WINDJAMMER CAPTAINS RECEIVE MAINE TOURISM AWARD
Midcoast, Maine— The Maine Windjammer Association is pleased to announce that it is the 2015 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Tourism Excellence, the key honor presented at the Maine Governor’s Conference on Tourism at the Augusta Civic Center on March 18.
“The Maine Windjammer Association exemplifies the adventure and freedom of sailing in coastal Maine, providing a unique and authentic experience for visitors while preserving an essential piece of Maine’s maritime heritage,” said Carolann Ouellette, Director of the Maine Office of Tourism.
Accepting the award on behalf of the Maine Windjammer Association, Captain Kip Files, owner of the Schooner Victory Chimes said, “It’s quite a privilege and an honor to be among your peers and have them give you an award for excellence.” He went on to thank the audience for their hard work in helping to get Maine off the list of “Best Kept Secrets.”
Selected by a juried process, the annual Maine Tourism Awards are sponsored by the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Office of Tourism. The Award for Tourism Excellence is presented to the individual, business or organization that epitomizes a true hospitality leader and demonstrates a steadfast commitment to employees, customers and community as well as to the tourism industry in Maine overall.
The MWA received this award for its members/captains’ efforts in going the extra mile in their commitment to guests, crew and the mid-coast community. Passengers, employees and community members came forward to support the MWA’s nomination, including Jim Dugan, a professional photographer from Camden who has been involved with the fleet for almost twenty years. Asked about whether the MWA demonstrates Tourism Excellence, he said, “I’ve seen it on these boats over and over and over. Visitors are moved to tears. At the end of these trips, the visitors are hugging the captain and crew and signing up for next year, often before their feet hit the dock.”
Former executive director of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce Dan Bookham said, “You could travel the world and never find such an authentic slice of maritime history, a fleet still plying its trade in much the same way it did during the Golden Age of Sail. Through their cooperative efforts since 1977, the owner-captains of the MWA have marketed Maine far and wide, bringing tens of thousands of visitors to mid-coast Maine.”
Shary Fellows, long-time reservationist for the Rockland Schooners Heritage and American Eagle summed it up best: “All of us share the philosophy that our guests’ vacations start with the initial phone call or email months before their trip. Patience and care if taken when answering questions, whether it’s the first or hundredth time we’ve been asked. It is this attention to detail that makes our guests feel that they are more than guests.” After working 17 years in this industry, Fellows expresses an attitude in perfect keeping with the Governor’s Award for Tourism Excellence: “I look forward to each sailing season as if it was my first.”
The last time the windjammers were honored with an award from the State of Maine was in 2001, when Captain Brenda Thomas, owner of the Schooner Isaac H. Evans, received a Tourism Award for Recreational Suppliers from then-Governor Angus S. King, Jr.
For more information about windjamming, visit www.sailmainecoast.com.