Geelong Gallery and Searoad Ferries shine at 2023 Victorian Tourism Awards

December 8, 2023 BY

Geelong Gallery staff. Back row: Registrar & Collection Manage Trude Ellingson, Volunteer Heather D’Cruz, Retail Manager Rik de Vos. Front row: Marketing and Communications Coordinator Holly Fenton, Senior Curator Lisa Sullivan and Exhibitions Manager Melissa Hellard. Photo: ANGUS SMITH

EIGHT local tourism operators have triumphed at the 2023 Victorian Tourism Awards, each securing top honours in their respective categories.

Hosted by the Victorian Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) at Melbourne’s Crown Palladium, the event spotlighted the Gold Award and Hall of Fame Inductees.

Among them, Geelong Gallery and Searoad Ferries were announced as the newest additions to the prestigious Victorian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame.

Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine executive director Tracy Carter was thrilled with the result.

“We are so proud of both the winners and the finalists for their remarkable contributions to growing Geelong and The Bellarine’s visitor economy,” she said.

“While we’ve always known just how special our local industry is, it’s incredibly satisfying to see our members recognised on a state level.”

Geelong Gallery was awarded the gold medal in the Cultural Tourism category for the third year in a row.

Geelong Gallery senior curator Lisa Sullivan said the win was testament to the sustained dedication and vision of the Geelong Gallery team.

“Entering the Hall of Fame is an incredible achievement and great recognition of the team’s sustained dedication and vision across the whole organisation,” she said.

Searoad Ferries, a family-run business, operates the busy route between Queenscliff and Sorrento, with more than 8,200 crossings annually, carrying more than 950,000 passengers.

Earlier this year, the company opened its award-winning multi-million dollar Queenscliff Ferry terminal.

Searoad Ferries chief executive officer Matt McDonald expressed gratitude for the recognition.

“We are honoured to be inducted to the Hall of Fame and to be recognised among such prestigious company,” he said.

“We’ve worked to turn the journey across Port Phillip Bay into more than just a ferry trip.

“Thanks to the hard work and creativity of our entire team, Searoad Ferries is now a unique and unforgettable tourism experience in its own right.”

In the Gold Award Recipients, The Woods Ocean Grove was recognised for Self Contained Accommodation, Hop It excelled in the Tour and Transport Operators category, and Accessible Accommodation was lauded for Excellence in Accessible Tourism.

Accommodation at Curlewis secured recognition in the 4-4.5 star Deluxe Accommodation category, Kerry Williams was honoured for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual, and the Geelong & The Bellarine Visitor Information Service was celebrated for its Outstanding Contribution by Volunteers

Avalon 2023 Australian International Airshow won a Silver Award in the Major Festivals & Events category, while Higher Mark – Geelong Cats in the Business Events Venues and Adventure Park for the Winter Glow Festival in Festivals & Events, both scored Bronze Awards.