Diana Winters wins Edith Baxter Memorial Award
A seasoned Canadian tourism industry professional has won the Edith Baxter Memorial Award which was launched in 2021 and biennially recognises outstanding individuals who leverage their influence to promote the positive advancement of Jamaica’s tourist industry and/or Jamaican culture within Canada.
Diana Winters, who has worked in the tourism industry for close to 30 years and gives back to communities in both Canada and Jamaica, was among five finalists shortlisted and was named the grand prize winner at the Edith Baxter Memorial Award luncheon organised by the Jamaica Tourist Board at the Toronto Region Board of Trade.
Jamaica’s minister of tourism, Edmund Bartlett, director of tourism Donovan White, and minister of state in the ministry of foreign affairs and foreign trade, Alando Terrelonge, also responsible for diaspora affairs – who was in Toronto to present the keynote address at the Regional Jamaica Diaspora Conference (Canada) the next day – were in attendance.
“She has been an unwavering advocate for Destination Jamaica throughout her career as a travel adviser and in her roles with tour operators and hoteliers. During her time at Palace Resorts, Diana discovered her philanthropical side while working with the company’s Fundación Palace Resorts programme. Branching out on her own, Winters has undertaken numerous independent charitable initiatives to encourage support for the people of Jamaica,” read a biographical note about her.
It said Winters has organised philanthropic trips for Canadian travel agents to build homes and schools on the island, raised funds for local medical clinics, and launched a donation drive during the pandemic to collect tablets, laptops and other education supplies.
Winters was awarded a luxury all-inclusive vacation for two to Jamaica courtesy of award partners Sandals Resorts and Air Canada Vacations at the luncheon held at the Toronto Board of Trade near the city’s waterfront.
“We are all doing great things one person at a time,” said Winters who was honoured that she was the recipient of an award named after Edith Baxter.
The commemorative award programme was established in partnership with the Baxter family in memory of Canadian travel industry publishing icon Edith Baxter. In keeping with the competition’s namesake, the five finalists were selected based on their strong character and outstanding efforts toward promoting and advocating for Destination Jamaica.
As co-founder of Baxter Media and editor-in-chief of Canada’s most influential travel trade publication, Canadian Travel Press, Edith Baxter was a powerful voice within the Canadian travel industry for more than five decades. A passionate advocate for Destination Jamaica, she was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Government of Jamaica in 2009 in recognition of her contributions to the tourism industry.
Born Edith Newman in Usti nad Labem, in the former Czechoslovakia, on December 30, 1927, Edith spent her youth in England before coming to Canada at the end of WWII with her husband, William, her parents, and sister. She passed away on November 3, 2020, at home, surrounded by her family.
White described Baxter as a savvy businesswoman who loved Jamaica and Bartlett said he recommended in 2009 that she be given the Order of Distinction.
The other finalists were Jamaican-Canadians storyteller and speaker Sandra Whiting, saxophonist and humanitarian Dave McLaughlin and media professional Simone Smith, and Guyanese-Canadian veteran journalist and photographer, Ron Fanfair.
The finalists were shortlisted by a panel of four judges: Angella Bennett, regional director, Jamaica Tourist Board, Canada; Wendy McClung, executive vice president, Baxter Media; Lincoln G. Downer, now former consul general of Jamaica at Toronto; and Kelly Schmitt, president and co-founder, Spoiled Agent.
TOURISM RESILIENCE AWARDS
Minister Bartlett, host of the event, spoke of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre that collaborating with Dr Gervan Fearon, president of George Brown College, he established at the college in Toronto. He is also having discussions with McMaster University in Hamilton and Carleton University in Ottawa and has set up similar centres in eight countries.
The theme of resilience was also discussed the following day at the diaspora conference where the minister engaged in a Fireside Chat titled “The Future of Tourism, Sustainability and the Challenge of Climate Change” with Dr Orville Grey and Dr Hugh Simmonds at Ebenezer Holiness Church of God.
The Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre is a transformative tool which seeks to safeguard and improve the tourism product in Jamaica and countries around the world as well to ensure the sustainability of tourism globally.
The names of five individuals and two organisations were announced by Bennett at the memorial award luncheon as recipients of the tourism resilience awards.
Arlene Amitirigala, a Jamaican writer, speaker – Dr Pamela Appelt, Howard L. Shearer, Dr Mary Anne Chambers, Adaoma Patterson, Mary Bishop, Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation, and Air Canada Vacations – we and podcaster, was the emcee for the event.