Best in tourism on show
THE region's top operators, businesses and individuals shone at the 2006 Whitsunday Tourism Awards at Hamilton Island on Saturday evening.
Special guest presenters Mark Barretta from Channel 7 Sunrise and SeaFM's Ange Julian joined 300 guests, Whitsunday Shire Council Mayor Mario Demartini and Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind to celebrate excellence in the Whitsunday tourism industry.
The glitz and glamour of the Masquerade Ball set the scene for the accolades bestowed on more than 30 local businesses.
Tourism Whitsundays general manager Matthew Williams said he was impressed with the calibre of submissions.
"This year we have had a record number of submissions that covered 21 categories," he said.
"As we strive to encourage best practice in the industry, events like this can only help to strengthen the Whitsundays position as one of the top destinations for intrastate, interstate and international visitors," Mr Williams said.
Resort Corp Director of Marketing Graham Staerk, who presented the awards, said he was impressed with the event.
"The night was incredible, professionally organised and a fantastic way to meet the Whitsunday business community in a social environment," he said.
This year Tourism Whitsunday introduced two new categories, 4-5 Star Apartment Accommodation and Charity and Non Profit Organisation, which were well-received.
Seven previous category favourites were admitted into the Hall of Fame for winning their respective category three years running.
These were Tallship Adventures for Ecotourism, Capers Bar & Grill, Airlie Beach Hotel for Restaurants & Catering, Long Island Resort, Ocean Hotels for Standard Accommodation, Airlie Waterfront Bed & Breakfast for Hosted Accommodation, Hamilton Island for Meetings & Business Tourism, PRD Nationwide Whitsunday for Significant Business - non tourism, and Signature Image for Small Business - non tourism.
The Judges choice award for Most Outstanding Contribution by an individual was awarded to Ashley Kerr, owner and managing director of Barefoot Cruises Australia.