Judging for the WA Tourism Awards is conducted by a panel of industry peers appointed by Tourism Council WA.
All judges provide their time and expertise on a voluntary basis and are educated in the entire judging process including submission assessments, scoring guidelines, undertaking site inspections/interviews and providing adequate feedback to entrants.
The objective of the Awards judging process is to fairly and independently evaluate each entry through the formalised and professional assessment process.
The appointment of judges is designed to be completely transparent and all judges must meet strict criteria as well as be a representative of the tourism industry. They possess a strong knowledge of the operations of the industry and will be, or have been, involved in tourism or a similar service at a senior management level.
Each submission is assessed by three different judges. The final score is determined by the aggregate of the three scores (individual categories include an interview score).
Professional auditors oversee the WA Tourism Awards judging process. Their role is to audit submissions for compliance, audit score sheets and check conflicts of interest and confidentiality declarations.
Please find below a list and short biography of our judges.
Business Category Judges
Individual Category Judges
Top Tourism Town Judges
Pat Strahan - Chair of Judges
Pat commenced her career in the travel and tourism industry in 1984 and started her own business, Strahan Events, in 1990, organising both large and small international, national and State events. She was also CEO of Caravan Industry Australia WA for 15 years. Pat is now semi-retired and focusing on her voluntary commitments within the tourism industry. Her involvement with the awards began in 1995 as the WA Awards Co-ordinator, then a State judge and an Australian Awards Judge for the past 5 years. Pat was a founding member of Tourism Council WA and sat on the Board for many years and is currently a Board member of Visitor Centres WA and is a judge for the GWN7 Top Tourism Town Awards. She has previously sat on the Boards of the Caravan Industry Australia, Meetings Industry Association WA and the Events Industry Association just to name a few. In 2013 Pat was awarded the Sir David Brand Medal for her Outstanding Contribution to the Tourism Industry for which she feels very honoured.
Bonnie has spent nearly half her life in the tourism industry. She completed a Graduate Diploma in Tourism Management at Edith Cowan before going on to work with leading PCO company, Congress West. She spent the next five years gaining valuable skills and experience in all aspects of conference management and refining her marketing skills.
When an opportunity too good to refuse came up in Bunbury, she made the move south and went on to set up the first conference and event consultancy in the region and has seen the industry grow and develop in the past 19 years. During that time she has worked in regional tourism and maintains links with the key local tourism bodies while her event management company goes from strength to strength.
Julian Barry is the Regional Manager Western Australia for Qantas. Julian has worked for Qantas for more than 20 years where he has held various positions both within Australia and overseas.
He has worked with regional tourism authorities, travel wholesalers, and peak bodies to promote destination tourism, including Gold Coast Tourism, the PNG Tourist Authority, Tourism NT, and Tourism WA. Julian sat on the Executive Committee of Tourism Top End from 2010 to 2013, and was previously a judge of the Tourism NT Brolga Awards. This is Julian’s fourth year as a judge for the WA Tourism Awards.
Deborah is a tourism industry professional with over 25 years experience. Deborah is currently consulting to Australian Tourism Export Council and Metro Hotels, is Chairperson of the Rottnest Island Chamber of Commerce and a Board member of Perth Region Tourist Organisation T/A Destination Perth.
She operates her own consultancy business Destination Carr helping Tourism/Hospitality businesses develop and grow their revenue streams, distribution networks and is experienced in change management practices, partnership and strategic development, mentoring of management teams, destination marketing, developing budgets and strategic business plans. She has consulted to Rottnest Fast Ferries for four years in all aspects of the business with a particular emphasis on growing and developing the business. She also consulted to Discover Australia Holidays as their Partnerships Manager and was responsible for managing and sourcing their key strategic partnerships nationally, including major suppliers, STOs and major RTOs.
