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Calgary’s White Hat Awards celebrate tourism, with a special surprise for Canada’s 150th

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Wed, May 17: Shelley Zucht-Shorter with Tourism Calgary joins Global Calgary with details on the 2017 White Hat Awards honouring excellence in hospitality and tourism – May 17, 2017

The best of the best in Calgary’s tourism and hospitality industry were honoured at the White Hat awards Wednesday night, an event that also saluted Canada’s 150th birthday this year.

Hundreds gathered at the Jubilee Auditorium to celebrate outstanding service in tourism and hospitality.

WATCH: 54th Annual Tourism Calgary White Hat Awards

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54th Annual Tourism Calgary White Hat Awards – May 16, 2016

Organizers added something special to the night to celebrate the Great White North’s birthday.

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Three families swore oaths to become new Canadians on stage, drawing deafening cheers from the audience.

It was a moment Parampreet Saini, a psychologist from India who immigrated five years ago, will never forget.

“Calgary has given us so much right? Which means professionally, personal life, all of that,” Saini said.

“I think it’s a wonderful experience to be among people who are so welcoming and loving.”

It has been a tough year for those who work in Calgary’s tourism industry.

Business travel revenues dropped by $100 million in 2016, with about 800,000 fewer visits.

READ MORE: Calgary tourism down $100 million in 2016: report

Officials said the awards recognize people who are helping the industry to rebound.

“The Calgary reputation is one of hospitality, and so when you’re having difficulty you push harder and you try harder,” Tourism Calgary CEO Cindy Ady said.

“Our people are the things that make the difference for us and they’re the thing that are drawing tourists to come back.”