contentsMay | June 2012 - Inside TMAC Travels
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bod2012 Board of Directors


Michele Sponagle (media)

Phone: 519-442-6605



Jantine Van Kregten (industry)

Director of Communications, Ottawa Tourism

Phone: 1 (800) 363-4465 ext. 116


Joanne Blain (media)

Joanne Blain Creative Services Ltd.

Phone: 604-734-0584


Dale Dunlop (media)

Phone: 902-826-7713



Irene Knight (industry)

Manager of Public Relations, CN Tower

Phone: 416-601-4729



Glenn Cameron (industry)

PR Consultant, Clear Communications

Phone: 416 920-5817


Liz Campbell (media)

Phone: 416-207-9150


Grant Fraser (media)

Tee to Green Magazine

Phone: 905-844-7666


Dan Young (industry)

Public Relations Manager - CANADA, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

Phone: 416-947-4955 ext. 4458




Susan Mate(media)

Last Word Media

Phone: 403-230-0731



Sandra Phinney(media)

Freelance Journalist, Researcher, Photographer

Phone: 902-648-0462



Jane Mundy (media) 

Phone: 604-251-4443



Ron Brown(media)

Phone: 416-757-9798

New_MemberNew Members



Jim Hudson

Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation

Woodstock, ON


Brigitta Kroon-Fiorita

Kroon Communications

Wilton, CT


Lynne Glover


Pittsburgh, PA


Paula Worthington

Brookline Public Relations

Calgary, AB




Anna Miller

Toronto, ON


Maureen Littlejohn

Toronto, ON


Carol Patterson

Calgary, AB


Rod Charles

Toronto, ON

contributorsContributors to This Issue
  • Magalie Boutin
  • Ron Brown
  • Melanie Chambers
  • Susan Mate
  • Josephine Matyas
  • Sandra Phinney
  • Joanne Sasvari
  • Michele Sponagle
  • Jantine Van Kregten

Thanks for your contribution!

Dear :

It would be a very good idea to read all the way through this issue of TMAC Travels. It is jam-packed with new and exciting ventures. In addition to the regular columns, you'll find our first (and not last) PD column in French, a brand new Q&A column (with answers to your burning questions) and news about an innovative online PD session with LinkedIn in early June.


Fasten your seatbelts. Put your tray table up. This is going to be a great ride. 

- Josephine Matyas, TMAC Travels editor  
President_ReportPresidents' Reports

It is with mixed emotions that I write this, my last TMAC Travels report as your president. On the one hand, I am delighted to be able to hand this role over to someone who I know will be a great leader for TMAC. On the other, I know I'll miss the challenges of the job and, most of all, I'll miss working with all of you.


It has been two years of incredibly hard work for the entire board of directors. In that time we have pulled TMAC back from a dangerous financial precipice - which alone would have been challenge enough - and at the same time managed to update almost every aspect of our operations to make TMAC a more responsive and responsible association. As if that wasn't enough work, we also embarked on an ambitious plan for TMAC's future that should make membership in TMAC more valuable for every one of our members.


No wonder I feel like I could use a holiday!


As you know, we just wrapped up the 2012 Conference & AGM in Fredericton. It was a casual, friendly conference, warm with Maritime hospitality and plenty of down-home fun. Our sincere thanks go to our hosts at Fredericton Tourism and New Brunswick Tourism, to all our generous sponsors and to the conference committee: co-chairs Jantine Van Kregten and Michele Sponagle, Irene Knight, and out team at T*OCS, Tina Hutchinson and Olga Kasjanova.


This conference also marked a milestone for TMAC, since it was the first time an elected president took the reins at TMAC, as well as the second time we chose a president-elect. Please join me in welcoming and congratulating your new board of directors:


President - Michele Sponagle

Vice president (Industry) - Jantine Van Kregten

Vice president (Media) - Joanne Blain

Treasurer - Dale Dunlop

Secretary - Irene Knight



Liz Campbell

Glenn Cameron

Grant Fraser

Dan Young


Chapter chairs:

B.C. - Jane Mundy

Alberta - Susan Mate

Ontario - Ron Brown

Atlantic - Sandra Phinney


With a team like that in place, things can only get better for TMAC.