Prior to her setting up her business Deborah held various senior level roles on the east and west coasts, including Director of Marketing at Cable Beach Club Broome, Group Director of Sales and Marketing at Broadwater Hotels & Resorts, Director of Marketing at El Questro Station and Wilderness Park, Director of Sales Asia and Corporate at Accor (AAPH), Regional Director of Sales and Marketing NSW/ACT at Accor (AAPH), Regional Director of Sales and Marketing QLD/NT/ELQ at All Seasons Hotels and Manager Sales Leisure & Corporate at Rendezvous Hotels.
Karen Castiglioni is the Managing Director of Distinctly Tourism Management (DTM), a bespoke tourism development consultancy business based in Perth. Karen has worked in the tourism industry for over 30 years, across a variety of sectors. She has a strong appreciation of brand, tourism product design, mentoring and distribution strategy.
DTM’s recent major projects have included mentoring of WA tourism businesses state-wide through the Tourism Boost programme, Destination Management – Trade for The Amazing South Coast, product design for The Field of Light, Albany and the AFL distribution strategy for Optus Stadium, to name a few.
Karen is passionate about educating tourism businesses to find their unique voice and story, whilst enabling them to deliver quality tourism experiences which meet the needs of their clients. 2019 is Karen’s first year of tourism award judging.
Julie has had a diverse career in public relations and marketing, running her own business, then working for the State Government and in the private sector. In 2011, Julie joined Perth Airport to manage the communications and marketing around the $1 billion redevelopment. In addition to this, in 2014, she became Manager of Corporate Affairs with responsibility for internal and external communications, community engagement, media, sponsorships and events. During this time, she developed an extensive network across the aviation and tourism sectors.
With the redevelopment nearing completion, Julie retired in mid-2016 to pursue her passion for travel and her commitment to promoting Western Australia as an outstanding tourist destination, and provide part-time consultancy services to the education and tourism sectors.
Dr Donald Cooper is an academic and tourism industry professional. He has combined a career within the tourism education field with hands on experience leading industry corporations in both Australia and the US.
He has lectured in tourism business studies at major Perth universities including Curtin, Murdoch and ECU. In addition, he has held a Principal Lecturer position at the North Metropolitan TAFE College, Perth. His sociological research has focussed on the impacts of generational change and the importance of effective, focussed marketing geared towards specific cohorts.
With experience in hands on leadership roles in airlines, coach touring and wholesaling in Perth, Sydney and Los Angeles, he is keenly aware of the highly competitive forces within and facing the industry and has hands on experience in tourism business analysis and marketing.
Steve Crawford is currently the Visitor Communications Manager Parks and Wildlife Service at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.
Prior to joining the Department he had more than twenty-five year’s senior management experience with the Western Australian Tourism Commission (Tourism Western Australia) and Rottnest Island Authority. A past National Tourism Award recipient, Steve has a wealth of tourism industry experience in such areas as tourism destination planning, market research, trade marketing, tourism development and business enterprise development. He has represented Western Australia on numerous national taskforces and committees in such areas as Indigenous tourism, climate change, ecotourism, tourism planning and cruise shipping.
Steve is currently Deputy Chair, Forum Advocating Cultural and Eco Tourism, a member of Edith Cowan University’s Tourism and Hospitality Consultative Committee, board member of the Curtin Business School Marketing Advisory Board and ex officio board member of Australia’s Coral Coast.
Brendan has over 32 years of Hospitality, Tourism and Events experience. Brendan started at the bottom and worked his way up to Senior Management positions with a determination to make a difference. To attain the promotions needed for advancement, Brendan travelled to the Pilbara and assisted in the opening of the Karratha International Hotel and worked in the Northern Territory at both the Darwin and Alice Springs Hotel and Casinos.
For 20 years, Brendan was in Management starting as a Restaurant Manager progressing to Food and Beverage Director and achieving the position of General Manager of the Margaret River Hotel and the Grand Chancellor. Brendan was also the Manager at the Royal Perth Yacht Club. Brendan has been an Advanced Skills lecturer with the North Metropolitan TAFE in Joondalup since 2011 and is responsible for the delivery of the Advanced Diploma of Hospitality Management.
