A pair of Northern Ontario tourism advocates were recognized with provincial awards on Oct. 27, as the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) celebrated with its annual gala.
North Bay-based Laurie Marcil, executive director of Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario (NOTO), was named a co-winner of the TIAO Ontario Tourism Champion Award, which recognizes the outstanding contributions of those supporting the tourism sector. Marcil shared the award with Mark Bingeman of Kitchener.
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," according to a news release.
Marcil said she was "deeply honoured" by the recognition and for the support she received addressing the challenges posed by the pandemic.
"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," she said. "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," according to 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, in the release. "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.
The TIAO Awards were held in partnership with Attractions Ontario, The Culinary Tourism Alliance, Indigenous Tourism Ontario, and Ontario Tourism Education Corporation.