Eden’s thriving tourism industry has been recognised, with three local business listed as finalists in the 2014 South Coast Tourism Awards.
The Eden Whale Festival and Sprout Eden are first-time finalists, joining awards veterans Cat Balou Cruises on this year’s list.
An independent judge visited the town earlier this month as part of the application process, and advised the businesses of their nomination this week.
Eden Whale Festival chair Deb Richardson was thrilled to learn that the festival had been nominated in the event or festival category, and said the announcement is a boon for the entire Sapphire Coast.
“I am so pleased and excited to have the festival being named as a finalist in this year’s South Coast Tourism Awards; it helps to validate all the hard work that our small but dedicated committee is putting into the organising,” Ms Richardson said.
“Being nominated as a finalist will help to spread the word about Eden and our wonderful festival.
“This year’s festival is shaping up to be even better than previous ones.
“We have some exciting new things happening this year, so keep watch on our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, and of course in our local Magnet.”
Fellow first-time finalist Sprout Eden is up for a medal in the tourism café section.
Manager Karen Lott could barely hide her excitement.
“I’m absolutely delighted; they’re very prestigious awards and we’re over the moon to have made it to the finals,” she said.
“It was a very stringent application process and we spent a good hour with the judge, going through how we operate in regards to tourism.
“With some other awards, you become a finalist just by nominating yourself, but with these your application is judged beforehand, so it’s very pleasing.”
Cat Balou is looking to back up last year’s gold medal win in the ecotourism category, while the whale watching charter business has also been listed in the tourism small business category (in which it earned a bronze medal in 2013), and the tourism small business operator section.
Owner/operator Ros Butt says it is a thrill to see fellow locals shortlisted.
“I’ve always thought that Eden had great potential as a tourist destination, so I’m very happy to see Sprout and the Whale Festival nominated as well,” she said.
“I think being able to advertise the fact that you’ve won or been a finalist definitely does help; it shows that someone independent in the field thinks that you’re doing a good job.”
The winners will be announced at a black tie gala presentation dinner at The Batemans Bay Soldiers Club on Wednesday, August 27.
Chair of the South Coast Regional Tourism Organisation, Brian Longbottom, congratulated all finalists and wished them all the best ahead of the announcement.
“The standard of entry was extremely high and the competition between the businesses demonstrates the aim of all the entrants to present the best possible tourism experience to the visitors to the South Coast of NSW,” he said.