ROGER MCDONELL PHOTO Andrew Jones from Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures (left) presented the award to Captain Garton.

Whale watching Captain receives tourism award

Port Hardy will also host the awards gala in 2018

Captain Wayne Garton from Stubbs Island Whale Watching has been honored with a special award.

He received the Tourism Employee of the year award from Tourism Vancouver Island at the awards gala on September 20 at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney, BC.

“I think this is well deserved recognition for the high level of customer service being delivered in the Vancouver Island North region,” said Jolie White, Tourism Coordinator for Vancouver Island North Tourism.

“I was surprised and honoured – there are so many people in the tourism industry on Vancouver Island doing such a great job – it was surprising and very nice,” said Garton.

The Tourism Employee of the Year Award recognizes a tourism employee that has demonstrated exemplary work performance that enhances business or customer satisfaction.

“Vancouver Island tourism is growing incredibly fast and it’s an amazing industry and it’s an amazing industry to be apart of,” said Garton.

Garton has spent most of his adult life working on the coast and has been with Stubbs Island Whale Watching for 21 years.

He said what he enjoys about working in tourism is “being able to showcase our area and show people from all over the world how special it is here on the North Island.”

The award is given to an individual that is valued for their outstanding commitment to improvement and consistently goes above and beyond in their treatment of visitors to Vancouver Island.

Garton added that one of the things he loves most about working in the industry is connecting with the people who return to the North Island every summer.

“The ones that come back on a regular basis you get to watch their kids grow – we’ve got people that came here on their honeymoon 18 or 19 years ago and are now coming back with their children,” said Garton, adding “there was one family that had brought their daughter here from New Mexico since she was 4 years old until she was 18 – every year they travelled that distance just to give her the experience of the coast and to see what’s available here for wildlife.”

Garton captains both The Lukwa and The Kuluta as well as other vessels at Stubbs Island Whale Watching.

“I’ve been very blessed and to end up in the tourism industry it’s been fantastic,” he said.

During the gala, it was also announced that Port Hardy was selected to host Tourism Vancouver Island’s 55th Annual Conference and AGM in September of 2018.

The conference will bring tourism industry delegates from all across Vancouver Island and beyond, to participate in networking and professional development sessions as well as activities that showcase the tourism opportunities on the North Island.

“It’s really exciting to be involved on the North Island and have the rest of the people from the island come and see what’s available here as well,” said Garton.

The Regional District of Mount Waddington and the K’awat’si Economic Development Corporation partnered to submit the winning proposal that resulted in the region being selected as host.

Port Hardy hasn’t hosted the conference since 2007.

“It is a huge opportunity to show off the evolution of the industry in the region since Port Hardy last hosted,” said White.

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