Australian travel industry pioneer and owner of the APT Group family of brands Geoff McGeary OAM has been honoured for his contribution to the country’s tourism industry, receiving the coveted Australian Tourism Legend award at the 2015 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards.
The Australian Tourism Legend award recognises the extraordinary personal and professional achievement and contribution by an individual over many years to the Australian tourism industry. It was the final of 27 awards to be announced at the event, held at the Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre on Friday 5 February 2016.
Geoff McGeary was moved to receive the accolade.
“The Australian tourism industry is the best in the world – we get to work with outstanding people and product in the most stunning destinations. So to be recognised as having made a leading contribution, when the standard of what we collectively deliver is so high, is an absolute honour. I’m incredibly thankful,” he said.
Australian Pacific Touring (APT) was originally founded as De Luxe Motors in 1927 by Geoff’s father Bill McGeary almost 90 years ago.
Geoff joined the company more than 50 years ago when it was still a school bus company based in Bayside, Victoria.
In 1964 he took a group of Melbourne students on a camping trip to Central Australia. In those days, the roads were dirt, they travelled in the 2WD school bus and accommodation options barely existed.
But on that trip Geoff found his calling, seeing an opportunity to evolve the bus company, and the spirit of a new travel company APT was born.
In the early days he operated coach tours in Australia and New Zealand. These grew into an extensive land touring portfolio covering the length and breadth of Australia. Later, Geoff purchased Kimberley Wilderness Adventures which offers outback 4WD touring, as well as a network of wilderness lodges throughout the Kimberley and small ship expedition cruises along the Kimberley coast.
He added Outback Wilderness Adventures to the portfolio too, extending the 4WD tours across Australia to include Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia.
While domestic travel is still an important part of the APT business; through a progression of strategic partnerships and acquisitions, over the years Geoff added new and innovative styles of travel, enabling APT to diversify to include international destinations.
For example, at the turn of this century, Geoff pioneered a new travel format, introducing river ship cruising for the Australian and New Zealand traveller in Europe; later expanding into Asia; South America; Africa; and India. In doing so he has helped nurture the river cruise market, which has proved to be such a huge success today.
Through the APT Group, Geoff has also built successful brands in Travelmarvel and Botanica World Discoveries, both of which offer significant touring portfolios in Australia.
Congratulating Geoff on his award, APT Group Managing Director Chris Hall said, “Geoff McGeary is an inspiration, not only to the people within our business, but also to his industry colleagues here in Australia and across the globe.
“He is always looking for the next travel innovation, always wanting to find the next exciting destination or format. At the same time, for more than 50 years Geoff has been a passionate advocate for Australian tourism. He is proud of the portfolio we operate here at home, as we all are, and rightly so. On behalf of everyone at the APT Group I would like to say huge congratulations. This is an honour that is much deserved,” he said.
This is the second award Geoff McGeary has received from the Australian travel industry in the past six months. In November 2015, he was awarded the Tourism Ministers Perpetual Trophy for his outstanding commitment and dedication to the Northern Territory tourism industry at the Brolga Awards.