Jill Vandal, Partner, The Tourism Company

Jill Vandal challenges the front line towards excellence as she nudges, facilitates and coaches tourism operations of all sizes and types to take a visitor experience from an idea to reality. Does it fit? What are operational impacts? What does it contribute to the bottom line? Who is it for? How does it enhance a destination in the eyes of visitors?


Jill continues to provide leadership and insights as Master Trainer to Tourism Northern Ontario’s Tourism Excellence North industry training program and its team of Specialists who deliver in the field, including experiential travel workshops for both operators and communities. She also continues to support the design of tourism products, routes and experiences that highlight the stories of Canada’s Group of Seven in Ontario.


Most recently, she worked in partnership with Chris Hughes, BC Hughes to develop and deliver a custom-designed experiential travel training program to meet Tourism Saskatchewan’s unique industry needs. The innovative AWEshop design and coaching program has resulted in newsworthy visitor experiences that have impacted the bottom line and contributed to media coverage of the province and its tourism operations.


She will weave all of these insights together with her extensive on-the-ground knowledge of Hamilton Halton Brant’s assets and stories at the 2018 Symposium to leave you inspired and ready to take action.

Chris Hughes, Co-Owner, BC Hughes

Chris is meticulous about the little things that make great destinations. Signage and wayfinding, parking, customer service, washrooms, beautification and of course outstanding experiences, that are critical to making people happy, and spend money…lots of it.

Chris is a partner at BC Hughes Destination Development & Marketing. The unconventional boutique firm located in Ontario specializes in developing innovative tourism experiences and creative marketing strategies for regional tourism organizations, cities, towns and businesses.  


Their company mandate is simple:  Develop kick ass visitor experiences, that create memorable moments for people to share.

Robin Tapley, Naturalist & Professor

Robin is a 4th generation Muskokan and Canadian adventurer. His passion for travel and guiding has brought him around the world. With adventures in Canada, Madagascar, Mount Everest, Antarctica and Mongolia, Robin likes to be on the move.


He is a professor of Adventure Tourism at Fanshawe College and an accomplished photographer, astronomer and guide.


His extensive knowledge of local wild medicinals, edibles, and fungi, transform a hike through the forest into a course in natural history and wilderness survival.


His family's pioneer persistence in the Muskokas has left Robin an inheritance of strong, adventurous will, and an innate connection with the environment.

Vanessa Stewart

Vanessa Stewart is a beekeeper who instead of taking on traditional honey bee farming of breeding, production and pollination services, decided on a different approach to the trade- incorporating tourism with beekeeping.


She has teamed up with other businesses to offer her beekeeping programs at their location as an added experience for the guests that visit them. She provides her tour guests with bee suits so they can have an up-close experience and feel like they are apart of the beekeeping, and not just watching the beekeeper. Many of her guests have never even seen a beehive beforehand and by the end of her program they have held a frame of honey bees and learned many fascinating facts about how honey bees live.


Her goal is to have everyone leave with a new appreciation for bees and insects because they play an integral role in contributing to the biodiversity of Earth.

Jackson Hudecki, RBG

Professional Happy Enthusiast and all around nature nerd, Jackson Hudecki is Royal Botanical Gardens’ Special Program Coordinator.

With over 10 years’ experience as an outdoor educator, Jackson brings life’s simplicities into the spotlight and allows for conversation and wonder surrounding discovery. Spearheading youth clubs, community outreach, team-building, obstacle courses and a craft beer festival (to name a few tasks), if fun is to be had, Jackson’s there!

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