Past MTA Winners

These Manitoba tourism businesses and professionals demonstrate how excellence in a certain area can be achieved. And they have all been recognized for their efforts as winners of at the 14th Annual Manitoba Tourism Awards. Over the past 15 years we have recognized the leadership, vision and dedication of numerous winners of the Manitoba Tourism Awards. See a list of past winners.

Winnipeg Airports Authority Award of Distinction

Doug Webber: Doug has worked in a variety of roles in the tourism industry, specifically the fish and hunt sector, throughout his 45 year career. His accomplishments include playing a part in the development of 10 separate lodges and outpost locations, serving as the MLOA President for a number of terms and serving as the Mayor of Churchill.

Why is Doug a winner of the Award of Distinction? While long time service in the tourism industry is in of itself deserving of praise, Doug has shown exceptional leadership, vision and dedication through his career in the tourism industry. He has played an integral role in the development of the Manitoba hunting and fishing industries, pioneering the 5-star fishing lodge in Manitoba and setting industry benchmarks for product quality. Doug has an unwavering commitment to sustainability and responsible tourism. He was dedicated to these practices, including the use of barbless hooks, composting and alternate energy sources, long before they were an industry norm. Doug has hired, trained, and mentored countless students, aspiring guides and bush pilots, First Nations peoples, and others. He has been tireless in his goal to share his vast knowledge of lodge operations, customer service and product development with all those with whom he comes in contact.

Aboriginal Tourism

Manito Ahbee: Since 2005, this festival has been sharing and celebrating Aboriginal music, art and culture with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. The festival continues to grow, last year attracting over 21,000 spectators to downtown Winnipeg through its key components: The Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards, International Competition Pow Wow, Indigenous Marketplace and Trade Show; and Youth Education Gathering and Cultural Outreach.

Why is Manito Ahbee an Aboriginal Tourism award winner?With a goal to educate, entertain and unify, Manito Ahbee has been successful at raising public awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal culture and heritage. Through its in-house workshops and outreach programs, thousands of students have learned about the meanings behind different cultural teachings. Television viewership and online participation in the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards continues to grow as the festival gains even greater recognition in Canada and internationally. The name of the Manito Ahbee Festival comes from a sacred site in Manitoba, known as the location where the Creator makes his home –an important site for Aboriginal peoples across North America. Manito Ahbee is proud to have been gifted this name through ceremony for the purpose of sharing Aboriginal culture with all people.

Aspiring Youth

Steve Langston: Steve is the owner of Dirty T-shirt Productions, where he produces videos, creates websites and provides social media consulting. Steve has also written and published two books about cycling in Manitoba and Canada.

Why is Steve an Aspiring Youth award winner?Being successful requires passion, and Steve has used his passion for Manitoba, the outdoors and the environment to help build a successful career working with local tourism organizations. Steve captures the spirit of today’s entrepreneurs as he incorporates his lifestyle and the things he loves to do into his work, creating new experiences and opportunities as his career grows.

Event of the Year

A tie in the judging scores meant we honoured two amazing events this year.

Folklorama: This 14-day festival is the largest and longest-running multicultural festival of its kind in the world. With a mandate to celebrate diversity and promote cultural understanding, Folklorama shares cultural offerings from around the world through 45 ethno-cultural pavilions to over 432,000 visitors from across Canada, the United States and around the world.

Why is Folklorama an Event of the Year award winner? For over 40 years, Folklorama has established strong relationships with the communities who participate in the festival, with the over 20,000 volunteers who work at the pavilions and with a network of tourism professionals who sell Folklorama group tour packages, creating important partnerships in the tourism industry. A 2009 study conducted with Tourism Winnipeg showed the economic impact of Folklorama on Winnipeg had more than doubled from $14.1 million in 2001 to $22.8 million in 2009. Folklorama continues to implement new ways to ensure visitors satisfaction, introducing entertainment guidelines and guidelines for cultural displays at each pavilion – encouraging more interactive elements, such as the opportunity for visitors to try their hand at various activities. Many of the new communities that participate in Folklorama have developed into associations and organizations that offer year-round activities, the majority of which are grounded in educational and social programs.

Winnipeg Folk Festival: This festival held in Birds Hill Provincial Park is a celebration of people and music: it offers a wide variety of music, a diverse Food Village that emphasizes local, organic and fair trade ingredients, while the Hand-Made Village celebrates the long-standing history that folk art and crafts share with folk music festivals and features artisans from all over Canada and the United States.

Why is the Winnipeg Folk Festival an Event of Year award winner? Since the festival began in 1974, it has grown to welcome 80,000 visitors – with 23% from outside Manitoba – serviced by a dedicated group of 2,700 volunteers who contribute well over 55,000 hours of labour each year. The Winnipeg Folk Festival generates $29.4 million in economic activity and creates 281 jobs in the province. The Festival’s year round activities reach more than 12,000 people, through 90 concerts workshops and other events. The Festival is dedicated to sustainable business practices, building a new kitchen facility using reclaimed materials, diverting 100,000 paper plates from landfills through the use of reusable plates, using “lake-friendly” soap, and providing free bus transportation to and from Winnipeg. The Winnipeg Folk Festival is determined to continue to improve the festival experience and is in the midst of a redevelopment of the festival site at Birds Hill Provincial Park. The Site Development Plan is based on the principles of sustainability, improving the audience experiences and addressing key health, safety and accessibility issues.

Event of the Year - Community Innovation Award

Winkler Beach Boys Concert: In June 2011, the City of Winkler hosted the legendary Beach Boys – the first time the city had hosted an event of this kind. Over 150 volunteers came together to pull off an event that saw 2500 audience members enjoying the Beach Boys live in concert.

