Tourism operators bounce back from natural disasters
TOURISM operators in regional Queensland have cleaned up at the state's prestigious industry awards, displaying a successful and hard earned come back from a year of natural disaster recovery.
More than 200 tourism operators were in the running for 30 categories at this year's Queensland Tourism Awards, which were presented in Brisbane on Friday night.
Among the biggest award winners was the Sunshine Coast's Australia Zoo which won the major tourism attraction category.
The Warwick Visitor Information Centre received a major award recognising the volunteer group's outstanding contribution to tourism.
Tourism Whitsunday's Danielle Krista took home the Young Achievers Award for her duly noted contribution to the tourism industry.
The overall winner was the Whitsunday's region, home to eight award recipients.
The highly regarded Audi Hamilton Island Race Week took home the award for a major event and Airlie Beach's Wings Diving Adventures received the Steve Irwin Award for Eco Tourism, beating the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort.
Also based in Airlie Beach, Ocean Rafting took out two categories for the best in adventure tourism and tour or transport operator.
Sunshine Coast event manager Garth Prowd OAM was recognised for his individual outstanding contribution to tourism.
Mr Prowd is the founder of USM Events, responsible for the Noosa Triathlon and Noosa Jazz Festival.
Destinations further afield did not go unnoticed either.
The interactive Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich took out the tourist attraction category while the boutique Spicers Hidden Vale retreat in Grandchester, near Toowoomba, won the deluxe accommodation award.
The quaint cottages and lush surroundings at the Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat in the Sunshine Coast hinterland earned the accommodation facility the award for hosted accommodation.
The Bundaberg Distilling Company Bondstore secured two finalist spots in two award categories - attractions and wineries, distilleries and breweries.
The feeling of success and pride at the awards followed a turbulent year for some operators, Queensland Industry Tourism Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind explained.
"I was inspired by how many businesses entered the awards this year, and I believe it represents the spirit and resilience that embodies the tourism industry in Queensland," Mr Gschwind said.
"Some of the entrants lost a full year of income as a result of the natural disasters in 2011, but have bounced back and come back even stronger and more passionate than before."
Queensland Tourism Awards 2012 Winners
- Major Tourist Attractions - Australia Zoo
- Tourist Attractions - The Workshops Rail Museum
- Major Festivals and Events - Audi Hamilton Island Race Week
- Festivals and Events - Xstrata Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo
- The Steve Irwin Award for Ecotourism - Wings Diving Adventures
- Heritage and Cultural Tourism - Kinnon & Co.
- Indigenous Tourism - Mungalla Aboriginal Tours
- Visitor Information and ServicesNoosa Visitor Information Centre
- Business Tourism - Hamilton Island Conferences
- Major Tour and/or Transport Operators - Quicksilver Group
- Tour and/or Transport Operators - Ocean Rafting
- Adventure Tourism - Ocean Rafting
- The Richard Power Award for Tourism MarketingOutback Queensland Tourism Association - Outback Queensland Travellers' Guide 2012
- Tourism Education and TrainingAustralian Tourism Data Warehouse - Tourism e-kit
- Tourism Restaurants and Catering Services - The Walnut Restaurant & Lounge Bar - Royal on the Park Hotel
- Tourism Wineries, Distilleries and Breweries - Ocean View Estates Winery & Restaurant
- Tourist and Caravan Parks - BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort
- Backpacker Accommodation - Brisbane City YHA
- Hosted Accommodation - Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat
- Unique Accomodation - Mt. Quincan Crater Retreat
- Standard Accommodation - Hamilton Island Palm Bungalows
- Deluxe Accommodation - Spicers Hidden Vale
- Luxury Accommodation - Emporium Hotel
- New Tourism Development - SkyPoint Climb
- Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism - Reef HQ Aquarium
- Health and Wellbeing TourismGwinganna Lifestyle Retreat
- Local Government Award for Tourism - Redland City Council
- Outstanding Contribution by a Volunteer or Volunteer Group - Warwick Visitor Information Centre Volunteers
- Young Achievers Award - Danielle Krista
- The Marie Watson-Blake Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual - Garth Prowd