Johnathan Thurston has joined the board of Tourism and Events Queensland. Picture: Adam Head
Johnathan Thurston has joined the board of Tourism and Events Queensland. Picture: Adam Head

JT’s first big career move after footy

RUGBY league superstar Johnathan Thurston is set to kick goals for Queensland long after his retirement, taking up an appointment to a powerful government board that will oversee tourism and major events.

The North Queensland Cowboys and Maroons legend, who will retire from football at the end of this season, has joined the board of Tourism and Events Queensland under sweeping changes announced by the State Government.

Johnathan Thurston has joined the board of Tourism and Events Queensland. Picture: Adam Head
Johnathan Thurston has joined the board of Tourism and Events Queensland. Picture: Adam Head

News Queensland can reveal Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Tourism Minister Kate Jones will today unveil the coup, in which Thurston will drive new strategies to put the state on the map globally.

Thurston, who last month topped The Courier-Mail's Power 100 list of Queensland's most influential people, has been praised for his work in indigenous communities and is a shareholder in regional airline operator Collings Aviation.

"Throughout my professional career, I've travelled enough to know that our tourism offering and lifestyle is something to be celebrated," Thurston said.

"Living in regional Queensland, I also know and understand how important events are to our communities, not only attracting visitors but also providing a great source of pride.

"As a proud Queenslander, I am really looking forward to working with the Tourism and Events Queensland board to showcase what's great about our state to a national and international audience."

Ms Palaszczuk said Thurston was the ideal candidate to put Queensland in a position to capitalise on the $25 billion tourism industry which supports more than 200,000 jobs.

"I am looking forward to hearing his advice and insights as to how we can grow an industry that is vital to regional communities," she said.

"Combined, these appointments have strong skills in strategic marketing, indigenous business and culture, major sporting and cultural events, aviation, risk and audit, and the knowledge of the Asian market."

Ms Jones said Thurston's appointment would drive interest in the industry and put the state in a stronger position to attract world-class events.

"Major events help to drive visitors to our state and are an important part of our strategy to create more tourism jobs," she said. "JT has an intimate knowledge of major events and will help to guide our strategy in regional Queensland."

Thurston will be joined by Black Drum Productions founder Nancy Bamaga, Queensland Airports chief executive Chris Mills, major events expert Brenda LaPorte and Brisbane Lions director Sarah Kelly as new board members.