World heritage listed Kakadu National Park was named best ‘Major Tourist Attraction’, while the famed Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel took out the award for ‘Unique Accommodation’ in the 2016 Brolga Northern Territory Tourism Awards, announced on the weekend in Darwin.
In addition, Christian Diddams, a highly experienced ranger in Kakadu National Park, won the SKAL Tourism Employee Award.
Kakadu National Park and ‘The Croc’ will now represent the Northern Territory at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards (QATAs) on 24 February 2017, with Darwin hosting the national awards for the first time.
The Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel’s success follows an extensive upgrading program, which has included distinctive Indigenous aspects, such as the expansion of the hotel’s Ochre Art Gallery and the appointment of an Indigenous Artist in Residence to encourage greater understanding of local culture. The hotel’s gardens have been significantly upgraded to showcase Indigenous plants such as the ‘super food’ Kakadu plum tree. Rooms have also been refurbished and a new air conditioning system installed, while the Escarpment Restaurant featured a new menu that includes locally grown herbs, bush foods and distinctive Kakadu staples such as barramundi and crocodile.
Greater community engagement was another major priority for The Croc. The hotel played a key role in the inaugural Kakadu Discovery Month, hosting talks and art discovery sessions, and was a major supporter of the annual Mahbilil Festival and Kakadu Bird Week.
The success of Kakadu in the awards highlights a major renaissance in the region’s international and domestic tourism performance, with Kakadu Tourism reporting its best performance for five years.
Welcoming the awards, Kakadu Tourism Chair, Rick Allert, said that the Brolga success was a result of an innovative, concerted and co-operative effort by Kakadu operators, Kakadu National Park and Northern Territory Tourism.
“No one has ever doubted the magnificence of Kakadu as a destination, but over the past few years we have really put in an exceptional effort to make the destination a more attractive touring option for international and domestic visitors,” said Mr Allert.
“That has meant upgrading accommodation, offering new touring options, targeting both general travellers and specific target markets, and – most importantly – working collectively with Tourism NT, airlines, wholesalers and travel agents to get out the message that Kakadu offers a truly exceptional and memorable travel experience.
“We celebrated the 30th anniversary this year of the launch of Crocodile Dundee, which effectively put Kakadu on the international tourism map, and while I’m not sure we will be able to attract Hoges back for a follow-up, the destinations featured in the films are just as remarkable and enticing as they were back then, and now it is far easier and more comfortable to visit.”