Australia's North West Tourism Board - 2017/18
Ian Gay - Chairman
Ian’s career has been in aviation, recently retiring from Qantas after 45 years. Ian moved to WA in 2000 as the Regional General Manager for the state, overseeing a period of significant growth in route capacity to both the Pilbara and the Kimberley in support of the tourism, resources and community sectors. Prior to 2000 Ian worked in Sydney, New Zealand and South-East Asia in a range of senior commercial roles including sales, marketing, route planning and alliances. Ian is also the Vice Chairman of the Perth Convention Bureau. He has degrees in Economics and English Literature from Macquarie University in NSW.
Darren Banfield – Deputy Chairman
Darren Banfield has been a Broome resident and business owner for over 25 years. Darren (with brother Robert) are the owners of Willie Creek Pearls, which comprises five retail stores in both Broome and Perth, a pearl farm and tourist attraction 38kms out of Broome, a heritage complex in the township of Broome, a coach tour operation and a hospitality outlet. He has served on the Broome Visitor Centre Board for 11 years (including as Chairman), been a committee member of SKAL International Broome for 8 years (including as President) and is currently on the Shire of Broome’s Economic Advisory Group.
Natasha Mahar – Chief Executive Officer
Natasha (Tarsh) Mahar, began her career with Hilton International after completing tertiary studies in Tourism & Travel, where she worked her way up to Guest Relations & Executive Floor Manager by her early 20’s. Overseas travel then beckoned where she bounded from country to country eventually settling in London for a couple of years working in a range of corporate companies from BHP to the Body Shop Head office. Upon moving to Melbourne after her overseas adventures concluded, she started her own award winning Corporate Gifting Business which she sold 10 years later after building a successful brand with major clients including Australia Post, ANZ Private Bank and Nike Australia. “The Kimberley called” over 10 years ago. She managed the Broome Visitor Centre for over 3 years and then headed up Marketing & Business Development for The Great Escape Charter Company for over 5 years. During her time in these positions, she was both an elected and seconded board member of Australia’s North West Tourism.
Born in Derby, Charlie’s family has been involved in tourism in the Kimberley since 1968 (Fitzroy Crossing) and at Lake Argyle since 1973. Whilst Charlie is a life-time Kimberley local, he brings a wealth of experience to the board having worked in Europe and the USA, establishing several tourism businesses in New Jersey and Florida. Charlie is the director of Lake Argyle Resort, a member of the Kununurra Visitor Centre and the East Kimberley Marketing Group.
As CEO of Mackerel Islands Pty Ltd Drew oversees the operations of the new Onslow Beach Resort, as well as the tourism developments at Thevenard & Direction Islands – part of the Mackerel Islands off the Pilbara Coast. He has experience within the WA tourism industry, both operationally and at an executive level, and has spent five years living in the region developing tourism product & infrastructure, including a large amount of ecologically sustainable infrastructure for Mackerel Islands Pty Ltd. He also has previous experience in the management of a well-established marine tourism business in Europe. Drew holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Management and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Sonja Mitchell has been involved in the aviation and tourism industries in Western Australia for 27 years, firstly as a Commercial Pilot (ATPL) and progressing through to roles of Operations Manager, General Manager and CEO. She was awarded the “Individual Award for Excellence” Australia’s North West Tourism 2006, recognising a personal contribution to the development of the Kimberley tourism industry. Sonja has held numerous director positions including the West Australian Tourism Commission, South West Development Commission and Tourism Council WA (current). Since 2007 Sonja has specialised in consulting in business development and marketing in the aviation and tourism industries. The businesses she currently represents as Sales and Marketing Manager are; HeliSpirit, Aviair, Bungle Bungle Savannah Lodge, Bungle Bungle Guided Tours, Freshwater East Kimberley Apartments.
Simone is the owner and operator of Adventure Wild Kimberley Tours, which offer 12 day extended 4WD safaris circumventing the Kimberley. Having lived and worked in Broome since 2001, initially as a police officer for 10 years, Simone offers an independent, extensive understanding of the complexities and diversities within the region.
With over 30 years of experience in tourism in NT, SA and WA, Phil has owned and operated Bed and Breakfast accommodation, tours, a restaurant and as Regional Manager of APT in the Kimberley for over 12 years was instrumental in the establishment of four lodges throughout the North West.
Phil previously served on the ANW Board prior to relocating from Broome to Albany, WA in 2012. Other Board positions include Tourism Kangaroo Island, Broome Visitor Centre, Hahndorf Business and Tourism Association and Broome Chamber of Commerce. Currently independent Vice Chair of Broome Tourism Leadership Group.
Phil’s current role provides Business Evaluations and Federal Grants to eligible Tourism Operators throughout the North West.