EarthCheck takes out state award for innovation in tourism

Queensland’s peak industry body for tourism, the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC), has celebrated World Tourism Day with the announcement of the 2017 QTIC Prize for Innovation in Tourism. 
Brisbane-based scientific benchmarking, certification and advisory group, EarthCheck took out the award, recognised for its Building Planning and Design Standard which enables the assessment of environmental, social and economic impacts of a tourism project.
The Australian Age of the Dinosaurs and Capricorn Caves were announced as runners-up and will each receive mentoring and advice through TAFE Queensland’s Building Better Business program.  
Tourism and Major Events Minister Kate Jones presented EarthCheck with a $30,000 business support package.
“EarthCheck are leading the way when it comes to sustainable tourism,” Ms Jones said.
“Their support for travel and tourism businesses is helping ensure our industry remains clean, safe and prosperous.
“It’s fitting we also recognise our equally unique tourism ideas that will ensure we remain competitive and continue to grow the tourism industry in the years ahead.
“All entrants and winners, from all corners of the state, demonstrate a passion and enthusiasm for making tourism better.
“Thanks to QTIC for continuing to champion these awards and innovation across the industry.”
Now in its fifth year, the QTIC Prize for Innovation in Tourism recognises small to medium sized Queensland tourism enterprises that have demonstrated outstanding effort in innovation of products, services and processes in Queensland.
QTIC Chief Executive Daniel Gschwind congratulated EarthCheck for their dedication to foster innovation within the tourism industry over the past 30 years and for promoting Queensland as a global centre for tourism innovation. 
“2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development so we feel the judges certainly chose a fitting winner.”
Mr Gschwind said the QTIC Prize for Innovation in Tourism reinforces the importance of continually innovating to drive a competitive industry – an industry that contributes $25 billion to the Queensland economy and employs 225 300 people.”
In addition to Earthcheck, The Australian Age of the Dinosaurs and Capricorn Caves, other tourism businesses acknowledged for their innovative processes, produced and services over the past year included: 
  • Australian Tourism Data Warehouse
  • Bookeasy
  • Cumberland Yacht Charters
  • Customer Frame
  • Directors of the Extraordinary
  • Next Hotel
  • Paronella Park
  • Prestige Day Tours
  • Pumpkin Island
  • Student Horizons
  • The Bundaberg Rum Visitor Experience
QTIC acknowledges the invaluable contribution from sponsors of the 2017 QTIC Prize for Innovation in Tourism including the Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and Commonwealth Games (Queensland Government), Flight Centre, University of Queensland Business School, Slingshot, RACQ, Riverlife and TAFE Queensland. 

What is the QTIC Prize for Innovation in Tourism?

The QTIC Prize for Innovation in Tourism is an initiative of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC). Introduced in 2013, the program recognises micro and small to medium sized tourism businesses in Queensland that have introduced a, innovative product, service or process.

The QTIC Prize for Innovation in Tourism aims to:

  • recognise and reward innovation and growth across the Queensland tourism industry;
  • provide an opportunity for businesses to showcase their innovative ideas, projects and processes;
  • encourage product development and improved customer service; and
  •  reinforce the value of continual innovation within the industry.

1st Prize

Courtesy of the Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games, the winner will receive a prize package to the value of $30 000 of business support. The prize package will comprise of stages 1 and 2 of the Velocis program which will be delivered by the Australian Institute for Commercialisation (AIC). The components of the program include:

  • a business review with experts in strategy, branding and design innovation;
  • a fitness report on outcomes of the review and recommendations for future business improvements;
  • action planning to prioritise critical business issues identified in the fitness report; and
  • mentoring sessions with a professional expert in strategy, branding or design innovation.

As part of the prize package the winner will also receive $3000 worth of travel for flights and accommodation to a destination of their choice (domestic or international) to undertake a business familiarisation to support the implementation of their action plan. QTIC will liaise with the winner and the VELOCIS team to plan a suitable itinerary.

Runner-Up Prize 

1. Courtesy of Small Business Solutions TAFE Queensland, the runner up will receive Build a Better Business Workshop and Mentoring at the value of $400.

The program includes:

  • Team of expert business mentors guide you through critical periods of business development and arm you with the knowledge, skills and confidence you need to clarify your idea and move into the next stage of business growth.
  • 5 x 3 hour workshops to develop ideas, address knowledge gaps, and increase confidence.
  • 2 hour one-on-one mentoring session to implement strategies, build your business, set priorities and asses knowledge gaps.

Runners-up Innovation 

Following a review of operational processes, Australian Age of Dinosaurs identified an opportunity to introduce a new product to their Ultimate Dinosaur Tour. The Ultimate Dinosaur Tour Experience enables visitors to become physically a part of the Australian Dinosaur experience.

Capricorn Caves have introduced a range of new experiences including their new ‘PaleoTourism Experience’ that provides a unique window into a key period of global climate change, animal extinctions and the evolution of modern Australian environment. Capricorn Caves has melded an education and scientific experience into an entertaining tourism attraction that involved the community and provide a great model for other tourism operators!

The judges felt both Runners-Up demonstrate innovative tourism product by combining education and research as part of their investment in new visitor experiences.  They both cater to increasing visitor expectations for unique experiences, but also have the potential to enhance our understanding of the past and future through collaborative education and research efforts.