2019 Explore Canada Awards of Excellence

Montreal, Quebec

The annual Explore Canada Awards of Excellence recognize contributions to storytelling that inspire travellers to explore Canada.

Destination Canada invites international and Canadian entrants – from journalists and influencers to photographers and videographers – to submit their inspired travel tales. 

In 2019, 11 media awards will be granted to recognize outstanding work published in each of Destination Canada’s international markets and Canada. Two additional awards will be presented to the Canadian tourism industry in recognition of excellence in media relations. After reviewing over a hundred high-quality entries, Destination Canada is pleased to announce the winners and finalists selected in each category:

Media Awards


  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence recipient 2019: 
    Elspeth Callender, Traveller, “Trinity, Newfoundland: Canada's isolated peninsula with heart and soul”
    “This piece on one of Canada’s lesser-known provinces showcases evocative storytelling, an imaginative structure and the sort of detail that lifts writing off the page,” says judge Angela Mollard, an Australian columnist, TV commentator and author. “Insights into people and place are woven artfully to tell a story which is both historical and contemporary.”
  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence finalists 2019:
    - Trevor Cochrane, Channel 9 TV, “Delish Destinations – Vancouver Island
    - Amanda Woods, Escape, “What not to do when you see a bear up close”


  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence recipient 2019: 
    Margo Pfeiff, The Globe and Mail, “Hidden Canada: Inuvik, Northwest Territories”
    “Why do we travel?” asks judge Anne Donohoe, Chief Marketing Officer, MEC. “To learn, to expand our perspectives, to have an adventure, or as Margo Pfeiff puts it, to have transformational experiences.” Margo introduces us to Kylik Kisoun Taylor in Inuvik who is on a mission to provide transformational experiences in the Arctic and smash stereotypes. “You can feel Taylor’s passion for what he does, and Pfeiff’s excitement and awe as she is introduced to new experiences,” continues Donohoe. “And I am now myself considering a trip to the Arctic – a sign of a good travel read.” 
  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence finalists 2019:
    - Amy Rosen, The Globe and Mail, “Diners, Slow Plows and Dives”
    - Caitlin Walsh Miller, enRoute Magazine, “Little Hill on the Prairie”


  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence recipient 2019: 
    Keqing Xiang, Phoenix New Media Limited, “A new beachfront experience on the Atlantic coast- Senior traveler's choice”
    Judge Tian Li, Chief Editor for iQIYI Travel says, “Keqing Xiang's articles about travelling to New Brunswick are a thorough and informative series providing readers with detailed travel itineraries and a wealth of information. Given New Brunswick is not well-known as a travel destination by most Chinese travellers, Xiang’s articles provide a go-to guide for those who plan to experience the Atlantic coast. Through her narrative and experience, Xiang presents the real beauty and charm of New Brunswick to her readers.”
  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence finalists 2019:
    - Daoge Xiao, National Geographic Traveler, “A new vacation experience that caters to curiosity”
    - Annie Yu, YueWeiXiaoYu, “How did I travel around Canada within two days?”


  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence recipient 2019: 
    Sébastien Desurmont, GEO Magazine, “Colombie-Britannique: Le jour où j’ai dansé autour du feu sacré” (British Columbia: The Day I Danced Around the Sacred Fire)
    “As I read Desurmont’s piece, I became gripped by the moving story of the Indigenous peoples of Canada, which I had never heard,” says judge Nicolas Barbery, Editor in chief for Le Quotidien du Tourisme. “The reporting was remarkable and so were the writing and photos.”
  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence finalists 2019:
    - Yanick Philipponnat, MIDI Libre, “Le Canada version Niagara” (Canada: the Niagara side)
    - Corinne Soulay, National Geographic Traveler, “Québec, sur la trace des explorateurs” (Quebec, in the footsteps of the explorers)


  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence recipient 2019: 
    Christina Witte, Radio rbb Berlin, “On the Islands of happy people – Îles de la Madeleine”
    "One can leave the island, but the island never leaves you," reveals Christina Witte in her radio report. “Listening to the feature you start dreaming of the islands immediately,” says judge Andreas Ewels, German journalist, author, filmmaker and festival director. “It’s like starting a film in your head. Listeners get very close to locals as well as nature and together with the sound of the local music the feature guides listeners deep into the heart and soul of Canada. You would like to pack your suitcase and visit the Îles de la Madeleine right now.”
  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence finalists 2019:
    - Florianfilm, Arte TV, “Canada’s National Parks”
    - Ole Helmhausen, GEO, “To the horizon and beyond – Badlands Alberta”


  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence recipient 2019: 
    Rozina Gaziyani, UpperCrust, “Vancouver Extraordinary by Nature”
    “The opening statement of the article did it,” says judge Sanjay Ranade, Head of the Department of Communication and Journalism, University of Mumbai. “It draws the reader into the action that Rozina Gaziyani is passing through and by the end of the article, in one’s head, the reader is travelling and experiencing the action too. Enough to want to try the whole thing first hand. Gaziyani has been able to make the reading a journey by very cleverly interweaving information and personal experience.”
  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence finalists 2019:
    - Rahul Paul, Society, “Touring the Maple Stretch”
    - Dhruv Saxena, Auto Today, “Winter Wonderland”


