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26 February, 2021

WOTIF: Top 10 Towns: Confirmed: Cairns is the best

HOLIDAYMAKERS from all over Australia are being encouraged to make Cairns their destination of choice this year, after being crowned “Aussie Town of the Year” by

By Tanya Murphy

"We’ve never been to Cairns before, so we thought we’d come up and have a look. It’s awesome, we’re having a blast. We’ve just done the jet-ski tour, yesterday we went to Crystal Cascades and tomorrow we’re going to the Reef." - Liam and Alex Saunders, from Victoria, in Cairns for a nine-day holiday. PHOTO: Tanya Murphy

After an incredible challenging year for the Tropical North Queensland tourism community, Cairns has taken out this year’s top spot in the annual competition run by the go-to travel site for domestic travel,

The other top ten towns, in order, were Pokolbin NSW, Apollo Bay VIC, Mudgee, NSW, Lakes Entrance VIC, McLarenVale SA. Hervey Bay QLD, Exmouth WA, Port Macquarie NSW and The Entrance NSW.

The winning destinations are selected based on their accommodation quality, affordability and traveller satisfaction.

This year, the awards also recognise destinations that have met the changing needs of travellers over the last twelve months of uncertainty, by offering increased flexibility, good-value deals and appealing activities and attractions.

Wotif Managing Director, Daniel Finch said Cairns was a world-wide bucket-list destination and a worthy winner of the award.

“Not only is it the gateway to one of Australia’s most treasured natural beauties – the Great Barrier Reef, but the city itself offers the ideal laid-back tropical lifestyle,” he said.

“To think that this humble city, which does so much for Australian tourism on an international scale suffered a loss of more than $50 million a week during the height of COVID-19 is incomprehensible.

“With an average nightly accommodation rate of $155 in 2020, it’s time Aussies consider visiting this incredible part of Australia, that people from all over the world come to see.

“With the overall loss to Australian tourism due to COVID-19 now totalling over $59 billion, there is a huge job ahead to get the industry back on its feet and with this year’s awards, we hope to motivate Aussies to discover a new corner of their own country.”

Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer, Mark Olsen said the local industry was excited to receive the top gong.

“Here in the State’s tropical north we have been fortunate to have very few cases of COVID-19 allowing us to move about more freely,” he said.

“However, the economic impact of closed borders has decimated our economy which relies on tourism.

“Australians are desperate for a holiday and Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, with its wide-open spaces, low population and excellent nature-based experiences is the ideal destination.”

Shangri-La Group Director of Distribution and Leisure Gavin Maloney said every travel business within the region had worked hard to keep the community strong during the COVID-19 crisis.

“A trip to Cairns keeps locals in a job and that extends beyond travel businesses – to farmers growing fruit on the Tablelands, boutiques selling bathers by the beach, and cafes serving coffee to the boat crews getting ready to carry tourists to the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

The awards come as new Wotif research confirms that for the Aussies that managed to take a local holiday in 2020, the overwhelming majority (95 per cent) agree that their trip either met or exceeded their expectations, proving many travellers are loving the opportunity to spend more time exploring their own backyard.

Most Aussies (60 per cent) now recognise there’s a lot more to explore in their own backyards, with one in four (26 per cent) admitting they had forgotten how great a local trip can be.  

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