Real Journeys’ commercial director Tony McQuilkin has been awarded a Tourism Export Council life membership award.
The Queenstown tourism stalwart was recognised at the TEC Xmas Symposium in Auckland yesterday for his work in the industry.
McQuilkin said he was “humbled, honoured, surprised and delighted” to win the award.
“Recognition from your industry colleagues is as good as it gets. In fact, it’s bloody great, it’s most appreciated.”
He said he was proud to promote New Zealand and the country’s tourism as well as Real Journeys’ TSS Earnslaw steamship, which he was originally hired to manage.
Former TEC chair Martin Horgan presented the award and said McQuilkin was tourism’s own “Speights Southern Man”.
“Over four decades tourism in New Zealand and Real Journeys in particular have benefitted from Tony’s no bullshit, honest and incredibly loyal and hardworking approach to business,” said Horgan.
“Tony has been constantly innovative over that time, full of ideas to grow and with the drive and energy to make them happen.”
Many of Real Journeys distinctive features can be traced back to McQuilkin’s influence from its unique glass-roofed coaches, overnight boats in Fiordland, and its multi-day Discovery expeditions, said Horgan.
In 2014, McQuilkin won the NZ Tourism Sir Jack Newman Award for outstanding industry leadership.