Saturday, September 23, 2017

New tourism boss to woo Indian airlines and focus on eco-tourism in National Parks

Queensland's powerful new tourism chief wants to remove green tape tying up the state’s national parks and open them for luxury bushwalking tours to rival those in Tasmania and New Zealand.

And Brett Godfrey, who launched Virgin Australia Airlines with British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, also has his sights set on wooing Indian airlines to Queensland to target a market he believes could rival China.

A multi-millionaire entrepreneur, Mr Godfrey was appointed chairman of Tourism and Events Queensland last week, replacing Mantra resort chain boss Bob East who became chair of Tourism Australia.

Mr Godfrey joined Mr Branson to found Virgin Australia (then Virigin Blue) in 1999 and take on Qantas and Ansett after famously scribbling the plan on a beer coaster and presenting it to the billionaire.
He retired as Virgin Australia CEO in 2010, and now owns ventures including Makepeace Island at Noosa with Mr Branson, and upmarket bushwalking tour companies operating in Tasmania and Victoria.

Mr Godfrey said he was a “great believer” in eco-tourism but Queensland’s national parks were massively ‘under-utilised’ because of commercial access restrictions.

He said his own Australian Walking Company, which operates the acclaimed Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk in Victoria, had found it “too difficult” to get into Queensland parks.

Mr Godfrey said New Zealand’s Milford Track was one of the most iconic in the world but Queensland had some tracks “every bit as good”, such as the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island.

“It’s one of the top 50 walks in the world but no-one apart from bushwalkers knows about it – we should be showing eco-tourism assets like this to the world,” he said.
23/09/17 Greg Stolz/Courier-Mail