Whitsunday tourism's 'best of the best' recognised at awards
THE cyclone-ravaged Whitsundays have taken the Queensland Tourism Awards by storm.
Just seven months after Cyclone Debbie left a trail of destruction in the region, Whitsunday tourism operators have proven their resilience with a swag of medals at the industry's Queensland gala night at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
From more than 160 nominations, Whitsunday-based operators took out 14 of the 83 awards on offer on Friday night, just one shy of Brisbane and Tropical North Queensland, which each claimed 15.
Among the standouts for the region was Airlie Beach's Abell Point Marina which was crowned the state's best major tourist attraction, beating a host of high-profile rivals to the title.
The acclaimed Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort won the Steve Irwin award for eco-tourism, while the BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort won the best caravan or holiday park for a third straight year, earning entry to the Queensland Tourism hall of fame.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said operators in the Whitsundays had been rewarded for their resilience in the face of enormous challenges.
"The Queensland tourism industry is tough, it's resilient and that has been wonderfully demonstrated in the Whitsundays,” he said.
"For an industry so battered and so bruised, to rebuild in the way they have is really a great testament to them.”
Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones said a joint state and federal recovery package worth $10 million had helped give the region a tourism boost.
"To have so many winners from the Whitsundays is a testament to the resilience of the region's tourism industry,” she said.
"Cyclone Debbie ravaged the Whitsunday Islands so it's great to see tourism operators bouncing back.”
Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner said it was a wonderful achievement for the award recipients and also the entire Whitsunday tourism industry.
"We are very lucky to have a strong, robust tourism industry in the Whitsundays and when operators like these win awards at state level, it is a sign to the rest of the world just how good our tourism offering is,” Mr Turner said.
"I would like to heartily congratulate the winners and also acknowledge every operator who entered, as the awards are a great opportunity to showcase to the world what the Whitsundays can offer in terms of world class tourism experiences.”
The Queensland Tourism Awards, which are hosted by the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC), cover 30 different categories and recognise the outstanding achievements of operators across the state.
All Gold Award winners from categories 1-25 in the Queensland Awards will now automatically gain entry into the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, due to be held at the new Perth Stadium, in Perth, Western Australia, on Friday, February 23, 2018.
Award-winning Whitsundays operators:
Major Tourist Attraction - Abell Point Marina - Gold
Major Tour and Transport Operator - Ocean Rafting - Gold
Tour and Transport Operator - Red Cat Adventures - Highly Commended
Tour and Transport Operator - Whitsunday Jetski Tours - Bronze
Adventure Tourism - Whitsunday Jetski Tours - Highly Commended
Adventure Tourism - Red Cat Adventures - Silver
Adventure Tourism - Ocean Rafting - Bronze
Tourism Restaurants and Catering - Fish D'Vine - Silver
Caravan and Holiday Parks - BIG4 Adventure Wsy Resort - Gold and Hall of Fame
Unique Accommodation - Whitsunday Escape - Silver
Unique Accommodation - Cumberland Charter Yachts - Gold
Self-contained Accommodation - Pinnacles Resort - Silver
Deluxe Accommodation- Mirage Whitsundays - Bronze
New Tourism Business - Island Jet Boating - Gold