By Sue Tiffin
Published Nov. 14, 2017
Barrie Martin is bringing awards home to the Highlands.
year, he added a Sustainable Tourism Award with his name on it to his
award cabinet, where it will sit with pride next to last year’s Tourism
Champion of the Year award. Both prizes come from the Tourism Industry
Association of Ontario and were awarded at the annual Ontario Tourism
Awards of Excellence.
“You get a
pretty decent chunk of hardware, it’s like a glass Oscar,” laughed
Martin. “There’s not too much room for more, but that’s OK.”
was nominated for the award by Heather Reid, operations director of
Abbey Gardens. In the submission form she praised Yours Outdoors
adventure company, which Martin owns and operates.
Outdoors’ experience packages are original, engaging, enlightening and
designed to connect visitors with communities and the great outdoors,”
Reid noted numerous ways in
which Yours Outdoors, through Martin’s work, has “lived” the principles
and practices of sustainable and green tourism, including through the
support of local economies, businesses and communities, by maintaining
small-group sizes to limit negative social and environmental impacts,
offering low impact non-motorized recreational activities, avoiding use
of disposables and recycling whenever possible, being aware of and
avoiding environmentally sensitive areas and respecting and appreciating
In 2016, Yours Outdoors hosted more than 300 travellers to the area.
experiences provided opportunities for travellers to learn about and
engage with the local community – scenic spaces, friendly folks,
remarkable heritage, and the amazing art of Haliburton Highlands,” Reid
wrote. “Many of the experiences helped make connections with the natural
world. It is hoped this greater awareness and understanding of
ecosystems, biodiversity, and green living will help people develop a
set of values and beliefs and commit to living more sustainably on this
Additionally, Martin’s Telling
Our Stories speaker series has raised approximately $1,500 to be donated
to half a dozen local conservation organizations, and he brought people
outdoors for the first annual Hardwater Festival – a Celebration of Ice
last year. He co-chairs the Haliburton Highlands Tourism Stakeholders
Committee, is a founding member of Adventure Haliburton, and works
closely with Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization. Reid said he is
an example and model of experiential and sustainable tourism product for
other operators in Haliburton County, in the Ontario’s Highlands
region, and in the province.
was presented to Martin by CBC’s Heather Hiscox at the annual summit
held this year in Niagara Falls and finalists for all awards were listed
in a full page ad published in The Globe and Mail.
“That can’t help but give more exposure for your business,” said Martin.
He knew he was one of the three finalists in the category, but was surprised to hear his name called, just as he was last year.
winning] you’re just recognized more in the industry, and of course
when you win twice, there’s a greater recognition there or greater
exposure when you’ve been up on the podium twice,” he said. “It takes a
village, right. I work with so many partners locally that provide
experiences and provide destinations, I would hope this exposure also
benefits the Haliburton Highlands and the tourism region we’re in.
That’s hopefully a benefit of the award.”
categories in the Tourism Industry Awards of Excellence include the
Accessible Tourism Award, the Tourism Employer of the Year, Tourism
Innovator of the Year, Tourism Event of the Year and Lifetime
Even with his own win, Martin continues to strive to promote tourism in the area, and the Highlands in general.
so many great things happening in our tourism region, when they put out
a call for nominations, we just need to make a point of nominating
other businesses or other people or marketing campaigns, whatever is
going on there, and make sure we do have nominations in there,” he said.
“I know that in another year, I’m certainly going to be nominating
something in one or more of the categories just to give back to the
community in that regard.”
“It can’t hurt the community for sure,” he adds.