The Whitsundays’ original and most awarded tour operator, Ocean Rafting, celebrated a triple win on Saturday night at the glamorous 2022 Whitsunday Tourism Awards, held in front of a stunning sunset at the Whitsunday Sailing Club.
Ocean Rafting scored three gongs, taking home the gold award in the Major Tour and Transport Operator and the Adventure Tourism categories, as well as the coveted People’s Choice Award at the gala industry awards.
Ocean Rafting owners, Peter and Jan Claxton, were ecstatic to receive the awards, which were proudly shared with their team on the night.
“We are honestly very humbled and honoured to take home three awards at the 2022 Whitsunday 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 Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef Park,” said Jan.
“It goes without saying the last two years have created uncertainly the world over, but with these awards coming just after our recent 25th birthday celebrations in October, it’s wonderful to be able to come out and shine with our industry friends and partners. On behalf of the Ocean Rafting family, we would like to thank each and every one of you who enabled us to be here. Our family and friends, loyal agents, supportive industry and government partners, our First Nation friends who allow us to share their Land and Sea Country, our fellow tourism operators and without doubt, our guests and customers who allow us to continue to do what we love most,” Jan continued.
“Receiving the Major Tour and Transport Award and the Adventure Tourism Award at the 2022 Whitsunday Tourism Awards are true reflections of our products, which 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. The People’s Choice Award was won based on voting from our guests and industry colleagues and the recognition is a testament to our team and our product, so we couldn’t be any prouder.”
“We also extend a huge thank you and congratulations to Tourism Whitsundays for all their effort in promoting our region and putting on a show like this, and of course to all the other Whitsunday winners and entrants for being involved in the awards process. Taking the time to write their submissions and reflect on recent activities and development is a huge job in itself, especially coming out of the past couple of years, so we are grateful for such incredible company and look forward to celebrating with them again next weekend at the Queensland Tourism Awards,” said Jan.
Having successfully been in operation for two and half decades as one of the Whitsundays’ most loved on-water experiences. and with three generations of family actively working in the business, the Ocean Rafting team are renowned for always “taking it to the next level”, a whole company approach which reflects the company’s long-term success and continuous growth over the years.
Despite the last two COVID-impacted years, Jan and Peter circled back to Peter’s aviation roots this year, adding not another “duck” to the existing fleet of eight custom designed vessels, 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 three 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.