BIG WINNER: Jordan Wheeler Assistant Manager at Capricorn Caves has been recognised among the state’s best.
BIG WINNER: Jordan Wheeler Assistant Manager at Capricorn Caves has been recognised among the state’s best.

CQ tourism operator given career boost

It STARTED out as it does for many – a casual holiday job to make some cash.

But for Jordan Wheeler, the decision to take a causal job at The Capricorn Caves resulted in a live-altering career change.

Eight years ago, the teaching student decided he would put down the textbooks and pick up the helmets and ropes.

“It was just a job; I was studying to be a schoolteacher at uni – deferred six months to do something cool – and now it’s a career,” he said.

“There is just so many opportunities in tourism.”

He is now the assistant manager and education co-ordinator for the entire business.

His passion and enthusiasm for the tourism industry hasn’t gone unnoticed. Earlier this week, Jordan was named among 40 young tourism operators to join the annual Queensland Tourism Industry Council’s mentoring Program. This allows emerging talent to be paired with esteemed industry professionals to exchange industry knowledge.

Jordan is paired with Tony Martin, the CEO of the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach, and the founder of the Story Bridge climb in Brisbane.

Over the next six months the pair will work together in a series of visits and Skype calls.

“It’s just trying to identify young people in the industry who want to be here for the future of the industry,” Jordan said.

“I’m not going in with certain expectations, I want to keep an open mind about different ideas around business management and tourist experience development,”

He hoped to build his knowledge off the back of those who’d paved the way in the tourism industry.

“Hopefully I can build my own career path from the advice of so many people who have already done it,” he said.

Jordan said he felt the work of tourism operators often went unnoticed.

“Tour guiding is always seen as a job for young people who aren’t doing much,” he said.

“But it’s the second biggest export industry in Australia and it’s critical for the local economy.” During his time at The Caves, he has noticed an increase in international visitors targeting the region for their holidays.

“In the past it was ‘let’s go to Australia for the Opera House, or Uluru’ but today the Southern Great Barrier Reef has people coming,” he said.

“We’ve seen people coming from overseas, spending their entire holiday between Bungaberg and Rockhampton.

“There are people now looking to regional centres to get that more authentic ­Australian experience,” he said.

Jordan’s job has also consumed much of his extra-curricular having developed a keen interest in geology and palaeontology while travelling the country and the world to experience other caves.



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