Here's hoping this will be a terrific year. And, as always, I wish you all happy and safe travels, wherever your travels may lead you.


- Joanne Sasvari, TMAC national president (outgoing)


And, a word from TMAC's new national president . . .


Freshly back from the TMAC conference in Fredericton . . . It has been difficult adjusting to meals without seafood, but I'm toughing it out. The AGM was action packed, fun filled and hard work, too. While some members headed home and went off to post-trips, the TMAC board gathered to fine tune our plans for the next year and beyond. And I'm giddy as a school girl thinking about what's in store for members . . .


There will be a big push on giving media and industry members alike more bang for the proverbial buck, communication, PD, diversifying our revenue streams, etc. TMAC is in a good position to do projects like this because I am slipping into my role as president with the organization in good shape, thanks to industriousness of former prez Joanne Sasvari and her team.


As we go forward and you still have that warm and fuzzy post-conference glow, I'd like to ask members to consider volunteering their time to help TMAC move forward. Join a committee, help out at an event, or consider filling a spot in your province's chapter.


Why? It's the right thing to do, because TMAC depends on volunteers and research says that volunteering rewards you with waves of feel-good hormones and warm, happy thoughts. Plus media members earn volunteer points that count toward membership renewal. It's all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to volunteering.


Contact Sandra Phinney ( or myself and we'll match you to an appropriate volunteer opportunity.


I hope you're pumped about the year ahead with TMAC. It promises to be a stellar one. There's a fantastic board in place with new faces and familiar ones. And to my new board, a small clarification: I was just kidding when I said all future board meetings would be held in a hot tub. At least for now . . .


Happy travels!


- Michele Sponagle, TMAC national president


Finance_GovernanceFinance and Governance Report

The 2011 audited financial statements were presented and approved at the AGM. In 2011 we went from a loss of almost $100,000.00 in 2010 to a profit of almost $40,000.00 and we are projected to remain in the black for the foreseeable future. 


- Dale Dunlop, TMAC treasurer

bc_chapterChapter News

BRITISH COLUMBIA - No report at this time. 


- Jane Mundy, B.C. chapter chair

ab_chapterALBERTAWe are so proud of all of our TMAC members, especially the fact two of our writing captured three awards for writing.


Veteran Calgary food and travel writer Cinda Chavich took two awards for culinary tourism for articles - one from a trip to Italy and another for a piece she wrote on the Acadian Trail (see TMAC website for more details).


Calgary TMAC newbie Mike Fisher also captured a national TMAC writing award for an article in up!, WestJet's inflight magazine. Fisher's June 2011 article on the 100th anniversary of Parks Canada and the challenges facing the nation's 42 national parks landed top honours in the Best Environmental/Responsible Tourism category at the annual general meeting and conference earlier this month in Fredericton, N.B.


One of the Alberta chapter's newest media members, Fisher was unable to attend the conference. His award was accepted by chapter co-chair Susan Mate during a gala reception at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. "My thanks to TMAC for having such an encouraging and generous awards program for writers, as well as Fairmont Hotels and Resorts for sponsoring the Best Environmental/Responsible Tourism category, and leading with environmental initiatives at its properties," he said in a statement.


"I am fortunate to live so close to Banff National Park, one of the world's treasures, and I believe Parks Canada and the people who work in the parks do an admirable job, preserving and enhancing parks experiences, especially in the in the face of financial and staffing challenges." Parks Canada announced nation-wide staffing cuts several weeks ago.


In other chapter news, about 35 industry and media members and guests attended the 2012 professional development retreat March 18-19 in Banff, hosted by Banff-Lake Louise Tourism and partners. From hands-on social media sessions to an editors' panel on trends in profiling and travel writing, the one-day PD sessions earned high praise from participants, who were also treated to a fondue feast at the iconic Grizzly House restaurant.


