Operator of the Year Awards 2016

All winners web

Southern World NZ – “Inbound Operator of the Year”   

This year allied members of the Tourism Export Council have voted Southern World NZ their number one inbound tour operator.

Southern World webDirector Martin Horgan says “It’s a fabulous honour for Southern World New Zealand to be acknowledged as the Tourism Export Council’s Operator of the year for 2016.

The value of this award is that we have been nominated and supported by our industry peers and partners.  To receive this recognition from our supplier partners is testament to the dedication and commitment from our teams who work tirelessly to exceed the expectations of our clients whilst all the time maintaining the best interests of our New Zealand supplier partners.  Partners who do an exceptional job on providing such fabulous experiences for our guests and make us look good!

On behalf of the entire Southern World team we want to thank the TECNZ’s allied membership for having faith in Southern World New Zealand and also congratulate New Zealand Educational Tours and Pan Pacific Travel for being finalists with us in this award.

Scenic Hotel Group – “Operator of the Year”  

Speaking on behalf of Scenic Hotel Group is Steve Shearer – Director of International Sales & Brand Development: Scenic Hotels web

“It is with a great deal of pride and honour that Scenic Hotel Group accept the Tourism Export Council’s ‘2016 Operator Hotel of the Year Award’.  The past year has been one of the busiest and most trying, requiring a herculean effort from our hotels and support teams to maintain our standards and high quality services that guests have become accustomed to.  It is most reassuring to know that our ITO partners value us so highly and consider our group worthy winners of this award.”

Worthy finalists in the same category were Real Journeys and Southern Discoveries.

Bush & Beach – Small Business Operator of Year  

A new award for 2016 is the Small Business Operator. Along with the major national and regional operators, our industry is enriched with a huge variety of small, micro and owner-operator businesses and we want to recognise their contribution to New Zealand’s visitor experience. The award application was open to both inbound and allied members.

Bush & BeachBush and Beach owner Ben Thornton shares “We are absolutely thrilled and grateful to be recognised by our industry peers as the inaugural winner of the Small Business Operator of the year.  The calibre of finalists was very high and anyone would have been a worthy winner.  Bush and Beach has been providing unique small-group tours for over 30 years now and we value our close relationship with the Inbound Tour Industry who have been a major factor in our continued success”. 

Congratulations to Ziptrek and Fiordland Trips and Tramps who were other finalists in this category and all who participated”.

Tourism Export Council CEO Lesley Immink says each year the awards are hotly contested as being voted among your peers as being the best in the business for ‘doing good business’ is a great accolade that filters down to all levels of the operator teams. Inbound tour operators nominate allied supplier members and allied members nominate inbound tour operators. The applicants are judged on their innovation, marketing, business operation, communications, accessibility and industry relationships. The Board then assesses those nominated based on a points system to choose three finalists and it goes back out to the respective member groups to vote for the winners.


Each year, the Tourism Export Council presents its “Operator of the Year” Award to an outstanding tourism operation (allied) and inbound tour operators. This is a prestigious and much-sought after award which recognises excellence and an outstanding visitor experience. The “Operators of the Year” are presented with a trophy at the annual Tourism Conference acknowledged by their industry peers.


Past Winners of the Tourism Export Council/ITOC Operator of the Year Award

2016 Bush & Beach – Small Business Operator of Year

Scenic Hotel Group – Operator of the Year

Southern World NZ – Inbound Operator of the Year

2015 Real Journeys & Southern Discoveries – Operator of the Year

Pan Pacific Travel – Inbound Operator of the Year

2014 Hobbiton Movie Set Tours – Operator of the Year

Pacific Destinationz – Inbound Operator of the Year & Distinction Triple Award Winner

2013 Real Journeys – Operator of the Year

Pacific Destinationz – Inbound Operator of the Year (2nd year)

2012 Scenic Hotel Group – Operator of the Year

Pacific Destinationz – Inbound Operator of the Year

2011 Southern Discoveries – Operator of the Year

AOT New Zealand – Inbound Operator of the Year

2010 InterCity Group – Operator of the Year

Pan Pacific Travel – Inbound Operator of the Year

2009 Distinction Luxmore Hotel Te Anau
2008 Real Journeys
2007 Agrodome
2006 Real Journeys
2005 The Kauri Museum
2004 Qantas Airways
2003 Fullers Bay of Islands
2002 Hawke’s Bay Tourism
2001 Air New Zealand
2000 Alpine Guides Fox Glacier
1999 Polynesian Spa Rotorua
1998 Heritage Gateway Hotel Omarama, Mount Cook
1997 Larnach Castle, Dunedin
1996 Paradise Valley Springs, Rotorua
1995 Shotover Jet Ltd, Queenstown
1994 Agrodome Leisure Park, Rotorua
1993 Air New Zealand International
1992 Routeburn Walk Ltd, Queenstown
1991 Ansett New Zealand
1990 Fiordland Travel
1989 The Christchurch Parkroyal Hotel
1988 Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World, Auckland
1987 Department of Conservation
As the Guardian of the New Zealand National Parks System to mark the National Parks Centennial.
1986 Skyline Skyrides, Rotorua
1985 The Charter Cruise Company, Auckland
1984 Air Safaris & Services (NZ) Ltd, Lake Tekapo
1983 Rainbow Springs, Rotorua
1982 Mount Cook Line – Coronet Cresta Run, Queenstown

Subscribe to Newsletter