Driven by his love of FNQ

FROM HUM­BLE BE­GIN­NINGS JAMES DIXON HAS BUILT ONE OF AUS­TRALIA’S BEST TOUR COM­PA­NIES. HE TOOK SOME TIME THIS WEEK TO SHARE HIS PAS­SION FOR THE RE­GION AND WHAT MAKES THE TOURISM STAL­WART TICK

The Weekend Post - - Business -

GROW­ING up in the Rive­rina re­gion of west­ern New South Wales, the lo­cal win­ner at the 2018 Aus­tralian Tourism Ex­port Coun­cil (ATEC) awards vowed never to get into the tourism in­dus­try.

Now James Dixon sits on the board of Tourism Events Queens­land as the deputy chair­man af­ter also be­ing on the board of Trop­i­cal North Queens­land for 10 years.

He was recog­nised at last month’s ATEC awards by win­ning the Trevor Howard award for out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion by an in­di­vid­ual to the tourism and ex­port in­dus­try.

“I was ab­so­lutely hum­bled to re­ceive the award but there are a lot of other peo­ple out there far more wor­thy than me,” he said.

“But it’s very nice to be recog­nised by your peers in what they con­sider to be a great con­tri­bu­tion to the in­dus­try.”

Mr Dixon’s tourism jour­ney had the un­like­li­est of be­gin­nings af­ter he was born into the fam­ily bus busi­ness in West Wya­long.

His brother Phil took over the fam­ily bus com­pany and started do­ing ex­tended bus tours all over Aus­tralia.

“I was a builder by trade and swore I would never get in­volved in tourism or buses but when the build­ing in­dus­try fell in a slump Phil got me to go to Bris­bane and that is when I started driv­ing for him,” he said.

In 1989 the busi­ness went into re­ceiver­ship and Mr Dixon with his brother Gor­don ac­quired the Down Un­der Tours busi­ness from the re­ceivers.

“And that is when Down Un­der Tours re­ally came to the fore,” he said.

“Gor­don and his wife He­len and my wife Jann then set up op­er­a­tion and went from there.”

That was 29 years ago – to­day the com­pany is one of Queens­land’s premier tour­ing bus lines.

Mr Dixon and Jann met in West Wya­long and were child­hood sweet­hearts be­fore get- ting mar­ried and swap­ping the dry heat of out­back New South Wales for the hu­mid­ity of Far North Queens­land.

To­gether they have two chil­dren, Bri­anna, who now works from Canada in the film in­dus­try and Sam, who works in IT for Down Un­der Tours.

Orig­i­nally plan­ning to make the move north for three years, Mr Dixon never left af­ter fall­ing in love with FNQ.

“For us it was heaven on Earth and loved ev­ery­thing about it.

“We fell in love with the in­dus­try, it has been very kind to us,” he said.

JAMES DIXON HAS BEEN IN THE TOURISM IN­DUS­TRY FOR AL­MOST THREE DECADES AND IS TOURISM EVENTS QUEENS­LAND DEPUTY CHAIR­MAN

“We love the pas­sion of the in­dus­try in this town. It is very in­fec­tious and that is what re­ally got hold of us, Cairns now will al­ways be our home.”

Mr Dixon said Trop­i­cal North Queens­land is well placed to take ad­van­tage of ex­pected in­creased vis­i­ta­tion off the back of the new Edge Look­out be­ing built by Skyrail and the pro­posed KUR-World de­vel­op­ment at Ku­randa.

How­ever, he said vis­i­ta­tion in Far North­ern world her­itage listed reefs and forests needed to be man­aged cor­rectly.

“I think there are good signs ahead how­ever our in­dus­try has chal­lenges and not just Trop­i­cal North Queens­land but Aus­tralia as a des­ti­na­tion is in a unique po­si­tion to get it right,” he said.

“Tourism … is grow­ing at a rapid rate and there is a ter­mi­nol­ogy used cur­rently called ‘over tourism’.

“(Which refers to) vol­umes of peo­ple in pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions just be­ing too great for the des­ti­na­tions to han­dle it.

“It’s not all about the num­bers, it’s about the yield and our abil­ity to de­liver a top qual­ity prod­uct,” he said.

Also flagged as a chal­lenge fac­ing the in­dus­try is the control of neg­a­tive me­dia re­ports fol­low­ing nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and deaths at pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions.

“As we know bad news sto­ries sell bet­ter than good news sto­ries, but also with the reach of so­cial me­dia one of our great­est chal­lenges is mak­ing sure the good news sto­ries get out there and mak­ing sure our au­thor­i­ties are all de­liv­er­ing the same consistent mes­sage,” he said.

Mr Dixon ex­pressed great grat­i­tude to the team at Down Un­der Tours – his brother Gor­don and his wife He­len and his sis­ter Bev and partner Rob – who in the early days were in­stru­men­tal in mak­ing the busi­ness a suc­cess.

The com­pany has re­cently been sold to the Travel Cor­po­ra­tion, par­ent com­pany of the Bondi-based AAT Kings.

FOR US IT WAS HEAVEN ON EARTH AND LOVED EV­ERY­THING ABOUT IT. WE FELL IN LOVE WITH THE IN­DUS­TRY, IT HAS BEEN VERY KIND TO US

JAMES DIXON

Pic­ture: PETER CAR­RUTHERS

WIN­NING FOR­MULA: Owner of Down Un­der Tours James Dixon has been recog­nised for his ser­vice to the Queens­land tourism in­dus­try at the Aus­tralian Tourism Ex­port Coun­cil Ex­cel­lence Awards.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.