Mackay Tourism Regional Leadership Program

The Challenge

The Mackay region is one that has a growing tourism sector. Whilst tourism has developed in leaps and bounds over the past number of years, the region’s economy is still very much driven by mining and the resource sector - tourism is very much in its early stages.

When Mackay Tourism developed the region’s Destination Tourism Plan, it was identified that the tourism sector would benefit greatly through a coordinated approach to develop a more cohesive tourism sector that collaborated and demonstrated strong leadership, whilst further developing the leadership and tourism skills of local operators in the process. Successful destinations do this well!

In 2018 Mackay Tourism approached ITLA with the challenge to develop a tailored tourism focused leadership program to meet the needs of numerous stakeholders that work in the region’s sector, including tourism operators, Mackay Tourism, two regional Councils, Chambers of Commerce and local media outlets.

The Process

Firstly, ITLA assisted Mackay Tourism to successfully secure funding to enable the program through the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund. The program delivered was specifically tailored to meet the needs of the destination and the program’s participants. This was embodied in the development of a destination specific scenario / case study mirroring similar tourism challenges to Mackay, which became the basis for the learning the program entailed.

Over the course of 4 months, the program’s participants capitalised on 4 full day workshops held in Mackay covering topics such as emotional intelligence, self awareness, the importance of networking in tourism and creating an engaged and positive workplace culture. In between workshops, each program participant received 3 one on one coaching sessions, culminating in a professional development plan for them to take with them beyond the program and through their career.

The Outcomes

There have been a number of outcomes from this program for the Mackay region which include the following:

  • The development of a connected cadre of 20 tourism leaders that will now act as ambassadors of the region and its tourism sector;
  • 9 participants have continued their leadership learnings further, undertaking a Diploma of Leadership and Management (Tourism focused) with ITLA;
  • The regional tourism and business community is more resilient, connected and planned;
  • Identifying local solutions and innovations which develop self-reliance and embrace tourism and business opportunities; and
  • Scenario based learning promoting the creation of regional support networks with responses to either resolve or build connected communities and business operations.
The Tourism Leader’s Program is a great program for leaders to increase their knowledge in emotional intelligence and relationship management. I have found the skills learned have given me the ability to understand my staff better, in order to create a better working environment. It has increased my abilities to manage dynamic and influential relationships, which has had a positive impact on the region and organisation. I would recommend this course to any tourism leader looking at furthering their skills and professional relationships.
Tas Webber, CEO, Mackay Tourism Ltd