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Awards celebrate TNQ tourism excellence

A record number of submissions were received for the 2022 Simon George & Sons TNQ Tourism Industry Excellence Awards held at the Hilton Cairns last night (October 28).

Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) Chair Ken Chapman told the 170 guests that the industry’s optimism was reflected in the strong submissions for the awards which celebrate industry excellence and innovation by acknowledging the people and businesses at the forefront of tourism in the region.

“The positive atmosphere at the awards ceremony comes after solid wins for the tourism industry in 2022 when we achieved record domestic expenditure for the fourth consecutive quarter with the $3.12 billion helping our regional economy to get back on its feet,” he said.

“Our greatest challenge will be the slowing of the domestic market as overseas travel once again becomes more attractive so the news this week that our destination will receive $15 million in Federal marketing funds over three years to entice international travellers back is very welcome.

“After two challenging years our tourism industry continues to innovate and we recognise this by adding the Sustainable Tourism Excellence Award this year.

“TTNQ is also proud to make the 2022 Simon George & Sons TNQ Tourism Industry Excellence Awards good for the planet by partnering with Reforest to offset more than 6 tonnes of carbon through sponsorsing the rehabilitation of the Mabi Rainforest on the Atherton Tablelands making the awards carbon neutral.”

“I congratulate the winners and runners-up of the 2022 Simon George & Sons TNQ Tourism Industry Excellence Awards for their leadership.”

Life Member Allan Tan
The Reef Hotel Casino Chief Executive Officer Allan Tan has been a key player at the city’s cornerstone attraction and venue setting the standard for high-end hotels in Cairns for a quarter of a century. Highly intelligent and well respected by his peers, he was a Director of TTNQ from 2012 to 2015 where his mantra of working together as a team for the destination was evident.

Outstanding Contribution by an Individual – Bob Manning
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning served a three-year term as TTNQ Chair during his 15 years on the Board. As Cairns Port Authority CEO he oversaw the opening of the Cairns International Airport, kickstarting the rapid growth of international tourism to the destination and applied airport terminal thinking to the reef fleet resulting in the development of the Reef Fleet Terminal as part of the Cityport masterplan. Most recently he was behind the successful vote for an opt-in visitor levy for local government.

Chair’s Award for Excellence – Experience Co
Sponsored by Cairns Regional Council
While the pandemic was squeezing our industry, the Experience Co team took the plunge and won State Government support to build the first new pontoon on the Great Barrier Reef in a decade, opening the Reef Magic pontoon in April this year. The pontoon supported Experience Co’s strong sustainability philosophy that led to them introducing the first Indigenous storytellers on a reef cruise when they created Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel.

Young Achiever Excellence Award – Tayla Ahrens, Cairns Airport Marketing Manager
Tayla’s marketing campaigns to support aviation growth across Tropical North Queensland include the eye-catching Covid-safe signage for Cairns Airport which was endorsed by key industry groups and is in the State Library of Queensland’s collection of heritage memories. A member of the Cairns Young Chamber Committee, Tayla led the Cairns Airport Aviation Careers Day, launched the re-opening of the Jack Barnes Bicentennial Mangrove Walk and supports key events such as Ironman Cairns and Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival.
Renee Miles, Wildlife Habitat Acting Wildlife Supervisor
Samantha Gray, Experience Co Reef Education Manager

Customer Service Excellence Award – Wil Kemp, Driver/Guide, The Savannahlander
Sponsored by Bang Media
Wil has worked with the Savannahlander for more than a decade and regularly receives glowing customer service reviews on TripAdvisor. Working in a remote area he has dealt with a few emergencies including the train being stranded by unseasonal rain in Forsayth. Wil turned this experience around by giving impromptu wildlife walks to educate passengers about the local flora and fauna. Wil loves his job so much that he has the Savannahlander logo tattooed on his arm.
Cedric Lootvoet, The Reef House Luxury Concierge
Lyn Baily, Talaroo Springs Manager

Sustainable Tourism Excellence Award – Passions of Paradise
Passions of Paradise has a long history of environmental stewardship. The reef operator employed their first marine biologist 25 years ago and an environmental manager was appointed more than a decade ago to deliver their business philosophy of giving Mother Nature a say in everything they do. Passions donated their boat during the pandemic so the crew could continue to participate in the Coral Nurture Program and was a finalist in the 2022 Banksia Sustainability Awards.
Small World Journeys
Daintree Discovery Centre

Best of Queensland Experiences Excellence Award – ABC Snorkel Charters
ABC Snorkel Charters takes just 12 people to snorkel the reefs off Port Douglas and Low Isles. The family-run business was Tropical North Queensland’s highest performer in the Best of Queensland Experiences program recognising tourism experiences that bring the Queensland story to life an consistently deliver an exceptional customer experience.

The awards are sponsored by Simon George & Sons, Cairns Regional Council and Bang Media.