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Tourism awards grow

IN what’s considered a reflection of the maturity of the State’s tourism industry a record number of entries have been submitted for the 2003 Western Australian Tourism Awards.

Organised by private-sector body Tourism Council WA (TCWA), the annual WA Tourism Awards recognise excellence in the tourism industry over 27 categories, as well as the Sir David Brand awards.  Winners will be announced at the industry’s gala night this week at Burswood International Resort Casino.

Vying for this year’s Sir David Brand Award for Tourism are Burswood International Resort Casino, The Perth Zoo and The Perth Mint.

Awards chairman Kevin Harrison said the standard of entries had improved substantially and for the first time in years there would be a winner in each category.

“Some six years ago we had considerably less overall entries than the 123 finalists this year, which is a tribute to both the big and small operators in the tourism industry who offer the Western Australia experience to visitors,” he said.

Mr Harrison attributed the improved calibre of the entries to the success of the TCWA Quality Assurance program, which had worked to educate and set benchmarks throughout the industry.

One of the most competitive categories is significant tourist attractions, which has seven finalists from all over the State, including Whale World, Mt Romance Australia, the WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle, Araluen Botanic Park, Sandalford Caversham Estate, Yanchep National Park and Willie Creek Pearl Farm in Broome.

Mr Harrison said the number of entrants from the Perth region had increased by around 40 per cent on past years.

“Finalists are fairly evenly divided between the country regions and Perth, which is demonstrated in the major tourist attractions category – The Bibbulman Track, El Questro Wilderness Park, Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Rottnest Island Authority and The Perth Mint,” he said.

“Other strong growth areas in the industry are in hosted accomodation, farm stays and caravan parks.”

Unique accommodation is another industry sector on the rise, with more operations offering experiences such as luxury yachts or luxury camping adventures.

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