The River Valley Alliance (RVA) is a non-profit organization that has been nominated for the Sustainable Tourism Award. They are dedicated to sustainable tourism that educates and connects the Greater Edmonton community with the River Valley, and their trail system is the longest in North America.
The RVA advocates for responsible, ethical use of nature’s pathways and ensures low socio-economic and environmental impacts for local athletic groups. Their ongoing projects work with six municipalities to create an attraction on the world stage that prioritizes ecological protection and respect for the land. In addition, the RVA educates and provides opportunities through events, ambassador programs, and social media to highlight the importance of being a socio-economic champion trail user. Their main goals are to increase access to nature, encourage movement, and create connection, preservation, cultural awareness, and economic diversity along the River Valley.
The RVA invites visitors to connect with nature, themselves, and their communities while being a voice for a jewel in Edmonton. They have dedicated 20 years to developing the River Valley Trail, a significant natural corridor for wildlife and one of the world’s largest internationally recognized metropolitan parks. The RVA also works with local Indigenous communities, municipalities, and the general public to ensure the trail is respectfully and thoughtfully named. To encourage participation in the River Valley, the RVA has designed a calendar that includes photos from local photographers and highlights special trails to trek each month.
OEG Sports & Entertainment (OEGSE) is an Edmonton-based organization that manages NHL and WHL franchises, entertainment venues, events, and the ICE District, Canada’s largest mixed-use sports and entertainment district. OEGSE also includes the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, which focuses on building safe and vibrant communities, supporting local communities, and advancing relationships with Indigenous communities.
Since 2001, the Foundation has contributed over $86 million to over 3000 charities and community groups. In the 2021-2022 season, the EOCF invested $20 million in the community, a record donation year for the EOCF, and the most ever donated by an NHL community foundation in a single season.
The Oilers, Oil Kings, and Live Events of OEGSE have had a significant impact on Edmonton’s economy, and they brought top global acts and events to Edmonton in 2022, such as the Eagles, Shawn Mendes, and the Toronto Raptors. With its entertainment, dining, and accommodation facilities, the ICE District has been a game-changer for Edmonton, revitalizing the city’s downtown core and attracting new businesses.
OEGSE’s commitment to community investment has helped build strong and safe communities by supporting critical programs aimed at feeding, housing, and supporting vulnerable communities in Edmonton, such as Boyle Street Community Services and Foodbanks Alberta. Due to their community contribution and success in sports and entertainment, OEGSE was nominated for the Edmonton Tourism Awards’ Outstanding Contributor to the Community Award.
The Edmonton Elks are a CFL team that has been a pillar in the community since their founding in 1949. They have won 14 Grey Cup championships, including five consecutive from 1978 to 1982. As a community-owned team, the Elks are committed to positively impacting the community and promoting the development of amateur football in Northern Alberta.
The Elks have been nominated for Edmonton Tourism Awards’ Outstanding Contributor to the Community Tourism Award for their remarkable initiatives and activities in the community. They have made significant economic contributions to the City of Edmonton, with an annual economic impact ranging from $26 to $30 million. The team has also led the community with multiple initiatives focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion, such as the 1st CFL broadcast in an Indigenous language and the Stand with Ukraine Game Day, which raised $172,000 for the Canada Ukraine Foundation.
As a not-for-profit organization, community engagement and outreach are top priorities for the Elks. Their events, such as the Elks Women’s Dinner, Purolator Tackle Hunger Food Drive, and 630CHED Santa’s Anonymous Game Day, have raised significant funds and donations for various charitable causes. Additionally, the Elks have partnered with Kids Up Front to bring over 10,000 youth participants to their games in 2022. The Edmonton Elks are an outstanding contributor to the community and continue to make a positive impact in the City of Edmonton
Fort Edmonton Park’s Indigenous Peoples Experience is a cultural exhibit that offers an immersive and authentic experience showcasing the diverse histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of local First Nations and Métis peoples in the Edmonton region.
