It’s been a pretty big week for Team Tourism. There’s been quite a bit of virtual office banter, with a few Tigers supporters amongst the Cats fans in our crew. It’s great to see the city decorated blue and white and some venues able to host COVID-safe functions at game time.

Whilst the festivities look different this year, we know the success of the Geelong Football Club can drive the mood and fortunes of business across this region. Good luck to the Cats on Saturday. Let’s hope the banners are flying high, from dawn to dark, down at Kardinia Park. And up at the ‘Gabba too.

We’ve also spent time this week preparing for our Annual General Meeting. Applications to join the TGGB Board closed yesterday and we’ve had some really strong candidates apply. There are three skills based positions up for grabs, here are your nominees:


  • Helen Butteriss, Bellarine Business Advisors


  • James Murphy, Sea All Dolphin Swims
  • Susannah Hewit, Bellarine Community Health
  • Connie Trathen, Grand Hotel Portarlington

Business Events

  • Chantelle Fava, Fresh Creative Entertainment
  • Jo Surkit, Revitalize Lifestyle
  • Karen Jackson, Novotel Geelong
  • Chris Paterson, Sign 12 Media

You can read their full profiles here & below.

To vote, you must attend our virtual Annual General Meeting and be the primary voter for your tourism member business. Register via the details below:

When: Thursday 29 October 2020 | 2pm – 3pm
Where: Online – details here

  • Helen Butteriss

    Skills Based Board Member: Finance

    I have been an accountant for over 25 years, working on The Bellarine and in…

  • James Murphy

    Skills Based Board Nominee: Marketing

    Bachelor of Commerce – major in marketing, Winner 2020 Geelong business Excellence Awards – Business…

  • Susannah Hewitt Member Business: Bellarine Community Health

    Susannah Hewitt

    Skills Based Board Nominee: Marketing

    M.Com (Hons), M.Bus (Marketing) (Hons), B.A. I have significant experience and demonstrated expertise in marketing,…

  • Chantelle Fava

    Skills Based Board Nominee: Business Events

    I am the founder and Artistic Director of Fresh Creative Entertainment. For the past 10…

  • Jo Surkit

    I have 25 years’ experience in medium and small business management and are the Owner/operator…

  • Karen Jackson

    Skills Based Board Member: Business Events

    I have just completed my first term as a TGGB Board Member representing the Business…

  • Chris Paterson

    Skills Based Board Nominee: Business Events

    I have had an extremely varied career as a Media and Communications Manager and Producer…

Helen Butteriss

Skills Based Board Member: Finance

I have been an accountant for over 25 years, working on The Bellarine and in Geelong; as a principal for a reputable firm in Geelong & the Bellarine. Three years ago I started my own practice located in Queenscliff and work closely with a vast amount of tourism operators understanding their needs and challenges they face.

I was the inaugural Finance representative of Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine and have thoroughly been privileged to part of a great board and Tourism Team.

I also am Treasurer of The Geelong Club, Director of Cherished Pets Foundation, Director of Ocean Grove Connected Communities and treasurer of Ocean Grove Business Association.

Whilst I appreciate I have held the position since inception of the board, I believe my experience with the board is imperative now with the industry dealing with the impact of COVID and the challenges we face coming out of restrictions.

Member Business: Bellarine Business Advisors

James Murphy

Skills Based Board Nominee: Marketing

Bachelor of Commerce – major in marketing, Winner 2020 Geelong business Excellence Awards – Business of the Year, Tourism & Hospitality and Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2020. Director, Sea All Dolphin Swims & Great Ocean Road Surf Tours, Chairman of the board – Southern Ocean Education Link incorporated.

A lateral thinker and a believer in collaboration, James has a proven ability to develop and deliver sustained business growth within the tourism industry. James’ approach to life and business has created a different view of the world which has led to many industry leading innovations and world first developments.

James understands that success in the tourism industry directly depends on our ability to share and celebrate in the region and as the marketing representative of the board, James will utilise his tertiary qualification alongside over a decade of experience providing world class tourism services to ensure the greatest benefits are felt for Greater Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula.

