When the first eight electric-powered picnic boats arrived at Kingston Foreshore in 2017, Nick Tyrrell had no idea they would star alongside the Sydney Harbour Bridge in an advertising campaign for Tourism Australia only a few years later.
“I guess for so many years, people had a funny relationship with [Lake Burley Griffin],” he says.
“It was in the centre of the city, but wasn’t that accessible.”
GoBoat has helped change that and much more. In the years since they launched, they have welcomed more than 300,000 guests onto a fleet of 70 boats across six locations on Australia’s east coast.
“It’s really resonated well with Canberrans, but it’s also become one of those things that’s a sort of icon visitors want to do as well.”
GoBoat was recognised for “outstanding growth” in the 2023 Telstra Best of Business Awards and “sustainability” in the Boating Industry Association’s 2023 awards.
But in a ceremony at the Hyatt Hotel, the company added another string to its bow at the Canberra Region Tourism Awards 2023 .
The annual awards acknowledge “business excellence, innovation, resilience and reward exceptional customer service” across 25 categories in our tourism industry. Winners go on to represent Canberra and the region at the national Australian Tourism Awards.
This year was the first time GoBoat has entered the awards, but it won for best ‘Tour and Transport Operator’ and commendations in the ‘Ecotourism’ and ‘Tourism Retail and Hire Services’ categories.
“It’s always so awesome to be recognised, but like I said on the night, it’s a mutual responsibility,” Nick says.
“We couldn’t have won it if the community hadn’t got around it and supported us from day one and allowed us to expand.”
Nick thanks the team behind the Canberra operation specifically, including business manager Amy Weatherby.
“They do the hard yards every day to deliver for the customers, and all credit to the team.”
‘Best Tourist Attraction’ was won by the National Dinosaur Museum in Gold Creek, ‘Major Festivals and Events’ by the Multicultural Festival, ‘Festivals and Events’ by the National Capital Authority’s Lights on the Lake, ‘Cultural Tourism’ by the Royal Australian Mint, ‘Tourism Retail and Hire Services’ by the gift shop at the National Museum of Australia, ‘Visitor Information Services’ by the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre, ‘Caravan and Holiday Parks’ by Alivio Tourist Park in O’Connor, and ‘Unique Accommodation’ by the Jamala Wildlife Lodge at the National Zoo and Aquarium.
Local leaders delivered too, with Dr Mathew Trinca from the National Museum of Australia taking out the ‘Outstanding Contribution by an Individual’ award, and for the inaugural Natasha Watson Women in Tourism Award, the winner was Dorothy Barclay from Forrest Hotel.
Canberra Region Tourism Industry Council CEO Dr Naomi Dale described the awards ceremony as the “night of nights”.
“A huge congratulations goes out to all our entrants this year! It’s been wonderful to have everyone gather to recognise excellence in tourism, particularly when capacity to write and commit to the process proved harder than in previous years for many.”
The winners from the 10 categories will represent the Canberra region at the Australian Tourism Awards in Darwin in March 2024.
View the full list of award categories, winners and commendations at Canberra Tourism Awards.