Brendan recognised the need to formalise his on the job learning and now has Diplomas in Business Administration, Leadership and Management and a dual Diploma in Training. Other qualifications include a Bachelor of Business and Advanced Diploma of Hospitality. Brendan has also been a consultant to the Restaurant and Catering Association of Australia for their Awards for Excellence for the last 4 years.
Extensive travel over the last 10 years has enabled Brendan to acquire a vast knowledge of the trends in the industry throughout Australia.
Scott has enjoyed working in a variety of sectors within travel and tourism, both in government and private enterprise, in Australia and overseas. His work history includes management roles with Flight Centre Travel Group, Accor Hotels and Renaissance Cruise Lines.
Since 2006 Scott has been the Manager at Swan Valley Visitor Centre for the City of Swan. He is responsible for the strategic direction of visitor servicing in the Swan Valley and involved in all areas of tourism. With extensive experience in travel, tourism, staff and financial management, he has the pleasure of leading one of Australia’s most successful and highly awarded tourism teams.
Scott has been on the board of the Visitor Centre Association of Western Australia, the executive committee of the Swan Valley Tourism Council and judged the Perth Airport Tourism Awards and the GWN7 Top Tourism Awards for a number of years.
Cory Gale is the Stakeholder Manager at Tourism Western Australia, having previously held the position of US and NZ Market Manager. Over the last decade, he has worked in a range of public relations, social media, trade and consumer marketing roles in some of Australia’s most iconic destinations, including Perth, Margaret River, Sunshine Coast and the Northern Territory.
Cory has worked at local, regional and state tourism level, with a mix of both private and government agencies. Relationships are at the core of tourism marketing and engaging with partners to deliver a united approach to achieve strategic outcomes is a strength of Cory’s. An extensive global traveller, Cory’s favourite destination on Earth is Western Australia. There’s no place quite like home!
Paul has been involved in the tourism industry in Perth for more than 25 years. Highlights of his career includes the successful management buy-out of Adventure World in 1990, being a founding Board member of the Australian Amusement, Leisure & Recreation Association, a past Chairman of the Association of Perth Attractions and a member of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Tourism Committee. Paul also chaired the South West Tourism Marketing Committee.
After obtaining a Master of Business Degree from Murdoch University in 2000, he went on to manage Hotham Valley Tourist Railway before taking up the position as CEO of the Swan Bells Foundation in 2001. He retired in early 2013, but has continued to take a keen interest in the tourism industry.
Peta has over 35 years in the tourism industry. Peta has operated a tourism consultancy business since 2008. She has also undertaken a range of tourism, economic development and industry development positions and contracts including City of Vincent, City of Subiaco and Museums Australia WA. She spent over 10 years as the Tourism Development Manager for Perth’s Eastern Region working across 6 Local Government Councils. She was also the Executive Officer for the Swan Valley Tourism Council where she managed the region’s major events such as Spring in the Valley and Taste of the Valley and also the setup of the Council’s first Visitor Centre and Administrative Office. Peta spent 8 years in hospitality management throughout Western Australia for the Swan Hotel Group opening the first stage of Observation City Resort Hotel and 3 years resort management experience in various locations in Europe. Tourism training experience includes over 3 years training and university lecturing for the Northern Territory Tourism Training Council and Northern Territory University as well as Corporate Sales Manager for Hyatt Regency Perth.
Peta has a special interest in Nature Based Tourism and was on TWA’s Advisory Group for over 5 years and a board member for the Forum Advocating Cultural and Eco–Tourism for the past 15 years. Peta has extensive experience in the development and delivery of marketing, economic and business development strategies for nature based trails and the communities in their location and is a member of WA’s Trails Reference Group.
