From dancing polar bears to fighting catfish and breathtaking architecture, Travel Manitoba, Tourism Winnipeg and our partners put on quite a show for GoMedia Canada Marketplace delegates.
Before the marketplace even opened, a group of media went up to Churchill on a pre-tour to experience our summer arctic safari.
"Honestly, I was dazzled," said Nikki Bayley, a U.K. freelance writer. "There were so many firsts: my first time seeing northern lights, my first time kayaking with belugas, my first time seeing a polar bear. My expectations were blown out of the park. To see the sea boiling with whales
Even a kayaking-related blister didn't damper blogger Carol Perehudoff's glowing review of her time in Churchill.
"It was amazing. There were 30 belugas all around us. It was truly something else. I looked under my arm and there was a beluga right there. They were there for at least 20 minutes. You couldn't miss taking a great photo."
In addition to the Churchill tours, there were several day tours for media, including a paddling tour, a fishing tour and city tours featuring everything from food to spas, aboriginal culture to architecture.
Caitlin Walsh, editorial assistant for Enroute Magazine begged to get into the at-capacity catfishing tour and was not disappointed. "I am now officially a specialist Master Angler after
landing six 34-inch catfish. It was a very satisfying day out! The catfish were
a lot cuter than I thought they'd be."
Even industry delegates got a chance to experience Winnipeg after a morning of professional development sessions.
"Industry come to these things and you don't really get to see much, it's all for the media," said Gillian Hall of Tourisme Québec. "But I had an opportunity to go on a city tour and it was amazing. It really opened up my eyes. I had no idea about Winnipeg. After seeing all the parts of Winnipeg, I want to come back for a vacation."
After a successful day exploring Manitoba, GoMedia Canada delegates were treated to a spectacular evening in Assiniboine Park, starting at the new Journey to Churchill exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Bears Kaska and Aurora wowed judges with their underwater antics while Hudson and his handler gave an informative presentation on the Zoo's positive reinforcement
"You're going to have to call the police to get me out - I'm not going to want to leave," said Rod Charles from vacay.ca of Journey to Churchill. "It's amazing."
From the zoo, delegates got a chance to wander through the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden before making their way to the Lyric Theatre for an outdoor concert. Minister of Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection Ron Lemieux welcomed GoMedia delegates to Manitoba. After the event, he remarked, "It was a home run. Those polar bears sure put on a show."
Anticipation was high for the following evening's event at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) and delegates were not disappointed with their experience. From the moment of arrival, media and industry were warmly welcomed and invited to explore several key areas of the museum, including the Grand Foyer, the stunning labyrinth of lit alabaster ramps and
the Garden of Contemplation. Throughout the evening, guests learned about the museum and what visitors can expect once it opens in September 2014.
Angela Cassie, Director of Communications and External Relations at CMHR, announced to the group that "we are focused on a powerful idea" and went on to explain the importance of using a wide range of interactive technologies to tell the first-hand stories of hundreds of people
who have lived through human rights experiences.
Guests were also treated to an informal discussion with master exhibit designer, Ralph Applebaum. He touted the superior accessibility of the building along with the unprecedented use of advanced technology that will allow people from all over the world to experience and engage with the exhibits through social media. Applebaum stated "it's more than just a visitor experience; it's really meant to be the mother ship for human rights and human rights issues internationally".
Several researchers were on hand to discuss artifacts and exhibits, including a ballot box from the South African election that named Nelson Mandela president in 1994 and a dress worn by a Georgia teenager to her prom just last year - her high school's first fully integrated prom.
Media and industry were left with a better understanding of the "ideas" concept of the CMHR and were overwhelmingly positive in their feedback for Canada's newest national museum.
And throughout the marketplace, industry and media got a taste of Manitoba in the Flavours of Manitoba showcase. Local industry partners were invited to share their products and experiences, and story idea cards provided media with even more to write about.
Delegates were invited to dress up as voyageurs by the Festival du Voyageur, and as the festival's Irina Ivanov Bissonnette pointed out, the showcase provided great exposure.
"Meeting journalists from all over the world - this morning we got to meet a journalist from Germany and one from France - wouldn't be available to us if GoMedia wasn't in town," she said. "For us it was important to be here and to make some connections that in the future might make for some great opportunities."
Al McLauchlan of Rocky Lake Birchworks based in The Pas was happy to share his birch syrup, and his story, at GoMedia.
"As a small producer, it was important for us to get this worldwide exposure. We met some people here from Australia, Germany and France who had never heard of birch syrup before and who didn't know that Manitoba was the Canadian leader in producing birch syrup. This was huge for us."
Travel Manitoba would like to thank all our tourism industry partners for rolling out the red carpet for our GoMedia guests. We left them with many memorable experiences and we thank you for your part in making those memories!