By BELINDA SCOTT
COFFS Harbour's Pet Porpoise Pool and Bellingen's Lily Pily Country House both won at the 2007 Mid North Coast Tourism Awards.
The Pet Porpoise Pool won the Award of Excellence for a Significant Tourist Attraction and Lily Pily Country House won the Award of Excellence for Hosted Accommodation.
Tourist businesses from Port Stephens to Red Rock competed in the Awards, which were presented at a gala function in Forster on Thursday.
The Pet Porpoise Pool repeated its 2006 success and earned warm commendation from the Chairman of Judges, tourism and travel adviser Mick Crawley, who described the unique marine park, with its friendly dolphins and seals; its sea circus shows and its resident population of land and sea animals as 'a world class attraction'.
For the chief executive officer of the Pet Porpoise Pool, Paige Sinclair, those words are a vindication of the enormous effort that her team has put into improving and marketing the unique marine park at the Jetty.
And she said numbers were beginning to reflect that, with visitor numbers up 16.3 per cent in the 2006-07 financial year, well above the NSW Tourism average of 8.6 per cent and August numbers up 31 per cent, in spite of two weeks of rain.
The Pool was a finalist in the NSW Awards last year. It is also currently a finalist in the Coffs Coast Business Awards and the Coffs Harbour Business Awards.
Brian Sherratt, who owns and operates Lily Pily Country House with his wife Felicity, said they were 'totally bowled over' by their win, which he said would help increase the impact of their marketing.
Lily Pily, with its purpose-built contemporary Australian architecture, provides 4.5 star-rated eco sensitive hosted accommodation in three separate pavilions on an 80 acre sheep stud.
The wins takes the Pet Porpoise Pool and Lily Pily Country House into the finals of the state awards, which will be announced in November.