Awards to recognise local tourism stars

By Roger Moroney

A celebration of the Hawke's Bay tourism industry's leading lights is set to be staged in the form of an awards event.

"Our industry as a whole does not currently have a vehicle to recognise and celebrate our local, often unsung heroes, who deliver an exceptional visitor experience," Hawke's Bay Tourism Industry Association chairman Sam Orton said.

"It's time to celebrate the achievements within the tourism industry and to acknowledge those who are running successful businesses, particularly in these times of economic adversity."

The association, in conjunction with Hawke's Bay Tourism, has set up the Hawke's Bay Tourism Industry Awards to recognise the region's top performing members of the industry.

Mr Orton said entries would open on July 1 with members of the Hawke's Bay Tourism Partnership programme across all sectors eligible to enter.

They will be asked to complete a questionnaire and brief business plan.

Judging will be carried out by an independent panel made up of AA Tourism general manager Peter Blackwell, Air New Zealand On-line and Leisure manager Dave Simmons, Hawke's Bay Airport Authority member Stuart Webster and EIT's Head of School Tourism and Hospitality, Jenny Robertson.

Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas said Hawke's Bay Tourism was delighted to be part of the awards.

"It's easy to get bogged down in these difficult economic times so it's wonderful to have an opportunity to celebrate the success and innovation of our local operators."

The association carried out a survey of its members and 93 per cent of those who responded gave the idea the thumbs-up, with 42 businesses already saying they were likely to put in an entry.

Andrew Buenter of Navigate Seaside Accommodation was one of those.

"Anything that helps develop awareness of improved customer service and innovations has to be a positive," he said.

The awards will culminate in a night of celebration to be staged at the Skyline Aviation Hangar on September 20.

The top 10 businesses will be showcased and the top three will be announced to go forward as finalists in the 2012 Westpac Chamber of Commerce Awards, where a new tourism category winner will be announced.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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