Coming off a banner year with respect to both inbound and outbound travel, Canada’s tourism industry has a lot to celebrate. And in a grand, Canadian-style celebration, TravelPulse Canada brought together some of tourism’s best and brightest representatives at its first-ever TravelPulse Canada’s Readers’ Choice Awards last week.

Similar to the Travvy Awards hosted by TravelPulse in the United States, thousands of travel agents across Canada cast their votes in 24 categories, such as best hotel brand, best rail line, best tour operator and best motor coach operator of the year.

Winners were unveiled in front of a crowd of more than 250 guests at the May 18 event, which was emceed by TravelPulse Canada editor John Kirk, at the Steam Whistle Brewery in Downtown Toronto. Mark Murphy, the president and CEO of TravelPulse and TravelPulse Canada parent, travAlliancemedia also flew in to attend the event.

Attendees at the Readers’ Choice Award attendees included such notable industry representatives as the newly appointed Air Canada Rouge president Duncan Bureau, Jane Clementino and Lyell Farquharson of WestJet, Michael Curmi of Porter Airlines, Moise Levy of Softvoyage, and Vicki Borenstein (a Hall of Fame inductee) and Philip Rose of the Jamaica Tourist Board.

Guests were welcomed with a specialty cocktail, The Hall of Fame-ito, with rum, cranberry, lime and mint, designed specifically for the event. They also had a chance to meet Johnny Fay, drummer for the iconic Canadian band The Tragically Hip, who was signing bottles of The Hip’s red wine, also served during the event.

Entertainment was provided by comedian Ron James, who gave a half-hour performance highlighting favorite Canadian topics from Justin Trudeau to Tim Hortons and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

A top name in Canadian cuisine, Lynn Crawford, a Food Network Canada Celebrity Chef who has also hand-developed an in-flight menu for Canadian travel company Sunwing, helped prepare some of the cuisine for the evening event.

In addition to feting the top companies in travel, the event also recognized six luminary Canadians and their long-standing service to the industry, with an induction into the Canadian Travel Hall of Fame. Inaugural members to the Canadian Travel Hall of Fame include Jean-Marc Eustache of Air Transat, Last Minute Club founder Vicki Borenstein, Sunquest founder Pat Brigham, Sunwing president Colin Hunter, Moise Levy of Softvoyage and Angus Kinnear from Canada 3000.

Among the top Canadian brands, as determined by working travel agents, G Adventures took home the Readers’ Choice Award for Best Adventure Tour Company; Trafalgar Canada was named Coach Tour Operator of the Year; Rocky Mountaineer picked up the Readers’ Choice Award for Rail Company of the Year, and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts was named Best Hotel Chain of the Year. Hospitality company Transat also won two service-quality awards, for Best Reservations Department and Best Groups Department.

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