Eden businesses have taken out three prestigious South Coast Tourism Awards at the gala presentation last night.
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.”
Gordon Beattie, chairman of the judges panel, deputy chair of Sapphire Coast Tourism and board member of South Coast Tourism, said 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.
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.
The event was held at the HARS (Historical Aviation Restoration Society) Museum in Albion Park and as the premier tourism event on the South Coast the night highlighted the hard work that has been done by the thousands of tourism operators and businesses.
“The standard of entry was high and demonstrated the diversity, depth and breadth of the tourism industry,” Catherine Shields, Chair of the South Coast Regional Tourism Organisation said.
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.
In 2013-14, the tourism industry contributed an estimated $2.0 billion to the South Coast regional economy (8.3 per cent of South Coast’s gross regional product) and directly employed approximately 13,600 people (6.7 per cent of South Coast’s regional employment).
The majority (54 per cent) of visitor consumption in the South Coast was contributed to intrastate overnight visitors ($1.5 billion).
The Gold Winners in the 2016 South Coast Regional Tourism Awards:
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.