, and it’s where my business began back in 1987. What became EarthCheck started in a graduates’ office at JCU and grew into the largest research program in sustainable tourism globally. We now employ over 30 people in Queensland with partner offices around the world.
Q) Do you still come ‘home’ to Townsville to visit?
I get back to Townsville pretty regularly for work and always enjoy seeing Maggie Island (where I lived for a while) and Castle Hill from the air. I still have a lot of mates in Townsville who I don’t see anywhere near often enough. Even after 20 years away it still feels like home.