Not only has Ocean Rafting recently been awarded a Certificate of Excellence 2019 for consistently achieving a ‘5 out of 5’ rating from guests on the daily Whitsunday tours, we are also proud to have received the prestigious Hall Of Fame recognition. In more exciting news we have just been announced as a Travelers’ Choice Award Winner, being in the top ten experiences in Australia! Travelers’ Choice awards are the highest honour TripAdvisor can give and is based on reviews and opinions from millions of travellers!
Last night was a night for the Whitsunday tourism industry to come together at Whitsunday Airport as local tourism operator, Ocean Rafting, celebrated one year of operating their popular ‘Fly and Raft’ package.
Nearly 200 invited guests, including local agents, suppliers, industry partners and Whitsunday Shire Mayor, Andrew Wilcox, joined the Ocean Rafting team for live local music, a delicious menu catered by the Hangar Bar, prizes and surprise entertainment including a Yak52 fly-by, a Soviet Air Force Training aeroplane, operated by CQ Adventure Flights.
Held at Ocean Rafting’s flight base at Whitsunday Airport /Whitsunday Aviation Village Estate (WAVE) near Shute Harbour, the airport is Australia’s premier airpark, just minutes from the heart of Airlie Beach. This is one of many reasons why Ocean Rafting’s foray into offering scenic flights in conjunction with its multi award-winning marine operations, has been such a great success.
Ocean Rafting owners, Peter and Jan Claxton, who hosted the evening along with their staff and Whitsunday Airport, are proud to offer another exciting product which offers the best views of the Whitsundays, both on and above the water.
“We have been so grateful for the support from guests, agents and our industry partners in offering these exciting new products. Collaborating with our aviation partners, in providing the most accessible flights at the closest airport to Airlie Beach, means both our Fly and Raft package and stand-alone scenic flights have proven to be the perfect extension to our existing tours. Tonight was a celebration to thank everyone for all of their continuous support for both our water and flight based operations,” said Jan.
Ocean Rafting’s Fly and Raft package showcases the best of the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef in one day with a stunning 60 minute Whitsunday scenic flight and Ocean Rafting adventure, experiencing the Whitsundays’ ultimate destinations including Heart Reef, Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet lookout and the swirling sands of Hill Inlet beaches, as well as secret snorkelling locations.
Guests have a bird’s eye view of many of the 74 Whitsunday Islands, flying over Whitehaven Beach and picture postcard Hill Inlet before heading out to the Great Barrier Reef and experiencing one of the most photographed reef locations, Heart Reef. The comfortable fixed wing aircraft offers big window viewing, pilot commentary and the best views of the Whitsundays.
Following the flight, the adventure continues with an Ocean Rafting tour offering three days in one, including an exhilarating ride to Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet, pristine snorkelling reefs and guided Whitsunday Island National Parks walks. The Southern Lights tour offers more beach time and the Northern Exposure tour offers more snorkelling time.
60 minute stand-alone scenic flights over the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef, including Heart Reef, Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet are also available three times daily.
“With the ongoing growth of the company it was time for us to diversify the product and with the background in aviation we have from originally owning a seaplane company in South Africa to piloting seaplanes for Air Whitsunday, it feels like we have come full circle and it’s a natural progression in offering this product under the Ocean Rafting brand,” said Peter.
Now in its 22nd year of operations, Ocean Rafting has won three Australian Tourism Awards, as well as multiple Queensland and Whitsunday Tourism Awards. This week Ocean Rafting was also recognised as one of the top ten tourism experiences in Australia on TripAdvisor in the 2019 Travellers’ Choice Awards.
The Ocean Rafting team are proud to congratulate our long term staff member and Environmental Manager, Sarah Vickery, on becoming an accredited Master Reef Guide!
After undergoing a rigorous selection process and in depth training and field course, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators and Tourism and Events Queensland have offered Sarah the honour of becoming an accredited Master Reef Guide.
Along with her fellow guides, Sarah will become the voice of the Great Barrier Reef.
As a Master Reef Guide, Sarah has trained with national and international experts who are leaders in a variety of different fields. Sarah now has access to information and skill sharing opportunities through a private guiding network and will proudly wear the distinctive professional uniform that will identify her as a leader in the Great Barrier Reef tourism industry.
Sarah and the Ocean Rafting team are committed to environmental sustainability and minimising threats to the Great Barrier Reef’s health, proudly presenting the values of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area to visitors and implementing relevant lessons learnt during the course of training as a Master Reef Guide to our daily operations.
