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Tourism Whitsundays hopes you enjoy our latest e-newsletter, as we keep you up-to-date with opportunities, events and news for our local tourism industry!

December 18, 2017 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

The arrival of summer makes you think of long, lazy days spent swimming, snorkelling, sailing and generally soaking up the sunshine.

With schools around Queensland and Australia breaking up for the summer holidays, visitors are starting to arrive in the wonderful Whitsundays for their shot of sunshine and festive fun.

Whether you fancy fish and chips overlooking the beach or a full Christmas lunch with all the trimmings, the Whitsundays has a resort or restaurant to suit everyone on Christmas Day.

Accommodation providers are reporting very strong bookings for December and January but there are still spots available for those who are yet to book their summer vacation.

Places are also filling up very quickly for the Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival, which is a two-week celebration to welcome the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race to the region (see story below).

Also below is a round-up of what’s new in the Whitsundays including new products and product extensions or variations. Please do not hesitate to call or email if you have any questions.


Same-Sex Weddings
The Whitsundays is known as the ‘wedding heart’ of Australia due to the high number of destination weddings taking place every year and of course the iconic Heart Reef, which has prompted many a marriage proposal.

With the changes to the law allowing same-sex marriage, we are sure we will be the destination of choice for everyone to come and get married in paradise, and we do expect to see a rise in weddings next year!

It’s not just the sublime locations and swaying palm trees that lure couples to the destination. The region is also renowned for its excellent range of ceremony and reception venues, its accommodation options and its professional wedding suppliers.

We can literally provide any kind of wedding for all sizes of wedding parties, from ‘barefoot on the beach’ and ‘wind in your hair’ sailing yachts, to opulent luxury and everything in between. 

Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race will be calling into the Whitsundays in mid-January and all eyes will be on our region as the crews, their families and friends, take a well-earned break at the halfway point of their epic 40,000 nautical mile voyage.

To celebrate the arrival of the fleet, the Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival will take place, with a raft of exciting family-friendly events organised throughout the region.

A free Clipper Race Welcome Party, sponsored by Bendigo Bank will take place on the Airlie Beach Foreshore on Friday, January 19, with everyone invited to come along and give the Clipper crews a warm Whitsundays welcome.

On Saturday, January 20, the Fish D’Vine White on Whitehaven Long Lunch will take place and this is followed on Sunday, January 21, by the Whitsunday Foodservice Progressive Cruise Lunch.

The following weekend is the Australia Day long weekend and this will be marked with a Rodeo by the Reef, in Bowen, on Saturday, January 27.

There is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to race around the Whitsunday Islands on one of the Clipper Race Yachts, on Friday, January 19.


Cruise Whitsundays

Reefsleep has relaunched just in time for summer. This one-of-a-kind experience provides travellers with the chance to slumber under the stars on a pontoon located on the picturesque Hardy Reef.
The new and improved Reefsleep experience includes:

  • A new gourmet la carte menu – showcasing some of the finest local produce and fresh seafood
  • More capacity – Can now cater for up to 30 guests
  • More comfort – Reefsleep swags have been refreshed with brand new linen for the finest night’s sleep.

Hamilton Island

Fancy a walk around Hamilton Island? Exploring Hamilton Island on foot can be a great way to experience its natural beauty, at your own pace. Discover secluded, sandy coves, climb to the top of the island for stunning views, or enjoy a picnic in one of the island’s many picnic spots. There are now nine different walking trails for guests to tackle, ranging from moderate to more challenging walks.

Daydream Island Resort and Spa

Daydream Island has commenced its demolition and construction program ahead of its long-awaited redevelopment expected to be completed in August 2018. Following the destruction from Cyclone Debbie, $86 million was invested to redesign the island’s accommodation and venues, as well as the redevelopment of all other infrastructure on the island.

Although the resort isn’t open for business as of yet, bookings have already been made for September 2018 onwards.

Daydream Island General Manager Dawson Tang said Daydream will bring a boost for the region’s employment and jobs sector.

Once Daydream Island has reopened, there will be at least 270 job opportunities creating a huge boost for the region.

Explore Whitsundays

Explore Whitsundays has welcomed spring with open arms, with an update on their vessels, guest feedback, market trends, crew stories and more.

  • Whitsunday Bliss – Achieved ECO Tourism Certificate
  • Whitsunday Adventurer – Departure days to be changed to match Prima from early January
  • Atlantic Clipper & New Horizon – Recently purchased paddle board for both vessels
  • Southern Cross Day Sail – Reduced guest numbers for the day tour, to make the experience more personal

Explore Group

Explore Hamilton Island is opening up Explore Dive and Snorkel based in Airlie Beach , opening its doors 2nd of January 2018. It will initially offer free transfers to Hamilton Island to join either our outer reef GBR Full Day Dive or Snorkel or our full day On the Edge Sailing and Swim or Snorkel product. In addition, a brand new 22m vessel “Island Explorer” will arrive in early January and offer half days to Hill inlet and snorkelling direct from Airlie Beach. Within the new shop there is a full educative wall including GBR information, underwater species, Coral and the reef system. 10 tips for divers.
Fun Facts about Explore Group :

  • Explore has averaged 6 divers per day for 2017 Calendar year to date
  • Explore has guided 1130 certified divers and certified 56 students for 2017 Calendar year to date.
  • Explore has registered 593 DSD’s for 2017 Calendar year to date.

