Penny Lion leaves Tourism Australia as part of Business Events reorganisation

As financial pressures from the pandemic continue to hit business events, Tourism Australia is the latest organisation to report a number of changes at the top of its business events operations, including the departure of its executive general manager events, Penny Lion.

The changes will see a reorganisation of Tourism Australia’s international, events and business events operations from 1 July 2021, and come as a result of a recent global review of the agency’s business plans ahead of the next financial year.

Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said the departure of Lion, following more than 10 years with the organisation, was among some “significant changes” to the business.

“After more than 10 years with Tourism Australia we are sadly farewelling Penny Lion who has done such a tremendous job heading up both events and business events in our organisation,” Harrison said.

“Penny’s vision combined with strong commercial business acumen has resulted in business events being elevated within Tourism Australia with excellent results.”

Lion had led the effort to consolidate Tourism Australia’s approach to marketing Australia as a business events destination internationally, and oversee the implementation of programmes including the Business Events Bid Fund and Business Events Boost, as well as the Advance Programme.

Lion will continue to assist Tourism Australia in an advisory capacity for business events.

“Our intention now is to continue with Penny’s vision by integrating business events more across the whole business,” said Harrison.

Lion added: “Australia has a fantastic business events offering and there will no doubt continue to be strong demand to host international meetings, congresses and corporate incentives here in the future once we get beyond the immediate crisis.

“And the advantage of business events are the long lead times so that the work of Tourism Australia with industry can continue to deliver successful business outcomes in the future.”

Robin Mack, who has been promoted to executive general manager, in addition to his commercial role on the executive team, with look after Business Events and its marketing will in future be part of the wider TA marketing operation led by chief marketing officer Susan Coghill.

Harrison admitted the restructure was made in reaction to the impacts of the global pandemic on tourism.

“The past 18 months have been the most challenging that our industry has ever faced and throughout the crisis we have continued to adapt our business operations to place resources where they are needed most,” she said.

International tourism remains on hold in Australia, with the number of destinations going back into lockdown on the increase, as Covid flare ups are reported.

Tourism Australia’s priority for recovery appears now to be to focus on rebuilding domestic tourism.