You can now feel even more confident guests will receive the most informative, educational and exciting Great Barrier Reef experience with Ocean Rafting!
Thank you once again for your ongoing support and if you see Sarah out and about, make sure you say hi!
Multi award winning Ocean Rafting has been entered into the coveted Ecotourism Australia Hall of Fame for being continuously certified for 20 years or longer at the recent Global Eco Conference in Townsville. There were only 14 operators Australia-wide who have been acknowledged with this achievement, with Ocean Rafting being the only one in the Whitsundays.
As one of the nation’s first ecotourism innovators, Ocean Rafting has helped to pave the way for responsible and sustainable tourism. In 1997, there were just eighteen certified operators, certified under the National Ecotourism Accreditation Program (NEAP) – the world’s first ecotourism accreditation program. Today there are close to 500 certified operators, and the program is still one of only five worldwide that carries Global Sustainable Tourism Council accreditation, meaning it meets a global best practice standard.
Rod Hillman, Chief Executive of Ecotourism Australia said, “The creation of this Hall of Fame has arisen out of a desire to honour and celebrate our 14 certified operators who are the first to reach this milestone and to thank you them for their ongoing support.”
Ocean Rafting owner Jan Claxton and Environmental Manager, Sarah Vickery, attended the Global Eco Conference, where they were presented with an award and certificate to recognise Ocean Rafting’s commitment to ecotourism over the last 20 years. In addition to receiving the award on stage, Jan and Sarah were also invited to be part of the expert panel to share Ocean Rafting’s experience and long-term dedication to responsible and sustainable tourism.
Jan also recently presented at Ecotourism Australia’s Masterclass held in Cairns, invited to speak by Ecotourism Australia on the subject “What does ecotourism excellence look like?”
Jan was proud of the company’s achievements and the whole team’s effort in sharing their passion for the environment. “Our entire team are proud ambassadors for environmentally responsible, ethical, educational and sustainable tourism and feel strongly about their duty in protecting the future of the Great Barrier Reef, adopting environmentally friendly practices into everyday operations. Having received acknowledgment as only one of 14 operators Australia-wide makes us feel very proud to have played a role in doing the best we can on a daily basis to protect the very special environment in which we operate,” said Jan.
A contingent of 11 Ocean Rafting staff came together on their day off last Friday, taking one of the vessels from the fleet, “Wild Thing” on an exploratory clean up trip to Thomas Island.
Cleaning two south-easterly facing beaches over a period of four hours, the team collected 25 extra large bags of rubbish, as well as many bigger items including a man-made toilet, large plastic buckets, 20 litre plastic drums, mooring balls and lines, structural boat plastic and large plastic sheets. Bottle caps were a significant problem, as well as toothbrushes, plastic bottles, small white medicine bottles and plenty of micro plastic.
Ocean Rafting Environmental Manager, Sarah Vickery, said, “Sadly, our staff found an incredible amount of rubbish. It really highlights how much plastic is contributing to the pollution of the world’s oceans. It was an amazingly positive task and something really worthwhile, particularly before the rainy season kicks in as much of the rubbish we collected would have been washed back into the ocean.”
Ms Vickery continued, “The team have more beach clean ups planned in the future and the entire Ocean Rafting staff are really keen to be involved, with those who missed able to volunteer next time. It was a massive eye opener for everyone who took part, as even in our beautiful Whitsundays there was so much plastic on the beaches, but the positive side of it is that everyone felt great after the clean up.”
The Ocean Rafting team are passionate about their duty in protecting the future of the Great Barrier Reef, adopting environmentally friendly practices into everyday operations and participating in GBRMPA’s Eye of the Reef program, with crew reporting sightings and conducting monitoring once a week at two different snorkel sites as well as sites less frequently visited. Ocean Rafting is also a proud member of the “Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef” campaign and has also signed up to go plastic straw-free through The Last Straw campaign.
Ocean Rafting holds Advanced Ecotourism Certification, is a Green Travel Leader and a Climate Action Business. As an Advanced Ecotourism Operator, Ocean Rafting has been accepted as a GBRMPA High Standard Tourism Operator and is only one of 10 companies Australia wide who has been have been certified for 20 years or more.
To check out the video the crew made of the day, check out Ocean Rafting’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/oceanrafting and share it around to help remind people to minimise their plastic waste where ever possible. Every little bit helps.