Created through consultation with MOU Partners, the Métis Nation of Alberta, and the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations, the exhibit features stories and artwork gathered through engagement with over forty local Indigenous nations, historians, educators, and community members. The exhibit operates year-round and employs over ten Métis and Indigenous interpreters, two Indigenous craftspeople, and one Indigenous Narratives Supervisor.
The Indigenous Peoples Experience offers teachings on Indigenous culture and traditions and is a unique and respectful meeting and event space. The exhibit also includes an outdoor trail system with local indigenous plants, an outdoor kitchenette, picnic tables, and a gathering pavilion, allowing for further outdoor activities such as live demonstrations, workshops, and special performances.
The Indigenous Peoples Experience at Fort Edmonton Park is the first exhibit of its kind in Canada. It provides an opportunity to uplift Indigenous communities during Canada’s reconciliation with Indigenous people. The exhibition is accessible to all ages and has been nominated for the Cultural Experiences Award for its focus on educating, sparking conversation, and recognizing and celebrating the knowledge, culture, and experience of Indigenous Peoples.
Edmonton International Airport (YEG) is a community-based organization and a proud ambassador for Edmonton and Alberta. YEG is committed to providing a fast, convenient, and comfortable flying experience, making it a unique airport that combines the best features of the private and public sectors.
It is part of the social component of ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance Practices) and believes that employee diversity fosters new ideas and ways of seeking solutions to complex problems. It has strengthened its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by increasing employee communication and awareness through leadership forums, training, and events. To nurture an open, inclusive culture, the SoWell committee brings employees together for ice cream socials, family events, and other fun activities.
YEG has implemented equitable hiring practices to build a cohesive and inclusive workplace. YEG recognizes the pandemic’s mental health concerns and promotes awareness of the resources available to employees. The airport offers a hybrid work model and encourages employees to use vacation time each year. YEG recognizes the contributions of its employees through the Years of Service Awards and the Applause Program.
Edmonton International Airport also supports employee development plans to attract and retain excellent employees while boosting productivity and building the team’s capacity to innovate. YEG was nominated for the Great Place to Work Award for its commitment to DEI and employee well-being.
Large Tourism (greater than 100 employees)
Fort Edmonton Park is a cultural tourism attraction that offers guests an immersive experience with its multi-attraction space. Its management company, FEMCo, was founded in 2009 to ensure long-term sustainability by focusing on financial sustainability, relevant experiences, accessibility, and corporate social responsibility. In addition, FEMCo works with the local tourism industry to increase visitors’ length of stay and strengthen community connections.
The park underwent a $160 million enhancement and construction project in 2018, which included the Indigenous Peoples’ Experience and an expanded Midway. Unfortunately, due to COVID, the park was closed in 2019 and 2020, causing layoffs and cost mitigation plans.
In 2022, the park had a slower start but eventually had a successful general admission season, excellent retail results, and outstanding food and beverage and venue rental results. In 2023, FEMCo plans to build team capacity and strengthen operational processes while reassessing food and beverage services and developing new non-heritage experiences. Additionally, FEMCo aims to increase accessibility and inclusivity through physical accessibility, reduced admission costs, and increased awareness.
FEMCo strives for diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization and the board, incorporating corporate social responsibility throughout its practices. Its efforts to ensure long-term sustainability and unique guest experiences have earned Fort Edmonton Park a nomination for the Tourism Business of the Year Award in the Large Business category.
Small to Medium-sized Tourism (99 or less employees)
The Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market (OSFM) is a historic farmers’ market in Edmonton’s Old Strathcona neighbourhood. With over four decades of history, it is Alberta’s largest indoor farmers’ market and a unique destination for tourists and locals. The market is committed to visitor satisfaction, offering a shopping experience that is accessible, exciting, and showcases local businesses of all sizes.
