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  • Tourism industry celebrated in this year’s Aussie Town of the Year Awards

    24 February 2021 – Today, the go-to travel site for domestic travel, Wotif.com has announced the winners of the 2021 Aussie Town of the Year Awards.

    Now in its fourth year, these annual Aussie tourism awards recognise some of the country’s best destinations for the year ahead, to encourage Aussies to hit the road and see more of their own backyard. Almost one year on from the country’s first lockdown and as tourism operators continue to navigate through one of the most critical times for the industry, this year Wotif hopes to encourage Aussies to consider how worthwhile a local trip can be.

    Wotif Managing Director, Daniel Finch said: “It continues to be a privilege to announce the winners of these annual tourism awards but after the last twelve months, this year’s awards are more important than ever. It’s time to recognise and celebrate the people and communities behind some of Australia’s finest tourism destinations – who continue to work tirelessly and adapt to new and ongoing restrictions.”

    This year’s winning destinations have been awarded based on their accommodation quality, affordability and traveller satisfaction. New to this year, the awards also recognise destinations that have met the changing needs of travellers over the last twelve months, by offering increased flexibility, good-value deals and appealing activities and attractions. In addition, many of the winning towns have used the last 12 months to renew their offerings and remerge stronger as a result of the ongoing challenges.

    Finch continued: “Based on our conversations with this year’s finalists, while all agree there is still a long way to go, with some areas reporting a up to a 90% profit loss during the height of the pandemic, it’s promising to see optimism is high. Each region is at a different stage of recovery, but some operators are starting to see signs of relief with the Aussie sense of support extremely high. What’s clear is that the industry is focused on ensuring travellers feel welcome and safe.”

    This year’s top destinations cover a diverse mix of experiences and attractions to get Aussies excited about the travel possibilities in their own backyard. Queensland took out first prize, with Cairns claiming the top spot, while New South Wales dominated overall, with a strong showing from Pokolbin, Mudgee, Port Macquarie and The Entrance. Coastal destinations in Victoria, South and West Australia rounded out the top ten. As the smallest continent but the largest island, there are few nations lucky enough to have such a diverse landscape to see out the pandemic, and with so many choices, where to travel next in Australia is one decision every Australian can look forward to making.

    Wotif 2021 Aussie Town of the Year Award winners

    1. Cairns, QLD – What could be better than being the gateway to one World Heritage site? Being on the doorstep of two, of course! Spend some time exploring the Great Barrier Reef and the world’s oldest rainforest, and you’ll ask yourself why you didn’t visit this stunning part of Australia sooner.
    2. Pokolbin, NSW – If it’s indulgence and relaxation that you’re after, then the rolling hills and picturesque vistas of Pokolbin and the Hunter Valley region are the ideal setting for some R&R, just a short drive from Sydney.
    3. Apollo Bay, VIC – Come for the great outdoors but stay for the delicious fresh produce. Surrounded by endless beaches, walking trails and the Great Otway National Park, Apollo Bay is a top place to base yourself while exploring the Great Ocean Road.
    4. Mudgee, NSW – Country hospitality at its finest. Swirl and sip your way around Mudgee, visit a neighbouring heritage village or just sit back and enjoy the sense of community in this humble region.
    5. Lakes Entrance, VIC – The water is where you want to bewhen visiting Lakes Entrance – where the Gippsland Lakes meets the Southern Ocean. Spend your day kayaking, fishing or swimming, and your evenings dining at one of the many great restaurants in and around town.
    6. McLarenVale, SA – Cheesemaking, wine blending, a Shiraz trail, 31 kilometres of pristine coastline and over 70 cellar doors, just 40 minutes out of Adelaide. The toughest decision will be where to start!
    7. Hervey Bay, QLD – What the locals describe as the best address on earth. Visit Hervey Bay for its reliable sunshine, whale watching, incredible diving experiences and Fraser Island, just a short ferry away.
    8. Exmouth, WA – You know Exmouth for its diving experiences on Ningaloo Reef, but there’s even more to discover about this stunning part of Australia. It’s the perfect base for an adventure getaway both in and out of the water. Head to Cape Range National Park and you’ll find breathtaking canyons and the most incredible wildflowers.
    9. Port Macquarie, NSW – The ultimate all-rounder.Home to some of NSW’s best beaches, excellent eateries, the beloved Koala Hospital, a buzzing city centre and plenty of surrounding adventure – Port Macquarie is always an excellent choice.
    10. The Entrance, NSW – A relaxing family favourite on the Central Coast, where the lake meets the ocean, this town has plenty of water activities, from fishing, hiring a boat or exploring one of the many local beaches on offer.

    Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef claims the top spot

    After an incredible challenging year for the Tropical North Queensland tourism community, Cairns has taken out this year’s top spot.

    Finch said: “Cairns is a standout destination. Not only is it the gateway to one of Australia’s most treasured natural beauties – the Great Barrier Reef, but the city itself offers the ideal laid-back tropical lifestyle. To think that this humble city, which does so much for Australian tourism on an international scale suffered a loss of more than $50 million a week during the height of COVID-19 isincomprehensible. It’s time for Australia to back the Cairns region and make a commitment to visit a part of Australia that people from all over the world come to see.”

    Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer, Mark Olsen said the local industry was excited to have Cairns named the Wotif Aussie Town of the Year for 2021. “Here in the State’s tropical north we have been fortunate to have very few cases of COVID-19 allowing us to move about more freely. However, the economic impact of closed borders has decimated our economy which relies on tourism. Australians are desperate for a holiday and Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, with its wide-open spaces, low population and excellent nature-based experiences is the ideal destination.”

    In Cairns, Gavin Maloney, Director of Distribution and Leisure, Shangri-La Group said every travel business within the region has worked hard to keep the community strong during the COVID-19 crisis. “A trip to Cairns keeps locals in a job and that extends beyond travel businesses – to farmers growing fruit on the Tablelands, boutiques selling bathers by the beach, and cafes serving coffee to the boat crews getting ready to carry tourists to the Great Barrier Reef.”

    Worth the trip, in more ways than one

    Be it in Tropical North Queensland or along the Great Ocean Road, as the summer season for many regions begins to subside, now is the time Aussie travellers need to make a conscious decision to holiday here this year and according to new Wotif insights, chances are Aussies will be pleasantly surprised by what they find.

    New Wotif research confirms that for the Aussies that managed to take a local holiday in 2020, the overwhelming majority (95%) agree that their trip either met or exceeded their expectations, proving many travellers are loving the opportunity to spend more time exploring their own backyard. This comes as most Aussies (60%) now recognise there’s a lot more to explore in their own backyard, with one in four (26%) admitting they had forgotten how great a local trip can be.

    “While the last 12 months have been less than ideal, this time has given Aussies the chance to revaluate how they live, work and play – a change of perspective that many now appreciate. The chance to get back to basics and take stock of how lucky we are. While an overseas getaway will always have its purpose and appeal, many Aussies do not realise the unique opportunity they have in front of them – to take advantage of having this enormous playground called Australia, all to themselves,” Finch concluded.

    “For four years now, Wotif has made a commitment to highlight how great an Aussie holiday can be, in the hope that the recognition and subsequent exposure for the winning towns will provide a boost to local communities. With the overall loss to Australian tourism due to COVID-19 now totalling over $59 billion , there is a huge job ahead to get the industry back on its feet and we hope to motivate Aussies – to do their part for Australian tourism, and to remind travellers how worthwhile an Aussie trip can be.”

    To read more and see the latest travel deals from this year’s winning destinations, head to www.wotif.com/aussietownoftheyear.

    For further information please contact pr@wotif.com.

    Wotif 2021 Aussie Town of the Year Award index includes:

    • Affordability: Based on the average daily rate for 3 – 5 star-rated and self-rated accommodation demand on Wotif.com from January 2020 to September 2020
    • Accommodation: Based on accommodation quality, quantity and deals on Wotif.com in 2020
    • Reviews: Based on the average traveller review rating on Wotif.com for each destination in 2020
    • Flexibility: Based on the increase in flexible accommodation deals for each destination in 2020
    • Leisure appeal: Based on destinations where the average length of stay has increased over 2020

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