Winners announced in the 2012 Hunter & Central Coast Awards for Excellence in Tourism

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Winners announced in the 2012 Hunter and Central Coast Awards for Excellence in Tourism

Tourism professionals gathered at Cypress Lakes Resort, Hunter Valley for the prestigious 2012 Hunter and Central Coast Awards for Excellence in Tourism on Thursday, 30th August 2012. The awards ceremony and gala dinner celebrated the industry’s leading contributors and recognised the high standards of the Hunter and Central Coast tourism industries.

For the sixth year running, the judging was chaired by Mr. Allan Ray O.A.M., one of the founding directors of Tourism Hunter. Mr Ray said, “The bar was raised for the competition this year as we saw a record number of finalists, all of which of a high standard. It made judging very difficult, but it proves the value of our region as a leader in tourism.”

Winners were announced in 27 categories with an additional 11 silver awards and four bronze awards being recognised. These outstanding results reflect not only the growth of the tourism industry, but the professionalism and world-class nature of the both Hunter and Central Coast’s tourism products and services.

The most prestigious categories of the night were ‘Outstanding Contribution to Regional Tourism by an Individual’, ‘Outstanding Contribution to Tourism by an Individual’ and the ‘Young Achiever’. These awards recognise the significant contribution these individuals have made to the success of Tourism in the Hunter and Central Coast.

Philip Hele took out the award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Tourism by an Individual’, for dedicating his time, energy and enthusiasm to the betterment of Regional NSW tourism. Philip has been a champion of Regional NSW tourism for over 21 years. He was involved in establishing the Hunter Regional Tourism Organisation and was instrumental in creating “Brand Hunter Valley Wine Country”. Known as Mr Hunter Valley throughout the overseas markets, Philip has served on the boards of Hunter Valley Wine Country Tourism, Tourism NSW, Tourism NSW Regional Reference Group, Regional NSW Flagship Events, Accredited Visitor Information Centre (AVIC) and most recently was appointed chair to the Regional NSW Visitor Economy Taskforce Reference Group by the Hon. George Souris, MP.

Mark Stratford received the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Regional Tourism’ Award for his time at The City of Newcastle as Major Tourism and Events Developer.

Mark is determined to see Newcastle identified as the World’s best destination. His active involvement in the promotion and activation of the region is evident through his strong involvement with commercial and community activities showcasing the talent of the Newcastle.

The ‘Young Achiever’ was awarded to Belinda Stapleton, Managing Director of Spicers Vineyard Estate, for her efforts in the seamless marriage between regional food and wine with luxury accommodation, Belinda Stapleton strives for service excellence and the constant promotion of Australia’s most historical and visited wine region. Belinda has almost 18 years of experience built from the ground up and a strong determination to grow young tourism talent and opportunities for their future.

Four new categories were added to the 2012 Hunter and Central Coast Awards for Excellence in Tourism. Winners of these categories included, Cassie Mackay, who was awarded the Rising Star award for her work with The City of Newcastle in Event Promotion and Distribution.

Other new category winners were Newcastle Airport Ambassadors for ‘Outstanding Ambassador in Tourism’; Sharon Paterson, winning Front Office Supervisor at Spicers Vineyard Estate for ‘Excellence in Customer Service’; and Kelly Lynch, Hunter TAFE Tourism Trainee in ‘Tourism and Hospitality Apprentice or Trainee of the Year’.

For the third year in a row, Wyndham Estate Winery was honoured with Gold in the ‘Tourism Wineries, Distilleries and Boutique Breweries’ category. Margan Restaurant also won for the third year in a row in ‘Tourism Restaurant and Catering Services’, proving their dedication to providing quality locally-produced food. These two winners will now be inducted into the ‘Hall of Fame’ for winning their categories three years in a row.

Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures captured the title for ‘Tourist Attraction’ while Mercure Kooindah Waters took home the award for ‘Meetings and Business Tourism’. This was the second year in a row these two tourism operators won their respective categories.

State Forests of the Watagan Mountains won their ‘Adventure Tourism’ category for the first time and Strickland State Forest took home top prize in ‘Ecotourism’ for the second year in a row.

