Outback Queensland tourism operators were recognised as visitor favourites at the sold-out Queensland Tourism Awards on Friday night, amassing six accolades across five categories.
Outback Queensland collected two gold, three silver and one bronze award, with Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo entering the Hall of Fame after winning gold in the Festivals and Events category for the third year in a row.
Hannah Statham, a Brisbane-based specialist who is the Outback Queensland Tourism Association’s media and marketing manager, received the Queensland Young Achievers Award.
Bronze winners included the Julia Creek Visitor Information Centre in the Visitor Information Services category; Outback Pioneers in Cultural Tourism, and the Qantas Founders Museum in the Major Tourist Attraction category.
The Qantas Founders Museum was also highly commented in the cultural tourism category.
Coinciding with the awards was the news that 15 new outback tourism projects will share the the state government’s $10m Outback Tourism Infrastructure fund.
It will mean things such as a display for Australia’s largest dinosaur ‘Cooper’, a glass-floored bridge for visitors to enjoy the Cobbold Gorge and upmarket artesian baths at Julia Creek.
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“From Mt Isa to Julia Creek, the Diamantina shire, Barcaldine, Maranoa and Cunnamulla – we’re investing in projects that we know will lure more tourists to the Queensland outback,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“Tourism is vital to the outback’s future and this funding will help ensure we deliver the infrastructure needed to create more tourism jobs for the future.
“New attractions are critical to ensure we diversify the outback economy and help sustain communities particularly through volatile weather events, like drought.”
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said the $10 million Outback Tourism Infrastructure fund was part of the government’s record $180 million investment in Queensland tourism.
“Tourism accounts for around 3700 jobs in this region – about 10 per cent of all jobs in the outback,” she said.
“Over the last three years, international visitor expenditure in outback Queensland has grown by more than 11 per cent to $617.3 million.”
A total of 87 awards, including 26 gold, 26 silver, 26 bronze, seven highly commended and two individual awards across 28 categories, as well as the RACQ People’s Choice award, were presented at The Star Gold Coast where 900 guests gathered to celebrate Queensland’s tourism achievements.
QTIC chief executive, Daniel Gschwind, said the 34th Queensland Tourism Awards had attracted a high calibre of tourism operators across all award categories, with more than 170 entries received state-wide.
“Queensland’s tourism industry continues to demonstrate just how invaluable its contribution is to the state’s economy, contributing $25 billion or 7.8 per cent of the state’s gross product, and employing 217,000 people,” he said.
“International visitor numbers for Queensland have seen record growth in the 12 months to June 2018, increasing 5.5 per cent.
“Some 2.7 million international visitors generated $5.7 billion in overnight expenditure.
“While the industry continues to see growth in visitor numbers and expenditure, Queensland must strive to remain competitive in the global market.”
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said Queensland was home to some of the best experiences in the world.
Queensland Airports Limited CEO, Chris Mills, said the diverse and high quality offerings delivered by tourism operators across the state were a key ingredient to delivering domestic and international visitors and keeping them coming back.
Queensland’s Gold Award winners will gain automatic entry into the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, which will be held in Tasmania on 1 March 2019.
Full list of Outback Infrastructure Fund awardees:
- McKinlay Shire Council | Julia Creek Caravan Park Artesian Bath & Landscaping
- D Neal and TM Neal | 5 Star Eco Lodges Longreach
- Outback Aussie Tours | Outback Rail Adventure
- Barcaldine Regional Council | Freedom Parks
- Cobbold Gorge Tours | Cobbold Gorge Glass Bridge
- Mount Isa City Council | Riversleigh Fossil Centre Revitalisation
- North Gregory Hotel - Vision Splendid Outback Tour Company | The Dinosaur Dreaming Trail
- Murweh Shire Council | Enriching Outback Tourism: Experience the Brisbane Line
- Outback Gondwana Foundation | Australia's Largest Dinosaur Interpretation Infrastructure
- Maranoa Regional Council | The Bigger Big Rig and Tree Walk
- Qantas Foundation Memorial | Super Constellation Interior Construction & Display Area
- Paroo Progress Association Inc. | Cunnamulla All Aboard! Time Travel After Dark
- Yambangku Aboriginal Cultural Heritage & Tourism Development Aboriginal Corporation | Murra Kumbee Yambangku - Hands Sharing On Country Together
- Adels Grove Camping Park | Conference Room and Camp Kitchen
- Diamantina Shire Council | Birdsville Court House Hologram Project