Why is the Winkler Beach Boys Concert a winner of the Community Innovation Award? The City of Winkler clearly recognized the risk but also the opportunities in bringing the Beach Boys to town. Because this type of event was unprecedented for Winkler, every need had to be identified and provided for. Intense planning was required, including the organization of 150 volunteers, implementing a ticketing system and promoting the concert on a meagre $1500 budget. Hosting such a successful and highly-hyped event, thanks to community support, the profile of Winkler and surrounding areas was elevated.

Marketing Excellence

Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre (OHMIC): This preserved wetland in the Interlake region set out to increase visitor awareness about the importance of wetlands as well as to increase the number of visitors to the Centre through it annual marketing campaign. The target audiences for OHMIC are families, bird watchers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Why is Oak Hammock Marsh a winner of the Marketing Excellence award? OHMIC carried out a successful marketing campaign that relied on traditional advertising, partnerships, media relations and social media and e-marketing to promote the marsh as a year-round destination. New programs and events reached a different audience base and encouraged media attention. Annual visitation to OHMIC has remained steady, even in a precarious economy where many attractions saw a significant drop in attendance. In the last year, Oak Hammock’s email marketing customer base grew by 50% and the resulting increased awareness of the marsh’s activities translated into an increase in visitation of 25% for some events.


Leigh Cochrane Memorial Visitor’s Centre/ Fisher River Cree Nation: Collaboration was at the heart of a multi-year community plan that revolved around the Leigh Cochrane Memorial (LCM) Visitor Centre’s ability to attract visitors through special events, programs and activities showcasing First Nation culture and heritage.

Why is the LCM Visitor Centre/Fisher River Cree Nation a Partnership award winner? With an aim to be a progressive and dynamic community, the Ochekwi-Sipi Economic Development Corporation was created to foster an environment where the Fisher River Community was viewed as favourable for visitation, investment, partnership development, human resource and business development. Partnership with Manitoba Conservation led to the development of cottage lots, which along with special events at the LCM Visitor Centre make Fisher River Cree Nation the only First Nation in the Interlake working on increasing multiple streams of tourism visitation and development. These new opportunities provide jobs and encourage new business ventures in the community. Job opportunities in tourism offer young people of the community an opportunity to gain knowledge and pride in their culture and history and a desire to share it with the rest of the world.

Product Development

Adrenaline Adventures: Adrenaline Adventures is an outdoor adventure park offering activities in both the summer and winter months. The park’s main feature is its cable system, which in the summer allows for cable wakeboarding and in the winter, cable snowboarding. Other activities include a 60 foot climbing structure, zorbing, and a full restaurant and patio.

Why is Adrenaline Adventures a Product Development award winner? Adren aline Adventures is a completely new product, and no park like it exists in Canada. Due to this fact, the park sees visitors travelling from across the country and from around the world to experience its cable wakeboarding system. Adrenaline Adventures appeals to a wide variety of people, from young people, families and even large groups who use the ropes course as a teambuilding activity. The number of activities offered has quadrupled since its first winter, and the park now features a large clubhouse with a restaurant, lounge, and patio.

Service Excellence

Goldwing Ambassadors: The Goldwing Ambassadors are volunteers who give their time to assist passengers and other visitors at the James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. Run by the Winnipeg Airports Authority, the program began in 1997 and now features a roster of 107 volunteers.

Why are the Goldwing Ambassadors Service Excellence award winners? The Goldwings are entirely volunteer-based. In fact, nine of the original 25 Goldwings are still volunteering today. In one year, the Goldwings Ambassadors volunteered over 15,000 hours. The Goldwings are diplomats of goodwill who inspire civic pride and help make a good impression of our city, province and country. Positioned in key areas around the airport, the Goldwings are trained to approach passengers versus waiting to be approached for help. A handful of Goldwing Ambassadors have also taken on the extra responsibility of guiding airport tours. The Goldwing Ambassador program has been used as a model for other organizations looking to build their volunteer program or increase their volunteer base.

Sustainable Tourism

Churchill Northern Studies Centre: Founded in 1976, the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC) is an independent, non-profit research and education facility located near the town of Churchill. The Centre provides logistical services (accommodations, meals, equipment rentals, lab space, etc) to scientific researchers as well as opportunities for educational tourism for the general public. The Centre now calls home an $18 million state-of-art and environmentally facility awaiting LEED Gold certification.

Why is CNSC a sustainable tourism award winner? In addition to its new facility, which uses solar power, has the ability to treat it own waste and uses 50% less energy than code requires, the CNSC operates as a major non-profit charity, with all revenue generated from educational programming going right back into subsidizing logistical support for the scientists who use the Centre to study our environment. This allows for affordable rates for the scientists and for experiential tourism for the visitor. A visitor participating in a CNSC Learning Vacation has the ability to interact with scientists on a day-to-day basis and learn the latest information straight from the source. The CNSC is unique because it is the only such facility that integrates the visitor and the researcher so completely and is now Manitoba's only year-round, full service field station. The Centre focuses on learning vacations and experiential tourism at all times of the year.

Volunteer of the Year

Tim Lewis: Tim has served with the Manitoba Stampede & Exhibition for over 35 years in various roles including Chair of the Rodeo committee, Chair of Finance, President and Past President. His responsibilities involve fundraising and careful management of funds, co-ordinating all aspects of the rodeo, public relations and ultimately sponsor sales as the president.

Why is Tim Lewis a volunteer of the year award winner? His long service and multiple roles with the Manitoba Stampede & Exhibition took Tim beyond the town of Morris and the borders of Manitoba as an advocate for the sport of rodeo. Tim was instrumental in developing the Manitoba Stampede by introducing policies and procedures as well as a constitution that was geared toward this event, a sure demonstration of understanding and commitment. He has vision, drive, resourcefulness and dedication which contributed to the success of the Manitoba Stampede.

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