Tracy’s tourism career spans almost three decades of promoting, utilizing and experiencing Western Australia’s tourism product portfolio across the State from top to bottom in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Destination marketing, product development and public relations roles with the Western Australian Tourism Commission, Perth Convention Bureau and as principal of Oyster Destination & Incentive Management Company have involved working cooperatively with regional tourism organisations, tour operators and wholesalers, and the media both at home and abroad.
A Perth-based consultancy with a state-wide focus, Oyster DMC has serviced the local, interstate and international corporate tourism markets with a broad range of multinational clients representing various industry sectors. Tracy holds a Bachelor of Business (Tourism) from Edith Cowan University, and is delighted to return to the Judge’s Panel for the third time.
Michael Meade has more than 40 years of experience at a senior marketing and management level with major international and regional hotel companies. These included the InterContinental Hotel Group, ITT Sheraton, All Seasons Hotels, Southern Pacific Hotel Corporation, Jin Jiang Hotels (China) and Rendezvous Hotels and Resorts.
Michael has lived and worked in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, China, Thailand, Malaysia and Fiji. In tourism, Michael was Acting CEO of Tourism Fiji in 2012 and during that time the country was rebranded as a global destination. After a devastating cyclone, Michael worked with the government and industry to produce a tourism recovery plan for Vanuatu in 2015.
Michael’s early career was established with British Airways in the UK and Australia. In 2012 Michael founded 2M Hospitality a strategic hotel and tourism advisory consultancy for hotels and tourism located in Perth and Sydney. After the past 20 years being based in Sydney, Michael returned home to Perth in late 2017. Michael is Chairman of the Perth Region Tourism Organisation (Destination Perth).
Jasmine and her husband Dave own Common Ground Trails, a trail and tourism consultancy business. They have been responsible for the development of tourism strategies, mountain bike master plans and a number of trail networks and facilities. Jasmine has a background in destination promotion, marketing and promotions, event and sponsorship management, and public relations.
Previously, Jasmine was the CEO of the regional tourism organisation, Australia’s South West and Marketing Manager for the Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association. In her role with Australia’s South West, Jasmine guided the organisation through the development and implementation of a strategic plan, extensive review of marketing activities and an overhaul of the organisation’s membership structure.
Jasmine has sat on the TCWA Board of Directors, the Great South West Edge National Landscape committee, Margaret River Regional Brand, Warren Blackwood Strategic Alliance, Bunbury-Wellington Tourism Working Group, South West Cruise Alliance and Great Southern Tourism Advisory Committee. In 2009 Jasmine was the recipient of the Sir David Brand Young Achiever Medal and has represented WA as a state finalist in the Len Taylor Young ATEC Award for Excellence and Australian Regional Tourism Network Regional Awards.
For well over 30 years, Barry has had a long and fulfilling career with Tourism WA where he was lucky enough travel extensively across the length and breadth of WA. His time also saw him involved in developing new tourism products while working as the Goldfields Regional Manager and with both domestic and international marketing teams to maximise the exposure for WA and the many amazing tourism assets the state has.
Barry remains passionate about WA and what we have to offer the world from a business, sporting and tourism perspective.
Sally has a diverse background in the tourism and hospitality industries over a thirty year career. After completing a Commerce degree at Curtin University, her earlier career was spent working up the chain of the five-star international hotel sector through accommodation sales and conferencing and event management, before moving to the renown Melbourne caterer Peter Rowland Catering.
Based at The National Gallery of Victoria, she was Group Venue Sales Manager managing a broad event management team across seven premium venues around Melbourne.
After returning to WA in 2007, and along with her husband Craig, Sally now runs her family’s boutique accommodation property in Albany – The Beach House at Bayside – which has recently been inducted into the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame.
Sally sits on the Board of Australia’s South West Regional Tourism Organisation and the Board of Tourism Council of WA, and her passion is to ensure that invested, small tourism business operators have a voice in the destination marketing discussion alongside Government and NGO representatives.
