For the fourth year running, Taronga Western Plains Zoo has taken out Gold in the ‘Unique Accommodation’ category at this year’s NSW Tourism Awards.
Held on 16 November at the International Convention Centre Sydney, the awards again showcased the State’s top tourism operators. Taronga Western Plains Zoo Director Steve Hinks and members of the management team were honoured to accept the accolade.
“This is a very exciting achievement for the Zoo, especially to have won the Unique Accommodation category for the fourth year in a row,” Mr Hinks said.
“This win speaks volumes for the high level of dedication and commitment shown by Zoo staff, to ensure our guests leave the Zoo with memorable and inspiring experiences that are unrivalled anywhere else in the country.
“Accommodation at the Zoo is a key component of our business model. It helps to secure our future financial sustainability, ensuring that the Zoo continues to be the premier inland tourist destination drawing visitors to the region, in turn supporting our critical animal breeding and conservation programs.
“In addition to our fantastic day offerings, the unique overnight experiences here at the Zoo including our premier accommodation, Zoofari Lodge, are now intrinsic to the Zoo’s proposition as a major regional tourism destination,” Mr Hinks said.
Zoofari Lodge guests can enjoy a private and luxurious African safari-style experience in the heart of the Zoo, with an outlook across the African Savannah, where Giraffe and Antelope roam.
Mr Hinks said the three overnight experiences at the Zoo combined – Zoofari Lodge, Savannah Cabins and Billabong Camp – welcomed over 36,000 guests last financial year. Accommodation now contributes 41% to overall Zoo-wide revenue.
There’s plenty more to be excited about at the Zoo in the near future, with the opening of the much-anticipated African Lion Pride Lands exhibit in March 2018 - a $9 million development and the largest investment in an animal exhibit in the Zoo’s history.
“African Lion Pride Lands will feature a large 3.5-hectare open expanse where a pride of 10-15 lions will roam, and will provide an unrivalled visitor experience. I’m looking forward to building on the fantastic visitor experience already on offer here, which is enjoyed by more than 250,000 visitors each year,” Mr Hinks said.
The Zoo will now go on to contest the Unique Accommodation category nationally at the Australian Tourism Awards, to be held in Perth in February 2018. It will be the third year the Zoo has been a finalist in this category at the national level, having won the past two years.
Pictured: TWPZ's Hospitality and Overnight Programs Manager Penny Costello with Accommodation Coordinator Hugh Arnold, receiving Gold in Unique Accommodation award category at 2017 NSW Tourism Awards.