November 22, 2021
As more than 1,100 operators and guests gathered for the Queensland Tourism Industry’s night of nights, Spirits of the Red Sand won gold for Best Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism experience, in recognition of their outstanding achievements and resilience over the past two challenging years.
Spirits of the Red Sand is a relatively new addition to the tourism offerings in Queensland, however that is not stopping them from punching above their weight to win Gold for Best Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism experience among 81 awards presented.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) Chief Executive Daniel Gschwind said the “36th annual Queensland Tourism Awards was a celebration of the outstanding success and resilience that tourism operators displayed across the state and also offered a timely platform to showcase Queensland’s iconic Indigenous tourism experiences.”
Cultural Elder & Co-founder, Eddie Ruska was in attendance and accepted the award with his daughters, Leanne Ruska, Executive Chef and Michelle Thomson, Cultural Manager. Eddie reminded us that the experience brings healing, which is key to creating stronger connections and breaking down barriers. You can view their acceptance speech here.
CEO and Co-founder, Mike Tamaki, and founder of Tamaki Maori Village in New Zealand, the most awarded cultural attraction in New Zealand, believes that the post-pandemic traveller is seeking a deeper experience with our Indigenous people and their stories. “This award symbolises recognition by the industry for the unique delivery of history through storytelling. It truly does open your eyes to the history, beauty and vibrancy of the Aboriginal people.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk congratulated all award winners and thanked tourism operators statewide for their hard work and resilience throughout the pandemic.
Spirits of the Red Sand was awarded bronze at the 2019 Queensland Tourism Awards, the last awards to take place due to COVID, so this milestone and recognition of their commitment and efforts has even more significance. Head of Marketing & Business Management, Kerryn Collins said “This award is in honour of our team that brings their passion for sharing 60,000 years of culture in a meaningful way, consistently demonstrating their warmth and knowledge. It is also in honour of our guests who pay us the highest compliment through experiencing what Spirits of the Red Sand offers.”
This is a big accomplishment for Spirits of the Red Sand, and one they are not taking lightly. Plans are already underway for upgraded and enhanced sound and lighting facilities, a recording studio to create music tracks as part of a new retail gift gallery featuring 100% authentic indigenous art and crafts. New signage and new experiences are also underway with a focus on creating new food tours that incorporate their extensive bush tucker garden.
Spirits of the Red Sand is also one of the category winners that gains automatic entry as a finalist in the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, which will be held at Sunshine Coast Convention Centre on Friday 18 March 2022.