BALLANDEAN Estate Wines and Bestbrook Mountain Retreat have been named the best in the region at the Southern Queensland Country Tourism Chairman’s Awards.

The tourism operators beat out a field of seven peer-nominated finalists to claim the top prize in Kingaroy.

Southern Queensland Country Tourism chair Dr Jane Summers said she couldn’t split the two Southern Downs entries, so awarded each as a winner.

Kingaroy’s Hillview Cottages and Highfields’ Easter Vintage Festival were named runners-up, while R On The Downs at Yangan, Highfields Pioneer Village and Kingsley Grove Estate Wines in Kingaroy were also finalists.

Dr Summers said the winners were proactive in their businesses, engaged with other regional tourism operators and worked closely with the Regional Tourism Organisation.

“Both Ballandean Estate and Bestbrook Mountain Resort are terrific role models; both offer a brilliant experience for their guests while showcasing their unique part of Southern Queensland Country and both interacting with fellow tourism operators and us, the regional tourism organisation at every opportunity,” she said.

Dr Summers also praised the contribution of all finalists.

“What is common among these tourism leaders is an unreserved commitment and willingness to go beyond people’s expectations – they not only welcome their guests genuinely and enhance their experience of the region but they do their part to develop tourism locally and at a regional level,” she said.

Each winner received $1200 worth of mentoring or marketing support for their businesses.

Southern Queensland Country Tourism CEO Mary-Clare Power said tourism operators were invited to nominate marketing partners of Southern Queensland Country Tourism and the award recognised an individual or business’s contribution to tourism excellence in the region.

“We at Southern Queensland Country Tourism work with amazing tourism operators every day and it’s wonderful to recognise the leaders in our industry for the outstanding work they undertake – how they embody the Southern Queensland Country brand, their contribution to the visitor experience and how they actively support tourism growth at a local and regional level,” she said.