Mark Olsen Chief Executive Officer, Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ)

Mark Olsen
Chief Executive Officer,
Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ)

1. Over the years what is the one thing you have come to appreciate about the city of Cairns?
As new residents, having only arrived in October last year, my family and I are loving the time back in nature.  Getting out on the reef, exploring the rainforest, swimming in the volcanic lakes, bird watching and all the vibrant colours of the world around us.  We can take a five-minute walk from our new home and be in thick forest with a crystal clear rainforest stream weaving through the tall trees.  With a young family it’s been great to share these experiences with new friends and we are settling into our new social life, with a great school community, amazing performing arts centre, and lots of events.  

2. The region has experienced many tough times throughout the years, but none quite like we are experiencing now.  What is one message you would like to give to the people of Cairns at this uncertain time? 
This is the time for the community to unite and support each other.  Everyone is being impacted, but the sooner we can stop the spread of the virus and ensure our community is safe, the sooner we can get back on with the business of sharing this amazing bit of the world with all those people who have been cooped up at home.  Safe home, stay safe, stop the spread.  What this region offers is what the world is looking for on the other side of this global pandemic, our visitor experiences, our seafood and agricultural product, our world-class educators, our lifestyle and connection to nature.  These will be the things that help drive our economy for many years to come.  
3. Leaders like yourself have united to fight for the region in what are unprecedented times – what role are you and your organisation playing in all of this?
Tourism Tropical North Queensland amplifies the voice of our industry, and our communities, to ensure we are being heard.  We are working closely with all sectors of the economy to ensure our region is front of mind in every decision government is making, and front of mind for consumers planning their dream holiday when we have the virus contained. As a team we ensure we are listening to the industry and the communities across the region, from Cardwell to the Torres Strait and out to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) and Riversleigh and sharing their concerns with all levels of government.  We are also working hard to build demand for the future with inspirational content, stronger partnerships globally, and active bids for major events and conferences for the years ahead.    

4. While there are many negatives about the current situation we all find ourselves in – what is one thing you are looking forward to doing while in isolation?
Over Easter I enjoyed some quality time with my family.  We took the TNQ Easter Challenge and recreated our favourite visitor experience in the region at home.  The biggest challenge is trying to decide what experience to choose.  Should we swim on the reef in the lounge room, go fishing in the pool, go camping in the backyard, float down a pretend Mulgrave River in our garage or try and re-create the hike up the Pyramid (which we haven’t done yet and will have to wait a bit longer).