Recently, the OSFM has been nominated for the Tourism Business of the Year Award in the Small Business category, and to ensure its long-term success, the market is revamping its building with a multi-million dollar renovation project. This transformation will make the OSFM a one-of-a-kind local hub, and the only multi-day farmers’ market in Alberta. The expanded operations are estimated to attract over a million customers annually, create more than 50 new jobs in Edmonton’s tourism, hospitality, and retail sector, and increase revenue from food and beverage sales, catering contracts, product sales, private events, and ticket sales from in-house events.
The future is bright for OSFM, and the organization has plans for growth, innovation, and product and service development that will attract tourists to Edmonton and further develop the province’s tourism industry.
The Winspear Centre for Music is the performance home of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (ESO), one of Canada’s leading orchestral ensembles. Founded over 71 years ago, the ESO has played an integral role in the cultural life of Edmonton and beyond. The orchestra’s 56 musicians perform a range of repertoire from classical masterworks to pop and children’s concerts, with tours taking them throughout Alberta and Canada’s northern territories. They also contribute to the artistic community as performers, clinicians, and teachers.
The Winspear Centre, located in downtown Edmonton, offers an intimate and unique musical experience with its exceptional acoustics that have become legendary since its opening in 1997. The Centre is dedicated to providing excellent customer service to every patron entering the building, whether for an ESO performance or a rental event.
Their commitment to customer service excellence has earned them a nomination for the Best in Class Customer Service Award. They achieve this through their hands-on approach to training and development, encouraging staff to learn from mentors and refine their skills, and providing opportunities for new team members to experience being a patron. The presence of the orchestra and its contribution to the community’s quality of life are key elements in the stature and profile of Edmonton on the national and international scene.
This award recognizes the very best Edmonton restaurant in food, drink, and hospitality. The recipient of the Restaurant of the Year Award is a restaurant that demonstrates consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, service, and operations.
Taste of Edmonton, produced and organized by Events Edmonton, is Western Canada’s largest food and free outdoor music festival. With its mission to enrich the lives of people in the Edmonton area, the festival has become a highly anticipated summer event in the community, drawing over 300,000 attendees to Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton for 11 days each year.
The festival highlights local restaurants, food trucks, and performers, supporting local charities through Events Edmonton’s volunteer partnership honorarium program and Community Endowment Fund donations.
In recognition of its many achievements and contributions, Taste of Edmonton was nominated for the Event of the Year Award. This is a testament to the festival’s economic contribution, performance platform for emerging and established artists, volunteer participation, collaboration, and its role as an outlet to bridge cultural diversity and promote inclusion. The festival maintains access for all abilities and ensures representation for different groups, including women, black, indigenous, LGBTIQ2S+ and other owned businesses.
With the support of over 1000 volunteers, sponsors, contractors, and staff, Taste of Edmonton continues to bring people together and celebrate the community’s diverse culinary and artistic culture.
West Edmonton Mall is a premier tourist destination in Edmonton that offers a unique shopping and entertainment experience. WEM has been nominated for the Best Attraction of the Year Award for its contribution to the local economy and the exciting range of activities it offers. With over 800 stores, restaurants, and 11 world-class attractions, WEM has something to cater to everyone’s needs.
WEM’s world-class attractions include Galaxyland, powered by Hasbro, the only Hasbro-themed park in Canada and features 27 thrilling rides and attractions, World Waterpark, an indoor water park that covers over 5 acres and features a variety of water slides, wave pools, and play areas suitable for all ages, and DRIVE Go Karts, the first indoor multilevel racetrack in Canada.
WEM also offers two 18-hole miniature golf courses, Professor WEM’s Adventure Golf and Dragon’s Tale Blacklight mini-golf, and an Ice Palace that is a hub for sports, recreation, and entertainment. Additionally, Ed’s Bowling offers a 28-lane bowling alley with an additional six lanes in the Kingpin suite, a full-service restaurant and bar, and an Alien Outbreak Escape Room, Billiards, and Arcade. Visitors can also enjoy a fleet of 5 majestic paddle boat swans at Birds of Paradise. Overall, WEM offers an exciting range of activities within its facility, making it a must-visit destination.