  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence recipient 2019:
    Norikazu Ozaki, Nikkei National Geographic Inc., “Mysteries of Canada / Du Canada”
    Mr. Norikazu Ozaki, the editor of Nikkei National Geographic, published two titles, which introduce Canada’s attractions using fascinating writings and beautiful photographs, in two media outlets: one as a printed book and one online. The book is titled Mysteries of Canada (written by Toshiyuki Hirama) and the photo collection is titled Du CANADA (Kazutoshi Yoshimura). Tatsuo Gunji, journalist and judge says, “Ozaki utilized his more than three decades of experience visiting Canada to showcase the country’s diverse scenes. By looking at the photographs, people who have never been to the country will yearn to experience its attractions while those who have will be fascinated by the collection of appealing photographs and want to visit again after feeling nostalgic.”
  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence finalists 2019:
    - Satomi Kurabayashi, Bunshun Ltd., “Happy Canada / All About Canada”
    - Hirano Yoshihiro, NHK, “2nd Canada”


  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence recipient 2019:
    Marck Guttman, Aire Magazine, “Life at the Pole"
    Judge Gabriela Hernández Merino, Media Relations and Advocacy Officer, Embassy of Canada in Mexico, selected this article not only because of the unusual destination that it promotes, but also because of its originality. “It goes above and beyond the usual tourist promotion,” she says. “It is first and foremost presented as a story, and does not gloss over the discomfort that Guttman sometimes feels in the cold North, while also displaying some humour. This is an extremely well-written article, which manages to convey at the same time the harshness and remoteness of the Arctic and the potential for adventure that it holds. The story is personal and honest, as well as inviting, and offers glimpses of a uniquely Canadian destination.”
  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence finalists 2019:
    - Alan Amper, Travel + Leisure Magazine, “Looking for the footprint”
    - Brenda Ignorosa, Travel + Leisure Magazine, “The Maritimes: A not-to-be-missed place in Canada”

South Korea

  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence recipient 2019:
    TV Chosun, “My Wife’s Secret Recipe”
    Influence of the medium, use of social media and a compelling storyline. Judge Jean Ko, Advocacy and Public Affairs Officer, Embassy of Canada to Korea, says these are the three reasons she chose this winner. “TV makes a strong impact on all generations in Korea,” says Ko. “My wife’s secret recipe is not only viewed on TV, but also shared on social media channels,” she continues. “Given the hosts of this program are Korean celebrities, their respective individual channels also served to promote travel to Canada. Viewers were able to emotionally engage with the celebrity couple by observing their interesting tourism experiences through the couple’s eyes.”
  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence finalists 2019:
    KBS, “EverywhereK”
    Lonely Planet, "The Small World of Canadian Rockies”

United Kingdom

  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence recipient 2019:
    Mike MacEacheran, Lonely Planet, “The road to Valhalla: Viking adventures in Northeast Canada”
    “Mike MacEacheran’s article is a truly engaging read from start to finish,” says judge Kevin Johnston, Head of Press for Air Canada in the UK. “From the opening paragraph, the reader is fully immersed in vivid imagery of mother nature, creating curiosity as one attempts to understand the unfamiliar. Overall, MacEacheran achieved great flow and suspense throughout his article, with the use of pictures to support description. The article has the potential to spark interest in any reader’s mind and makes you want to experience the mysteries of Newfoundland for yourself.”
  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence finalists 2019:
    - Tamara Hinson, The Independent, “How Thunder Bay went from Down and out to Canada's Most Exciting City”
    - Uwern Jong, Out There Magazine, “A Place I've never Been”

United States

  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence recipient 2019:
    Fiona Tapp, Lonely Planet, “Go North; Reindeer Herding in the Northwest Territories”
    “I spent a few years of my childhood in Northern Canada and know it is a region that is mostly overlooked and perhaps misunderstood so I was thrilled to read Fiona Tapp’s piece on reindeer herding in the Northwest Territories,” says judge and American broadcaster, Michaela Pereira. “The way that Tapp captured the magic, mystery and ruggedness of the north moved me. Compelling travel writing, to me, is about exploring the unexplored or little known in a way that is not just inquisitive and inviting, but also respectful to the subject. Fiona Tapp achieved that.”
  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence finalists 2019:
    - Jennifer Bain, The Daily Beast, “Come to Dildo for the Selfie, But Stay for Good Clean Fun”
    - Todd Plummer, Vogue, “Hard to Get to, Harder to Leave: Why Revelstoke, BC Is Skiing's Hottest Destination Right Now”

Industry Awards

Industry (Campaign)

  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence recipient 2019:
    Tourism Nova Scotia
  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence finalists 2019:
    - Travel Manitoba
    - Tourism Tofino

Industry (Individual)

  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence recipient 2019:
    Sébastien Desnoyers-Picard, Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada
  • Explore Canada Award of Excellence finalists 2019:
    - Geoff Moore, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association
    - Pam Wamback, Tourism Nova Scotia

Winners were chosen by judges who possess a robust understanding of excellence in their respective markets and fields. The media award winners are announced in the lead up to GoMedia Canada, Destination Canada’s premier travel media event. The industry award winners will be announced at GoMedia Canada 2019 during the Destination Canada luncheon.


Posted: 2019-07-18
Updated: 2019-08-13

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