Nominations have now opened for the annual Red Hat awards, which recognize people who run point on the Red Deer region’s tourism industry.
Pouring coffee, pumping gas or hosting tournaments, the servers and organizations form the front line of the industry.
“Over $5 billion in revenue is generated each year from the tourism industry in the province of Alberta. Over 100,000 jobs are directly dependent on tourism, and tourism is a big component of our local economy here in Red Deer,” said Darren Kuz, executive director of Tourism Red Deer.
“We all know one of the best things for a strong tourism industry is to have excellent customer service.”
On hand to kick off the 2009 awards were 2008 winners Colleen Lameris from the Red Deer City Soccer Association, which was named organization of the year, and Smitty’s Family Restaurant employee Alex Batuyong, who was server of the year.
A citizen of the Philippines working in Alberta’s temporary foreign workers program, Batuyong said he was unaware of the Red Hat awards and was simply trying to do a good job.
“I’m just doing my best to help tourism in Red Deer,” said Batuyong.
“It’s really nice to have this job and this opportunity to be here in Canada.”
Lameris said the soccer association also felt honoured to be chosen.
“We are very proud of our community and we will continue to be ambassadors to the city of Red Deer and we will be very proud to display our red hat in our office.”
Developed about six years ago, the Red Hat Awards were named after a longtime city icon, the red Stetson, said Kuz.
Nomination boxes and forms are now being distributed to businesses throughout Red Deer and the surrounding region, said Tourism Red Deer chair Erin Gobolos. People can also nominate online on the Tourism Red Deer website at www.tourismreddeer.net
Nominations close on Aug. 16, with the winners to be announced and celebrated during a dinner at the Red Deer Lodge on Wednesday, Sept. 23.