The 2023 North Queensland Tourism and Events Awards acknowledge the incredible work of the tourism and events industry and the important role this sector plays in our local economy.
Townsville Enterprise Director Visitor Economy and Marketing, Lisa Woolfe said the tourism industry is an important part of the region’s fabric and a proof point of our region's enviable lifestyle and holiday offering.
“The North Queensland Tourism and Events Awards recognise the outstanding achievements and contribution of our tourism and events operators and acknowledges the exceptional experiences they provide visitors and locals,” Mrs Woolfe said.
“In a year of records and firsts, the People's Choice Award categories which has grown in number to cater for the evolution of new products and experiences, has attracted more than 31,000 public votes which is a record for this event and a great show of support for our industry.”
“Additionally, this year we welcomed our first Hall of Fame recipient with the award going to Texas Longhorn Tours who have won the Tours, Attractions and Experiences category for three-years running – which is outstanding achievement.”
“Honouring their passionate contribution to the industry, Mick and Lynda Bethel from Texas Longhorn Tours were also awarded the coveted Richard Power Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual acknowledging their extraordinary personal and professional achievement and contribution to the local tourism and events industry.”
In 2009, Mick and Lynda Bethel transitioned from a lifetime of cattle breeding to establish their own business, sharing their passion with visitors from across Australia and beyond. Their dedication to Texas Longhorns has not only put Charters Towers on the map but has also woven an enduring thread into the community's fabric.
Individual awards were also presented to the Young Achiever, going to Georgie Arnold from Townsville Helicopters and ZephAir; and the Outstanding Contribution by a Volunteer awarded to Rini Dallavanzi from the Hinchinbrook Visitor Information Centre.
In honour of his profound contribution to the Townsville North Queensland community, and support of the regional tourism sector – the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the one-and-only, Steve 'Pricey’ Price who retires from his 32-year radio tenure at the end of this year, honoured with a golden mango trophy.
"At Townsville Enterprise, we wanted to make special mention of Pricey's contribution to our community, and thank him for his unwavering and passionate support of the tropical lifestyle we are lucky enough to call home here in the North. We wanted to honour his uncanny and unique ability to share our region's story so authentically with avid listeners across the state.”
New to the Award lineup, the Excellence Awards – sponsored by Townsville Airport – were also presented to recognise an individual or business who has shown continued steps toward delivering a sustainable visitor experience or dedication to offering an exceptional accessible and inclusive experience.
"The purpose of the Excellence in Sustainability and Excellence in Accessible Tourism has been to recognise business initiatives that have gone above and beyond to ensure continued improvements to not only offer world-class visitor experiences, but to enhance the community and environment that we as locals enjoy every day.”
"Each finalist – of which there were four in each category – are leading their industry colleagues and should be proud of their commitment to making this region better in every aspect, not only from a business perspective, but their contribution to our community. The winners of these awards were Aquascene Magnetic Island for Excellence in Sustainability, and North Australian Festival of Arts for Excellence in Accessible Tourism.”
Events were equally honoured on the night as our region cements its position as the Events Capital of the North, with the Women's State of Origin (Townsville) event taking out the Major Event category, voted by those from the event's record-breaking crowd seen earlier this year. The Destination Event Award was presented to Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week.
In ongoing recognition of the region's Best of Queensland experiences, local businesses who achieved a 100% score were also awarded a special mention.
The Best of Queensland Experiences Program (BOQEP) - delivered in partnership with Tourism and Events Queensland - is an innovative program that guides the Queensland tourism industry to deliver exceptional transformational experiences. The program is based on an independent set of criteria that incorporates online customer reviews, responds to consumer expectations and reflects industry best practice.
“The number of 100% score Best of Queensland operators in Townsville North Queensland has more than doubled on last year – showing that our region continues to punch above its weight when it comes to the exceptional destination experiences and it’s clear our locals and visitors agree,” Mrs Woolfe said.
The gala event was held at Queensland Country Bank Stadium and was attended by 210 local tourism industry and business representatives. The 2023 North Queensland Tourism Awards was delivered by Townsville Enterprise and sponsored by Vetta Creative, Simon George and Sons, Designer Life, Townsville Airport, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, GEMA Catering, Southern Cross Austereo, Goldtower, Tan Lines Distilling, Sealink, TAFE Queensland, Travello and Townsville City Council.
People's Choice Awards
Accommodation - Hotel
Winner: The Ville Resort-Casino
Accommodation - Motel
Winner: Kernow Charters Towers
Accommodation – Caravan and Holiday Parks
Winner: Townsville Eco Resort
Dining: Café and Casual Dining
Winner: Hervey's Range Heritage Rooms
Tours, Attractions and Experiences
Winner: Texas Longhorns Tours
Bars, Breweries and Distilleries
Winner: Townsville Brewing Co.
Business Conferencing Venue
Winner: The Ville Resort-Casino
Transport and Hire Services
Best Major Event
Winner: Women's State of Origin (Townsville 2023)
Best Destination Event
Winner: Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week
New Tourism Business or Experience
Winner: Pilgrim Adventures - Pilgrim Magnetic Island
Excellence in Accessible Tourism
Winner: North Australian Festival of Arts
Excellence in Sustainability
Winner: Aquascene Magnetic Island
Best of Queensland
100% Best of Queensland Score
- Big Mama Sailing
- BIG4 Tasman Holiday Parks - Rowes Bay
- Billabong Sanctuary
- Discovery Parks - Townsville
- Orpheus Island Lodge
- Tasman Holiday Parks - Rollingstone
- The Ville Resort-Casino
- Townsville Eco Resort
Outstanding Contribution by a Volunteer
Winner: Rini Dallavanzi, Hinchinbrook Visitor Information Centre
Young Achiever Award
Winner: Georgie Arnold
Richard Power Award for Outstanding Contribution
Winner: Mick and Lynda Bethel, Texas Longhorn Tours
Lifetime Achievement Award
Steve 'Pricey’ Price