Red Cat Adventures

Red Cat Adventures is pleased to announce their recent success at the local Whitsunday Tourism awards gaining two golds in Adventure Tourism and Tour and Transport Operator. Red Cat Adventures were awarded a Silver and a highly recommended respectively at the prestigious Queensland Tourism awards which followed. There has been a growth in bookings with the recent success and with the popularity of summer in the Whitsundays, there is limited availability over this coming holiday season. It’s highly recommend to not delay booking over this period, especially for private rooms on their overnight Ride to Paradise tour, to avoid availability disappointment.

Airlie Beach Day Sailing

Airlie Beach Day Sailing, is now operating from Abell Point Marina, Airlie Beach.  This day tour offers guests a unique experience, catering for a maximum of 10 guests. Enjoy snorkelling and visit secluded bays within the Great Barrier Reef.

Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef

Is saving the Reef an interest of yours? Becoming a citizen of the Great Barrier Reef means you join a dedicated community of conservation driven individuals.
We’ve put together a list of actions for you to join, which have a measurable impact on tackling the major threats to the Reef. As part of the Citizens community, every action you complete, no matter how small, will contribute to the combined impact of many. Through the cumulative effect of individual choices we can achieve large-scale positive change.

For the Number Crunchers

International visitor numbers for the Whitsundays are looking good with five of the region’s seven top source markets up when compared with last year.
The figures, released on Tuesday, December 12, show that overall, the number of international visitors to the Whitsundays was up by 8.2 per cent year-on-year for the 12 months ending September 30, 2017, at 247,000 visitors.


Whitsundays celebrates after being named Australia’s top destination…again!

The Whitsundays again topped the voting in Experience Oz’s Australia’s Top 10 Destinations to Experience 2017 poll, squeezing out close neighbour Mackay for the top spot. It is the fourth year running the Whitsundays has been voted number 1 in the poll, which received more than 7,000 unique votes.

Whitehaven recognised as world’s second best beach…

Whitehaven Beach has again been recognised, having been named the second best beach in the world by FlightNetwork, Canada’s largest travel website, who created a list of The World’s 50 Best Beaches© after consultation with more than 600 of the world’s top travel professionals. Whitehaven Beach scored 10/10 for sheer untouched beauty, remoteness and sand and water quality.

…and Australia’s top beach

Whitehaven Beach also took out the ‘top beach’ spot in the annual Australian Traveller People’s Choice Awards, voted for by more than 5,900 Australian travellers and recognising the best travel experiences and destinations for 2017. Hamilton Island also took out three awards including best island, best luxury hotel (qualia) and sexiest pool (qualia). Whitsunday Island, home to world famous Whitehaven Beach, came fourth, and Hamilton Island came fifth, in the Island Destination category.

Whitsundays shine at Queensland Tourism Awards

The Whitsundays brought home 14 trophies from the 2017 Queensland Tourism Awards, the second highest number of awards for one region. Whitsunday operators brought home five Gold, four Silver, three Bronze and two Highly Commended Awards from the gala event, held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on Friday, November 10.

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort won Gold in the Caravan and Holiday Parks category for the third year running, which meant the family-run resort entered the prestigious Hall of Fame. This year the McKinnon family, who have owned the park for 24 years, made a multi-million dollar investment in building more deluxe cabins and one of Australia’s largest resort Waterslide Parks, with a choice of 13 different twisting and turning water slides.

Lady Enid Sailing

We are pleased to advise that Lady Enid Sailing is back in the water and looking beautiful after receiving a full refurbishment.

Wild Life Hamilton Island

Wild Life Hamilton Island has recently reopened after receiving repairs due to TC Debbie and it’s looking fabulous, with cute critters and cuddly Koalas.


The old Down Under Bar, in Airlie Beach, has undergone an extensive transformation and been reborn as Boaty’s. Opening in September, the newest addition to the town’s hospitality offering is an open and airy deck bar overlooking the main street, perfect for enjoying a cold drink as you reflect on your day exploring the Whitsundays.

Local catering company Peach & Pear has introduced Picnic Hampers, which all come with wine (red, white or sparkling), fresh flowers, glassware, cheese knives and picnic rug. With names like Blossom, Paddington and Ploughman, the range of hampers contain your choice of gourmet rolls or sandwiches, fruit, cheese, cold meats, muffins and chocolates. Great for picnics and just about any outdoor activity! Click here for more information.

It’s coming…the Whitsundays’ first Italian gelati bar! La Gelateria will be housed in La Marina Italian Restaurant, at the Port of Airlie, and will serve more than 50 flavours of gelati, all made in store.

Local award-winning photographer Brooke Miles recently opened the first photographic gallery of its kind in the Whitsundays. Located in the Port of Airlie complex, Above and Below Gallery’s uniqueness stems from its exclusivity in only capturing scenes from above the water and below it. Aerial images of the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef coupled with underwater encounters with humpback whales and other marine and reef life means the gallery is both varied and diverse in its range of images.


Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

  • 13 – 15 Jan – Clipper Race Arrival
  • 19 Jan – Clipper Race Day
  • 19 Jan – “Bendigo Bank” Clipper Race Welcome Party
  • 20 Jan – “Fish D’Vine” White on Whitehaven Long Lunch
  • 21 Jan – “Whitsunday Foodservice” Progressive Cruise Lunch
  • 29 Jan – Parade of Sails Clipper Race Departure

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