Travel Manitoba extends its congratulations to our province's winners at the 2014 Canadian Tourism Awards, held on November 26 in Ottawa. Merv and Lynda Gunter of Frontiers North Adventures were awarded the 2014 Toronto Tourism Lifetime Achievement Award and the Downtown Winnipeg Biz won the VIA Rail Canada Community Service Award. The Canadian Tourism Awards are an initiative of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
"Manitoba's tourism opportunities are extraordinary and varied, and these honourees are a shining example of how our province truly is where Canada's heart...beats," said Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection Minister Ron Lemieux. "We want the world to come and experience the province with us and it's great to see our tourism industry receive this kind of recognition."
Travel Manitoba President and CEO Colin Ferguson added: "Merv and Lynda are extremely deserving of this honour. For more than 25 years, they have poured their passion for Manitoba's north and creating exceptional visitor experiences into their business. Merv and Lynda are an outstanding example of the leadership, vision and innovation that exists in Manitoba's tourism industry."
The Gunters have been bringing visitors to Churchill for polar bear and other northern wildlife viewing tours since 1987. The couple recently passed over leadership of Frontiers North to their son, John, who gave a moving tribute at the awards gala.
"I can't think of anyone who deserves this award more," said John Gunter, President and CEO, Frontiers North Adventures. "I've watched Merv and Lynda build Frontiers North Adventures from the ground up, and I am honoured to carry on their legacy by taking over leadership this year. I hope to model the work ethic, passion and creativity I saw in them as I lead the company into even further growth."
"It is a huge honour to be recognized by our industry peers with this award. We are humbled to say the least," said Lynda Gunter. "It makes us look back to where we started from - wanting to share the amazing things Churchill has to offer with those first hardy souls who wished to travel north, to where we are today, taking thousands of international visitors from all over the globe to experience one of the most unique and beautiful places in Canada's north. Seeing the expressions of awe and sometimes tears of joy on our guests' faces when they experience what the north has to offer is what gave us energy all those years ago and what keeps us energized and successful today."
The other Manitoba winner of the night, Downtown Winnipeg Biz, was nominated by Tourism Winnipeg for their efforts in raising the corporate sector's awareness of homelessness and the need for public and private sector collaboration to end it.
"The Downtown Winnipeg Biz has done an incredible job of fuelling the progress in the heart of the city," said Chantal Sturk-Nadeau, Tourism Winnipeg's Senior Vice-President of Tourism. "Their commitment to serving Winnipeg's core is evident through the thoughtful programs such as the CEO Sleepout."
The other Manitoba finalists at the 2014 Canadian Tourism Awards were Travel Manitoba in The Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Marketing Campaign of the Year Award; Ben Gillies of the Winnipeg Trolley Company in the Parks Canada Youth Tourism Entrepreneurship Award; Manito Ahbee Festival in the National Cultural Tourism Award; and Oak Hammock Marsh in the Transat Inc. Sustainable Tourism Award.
"We salute your efforts to celebrate and share all that Manitoba has to offer," Minister Lemieux said. "Keep up the good work!"
Congratulations Merv and Lynda and all of the Manitoba winners and finalists!