Whitsunday tour operator, Ocean Rafting, proudly brought home both a gold and silver award at the 37th annual 2022 Queensland Tourism Awards, which was held on the Gold Coast on Friday night at the state’s tourism industry’s night of nights.
Winning the gold award for Adventure Tourism and silver for the Major Tour and Transport Operators category, the gala event showcased Queensland’s world-class tourism offerings with 150 nominations in 31 award categories. Ocean Rafting’s win follows recent success at the Whitsunday Tourism Awards, where Ocean Rafting came home with a triple gold win.
To cap off the night, Ocean Rafting’s sister company, Ocean Safari, based in Cape Tribulation, also came home with a silver award in the Adventure Tourism category, coming second only to Ocean Rafting and bringing the overall tally to three gongs on the night for owners, Peter and Jan Claxton.
Peter and Jan attended the 2022 Queensland Tourism Awards ceremony on Friday night and spoke proudly of their achievements for both companies. With three generations of family working within both businesses, from operations to marketing and accounts, it was a night for the Claxton family and their team to celebrate.
“We are so full of pride for our teams in both the Whitsundays and Cape Tribulation and they are such an integral part of the business. Both Ocean Rafting and Ocean Safari offer such unique experiences for guests and they are constantly evolving and growing. Our staff play such a big part in all of this and absolutely love what they do and the beautiful natural playgrounds they visit every day,” said Jan.
“We look forward to now representing the Whitsundays and Queensland at the national Qantas Australian Tourism Awards in March 2023.”
In October, Ocean Rafting proudly celebrated 25 years as the Whitsundays’ original and most awarded Whitsunday tour operator, a notable milestone, and a special time which Peter and Jan shared with the team.
“After 25 years of operating Ocean Rafting and 14 years operating Ocean Safari, we are still growing and have another exciting year ahead with many new developments in the pipeline. We would really like to thank everyone for supporting us over the years, it means a lot,” said Jan.
Peter added, “On behalf of the Ocean Rafting and Ocean Safari teams, we must thank our supportive family and friends, which includes our staff, to the traditional custodians of the land and sea country which we are grateful to share, to our loyal agents, fellow tourism operators, industry and government partners, and especially to our incredible guests who we share the beauty of the Whitsundays with every day, we thank you,” said Peter.
“While there has been ongoing evolvements for many tourism operators, it was wonderful to see so many Queensland tourism businesses come together to celebrate what this beautiful state has to offer and we pass on our congratulations to all the other winners and finalists.”
“We are honestly very humbled and honoured to take home three awards at the 2022 Queensland Tourism Awards. We are so proud to be recognised and rewarded for our team’s ongoing passion, dedication and commitment to sharing the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park,” said Jan.
“Receiving the Adventure Tourism Award again this year is very special for us. At the core of our operations is our goal to offer the adventure of a lifetime around the beautiful Whitsunday Islands, surfing the waves and feeling the rush on the boats we have designed especially for this purpose, then up to the sky with our scenic flights and Fly Raft package,” continued Jan.
Despite the last two COVID-impacted years, Jan and Peter circled back to Peter’s aviation roots this year, adding not another custom designed vessel to the existing fleet of eight, but a plane. Flying into operations in May, Ocean Rafting’s 7-seater Australian-built Airvan took to the skies. While Ocean Rafting’s Fly Raft packages and scenic flight touring options have been offered for several years, this added investment has allowed for more available seats on scenic flights over Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet and famous Heart Reef, resulting is an iconic triple-whammy providing the ultimate Whitsunday experience in just one day.
This past year also saw the launch of Ocean Rafting’s own ‘Research’ vessel, which is used for the company’s many environmental initiatives, Reef Seeker Edutourism programs and charters.
With a swag of industry awards over the years, including multiple gold wins at the Australian, Queensland and Whitsunday Tourism Awards, Ocean Rafting is also a Best of Queensland Experience and a Quality Tourism Accredited Business under the national quality tourism framework. Additionally, Ocean Rafting is the recipient of a TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Award for being in top 10% of attractions worldwide every year since 2012 and a TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best award winner in the Top 1% of Tourism Businesses around the world and Top 10 Experiences in Australia.
With a nod that can only be attributed to its lengthy success in both showcasing and protecting the Great Barrier Reef, Ocean Rafting is also a coveted Ecotourism Australia Hall of Fame member for being continuously Advanced Ecotourism Australia Certified for 20 years or longer, being the only operator in the Whitsundays with this recognition. Ocean Rafting is also a Green Travel Leader, Climate Action Business, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service ‘Be Pest-Free’ Partner and is the only company in the Whitsundays with four Master Reef Guides, who are recognised as the world’s leading reef guides, interpreters and story tellers, in addition to a team made up of Marine Biologists and Eye On the Reef trained Eco Hosts.