AFTER another ground-breaking year for Queensland tourism operators, the Queensland Tourism Industry Council’s (QTIC’s) Queensland Tourism Awards were back ins tyle.
The Whitsundays scooped up an impressive eight accolades.
The Whitsundays recorded phenomenal results for the tourism industry in the last financial year, achieving a domestic spend of $1.3bn, which is a 29.3 per cent increase, on average, over the past three years.
As of June 2023, the region also welcomed 765,000 domestic visitors, which equated to an 11.7 per cent increase, on average, over a three-year period.
QTIC CEO Brett Fraser said the region should be proud of its accomplishments and contributions to the Queensland tourism industry, in the last 12 months.
“Following tonight’s impressive wins, it is evident why the Whitsundays region has played such a monumental role in driving world-class visitor experiences in the tourism industry this year,” Mr Fraser said.
“A massive congratulations to all the category winners, and winners from the Whitsundays region. They’ve broken some records this year, which is an amazing achievement.
“The Whitsundays is an incredible destination, in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, and I’m sure the region is very excited to welcome many more visitors in the years to come.”
Of these winners, BIG 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort received the Gold award for Caravan and Holiday Park, as well as the first ever Gold award for the newly introduced ‘Excellence in Accessible Tourism’ category.
This follows Queensland celebrating its first ever ‘Year of Accessible Tourism’, with Mr Fraser acknowledging the importance of accessible tourism experiences for people of all abilities.
“The ‘Year of Accessible Tourism’ shines a spotlight on the importance of accessible tourism and creating opportunities for Queensland tourism businesses,” he said.
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to participate in a tourism experience with choice and with confidence.
“It’s wonderful that Big 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort can provide this experience and is paving the way for other businesses to follow their example.”
The Bowen Visitor Information Centre (VIC) also won bronze in its category, while smashing a whopping three records in the past year.
Exactly 47,812 people stepped foot into the Bowen VIC, exceeding pre-pandemic visitor levels, with the highest ever recorded visitor level being 42,945 people, previously.
The Bowen VIC also broke their record for the most visitors in one day, on June 28, with 512 people greeted, breaking the September 2022 record of 439 visitors.
Other Whitsunday winners included:
• Magnums Unique Accommodation Airlie Beach received Gold for 3-3.5 Star Accommodation
• Ocean Rafting received Gold for Adventure Tourism
• Ocean Rafting received Gold for Major Tour & Transport Operator
• Michael L. Hackett received Gold for Marie Watson-Blake Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution by an Individual’
• Pinnacles, Airlie Beach, received Gold for Self-Contained Accommodation
• Whitsunday Coast Airport received Gold for Tourism Retail, Hire and Services.
The awards ceremony was held in Cairns, North Queensland, for the first time since 1997.
There were 31 award categories including attractions, events, tour and transport operators, accommodation, restaurants, culture and marketing.
Across the 31 categories, 78 operators were awarded including 31 Gold, 26 Silver and 20 Bronze awards.
Select category winners will gain automatic entry into the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, which will be held in the Northern Territory, on Friday, March 15, 2024.