Congratulations to the winners of the 2023 Distinction Awards!

published on April 27, 2023
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It’s been a time of transformation, innovation and growth in tourism, and for Montréal, that meant a record-breaking 2022-2023 season that brought thousands of visitors to experience our unique joie de vivre. To celebrate, Tourisme Montréal is honoured to present this year’s Distinction Awards to the top tourist initiatives in the city, notable for their creative, memorable and truly “Montréal” offerings.

Touristic Offer and Product Development Award


Saintlo Montréal Hostel was awarded this prize for its welcoming, inclusive attitude, its sustainable initiatives and its offer of activities that make the most of Montréal sites such as Esplanade Tranquille and Mount Royal Park. The hostel also partners with local cultural greats including Igloofest, Aire commune and Piknic Électronik.

Touristic Offer and Product Development Award

Cultural Events, Sporting Events and Festivals

Congratulations to TOHU, Montréal’s home to the circus arts, for its distinctive impact on tourism. Its unique offering stands alone in the world. It stands out for the sheer size of its space and its endeavours, for its impact on the downtown core during the summer months, and for its positive impact on the local circus community.

Touristic Offer and Product Development Award

Attractions, Activities, and Tourist and Event Attendee Services

The Partenariat du Quartier des spectacles (partnership of the entertainment district) won this award for their Esplanade Tranquille, a stellar outdoor skating rink and high-colour activities offer that transformed the downtown core this winter. It delighted hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Destination Promotion Award 

Budget of $25K and up

We looked for the most innovative promotion strategies for this award, and recognized two great recipients: Igloofest, for both the creativity of their messaging and their unexpected choice of communication platforms, and TOHU, for the development of innovative programming and promotional tactics that resulted in a successful reboot of Montréal’s downtown core.

Destination Promotion Award 

Budget of under $25K

Thrifty creativity rules this award, which we proudly proffer to Montréal Science Centre for a surprising and delightful campaign that tapped straight into the foundation of its core branding: knowledge intertwined with fun.

Best Use of Social Media Award

It takes creativity and relentless experimentation to make the most of social media’s potential, and this year, New City Gas did that in spades. The Montréal club impressed us with the breadth and depth of its content strategy and its astute use of the different platforms’ mechanics.

Sustainable Tourism Award


Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth gets our congratulations for the impressive inclusivity of its offer, particularly in regards to neurodiversity, which aims to adapt the luxury hotel’s spaces, trainings and tools for people on the autism spectrum as well as their families.

Sustainable Tourism Award

Cultural Events, Sporting Events and Festivals — Budget of $1M and up

Nuits d’Afrique wins this award for its admirable focus on both environmental and social sustainability, particularly with the professional opportunities the festival provides for recent immigrants and people of colour. Honourable mention also goes to Festival du nouveau cinema for its inclusive hiring initiatives.

Sustainable Tourism Award

Cultural Events, Sporting Events and Festivals — Budget of under $1M

We awarded this prize to Montréal Fashion Week, in partnership with Certex, for its sustainable clothing initiatives, specifically a project that collected 705 lbs of clothing for charitable redistribution. The project involved a workforce reintegration program as well.

Sustainable Tourism Award

Attractions, Activities, and Tourist and Event Attendee Services

Retournzy received this prize for its venerable ecological sustainability initiatives by promoting the distribution of reusable containers and utensils in local restaurants and cafés. They are admirably active not only on the educational front but also in their focus on health and the use of non-toxic materials.

Gastronomy Award

Congratulations go to Restaurant Bivouac for its creative approach to its outdoor space this winter, where it offered local terroir dining experiences among the snowflakes, inside heated clear domes made from recycled materials. Honourable mention goes to Bagels le Trou for their bagel-making team building activities.

Human Resources Award

Recreational outfitters Écorécréo get our tip of the hat for their sustained efforts during the pandemic in developing employee programs aimed at increasing loyalty, belonging, actualization and business savvy among their talent.

Bill Brown Award

Acknowledging team leaders in Montréal’s tourism industry under 30 years of age, this year’s Bill Brown Award goes to Francis Laliberté from BoulZeye Pub & Attractions for his creativity, business acumen, sense of humanity, kindness and inclusive attitude.

Coup de Cœur Award

What’s a coup de cœur? It’s a shot to the heart! This prize is awarded to an active player in the Montréal tourism industry that hits all the marks, and this year it goes to Canoo: a tourist attraction promotion app that provides hundreds of thousands of recent citizens and permanent residents access to the city’s most wondrous sites for free.

Homage to Jean-Paul de Lavison

In addition to the category nominees, the Distinction Awards resents homages to members of the tourism community whose impact has benefitted us all. Jean-Paul de Lavison is one such person: as founder and president of JPdL, an events-planning company with offices all around the continent, he has shared his expertise and energy with the industry for 40 impressive years.

Homage to Ivanhoé Cambridge

Ivanhoé Cambridge develops and invests in high-quality real estate properties, projects and companies that are shaping the urban fabric in dynamic cities around the world, and the firm has changed the face of Montréal in the last year. We’re honouring their installation of The Ring, a grandiose artwork by CCxA, at Place Ville Marie.

Homage to Johanne Beaulieu

As founder of TourismExpress, Johanne Beaulieu keeps over 10,000 players in the tourism industry up to date on the latest news, issues, ideas and knowledge that inform our day-to-day. She has been an instrumental figure in Canadian tourism for over 30 years.

Homage to Pierre Bellerose

This is the first time that a Distinction Award makes homage to an ex-colleague from Tourisme Montréal! Pierre Bellerose worked within our organization for over 30 years, where he was instrumental in developing sustainable tourism for Montréal. He now works as a consultant, continuing to shine his light and keen insight on the city and beyond.

Kudos to all 2023 recipients!


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