The winners of the Global Youth Travel Awards 2014 – sponsored by Else Globe – were announced last night during the concluding event of the 23rd World Youth Student and Educational (WYSE) Travel Conference.
Over 500 industry professionals gathered on at The Mansion House in the heart of Dublin for the glittering ceremony – which is now in its fourth year – and concluded with an impressive table-top Irish dancing display.
Having drawn a record number of nominations, the 12 awards celebrate the outstanding performers within the youth, student and educational travel industry and act as a benchmark for excellence within this fast-growing sector.
In recognition of the evolving nature of the industry, this year’s awards were expanded to include four new categories which, for the first time, were voted for by young travellers. Over 7,500 people aged under 35 years were polled over a four-month period in 2014 to discover their favourite accommodation and airline as well as the top destination and youth travel provider.
David Chapman, Director General of WYSE Travel Confederation, said: “The calibre of nominations this year across all 12 award categories has been truly outstanding. As youth travel blossoms into the tourism industry’s fastest growing segment, it’s important to acknowledge the wealth of talent and innovation from the companies as well as individuals driving this growth.”
The award winners in the community and experiential categories are:
Winner: Cillian McGorman and Projects Abroad from Dunshaughlin in County Meath who, aged just 15, started fundraising for his class to volunteer in eastern Ghana. Cillian’s vision inspired the group of ten students and two teachers to spend a life-changing experience volunteering in each of an agricultural project and orphanage in Akuapem Hills.
- SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Winner: GoAbroad.com for its initiatives around Typhoon Haiyan which devastated many areas of the Philippines where it was known as Yolanda. The judges were particularly inspired by the story of one of their staff members, Elsa Thomasma, whose tireless campaign work to erect a storm evacuation centre in her volunteer placement village of Cangumbang led to it being completed just three months before the tropical cyclone’s arrival which helped ensure all the villagers survived. The GoAbroad staff also led the relief efforts, raising US$150,000 in emergency funds.
Winner: African Impact for their childhood development work with vulnerable youth within disadvantaged Cape Town communities. The judges commended the economically and environmentally sustainable impact of their Cape Town Teaching, Sports and Vulnerable Childcare Volunteer program.
- GREEN ACCOMMODATION INITIATIVE
Winner: Twentytú Hi-tech Hostel for strongly championing green initiatives within Barcelona’s accommodation sector and amongst its local community, guests and staff. As the first tourist accommodation building in Barcelona to be awarded the maximum energy efficiency score of A, it is also a member of UNESCO’s sustainable building platform, Construction 21.
- BEST WORK EXPERIENCE
Winner: Diego Fuenzalida and Universal Student Exchange for their dynamic, visual account of a group of young travellers from Latin America working and enjoying the winter at the Mountain Creek ski resort.
The award winners in the innovation categories were:
- APP YAP
Winner: Touchnote for its ability to allow travellers to instantly turn their holiday snapshots into postcards. With cards printed and posted within one working day, the app has already been downloaded by 5 million users and cards sent to over 200 countries.
- BEST B2B TECH PRODUCT
Winner: Illusions Online for its revolutionary, flexible cloud-based international travel software solutions which allow all the tourism industry segments to access and book travel.
- INNOVATION IN MARKETING
Winner: YHA England and Wales for their YHA Road Trip and Live More campaign to reconnect the brand with their experience-focused young customers. Recognising that their target audience like to be involved and create their own adventures, they used music as their focus by showcasing up-and-coming bands around the UK. Travelling in a vintage YHA-branded campervan, they held free impromptu gigs at five of their most iconic hostels and documented the road trip across social media channels over the eight day campaign.
The following awards were voted for by 7,500 young travellers:
- BEST AIRLINE FOR YOUTH – Winner: Emirates
- BEST YOUTH DESTINATION – Winner: USA
- BEST YOUTH ACCOMMODATION – Winner: HOAX Hostel Liverpool
- BEST YOUTH TRAVEL PROVIDER – Winner: STA Travel
Nominations for the next Global Youth Travel Awards will open in 2015. The results will be announced at WYSTC 2015 which is taking place in Cape Town’s International Convention Centre from 22 – 25 September. For more information visit www.wystc.org.