Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario (NOTO) Executive Director Laurie Marcil was honoured last night as the co-winner of the TIAO Ontario Tourism Champion Award at the Ontario Tourism Summit in Ottawa,
The award recognizes the outstanding contributions of those supporting the tourism sector, Marcil joined Kitchener’s Mark Bingeman, at the podium to accept the honour.
Marcil’s efforts were acknowledged to have made an enormous and positive difference for not only NOTO members and the resource-based tourism sector, but the tourism industry as a whole.
"Meeting virtually with stakeholders from one end of the province to the other Marcil worked with federal, provincial, and municipal governments, numerous tourism associations, and individual operators to speak on behalf of the industry for programs that would help sustain key local businesses through the pandemic," says a news release.
“I am so deeply honored by both the recognition and the incredible support I’ve received during one of the most challenging times for our industry," said Marcil. "We felt the call to act like we never have before and I am proud of the work we have done to support our industry through this. We are not done yet. This award really is the result of a total team effort and partnerships that we can all build on to assure the future of our tourism sector.,”
She added that she hopes that the award will continue to raise the profile of tourism and the important role that the resource-based tourism sector plays in the provincial economy and in the many communities in which tourism generates jobs and prosperity.
Meanwhile, South River was recognized as a winner in the category of collaboration.
"In a year fraught with innumerable obstacles, the Explore South River Project led by PARC Association rose to the challenge and continued to innovate and engage with partners and the entire community to present a vision of a thriving community that celebrates the arts, outdoor recreation, community services, events and stories in an inclusive project," says a news release.
PARC is a community not-for-profit established in 2000 to promote the development of arts, recreation and culture in the South River area.
“The foundation of any great project is the people." said Todd Lucier, project lead for PARC Association. "This project engaged dozens of people in sharing community stories at story-sharing events, researching, writing, and designing historical interpretive panels, identifying and bringing together all our community assets to showcase what is a truly special rural Ontario community,”
The Explore South River project encourages visitors to get out and explore using an inclusive handheld app and website which showcases every enterprise and resource in the region that meets the needs of visitors and residents, including trails and events.
"I've been dreaming of what would be possible for handheld tourism apps ever since the iPhone first appeared. This app designed with Creative ONE is really quite special and takes advantage of a smartphone's capabilities. There is nothing else like it," explained Lucier.
Read about South River's project here.
The awards were presented by the Tourism Association Industry of Ontario (TIAO) in partnership with Attractions Ontario, The Culinary Tourism Alliance, Indigenous Tourism Ontario, and Ontario Tourism Education Corporation,
TIAO described 2020 as “a year fraught with innumerable operating obstacles, during which our exceptional tourism businesses rose to the challenge and continued to innovate and engage with partners and their communities, even when unable to open for regular business.”
Reflecting on the award selection process, TIAO stated, “A year that was so very different for the tourism industry calls for an award reflective of the times and an award that fairly recognizes the achievements of tourism businesses regardless of operating status.”
Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario (NOTO) was founded in 1929 as an organized voice for the resource-based tourism industry in northern Ontario. More than 90 years later, industry support and government relations remain NOTO’s focus for the sector which includes over 1,400 businesses.