Winnipeg, Manitoba, September 26, 2014 - The winners of Travel Manitoba's 16th annual Manitoba Tourism Awards, presented by Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, were announced this afternoon at a gala lunch at the Delta Winnipeg.  The Manitoba Tourism Awards recognize outstanding contributions to the provincial tourism industry, including promoting Manitoba as a
destination, providing memorable service to visitors and developing the tourism industry. 

The Honourable Ron Lemieux, Minister of Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection along with Travel Manitoba Board Chair Bob Sparrow presented the awards to the winners of each category. The winners are: 

Aboriginal Tourism Award
APTN Aboriginal Day Live: & Celebration: An annual celebration at The Forks that recognizes and
includes all First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples with its Celebration Village and Cultural Stages.  

Aspiring Youth Award
Laura Wiebe: An award-winning tourism researcher who led the Fort Garry Hotel's marketing department before taking a position as hospitality instructor at Red River College.  

Event of the Year Award - under $5,000
Actif Epica: A one-day active living celebration that involves communities along the Crow Wing Trail in southeast Manitoba. 

Event of the Year Award - over $5,000  
Icelandic Festival of Manitoba: Gimli's annual signature summer event features diverse programming along with cultural events that keep the Icelandic culture strong. 

Marketing Excellence Award 
Winnipeg Art Gallery - 100 Masters: Only in Canada: A creative marketing campaign by Doowah Design to promote this "once-in-a-lifetime" exhibit resulted in record-breaking attendance. 

Partnership Award
Frontiers North Adventures: Collaboration with Polar Bears International brought polar bears to people around the world via Google Street View and Google Treks. 

Product Development Award
RAW:almond: The first of its kind in the world, this pop-up restaurant combined cultural and culinary tourism with winter, architecture and philanthropy. 

Service Excellence Award 
Dwight Allen: Operating tours in Churchill for almost 30 years, Dwight currently operates the Polar Inn & Suites and Sea North Tours. 

Sustainable Tourism Award 
Second Nature, Adventures in Discovery: Dedicated to reconnecting visitors to the world around them through custom travel and group experiences, interpretive planning and design, and experiential tourism development training. 

Volunteer of the Year Award
Diane Dubé: Coordinates and manages many tourism events and attractions in St. Georges, including Musée de St. George, Festival des crèches, and the local 4P Festival.  

Winnipeg Airports Authority Award of Distinction
Philippe Mailhot: Director of the Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum since 1989, a long-time ambassador for tourism and expert on the history and heritage of St. Boniface and Manitoba. 

"Manitoba's success as a tourism destination is linked directly to the achievements of those businesses and individuals who have been recognized by the Manitoba Tourism Awards," said Colin Ferguson, Travel Manitoba President and CEO. "What all of the nominees, finalists and winners have in common is the ability to offer exceptional service and engaging and
distinctive experiences that are the core of our province's tourism industry." 

Nominations for the Manitoba Tourism Awards are submitted by industry peers and finalists and winners were selected by an industry-based judging panel. Winners received a trophy and the right to use the Manitoba Tourism Award symbol for advertising and promotion as well as promotion on Travel Manitoba's website.

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Travel Manitoba is a Crown Corporation under provincial legislation that leads and stimulates sustainable tourism growth in Manitoba's $1.52 billion tourism industry. In partnership with the tourism industry, the agency is responsible for tourism marketing, visitor information services, research and public information.