Businesses from the the Far South Coast were recognised at a glittering night at the gala presentation evening of the South Coast Tourism Awards at the Historical Aviation Restoration Society Museum Illawarra Airport Albion Park on Wednesday, October 26.
The evening was held in spectacular surroundings with guest seated under and around an amazing array of historic aircraft including the constellation ‘Connie’.
It was a very special night for several local businesses but in particular for Peter and Debbie Gardiner who own the Best Western Fairway Motor Inn. The business was listed as a finalist in the executive accommodation category but much to Mr and Mrs Gardiner’s delight, they walked away with a Hall of Fame award. The Fairway has been a serial winner at the awards demonstrating a continual high standard of accommodation.
Mrs Gardiner said they were so proud to receive the Hall of Fame win and thanked all their customers and staff.
Coastlife Adventures was awarded gold in the adventure tourism category with Sapphire Waters Motor Inn collecting gold in the backpacker accommodation category.
Sapphire Waters has been a gold and silver winner alternately over the past five years, reflecting the high standard of accommodation the motor inn provides in their category.
Peta Taylor, owner of Sapphire Waters was not at the award ceremony but was messaged by Mrs Gardiner on Wednesday evening with the good news.
“We were very happy when we heard. A lot of people recognise the awards and what it means and you get appreciated for the effort,” she said.
Manager at the Merimbula Visitor Information Centre, Nat Kirby was also delighted to receive a silver award in the visitor information services category saying it was great to receive the award against such strong and financially well resourced centre.
Gordon Beattie, chairman of the judges panel,deputy chair of Sapphire Coast Tourism and board member of South Coast Tourism, said that everyone was surprised and pleased by the number of awards won by Sapphire Coast businesses.
Of 25 award categories Sapphire Coast businesses took home awards in 17 with 11 golds, three silver, two bronze and one Hall of Fame award.
“The number of awards are a credit to the energy and enthusiasm of all operators in the industry and it is wonderful that they have been recognised and have taken out so many awards,” Mr Beattie said.
“It’s wonderful how the industry has matured with their professionalism. The sheer commitment, energy and enthusiasm with which those operators do their job is totally infectious,” he added.
Eden businesses did extremely well too. Kiah Wilderness Tours, the Eden Killer Whale Museum and Sprout Cafe all came out on the top of their categories claiming the highly sought after gold awards for Ecotourism, Heritage and/or Cultural Tourism and Tourism Cafes.
Kiah Wilderness Tours owner and operator Jenny Robb said she was over the moon to have also received two bronze awards.
“I knew that I had a good chance in the Ecotourism category but I was still very surprise and happy to have been given the gold and two bronze,” Ms Robb said.
“Eden really cleaned up at the awards and so did the entire Sapphire Coast. It just goes to show that our local businesses are continuing to lift their game.”
Karen Lott from Sprout Eden echoed Ms Robb’s statement adding “it was great to see Eden win in such diverse categories.”
“These awards go from Eden all the way up to Wollongong and there is some really stiff competition so we were just thrilled to have won.
“I am absolutely delighted and just so proud of my whole team because it really is the whole team that makes Sprout such a welcoming place for locals and visitors.”
Other gold winners from the Sapphire Coast include Cobargo Folk Festival for Event or Festival; Tathra Beachside for Marketing and Promotion; On the Perch for New Tourism Product; Sapphire Waters Motor Inn for Backpacker Accommodation; Tathra Beach House for Self-Contained Accommodation and Coastlife Adventures for Adventure Tourism.
Around 240 people from Eden to Shellharbour turned out to celebrate the thriving South Coast tourism industry.
As the premier Tourism Event on the South Coast the gala award night is a celebration and highlights the hard work that has been done by the thousands of tourism operators and businesses from Shellharbour to Eden.
Catherine Shields, chair of the South Coast Regional Tourism Organisation said “The standard of entry was high and demonstrated the diversity, depth and breadth of the tourism industry. All finalists are to be congratulated. The Judges reported how impressed they were with all business visited and operators interviewed. The standard of operations made it a very difficult task selecting winners and in some instances it was reported there was as little as half a point difference between finalists and in one category two properties could not be separated’
Mr Beattie added: “On behalf of my panel of Judges I would like to congratulate all tourism businesses who have entered these Awards and especially all who have made it through to become finalists.
“The objective of the tourism awards is to recognise those businesses who strive to offer the best possible product and the best possible service to the Visitors to the South Coast.”
The judging process is vigorous and fair. All entries are judged on their merits and all site visits are conducted to a standard that has been applied to all equally. All judges are volunteers and spend many weeks reading submissions and visiting finalists.
In 2013-14, the tourism industry contributed an estimated $2.0 billion to the South Coast regional economy (8.3% of South Coast’s gross regional product) and directly employed approximately 13,600 people (6.7% of South Coast’s regional employment). The majority (54%) of visitor consumption in the South Coast was contributed to intrastate overnight visitors ($1.5 billion). Source: Deloitte Access Economics
Tourist Attractions: Gondwana Coast Fossil Walk, Ulladulla
Event or Festival: Cobargo Folk Festival
Tour and/or Transport Operators: Dolphin Watch Cruises, Huskisson
Ecotourism: Kiah Wilderness Tours, Sapphire Coast
Heritage and/or Cultural Tourism: Eden Killer Whale Museum
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism: Galamban Extraordinary Aboriginal Experiences (Wreck Bay)
General Tourism Service or Product: State Forests of the South Coast, Batemans Bay
Marketing and Promotion: Tathra Beachside
New Tourism Product: On the Perch, Tathra
Visitor Information Services: Shellharbour Visitor Information Services
Tourism Cafes: Sprout Eden
Tourism Restaurants: Cupitt’s Kitchen
Regional Winery, Brewery or Pub: Cupitt’s Winery
Tourist and Caravan Parks: Big4 Bungalow Park at Burrill Lake
Backpacker Accommodation: Sapphire Waters Motor Inn, Merimbula
Hosted Accommodation: Joint winners – Batemans Bay Manor and Escape 778, Calderwood
Self-Contained Accommodation: Tathra Beach House
Executive Accommodation: Bannisters by the Sea, Mollymook
Unique Accommodation: The Escape Luxury Camping, Shallow Crossing
Holiday Rental Services: South Coast Holidays, Gerringong
Registered Clubs: Milton Ulladulla Ex Servos Club
Meetings, Functions and Business Tourism: The Sebel Harbourside, Kiama
Tourism Retailing: Kangaroo Valley Fudge
Wedding Planners/Venues: Ravensthorpe, Albion Park
Adventure Tourism: Coastlife Adventures, Kalaru, Sapphire Coast
Outstanding Industry Achievement Awards:
Family Friendly Award: South Coast Nannies, Nowra
Tourism Small Business Operator: Discover Jervis Bay, Huskisson
The following two categories Sustainability and Inclusive Tourism are awarded as underlying principles imbedded in the South Coast Tourism Awards:
Sustainable Tourism: Warilla Bowls & Recreation Club
Inclusive Tourism: Edgewater Gardens, Caseys Beach, Batemans Bay
Young Achiever in Tourism:
Brent Strong: Apprentice Chef Silos Restaurant Jaspers Brush
Outstanding Contribution to South Coast Tourism by an Individual:
Jointly awarded to: Jackie Kay and Chris Mitchell, Nowra for their contribution, dedication and commitment to Inclusive Tourism on the South Coast.
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