Blue Mountains tourism operators won a record eight gold medals out of 32 on offer at the NSW Tourism Awards held at Randwick Racecourse last Thursday — a timely boost in the wake of a visitation downturn since October’s bushfires.
The lion’s share went to tour operator Life’s An Adventure Blue Mountains, which won the categories of eco-tourism, tour/transport and adventure tourism.
Owners, Mark and Vicki Norec, were surprised when their first gold medal was announced in front of 750 guests, exhilarated after the second and almost speechless after the third.
They established the business only five years ago and won three silver medals last year, but told the Gazette they were not expecting to win one gold, let alone three.
“I didn’t think we would do it — after last year I was thinking what do we have to do to get one,” Mrs Norec said.
“Customer service is really our strength and it’s why we are rated number two on Tripadvisor.
“Our guides, led by Daniel Lewis, are passionate about
creating magical moments for our customers and they make the effort to take them away from the tourist traps and tell them about the unique flora and fauna of the region.
“We are quite a diverse tourism region and I think that’s the strength of the Blue Mountains and why the region did so well tonight.
“The Blue Mountains needs positive publicity at the moment and this is going to help.”
The Fairmont Resort M Gallery bagged double gold, winning the business tourism and deluxe accommodation categories.
“There’s been substantial investment into updating the resort in recent years and that is continuing,” general manager Bernie Boller said. “We are very proud of the Fairmont team.”
Gold medals were also won by Spa Sublime (specialised tourism), Jenolan Caves: Written in Stone (heritage and cultural tourism — for the third straight year) and Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School (tourism education and training).
Spa Sublime and Jenolan Caves also won a silver medal each (for health and well-being and tourist attractions), as did Scenic World’s co-manager Anthea Hammon (young achiever in tourism).
Bronze medals were won by Jenolan Caves (eco-tourism), Blue Mountains Heritage Walking Trails (heritage and cultural tourism) and the Carrington Hotel, Katoomba (standard accommodation).
Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism chairman Randall Walker said the region’s eight gold medal haul was “a wonderful morale booster especially during these challenging times and it is independent
validation that our industry offers quality products and experiences for visitors”.
Member for Blue Mountains Roza Sage said, “I’m always so inspired by the entrepreneurship, the passion and the work ethic of our region’s tourism operators and their commitment to excellence.”
All state gold medal winners now have a chance to win a medal at the Qantas National Tourism Awards in February.