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Red Cat Adventures celebrates double win at Qantas Australian Tourism Awards

Red Cat Adventures celebrates double win at Qantas Australian Tourism Awards
March 19, 2022

Owners Asher and Julie Telford are today celebrating their seven-year-old business Red Cat Adventures being announced as the Gold winner in the Adventure Tourism category and Silver winner in the Major Tour and Transport Operator category at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards.

Among 75 awards presented at the Sunshine Coast Convention Centre last night, the Whitsunday tour operators have weathered the pandemic impact on their industry over the past two years, with Julie Telford explaining “although we’ve been privileged to win awards in the past at local, state, and national levels, this is our first Gold in the Adventure Tourism category nationally.

“Without international youth markets to draw on, Adventure Tourism has been one of the hardest hit sectors, and what we personally - and our industry as a whole - have been through during the pandemic, cements this as the toughest battle of them all and consequently the most cherished win.”

Asher Telford explained the couple, their three children and 32 staff, were still celebrating their Gold and Silver wins from the 2019 Australian Awards when news of the onset of Covid-19 began trickling through, noting “it was only a few weeks between the high of winning two categories at the last national awards to tourism falling off a cliff.

“The value of our company halved almost overnight, and we were faced with the devastation of losing the majority of our staff; what ensued has been an insane, emotional, rollercoaster ride - at times elating, at others soul-destroying, but always raw and real.

“(But) instead of closing our doors and taking a rest, we slaved - we worked 10 times harder, and made a new business plan every time the rules changed.

“We sought opportunities from challenges, took calculated risks, and actually grew our company during Covid, evolving into a better, more efficient, more sustainable business as a result.”

Julie Telford added “being 86% international prior to the pandemic forced us to chase new markets and openings.

“We not only clawed back our staff numbers but actually increased the size of our sales team in preparation for border re-openings, meanwhile diversifying our products and retaining optimum customer satisfaction across all our tours.”

That guests actively choose to avail themselves of a free ‘Red Cat’ tattoo, attests to that customer satisfaction and the popularity of the company, renowned for its Whitsunday day tours.

Travelling aboard purpose-built power boat ‘Thundercat’ or re-purposed sailing vessel Tongarra, patrons can enjoy Whitsunday islands highlights, or escapes to idyllic Paradise Cove Villa.

More recent additions to the Red Cat Adventures experience suite include mainland ‘Falls to Paradise’ tours combining waterfall and resort excursions, and newly launched ‘Wild Cat’ cruises to Great Barrier Reef islands off Mackay.

As well as a raft of adventure activities such as snorkelling, paddle-boarding, banana boat-riding, sailing and bush-walking, guests can engage in a variety of Eco and Edu-tourism-tailored tours, including the curriculum-based ‘Immersive Learning Project’, designed to foster ‘travel for good’ and broaden stewardship of the Great Barrier Reef.

Proud of their environmental commitment, the Telfords boast the highest level of eco-certification as Climate Action Leaders and employ the only staff member in Australia accredited as both a Master Reef Guide and globally recognised Savannah Guide.

With core family values carried across the business and a high focus on vessel maintenance and safety, the Telfords pride themselves on Red Cat Adventures’ continued ability to showcase the Whitsunday region to Australian and global audiences through 2022 and beyond.

Images: The multiple award winning Red Cat Adventures (top and middle) and owners Asher and Julie Telford with their family (below).

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