The Esplanade Hotel and Extravaganza Gallery in Albany has won Western Australian tourism's highest accolade, the prestigious Sir David Brand Award for Tourism.
At a gala ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Perth Hotel tonight, the Esplanade was presented with the award after strong competition from two other finalists - the Hyatt Regency Perth and The Vines Resort.
It also won the Tourist Development Projects category of the awards.
The Sir David Brand Medal for the greatest individual contribution to the tourism industry was awarded to the late Robert Burkett of Exmouth.
It was the first time the medal had been awarded posthumously.
In a tribute to Mr Burkett, Tourism Minister Pam Beggs said he was without doubt the father of tourism in Exmouth.
"Mr Burkett was the patriarch of the development of the tourism industry in the Gascoyne region," she said.
"For 25 years, Mr Burkett not only financially supported local tourism developments, he also committed his considerable energies into the pursuit of gaining recognition of the area as a tourism destination through years of voluntary service and promoting the cause of tourism in the Gascoyne.
"The Potshot Hotel Resort is a reminder of the great contribution he made to Exmouth. It employs more than 90 people in the peak of the season and without doubt it is the premier accommodation establishment on the North West Cape."
Mrs Beggs said the Esplanade's win was a major boost for tourism in Albany and on the Rainbow Coast.
"The Esplanade has been the single most important tourism development along the south coast and a personal triumph for its owners, Paul and Joan Terry," she said.
"This is the first time in six years that the Sir David Brand Award has gone to a tourism development outside the metropolitan area and it is significant that Albany was the last regional winner with Whaleworld in 1985."
The Sir David Brand Awards are named in honour of Western Australia's longest-serving Premier and first Tourism Minister.
Recognised as the most prestigious and coveted tourism awards in Western Australia, the awards include 26 categories as well as the two major titles and attract more than 150 entries each year.
They were the first tourism awards in Australia and have become the model for the creation of an integrated nation tourism awards system.
Mrs Beggs said the Fleetwood Group of Companies initiated the first award in 1972 and continued to sponsor the awards for the first 12 years. The Sir David Brand Medal was introduced to recognise significant contributions by an individual to the development of the tourism industry.
In 1984, Fleetwood handed over the responsibility for the awards to the Western Australian Tourism Commission.
The commission has run the awards, but this year heralds a new era. The Australian Tourism Industry Association (WA Chapter) co-ordinates the independent judging of the awards and the Swan Brewery Company Ltd has become the major sponsor.