Toilets can almost make or break a travel experience. But the winners in the inaugural International Toilet Tourism Awards could nearly warrant tourist attraction status of themselves.
Conducted by MyTravelResearch.com, the awards highlight “the clear link between toilets and tourism success”, and aim to show how great lavatories can encourage repeat visits (of the good kind) and even reflect a community’s respect for tourists. Here’s a round-up of the winners:
Quirkiest Toilet Experience (and Overall Winner) – The Toowoomba Portable Toilets, Toowoomba, QLD
Famed for their Dunnies with a Difference, which include the Rustic Cottage, the London Telephone Box, Brighton Beach House, and VIP unit, the ‘people with the orange toilets’ design and manufacture public toilets for events.
Best Economic Contributor – The Southern Highlands Welcome Centre, Main St, Mittagong, NSW
The loos here include flowers, posters, audio reel, fun-fact stickers, and free wifi (so you can share the experience). Visitation to the centre apparently grew from 60,000 to 72,000 during the year of its renovation in 2015, while local product sales at the centre rose 19%.
Best Location –Cobourg Peninsula, Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, NT
Overlooking the sea, these lavatories are perched on a cliff where occupants can marvel at crocodiles on the beach below or reef sharks as they hunt. The eco-friendly WC even converts fresh waste into organic humus. “It’s like watching a National Geographic documentary while sitting on the loo,” one guest said.
Best Design – (Joint Winners): Hahei Holiday Resort, Coromandel, NZ, and The Kathleen Buzzacott Art Studio, Alice Springs, NT
Part of a glamping backpacker lodge, each loo at the Hahei features easy access ramps with sensor lighting, and native plants in an atrium that lead to oversize showers and loos. There’s also recycled open trusses, native timber features, and LED lights in old beer bottles and ceramic sinks from a hospital.
Built in 2016, the Kathleen Buzzacott facilities boast beautifully painted walls that “highlight the connection to native heritage and culture through the story-telling toilet doors, which feature indigenous central desert dot paintings”.
Best Accessible Toilet – Arthurs Seat Public Toilet (run by Parks Victoria), Arthurs Seat Park, VIC
Opened in 2017, these restrooms reside in a building designed to meet the needs of a range of visitors like “tourists with disabilities, mobility limitations, visitors with young children, older people and culturally diverse tourists (eg - an Asian squat toilet)”.
Special Mention – Wisconsin Department of Tourism, USA
Known for its dairy products, Wisconsin boasts a “trio of toileting triumphs” for tourists: the Perkinstown Outhouse Challenge is an Independence Day event in which specially decorated outhouses race round an obstacle course; Milwaukee’s SafeHouse Bar & Restaurant features a portrait of a young and naked Burt Reynolds with a “strategically placed red heart”, which sets off a loud alarm when ladies try to peek behind the heart; the ‘Great Wall of China’ is a two-storey wall made of 177 toilets in the Kohler Design Center that attracts 150,000 tourists, builders and architects to its ‘Disney world of plumbing’ each year.
Caption: (Centre) Overall winner Toowoomba Portable Toilets; basking crocodile under the cliffhanger loo (top right) at Cobourg Peninsula (and clockwise from there): Arthurs Seat accessible toilet in Victoria; Outhouse race in Wisconsin; loo at Kathleen Buzzacott Art Studio Central Australia; Hahei Holiday Resort toilet entrance in NZ; (and below the crocodile) the Southern Highlands Welcome Centre’s informative loos in NSW