By Ellen Hill – Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
The best of the best tourism and hospitality businesses in the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region for 2014 were revealed at the annual Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism (BMLOT) Awards of Excellence gala dinner and awards night on Friday (August 8).
The official regional tourism organisation’s awards recognise and promote product and service quality in the regional tourism and hospitality industry.
The black tie event traditionally attracts a glittering array of regional and state industry personalities and stakeholders including Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill, Oberon Mayor John McMahon and Lithgow Mayor Maree Statham, Oberon Council general manager Alan Cairney, Blue Mountains State MP Roza Sage and Macquarie Federal MP Louise Markus.
BMLOT chairman Daniel Myles congratulated all finalists and said he was determined to return the nation’s first tourist destination to its Number One tourism position after the October 2013 bushfires although he praised the resilience of the tourism industry.
Recently completed sections of the Great Western Hwy through the Blue Mountains was already making it easier for tourists to visit the region and more experiences, events and attractions would also tempt visitors, he said.
A strong theme of the award winner speeches was team work, with most thanking their colleagues and staff for a collective achievement.
The gala dinner and awards ceremony was held at Scenic World at Katoomba. Scenic World joint managing directors David and Anthea Hammon were emcees and entertainment was provided by Waradah Aboriginal Dancers and the Steve Morrison Jazz Band.
The BMLOT regional tourism awards feed into the NSW Tourism Awards and the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards.
Through the support of Tourism Industry Council NSW and the generosity of sponsors, BMLOT members entered the regional awards for free. All entrants also had the opportunity to attend free submission workshops and category winners will receive free mentoring before the NSW Tourism Awards later in the year.
Award winners were:
- Specialised Tourism Services: Sponsor: Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism GOLD: Ask Roz
- Regional Tourism Ambassador Sponsor: Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism WINNER: Kellie Barrow, Lithgow City Council
- Tourism Education & Training Sponsor: Scenic World GOLD: Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School
- Tour Operators Sponsor: Scenic World GOLD: Life’s An Adventure
Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Sponsor: National Parks & Wildlife Service GOLD: Wild Valley Art Park
- Apprentice of the Year Sponsor: TAFE Western Sydney Institute WINNER: Thomas Ferguson, Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains
- Young Customer Service Employee of the Year Sponsor: Scenic World WINNER: Meagan Iervasi, Lilianfels Resort & Spa
- Customer Service Employee of the Year Sponsor: Scenic World WINNER: Jessica Fisher, Lilianfels Resort & Spa
- Visitor Information & Services Sponsor: Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism GOLD: Oberon Visitor Information Centre
- Contribution to the Blue Mountains Bicentenary Sponsor: Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism Lithgow Mayor Maree Statham Joan Kent, A Moment in Time Wendy Hawkes, Lithgow City Council Blue Mountains Crossing Bicentenary Committee
- Tourism Restaurants & Catering Services Sponsor: Oberon Council GOLD: Leura Garage
- Deluxe Accommodation Sponsor: Oberon Plateau Tourism Association GOLD: Mountain Heritage Hotel & Spa Retreat
- Festivals & Events Sponsor: Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise GOLD: Sculpture at Scenic World
- Adventure Tourism Sponsor: Lithgow City Council GOLD: Life’s An Adventure
- Tourist & Caravan Parks Sponsor: Lithgow City Council GOLD: Jenolan Caravan Park
- Major Tourist Attractions Sponsor: Blue Mountains City Council GOLD: Blue Mountains National Park
- Tourist Attractions Sponsor: Blue Mountains City Council GOLD: Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mt Tomah
- Business Tourism Sponsor: Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School GOLD: Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains
- Local Government Award for Tourism Sponsor: Tourism Industry, a division of the NSW Business Chamber GOLD: Oberon Council
- Young Employee of the Year Sponsor: Scenic World WINNER: Roxanne Campbell, Lilianfels Resort & Spa
- Employee of the Year Sponsor: Scenic World WINNER: Daryl Walker, Lilianfels Resort & Spa
- Luxury Accommodation Sponsor: Jenolan Caves GOLD: Mountain Whispers
- Tourism Business of the Year finalists, Blue Mountains Business Awards Sponsor: Biznet, the Blue Mountains Regional Business Chamber Blue Mountains FINALISTS: International Hotel Management School, Blue Mountains National Park, Life’s An Adventure, Mountain Whispers, Scenic World