There are celebrations in Berry after it was named the State's top tourism small town in the NSW Top Tourism Towns awards for 2022 earlier today.
In fact the Shoalhaven dominated the awards, with Berry winning one of the three categories, and Huskisson and Ulladulla finishing runners-up to Carcoar and Mudgee in the other two.
The judges noted Berry is a friendly and historic town that offers visitors many activities and attractions, including a mouth-watering array of fabulous gourmet restaurants to award winning wineries, unique homewares shops and boutiques, as well as well-appointed accommodation provided by a passionate tourism community.
Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley congratulated the communities of Berry, Huskisson and Ulladulla for being recognised in the prestigious awards.
"We live in the most beautiful place and wish Berry all the best for the Australian Tourism Awards as they battle it out against the states," she said.
"We are incredibly proud of our communities and businesses for their achievement and commitment to providing a welcoming and vibrant town for both locals and visitors to enjoy.”
Berry Chamber of Commerce and Tourism President Louise Hallum said the whole town was "humbly proud" after winning the award.
“Berry is beyond thrilled to have even been part of NSW's Top Tourism Town Awards," she said.
"It really does recognise the passion with which our Berry locals share their absolute love of what they do.
"Berry is blessed with stunning bucolic scenery and oodles of village charm, but it is the unique events, fantastic accommodation, specialist shopping, exceptional dining and winery experiences that are all delivered with legendary Berry hospitality that ultimately makes Berry such a special, truly memorable place to visit and be," Ms Hallum said.
It was a sentiment echoed by Shoalhaven Council Tourism Mananger Coralie Bell.
“We are thrilled for Berry to be bringing home the gold for the competitive NSW Top Tourism Town Awards and equally proud of all six of our Shoalhaven towns who received highly commended or secured a finalist spot back in April," she said.
"Being recognised as winners and finalists emulates the passion our business operators have for growing and developing our visitor economy.”
More than 12,000 people voted for this year’s Top Tourism Towns awards from a list of 30 finalists, with the winners announced at the Local Government NSW Destination and Visitor Economy Conference in Orange this week.
Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade, Minister for Tourism and Sport and Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the winners captured the essence and uniqueness of the state’s tourism offering.
“The incredible natural beauty and warm welcome that awaits in the Top Tourism Towns of NSW fulfill the compelling promise of the NSW Government’s Feel New tourism campaign,” Mr Ayres said.
“We know travellers want more than a checklist of things to see. They want experiences that inspire, amaze and revitalise."
He said Berry was a vibrant example of the unique attributes of regional NSW that set the state apart from other visitor destinations and leave a lasting impression.
NSW Tourism Industry Council Executive Manager Greg Binskin said the awards celebrated towns with a population under 1500, between 1500 and 5000, and a population over 5000 residents.
“Berry, Small Town winner, was admired as a gorgeous town between the mountains and the sea, with its greenery and gardens equalled only by the stunning historic homesteads and abundance of amazing shopping," he said.
The awards are managed by the NSW Tourism Industry Council, with tourism associations, local councils, local chambers and visitor information centres collaborating to enter their towns.
Carcoar, Berry and Mudgee will represent NSW at the Australian Top Tourism Town Awards later in the year.
Images: NSW Top Tourism Town Awards 2022