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TIAC Reveals Finalists for the 2012 Canadian Tourism Awards

The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) today unveiled the finalists for the 2012 Canadian Tourism Awards, presented by The Toronto Star and Visa Canada.

The awards are presented annually by TIAC to recognize success, leadership and innovation in Canada’s tourism industry, and to reward those people, places, organizations and events that have gone above and beyond to offer travellers superior tourism experiences in Canada.

“The finalists for the Canadian Tourism Awards represent an inspiring group of people and organizations that consistently create extraordinary tourism experiences,” said David Goldstein, TIAC President & CEO.  “They are veritable Canadian business leaders that actively drive economic growth and create jobs each and every day through their hard work and dedication. The industry congratulates them on this outstanding achievement.”

The awards will be presented at a gala dinner ceremony at the Hilton Lac-Leamy in Gatineau, Québec on Tuesday, November 20, 2012.  Since its inception in 2003, this gala evening has become a highlight of The Tourism Congress, TIAC’s annual convention.

The 2012 finalists are listed below.*

*Finalists are listed by category in alphabetical order. A short description is provided in the language in which the nomination was submitted.

The Air Canada Business of the Year Award

  • Canalta Hotels, Alberta and Saskatchewan

The Canalta Group of Companies is a family-owned, hospitality enterprise that includes 36 hotels operating under the Canalta, Ramada, Super 8 and Travelodge brands and restaurants operating under a number of banners.  Beginning with one hotel in 1979, the company has grown dramatically over the past 30 years and today employs more than 2000 people across Alberta and Saskatchewan.

  • Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, North Vancouver, BC

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of Vancouver's oldest, most visited attractions.  Its newest addition, CLIFFWALK, a thrilling walkway along Capilano Canyon, is an example of how innovation and technology allow people to enjoy unique experiences in nature while preserving the delicate rainforest environment.  It also shows how CSBP is constantly reinventing itself to create enticing new reasons to visit.

  • Great Wolf Lodge, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Great Wolf Lodge is a world class, 406 suite resort destination themed in a Northwoods style, unlike any other family entertainment venue in Canada.  The Lodge consistently wows the senses with dynamic family programming and special events.  Opening in 2006, Great Wolf Lodge and has been able to continually build on previous success and the past year was a highlight year for business achievement.

The Hilton Worldwide Small or Medium-sized Business of the Year Award

  • Au Diable Vert, Glen Sutton, Quebec

Au Diable Vert is a unique eco-tourism concept combining an eclectic combination of people-powered activities and lodging.  Au Diable Vert continues to become even more relevant and popular as a larger portion of the population embraces nature.  After nearly 15 years in business, Au Diable Vert is still experiencing significant growth in occupancy, sales and profits.

  • Fresh Tracks Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia

Fresh Tracks Canada (FTC) is an online travel company that creates extraordinary vacations for visitors to Canada and connects clients to live sales agents for a seamless, custom travel experience.  Focusing on passion, knowledge and attention to detail, the team of local Canadian experts works with each and every guest to ensure their vacation is exactly as they imagine.

  • Tourism Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia

Tourism Victoria takes an entrepreneurial approach to promoting Greater Victoria’s almost $1 billion tourism industry.  The organization has flourished into an award-winning entity that shines with cutting-edge sales and marketing initiatives and sought after human resource practices.  Promoting and developing tourism to ensure prosperity and continued long-term economic growth, they have been in operation for 38 years.

The Deloitte Innovator of the Year Award

  • Cliffwalk at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, North Vancouver, British Columbia

Cliffwalk at Capilano Suspension Bridge follows a granite cliff along the Capilano River on a labyrinth-like series of narrow cantilevered bridges, stairs and platforms through rainforest vegetation. Interactive exhibits demonstrate the interaction between the geology and the living world in a journey 91 metres above Capilano River.  Since its opening, revenues have increased by 37% and the average time of stay has lengthened to nearly three hours.

  • EdgeWalk at the CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario

From the techniques pioneered during construction to the continued investment in exciting and innovative experiences introduced over the years, the CN Tower has fostered a 36-year legacy of innovation and creating memorable new experiences.  In 2011 the CN Tower was thrilled to present visitors with EdgeWalk, the most extreme experience in its history and Toronto’s newest attraction in almost two decades.

  • Nordik Spa-Nature, Chelsea, Quebec

Nordik Spa-Nature is a relaxing spa located in the picturesque village of Old Chelsea, just 10 minutes from downtown Gatineau-Ottawa. With a focus on Scandinavian relaxation techniques like thermotherapy, Nordik Spa-Nature offers a unique experience.  In 2012, Nordik invested $4.1M in a new European-inspired addition, Panorama, which has not only strengthened their position as a regional tourism icon, but also as a Canadian attraction as the biggest spa in North America.

