Whit­sun­day Es­cape wins gold at na­tional awards

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

A WHIT­SUN­DAY char­ter boat busi­ness em­ploy­ing up to 10 peo­ple in Air­lie Beach has punched way above its weight, tak­ing out a top gong at this year’s na­tional tourism awards.

Whit­sun­day Es­cape won gold in the unique ac­com­mo­da­tion cat­e­gory at the 2013 Qan­tas Aus­tralian Tourism Awards held in Syd­ney last Fri­day night.

The bare­boat com­pany is based at Abell Point and has a fleet of 30 boats.

“WES, we nailed it.” This was the ju­bi­lant re­sponse from Whit­sun­day Es­cape’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Trevor Rees to his op­er­a­tions man­ager Wes­ley Cole, when the com­pany took out a gold award at Fri­day’s 2013 Qan­tas Aus­tralian Tourism Awards.

Whit­sun­day Es­cape was the only lo­cal win­ner at this year’s awards, beat­ing an out­stand­ing field of na­tion­wide com­peti­tors in the unique ac­com­mo­da­tion cat­e­gory.

The bare­boat char­ter com­pany is based at Abell Point Ma­rina and of­fers a wide range of fully equipped yachts, sail­ing cata­ma­rans, and power­boats, suit­able for be­tween two and 12 peo­ple to hol­i­day on.

With its fleet of 30 boats, much like float­ing self-con­tained apart­ments, Whit­sun­day Es­cape also won gold in the unique ac­com­mo­da­tion cat­e­gory at last year’s Queens­land Tourism Awards, but Mr Rees said this was the team’s first ever na­tional win.

“I think we are all ba­si­cally hum­bled by the hon­our – we ex­pected to do rea­son­ably well, but we re­ally didn’t ex­pect to win,” he said. “The awards were based on a whole range of cri­te­ria, but I think the qual­ity of the staff that we have, the sup­port from our cus­tomers over the years and just the day-to-day hard work that goes into run­ning any small busi­ness, re­ally shone through in our sub­mis­sion.”

Whit­sun­day Es­cape was among a group of 11 Queens­land tourism busi­nesses cho­sen from 200 na­tional award fi­nal­ists through­out Aus­tralia.

Whit­sun­days Mar­ket­ing and De­vel­op­ment Limited (WMDL) act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Daryl Hud­son said he was thrilled with their re­sult.

“I am proud that Whit­sun­day Es­cape has been recog­nised for their com­mit­ment and pas­sion on a na­tional level. [They have] a firm spot in the Whit­sun­days’ tourism in­dus­try and through [their] hard work and com­mit­ment, the com­pany con­tin­ues to de­liver phe­nom­e­nal ex­pe­ri­ences,” he said.

The Qan­tas Aus­tralian Tou- rism Awards recog­nise the ex­cep­tional con­tri­bu­tion of tourism busi­nesses, ser­vice providers and in­di­vid­u­als to the multi-bil­lion dol­lar Aus­tralian tourism in­dus­try.

Fri­day’s black tie event at Syd­ney’s Luna Park was at­tended by 900 tourism rep­re­sen­ta­tives from across Aus­tralia. One other Whit­sun- day en­trant, Ocean Raft­ing, was a con­tender in the tour and/or trans­port op­er­a­tor cat­e­gory for a se­cond time, af­ter tak­ing out the top gong last year.

Mr Rees said he was par­tic­u­larly pleased that a Whit­sun­day busi­ness had been able to win a gold award again this year, “as it keeps the re­gion on the map”. “It goes to show what a unique ex­pe­ri­ence bare­boat­ing re­ally is. Where else can you spend a week or more on hol­i­days and wake up to a dif­fer­ent view ev­ery day?” he said.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.whit­sun­ or www.aus­tralian­touris­

GOLD: Whit­sun­day Es­cape won a gold award in the unique ac­com­mo­da­tion cat­e­gory at the 2013 Qan­tas Aus­tralian Tourism Awards. Pic­tured here are sales man­ager Alita Cros­bie, op­er­a­tions man­ager Wes­ley Cole, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Trevor Rees and reser­va­tions sup­port Deanna Kemp, aboard one of the com­pany's ves­sels at Abell Point Ma­rina.

JU­BI­LA­TION: The Whit­sun­day Es­cape team were ec­static to win their first Aus­tralian Tourism Award. Pic­tured are Julie Sladek, Wes­ley Cole, Trevor Rees and Dan Tan­nock at the awards cer­e­mony in Syd­ney on Fri­day night.

ON THE TEAM: Whit­sun­day Es­cape staff, man­age­ment and boat own­ers at­tended the tourism awards gala din­ner in Syd­ney on Fri­day night. Pic­tured are Na­dine Bal­lance-Cole and Wes­ley Cole, Julie Sladek and Trevor Rees, Lo­raine and Dan Tan­nock and Vir­ginia and Chris Ben­ning.

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