Skyline Queenstown and the Thomas family have dominated the Westpac Queenstown Business Excellence Awards.
Not only did the gondola operator win the supreme award at Saturday night’s event — held on home turf on Bob’s Peak — but former long-time chairman Barry Thomas also picked up a lifetime achievement award.
Thomas, the company’s chairman for 33 years until 2009, says he’s pleased to be recognised, particularly for his long involvement in what he described as “tourism politics”.
While heading national tourism bodies in the 1970s and ’80s, he had made numerous trips to the United States and Japan to help promote the country as a tourist destination.
At that time, many Americans he met thought New Zealand was “somewhere up by Iceland”.
“Now I get a lot of gratification out of seeing tourism as the largest overseas earner in New Zealand.”
More evidence of tourism’s importance is that Prime Minister John Key held the tourism portfolio, where once it was given to lowly-ranked ministers outside cabinet, he says.
Supreme award winner Skyline Queenstown was a finalist in four categories, winning three.
Its gondola, which began operating in 1967, will have a $100 million revamp in 2018.
Mark Quickfall, chairman of parent company Skyline Enterprises, says the company’s management team is not only dealing with rising visitor numbers, but also helping with the planning process for the revamp.
That makes the award particularly well-deserved for general manager Lyndon Thomas and his team, Quickfall says.
“They’re working a lot harder than in normal circumstances, so it was fantastic to see them recognised for that publicly.”
The awards, which are organised by the resort’s chamber of commerce, are held every two years.
Queenstown Business Excellence Awards winners
- 2016 Westpac Supreme Business of the Year: Skyline Queenstown
- McCulloch & Partners SME Business of the Year: Roost Mortgage Brokers
- Lane Neave Large Business of the Year Award: Skyline Queenstown
- SIT Excellence in Construction, Trade or Services Award: Naylor Love Construction Ltd
- Air New Zealand Excellence in Hospitality or Accommodation Award: Hotel St Moritz
- Heartland Technology Excellence in Professional Services Award: Colliers International Otago
- Queenstown Resort College Employer of the Year Award: Skyline Queenstown
- Destination Queenstown Best Emerging Business Award: MAXraft
- Real Journeys Excellence in Tourism, Activities or Events Award: Skyline Queenstown
- Queenstown Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award: Barry Thomas
Otago Daily Times