Bendigo has won two gold awards and a bronze award at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards.
Held in Darwin at the weekend, Bendigo Tramways won a gold award for cultural tourism and Masons of Bendigo picked up the gold award for tourism restaurants and catering services.
Bendigo Tourism and Bendigo Art Gallery were awarded a bronze award for their destination marketing campaign of the Marilyn Monroe exhibition.
Bendigo Heritage Attractions chief executive Peter Abbott said Bendigo Tramways’ gold award was the organisation’s first.
“They have had six state tourism awards in a row, so it is nice to crack the national,” Mr Abbott said.
“The Tramways has had a lot of people involved all through its history but this is their first national tourism award.”
Mr Abbott said being nominated against a lot of major state attractions made the win unexpected.
“We certainly didn’t expect it. They have a lot more resources but our marketing team put together a great submisssion and the staff and volunteers hosted the judges months ago,’ he said.
“Our submission was for the last 12 months, which former CEO Ian Hart and the board along with council (were behind). There were a lot of changes and new products.”
Bendigo Tramways introduced a multi-language app that provides commentary on the Talkign Tram, had trams with themes including the Anzacs, Marilyn Monroe and Christmas.
“We use the trams as the spine for the whole of tourism in Bendigo so that people can explore every attraction the city,” Mr Abbott said.
“We are always planning and are doing a business plan at the moment to revitalise tramways and the Central Deborah Gold Mine.”
Masons of Bendigo owner said winning a national award was unbelievable.
“Reaching gold in Victoria was such big thing then to represent Bendigo on a national level and win is phenomenal. We are still pinching ourselves,” she said.
“We were very much the underdog. It was the first time we entered into the tourism awards. I thought maybe we would go away with a bronze.
“When they announced it, it was a five-second delay before it actually sank it.”
Ms Anthony said outstanding presentation and a phenomenal team were behind the restaurant’s win.
“What we offer in terms of a product is quite unique,” she said.
“Focusing on local produce is a tourism element of its own. But we are also working with Bendigo Tourism and the Schaller for our From Market to Paddock To Plate tour, which takes people beyond Bendigo to (places like) Heathcote and Tooborac.
“Engaging with the amazing community we have is something that really struck a positive chord.”