Australian Tourism Minister, Senator Richard Colbeck, has welcomed the winners of the 2015 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, held in Melbourne last Friday night (Feb 5).
“In celebration of a record-breaking year for our tourism industry, I am pleased to congratulate the 26 winners who have been honoured at the industry’s premier awards event, the Australian Tourism Awards,” he said.
“Visitors flocked to Australia in record numbers in 2015 and without these industry award winners, Australia couldn’t come close to being the highly desirable and memorable destination it is for visitors.
“I’d like to thank all winners and finalists for their dedication to producing unforgettable tourism experiences set against what truly is the world’s best backdrop—Australia.
“Our industry is booming – we welcomed a record 1 million visitors from China this last year and spending also reached a new high of $34.8 billion, an increase of 13 per cent which is the strongest growth seen since 2001.
“I acknowledge the valuable contribution these winners make in helping Australia meet its Tourism 2020 goal of surpassing $115 billion in overnight visitor expenditure by 2020.
“We are on track to meet this goal with $88.8 billion in overnight visitor expenditure for the 2014-15 financial year.
“Tourism Australia’s new aquatic and coastal campaign, which was launched on Australia Day eve in New York, will further support the 2020 goal.
“Natural experiences have always been an important part of selling Australia but in this campaign they are the main focus.
“Australia’s biggest competitive strength is its natural beauty and regional destinations feature prominently which is great news for our rural and regional communities.
“I strongly encourage all tourism operators to get involved and work with Tourism Australia to make the most of this new campaign platform.
“The Australian Tourism Awards celebrate excellence and the wonderful achievements of tourism operators across every state and territory in Australia.
“The winners and finalists came from categories including major tourist attractions, festivals and events, business event tourism, destination marketing, caravan and holiday parks and luxury accommodation,” he said.
Victoria dominated the honour roll this year with 10 gold awards; Geoff McGeary OAM, founder of APT, was named Australian Tourism Legend for outstanding services to tourism and Sovereign Hill in Victoria won the Major Tourist Attractions.
“We congratulate the outstanding tourism operators from around Australia who have won,” said Daniel Gschwind, Chair of the Australian Tourism Awards.
“We honour their achievement as the finest of Australia’s tourism industry.”
Ayers Rock Resort won the Qantas Australian Tourism Award for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism for the second year in a row and Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Williams, said he was thrilled with the result.
“We are delighted that our ongoing commitment to authentic Indigenous guest experiences and Indigenous employment has been recognised once again at the highest level in Australia,” he said.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism Award highlights tourism operations that demonstrate authenticity and integrity in fostering a greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history and traditions.
“This accolade is a great achievement and an endorsement of our team’s dedication to provide exemplary Indigenous experiences for our guests,” Williams said.
Tourism Australia Managing Director, John O’Sullivan, said Ayers Rock Resort fully deserved industry recognition for the work it had done this year and over a longer period in championing Indigenous tourism.
“A key element within our international marketing activities is increasing awareness, interest and participation in Indigenous tourism,” he said.
“Ayers Rock Resort continues to invest heavily in delivering exactly the sort of authentic Indigenous experiences that today’s international travellers are seeking out.
“What’s really pleasing is that the great work going on behind the scenes, in terms of training and employment, is translating into increased bookings and satisfied visitors,” O’Sullivan said.
WINNERS IN THE ACCOMMODATION CATEGORIES:
-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism: Voyages Ayers Rock Resort, NT
-Business Event Venue: The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel, TAS
-Hosted Accommodation: Curringa Farm Tours and Accommodation, TAS
-Unique Accommodation: Taronga Western Plains Zoo, NSW
-Self Contained Accommodation: Avalon Coastal Retreat, TAS
-Standard Accommodation: Moama on Murray Resort, NSW
-Deluxe Accommodation: The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel, TAS
-Luxury Accommodation: Drift House, VIC
-Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism: The Observatory Port Macquarie, NSW