All aboard for annual awards
THINK high end train travel, glamorous elegance, sequined gowns, moustaches and cigarettes on a stick.
This is the suggestion from Whitsundays Marketing and Development Limited (WMDL) Partnerships Manager, Greg France, about the type of attire for this Saturday's Whitsunday Tourism Awards.
Mr France said this year's awards night theme was a celebration of the 61 years of service to our region by Queensland Rail's legendary Sunlander Train and that attendees were encouraged to dress for the event.
"I think [dressing up] adds to the excitement of the event and it's an opportunity, particularly for the ladies of the Whitsundays to express themselves. Think high-end holidays of past eras, think Orient Express and Great Gatsby dresses - all that sort of stuff," he advised.
More people than ever before have nominated for this year's tourism awards with the number of entries sitting at 88 - about double the figure from last year.
Mr France said these 88 entries were competing across 28 categories for the accolade of being the Whitsundays' best.
"It's a recognised great achievement and past winners have gone on to win state and national awards," he said.
Both for those competing and those supporting them and even those who are there simply to enjoy the event, one of its major components is the element of surprise.
Mr France said the whole awards process had been ongoing since April when nominations opened and written submissions started to flood in. He said the various businesses and products were then assessed by an independent panel of judges.
"And none of them are from the Whitsunday region so that takes away any nepotism or favouritism - and they're different every year," he said.
Mr France said once the judges had scored the entrants, points were calculated and "I'm the only one who knows the winner".
"I get lots of phone calls saying, 'do I need to write a speech yet'," he quipped.
All is finally revealed on the industry's night of nights, which is suitably charged with anticipation and suspense.
This year's magic will all unfold at the Proserpine Entertainment Centre, which turned 30 this year and has never hosted the event before.
Free buses will be running from Jubilee Pocket to the Entertainment Centre and back.
Only a limited number of tickets are still available at a cost of $140 for members and $150 for non-members. The ticket price includes a three-course meal and beer, wine and bubbles. Bookings can be made online at http://www.whitsundaytickets.com.au.
What: 2014 Whitsunday Tourism Awards
Where: Proserpine Entertainment Centre
When: Saturday, October 18
Cost: $140 members, $150 non-members
Includes: Three-course meal, beer, wine and bubbles
To book: http://www.whitsundaytickets.com.au