A long time superintendent of Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site got a big award last week for his work with the tourism industry.
Harry Delong, left, received the Frances Campbell Tourism Achievement Award from TIANS chairman Scott MacAuley on Nov. 27.
Harry DeLong received the 2012 Alastair and Frances Campbell Tourism Achievement Award from the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia on Nov. 27
DeLong started his career at the park in 1975 as a student worker, before being invited to the management training program with Parks Canada.
His work took him all over Canada, with stints at the western regional office in Calgary, Lower Fort Garry outside of Winnipeg, the main office in Ottawa and as service coordinator for the Atlantic region based out of Halifax.
In 1989 he returned to Kejimkujik Park, first as the visitor services officer, and then as superintendent. This past August he retired after serving 15 years as superintendent.
One of the key reasons he was recognized by TIANS was because of his work to bring the public and private sector together to boost tourism in the province.
"DeLong understood the importance of the public and private sector working together to advance tourism," says Darlene Grant Fiander president of TIANS.
Grant adds this award is one of the most prestigious TIANS gives out to an individual.
Delong served on the board of directors of the South Shore Tourism Association, and also served as president of the organization for a term.
"It was very unusual at the time for a public servant to be elected president of an organization that was primarily a private sector organization," he says.
He also sat on the board of directors for TIANS for two terms, representing Parks Canada.
Since everyone in the tourism industry was working towards a common goal, bringing visitors to the province, he says it was important for both the public and the private side to work together.
"The attractions are what people come to the province for," he says.
National parks and national historic sites are part of those attractions he says. However there are many in the private industry, such as accommodations and services, that can work with them to enhance the visitor experience.
That wasn't always what people thought though. There was a time when national parks were seen as competition with the private sector.
"I think I was helpful in the earlier years in changing that feeling and developing more teamwork for both things that are run by the government and the private sector," he says.
Over his career there are a number of highlights, he says. One of the first major ones at his time at Kejimkujik was developing the first campground reservation system, done on a Commodore 64. He says it was quite a feat to get it up and running, but it proved the need for it almost right away.
"The first day we went live we underestimated the demand for it. We managed to shut down most of the phone lines in South West Nova Scotia because there were so many phone calls directed to our service," he says.
Now the reservation system is available for every park, coordinated at a national level based in Ottawa.
There was the development of Kejimkujik Seaside, which he says he was very proud of, and the park also getting the national historic site designation for its aboriginal heritage. The park is the first, and so far only, location that has both national park and national historic site designation.
The latest addition to the park was becoming the first Dark Sky preserve in Nova Scotia.
"I certainly don't take credit for them personally, but I did play a role in providing leadership in those periods to make sure they occurred," he says.
There were smaller things brought in as well, though no less important. The addition of electrical services to the campsites, and an Internet Cafe were both well received by visitors.
Staying ahead of the curve is part of the reason he thinks TIANS gave him the award.
"We have accomplished a number of things in that time, and added a number of amenities that kept up with the time," he says.