The Go West Story
From humble beginnings, Go West Tours is the result of a passion for providing excellent customer service and providing guests with a memorable experience, not just a destination.
Founded in September 2000, by husband and wife duo Terry and Fiona Smit, the pair set out to change the way tours were delivered in Melbourne. After spending 3 years on a working holiday across Europe, Terry became a tour leader for one of the world’s largest tour operators where he gained expert experience as a tour guide.
Upon returning to Melbourne in 1998 with a new-found passion for travel, Terry and Fiona saw a gap in the market of existing day tour operators in Melbourne. They were confident that there was an opportunity for a high-quality, small-group day tour operator to win the market share by providing guests with an informative and memorable small-group touring experience.
In September 2000, not long after getting married, Terry and Fiona launched Go West Tours. With a single 21-seat bus and Terry as the driver-guide, they operated their first Great Ocean Road tour with a group of 5 guests.
Determined to exceed existing industry standards, their focus was to provide guests with an interactive experience which was affordable, safe, reliable, and unforgettable. As the business grew, Terry and Fiona focused on selecting and inducting tour guides who could engage with, inform, and entertain guests throughout the day. Today, Go West Tours still upholds this high standard when recruiting new team members.
In 2005, Go West Tours became the first tour operator to provide a fully mobile translation service for non-English-speaking guests and, to this day, innovation remains a strong area of focus. Today, all touring vehicles are fitted with complimentary Wi-Fi and Go West remains the only small bus operator in Melbourne to fit their buses with customised, upgraded seating, providing a safer and more comfortable journey for guests.
These innovative ideas, as well as their philosophy to provide guests with more than just a destination, saw them awarded their first Victorian Tourism Award in 2005. Go West backed up this win by winning their category again in 2006 and 2007, elevating them to the Victorian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame. In 2007, Go West also won the Australian Tourism Award in the category of Outstanding Tour & Transport Operator.
In the years since – rather than entering the awards – Terry has worked with the Tourism Awards team as both a mentor and a judge in an endeavour to give back to the tourism industry and to assist in the development of other tourism businesses.
Go West Tours remains a family-owned and operated business that has grown to a team of over 40 employees, operating unique itineraries that encapsulate the best parts of the Great Ocean Road, Grampians, Phillip Island, Mornington Peninsula, Wilsons Promontory, and the Yarra Valley. With 20 years in business, Go West Tours is still as committed to providing guests with an unforgettable experience as they were back in 2000.