It is time to put the bubbly on ice – Launceston has been chosen to host the 2018 Australian Tourism Awards gala dinner.
The national tourism industry’s premier event celebrates and recognises excellence and will be held in early 2019.
Tasmanian Tourism Awards Coordinator Sam Denmead said the tentative plan was to hold the dinner in the Cataract Gorge to showcase the icon to the country.
“The awards are generally held in a capital city, so for Tasmania to get the opportunity to hold the awards in a regional centre like Launceston is amazing, so it’s a huge opportunity for that reason,” she said.
“Let alone the fact that we are going to get tourism operators from across Australia … they are the big, big operators in the industry, they are all coming to Launceston in 2019.”
The state government has committed $200,000 to support the event, Tourism Minister Will Hodgman confirmed on Tuesday.
“The awards attract high-ranking tourism professionals from across the country with around 800 tourism operators expected to attend and enjoy the hospitality that Launceston and Northern Tasmania has to offer,” Mr Hodgman said.
“We reckon this state has the best tourism and hospitality industry in the country and hosting the awards in Launceston will ensure the rest of the country sees why.”
The visitor economy is one of Tasmania’s greatest competitive strengths, according to Mr Hodgman, and he wants to see more Tasmanians benefit by working with industry to take it to the next level.
”Tasmanian tourism and hospitality businesses are no strangers to these awards having received around 70 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards in just the last five years, including 33 gold, 22 silver and 16 bronze,” he said.
One of those highly successful operators was RiverFly 1864, which took the 2016 top gong for specialised tourism services.
Co-owner Simone Hackett said the awards were considered highly prestigious. “It’s the biggest achievement that you can possibly get as an operator ... we were very pleased to just be a finalists,” she said.
“It was quite an emotional win because we have been a business for 12 years and to take out a win recognises all that hard work, effort and our vision.”
Mrs Hackett said with just 24 category winners each year the win was an incredible honour and helped showcase Tasmania.
“Tasmania is a truly special destination, to showcase fly fishing, our niche, and be highly commended for it, is a dream job,” Mrs Hackett said.