Claire Savage is the founder and managing director of Savagely Creative, a boutique experience development consultancy based in Western Australia. Claire has over 27 years of professional experience in the tourism, natural and cultural heritage sectors. Claire has worked in tourism in the UK and Australia. Her key areas of expertise are interpretation planning, product and experience development, destination development and marketing, food and wine tourism and natural area tourism. Her passion is the creation of memorable experiences.
In Glasgow Claire worked in tourism as an economic development tool before relocating to Australia where after a brief stint setting up and managing the Medical Board of WA Claire started working at Tourism WA on policy, planning, infrastructure development and nature-based tourism. In 2003 Claire won a role managing the development of visitor management services for South Australia’s National Parks and Reserves. Four years later, older and much wiser, Claire returned to WA to manage the delivery of the WA Heritage Tourism Strategy and in 2008 realised a lifelong dream of becoming a consultant.
Claire has worked on numerous projects including strategy development and implementation, business planning, experience reviews, interpretation planning and destination marketing. Claire’s unique skill set allows her to see each project from multiple points of view helping to create experiences that engage the visitor whilst meeting the needs of the business. Claire is a consultant, speaker and trainer and works across Australia.
Born in Perth, Melva has spent a lot of her life in the remote Pilbara and Kimberley regions. In 1968 she became the first female resident in Newman and later worked as a Radio Operator for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Melva became the first female manager in WA for the giant Mayne Nickless Group, following which she established herself in the self-made role of Fundraising Manager for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Her CV shows a long list of achievements, Honorary Memberships and “firsts”. In 2009, for her work with the RFDS, she received the Order of Australia Medal and she is now an Ambassador for the Service. She is also an accredited public speaker.
Melva’s book, “Red Dust in Her Veins”, was featured at a launch in New York as a part of the G ’Day USA program. It has raised over $150,000 for the RFDS.
Robert is Nhanda, Yamaji heritage. He has been in the Hospitality industry for over 25 years. In this time, he has owned, run and managed businesses in the hospitality tourism, mining and construction industries.
Robert became CEO of WAITOC in 2015. In this time, with the support of the Board and his team, he has successfully delivered the Aboriginal Tourism Development Program, growing 39 new Aboriginal businesses across WA. Under his direction, WAITOC has been successful in securing the World Indigenous Tourism Summit for 2020 and continues to create new partnerships with prospective stakeholders in order to improve cultural understanding, respect and positive social outcomes for the Australian Aboriginal People.
As managing director of Vanguard Press and Premium Publishers, Chad van Heemst (CA, B.Com) has worked extensively to market destinations throughout WA and promote tourism operators through the power of print.
The team at Vanguard have created a holistic approach to print; their mission is to go beyond executing a beautiful print result. They also generate engaging content, use inspiring images and reach your target audience through unique distribution channels. Vanguard is proud to have been a finalist in the Mumbrella Travel Publication of the Year Awards in 2019, and continues to produce a range of publications for iconic destinations in WA, including Margaret River/Busselton, Broome, Carnarvon, Kalbarri, Bunbury and Dwellingup.
Chad has been a member of the Tourism Council of WA Judging Panel for the Top Tourism Town Awards since 2017 and previously worked at Deloitte’s as a manager in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, gaining extensive experience across a broad range of industries.
Jessica Woollams is the Digital Project Manager responsible for Tourism WA’s consumer facing website - www.westernaustralia.com.
Prior to digital marketing, Jessica started out in the WA Visitor Centre where she discovered her love for tourism and for helping people with their holiday plans. She has 14 years’ experience working in in the Events division in a marketing role and as the Digital Project Manager at Tourism WA, she is able to combine her passion for WA and her expertise in website management to help the 2.7m users who visit the site annually discover what WA has to offer and to plan their trip.
Being Swiss, Jessica loves cheese, chocolate and order. Using her Agile Project Management skills she has delivered on significant website development projects as well as ongoing value for the user through the use of automation and artificial intelligence to enhance their online experience.