South Coast tourism toasts its $2bil effort

Bluejuice Events’ Keryn Hughes (left), Kylie-Ann Haynes and Suzana Jolevska were among the category winners at last night’s South Coast Tourism Awards. Picture: ANDY ZAKELIAn industry’s injection of close to $2 billion into the region’s economy during the global financial crisis was celebrated last night when tourist operators gathered at the 2009 South Coast Tourism Awards.The Novotel Northbeach in Wollongong was the setting for the dinner, which recognised the significant role the sector has played in supporting the regional economy during the last year.But the big winner of the night was a national park that endured the brunt of the December 2004 bushfires which almost decimated the Jervis Bay economy.Striking just days before the busy Christmas holiday period, the fires that swept through Booderee National Park had a major impact on nearby communities.But five years later, park management impressed judges with how Booderee had transformed itself from black ashes to a pristine nature wonderland.More than 300 people, including Minister for Transport and for the Illawarra, David Campbell, saw Booderee receive the award for best South Coast Tourist Attraction and win the Indigenous Tourism category.South Coast Regional Tourism Organisation chairman Rob Pollock acknowledged the positive response to this year’s awards from along the entire South Coast.”This is the second year the South Coast Tourism Awards has come under the banner of the new South Coast Regional Tourism Organisation, a merger of the old South Coast and Illawarra Tourism Regions,” he said.But Mr Pollock said such an event would not be possible without the support of associations such as Tourism Wollongong, Tourism Shellharbour, Kiama Tourism, The Shoalhaven Tourism Board, Eurobodalla Coast Tourism and Sapphire Coast Tourism.The celebration showed tourism was vibrant everywhere between Helensburgh and Eden, he said. “Not only was there a great spread of entrants from right across the South Coast region, but an encouraging number of new entrants again this year,” he said.For only the second time since 1995, a Chairman’s Award was presented, to Shoalhaven City Council’s Carolyn Haigh, for her outstanding contribution to tourism on the South Coast over many years.

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