By Angela Norval
Bundaberg might not have taken out the coveted first place in Queensland’s hotly contested Top Tourism Town, but it showed it was up there for visitor choice by making the top 10 in the ‘large top tourism towns’ category.
The Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) awards included 37 finalists across the two categories of small and large top tourism towns, and were designed to recognise and celebrate towns that excelled in providing an outstanding visitor experience.
Noosa took the win for the Top Tourism Town Award (population over 5000) while Agnes Water came out on top of its rivals earning the Top Small Tourism Town Award (population under 5000).
QTIC chief executive, Daniel Gschwind, said it was timely to shine a light on the diverse regional destinations Queensland had, especially during the events of Covid.
“With international travel restrictions, this is the ideal time to put the spotlight on domestic tourism and draw attention to the fantastic regional destinations our state boasts,” Mr Gschwind said.
“For many of our Queensland operators, last year’s events had a serious impact on their businesses, and these awards are a reflection of the resilience and resourcefulness of those in the industry.
“This year’s entrants showcase the extraordinary dedication and innovation of tourism operators across the state – all of whom are helping the Queensland tourism industry thrive during this time.”
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe congratulated this year’s winners and finalists.
“The Top Tourism Towns Awards are terrific way of recognising the operators and communities who have worked hard to create great visitor experiences,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“Successful tourism towns are overwhelming the communities who have recognised and adapted to changing visitor expectations and are rebuilding better for the future.”
One of these is Bundaberg, with the community rallying around to vote for the region and Bundaberg Tourism even putting together a special video to remind judges of all the different ways the region was number one.
Bundaberg Tourism CEO Katherine Reid said Queensland was blessed with so many Top Tourism Towns, as communities around the state welcomed visitors with open arms and shared the incredible experiences of their back yards.
“While the Bundaberg region didn’t come out on top for these awards, we congratulate our tourism partners in Noosa and Agnes Water/1770 for their incredible entries and for leading the state in delivery of visitor experiences,” she said.
“We were so proud to be shortlisted as a finalist in the Top Tourism Town Awards and thank everyone for getting behind the entry!
“From newspaper stories, radio shout outs, hundreds of shares across Facebook and the votes from visitors at the counter in the Visitor Information Centre – it was fantastic to witness the energy and excitement from the community to help elevate Bundaberg’s entry in this competition.”
Visitors are realising just how much the Bundaberg region has to offer, and Splitters Farmer owner Carly Clark said the region’s unique culinary experiences, boutique distilling, farm and reef attractions were putting Bundaberg on the map as a real tourism hot spot.
“I think visitors are really surprised when they get here by how much you can do in our region and we have an incredible network of tourism operators who are keen to ensure people know about all of things that make us an exceptional destination,” she said.
Lady Musgrave Experience’s Tika Lay said guests often boasted about their close encounters with turtles, manta rays and whales while on-board.
“They love that visiting the region gives them the opportunity to experience first-hand abundant marine life and access to our magical Southern Great Barrier Reef that creates memories to last a lifetime and is what draws visitors to the region again and again,” she said.