GONG FOR IRWIN, BUT GOLD RUSHES TOWARDS VICTORIA
News source: The Courier-Mail, Saturday 25 February 2006
By Natalie Gregg, Tourism Reporter
CROCODILE Hunter Steve Irwin's contribution to the tourism industry was honoured, and six other Queensland attractions took home major awards at the National Tourism Awards last night.
But Dreamworld, a finalist in the Major Tourist Attraction category, missed out on the top gong, which was instead won by Victoria 's Sovereign Hill, a recreated village in Ballarat's gold rush.
Queensland businesses from Cairns to the Gold Coast were recognised for their outstanding contribution to the industry at a ceremony at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Queensland Tourism Minister Margaret Keech said the state again proved the quality of its tourism product and operators by continuing its awards night run of success in recent years.
“Many of tonight's honours went to Queensland multi-award winners, including Kingfisher Bay Resort and Village, and Hahn Premium Hamilton Island Race Week,” Mrs Keech said.
“Without exception these operators deliver consistently high-quality product and services to their customers.
“I was thrilled to see each of them, for the second consecutive year, take out the top award in their categories.”
Federal Tourism Minister Fran Bailey said champions of the Australian tourism industry, from regional operators to those in the cities, were recognised in last night's awards.
“I am especially pleased that Steve Irwin received a special award for Services to Inbound Tourism,” Ms Bailey said.
“Steve is one of our great tourism ambassadors, absolutely loved by Americans with his unbounded enthusiasm and humour.
“It is a small recognition of the substantial contribution he has made to our tourism industry.”
Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said the results showed Queensland continued to deliver the goods as a favourite Australian holiday destination.
“Tourism has faced many challenges in recent times and to have so many businesses across the state recognised at the national level clearly demonstrates the strength of the industry and the outstanding ability of the operators,” he said.
More than 850 industry representatives attended the event and were entertained with Torres Strait singer Christine Anu and country music icon Lee Kernaghan.