03/12/2008 - 22:00

Laurance takes top honour in tourism

03/12/2008 - 22:00

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IT was quite fitting that the chairman of state tourism body Australia's North West, Ian Laurance, was awarded the industry's top individual honour last week, an award named after one of his earliest mentors.

IT was quite fitting that the chairman of state tourism body Australia's North West, Ian Laurance, was awarded the industry's top individual honour last week, an award named after one of his earliest mentors.

After almost 30 years in the tourism industry, Mr Laurance was awarded the Sir David Brand Medal at the Western Australian Tourism Awards for his services to the industry.

The connection wasn't lost on Mr Laurance, who acknowledged the former state premier in his acceptance speech.

Mr Laurance was elected to state parliament in 1974 as the Member for Gascoyne, as Sir David was serving his final term.

"I was fortunate to be in parliament when David Brand was still there," Mr Laurance told WA Business News.

"He was a significant mentor for me, I had a lot to do with him.

"After he left parliament in 1980 I was appointed state minister for tourism and had a first-hand look at the industry."

After exiting public office, Mr Laurance moved to Queensland and was appointed director of Seaworld Property Trust, where he held the role of executive director of the major Gold Coast theme parks Seaworld and Warner Bros Movie World, as well as the Seaworld Nara Resort Hotel.

Mr Laurance believes WA can learn a lot from the development of the Queensland tourism industry.

"They're a significant mining state but they also pay a lot attention to the tourism business," he said.

Outside of tourism, Mr Laurance sits on a number of boards of publicly listed companies, including as chairman of development company Axiom Properties Ltd, and chairman of Arafura Resources Ltd.

In 2006, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the WA tourism industry, to the community as a member of parliament and to sporting, environmental and charitable organisations.

Other tourism award winners included Fremantle Prison, which won the major tourist attraction awards, Karijini Eco Retreat, which won the ecotourism category, and Sandalford Wines, which won the tourism winery category.

Among the accommodation providers, Faraway Bay bushcamp won unique accommodation, Seashells Resort Mandurah won for deluxe accommodation and Cable Beach Club Resort won for luxury accommodation.

Wilderness camp Kooljaman at Cape Leveque won the new category of excellence in sustainable tourism, as well as the award for indigenous tourism.

Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association won the Sir David Brand Award for Tourism, as well as the visitor information and services award.

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