LONDON - The 2019 World Tourism Awards were presented, during the opening day of WTM London at Excel London. The honourees were Matthew D. Upchurch of Virtuoso, Asilia Africa, Nikoi Island/ The Island Foundation and Me to We (we.org). Peter Greenberg, CBS News Travel Editor and multi-Emmy award-winning investigative reporter and world-renowned travel expert, hosted the Awards presentation.
The World Tourism Awards, now celebrating its 22nd Anniversary, is co-sponsored by The New York Times, United Airlines, The Travel Corporation and Reed Travel Exhibitions. Inaugurated in 1997, the World Tourism Awards were established to “recognise individuals, companies, organisations, destinations and attractions for outstanding initiatives related to the travel and tourism industry, and in fostering sustainable tourism and developing programmes that give back to local communities.”
Presenting the Awards on behalf of the sponsors were: Patrick Falconer, Executive Director, The New York Times; Shannon Guihan, Chief Treadright and Sustainability Officer, The Travel Corporation; Bob Schumacher, Managing Director Sales, UK, Ireland and Off-Line Sales, United Airlines and Jeannette Gilbert, Head of Marketing & Communications WTM Portfolio, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
The World Tourism Awards honoured Matthew D. Upchurch, CTC, Chairman & CEO of Virtuoso, in recognition of Virtuoso’s commitment to sustainable tourism practices; and its mission to make sustainability a greater factor in consumer choice when traveling – to preserve, protect and advance the local culture, environment and economies of the lands they visit and to increase success for those who are dedicated to travel as a force for good. Accepting the Award was Matthew D. Upchurch, CTC, Chairman and CEO of Virtuoso.
A World Tourism Award was also presented to Asilia Africa, in recognition of Asilia's multi-pronged approach to make a positive impact on the local communities, wildlife and vital ecosystems of East Africa. Through this holistic approach, they are able to empower these crucial wilderness areas as well as the people who call them home. Fiona Herring, Agent Relationship Manager- Europe, accepted the Award on behalf of Asilia Africa.
Nikoi Island/ The Island Foundation also received a World Tourism Award in recognition of Nikoi Island and its commitment to sustainability by having a positive impact on the local culture, community, conservation; and for establishing the Island Foundation in 2010, which is transforming education for Riau's island communities through the creation of 8 learning centres. Accepting the Award on behalf of The Island Foundation, Ed Jenne, Chairman.
Me to We (WE.ORG) was honoured with a World Tourism Award in recognition of Me to We’s impact through its partnership with WE Charity; providing more than 1 million people with clean water, building 1,500 schools overseas, and empowering children with access to education; and of course, providing volunteer travel to those looking to change the world. Aaron Sapra, Me to We, Global Director, accepted the Award on behalf of Me to We.
The Award itself, Caring for Our World, sponsored by VisitMalta, was specially designed and handcrafted on the Mediterranean Island of Malta by Mdina Glass, and celebrates the qualities of leadership and vision that inspire others to care for all people around the Globe.
The Award ceremony was followed by a reception hosted by United Airlines.