Hugh Mackenzie recognized with 2023 TIAC Lifetime Achievement Award

Hugh Mackenzie takes a different sort of cruise than those he’s used to at 1000 Islands Cruises. Photo via Tourism Kingston.

The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) has announced Hugh Mackenzie as the recipient of the 2023 TIAC Lifetime Achievement Award.

This prestigious award, sponsored by Destination Toronto, recognizes the remarkable contributions and dedication of individuals who have significantly impacted the Canadian tourism sector, and Mackenzie’s outstanding achievements in the industry make him a deserving recipient, according to a media release from Tourism Kingston. The Lifetime Achievement Award is the single highest and most revered honour an individual in the travel and tourism industry can receive.

“Throughout his 43-year career, Hugh Mackenzie has dedicated his professional life to the tourism sector, demonstrating unparalleled commitment and passion for the industry,” said Beth Potter, President and CEO of TIAC. “Hugh has played pivotal roles in the success and growth of various tourism operations, including his work as General Manager of Kingston & the Islands Boatlines where he transformed the company into the Kingston Destination Group, a conglomerate comprising nine operating brands, each contributing to the destination’s unique charm.”

Early in his career, Mackenzie had a leadership role in Wilderness Tours’ substantial growth, moving from a river experience to a full-fledged resort, complete with major capital projects and a large team. In Kingston, he reinvigorated the iconic 1000 Islands tour, steering the community toward new experiences and markets, with a focus on culinary and entertainment offerings, Tourism Kingston reported.

According to the release, innovation has been a hallmark of Mackenzie’s career. He introduced creative tourism programs, shifting the focus to dining cruises, the “hop-on, hop-off” Trolley model, and the K-Pass to enhance the visitor experience. Tourism Kingston noted that his influence has not been limited to Kingston; he has shared best practices with operators and communities, fostering industry growth and collaboration across North America.

“Hugh’s remarkable career in the tourism sector is an inspiration to us all,” said Potter. “He has not only left a significant mark on Kingston’s tourism landscape but has also shaped the way the industry thinks about tourism. We are proud to honour him with the 2023 TIAC Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Mackenzie’s commitment to the greater good is evident through his involvement in initiatives like Kingston Accommodation Partners and the creation of the Municipal Accommodation Tax model. According to Tourism Kingston, he advocated for regulatory changes and successfully influenced government decisions to support tourism during the pandemic. Moreover, Mackenzie’s passion for nurturing talent is reflected in his support of career pathways for new recruits and his mentorship, leading to the growth and empowerment of many employees within Kingston Destination Group and beyond, the local tourism organization said.

Reached for comment, Mackenzie was both humble and quick to celebrate his industry and those he works with.

“Receiving this award is an amazing honour and a complete surprise. Tourism is a creative enterprise where one has the opportunity to make a difference each and every day with visitors, teammates, and community. I’ve been blessed to work for and with great leaders and collaborators,” he said.

“Looking back over my 40 years in tourism, there were so many inflection points that provided opportunities and it was my good fortune to be in a role where I could help lead the path forward.”

Hugh Mackenzie through the years. Photo via Tourism Kingston’s Lifetime Achievement Award nomination documents.

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