Best of west honoured at Outback tourism’s night of nights

The Premier has congratulated the winners of the 2019 Outback Queensland Tourism Awards, including the Australian Age of Dinosaurs which took out the coveted Major Tourist Attraction category.

The 15 winners and four Hall of Fame inductees were celebrated at the annual awards event, which was held in the iconic Outback Queensland town of Winton last night.

More than 200 tourism industry representatives attended. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the awards were a fitting way to celebrate the Year of Outback Tourism and to commend Outback tourism operators for their contributions to the State’s regional economy.

“From the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, Cobbold Gorge, the Big Red Bash to the Qantas Founders Museum – the Outback has something for everyone and these are some of the best in the west,” the Premier said.

“The Outback is bustling with exciting events, incredible history, spectacular landscapes and the brightest stars you’ll ever see all of which attracted a record-breaking one million tourists this year.

“Then there are the stories and the colourful characters that tell them like Blackall local Stewart Benson who took out the Vince Evert Award for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism.

“Stewi is not only known to ride around on horseback, cracking his whip and chatting to locals and tourists but was recently the driver of a permanent Drovers Memorial Wall at Blackall’s Ram Park tourism complex.”

Minister for Tourism Industry Development Kate Jones who attended the event congratulated all the winners.

“This year’s awards were more hotly contested than ever before,” Ms Jones said.

“It’s important for us to recognise the achievements of operators in the outback who have made awesome headway in the last year, with new data showing strong growth in this sector.

“The Premier declared 2019 Year of Outback Tourism as a dedicated campaign to attract visitors to Outback Queensland and further develop the tourism experiences and infrastructure in the region.

“We recognise the value of tourism to west Queensland. That’s why we’re investing in new projects in the outback – like Cobbold Gorge, the Qantas Founders Museum and the Dinosaur Dreaming Trail – to create tourism jobs for locals.

“The awards ceremony comes after National Visitor Survey data revealed the outback attracted more than one million tourists for the first time in the year to June, with the industry generating $724 million.”

CEO of the Outback Queensland Tourism Association, Denise Brown was pleased to see the Outback Queensland tourism industry come together to celebrate each other’s success.

“The winners of the tourism awards have gone above and beyond to provide outstanding service to the Outback Queensland tourism industry and deserve to be commended for their support,” Ms Brown said.

“The future attractions underway with the Queensland Government Infrastructure Grants Program, will create healthy and wonderful competition in future award years. We are galvanising our Outback region tremendously.”

The 2019 Outback Queensland Tourism Awards were the last of a range of industry activities held in Winton this week, including Tourism and Events Queensland’s Conversations with Industry and the Outback Queensland Tourism Symposium.

The 2019 Outback Queensland Tourism Awards Winners:

Vince Evert Award for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism: Stewart Benson

Major Tourist Attraction: The Australian Age of Dinosaurs

Tourist Attraction: Cobbold Gorge F

estivals & Events: Big Red Bash

Cultural Tourism: Qantas Founders Museum

Tour & Transport Operator: Elite Aviation Services

Accommodation: Saltbush Retreat

New Tourism Business: Les Wilson Barramundi Centre

Destination Marketing: Flinders Shire Council

Visitor Information and Services: Julia Creek Visitor and Information Centre

Outback Eco Project: The Australian Age of Dinosaurs

Visitor’s Choice Best Outback Queensland Region: Experience Charleville (Murweh Shire Council)

Visitor’s Choice Best Outback Queensland Experience: Outback Pioneers

Visitor’s Choice Best Outback Queensland Stay: Saltbush Retreat

Visitor’s Choice Best Outback Queensland Pub: Wellshot Hotel

Hall of Fame Inductees: Cultural Tourism: Outback Pioneers

Hosted Accommodation: Cobbold Village

Tour and Transport Operator: Outback Aussie Tours

Best Outback Queensland Pub: Goldfields Hotel

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