By Ellen Hill – Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
The Blue Mountains tourism industry will be showcased on the world stage when The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet a Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism (BMLOT) delegation at Echo Point tomorrow (Thursday, April 17).
BMLOT CEO Randall Walker and Scenic World joint managing director Anthea Hammon will be the official escorts for the royal couple during their whistlestop visit to Echo Point Lookout, the most visited natural location in regional Australia.
As well as pointing out landmarks in the vista such as the Three Sisters, Jamison Valley and, of course, Scenic World across the valley, Mr Walker and Ms Hammon will discuss the economic impact of the October 2013 bushfires on the tourism industry.
The Royal couple will also meet Aboriginal elders associated with the tourism industry, Aunty Sharyn Halls (Gundungurra Aboriginal Heritage Association, The Gully and Ancestral Pathways Walk), Aunty Sharon Brown (Gundungurra Tribal Council, Muggadah Tours and Mulyang Dance Troup) and Uncle Chris Tobin (Darug, artists camp) as well as BMLOT chairman Daniel Myles, Blue Mountains Accommodation & Tourism Association president Eric Sward and Huong Nguyen, owner of one of the largest tourism businesses in the region, the Escarpment Group.
Their Royal Highnesses will also receive a special edition Prince George teddy bear from Nana’s Teddies & Toys at Blaxland and an information package detailing the Evatt family association with the royal family, compiled by Leuralla Toy & Railway Museum owner Elizabeth Evatt, which were presented to a Kensington Palace official on Tuesday (April 15) to pass on to the Royal couple.
Mr Walker said he was delighted to welcome the royal couple and the world’s media to one of Australia’s most iconic tourism destinations on behalf of the tourism industry, especially after challenging times.
“To be able to raise awareness of the destination in such a high profile and positive way is a fabulous outcome for tourism industry operators and the Blue Mountains community.
“I deeply thank the royal couple for taking the time out of their extraordinarily busy schedule to visit a special historic and Aboriginal place.’’
Mr Walker said he planned to point out the Jamison Valley as a glimpse into the 1 million ha of World Heritage Area as well as sustainable tourism experiences such as Scenic World, Lilianfels and Echo Point Visitor Information Centre on the edge of the wilderness.
Ms Hammon said: “As a young woman and family business owner, I’m excited to meet The Duchess of Cambridge and welcome her to our beautiful Blue Mountains region.
“I look forward to sharing with her the stunning Jamison Valley landscapes, hearing about her travels and providing insight into the local tourism industry.’’
BMLOT chairman Daniel Myles welcomed the honour: “I am very proud that BMLOT was invited to assist in the arrangements for the visit to the Blue Mountains by the young royal couple.
“It is a wonderful secret a very small and tight-lipped group within the official regional tourism organisation has kept faithfully for some time. Many thanks to the select group of Blue Mountains City Council staff who have worked with BMLOT on preparations for this visit.
“We are delighted to now share the details with the community so royal watchers and well wishers have the chance to see Their Royal Highnesses in person.
“The Blue Mountains is one of the most recognisable, not to mention magnificent locations on the planet. It is fitting that one of the most recognisable couples in the world visit it.’’
The Blue Mountains, has been a favourite royal tour destination for almost a century.
The Duke’s grandmother, the current monarch Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh visited the Blue Mountains and Lithgow in 1954, their tour including Echo Point. In fact, a monument stands on the lower deck of the lookout in her honour.
The most celebrated visit was that of the then Duke and Duchess of York in March 1927.
On March 31 of that year, the royal couple arrived at Katoomba by train and walked the short distance from the railway station to The Carrington Hotel (the first resort-style hotel in Australia’s first tourist destination, the Blue Mountains).
Huge crowds greeted them. After lunch, they were driven to Echo Point, home of the Three Sisters, where thousands lined the streets.
The Echo newspaper reported that The Duchess was overheard to say: “ `Look at those clouds! Isn’t it wonderful.’ The Duke’s reply was unintelligible [unable to be heard], but his face maintained its customary passivity.’’
The Royal couple also visited Jenolan Caves during that tour.
Well wishers are advised to arrive at Echo Point between 11am and 12pm on Thursday. Further details such as the route to be taken by the royal entourage will not be disclosed.
Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism is the official regional tourism organisation for the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon local government areas supported by government and industry.