DESTINATION Tweed, Tweed's tourism and business promotional organisation, has a new chairperson in Anne Duke.
Ms Duke is a regional community development specialist and director of the Caldera Institute and has an outstanding track record in creating opportunities for sustainable development and economic diversification.
With nearly 30 years experience working on community economic development projects, Ms Duke brings planning, development and management experience to the tourism sector and has worked on regional, indigenous, heritage and eco-tourism initiatives involving community stakeholders and all levels of government.
About two years ago, Ms Duke together with fellow directors, established the Caldera Institute for Sustainable Community Development and facilitated projects such as the Caldera Economic Transition planning process, the Tweed Foodlinks Village showcase project and the upgrading of two community halls which allowed producers to add value to local produce.
The institute also established Murwillumbah's weekly farmers market in partnership with Destination Tweed and other stakeholders.
Ms Duke joined Destination Tweed's board in 2011 and said she intended to build on the organisation's strong partnerships with local businesses and communities.
Destination Tweed's broad priority was to create opportunities for businesses to grow and for new businesses to be established.
"In terms of business attraction and tourism marketing, we need to develop and promote experiences that are compatible with community and environmental values and exceed customer expectation."
Ms Duke has worked on major projects in Far North Queensland including the restructuring, stimulating and diversification of industries in the Atherton Tablelands where due to the closure of the local tobacco and timber industries, the local population experienced loss of employment and associated high levels of depression.
She said the key was working with the local industries such as the horticultural sector.
"Sustainable agriculture is very close to my heart," Ms Duke said
"I'm very excited about working with Destination Tweed's CEO Bill Tatchell and the board and try and meet the challenges and take the opportunities to help build a sustainable future for the Tweed."
Ms Duke hoped to work with land managers to help visitors gain more access to World Heritage areas and unlock some of the region's most beautiful areas.
Ms Duke has taken over the role from Neil Mason who recently resigned to move to Noosa and was a board member for three years and chairperson for 18 months.