Forum Speakers

Confirmed Keynote/Panel Speakers




Annette Sharp

Annette is the co-founder and CEO of the China Digital Agency, which provides digital strategies and content for businesses targeting the independent Chinese consumer. China Digital specialises in tourism, wellness and real estate, and has partnered with some of tourism’s largest organisations such as Destination NSW, Choice Hotels, Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism, Phillip Island Nature Parks, AATKings, Parks Victoria and Mt Buller. Annette’s specialty is marketing strategy and research, having worked in senior roles in cultural and digital marketing for 25 years. Her knowledge of the Chinese FIT market and their use of technology has been formed through her experience of owning a small group adventure company, proprietary and commissioned research, and many visits to China. In 2016, the agency conducted innovative research into Chinese visitor perception of and experience of tourism offerings in South Australia, which fed into SATC’s recently released China Strategy.

Annette believes that China is the most fertile opportunity for the Australian tourism industry in decades and it is her mission to make China accessible, and to help businesses realise the potential of this diverse, dynamic and tech savvy market.


George Y Chen

George Y Chen

Dr George Y Chen is Principal Analyst and Manager of National Tourism Forecasts, Tourism Research Australia (TRA), Austrade. His team produces forecasts on Australia’s inbound, outbound and domestic tourism. Prior to the current role, he worked as an economist and policy adviser across various Australian Government departments including the Department of Industry and the Treasury. Before coming to Australia, he was a research economist at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.


  Tim Gao

Tim Gao

Tim Gao is an adjunct researcher of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and a Visiting Professor to the College of Tourism and Services Management at Nankai University. He started his career as a tour guide and translator back in 1976, and then studied in USA from1980 to 1988. In his industry career, he worked as the Training Manager of Shangri-La Beijing and Sheraton Guilin, the Human Resource Director of Shangri-La Shenzhen and Holiday Inn Guilin, Deputy G.M. and Acting G.M. of Gloria Plaza Hotel Suzhou, Group Director of Human Resources and Vice President of Gloria International Hotels Management, CEO of Oriental Hotels Management Company, Managing Director of TEDA Hotels Management Company, and President of HNA Hotels and Resorts. He also served as the Vice President of China Hotel Association for two consecutive terms. His research interests include tourism group and hotel chain management, mergers and acquisitions, and development trends analysis.


Douglas Gautier, AM

Douglas Gautier is CEO & Artistic Director of Adelaide Festival Centre, South Australia’s principal performing arts venue, hosting more than one million people annually. Since 2006, Douglas has delivered a program-led strategy that has significantly grown audiences and positioned Adelaide Festival Centre as a hub for Asian/Australian cultural engagement. Prior to arriving in Adelaide, Douglas lived and worked in Asia where he was Director of the Hong Kong Arts Festival and Deputy Executive Director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.  In 2013, Douglas was elected Chair Association of Asia Pacific Performing Arts Centres (AAPPAC), the peak cultural body in the Asia-Pacific region.  Douglas is the Director of the Asia Pacific Centre for Arts and Cultural Leadership, a joint venture between Adelaide Festival Centre and the University of South Australia, an Executive Councillor of Live Performance Australia, and a Council member of Flinders University.

Cathy Hsu

Cathy H.C.Hsu

Cathy Hsu is the Chair Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Marketing in the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her most recent co-authored book, Tourism: The Business of Hospitality and Travel. (5th ed.), was published by Prentice Hall in 2013. Prof. Hsu received the 2009 John Wiley & Sons Lifetime Research Achievement Award and has carried out research in the hotel and tourism discipline for the past 30 years. The past 15 years have been devoted to research on Mainland Chinese traveller behaviours. Her other research areas include hotel branding, hospitality marketing, and service quality.  She has served as a consultant to various organizations, such as the Garden Hotel in Guangzhou, City of Dreams in Macao, Hong Kong Tourism Board, and World Tourism Organization. She has provided training to numerous hotel and tourism organizations on service quality, branding, and marketing.


Bob McKercher

Bob McKercher is Professor in Tourism Management in the School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He is one of the most influential tourism scholars in the world. He has published over 300 scholarly papers and reports and many research books. Professor McKercher is a fellow of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism (IAST), and a fellow of the Council for Australian University Tourism and Hospitality Education (CAUTHE). He also serves as the current President of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism (IAST). Currently based in Hong Kong and with previous academic experiences in Australia, Prof McKercher has valuable experiences in researching Asian and Australasian tourism. He serves on the editorial boards of over 20 tourism and hospitality journals and is the China Editor for Tourism Management.   


Chris Ryan

Chris Ryan

Chris Ryan is Professor of Tourism at the University of Waikato, where he is also Director of the China-New Zealand Tourism Research Unit. In that capacity he holds a number of visiting positions at Chinese universities including Sun Yat Sen University, Xi’an International Studies University and Zhejiang International Studies University, His research awards include ones from the Beijing Philosophical and Social Sciences Committee and commendation for work done at Grand View Gardens, Beijing. He has approximately 200 refereed journal articles, and is editor of two academic journals, Tourism Management and Tourism Management Perspectives. He has served in various advisory capacities for New Zealand’s Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment and Hamilton-Waikato Regional Tourism, and from 2014 to 2016 has been involved in the UNWTO Sustainable Tourism Observatory program in China, which program he is currently seeking to introduce to the Waikato in New Zealand. He has published books on tourism in China, the first with Professor Gu Huimin from Beijing International Studies University, and the second with the convenor of this conference, Professor Sam Huang.


Anthony Coles

Anthony Coles is Principal of Sinosphere Pty Ltd, a professional services firm with clients in Australia and China across Tourism, Investment and Trade. Anthony is currently Chair of the Tourism Working Group with the Australia China Business Council, and on the Board of the South Australian Tourism Industry Council. Spending more than 120 days a year across 6 Provinces, Anthony strives to bridge the gap in Australian business understanding of what China wants, and how Australia can adapt to participate successfully. Anthony initiated the "Welcome 欢迎" tourism operator assistance program currently being piloted with the Adelaide City Council (link:





School of Management
Sun Yat-Sen University
Tourism Research Cluster
School of Management
University of South Australia
Adelaide, Australia 
School of Tourism Management
Sun Yat-sen University
Guangzhou, China 
Tourism Research Cluster
School of Marketing
Curtin University, Perth, Australia 


Centre for Tourism & Leisure Management
University of South Australia
Adelaide, Australia 
Australian Centre for Asian Business
University of South Australia
Adelaide, Australia 

Forum Supporter


Australia-China Council


Special Sponsor




  China National Tourist Office Sydney (Australia & New Zealand)


Areas of study and research

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