Gordon and Ros Butt of Cat Balou cruises are returning to Eden on cloud nine after being awarded the coveted gold ecotourism award at last night’s South Coast Tourism Awards at The Shellharbour Club, Wollongong.
The couple were also inducted into the Award’s Hall of Fame, an honour reserved for businesses with multiple gold awards (the Butts have seven) and presented with the bronze award for best small business.
Sharing the celebrations with them were Cat Balou hostess Judy Liddell and her husband John.
Speaking with the Magnet after breakfast this morning, Mrs Butt expressed her delight at the businesses success.
“We are pretty proud that we got into the hall of fame, it was a very good night and a magnificent club,” she said.
Other businesses to receive awards were the Eden Visitor Information Centre (Hall of Fame), Merimbula Beach NRMA Holiday Park (Tourist and Caravan Parks 4 AAA Rating and above) and Tathra Beach and Bike (General tourism service or product).
“It was great to see the shire represented but there were a lot of towns who weren’t there,” she said.
“We’ll have to do a bit of a push for next year and get more involved.”
Diane Johnston, acting chair of the South Coast Regional Tourism Organisation, said she was thrilled by the standard of entries received for the awards.
"Over twice the number entered in 2013 this year over last year," she said.
"All the companies that entered and made it to being a finalist are the best tourism businesses on the South Coast of NSW. The winners and all the place-getters are the best of the best."
Judges chairman Ken Merrifield, said all entrants had been rigorously inspected and their submissions assessed.
"The standard was exceptionally high and the judges’ task was made difficult in picking the winners. “In many categories the judges decided to award silver and bronze as well as there was very little margin between entrants.”
Executive officer of South Coast Tourism Tom Phillips said tourism contributed $2 billion a year to the South Coast economy and employed more than 21,000 people.
"These Tourism Awards allow the best of our tourism industry to show off what they can do and to demonstrate to the world at large that the tourism product here on the South Coast of NSW is second to none."
As whale watching season gets underway on Twofold Bay Ros is preparing a presentation on her whale watching highlights, a career that spans more than 20 years.
She will present her favourite images and share her most interesting stories at the Merimbula Aquarium on Friday, September 6, from 6pm.
Tickets cost $20 which includes aquarium entry (from 5.30pm to 6pm) and finger food.
The event is hosted by the Sapphire Coast Marine Society, contact Alan Hepburn on 6495 0917 for more information.