Sa­fari shows how it’s done

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Hay­den Smith

A FAR North tourism leader has earned more na­tional ac­claim thanks to per­sis­tence and the grow­ing al­lure of Cape Tribu­la­tion.

Ocean Sa­fari, owned by Peter and Jan Clax­ton since 2008, was one of just three Queens­land win­ners at the 2015 Qan­tas Aus­tralian Tourism Awards.

Based at Cape Tribu­la­tion, the reef snorkelling com­pany won sil­ver in the Tour and Trans­port Oper­a­tors cat­e­gory, fin­ish­ing be­hind Mar­garet River (WA) tourism gi­ant Top Drop Tours.

The ac­claimed Dain­tree Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre earned bronze in the Tourism At­trac­tion cat­e­gory while Cairns­based Reef Magic Cruises won sil­ver in the Ma­jor Tour and Trans­port Oper­a­tors sec­tion.

Mrs Clax­ton said she was “ab­so­lutely thrilled”, cit­ing the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of Cape Tribu­la­tion – driven by a low Aus­tralian dol­lar – as a ma­jor rea­son for the com­pany’s suc­cess. “Once you get on that ferry and cross the Dain­tree it re­ally is proper wilder­ness,” she said. “We’re ex­pect­ing a few more vis­i­tors to come our way in the next few years.”

Mrs Clax­ton said it had been a “tough slog” in turn­ing around the busi­ness, which opened just months be­fore the tourism in­dus­try was rocked by the Global Fi­nan­cial Cri­sis.

“There was a time when our ac­coun­tant was beg­ging us to shut down,” she said.

“But we hung in there and are pretty happy with how things are go­ing.”

De­spite Ocean Sa­fari’s feat, Queens­land tourism providers largely bombed out at the awards with none of the state’s fi­nal­ists claim­ing gold.

Vic­to­rian and Tas­ma­nian busi­nesses this year en­joyed the lion’s share of suc­cess, which Mrs Clax­ton said was slightly con­cern­ing for Queens­land tourism.

“We re­ally need to have a look at that and work out how we can do a bit ex­tra to get over the line,” she said.

Tara Ben­nett, Tourism Port Dou­glas and Dain­tree ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, said re­mote re­gions like Cape Tribu­la­tion and Cape York were now high on the bucket lists of ad­ven­ture-hun­gry tourists.

“Vis­i­tors are look­ing for ex­pe­ri­ences that al­low them to ex­tend them­selves,” she said.

“Peo­ple are look­ing for epic Aus­tralian ad­ven­tures, and th­ese re­gions are next on their list be­cause of that sense of the un­known.”

Cape Tribu­la­tion busi­ness, Ocean Sa­fari, has claimed a sil­ver medal at the 2015 Qan­tas Aus­tralian Tourism Awards.

Ocean Sa­fari team mem­bers Peta Rausch, Peter Clax­ton, Jan Clax­ton and Kel­lie Roberts at the Qan­tas Aus­tralian Tourism Awards. PIC: SDP Me­dia

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