1 June 2022

Celebrations as regional businesses take out NSW Tourism awards

| Edwina Mason
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Celebrations at the Eden Visitor Information Centre.

Celebrations at the Eden Visitor Information Centre. Photo: Facebook.

Several southern NSW businesses emerged from the 2021 NSW Tourism Awards bearing medals for their hard work and commitment, but the night was particularly significant for the Eden Visitor Information Centre.

The Sapphire Coast centre was bestowed with the Judges’ Tourism Star Award alongside Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and Simpson Cottage, which sits in the Royal National Park, south of Sydney. The special accolade acknowledged the resilience shown by the tourism industry during a year impacted by floods, bushfires, and COVID-19.

Eden Visitor Information Centre manager Clair Mudaliar said there weren’t any cheers louder than those from the little gathering in Eden when the win was announced over Zoom.

She said, throughout the 18-month period the awards took in, the not-for-profit Eden Visitor Information Centre achieved a number of objectives including a move to a new location within the iconic Eden Welcome Centre, rebranding, diversifying operations, overhauling their complete retail offering to include mainly local products and striving to be innovative with its support for local businesses and the community.

READ ALSO A tale of two towns: Batemans Bay visitor centre moves online, while Merimbula information centre needs more volunteers

“We feel so honoured to have been selected for this very special award,” Clair said, “the judges were obviously impressed with what we managed to achieve even through bushfires, floods and COVID.

“This award means the world to us as we really feel like a David and Goliath situation going up against major business and council-run centres, so it’s a massive achievement for our little non-profit, volunteer-staffed centre to be able to take home a win at a state level.”

An event that put the Riverina town of Deniliquin on the map took out a gold medal on the night, which was originally meant to be held at Luna Park before COVID concerns intervened.

Deni Ute Muster

Possibly the most photographed feature at the Deni Ute Muster is the iconic tin man. Photo: Deni Ute Muster

The Deni Ute Muster won the Festival and Events category at the awards night after operating for more than 20 years.

Established in 1999, the initiative – which plays out on the largest flattest plains on earth – was conceived during one of Australia’s worst droughts.

With a goal of increasing tourism to the local region, the muster has delivered in uteloads – 22 years later thousands of people converge on the town swelling its population to that of an inland city each September.

Also in the Riverina, Wagga Wagga’s Bundyi Cultural Tours received silver in the Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism category which was applauded by the local Wiradjuri mob.

Eastward toward the Snowy Mountains, Courabyra Wine’s Cathy Gairn was thrilled with a silver medal in the Tourism Wineries, Distilleries and Breweries category.

She said her staff gathered for drinks and dinner while she huddled in front of a green screen in another room as the winners were announced.

“It was so exciting, it’s a real honour actually,” Cathy said, “very humbling.”

She said the medal paved the way for an even more promising future for the Tumbarumba winery.

“We’re so proud to have won this, it means a lot and we’re so grateful for the support we’ve had from everyone,” Cathy said.

“This medal has given us even more momentum going forward. It all looks so good up here right now after all the rain. The vines are looking fantastic after two disastrous years, so we’re pretty excited too about what lies ahead.”

READ ALSO EAT Festival returns bigger and better as a ‘true foodie event’ on the Sapphire Coast

With Tumbafest just weeks away, then Great Southern Nights on 19 March, Cathy said Courabyra was also about to begin work on extending the operation to host larger functions.

Susie and Griff Cupitt of Cupitt's Estate

A delighted Susie and Griff Cupitt of Cupitt’s Estate near Ulladulla. Photo: Supplied.

Back on the South Coast, a silver medal also went to Cupitt’s Estate in Ulladulla.

A spokesperson for the family-owned and run business said they were thrilled with their place.

“We are beyond humbled and delighted to have won a silver award for the category of Tourism Restaurant in an extremely challenging two-year period that has been 2019/2021,” said Libby Cupitt.

The Ridge Retreat at Mollymook took out a bronze medal in the Hosted Accommodation Category.

Co-owners Libby and Paul Davies said they were delighted with the recognition among such strong, high quality tourism businesses across the state.

“It’s been a challenging two years in the industry dealing with bushfires and then the onset of COVID but hopefully the worst is now behind us,” they said.

The Deni Ute Muster will now join other winners representing NSW at the Australian Tourism Awards on 18 March 2022.

Original Article published by Edwina Mason on About Regional.

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