Australian travel industry pioneer and owner of the APT Group, Geoff McGeary, was awarded the Tourism Ministers Perpetual Trophy for his outstanding commitment and dedication to the Northern Territory tourism industry at the Brolga Awards 2015.
The Brolga Northern Territory Tourism Awards (Brolga Awards) are the official tourism awards program for the Northern Territory. Attending a special ceremony in Alice Springs on Saturday night, the surprise award was presented to Geoff by Chief Minister and Tourism Minister – Hon Adam Giles.
Commenting on the accolade and relaying his thanks to Tourism Northern Territory, Geoff McGeary said, “I feel incredibly honoured to have been recognised by my good friends and colleagues in the Northern Territory tourism industry. It was early on in my business career that I realised what an important asset the Northern Territory is to the Australian tourism industry as a whole. It’s hard not to be captivated. So I set about staking my claim to a little part of it for APT in the hope that I could share this incredible part of Australia with our wonderful guests.
“From the early camping safaris, to investing in properties such as Kings Canyon Wilderness Lodge and today, offering tours that take in the red centre and Kakadu; the captivation has continued and I’m still just as committed to showcasing this unforgettable experience with as many travellers as possible as I was on my very first tour.”
Geoff was a school bus driver in Bayside Victoria, when in 1964 he took a group of Melbourne students on a camping trip to Central Australia.
In those days, the roads were dirt, they travelled in the 2WD school bus and accommodation options barely existed. But on that trip, Geoff found his calling, and the spirit of a new travel company, APT was born.
He soon set about operating tours throughout the Australian Outback, with a central focus being the Northern Territory.
In the 1970’s APT expanded internationally opening offices in New Zealand, the UK and the USA, bringing overseas visitors to the Northern Territory. This overseas demand for outback touring in Australia went from strength to strength with APT opening an office in Canada in the 1980’s.
It was also the 1980’s when Geoff and his partner Mayer Page increased their local presence in the NT, when they bought and merged several businesses to create AAT Kings, with its original NT focus. Then in the late 1980’s they also bought an Alice Springs hotel that they redeveloped and renamed the Alice Pacific Resort, (now the Chifley Alice Springs Resort), just in time for a 100 year flood on Easter Thursday, 1988.
In the 1990’s APT’s camping safaris gained in popularity with tours ranging from 23 to 63 days covering the remotest parts of Australia, including the Northern Territory and a 63 day loop of Australia.
APT subsequently went on to build Hawk Dreaming Lodge in Kakadu with the Djabulukgu Association and the Kings Canyon Wilderness Lodge on Kings Creek Station, with Ian Conway.
Geoff and APT are still committed to the amazingly diverse destination that is the NT, recently launched the 16 Day Central Australian Discoverytour from Darwin to Adelaide; and the 10 Day Kakadu and Tiwi Explorer tour, which will both debut in 2016.
Today, five decades on from Geoff’s first bus tour, APT has grown to become one of the leading travel companies in Australia, and indeed the world, offering more than 100 different holidays to every corner of the globe, including the Northern Territory.