The Whitsundays’ original and most awarded tour operator, Ocean Rafting, celebrated a triple win on Friday night at the glamorous 2023 Whitsunday Tourism Awards. Held at the Proserpine Entertainment Centre, Ocean Rafting won gold in the ‘Major Tour & Transport’ and ‘Adventure Tourism’ categories and was also acknowledged as the Whitsundays’ favourite tourism experiences in the consumer-voted ‘People’s Choice Award Experience’ at the gala industry awards.
James Unsworth, Ocean Rafting’s Environmental Manager, Senior Skipper and Master Reef Guide, was also acknowledged for his extensive contribution to the industry in the areas of marine conservation and protection, winning the esteemed Young Achiever Award.
Owned by long-time locals, Peter and Jan Claxton for 26 years and with six family owners/members over three generations actively working in the business, Operations Manager and son, Kerr Claxton, attended the celebrations on the night, along with 39 staff…yes, you read that right – 39!
“Our passion and excitement for the work we do is always reflected in our team. They do the most fabulous job day in and out, but they also work hard to ensure our guests return home with the most unforgettable memories of their Whitsunday holiday, while also protecting this beautiful environment in which we work and play. We are incredibly proud of our team’s ongoing passion, dedication and commitment to sharing the wonders of the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef Park,” said Kerr.
Kerr continued, “With the Whitsundays leading the way as one of Queensland’s most desirable destinations, particularly over the past few years, it is nice to receive this recognition in a post COVID-era where we feel we can continue to align our operations with growth and development to cater to visitors from the world over.”
Having successfully been in operation for two and half decades as one of the Whitsundays’ most loved on-water experiences, 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.
“On behalf of the Ocean Rafting family, we would like to thank our loyal agents, our First Nation people who allow us to share their Land and Sea Country, our fellow tourism industry partners and operators, and without doubt, our guests, who allow us to continue to do what we love most,” said owner Jan Claxton.
“Receiving the Major Tour and Transport Award and the Adventure Tourism Award 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, which is an iconic triple-whammy providing the ultimate Whitsunday experience in just one day. 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,” said Jan,
“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.”
Despite recent years, Jan and Peter once again circled back to Peter’s aviation roots this year, adding a second plane to their fleet of vessels and planes, as well as a new travel shop and extensive work in the environmental sector.