Young Canterbury entrepreneur wins Tourism Industry
His refusal to be beaten by the Christchurch
earthquakes and subsequent visitor downturn has contributed
to a Canterbury tourism operator being awarded the 2012 PATA
Young Tourism Entrepreneur Award.
Managing Director and co-owner of Hassle-free Tours, was
also recognised for his commitment to building a world-class
tourism business and his environmental efforts. His win was
announced by Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key at
the 2012 TIA Summit in Wellington today.
Chairman Neil Plimmer, who presented the award, said Mr
Gilbert was a worthy winner among an outstanding field of
“He epitomises the kind of leadership,
entrepreneurial flair, and business capability needed to
take the tourism industry forward,” Mr Plimmer said.
Mr Gilbert says the inspiration for starting Hassle-free
Tours came after his own overseas travels, when he realised
that the most spectacular scenery he had seen was back home
in New Zealand, in the Canterbury high country in
With his wife, Nikki, he established the
business in 2003 at the age of 24. The business offers tours
of the Canterbury high country in purpose-built vehicles. In
2007, Hassle-free Tours was the first tour company in New
Zealand to convert its entire fleet to biodiesel.
Immediately after the February 2011 Christchurch
earthquake, the company’s visitor numbers plummeted by
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