Winning an award gives small tourism businesses a real boost, but it’s hard for smaller operators to find the time and resources to put together an award submission.
That’s why we created the OM4Tourism Hidden Jewel Awards, and the result has been a long and fascinating list of tourism enterprises that deserve more attention.
We’ve seen a particularly impressive turn-out of entries from Tasmania and Queensland this year, and overall the businesses have been wide-ranging and imaginative – many of them clearly bursting with energy and potential for growth.
We’re right into the judging process for the 2008 Awards now, and as ever, choosing one business over another is proving challenging.
The first stage is to choose the national winner, and then we move on to selecting the state and territory winners.
From an initial shortlist of 40, each judge has chosen their top 3, which has given us a final list from which to sift out the Hidden Jewel for 2008.
Both John Walsh, executive producer of Getaway, and Quentin Long, publisher of Australian Traveller magazine, join us for the first time in judging the Hidden Jewel Awards, and both have been surprised by how difficult it has been to choose just 3 out of a possible 40.
The winner must be a quality enterprise that has something unique or unusual about it. It must be a genuine ‘hidden jewel’ – so those that already welcome thousands of visitors a year, have won a string of awards or enjoyed significant publicity in the past are unfortunately out of the running.
And the judges need to see the potential for the winner to benefit from the additional exposure that will come from the prize – a new online marketing website from OM4Tourism and a publicity campaign from PublicityShip.
Even with these clear criteria, we are struggling to make a choice, which only goes to show how many quality tourism businesses are out there – and how many remain relatively hidden from the mainstream travelling consciousness.
The name of the national winner will be in our hands by the end of today, and then we move onto the state/territory judging.
All winners will be announced on 20 March.