Words // Mark Olsen, Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO
Tropical North Queensland’s tourism industry put the challenges of the past 18 months behind them to celebrate industry excellence in October.
Pioneers and young achievers were recognised at the 2021 Simon George & Sons TNQ Tourism Industry Excellence Awards at Rainforestation Nature Park in Kuranda on Friday, October 22.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) Chair Ken Chapman told the 160 guests that the awards celebrate industry excellence and innovation by acknowledging the people and businesses at the forefront of tourism in the region.
“After a tough 18 months, it has never been more important for our industry to gather together to celebrate our achievements and belief that our resilience will see Tropical North Queensland tourism emerge stronger than ever,” he said.
“I congratulate the winners and runners-up of the 2021 Simon George & Sons TNQ Tourism Industry Excellence Awards for their leadership.
“I also applaud the dedication of the many people in our industry who have been striving to keep their customers happy and their staff employed so we can emerge as a world-class destination once again.”
CAIRNS INDIGENOUS ART FAIR (CIAF) – Chair’s Award for Excellence
CIAF is a landmark event that is not only significant to our community, but that has helped build global recognition of Indigenous art and culture, showcasing more than 1500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and injecting $22 million into the Queensland economy. In 2020, the innovative CIAF team delivered their first online event reaching more than 2.6 million people across 80 countries and taking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art to a much wider global audience.
BACK COUNTRY BLISS ADVENTURES – Best of Queensland Experience Excellence Award
Using independent online customer reviews, the Best of Queensland program recognises tourism experiences that best bring the Queensland story to life and consistently deliver an exceptional customer experience. Back Country Bliss Adventures topped the scores in Tropical North Queensland with tours including River Drift Snorkelling on the Mossman River.
SHANICE DALE – Customer Service Excellence Award
RUNNER-UP – EDDIE LOI, DOWN UNDER CRUISE & DIVE
Shanice Dale has been a Guest Relations Officer at Big 4 Ingenia Holidays Cairns Coconut for four years, and last year was promoted to Front Office Supervisor, a role created especially for her as a result of her excellent performance. Shanice strongly believes in the surprise and delight approach to deliver a superior guest experience and wants every guest to leave with a smile on their face.
WEIQING JACKY NI – Young Achiever Excellence Award
RUNNER-UP – CHEYENNE SADLER, BIG 4 INGENIA HOLIDAYS CAIRNS COCONUT
Weiqing Jacky Ni has been working in sales and marketing roles since 2015 to drive Asian visitation to Cairns and was promoted to Hotel Manager of the Comfort Inn Cairns City a year ago, increasing revenue for the hotel by re-opening the restaurant and achieving a 4-star rating. In 2019, Weiqing was selected as a Young Tourism Leader for Queensland and has been visiting schools to promote careers in the tourism industry. He is on the Young Australian Tourism Export Council Committee and is a volunteer for the Consulate General of China.
JAMES DIXON – Outstanding Contribution by an Individual
Sponsored by Cairns Regional Council
The co-founder and Managing Director of Down Under Tours, James Dixon believes strongly in promoting the region first and his business second, joining national and international trade missions to hunt in a pack and grow the industry for everyone’s benefit. A director of the TTNQ Board for a decade, he was also a director of Tourism and Events Queensland
and served on both boards as the Deputy Chair.
JUAN WALKER, WALKABOUT CULTURAL ADVENTURES – Year of Indigenous Tourism Award
Sponsored by Bang Media
RUNNER-UP – DREAMTIME DIVE & SNORKEL
An Eastern Kuku Yalanji man from the Daintree/Mossman area, Juan Walker created Walkabout Cultural Adventures providing cultural tours on Kuku Yalanji country. Before the pandemic, 95 per cent of Juan’s customers were international travellers. He is an active member of TTNQ’s Indigenous Cluster Group and was voted by his peers to the steering committee for the Tropical North Queensland First Nations Tourism Action Plan. His role with the Reimagining the Visitor Economy Taskforce brings the voice of Indigenous tourism to the federal taskforce.
STEPHEN GREGG AND WENDY MORRIS – Life Members
Stephen Gregg chaired Tourism Tropical North Queensland, Tourism and Events Queensland, Queensland Rail and the Queensland Tourism Industry Council. He provided strategic direction for Tropical North Queensland to better appeal to new airline carriers and the lucrative Chinese market. As the CEO of North Queensland Airports, Stephen amalgamated and redeveloped the Cairns and Mackay Airports following their privatisation.
Wendy Morris is the immediate past Chair of TTNQ and chaired Tourism Port Douglas Daintree. She has served on many boards including Tourism Queensland, Advance Cairns and is currently a Board Director of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Wendy founded Reef Biosearch, the first company to employ marine biologists on the Great Barrier Reef to educate visitors. She has held management roles with Quicksilver Connections, Reef Terraces, Radisson Resorts, Wetherby Station, and Rainforest Habitat.