Member Business: Sea All Dolphin Swims

Susannah Hewitt Member Business: Bellarine Community Health

Susannah Hewitt

Skills Based Board Nominee: Marketing

M.Com (Hons), M.Bus (Marketing) (Hons), B.A.

I have significant experience and demonstrated expertise in marketing, communication, media, consumer research, management and business development. I have excellent ‘people skills’, self-awareness and ability to work dynamically within teams and in challenging situations with tight deadlines. I continually strive for excellence.

I am currently the Digital Marketing & Fundraising Manager at Bellarine Community Health and previously the Marketing Executive at the royal Agricultural Society of WA where I managed multiple brands across the organisation. It was in this position, managing the marketing for WA’s largest annual event, the Perth Royal Show, that I gained extensive experience in the tourism industry and worked closely with Tourism WA. In this role, I also re-branded the newly developed Perth Food Awards, a national food and beverage competition. While building awareness and brand recognition of the awards, I also supported winning producers around Australia to increase both their product sales and visitation numbers. Prior to my time in the not-for-profit sector, I was the Marketing Manager and Studio manager at Artist Photographer, a private retail and results-driven business located in Melbourne and Geelong. My extensive experience is supported by my postgraduate qualifications of both a Master of Marketing and Master of Commerce from RMIT University with Distinction, and a Bachelor of Arts from Monash University.

I am skilled in all forms of marketing and campaign management, both above the line with campaigns across press, radio, television, out-of-home and display ads and below the line encompassing social media, websites, EDMs and digital advertising. I also have vast experience managing teams and liaising with suppliers, media and creative agencies, from developing briefs through to final development, within timelines and under budget. I am adapt at developing marketing and communication strategies, stakeholder acquisition and retention, undertaking research, fundraising and managing key corporate partnerships. I have hands-on experience in all areas of marketing, communications and fundraising and a particular interest in developing business strategy to help exceed organisational goals. I have significant expertise in managing multiple projects simultaneously from conception to execution, critically analysing business operations and proving strategic direction to various teams. While I have not been on any boards to date, I have held many leadership positions managing and working within dynamic teams. I have the capabilities and character to be a real asset on the Board of Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine.

Member Business: Bellarine Community Health

Chantelle Fava

Skills Based Board Nominee: Business Events

I am the founder and Artistic Director of Fresh Creative Entertainment. For the past 10 years I have lived and breathed business events and public festivals. I have created entertainment concepts for major international conferences and specialised events. I have provided entertainment and performed myself each year for major events such as, Spring Racing Carnival, Moomba Festival, Christmas Activations for the City of Melbourne and Crown Casino & major sporting events such as AFL, T20 world cup and A league soccer. Throughout these activations, I liaise with all members of the event team to deliver a smooth and safe event that is enjoyed by ticket holders.

A recent example of my work was being enlisted to produce all the theatrical entertainment for the exclusive, ‘Virtuoso Ball’ representing Crown Casino. This event is for members of the luxury travel industry, Crown is one of only 2 hotels in Australia that are members. The ball is held at luxury hotels around the world, each year, for all other hotels to attend. It was imperative that I was across all facets of this event to produce something that would achieve Crown Casino’s high standards.

I am a proud Geelong resident. I grew up in Little River before moving to Europe at 19 to start my Musical Theatre career. When I came back to Australia, I returned to Lara to raise my children. (I am now done and dusted at 4 beautiful boys).

I am passionate about Geelong, utilising Geelong businesses. It has been a very weird business journey for me, being flown all over Australia to create amazing events whilst living here in Geelong where I would much rather be spending my time. My aim is to make Geelong the place to be for business events as well as public festivals. Post Covid, Geelong will be the perfect location for smaller conferences, and I would like to help drive that business in the mindset to move to large scale business events in the future.

I love working in a team environment and would relish the opportunity to grow and learn from others. I believe that a beautiful relationship with public events, tourism and business events is what will make our town strong. I have learnt so much from events in Melbourne and around Australia and I would enjoy bringing my experience and unique perspective to the Tourism Greater Geelong Board.

