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Friday, June 18, 2021

Tourism awards to celebrate resilience

This year’s Canberra Region Tourism Awards, launched by Chief Minister Andrew Barr yesterday, celebrate resilience after a difficult year.

“That we are able to do this is a sign of … the adaptation and the innovation of Canberra’s tourism sector rebounding off what’s been probably the most disruptive event in living memory for tourism locally, nationally and internationally,” Mr Barr said.

The ACT Government describes the Tourism Awards as the most prestigious event on the Canberra region tourism calendar. Managed by the National Capital Attractions Association, and sponsored by VisitCanberra, they showcase the best of the region’s tourism operators, and promote, encourage and reward tourism excellence. The 25 categories cover attractions, events, tour and transport, accommodation, restaurants, culture, and marketing.

This year, categories and criteria have been changed to recognise the challenges of the last 18 months, said Dr Naomi Dale, CEO of the Canberra Region Tourism Industry Council.

The awards were not held last year; the qualifying period now incorporates the past two years from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2021. Five categories have been renamed. Online reviews and consumer ratings will now contribute to the final score. And a new Judges Choice Award will recognise a finalist who has demonstrated great resilience.

“We’re so proud of the effort and innovation from our tourism industry operators,” Dr Dale said. “They are staying informed, meeting customer needs, and running business as usual as best they can. We encourage all tourism businesses to consider entering the awards this year as an opportunity to celebrate your own resilience, success and stories.”

Russell Jackson, business manager of the National Zoo and Aquarium, also encouraged businesses to enter.

He had once been sceptical of the scheme, but entering it several times had convinced him that it was “a fantastic opportunity to stop, take stock, and develop new product, and welcome people into Canberra who may not have thought of coming to Canberra previously”.

Jamala Wildlife Lodge, the Zoo’s luxury safari hotel, received the Unique Accommodation award the last four years running, from 2019 to 2016.

Nominations close on 9 July. The award winners will be announced later this year. Some category winners will progress to the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards next year.

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