Hot on the heels of a place in the Tripadvisor list of most 'saved' destinations around the world, Mudgee has ranked fourth on a list of best aussie towns by travel site wotif.com and been awarded a silver medal.
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 Managing Director, Daniel Finch said they hope to encourage Aussies to consider how worthwhile a local trip can be.
"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."
Mudgee Region Tourism CEO Cara George said this award, like the Tripadvisor nod before it, is proof that visitors the region are leaving with a strong impression even during a predicted downturn.
"We've just recorded our strongest ever summer, low season period, to date ever recorded in the last six years that we've been recording that data," Cara said.
"If we look at the current financial year to date, compared to the same time the previous year, we're up in overnight visitation by 25 per cent. In comparison... it was a five year process to increase overnight visitation by 28 per cent. So we've seen exponential growth, which is phenomenal."
Bucking the trend, Mudgee has seen impressive growth in a time when other regions are struggling with lockdowns and reduced visitor numbers.
"Our industry - just kept going through that period [of COVID], and looked at their businesses, tidied things up, made sure they were ready for a really nice strong rebound which we knew was coming. They were ready and open to come back online very quickly. I think that really is a credit to our industry," Cara said.
"Once the visitors began arriving, they're enjoying what they're seeing, and they're wanting to come back. So I think our accommodation providers have done a fabulous job. They're delivering great quality availability, style and great affordability, which people are really holding on to.
"Our average travel review rating is excellent on wotif.com and across other channels. So the sentiment, our online sentiment, sentiment for the region, is really high. We monitor that and it's something that we're always keeping an eye on to make sure that our region is offering something that people love. And it's telling us that they definitely do."
Winners are chosen based on a number of factors including - according to wotif - accommodation quality, affordability and traveller satisfaction and new parameters introduced this year which focuses on how the needs of travelers are met.
"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 per cent 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," Wotif Managing Director, Daniel Finch said.
2021 Winners List:
- Cairns, QLD
- Pokolbin, NSW
- Apollo Bay, VIC
- Mudgee, NSW
- Lakes Entrance, VIC
- McLarenVale, SA
- Hervey Bay, QLD
- Exmouth, WA
- Port Macquarie, NSW
- The Entrance, NSW
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