Safari shows how it’s done
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