Proud South lslander, Queenstown resident and tourism legend Tony McQuilkin, has been made a Life Member of the Tourism Export Council New Zealand (TECNZ), an accolade that is only given out every few years.

McQuilkin was awarded the life membership at the TECNZ Xmas Symposium held in Auckland this week, which was attended by a record-breaking 340 tourism operators and suppliers.

Commercial Director for Real Journeys, Mr MQuilkin has dedicated the last four decades to tourism in New Zealand and in 2014 he won the industry’s highest accolade, the Sir Jack Newman Award.

TECNZ CEO Judy Chen said the organisation was delighted to have given Mr McQuilkin the award as he exemplied the passion, dedication and professionialism of the industry.

“It is people like Tony who have helped make tourism New Zealand’s largest export earner. We are very proud that he is a TEC member and he is a fantastic role model for everyone who works in tourism.”

Mr MQuilkin began his career in tourism in 1980 as Queenstown Area Manager for Fiordland Travel (which later became Real Journeys). By 1984, he had become head of sales, building the tourism relationships that are still in place today.

Many of Real Journeys distinctive features can be traced back to Mr McQuilkin’s influence; its unique coaches (glass topped bullet design that maximise the views for all); the introduction of overnight boats to Fiordland and the uniquely Kiwi multi-day Discovery Expeditions.

He has a strong belief that meeting face to face and building relationships is what makes the difference and taught his sales team: “If a man or woman gives you business – you go and thank them!”

Mr McQuilkin also has great regard for the community he lives in and is Chairman of the Queenstown Trails Trust. He served 16 years on the board of what is now called Destination Queenstown and is passionate about the TSS Earnslaw and the Fiordland region.

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