Story-generating sessions included 'The Big Beautiful Bears of Banff' - which detailed how Parks Canada is working to reduce bear fatalities involving vehicle and trains passing through the park - as well as a search-and-rescue demonstration with Cazz the Shaggy Dog and trainer Mike Henderson. Also offered were a guided cultural tour of Banff, which celebrated Culture Month in April, as well as a chance to test out the tubing park at Ski Norquay. Thanks to sponsors, speakers, guests and the chapter board PD committee for organizing this fantastic learning experience.


- Susan Mate, Alberta membership co-chair

on_chapterONTARIO - The Ontario chapter was a formidable presence at the successful AGM in Fredericton. Our chapter meeting filled the room. We were delighted to greet more than a dozen new members. We briefed the assembly on our initiatives including the Cash for Clips, started by Sherri Telenko. This gives a cash award for articles based on our Munch and Mingles.


One item of discussion that took up a good portion of time was the issue of the media marketplace. Industry members often raise legitimate concerns over light appointment schedules at the marketplace. It was suggested that the marketplace be altered so that it includes a "reverse" marketplace whereby media would make themselves available to industry in an "open" marketplace format. As I write this, our board is putting the finishing touches on a LinkedIn PD session and a field excursion to Guelph.


I will be stepping aside as chair in June as it is our practice to alternate media and industry chairs. It has been a most rewarding opportunity to work in that capacity, thanks to a most hard-working board. Thank you all. My successor is Jerry Grymek of LMA. Our June M & M will be at the Royal Ontario Museum and hosted by OTMP. At that time we will be holding either elections or acclamation for our new board.


- Ron Brown Ontario chapter chair

atlantic_chapterATLANTICThe Atlantic chapter met in Fredericton and it was a great opportunity for everyone to meet our new members. The big news is that one travel photographer/writer John Sylvester from P.E.I. won not one but two photography awards. Hats off to John.


Hot off the press: New Castle Hotels and Resorts recently announced its joint venture purchase of the Algonquin Resort with Halifax-based real estate developer Southwest Properties. The luxury resort, located in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, N.B., was purchased from the provincial government, which has owned the historic hotel since 1971. Stay tuned.


Helen Jean Newman, New Brunswick Tourism's executive director of marketing and Percy Mallet, travel media representative for the Acadian Peninsula, have retired after 40 years of dedicated service, tirelessly promoting the province. They will be missed!


- Sandra Phinney, Atlantic chapter chair

member_committeeConference Committee Report

This conference report is fuelled by a belly full of lobster and a bevy of incredible seafood, courtesy of Fredericton Tourism. Just freshly back from the AGM, the conference committee (Irene Knight, Jantine Van Kregten and Michele Sponagle) is reaching for suitable superlatives to describe the fantastic hospitality shown to us by the city of Fredericton, the folks at Tourism New Brunswick, and the Delta Fredericton. A warm thank you for the million little details you thought of to make the conference so memorable.

Members are still raving about the opening night reception at Government House, attended by the lieutenant governor Graydon Nicholas and N.B.'s Minister of Culture, Tourism and Healthy Living, Trevor Holder. The historic mansion was a perfect venue to showcase local cuisine, from lobster with white chocolate sauce to phenomenal smoked salmon from Wolfhead. And artists, ranging from basket weavers to jewelry makers, demonstrated their craft while TMACers mingled, sipped and nibbled.



The Maritime kitchen party, hosted at the Boyce Farmers Market, was a fitting end to the conference. Attendees were greeted by piles of steamed lobster, mounds of potato salad, coleslaw and melted butter. Apparently TMACers also have talents that include cracking open lobsters. And, as the band played on, delegates danced into the wee hours.


