An Iles Des Chenes based northern tourism company has won a prestigious award in Ottawa.
This year Churchill Wild has received the Canadian Sustainable Tourism Award. The award recognizes a high-end tourism product in Canada that operates in a sustainable manner. Mike and Jeanne Reimer were presented with the award at the Canadian Tourism Awards banquet in Ottawa this past week by MP Ted Falk.
Reimer says it's a good feeling being recognized for their hard work especially after a challenging year like this one with the railway being shut down from Thompson to Churchill. He talks about the season.
"It was a very good season and typically we start in early July when the polar bears come off the ice, the beluga whales show up, guests show up and we get going. It was a very busy year, our busiest ever with clients from around the globe and we shut down just a week and a half ago. It was a very good season, the weather was decent, as decent as the Hudson Bay coast can be and lots of whales, lots of bears. It was really good."
Reimer says logistically this was a very stressful year with the railway closure. He notes they spent a lot of time on the computer and on the satellite phone trying to figure out how to get goods up to the lodges in time. Reimer adds expenses were also way up this year due to the fact that everything had to be flown into Churchill as opposed to coming by train which is far more cost-effective but he says, in the end, they just had to make it work.
In years past, Reimer notes most of their guests were hunters and fisherman from the U.S. He says now a lot of that is changing, Reimer adds most of their guests consist of scientists and photographers from all over the world.
"It has changed quite a bit. Americans are still our leaders in that sense but our top five would be; America, China, Australia has gotten real big for us, Singapore's a good one and of course the European countries. Great Britain, Germany and some of those places contribute a lot and starting to see a lot more Canadians which is really cool so that's been a surge in the last few years."
Reimer adds It was a good year for the Polar bears noting there seemed to be a lot of them along the coast and in very good shape as well. He says it's great to be a part of a product that encourages people to experience arctic wildlife and become more educated on what we can do as a planet to preserve our iconic species.