Port Macquarie Koala Hospital president Sue Ashton has been recognised for her outstanding achievement as a tourism operator as part of the 2021 Local Tourism Hero Awards.
The awards are organised by Destination North Coast NSW and aim to highlight the hard work and dedication of locals who go above and beyond, that lead from the front and always put themselves forward to support their team, peers, guests, and the industry.
Sue has been awarded the Port Macquarie-Hastings Region Local Tourism Hero for 2021.
"I don't seek any accolades for what I do. Receiving the award is very humbling," she said.
Sue is a volunteer on the Koala Conservation Australia Committee. She started as a volunteer at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital before stepping into the media role and is now president.
Her calm and considered leadership at the Koala Hospital has been instrumental in navigating the devastating Black Summer Bushfires in 2019 and 2020 which resulted in local, national and international attention and financial support for the Koala Hospital.
Sue tirelessly supports the staff and volunteers, has been central to guiding Koala Conservation Australia to its next stage and is part of the team responsible for securing a $5 million state government grant for redevelopment of the current site.
"The future tourism opportunity and development of the site is really exciting," she said.
Sue also led the strategy and master planning required to maximise outcomes for the nearly $8 million raised during the bushfires and bring the world's first Wild Koala Breeding Centre to reality.
"The goal is to remain committed to the Koala Hospital and help improve the koala population in the wild," she said.
In a tourism role, Sue has actively connected and collaborated with tourism operators, the Tourism Association, council, conservation bodies, media and many other organisations to share information and work together to help koala conservation and bring awareness to the issue.
Sue remains focused on delivering great outcomes for conservation and education through tourism experiences.
"One thing I do want to do is inspire others to help koalas and protect their future," she said.
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