Member Business: Fresh Creative Entertainment

Jo Surkit

I have 25 years’ experience in medium and small business management and are the Owner/operator of Revitalize Lifestyle.  I have had a long-term passion for tourism since I began working in travel and tourism in 1994.  Having travelled to 56 countries, I still love calling the Geelong region my home for everything we have to offer.

I have managed large retail and wholesale travel agencies and have been heavily involved in the organisation of many large travel events for both clients (Melbourne and regional travel expos, tourism famils etc) and industry partners events with travel agencies, airlines, tour operators and wholesalers.

I created and facilitated Health and Wellbeing Expos, conferences and events for organisations such as Commonwealth Bank, Vodafone, Australia Post, Peregrine Adventures, Shell, Department of Education & Training to name a few. 

Most recent example of Business Event Experience
Victoria’s State of Wellness Summit held in Geelong October 2019 and next one scheduled for October 2021.

I created, organised and facilitated Victoria’s first State of Wellness Summit held in Geelong which included 14 speakers, 160 guests, sponsors, 20 exhibitors and 45 prizes.  The role encompassed many components of the event including sponsorship and grant proposals, attracting exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, prizes and guests.  Headed up all areas of event management including venue hire, catering, PR and marketing which included radio, social media, newspapers, database, WOM and networking events.  Grew a subscriber database of 600 from scratch in 3 months and had a highly engaged audience on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Relevant Positions in Business Events

2019- current Event Manager State of Wellness Summit
2002- current Owner Revitalize Lifestyle: Health and Wellness Tours, Retreats and Corporate Events
1999- current Small Business Mentor for Business in Heels Australia
2008-2010 Executive Officer of Geelong Wine Association (GWA)
2008-2010 Geelong’s Toast to the Coast Event Organiser part- time
2008-2011 Assistant Coordinator Surf Coast Tourism part- time
1994-2000 Regional Branch Manager STA Travel

Presenter and Facilitator in relation to TGGB/BEG:
Keynote speaker at TGGB conferences and summits.
Facilitated training for TGGB and BEG members and staff.

Board Committee Experience

  • Adventure Travel Committee as events and marketing member while working at STA Travel
  • Served on several Natural Medicine Committees over past 13 years
  • As Executive officer of GWA served on committees for Geelong Wine Show, Viticulture, Toast to the Coast, Marketing, Finance and General Committees as Secretary.
  • Chair of State of Wellness Committee


STRENGTHS & SKILLS I bring to the board include:

  • Strong Communication & Interpersonal Skills
  • Familiarity and affinity with the Greater Geelong and the Bellarine Region
  • High level of Business Development experience
  • Great at Building Relationships, Collaboration and Stakeholder Engagement
  • Excellent Negotiation skills
  • Strong Project Management and Product Development Skills
  • Highly experienced in Research and Strategy
  • High level of Business Intelligence
  • Presentation Skills: Facilitator and Educator from 1:1 to groups of 300 people
  • Business Promotion & Marketing on all digital and face to face platforms            
  • Maintains Confidentiality
  • High energy, zest
  • Highly Driven


Member Business: Revitalize Lifestyle

Karen Jackson

Skills Based Board Member: Business Events

I have just completed my first term as a TGGB Board Member representing the Business Events Skilled Based Position. Through this, I know I still have much more that I can contribute to the board, our members and our region, therefore I am applying to be re-elected.

Being born, growing up and living in Geelong, I am a fervent community member who is proud to work and drive business into our city and would like to be part of the future success of our amazing region.

The Business Events sector provides a significant contribution to our economy and during these critical times, it is important that we continue to work together to recover and rebuild this sector to new levels. In addition, to provide support and be innovative to drive delegates to our region.

I have always had a strong interest in all aspects of tourism industry and have been very privileged during my sporting career as a National Water Skier to travel the world representing Australia. These experiences enabled me to see what an exciting industry Travel and Tourism is and the impact it can have on the region’s economy. This passion for the industry continued graduating in a Bachelor of Business majoring in Tourism Management and Marketing.