  • The Long Point Eco Adventure Centre, St Williams, Ontario

From zip lining through the canopy of Carolinian forest to stargazing at their observatory to kayaking or canoeing into a UNESCO-recognized biosphere, Long Point Eco Adventures provides eco-friendly adventures that develop new skills and provide exciting experiences for all.  Long Point has established itself as an innovator in developing unique experiences for corporate and educational outings, a “wilderness suites” product, a new diploma program at a local college, and partnerships with countless wildlife research organizations.

The Metro Toronto Convention Centre Event of the Year Award

  • Calgary Stampede, Calgary, Alberta

The Calgary Stampede celebrated its Centennial year in 2012. Their marketing and communications efforts placed Calgary on the map and the development of innovative, creative programming provided their guests with an incredible experience. This resulted in a record year as the Stampede broke its overall attendance record and sold out of advance tickets for all 20 shows of the Rodeo and Evening Show.

  • Canadian Music Fest, Toronto, Ontario

Canadian Music Fest is Canada’s largest and most influential new music festival featuring more than 900 artists in 60+ venues throughout downtown Toronto. Each year, over a period of five days in March, the event attracts more than 75,500 participants from across Canada and around the world, contributing more than $11.2 million in spending to the city’s economy during a challenging season for urban tourism.

  • POP Montréal International Music Festival, Montréal, Québec

POP Montréal International Music Festival is an annual not-for-profit curated cultural event that champions artistic independence by presenting emerging and celebrated international artists. In 2011 it celebrated its tenth anniversary with a free concert by Arcade Fire attended by more than 101,000 people.  This unique event attracted global media attention and combined musical success, charity and environmentalism, while putting Montréal and its culture in the spotlight.

  • Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, Halifax, Nova Scotia

The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo is the world’s largest annual indoor show with more than 2,000 cast and crew.  It offers something for everyone, showcasing music, historic re-enactments, dancers, gymnasts, military competitions, drama and comedy from around the globe.  Performers also take part in free noon-time festival events and music/gymnastic workshops.   This year’s event featured three historic themes: Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the War of 1812 and RMS Titanic.

The Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Marketing Campaign of the Year Award

  • Publicitas Navigate – Canada For the Fun of It!

(With partners:  Canadian Tourism Commission, Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership, Tourism Toronto, Tourism Ottawa, Niagara Tourism Partnership, WestJet, and InterContinental Hotels Group).

Canada For the Fun of It! was a brand-awareness campaign executed in New York and Boston, on-air, in taxis and rail stations, online, and via social media channels in the summer of 2012. It took an unprecedented approach to engaging the American consumer by differentiating Canadian culture before driving the travel message.

  • Tourism Saskatchewan – Embrace a New Place

Tourism Saskatchewan launched its Embrace A New Place marketing campaign in March 2012. The campaign, targeted at Saskatchewan residents, is multi-faceted and includes television, radio, print, outdoor, contesting, online advertising and social media components.  It encourages residents to get out and explore their province and “embrace a new place.”

  • Travel Alberta –  Winter Sport in Alberta

(With partner KLM Royal Dutch Airlines)

In 2011 Travel Alberta partnered with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines on a campaign in the Netherlands to encourage visitation to Alberta in the winter.  With a mix of online, radio, print and social media placements and an innovative campaign website, Travel Alberta and KLM met and exceeded all targets. It even boosted KLM’s load factor and prompted them to increase service for summer 2012.

The WestJet Social Media Initiative of the Year Award

  • Ottawa Tourism, Ottawa, Ontario - Treats McFadden Contest

(With partner agency Northern Army)

Ottawa Tourism’s Treats McFadden contest ran in Fall, 2011 and featured a comedic tone not often seen in Canadian marketing efforts. With a mixture of self-referential humour and elements spanning social media and online channels, the initiative brought Ottawa Tourism into a new arena of integrated content marketing.  The contest was the most successful contest that the destination had ever run and yielded a great conversion rate.

  • Rocky Mountaineer, Alberta and British Columbia

In 2011, Rocky Mountaineer implemented a comprehensive new social media strategy touching on every aspect of the path to purchase.  By running a series of online contests and calling for user-generated submissions, the campaign drove awareness, ‘validated’ the decision process, enticed bookings and drove past guests and prospects alike into a community of brand ambassadors and advocates.

  • Tourism Richmond, Richmond, British Columbia – 365 Days of Dining

Tourism Richmond executed a social media campaign to put Richmond, BC on the map as a must-visit destination for food lovers.  The campaign started in the spring of 2012 and will end in the spring of 2013. By stepping completely outside the box of traditional marketing, and instead focusing on niche marketing in social media, a highly successful and cost-effective campaign was executed.

