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Tourism industry recognizes leaders Wright and Ollis at annual awards

Randy Wright of Harbour Air receives Life Member Award from Destination Greater Victoria. Brenda Ollis, general manager of Chateau Victoria Hotel, receives Miracle Award
A Harbour Air seaplane makes its way into Victoria’s Inner Harbour. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Tourism industry veteran Randy Wright, president of Harbour Air, has been given Destination Greater Victoria’s highest honour, its Life Member Award, during the organization’s annual general meeting Friday.

The award goes to an individual or organization that has demonstrated leadership within the tourism industry. Previous Life Member Award winners include Paul Hadfield, Hugh MacDonald, Ian Powell and Terry Farmer.

“I am very humbled in receiving this award,” said Wright. “There are many others that are deserving of this award.”

Wright said the “life” honour did make him feel a little old, but he noted his two young kids ensure his energy remains high.

Paul Nursey, chief executive of Destination Greater Victoria, said Wright has been a “tower of leadership in the tourism and transportation sector for several decades.”

Wright cares deeply for Victoria, its natural splendour and people, and is “a leader who can be counted on to carry the message of what is needed to elected officials,” Nursey said.

Wright, who joined Harbour Air in 2001, grew up in the industry starting on the docks of his father Bob Wright’s Oak Bay Marine Group. Wright rejoined Oak Bay Marine Group for a brief period in 2012 but soon returned to Harbour Air and was made president in 2017.

Wright said he’s confident the 2022 tourism season will be a return to normal after two years of the pandemic colouring everything from visitor numbers to hotel revenue.

“I think the people are coming with the pent-up demand; my worry is, are we going to be able to deliver a good product with the problems of labour and recruitment?” he said. “I know talking to my peers, just like us at Harbour Air, all are looking for more people.

“It’s going to take a few years to build back to 2019 levels and I believe it will happen, with hard work, as there are challenges to solve. People want what we have, to live in one of the greatest place in the world and they want to see it for themselves.”

Destination Greater Victoria gave its Miracle Award to Brenda Ollis.

Ollis, general manager of the Chateau Victoria Hotel, was recognized for her exceptional leadership and achievement in developing and supporting the industry.

“Brenda Ollis is a deeply respected hotelier, whose property is famous for a warm Victorian welcome and innovations such as Clive’s Cocktail Lounge,” said Nursey. “A testament to quiet leadership, deep intelligence and asking important questions in governance roles.”

Ollis started out in tourism as an accounting associate for the company that owned both the Harbour Towers and the Chateau Victoria hotels.

She was made general manager and managing director of Chateau Victoria in 1999.

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