DESTINATION Gippsland and a new South Gippsland business, Wilsons Promontory Cruises, have both taken out gold awards at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards at the Sunshine Coast Convention Centre on Friday, March 18.
They were two of the 11 awards taken out by Victoria.
Acting Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Mary Anne Thomas has applauded their success while commending the state’s tourism operators generally on their resilience and commitment as the sector continues its bounce back from the challenges of the global pandemic.
“Victorians are back enjoying the things they love and that includes the best destinations and attractions in the state,” Minister Thomas said.
“It is fantastic to see the quality of the Victorian tourism industry recognised and we are backing businesses in this sector to grow and create jobs right across the state.”
Victoria’s tourism sector was honoured with five gold, four silver and two bronze awards for 2021.
Leading the way with gold were the Royal Botanic Gardens in the Major Tourist Attractions category, Ballarat Heritage Festival in Festivals and Events, Destination Gippsland for their stunning tourism marketing campaign ‘All Kinds of Wonder’ showcasing the best the region has to offer from the Penguins and the Prom to Mallacoota and the mountains.
Wilsons Promontory Cruises won gold in New Tourism Business and Green Olive in Red Hill won gold too for Excellence in Food Tourism.
Operations Manager for Wilsons Promontory Cruises Dave Johnson said Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, the family owners and operators of Wilsons Promontory Cruises was “super stoked and delighted” to be named the best new tourism business in Australia and one of the nation’s top destinations.
“We started out here in 2019, an interesting time to get a tourism business going but the support we’ve received, especially from those living in regional areas when Melbourne was shut down, has been extremely gratifying,” said Mr Johnson.
“People decided to explore what Victoria had to offer and it’s great that they were able to find us here at magnificent Wilsons Prom,” he said.
After the pandemic shutdowns during the past year, they say they have enjoyed a great summer season, and with good bookings through the early autumn, they’re pleased to see the sector locally making a strong recovery.
“We operate three boats on two tours daily, one at 11am and the other at 2pm offering a unique way to see Wilsons Promontory.”
Managing director of Pennicott Wilderness Journeys Robert Pennicott was on the Sunshine Coast last Friday to receive what was the firm’s 14th Australian tourism award.
“You come to a night like this with so many amazing tourism operators and attractions never thinking you’re going to walk away with one, so it’s humbling to receive another of these awards,” he said.
They actually won two gold awards on the night: the Best New Tourism Business in Australia Gold Award for Wilsons Promontory Cruises and the Major Tour & Transport Operators Gold for Pennicott Wilderness Journeys Tasmania.
Pennicott Wilderness Journeys is a family business which started in 1999 with a single journey taking in Bruny Island, Tasmania.
Today, they operate seven tours in southern Tasmania and one in southern Victoria, at the Prom, highlighting the spectacular and unique wilderness and wildlife of the areas.
Over their 23 year history, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys has become a highly acclaimed environmental tourism operator, with dozens of Tasmanian and Australian Tourism Awards.
The Alexandra Hotel in Alexandra was awarded two silver awards for its three-star accommodation and restaurant and catering services, joined by Heytesbury House in Hosted Accommodation and the Bendigo Visitor Centre for their visitor information service offering.
Rounding out the Victorian winners were Searoad Ferries for their work as a major tour and transport operation and the Tesselaar Tulip Festival in the Major Festival and Events category.
The State Government, which is assisting the sector to recover with $633 million in support under the Visitor Economy Recovery and Reform Plan, was delighted with the success by local attractions.
“After an impossibly difficult two years, it’s incredibly heartening to see so many Victorian businesses and communities rewarded for their mammoth efforts to recover,” said Victorian Tourism Industry Council CEO Felicia Mariani.
“These awards are a testament to the resilience and passion of our sector.”
A whole-of-state strategy to grow Victoria’s tourism industry, the Plan has a goal of achieving $35 billion in annual visitor expenditure supporting the industry to generate 300,000 jobs by June 2024.