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Connection to community brings rewards

Local businesses are making waves in the Mornington Peninsula tourism industry, powered by local collaboration and support.

Moonraker Dolphin Swims is a local business that knows that working together with their surrounding community creates success, and they have the rewards to prove it.

The ‘Tourism’ category of the Mornington Peninsula Business Excellence Awards highlights businesses providing a unique customer experience or product contributing to the visitation and yield to the Mornington Peninsula. The 2023 winner for this category was local marine tourism company Moonraker Dolphin Swims.

Moonraker Dolphin Swims is a business that operates in Port Phillip Bay. Customers are provided with unique opportunities to sight-see and swim with resident dolphins, seals and other local marine life. They offer a variety of public and private tours that focus on fun, safety and environmental sustainability. These tours are conducted on a purpose-built luxury tour boat, catering to customers of all ages and abilities.

Torie Mackinnon, owner of Moonraker Dolphin Swims, shares her insights on harnessing the potential of local community to benefit your business.

Focus local

Torie’s business focuses strongly on environmental sustainability. They are active in the preservation of the local environment. Moonraker Dolphin Swims prioritises the conservation and enhancement of the natural, cultural and unique wildlife elements in which they operate. These efforts are recognised by Eco-Tourism Australia, where Moonraker Dolphin Swims were rewarded Australia’s highest level of eco-tourism certificate. They are one of only 66 businesses in Australia to achieve this.

The judges found actions like their 100% carbon offset accredited business, where they offset within the Australia region at a Western Australia wheat farm planting gum trees impressive.

Focusing on our own backyard. It’s a really great standpoint to showcase our brand and recognise who is living here.

Working with the local community is something that Torie feels is really important. Moonraker Dolphin Swims employ only local residents and provides work experience to local students. Furthermore, their tours reflect the local community values, aligning with Mornington Peninsula Shire’s ‘Climate Emergency Plan’ and ‘Council and Wellbeing Plan’.

Moonraker Dolphin Swims offers support for community groups. They have initiatives such as discount tickets for schools, seniors and special needs individuals as well as donating tickets for local charity fundraisers and causes. They also participate in smaller community projects within the local area. This includes the collection of litter out of sand to provide to students who upcycle the rubbish into new creations.

Collaborate with others

In a tourism-driven region like the Mornington Peninsula Torie understands that every visitor counts. She collaborates with the local businesses around her region. They try to attract individuals to visit, spend money in the local economy, and most importantly, encourage them to come again.

Moonraker Dolphin Swims also encourages her customers to further experience the local area and different attractions. These include the unique shops of Sorrento village, local restaurants, galleries across the region and the renown wineries of the Mornington Peninsula.

Work with your neighbour so we are capturing people to stay longer, spend more and enjoy what is here.

Moonraker Dolphin Swims offers private tours, which they introduced after the COVID-19 lockdowns. These tours are luxury cruising experiences, packaged with local produce, wine and seafood. They are offered in conjunction with deals at surrounding hotels such as the Intercontinental – Continental Hotel, Hotel Sorrento and RACV Cape Schanck. These proved an instant success and drove unprecedented company growth. This initiative, and their focus on creating memorable experiences for their customers, particularly impressed the judges.

Torie has shared some more thoughts on winning the 2023 Mornington Peninsula Business Excellence award in the ‘Tourism’ category. To listen to the full interview, click on the video below.

Moonraker Dolphin Swims encapsulates the benefits of leveraging the local community to foster sustainable growth. They have become a tourism leader in the region by working with not only the surrounding community but also local businesses.


There are many successful tourism businesses on the Mornington Peninsula. Other finalists in the ‘Tourism’ category of the Mornington Peninsula Business Excellence Awards were Polperro Dolphin Swims and Wild Adventures Melbourne.

Polperro Dolphin Swims is a generational family-run business working in marine ecotourism. They were the first original dolphin swim operator in Port Phillip Bay, and offer environmentally responsible marine tours. Judges were impressed by their focus on sea life protection, as well as owner Judy’s involvement with wildlife legislation in the local area.   

Wild Adventures Melbourne is a small owner-operated business. They provide personal, intimate activity tours tailored for small groups, showcasing the best Peninsula has to offer. Judges found the incorporation of their holistic ethical view into the business and their dedication to the local environment impressive.

The Mornington Peninsula Business Excellence Awards is a chance for local businesses to be supported and celebrated by the community. In 2023, winners across nine diverse categories celebrated their achievements, highlighting their commitment to innovation, sustainability, and exceptional performance within our local business sector.

Find out more about these businesses

Content posted April 2024

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