SAULT STE. MARIE – According to recent figures, tourism brings in more than a billion dollars in northern Ontario each year.

It's one of the most profitable industries in the region.

In Sault Ste. Marie, the local tourism office celebrated those who are excelling in the field.

Frank O'Connor owns and operates the Voyageurs Lodge in Batchewana, 40 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie.

Even while he's not working, he is always promoting the Algoma region.

"It's that passion, it’s that fire in the belly and when you're in love with your region like I have been, like we have been, and so many in the industry have been, it's easy to promote it," he explained.

O'Connor is well known and respected in the tourism industry for the work he does highlighting Algoma and surrounding areas.  

As a result of his tireless work, he was given the Tourism Award of Excellence from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie.

"Fantastic man, fantastic gentleman. He has always been a part of tourism. He has a huge passion for the industry but not just for Batchewana Bay but for the Algoma region as well as Sault Ste. Mare. He's involved in so many boards, so many activities," says Jennifer King-Callon, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie.

"I was overwhelmed because I know the kind of folks that have won this award in the past, and they are all leaders in the tourism industry… I'm very humbled to be included in that group of people," said O'Connor.

Also during the 17th annual award show, Sault Ste. Marie's insectarium called Entomica was given the Tourism Ambassador Award for the growth it has shown in its six years of existence.

"We opened up for a month as a trial run at the Mill Market… we weren't supposed to stay open and you're right, we were supposed to be a for-profit agency, and the big development that was going to be at the pulp tower at the od Saint Mary's paper site, and then we have become a not-for-profit… we're just about to get our charitable status," explained John Deeds, Entomica.

Entomica will soon move to a new location at the Bushplane Museum.

Local tourism officials say 2019 has been a good year, with more than six million dollars being spent by tourists visiting Sault Ste. Marie.