Spotlight on best of tourism
News source: The Sunday Mail, February 26, 2006
Last week the Australian tourism industry celebrated in style and rewarded excellence within its ranks
On Friday Night over 1000 members of the Australian tourist industry gathered on the Gold Coast to celebrate and congratulate the winners of the Australian Tourism Awards. In categories ranging from Major Tourist Attraction to New Tourism Development, 27 awards were handed out to the best of the best.
According to Tourism Australia Director Andrew McEvoy (who was also chair and co-judge for the awards), the idea behind the Awards is to honour and “celebrate those people who are improving their business.
“It's not just about what the consumer perceives as great customer service,” he says, “But it's also about the fundamentals behind it, the things that make sure the business stays open – is it profitable and does it sustain itself over a long period of time?”
And the answer to both questions in relation to the winners on the night was a resounding, ‘Yes'.
Whether it is a huge operation such as Victoria 's Sovereign Hill (Major Tourist Attractions) that has been improving and reinventing itself successfully for over 30 years, or the Henry Jones Art Hotel (New Tourism Development) which saw a gap in the Tasmanian market and opened in June 2004, the winners all displayed both passion and acumen in equal measure.
Moving into the new millennium, the Awards have gone from strength to strength. Their growth mirrors the growth in tourism since the mid-80s when Paul Hogan encouraged the US to toss a shrimp on the Barbie.
“They started off as small state-based cocktail receptions,” says McEvoy of the Awards, “Now it's a massive event that's held in every state and territory leading to this 1000-person dinner.”
And one of those celebrating on the night was Steve Irwin, who picked up a special award for his services to inbound tourism.
“Particularly in the USA , he's very well known and he's done a terrific job for us,” says McEvoy. “He personally gets very involved in the Australia Week we do in LA called G'Day LA and to the Americans – as Hogan did years ago – he epitomises that great knockabout Australian guy that they would love to spend some time with. He's been a great ambassador and underneath his 'Strewth!' and ‘Crikey!' outlook he's actually an incredible environmentalist. That's the thing we love about Steve Irwin.”