Working at Tourism Victoria, allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the State Tourism Body. I have also worked in Sales, Marketing & Event roles at Victoria University, Melbourne Marriott and now Novotel Geelong. I am currently in the position of Director of Sales & Marketing and before this I was the Events Manager. At different times, I have been appointed Acting General Manager. Through all these roles I have worked very closely with the teams at Business Events Geelong, Business Events Victoria & TGGB, along with other key industry stakeholders and members.

Managing the Sales & Marketing department, I am responsible for driving revenue generation and strategic direction across all areas of the business with the key focus on the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conference, Exhibitions) segment. Managing the Events team and working closely with the Reservations team with respect to the Corporate and the Leisure markets. My experience and dedication to the hotel has been shown by the success of the hotel as the results continue to grow year on year. Which in part ensures Geelong continues to be a destination of choice for AFL, Cycling Australia and many more key events that puts Geelong on the world stage.

Throughout my valued career, I have established strong relationships with clients, stakeholders, and industry partners at a local, state and national level. It is through this that I have represented and advocated on behalf of the local tourism driving tourism and the MICE segment into our region.

With over 20 years’ experience in the Tourism & Hospitality sectors and as a passionate leader within the industry, I’m excited to share my knowledge and experience with our industry members to continue to drive the tourism success of our region.

Member Business: Novotel Geelong

Chris Paterson

Skills Based Board Nominee: Business Events

I have had an extremely varied career as a Media and Communications Manager and Producer working across the fields of Broadcast, Advertising, Events and the Arts. Along with my deep awareness, understanding and involvement in our region, I believe my extensive media and events background offers a potentially untapped angle for the integration of promotional, marketing and commercial opportunities in the region.


My experience has included extensive work Nationally and Internationally as well as in the local Geelong and the Greater Bellarine region. My company has produced extensive and varied coverage showcasing the Geelong and Bellarine Region over the past few years, for both prime time, pay TV and digital platforms. This has included several episodes shot on the Bellarine Peninsula for MasterChef Australia, several episodes of The Amazing Race Australia, including the Grand Finale along the Great Ocean Road, numerous destination stories for the Sign 12 produced Foxtel cooking and travel program Darren Robertson’s Charcoal Kitchen, as well as stories for Network Ten programs, Love to Share and 9am.


Following the sale of our company to Dentsu Aegis, Australia’s largest media and communication company, I held the position of General Manager; Content Creation and Delivery for several years, delivering high profile engagements to some of the country’s largest Event, Media and Sport platforms.

My work in events and broadcast television has included numerous activations and engagements for many of the Regional, State and National tourism bodies and gives me a unique insight to the opportunities available for our region. This has included campaigns ranging from a few thousand dollars utilising social media platforms to hundreds of millions of dollars as part of national television campaigns and broadcast opportunities.

Many of my projects have been “brand funded” concepts specifically activating local marketing initiatives’ and placements as well as destination awareness campaigns.

I have previously held Board positions with the City of Stonnington – Economic Development Arts & Tourism Committee, Melbourne University – Victorian College of the Arts, and Holmesglen TAFE Screen and Media Reference Panel. I have served five years as President of Ocean Grove SLSC, and have been a board member for approximately 20 years. I was Chairman of the new Ocean Grove Surf Beach Complex 5.5-million-dollar Re-Development project, for which I wrote the formal business case and was largely responsible for securing the initial 3.7-million-dollar federal and state government grants.

I have been fortunate to receive an International Emmy Award, three Logie Awards and an AACTA Award, and to be nominated in several other categories.

I grew up and went to school in the region and, following periods in Sydney, Melbourne and various International postings, I currently live in Ocean Grove with my teenage children and wife, where we are all actively involved in several local sporting and community groups. I, along with my two sons, am still a volunteer lifeguard at Ocean Grove SLSC.

Member Business: Sign 12 Media