Queensland's top iconic events and tourism experiences including Beef 2021, Bundaberg Rum Distillery Visitor Experience, and Julia Creek Caravan Park have claimed top honours at this year's Australian Tourism awards.
Presented at the Sunshine Coast Convention Centre last Friday, more than 700 tourism operators and guests gathered to recognise the achievements and resilience of Australia's finest visitor experiences.
Competing with the nation's best tourism products, Bundaberg Rum Distillery Visitor Experience were the big winners at the awards night, walking away with top honours for a third time in Tourism Wineries, Distilleries & Breweries.
Having achieved a golden hat trick, the Distillery Experience was inducted into the Australian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame.
The organisers of Rockhampton's Beef 2021 expo also took home Australia's best Major Festival and Event award.
Attracting over 115,000 people through the gate in a rare window of reduced restrictions on travel during COVID-19, Beef 2021 was arguably the largest event of its type held in the Southern hemisphere in 2021.
Beef Australia CEO Simon Irwin said the national award was a fitting tribute to everybody who was a part of the Beef 2021 event.
"When you think that six weeks prior to the event borders were closed and six weeks later they were playing NRL in empty stadiums, it is almost unbelievable that an event of this scale could be held so successfully" Mr Irwin said.
"It was a demonstration of faith by our presenting partners in the abilities of the Board and the Beef Australia team to organise such a major undertaking in such a shortened time.
"It was a courageous decision by Chairman Bryce Camm and the Beef Australia board to push the go button in time of great uncertainty where most events were being cancelled due to COVID restrictions.
"The then CEO Ian Mill and his team then basically did two and half year's work in eight months to present what is now seen as the Best Beef Yet!"
Mr Irwin said Beef21 could not happen without the incredible support of our 115,000+ visitors through the gate, the volunteers, and investors including the Federal and State government, Meat and Livestock Australia and Rockhampton Regional Council.
"To be named firstly as a Queensland Tourism Industry Council state winner in two categories, to now receiving the top gong nationally, we are very grateful and humbled to have such wonderful support from so many and I thank them all for their kind words and messages of congratulations," he said.
Julia Creek Caravan Park, which is owned by the McKinlay Shire Council, also took home silver on the night.
The Council-owned Park is on a roll having already won gold on a state level at the 2021 Queensland Tourism Awards.
While they missed out on the gold, the Park said they were humbled and proud that years of hard work, commitment and innovation was being recognised on the national stage.
The Longreach Visitor Information Centre (Outback) claimed bronze in their Visitor Information Services category.
Overall, Queensland tourism celebrated a remarkable night by accepting 15 accolades at this year's national Awards with 6 Gold, 5 Silver, and 4 Bronze being awarded to exceptional Sunshine State operators.
A total of 75 awards were presented across 25 categories, including Red Cat Adventures who took home Gold for Adventure Tourism, as did Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat in the Hosted Accommodation category, and Empire Apartment Hotel for 4-4.5 Star Accommodation.
Other Queensland winners include the Spirits of the Red Sand, who took out the prestigious Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism Award.
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the Awards' strong Queensland representation demonstrated commitment to recovery.
"In the last two years, resilient Queensland tourism operators have found opportunities to build back better", Mr Hinchliffe said.
"They've strived for excellence in delivering outstanding, visitor-focused experiences and new, world-class tourism infrastructure.
"The tremendous determination of tourism operators is reflected in the Awards' 21 Queensland finalists.
"The Palaszczuk government is investing more than $1.1 billion in support for tourism operators.
"We've helped operators update and create new visitor attractions to put Queensland in the best possible position to lead the rebuild of domestic and international tourism.
"And right now, Queensland is seeing the green shoots of recovery".
Want daily news highlights delivered to your inbox? Sign up to the Queensland Country Life newsletter below.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.