The Muttart Conservatory is Western Canada’s most extensive indoor botanic garden and one of Edmonton’s top tourist attractions. The unique architecture of four pyramids set in the city’s River Valley makes it a standout landmark. Three of the pyramids house displays of plants from tropical, temperate, and arid regions, while the fourth is a show pyramid featuring ornamental flowering plants and themed exhibits that change several times a year.
After a period of rehabilitation, the facility reopened in June 2021 but had to limit attendance due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, return visitation eventually achieved 80% of pre-pandemic attendance numbers due to the introduction of innovative and inclusive new programming. The enhanced visitor experience included new seating, improved outdoor space, educational displays and programs, and school curriculum-based programming.
The facility welcomed 117,931 visitors in 2022 and saw substantial attendance numbers in January and February 2023. The facility’s operations benefit local businesses, with an estimated annual impact of approximately $200,000. The Muttart Conservatory’s contributions to enhancing Edmonton’s tourism and hospitality industries have led to its nomination for Attraction of the Year.
Dodgeball Canada’s Summer of Dodgeball brought two significant events to Edmonton in 2022: the Canadian National Championship and the 9th WDBF World Championships. Summer of Dodgeball was created to centralize Edmonton as a global dodgeball center, and it included recreational activities and community engagements.
The National Championships welcomed almost 500 athletes from 56 teams across Canada, and it was the largest in the event’s history. The World Championships included 65 teams and over 600 participants across six divisions, featuring both foam and cloth disciplines for the first time.
The event was community-based and community-driven, with all event team members being volunteers, including organizers, directors, and photographers. Dodgeball Canada aims to promote and develop the sport of dodgeball while adhering to the principles of inclusion, access, and community fellowship. As an Edmonton-based National Sports Organization, Dodgeball Canada is committed to Edmonton as a hub for programming and activity.
The World Dodgeball Federation relocated its headquarters from the United States to Edmonton in 2018, making Edmonton the global center for the sport. The Summer of Dodgeball was nominated for the Edmonton Tourism Awards’ Sports Event of the Year Award for its success in bringing these two historical events to the city and showcasing Edmonton as a global dodgeball center.
Grant McCurdy is a retired General Manager who has dedicated over 40 years to Edmonton’s hospitality and tourism industry. He has worked for almost every major hotel in the city and has welcomed dignitaries, movie stars, rock bands, and royalty to Edmonton. Grant has won numerous awards, including the Jim Engel Tourism Award, General Manager of the Year, and the Connie Award. He has also given back by serving on several committees, boards, and associations throughout the years, including the Edmonton Downtown Business Association, ATEC, and Edmonton Destination Marketing Hotels Ltd.
Grant’s secret to success was to hire the right people for the right job, empower them to make a difference with guests, and lead by example. He is recognized as an industry leader in Edmonton, with a proven track record of strategic leadership. Grant meets all the criteria for the Hotelier Lifetime Achievement Award, having made significant contributions towards the growth of the hotel industry and passionately giving back to the community. He possesses strong values and delivers sound business strategies in all that he does and has done. Grant’s robust and lasting legacy has left a positive impact on many in hospitality and tourism.
Tina Tobin is a veteran hotelier who started her career in 1984 as a Front Desk Clerk with the Sandman Hotel in West Edmonton. Over the next 39 years, she worked for various companies and managed multiple properties, banquets, and conference centers. For the past eight years, she has been working for Nova Hotels, managing a larger property than ever before, and is always willing to help other properties in need.
Tina is not only passionate about her work but also about promoting the industry as a whole. She has served on the boards of several organizations, including the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association and the Edmonton Destination Marketing Hotels – Downtown Cluster. She has also volunteered for various charities, such as the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Junior Achievement Mentor Program.
Tina’s dedication and passion have earned her the respect and admiration of her colleagues. She is a motivating and caring manager who helps her staff reach their goals and maximize their achievements. She has mentored many young professionals in the industry, which is why she’s been nominated for the Hotelier Lifetime Achievement Award. Tina Tobin is a true asset to the hotel industry and an inspiration to everyone who knows her.