  • Tourism Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia - Escape Your Everyday

The Escape Your Everyday campaign used impactful and creative means to target consumers in Vancouver and Seattle.  The campaign playfully encouraged the 9-to-5 set to ditch the daily grind using a variety of off-the-wall tactics, like singing and dancing street teams, elevator branding and three-dimensional billboards.  A complementary TV spot helped reshape opinions of Victoria and encouraged viewers to escape their everyday by making the short trip.

The Parks Canada Sustainable Tourism Award

  • Bluewater Adventures, North Vancouver, British Columbia

Bluewater Adventures was the first small-ship, eco-operator on the BC coast to offer “Climate Friendly” voyages.  Since 2008, Bluewater has purchased carbon off-sets through Offsetters who invests in projects that are in line with Bluewater ideals. Bluewater Adventures continues to decrease its environmental footprint as more options come available with improvements every year.

  • Maple Leaf Adventures, Victoria, British Columbia

Maple Leaf Adventures offers ecotourism-based safari cruises on the 92-foot ship Maple Leaf.  Their multi-day excursions let guests intimately experience the most beautiful places on the B.C. coast in the company of expert naturalists and First Nations historians. As a long time practitioner of ecotourism, Maple Leaf pioneered travel in the Great Bear Rainforest and northwestern Vancouver Island, and has made significant contributions to conservation on the coast.

  • Parkbus, Toronto and environs, Ontario

Parkbus is a non-profit initiative providing express bus service from downtown Toronto to key outdoor destinations in Algonquin, Killarney & Grundy Lake Provincial Parks, as well as Bruce Peninsula National Park and Tobermory.  Buses drop passengers off at campgrounds, canoe access points, backpacking trails, and at park lodges. The program is the first of its kind in Canada, reducing pollution, minimizing disturbances to park environment and encouraging best practices of sustainable tourism through on-board volunteer-run educational programs.

The InterContinental Hotels Group Employee of the Year Award

  • Geneviève Lefebvre, Auberge du Lac Taureau, Saint-Michel des Saints, Québec

Geneviève Lefebvre connaît et véhicule les valeurs de l’Auberge du Lac Taureau avec fierté.  Elle est dynamique et fiable, et son sourire et sa courtoisie sont autant un plaisir pour la clientèle que pour ses collègues.  Son approche avec les clients est exceptionnelle, elle gère bien le stress et son attitude est extrêmement positive.  Par son dynamisme, sa fougue, et son rire, Geneviève a su remettre son équipe sur pied et a créé un environnement familial.

  • Gregor Waters, Northern Edge Algonquin, South River, Ontario

Greg Waters is a truly remarkable individual who literally helped build Northern Edge Algonquin from the ground up.  His colleagues know of few others that live with such dedication to the principles and values of honesty, integrity, passion and commitment.  Fewer still with the range of talent and capability in such diverse areas as craftsman, gardener, builder, manager, kitchen guru, guide, trail builder, designer, and dreamer.

  • Jenny Wilkins, Sheraton Hamilton Hotel, Hamilton, Ontario

As the Group Sales Coordinator of the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel, Jenny Wilkins excels at her responsibilities and exceeds expectations every day.  Over the past 10 years, Jenny has shined in various departments and uses her knowledge to provide an unparalleled experience for all guests visiting the Hamilton area.  Her superior attitude helps pull colleagues together and makes the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel a better place to work and a great place to visit.

The National Cultural Tourism Award

  • Arviat Community Ecotourism Initiative, Arviat, Nunavut

The Arviat ecotourism project was created to develop an internationally competitive and unique wildlife viewing and Inuit cultural experience that did not previously exist, maximizing local involvement, employment and control, and maintaining local culture and tradition.  The program is building a tourism sector in Arviat by positioning it as a market-ready ecotourism destination, generating low volume, high yield tourism traffic and direct economic benefits to the community through tourist expenditures that stay right in the community.

  • Celtic Colours International Festival, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

The internationally acclaimed Celtic Colours International Festival extends Cape Breton’s tourism season into late October.  They partner with 130 not-for-profit organizations and over 2000 volunteers to present 45 concerts and between 200 to 300 events in communities throughout the island.  Visitors spend over $7 million annually on area accommodations, restaurants, attractions, artisans and shops, contributing to the sustainability of the local economy and traditions.

  • Royal Canadian Pacific, Calgary, Alberta

Royal Canadian Pacific has successfully restored and reinvented the romance of North America’s railroad history. On one of ten vintage (1916-1931) rail cars, guests of the Royal Canadian Pacific are engaged in cultural, historical, and epicurean adventures as they voyage through some of Canada’s most stunning landscapes.  The train provides a period luxury rail experience, with all the modern amenities the discerning traveler would expect along with exceptional gourmet cuisine, fine wines and unsurpassed hospitality and service.