In between these two events, delegates were regaled with valuable professional development sessions, informative local tours, delicious sponsored breakfasts and lunches, chapter meetings, the ever-popular TMAC Awards and the organization's annual general meeting. Pre- and post-tours spread TMAC media members throughout the province on further voyages of discovery.

Please remember to fill out the post-event survey sent to you via email. The conference is always a work in progress and we are keen to hear suggestions on how to make it better with every passing year.

At the conference, Saskatoon was announced as our host for the 2013 AGM. Mark your calendars for June 12-15. The itinerary is in the works, but we can tell you that it will be a sunshine-filled one, thanks to Canada's sunniest province.


- Michele Sponagle, conference committee co-chair


 Back to Table of Contents 

awardTMAC Awards Report

As you know, the TMAC Awards are one of the most prestigious things we do as an association and the awards ceremony is one of the highlights of the annual conference.


The TMAC Awards mark our recognition of quality travel journalism. They reward the writers and photographers who aimed just a little bit higher for that evocative turn of phrase or that unforgettable image. And they acknowledge those editors and publications who care about great writing and photography.


The awards are anonymously judged by a panel of independent judges who number among some of Canada's most prestigious journalists, photographers and journalism academics. This year's judges were: Québec-based journalist, documentary filmmaker and novelist David Homel; Don Genova, a British Columbia-based food and travel writer, broadcaster and instructor at UBC; Peter Johansen, an associate professor of journalism and communication at Carleton University; and Boris Spremo, an internationally renowned photographer who currently works for the Toronto Star. We thank them for their time and thoughtful consideration.


We also sincerely thank our sponsors, without whom the TMAC Awards simply could not be possible.


The 2011 TMAC Awards, which were presented at the close of TMAC's 2012 Conference & AGM in Fredericton, saw an especially stellar lineup of entries, 317 in all. The winners took home cheques for $1,000 and in addition are eligible for a travel grant of up to $500 toward next year's conference in Saskatoon.


Please join me in congratulating the following winners of the 2011 TMAC Awards:


Best Cultural/Historical Feature, sponsored by Edmonton Tourism: Cinda Chavich, "The Great Gumbo Run," published in, Winter 2011. 


Best Environmental/Responsible Tourism Feature, sponsored by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts: Mike Fisher, "Parks Canada - A Past Worth Preserving," up!, June 2011. 


Best Family Feature, sponsored by Switzerland Tourism: Mark Stevens, "L'Amore Abruzzo," Ensemble Vacations, Spring 2011.


Best Food/Wine Feature, sponsored by the CN Tower: Cinda Chavich, "Making Pasta by Hand in Italy," The Globe and Mail, Nov. 3, 2010. 


Best French-Language Feature, sponsored by Québec City Tourism: Sylvie Ruel, "La Tunisie Après le Jasmin," Journal le Soleil, April 23, 2011.


Best Outdoors/Adventure Feature, sponsored by Saskatchewan Tourism: Carolyn Ali "Near Vegas, It's the Wild West," Georgia Straight, Feb. 10, 2011.


Best Service Feature, sponsored by the Barbados Tourism Authority: Remy Scalza

"Tijuana... For your Health?" The Washington Post, March 6, 2011.


Best Story About Travel in Canada, sponsored by Tourism Yukon: Mark Stevens,

"Thar She Blows," Canadian Yachting, Aug. 2011.


Best Action Photo, sponsored by Ontario Parks: John Sylvester, "Sparring Red Foxes," Canadian Geographic, Dec. 2010.


Best Evocation of a Place Photo, sponsored by Ottawa Tourism: John Sylvester, "Torngat Safari," Saltscapes, November-December 2010.


Best People Photo, sponsored by Tourism Saskatoon: Bruce Kemp, "The Baker and his Apprentice - Louisburg," Car Guide Canada, Spring 2011.


To read the winning articles and to view the winning photos, please visit


Congratulations to all the winners on a job well done!


