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Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail is a finalist in the prestigious state level tourism awards.
The public art project and tourism drawcard, which promotes koala conservation, is in the running for the cultural tourism and tourist attractions categories of the 2022 NSW Tourism Awards.
The Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail features 83 one metre-high koala sculptures and the 2.5 metre-high Big Koala.
Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail project director Margret Meagher said the Big Koala was the one of the key aspects of the 2022 awards submission.
The Big Koala, created by industrial artist John Belfield and painted by Pauline Roods, forms part of Guulabaa in Cowarra State Forest. Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail is one of four project partners in the new tourism precinct.
It is estimated about 15,000 people saw the Big Koala between mid-September and mid-October.
"We are very happy with the achievement of the Big Koala because we are now part of this significant tourism precinct which will eclipse anything else, I believe, on the Mid North Coast," Mrs Meagher said.
The new children's book, Lola had a Dream written and illustrated by Francessca O'Donnell, was another focus of the awards submission. The book builds on the success of the sculptures.
Mrs Meagher said she wanted to develop a series of books that appealed to children and helped educate in a fun way. A second book will be developed around the Big Koala.
Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail has won recognition at the NSW Tourism Awards every year since 2015.
"This year, unlike any other year, we are the only [finalist] representative from Port Macquarie," Mrs Meagher said.
"That in itself is a privilege."
The winners will be announced at a gala dinner on November 17 at Luna Park Sydney.
NSW Tourism Industry Council senior director Paula Martin said the awards were a celebration of the extraordinary achievements of the NSW tourism industry over the past 12 months and a reflection of the hard work of the thousands of tourism operators across the state.
"With so many incredible tourism businesses in NSW, the competition is tough, and our judges were truly inspired by the finalists' achievements," Ms Martin said.
NSW Minister for Tourism Ben Franklin said the exceptional calibre of finalists in the 2022 NSW Tourism Awards was a reflection of the professionalism and dedication driving the recovery of the state's visitor economy.
"These finalists represent our state's world-class tourism offerings," he said.
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