The achievements and successes of the local tourism industry were celebrated last night (October 18) at the 2019 Tropical North Queensland Tourism Industry Excellence Awards, held at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) Chair Wendy Morris congratulated the winners, all of whom made their mark on the region’s tourism industry over the past year.
“We have all faced challenges in the tourism industry in the past 12 months. However, the people and products receiving awards this year have embraced these challenges with creative and innovative ideas that benefit not only their business but also the destination,” Ms Morris said.
The 2019 winners are listed below.
Chair’s Award for Excellence (sponsored by Cairns Regional Council) –
The Crystalbrook Collection
The Crystalbrook Collection opened Riley, the first of its collection of three hotels in Cairns, in 2018. Bailey is about to open for business and Flynn will open next year. Each hotel has a distinct personality, but each has a strong emphasis on sustainability, which is becoming increasingly important to high-value travellers.
TTNQ Life Member – Ross Steele
This year’s inductee was General Manager of the Cairns Convention Centre from 2004 to March this year. Under his watch, the Cairns Convention Centre was ranked No.1 in the world by the Association of International Congress Centres in 2014. Ross served on the TTNQ Board for more than a decade. His analytical approach from his years working as a government auditor ensured that every decision he made was rational and objective.
Outstanding Contribution by an Individual – Tony Baker
Tony has been at the helm of some of the leading tour operators in Queensland. He has been a board member of Tourism and Events Queensland and Chair of Tourism Port Douglas Daintree. He is the Managing Director of the Quicksilver Group, Australia’s largest reef tourism company and a leader in promoting the region both domestically and internationally. He drives environmental stewardship as a member of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Tourism Recreation Advisory Committee and is the Chairman of the Australian Marine Park Tourism Operators.
Innovation Excellence Award (sponsored by Cairns Airport) – Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
This company has achieved innovation excellence with the launch of the Skyrail Interpretive App and Audio Guide. Developed with the support of the Wet Tropics Management Authority, the multilingual app places the story of Tropical North Queensland’s ancient rainforest in the hands of every Skyrail guest with a smartphone. It provides an immersive rainforest experience that includes commentary, augmented reality, blogs, videos and customer feedback. It has replaced printed trip guides for most customers and provides data to improve the customer experience.
Young Achiever Excellence Award (sponsored by HostPlus) – Jana Stankovich from Cairns Airport
Jana’s career started at TTNQ as an administration assistant, where she enthusiastically learnt about the industry while studying a Bachelor of Business (management). She went on to be the Sales and Marketing Manager for North America, New Zealand and Backpacker before joining Cairns Airport in 2006, where she progressed from marketing coordinator to Manager Tourism Development. Jana is a Director of the Tourism Port Douglas Daintree Board and has been involved in numerous projects that have benefitted the tourism industry, including working with the Local Advisory Group for the Australian Tourism Exchange in Cairns.
Sven Hagen from Great Barrier Reef Legacy was a finalist.
Customer Service Excellence Award – Deb Ieri, Small World Journeys, and Malcolm Rothall, Bad Fishy Jet Boating Cairns (joint winners)
Deb consistently goes beyond the call of duty for customers. She has implemented numerous processes to improve the customer experience, including e-forms, an itinerary app and colour-coded food bags. She has developed community service projects and completed a Wet Tropics guiding course to improve her knowledge of the region.
Malcolm has become the face of this family-owned business by ensuring every customer’s expectations are exceeded. He has learnt Japanese and Mandarin so he can better communicate with customers, has redesigned the confirmation system to better communicate with guests and has implemented the photo and video capabilities on the boat. He always takes the time to give guests advice on other activities they can do in the region.
The other finalists in this category were Bruce Bramhill, The Palms at Palm Cove; Jeremy Lebeuf, Wildlife Habitat; Kym Roe, Amaroo at Trinity Beach; and Karin Edwards, Pullman Reef Hotel Casino.