Annabel Bowles

Tropic Now journalist

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Cairns crowned top tourism town in national awards, one of the country’s premier sites for domestic tourism bookings, has today crowned Cairns the top Aussie Town of the Year. 

Now in its fourth year, the annual tourism awards recognise some of Australia’s best destinations, encouraging travellers to hit the road and see more of their own backyard.

The 2021 Wotif Aussie Town of the Year Awards are based on accommodation quality, affordability and traveller satisfaction, as well as greater flexibility and good-value deals amid COVID-19. 

This year’s winners have also been recognised for using the tourism downturn of the past year to renew their offerings and re-emerge as stronger destinations.

Cairns took out the top spot with the Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina, being Wotif’s accommodation of choice. 


  1. Cairns, QLD 
  2. Pokolbin, NSW 
  3. Apollo Bay, VIC 
  4. Mudgee, NSW 
  5. Lakes Entrance, VIC 
  6. McLaren Vale, SA 
  7. Hervey Bay, QLD 
  8. Exmouth, WA 
  9. Port Macquarie, NSW 
  10. The Entrance, NSW

Wotif Managing Director, Daniel Finch said Cairns is a standout destination.

“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,” Mr Finch 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.” 

Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer, Mark Olsen said the local industry was excited to have Cairns named this year’s Wotif Aussie Town of the Year.

“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,” Mr Olsen 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.” 

“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,” Mr Finch said.

“With this year’s awards, we hope to motivate Aussies to discover a new corner of their own country.”