First year winners include Stockton Beach Holiday Park in Tourist and Caravan Parks, Segenhoe Inn, Winery Boutique Hotel and B&B in Hosted Accommodation, Somewhere Unique for Unique Accommodation, Bells at Killcare in Luxury Accommodation, Newcastle Ghost Tours in Heritage and Cultural Tourism, Newcastle Museum won their category, ‘New Tourism Development’ while Stays in the Vines took home top prize in ‘Tourism Marketing’.

Tourism Hunter Marketing Manager, Jo Thomas, said “We saw a mix of new and repeat winners this year in the Awards. It really shows the strength of tourism both in the Hunter and Central Coast and is a testament that the industry is flourishing.”

All of the winners last night now go on to become finalists in the 2012 NSW Tourism Awards to be held in Sydney on Thursday 22nd November 2012.

For more information on the Hunter & Central Coast Tourism Awards please contact Jo Thomas, Marketing Manager, Tourism Hunter on 0408 274 755.

The Hunter and Central Coast Tourism Award Winners:

Adventure Tourism
WINNER – State Forests of the Watagan Mountains
SILVER – TreeTop Adventure Park

Tour and/or Transport Operators
WINNER – Boutique Tours Australia
SILVER – Kangarrific Tours 

Heritage and Cultural Tourism
WINNER – Newcastle Ghost Tours

WINNER – Strickland State Forest

Tourist Attractions
WINNER – Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures
SILVER – Blackbutt Reserve

Tourism Wineries, Distilleries and Boutique Breweries
WINNER – Wyndham Estate
SILVER – Bimbadgen

Category – Tourist Pubs
WINNER – Shoal Bay Country Club Hotel
SILVER – Kincumber Hotel

Tourist and Caravan Parks
WINNER – Stockton Beach Holiday Park

Festivals and Events
WINNER – Newcastle Caravan, Camping and Holiday Expo
SILVER – Wyndham Estate Winery, Opera in the Vineyards
BRONZE – 5 Lands Walk

Meetings and Business Tourism
WINNER – Kooindah Waters Golf & Spa Resort
SILVER – Scone Motor Inn and Conference Centre
BRONZE – Shoal Bay Resort and Spa

Major Tour &/or Transport Operators
WINNER – Moonshadow Cruises
BRONZE – Northern Highland Travel

Major Festivals and Events
WINNER – Surfest 2012
SILVER – CMC Rocks the Hunter 2012

Visitor Information and Services
WINNER – Singleton Visitor Information and Enterprise Centre

Tourism Restaurants & Catering Services
WINNER – Margan Restaurant
SILVER – Restaurant Botanica
BRONZE – Esca Bimbadgen

New Tourism Development
WINNER – Newcastle Museum

Tourism Marketing
WINNER – Stays in the Vines
SILVER – Brand Hunter Valley

Hosted Accommodation
WINNER – Segenhoe Inn Luxury Boutique Hotel and B&B
SILVER – Sunrise Bed and Breakfast

Unique Accommodation
WINNER – Somewhere Unique

Deluxe Accommodation
WINNER – Shoal Bay Resort & Spa
SILVER – The Vintry

Luxury Accommodation
WINNER – Bells at Killcare

Rising Star
WINNER – Cassie Mackay

Excellence in Customer Service
WINNER – Sharon Paterson, Front Office Supervisor, Spicers Vineyard Estate

Outstanding Ambassador in Tourism
WINNER – Newcastle Airport Ambassadors

Tourism and Hospitality Apprentice or Trainee of the Year
WINNER – Sophie Hedges, Tourism Trainee, Hunter Valley Hotel Academy

Young Achiever in Tourism
WINNER – Belinda Stapleton, Managing Director, Spicers Vineyard Estate

Outstanding Contribution to Regional Tourism by an Individual
WINNER – Mark Stratford, Major Tourism and Events Developer, City of Newcastle

Outstanding Contribution to Tourism by an Individual
WINNER – Philip Hele, General Manager, Hunter Resort

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