Media Releases

TTNQ awards industry excellence

Above photo from left: Innovation Excellence Award winners Stewart Christie, Rob Giason and Gary McKenna from the Reef Restoration Foundation, Life Member Gary Young, Outstanding Contribution by an Individual winner Paula Wallace, and Young Achiever Excellence Award winner Jasmine Porteous.


Tropical North Queensland has celebrated tourism excellence and innovation by acknowledging the people and businesses at the forefront of the industry in the region.

About 210 people gathered for the TNQ Tourism Industry Excellence Awards at Aqua Luna in the Cairns Aquarium tonight (Friday, October 12).

Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) Chair Wendy Morris congratulated the winners saying the industry was fortunate to have passionate, knowledgeable people working to continually improve the local tourism offering.

“These awards recognise the importance of these people and tell the story of where we have been, giving us a strong base to grow from,” she said.

“Our young people are the future of the industry as their thinking will be what leads us to take the next bold step forward to ensure our industry successfully evolves, so it is important that we salute their contribution as well.”

Chairman’s Award for Excellence – Ironman

Sponsored by Cairns Regional Council

Now in its seventh year, Ironman has made a huge impact and contribution to the tourism industry in Tropical North Queensland. With the reef and rainforest as a backdrop, the international triathlon quickly grew into a major event that has given Tropical North Queensland a solid reputation as a sporting events destination, further cemented by the selection of Cairns as the location for Ironman Asia-Pacific for the past three years. Last year more than 3500 athletes competed in the full and 70.3 Ironman with more than a third coming from interstate and overseas. The event generated $1.3 million in media coverage to a global audience of 4.4 million while social media posts reached 5.1 million.

Outstanding Contribution by an Individual – Paula Wallace

Paula started early in the tourism industry at the Wallace family business, Quicksilver, which launched the first vessel to take passengers on scheduled trips to the outer Great Barrier Reef. Ms Wallace worked in a range of operations including front office and on the boats. When Quicksilver was sold she became General Manager of the family business Big Cat Green Island Cruises and took it on to become a very successful operation. Ms Wallace has worked tirelessly in sales and marketing and has been a long-term supporter of the tourism industry.

Life Member – Gary Young

AFL Cairns Managing Director Gary Young was the first to market Kuranda Scenic Railway internationally by hunting in a pack with the tourism road warriors of the past. He created the planes, trains and automobile golf days to promote the region’s tourism transport industry. Gary’s experience led to him becoming a Tropical North Queensland and Queensland Tourism Awards judge and he happily shared his knowledge with local nominees at mentoring sessions. Some may have thought he left the tourism industry when he moved to AFL Cairns, but instead he brought the tourism industry to AFL by bringing pre-season and then national AFL and cricket games to Cairns. Gary worked with Tourism and Events Queensland to put Cairns on the national events stage by utilising the AFL venue for events like the Elton John concert.

Innovation Excellence Award – Reef Restoration Foundation

Sponsored by Cairns Airport

Reef Restoration Foundation was founded to help restore high-value reefs on the Great Barrier Reef. The not-for-profit organisation received Australia’s first permit to grow coral in an ocean-based nursery and in just eight months completed a full cycle of collecting, growing and planting coral on the Reef at Fitzroy Island. Reef Restoration has launched Coral Crusaders, a program allowing people to adopt coral on the Great Barrier Reef for the first time.

Young Achiever Excellence Award – Jasmine Porteous, Castaways Resort & Spa Mission Beach

Sponsored by Host Plus Hospitality Super Fund

Castaways Resort & Spa General Manager Jasmine Porteous started her tourism career as a chef, joining the Mission Beach resort 10 years ago. She then worked in every aspect of the business before taking on the general manager role in 2016 and today is part of the team project managing the $70 million rebuild and expansion of Castaways. Ms Porteous is the Chair of both Tropical Coast Tourism and Mission Beach Tourism, and secretary of Cassowary Coast Economic Development.


For more information, contact:
Communications Consultant Liz Inglis
M: 0419 643 494 | E: [email protected]