Cruise Whitsundays has lead the way for Whitsundays operators who cleaned up at Friday night's Queensland Tourism Awards with 11 awards, the region claiming the third largest haul in the state.
Taking home the region's only two GOLD awards, Cruise Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer Nick Hortle said he was proud and privileged to work in the state’s most beautiful destination.
"The Whitsundays is a relatively small region but we are home to the global icons of the Great Barrier Reef, stunning tropical islands and Whitehaven Beach and it’s a privilege that Cruise Whitsundays can take guests from all over the world to these icons everyday," Mr Hortle said.
"Cruise Whitsundays has been through a significant time of change in the past two years since we acquired Fantasea's operations which doubled our operations overnight," he said.
"We've had our heads down focusing on getting all those changes bedded down, as well as innovating several of our products, notably the introduction of sleeping under the stars in swags at Reefsleep and the $15m investment in the purpose built Port of Airlie Maritime Terminal,"
"So for the judges to award us these honours is a huge achievement for our team and I want to thank every single staff member from the front line crew on the boats to the office based staff, senior management and owners for their commitment to ensuring Cruise Whitsundays is an industry leader."
Cruise Whitsundays was awarded Queensland's best Major Tour and/or Transport Operator, beating Cairns-based Quicksilver and Queensland Rail's Spirit of Queensland who were awarded Silver and Bronze respectively.
The Great Barrier 'Reefsleep' operated by Cruise Whitsundays was awarded Queensland's most unique accommodation.
"Throughout our everyday transfer services and range of 18 day cruises, we carry the vast majority of visitors to the Whitsundays, as well as offer a vital service for a large number of locals travelling and working on the Whitsunday Islands," Mr Hortle said.
"If we were an airport we'd be in the top 20 busiest in Australia!"
"But then on the other end of the scale, each night we offer the Reefsleep experience, an intimate opportunity to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef overnight for small numbers of guests up to a maximum of 14 per night,"
"In late 2013 we significantly changed the product offering at Reefsleep by introducing the opportunity to sleep under the stars in swags on the top deck of the reef pontoon,"
"This has turned an already unique experience into a truly extraordinary experience, adding a classic Aussie touch for our international guests,"
"As a result we have seen demand for the Reefsleep product surge and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,"
"I'd like to take the opportunity to congratulate our fellow Whitsundays operators who took home another 9 silver and bronze awards amongst them - it is a sign of a very healthy region offering amazing experiences,"
"In particular it is a credit to our region that Whitsunday Escape was awarded Bronze in the unique accommodation category - proving that guests looking for unique Queensland experiences should come to the Whitsundays!"