- Joanne Sasvari, TMAC national past-president and TMAC Awards Chair


 Back to Table of Contents 

Member_NewsMember News

Development Counsellors International (DCI) is pleased to announce that the agency has renewed Visit California as a client ( following a competitive agency review. DCI's Toronto office will manage the state's Canadian public relations program. For information, contact


Ypartnership and MMG Worldwide have merged, forming a new company called MMGY Global, the largest and most integrated travel marketing firm in the world. The newly integrated PR team now represents many of the world's premier travel and tourism brands, and the agency continues to co-author the widely acclaimed MMGY Global/Harrison Group Portrait of American Travelers. For an updated, expanded list of MMGY Global's travel and hospitality clients, visit the industry member's updated directory listing online or contact Amanda Drake at

Journalists with assignments for major print/online/broadcast media are invited to contact Amanda Drake ( to "Discover Vacation Homes" and enjoy complimentary lodging accommodations at Vacation Rental Managers Association ( member condos/homes this year. Properties are located from Ontario cottage country to B.C.'s Big White Ski Resort and beyond, including locations throughout the U.S., Caribbean and Central America. Accommodations are ideal for travel features focusing on family, reunions, girls' and guys' getaways, executive retreats and other types of "togethering" travel.

MMGY Global announces the addition of Terranea Resort ( to its portfolio of clients. The resort is set on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, 50-kilometres southwest of Los Angeles. The 102-acre estate has 582 guestrooms, suites and bungalows overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. Terranea offers a learning centre, indigenous experiences (whale watching; nature preserve hiking; falconry and en plein air painting), a variety of dining options, 50,000-square-foot spa, nine-hole oceanfront golf course, three swimming pools, secluded beach cove. For more information, contact Jeanette Chin:, 646-442-6774 or Chuck Mardiks:, 646-442-6761.

The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI), the leading international organization of hospitality marketing professionals, has honoured MMGY Global's PR division with seven Adrian Awards for excellence in PR. For more information, contact Amanda Drake at

Finding My Footprints



TMAC media member Tess Bridgwater has recently published Finding My Footprints in Sarum, a historical wartime memoir. After living in Canada for four decades, a high school reunion in Winchester, England, unleashed an avalanche of memories for Tess, sending her on a journey of recollections, tracing her footprints along the ancient 12-mile stretch of road in southern England, between Southampton and Winchester, where she grew up during World War II. The result is part wartime memoir, part history, spiced with personal vignettes, a unique view of Sarum told by someone for whom it remains "Forever England." Available from and or direct from the publisher at (for more information or review copies).




Spectacular Ink announces two new clients:

  • explora in Chile, offers guests a new way of travelling, where three luxury lodges serve as gateways to explore some of the most remote areas in South America: the desert of Atacama, the southernmost tip of the continent at Patagonia and Rapa Nui (aka Easter Island), in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. While explora's lodges provide a home base to return to each night, days are spent exploring the many diverse cultural and environmental wonders in each region. For the more adventurous travellers, explora offers multi-day nomadic journeys, known as Travesìas. Accompanied by an expert guide, personal chef and only a handful of other travellers, Travesìas take guests through little-known, remote areas of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina, to discover remarkable beauty.
  • Nayara Hotel, Spa & Gardens in Costa Rica islocated on the outskirts of the amazing Arenal Volcano. An oasis of tranquility, the property is surrounded by lush tropical Costa Rican rainforest. Each one of the 44 spacious casitas (bungalows) provides an intimate, ultra-luxurious retreat that tempts couples and honeymooners looking for a romantic getaway. Casitas are outfitted with a secluded garden, outdoor shower, a breathtaking terrace overlooking the Arenal Volcano, and a private Jacuzzi for two. Thrill seeking guests can enjoy a floating safari on the Peas Blancas River, speed through treetops on an adrenalin boosting zip line Sky Trek, or spelunk their way through an underground labyrinth of stalactites and stalagmites in the Venado Caves. In addition to recently being named one of TripAdvisor's top five most romantic hotels in the world, Nayara holds the Costa Rican Tourism Board's illustrious certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST).
MindsInquisitive Minds Want To Know: Expert Advice On Burning Questions

by Josephine Matyas


Come on. We know you've got one. Send us a burning question to do with the business of travel journalism and we'll source out perspectives from a few experts who've "been there." Each issue of TMAC Travels will feature three or four questions with witty, brilliant, interesting and insightful answers from our members.


