Following the departure of Annaliese Battista in August, Destination Gold Coast (DGC) has announced the appointment of a new CEO: Ms Patricia O’Callaghan.

DGC chairman Paul Donovan said the board of directors chose Ms O’Callaghan after an extensive and extremely competitive selection process.

“Ms O’Callaghan will build on the current strong position of DGC and the City of Gold Coast, through a focused approach on our future strategies and plans,” he said.

“Key factors in the appointment of Ms O’Callaghan were her vision for the city, proven deliverables in facilitating the concept to completion of major infrastructure projects, and strong leadership skills.

“Patricia has been the CEO of Townsville Enterprise over the past six years, where she has been instrumental in attracting major investment to the region and has done an outstanding job in achieving economic growth for her hometown.”

Ms O’Callaghan said she is excited about taking on the leadership role at Destination Gold Coast and was eager to work with stakeholders to rebuild the visitor economy.

“Whilst we have many challenges ahead, there are also opportunities that can help us come out of this crisis even stronger than before,” she said.

“The Gold Coast is Australia’s leading tourism destination and we are uniquely placed to be the number one choice for local and Australian visitors, and it is important we maximise this strength. Welcoming as many Australians as possible to the Gold Coast now and into the immediate future is critical.

“We will also ensure there is a sharp focus on the continued development of experiences and infrastructure investment to optimise the benefits for our city’s businesses, residents, workers and other key stakeholders.

“I am aware of the immediate challenges and support the current plans of monitoring, reassessment and agility required to market the Gold Coast.

“I will be proud to call the Gold Coast my home and look forward to working collaboratively with our members, the City of Gold Coast, Queensland and Federal Governments, and our many partners, to rebuild and grow our wonderful city.”

The process to appoint a new CEO commenced four months ago, with more than 300 applicants vying for Gold Coast’s top tourism job.

Mr Donovan said the positioning of the Gold Coast in recent years through strong branding and heightened market awareness of the destination and its experiences, will continue to be key messages needed to increase visitation and economic outcomes.

“We were able to attract senior executives from across Australia and overseas for the position. The high calibre applicants reflect the importance of the role and our reputation as a world class city,” he said.

“Ms O’Callaghan will complement our existing team with her proven abilities in the areas of advocacy and stakeholder engagement, to restore and grow the economic impact of visitors to the Gold Coast.”

Through a staged approach approved by DGC’s board, a diverse panel was selected to assist with interviews and the identification of a preferred CEO candidate. The panel members included were Mr Paul Donovan, Ms Adrienne Readings, Mr Paul Steer, Mr Luke Wallace and Mr Scott Horton.

Ms O’Callaghan commences her duties in early February 2021.