Industry leader Greg Erwin has recently taken the helm as General Manager of prominent Great Barrier Reef tour operator Sunlover Reef Cruises and its heritage listed, 100 room CBD property, Hides Hotel Cairns.
Greg brings with him 20 years’ tourism and hospitality industry experience and a track record of savvy strategic development of a number of key visitor, cultural and educational attractions, resulting in industry accolades and the creation of significant employment opportunities for Tropical North Queensland.
Greg’s career began with international hotel group Accor, where he spent 15 years in managerial roles in New South Wales before being lured by the ‘sun, water and wind’ of Cairns and a position as General Manager of the Novotel Oasis Resort to redefine the property to meet a changing tourist market.
Greg has led the strategy and transformation of two lynchpin visitor attractions in Tropical North Queensland. Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia recruited Greg as General Manager to open the Mossman Gorge Centre,which in its first 12 months of operation welcomed a staggering 250,000 visitors. Then, as CEO of Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park he oversaw the final stages of a $13 million redevelopment and successfully re-positioned the iconic attraction as an immersive experience of Indigenous Australia’s history and culture.
In his role at Sunlover Cruises and Hides Hotel, Greg plans to implement his collaborative approach to leadership, utilising the strengths of his team to create immersive attractions that staff and the region can be proud of. “It is our team that work incredibly hard every day to provide our guests with an outstanding experience on the Great Barrier Reef that is most important,” he says. “We will harness that passion and expertise to continue to develop innovative experiences and broaden our markets, while also playing an active part in the preservation and protection of this precious environment.”
With an international reputation as a leading Great Barrier Reef experience provider, Sunlover’s core mission is simple - to provide fun, safe and educational activities so that all ages and abilities can experience the magic of the reef.“Sunlover is 100% Australian owned, has all of its operations and crew based in Cairns, actively supports local suppliers and wherever possible sources local ingredients,” says Greg. “We are committed to elevating the standard and breadth of our tourism experiences through continual investment into its people, products and assets. All of which are vitally important not just to me and the business, but the whole region.”
Greg’s arrival at the company comes at a pivotal time for both brands. Iconic central Cairns landmark Hides Hotel,recently completed renovations to 70 of its 100 rooms and restoration of the grand second story wraparound balcony, while one of Sunlover’s catamarans has returned to the waters after extensive refurbishment, with a second vessel due to undergo the same in 2020. In addition, earlier this year the Queensland Government announced it had partnered with Sunlover by providing matched funding to expand and enhance the marine tourism infrastructure at their Arlington Reef Marine Base with the addition of two theme park waterslides.
This follows Sunlover introducing the first waterslide on the Great Barrier Reef (the ‘Sunlover Sunslide’) to their Moore Reef Marine Base in 2017, which was an immediate hit luring visitors from around the world.
After receiving an extensive refurbishment in 2017, the current Marine Base at Arlington was launched the following year as the first dedicated charter events venue on the Great Barrier Reef, leading to worldwide media coverage and tourism industry interest. “It is anticipated that the addition of two Sunlover Sunslides at Arlington Reef in 2020 will assist in drawing more visitors to the region, as well as providing local jobs during the construction and ongoing operations,” says Greg.