Our Advisory Committee

Garry Watson

Garry Watson

Chair

Garry has been part of the ACT tourism sector for 30 years, and the Project Leader of the National Capital Educational Tourism Project (NCETP) since 1999.  Under his leadership the NCETP has had a significant impact on the ACT tourism region with educational visitors injecting 140 million economic value to the ACT annually.   Previous to this, Garry worked extensively in the ACT attractions sector including running visitor services and public programs at the National Film and Sound Archive and providing electoral education for the National Electoral Education Centre.  He has also been a market research consultant, with a speciality in facilitating search conferences. 

Garry has been a key part of the National Capital Attractions Association and Canberra Region Tourism Awards (CRTA) for many years.  After 10 years as Chair of Judges for the CRTA, in 2016 Garry was appointed the Chair of Judges for the Australian Tourism Awards concluding at the end of 2018.  Garry has been awarded the Canberra Region Tourism Awards, 2001 Outstanding Contribution by an Individual Award and has recently been included as a Member in the Order of Australia (General Division) for his services to tourism.

Phillip Jones

Phillip Jones

Chair of Judges

Phillip Jones has been involved in the Awards for several years  as a mentor, judge and now Chair of Judges. He is also one of the National Award judges and has considerable experience in similar roles for a range of industry and professional bodies. Professionally he has worked internationally in fine dining over a decade as well, before offering facilitation and strategic consulting service through his company, Two Degrees Group. Phillip is an educator and advocate for Australian craft spirits through his popular series of events and website, as the Martini Whisperer.  He is also the Executive Officer of the Canberra District Wine Industry Association. 

Naomi Dale

Naomi Dale

Naomi is an Assistant Professor of Management and Program Director for the Bachelor of Business and the Bachelor of Event and Tourism Management at the University of Canberra. Naomi has been teaching and researching in the Tourism Discipline at UC since 2006. She was the recipient of an Australian Post Graduate Award scholarship and her Ph.D. investigated destination choice by school excursion groups in Australia. She is President of the National Capital Attractions Association, coordinator of the Visitor Research Forum and a board member of the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC). Naomi’s research is concerned with Learning and Engagement in Tourism. This incorporates research in the specific areas of educational tourism, policy impacts of curriculum, and visitor research at cultural institutions and national capital attractions. It also captures emerging research interests in the application of social media, and strategies for engagement through e-platforms (in teaching, tourism, and events). Other key areas are around consumer behaviour and marketing.

Debra Beetham

Debra Beetham

Debra manages the coordination of the Canberra Region Tourism Awards program and events. She has an extensive background in leading and inspiring tourism services in the Canberra Region. With over 18 years in experience, Debra brings a multifaceted understanding of high quality tourism experiences from her various roles with major Canberra tourism attractions, including the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), Questacon and the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Debra has thrived on working on exciting events such as Enlighten and the G20Summit, through to major contributions to numerous successful Canberra Region Tourism Awards. Debra is a board member of the National Capital Attractions Association and holds a Post- Graduate Degree in Business Management from the University of Canberra. Debra is passionate about high quality tourism and educational experiences as a way to increase and sustain tourism in the Canberra Region.

Robert Smethills

Robert Smethills

Robert has many years’ experience in the tourism industry firstly as the Assistant Director of Visitor Services at the Australian Institute of Sport and now with VisitCanberra as the Assistant Manager of the Canberra and Region Visitor Centre. Robert has been involved in most aspects of the Tourism awards including being an award winning entrant, a long time judge for the Canberra and Region Tourism Awards and also a national judge at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards.

Phil Trenbath

Phil Trenbath

Phil Trenbath is an Account Director and Partner at The Mark Agency, a full-service marketing agency based in Canberra, Australia. The Mark Agency specialises in marketing to solve business challenges, taking a blended approach to business and marketing strategy, and comprises an in-house team of business analysts, creatives, designers and software engineers who work together to achieve outcomes for clients.

Phil studied a Bachelor of Advertising/Marketing Communications at the University of Canberra before moving to the United Kingdom to undertake a Master of Arts in Cross-Cultural Communication & International Marketing at Newcastle University. Since returning to Australia Phil has been with The Mark Agency for 8 years working on a variety of businesses across multiple sectors. Notable clients include Uber, TAB, Brumbies Rugby, Kelly Slater’s Komunity Project and QT Hotels.

Birgitte Petersen

Birgitte Petersen

Birgitte has a well-rounded hospitality background. She currently works as the Training and Recruitment Manager at Doma Hotels. Having literally grown up in hotels, her passion for customer service and training is evident throughout her career which has taken her to hotels and training institutes around the world, most recently to Canberra. Birgitte has recently stepped away from hotel operations into Human Resources and uses her practical knowledge and industry experience to instil this passion in her staff, trainees and students. Most recently a judge for the National AICR Receptionist of the Year competition, Birgitte’s experience in recognising talent is a great asset to the Canberra Region Tourism Award judging panel.

Ruby Hudson

Ruby Hudson

Ruby has a diverse background in both festivals and events management and is currently the Business Manager at the National Folk Festival where she has worked since 2011. Having grown up in the Blue Mountains, and worked in both the hospitality and retail industries, Ruby has a strong understanding of the role tourism plays in local communities. Her passion for event production and customer satisfaction has seen her work for a number of event including the Woodford Folk Festival and Sydney Mardi Gras.  Prior to 2010 she spent a number of years living in the UK working for Marriott Hotels as an event manager. In her current role at the National Folk Festival she has been involved in writing a number of regional and national award winning tourism award submissions.