The CTHRC Award for Excellence in Human Resources Development

  • Gold Eagle Casino, North Battleford, Saskatchewan

As a First Nations owned and operated organization, Saskatchewan’s Gold Eagle Casino takes great pride in being a leader in employing First Nations people and the positive impacts generated by these employment opportunities.  The Casino offers a competitive compensation and benefits package and an excellent training program that helps them create an exceptional entertainment experience.

  • Gold Eagle Lodge, North Battleford, Saskatchewan

Proudly owned by the Battlefords Tribal Council, Gold Eagle Lodge’s human resources strategy recognizes the challenges faced by employees from the First Nations community, by providing things like training, tuition assistance, student work placements, and benefits packages designed to open the doors to successful long-term careers in the hospitality industry.  In so doing, the Lodge aims to achieve and surpass the high level of standards guests have become accustomed to.

  • Great Wolf Lodge, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Great Wolf Lodge has a vision and passion for the guest service experience that begins with their belief in having a great place to work.  Its management and employee training programs are geared to ensuring their Wolf Pack team is motivated and equipped to handle even the most complicated guest service challenges.  One highlight in 2011 involved revising their recruitment strategy and successfully reducing turnover by 16% in a largely seasonal business.

The Via Rail Canada Community Service Award

  • Holiday Inn Kitchener, Kitchener, Ontario

Holiday Inn, Kitchener-Waterloo is committed to giving back to the community in which they live and work.   In 2011, they showcased great community involvement: Their fundraising initiatives included the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Ontario Association of Food Banks.  Over $13,500 was raised through the selfless efforts of their staff by raising awareness with guests and the community, making a difference in the lives of those that need their help.

  • Homewood Suites by Hilton Cambridge/Waterloo, Cambridge, Ontario

Not just a home away from home with exceptional levels of customer service, Homewood Suites by Hilton Cambridge/Waterloo is committed to giving back to the community.  Throughout 2011, the hotel supported a number of community initiatives, including donating to the Canadian Diabetes Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region, Waterloo Airshow, The Wish Tree Centre, Waterloo Police Services, the Cambridge Libraries, Ronald McDonald House, Tim Horton's Community Clean Up and more.

  • Tourism Toronto’s Relax, Recharge, Renew Program, Toronto, Ontario

Sometimes the best way to help children with severe and complex special needs is to give mom and dad a break so they can return to their parenting duties with renewed enthusiasm.  Tourism Toronto has developed the Relax, Recharge, Renew program that provides weekend breaks to parents of these inspiring children. With the generous assistance of more than 200 member and partner tourism businesses, Tourism Toronto provides expenses-paid weekend getaways while the special-needs child is cared for in high-quality provincial respite centres.

  • Winnipeg Airports Authority, Winnipeg, Manitoba

The Winnipeg Airports Authority plans and hosts many fun events throughout the year to raise funds for three main charitable organizations in their community: the United Way, Winnipeg Harvest and the Firefighters’ Burn Fund.  Their efforts support programs and strategies for disadvantaged families and youth, help find long-term solutions to hunger and poverty, and assist burn victims and their families with treatment and rehabilitation as well as fire prevention education and research.

The Delta Hotels & Resorts Traveller Experience Award

  • CMH Summer Adventures, Banff, Alberta

CMH Summer Adventures has been bringing guests into the remote mountain environments in B.C. and Alberta for nearly 40 years and the consensus among guests is that these trips are the most incredible, mind blowing experiences ever.  They continue to generate overwhelmingly positive feedback from guests through continuous employee innovation and training and a guest service philosophy that involves staff in every aspect of the guest experience.

  • Heritage Park Historical Village, Calgary, Alberta

Heritage Park Historical Village is a year-round historical attraction, entertainment, education, heritage preservation and banquet facility.  One of the park’s core strategies focuses on service excellence and increasing customer satisfaction as key drivers that impact their ability to succeed.  Service excellence is ingrained in the corporate culture and breeds ownership and empowerment, encouraging employees to solve customer issues on the spot, or to bring forward suggestions for improvement.

  • Winnipeg Airports Authority, Winnipeg, Manitoba

With front-line staff from a multitude of employers, all service providers including security, airport volunteers, cleaning staff, airline and tenant employees received “Terminal 101” customer service training as part of an innovative customer experience program named Campus Crew.  Every CREW member understands their role in being a “touch point” and offers the best service at every step of the traveller’s journey through Winnipeg’s James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.