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Supreme Tourism Award winner rockets to success

October 6, 2016 Accolades No Comments Print Print Email Email

Rotorua Canopy Tours, a business that in just four years has visitors raving and nature flourishing, has beaten off stiff competition to win the tourism industry’s highest accolade, the Air New Zealand Supreme Tourism Award.


Wellington – George Hickton

The Awards Programme is owned and organised by Tourism Industry Aotearoa with the Awards night put on with the assistance of partners Air New Zealand and the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment. The award winners were announced at a black-tie dinner in Auckland this evening attended by more than 300 industry leaders and supporters.

Mixing thrills and conservation, Rotorua Canopy Tours offers visitors a phenomenal nature experience – a three hour small group journey into an ancient native forest, using walking rails, treetop platforms, swinging bridges and ziplines.

The judges said this thriving business just a 10 minute drive from downtown Rotorua is an excellent combination of people, culture, environment and a fantastic activity for all ages to enjoy.

“Rotorua Canopy Tours has demonstrated incredible progress. Visitor numbers have been growing rapidly year on year, the business has reinvested into a new headquarters at the entrance to Rotorua and outstanding environmental outcomes have been achieved as a result of passion, innovation and perseverance.”

As part of their prize, Rotorua Canopy Tours receives international air travel to any Air New Zealand destination valued at $10,000 (+GST) to help them grow their tourism business.

Rotorua Canopy Tours also won the Visitor Experience Award, supported by ServiceIQ, and the Environmental Award, supported by Mercury.

TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says Rotorua Canopy Tours is a complete product that ticks all the boxes.

“At the heart of its success is an exceptional visitor experience that has raised the bar of personalisation, authenticity and fun, attracting a premium price tag.”


The industry’s most prestigious individual award, the Sir Jack Newman Award, supported by Crowe Horwath International, went to George Hickton, the man who drove the development of the tourism industry’s 100% Pure New Zealand international marketing brand.

It was Mr Hickton’s most outstanding achievement during his successful 10 years as Chief Executive of Tourism New Zealand from 1999 to 2009. Seventeen years on it remains the envy of tourism organisations worldwide.

The judges said the tourism industry continues to benefit from George’s inspirational leadership. He is Chair of the Hawke’s Bay Tourism Board, a Weta Workshop Director, Hobbiton board member and has carved out a niche in the film tourism space, including most recently as the Project Director of Wellington’s new Movie Museum.

Mr Roberts says this year’s Awards were extremely competitive, a reflection of a buoyant industry that is pumping billions of dollars into communities up and down the country and supporting several hundred thousand jobs. He says the awards programme is closely aligned to the tourism industry’s Tourism 2025 growth framework which aspires to grow annual tourism revenue to $41 billion by 2025.

“We had entries from big corporates to small businesses, ranging from one operator that has been in business for over 100 years to our Supreme Award winner, an exciting young company achieving fantastic results in just four years of business.”

New Zealand Tourism Awards 2016 Winners

  • Air New Zealand Supreme Tourism Industry Award, and
    Environmental Tourism Award, supported by Mercury, and
    Visitor Experience Award, supported by ServiceIQ

Rotorua Canopy Tours

  • Sir Jack Newman Award (outstanding industry leader)
    supported by Crowe Horwath International
    George Hickton, Wellington
  • Emerging Tourism Leader Award, supported by PATA New Zealand Trust
    Bradley Garnett, SKYCITY Entertainment Group, Auckland
  • Tourism Industry Champion Award, supported by Sudima Hotels & Resorts
    Graeme Abbot, Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa
  • Business Excellence Award – annual turnover less than $6 million, supported by Westpac

Black Cat Cruises, Canterbury 

  • Business Excellence Award – annual turnover more than $6 million, supported by JLT & AIG

Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm Tours, Waikato

  • Industry Alignment Award, supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Destination Rotorua

  • Maori Cultural Tourism Award, supported by Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

  • People’s Choice Award, supported by NZME.
    Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm Tours, Waikato
  • Tourism 2025 Enabler Award, supported by Auckland Airport

Angus & Associates Ltd

  • Tourism Marketing Campaign Award, supported by Spark
    Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm Tours

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