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Newcastle hospitality, tourism industry celebrates ‘best of the best’


Local industry representatives let their collective hair down at the Newcastle Hospitality and Tourism Awards to celebrate “the best of the best”.

And, in 2024, the big winners were Out Of The Square Media, Oakvale Wildlife Park, Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club and Tamara Young from the University of Newcastle.

Coordinated by the Newcastle Tourism Industry Group (NTIG), the second edition of the gala night took place at the FogHorn Brewery on Monday 27 May.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes with Paul O’Rourke from the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club.

The awards are designed to honour outstanding contributions across the visitor economy, including hotels, restaurants, tour operators, event organisers and support partners.

“NTIG has had an impressive past 12 months to say the least,” acting NTIG chair Dominic May said.

“In less than three years, we’ve seen our membership numbers double.

“As a committee, we’ve worked tirelessly to provide a unified voice for the local visitor economy and to drive value for our members based on our 2024 strategy, which identified five key pillars: Industry Education and Networking, Advocacy, Event Activation, Inclusiveness and the Industry Awards Program.

“We’re not even halfway through the year, and we’ve already delivered in each of these areas through our support for local and major events and our partners such as the University of Newcastle’s new Bachelor of Tourism, Hospitality and Events along with the new International Hotel School.

“We’ve painted the town pink together with City of Newcastle, using the SBR funding NTIG has received this year.

“Collectively, we led a meeting surrounding accessibility in our city and the best ways for our members to get involved in making their businesses more accessible.

“For this year’s awards, we also saw a record number of highly-competitive nominations, while introducing a new category, Inclusive Hospitality and Tourism Operator of the Year.

“They’re clean signs we’re gathering momentum.”

The Newcastle Hospitality and Tourism Awards finalists and winners

Shawn Sherlock with Out Of The Square Media’s Marty Adnum.

Industry Support Partner of the Year Award

Recognising an organisation that helps the visitor economy create the magic and allowing them to focus on what they do best.


  • Aerologistics
  • University of Newcastle – Business School
  • Winner: Out Of The Square Media has supported a range of hospitality operators from Soul Café to Newcastle Airport and events from Clipper Around The World Race to Sculptures at Scratchley with high-quality media production and distribution.

Inclusive Tourism & Hospitality Operator of the Year Award

Celebrating operators who demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity through an all-of-company effort to accessibility, cultural sensitivity and diversity training.


  • Quest Apartments Newcastle and Newcastle West
  • Earp Distilling Co
  • Winner: Oakvale Wildlife Park has a commitment to inclusivity that permeates every aspect of their operation including a pathway network with no steps, complimentary wheelchair hire including water wheelchairs, multi-lingual maps and diversity training for all staff.
Employee of the Year Tamara Young and Ellie Taylor.

Employer of the Year Award

Honouring innovation, resilience and dedication of employers who are dedicated to creating terrific guest experiences, showcasing the best the industry can do.


  • Quest Apartments Newcastle and Newcastle West
  • Oakvale Wildlife Park
  • Winner: Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club trains and develops its team through apprenticeships, personal development training, university support and Industry specific training. This creates a loyal, productive team with low staff turnover.

Employee of the Year Award

Highlighting the extraordinary commitment of a staff member who is making a difference to ensure guests feel special.


  • Laura McGrath – City of Newcastle
  • Mia Shorter – Quest Apartments Newcastle and Newcastle West
  • Winner: Tamara Young, University of Newcastle, has led tourism education and research at University of Newcastle for more than 15 years. By prioritising effective partnerships, she has been educating future tourism professionals and conducting research aligned to growing the Newcastle visitor economy.

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