It’s always fab to pop a cork and sip on a glass of bubbles while celebrating cool Canberra. And that’s just what guests did at this year’s Canberra Region Tourism Awards.
Tourism is big business and the winners of the 2016 awards are all about bringing people to the capital and, while here, support the local economy. Tourism is a highly competitive and tough industry reserved only for those who are creative, motivated and dedicated—those who excel and operate at best practice.
Some winners of this year’s awards are no surprise. They’ve been making a major mark on the tourism landscape for yonks. Think the Royal Australian Mint (which picked up three awards this year), Questacon, and the National Museum of Australia. It’s wonderful to see some of our unique hotels win on the accommodation side, including the newer East Hotel, Little National Hotel, and the charming Hyatt Hotel Canberra, and we can all be proud of the Canberra Airport for its many accomplishments. Jamala Wildlife Lodge, at the National Zoo and Aquarium, also picked up an award; here you can get up close and personal with giraffes, zebras, monkeys, bears, and big cats!
And, for the third time, the National Convention Centre Canberra picked up the Business Event Venues Award, with more than 215 events, concerts, expos, conferences, meetings, gala dinners and venue experiences during the awards period. Whew. The Centre is home to FASHFEST, with the space being transformed for the red-carpet fashion event by Canberra’s Elite Technology. It’s also home to our beloved Royal Theatre and offers 15 flexible spaces over two floors.
Many Canberrans may not be aware of the Centre’s unique points of difference, but it has many in the world of conference centres. All its spaces are pillar free, offering free line of sight. Most are flooded with natural light and generous ceiling heights, providing a sense of openness and connection to the outdoors, instead of the closed-in feeling experienced in so many conference centres. And it’s big enough to host events for thousands, but small enough to be comfortable and easy to manoeuvre.
On the food side, the Centre’s kitchen is headed by Executive Chef, Nikhil Jain, who holds the Chef of the Year title, which he picked up at this year’s Australian Hotel Association National Awards for Excellence.
The Centre won in part for the quality of and inspiration behind its $5.4million renovation, which includes a major facelift and many improvements to its functionality. Australian timber and the rich colours of autumn, which Canberra enjoys, are front and centre. Most of the work involved local designers and operators, again supporting the local economy. The renovation is much more about making the Centre look pretty, however. “An economic impact study reported that the two-year refurbishment would result in $31.5million in extra economic activity for the ACT over a five-year period,” says General Manager Stephen Wood. “The timing is perfect with the arrival of international flights linking the capital with Singapore and New Zealand.”
The winners now move on to the National Award, to be held in Darwin in February. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for each one of them. The list of winners include:
- Tourist Attractions—Questacon
- Major Festivals and Events—National Museum of Australia (Encounters Exhibition)
- Business Events Venues—National Convention Centre Canberra
- Festivals and Events—2016 National Folk Festival
- Cultural Tourism—Royal Australian Mint
- Specialised Tourism Services—Canberra Airport
- Visitor Information Services—Yass Valley Information Centre, Yass Valley Council
- Unique Accommodation—Jamala Wildlife Lodge (National Zoo and Aquarium)
For a complete list of Canberra winners visit http://canberratourismawards.com.au/winners/