Tourism’s Champion leaves us

  • Posted by Patrick Bollen
  • October 20, 2011 1:06 PM AEDT
  • 1 comment

Wednesday, 19 October 2011 

We may never again see the likes of an entrepreneur like Keith Williams.

He was a man before his time - a man of great vision and energy. A man who saw it all long before anyone else could even imagine it. And, today at the age of 82, Keith died. 

Keith Williams left us for the life ever after, early this morning Eastern Daylight Saving Time. I was one of the lucky ones who had the great pleasure of knowing him. Williams was a man driven. A man of great passion. 

“A remarkable entrepreneur and family man, said his son Ben not long after his father’s passing. “His contribution to Australian tourism is probably without peer,” Ben Williams added. 

In 1971 William’s opened Sea World on the Gold Coast. As a water skier he became the Australian water ski champion in 1959. A former postman he started from nothing and risked everything to achieve his goals. 

From Sea World, William’s built what is today probably Australia’s best holiday destination, Hamilton Island in the Whitsunday Islands. After Hamilton Island, Williams developed the controversial Port Hinchinbrook Resort near Cardwell south of Cairns. He often did it tough battling environmentalists and bureacrats opposed to his tourism projects. The acting Queensland Premier Andrew Fraser said Williams was a huge force in Queensland business. 

Keith Williams passed away at 0440 hours this morning. He had been in ill health after suffering a stroke in 2008. His wife of 45 years, Thea, and children, Ben and Rebecca were at his bedside. 

I was fortunate to spend an afternoon with Keith Williams and his friends aboard the beautiful Fleming motor yacht, Redmond Ross during the recent Hamilton Island Race Week just six weeks ago. We laughed and remembered some wonderful times. He looked well then, smiling and full of energy and was thrilled to be once again a part of his greatest creation, Hamilton Island. 

He was an inspiration to many. was responsible for huge employment in the tourism industry and the beginnings of many careers in the business. 

Williams was a larger than life character who enjoyed an insatiable zest for life. Keith Williams will be sadly missed and remembered fondly. 

He has left an indelible mark on Queensland and Australia.

Patrick "Tenpin" Bollen



1 comment
  • Richard Neilan
    Richard Neilan

    A real tourism champion, nice tribute Patrick...

    October 20, 2011