Send your questions to our new Q&A editor, media member Jan Feduck, 


Please click click here  to read the article.

 Back to Table of Contents 

PDOnline PD Session - Coming Attraction!
Luigi Benetton
Luigi Benetton

At the request of the PD Committee, Luigi Benetton (a LinkedIn guru) has created an online forum focused on LinkedIn for TMAC members. The event will cover everything from building your professional network to finding work or potential clients/partners, and creating an active and effective TMAC LinkedIn group. The online forum will require attention every day as Luigi will be covering a lot of ground but it promises to be fun and educational. At the end of the week both media and industry should be able to see how useful LinkedIn can be.


Luigi is a Toronto-based technology writer. From writing technical manuals and designing technology training, Luigi has gone on to produce white papers, success stories, articles, website copy and a variety of other materials. He also demystifies technology at his blog, TechnoZen,


Mark your calendars for the week of June 11. Details on registration will be available near the end of May. Hint: You'll have to have a LinkedIn account to participate, so sign up pronto at!


AAAccommodating Accommodations: How To Stretch Your Hotel Dollars

by Melanie Chambers


During a recent bicycle trip to Las Vegas, I paid $30 a night for a room. The hotel was off the strip so it wasn't a high-end property. In fact, I found a bag of half eaten Cheetos behind the bedside table, but the room was otherwise clean and spacious. We were also upgraded to the honeymoon suite complete with heart shaped tub and mirrors on the wall.

Please click click here to read the article.  

FrenchVotre Geste Pour Un Tourisme Durable?

by Magalie Boutin


Le 22 avril dernier, nous avons souligné pour une 17ième fois le Jour de la terre. Nous sommes aujourd'hui plus que conscients que des actions concrètes doivent êtres entreprises afin d'amorcer un changement. Certes, cela fait plus que 17 ans que la terre et ses humains nous envoient des signaux mais des organismes de charité tels que Projets St-Laurent figurent parmi les précurseurs au Monde afin de sensibiliser la population face aux changements climatiques et à la fragilité de la population de notre planète.

Please click click here to read the article.

TMAC Travels - Newsletter Submission Guidelines
TMAC Travels is published bimonthly. Submissions should fit into one of the following categories:

Professional news about you: books published, awards won, new markets obtained, positions attained, requests for travel-related information (story-specific requests ONLY), contact/profile information updates/changes. Social notices about you: weddings, babies, non-industry awards and so on (at the editor's discretion and with a 50-word limit; these must be things directly connected to the member). NOT allowed: requests for comps (airfare, accommodation, tickets, etc.), assignment requests, promotion of stories already written.

Professional news about you/your company: announcement ONLY of new products, new clients, travel-related info requests, contact/profile updates/changes. Social notices: as per media, above. NOT allowed: press releases, promotion of anything beyond new products, new clients or awards. (For information on distributing electronic press releases to all media members for a fee of $75, please contact TO Corp at
The newsletter also seeks chapter news and info on press trips (short descriptions with dates, rough itineraries, requirements - e.g. assignment letter) as well as tips, news and updates submitted by members.   Items must be sent, with "TMAC TRAVELS" in the subject line, to Josephine Matyas at Items may be edited for length, grammar or clarity. The newsletter will be delivered to members by email by the middle of every month. Material should be sent by the 1st of each month unless the editor gives prior approval.

Travel Media Association of Canada | 55 St. Clair Avenue West - Suite 255 | Toronto | ON | M4V 2Y7 | Canada