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2018 Global Youth Travel Awards winners

On the final evening of the 2018 World Youth and Student Travel Conference, delegates headed to the stunning National Museum of Scotland, dressed to impress, to celebrate not only what has been a successful week in Edinburgh, but to find out who our winners were for the 2018 Global Youth Travel Awards.

Here’s a full look at the winners and their award submissions:

Best Education Abroad Provider: Greenheart International

Since 1985, Greenheart International has been a catalyst for global transformation through the facilitation of cultural exchange programmes. The Greenheart Odyssey Program embodies the organisation’s mission to provide amazing life experiences that fuse community-based projects with international cultural exchange.

The Odyssey Program includes five events that a participant can grow along with. From Camp Greenheart to Greenheart Quest, pre-teens and teens engage in an eye-opening service-oriented educational experience.

“Living on a remote camp [in Puerto Rico] with no cell service and little electricity or hot water while working as a team each day to restore plants, roads, pipes, and compost gardens was a rewarding experience for all of us,” said Kate Powers, a Greenheart Chaperone. “A number of students had never travelled outside of their home city area before, so it was wonderful to see their reactions and perceptions on every aspect of the trip. We were able to aide with hurricane clean up on a rainforest reserve while also learning about the local plant life and ways to preserve the environment in our everyday lives.”

Greenheart International programmes, such as the Odyssey Program, continue to grow and evolve to deliver meaningful service and education experiences while remaining relevant to contemporary issues.

Learn more about their initiative here.

Best Marketing Campaign: Tourism Australia

In recent years, due to competition from new ‘gramable’, edgy destinations, there has been an increasing decline in youth visitors to Australia. Tourism Australia needed to do something social to motivate a new generation of young people to escape Down Under once again. Their objective was to raise awareness of Australia as a youth destination, increase intention for young people planning to travel in the next 18 months, increase the number of Working Holiday Maker visa applicants.

Essentially, Tourism Australia needed to put Australia back on the map – especially for young travellers from the UK, Germany, France and Italy. They started Aussie News Today, a good news network. Powered in part by a platform their target market trusts – BuzzFeed, releasing the weird, funny, and ‘Only in Australia’ stories they knew would gain free syndication from media companies around the world.

To get young people to escape from all the doom and gloom, Aussie News Today became a social media news channel that shared Australia’s unique abundance of good news. Wherever the contextual language engine found bad stuff, the programme automatically served good news; all in multiple languages, on multiple platforms, in real time. So far, they’ve shared stories of street fighting kangaroos, hat eating crocodiles, koalas wandering into local shops, helicopter pub crawls, a wallaby speeding across the Harbour Bridge, the Nude Beach Olympics, and the Darwin Beer Can Regatta.

The campaign was a brave move from Tourism Australia; to embrace a new tone of voice and very cheeky personality for the youth audience. As a result, Aussie News Today turned the world’s bad news into good news for Tourism Australia. So far, they have reached 21 million young people globally, with the top video scoring 662,000 organic views and 2,400 shares, generating $3.5 million dollars in traditional media coverage from 900 media clips and story syndications as their stories were picked up by media outlets around the world.

Learn more about their initiative here.

Best Social Responsibility Initiative: G Adventures

G Adventures has defined (and redefined) small group travel for over 25 years. At the end of 2015, G Adventures and its non-profit partner, Planeterra, announced the ’50 in 5’ campaign, an initiative to build 50 social enterprise projects in five years (between 2016 and the end of 2020). It supports local people in communities by providing them with access to the benefits of tourism, and at the same time providing 93% of G Adventures travellers the opportunity to experience a social enterprise project firsthand.

In a recent project, they worked closely with a local community in Colombia to create an exclusive trekking route for travellers from Colombia’s Lost City and social enterprise projects in partnership with Indigenous Wiwa Communities. This was the first time Columbia had opened their community to this kind of tourism, so a lot of communication and training was necessary. Now there are 100 local people employed and 1000 travellers who visit per year.

By mid-2018, 33 new projects have already been integrated into G Adventures trips, with the company set to achieve its goal of 50, one year ahead of time. By tapping into the undervalued talents of women, youth and indigenous people in the culinary, handicraft, hospitality and transportation sectors, G Adventures offers distinctly meaningful travel experiences to the 200,000 travellers from 160 countries who travel with the operator each year, while directly and indirectly benefiting 290,000+ local suppliers and employees’ wealth, health, education and future.

Learn more about their initiative here.

Best Social Space in a Hostel: Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is a casual, young and vibrant city and it was these elements reflected in the design of Abraham Hostels‘ award winning social space. Abraham Hostels believes that old buildings have historic, sentimental and economic value. They need not be demolished and can be recycled into something new and useful to the community. Since 2016, Abraham Hostel is located in a building that was inaugurated in 1938 as the first automated telephone exchange building in the city of Tel Aviv. Many of the original features of the old building, such as windows and pillars, have been preserved and can still be seen in the lounge design.

The space has a constant buzz and is a treasure trove of materials and textures; rich fabrics, patterned floors, and interesting artwork vie for attention with large, exciting graffiti murals. Additional industrial-style elements blend well with the urban views of the city. Eclectic furniture and accessories have been used in unexpected ways; low tables are fashioned from vintage suit-cases, or large bar lights are made from old theatre lighting fixtures. Pieces of furniture which are broken or worn-out are replaced by alternative pieces, so the lounge evolves and alters over time.

The spectacular 600-meter lounge is definitely the beating heart of Abraham Hostel, Tel Aviv. This exceptional large, open-plan social space is where the hostel invested most of their resources; to make it as comfortable, multi-functional and interactive as possible. Guests can cook in the fully-equipped communal kitchen, share food at the long communal tables, sit at the lively bar, take part in activities or enjoy a concert by a local or international band. These activities are mostly free for guests, yet also open to locals, providing the unique opportunity to interact with the community.

Learn more about their initiative here.

Best Sustainable Tour Operator: G Adventures

G Adventures carries 200,000 travellers every year, from 160 countries and employing more than 2,200 people worldwide in 28 offices in the field. G Adventures are committed to delivering authentic, local experiences so that travellers have the opportunity to meet local communities and create meaningful connections, while benefitting from jobs and the empowerment that comes with employment. From wealth distribution, empowering women, providing new paths for youths, and conserving cultures, G Adventures worked with Planeterra to successfully launch 26 new projects in 17 countries in 2016 and 2017

G Adventures use locally-owned suppliers, transport, accommodation, and tour guides, or as they call them, “chief experience officers” or CEOs. G Adventures are proud to say that 91% of their supply chain is locally owned and run, and together with their non-profit partner, Planeterra, they currently take travellers to 58 social enterprise projects or ‘G for Good’ projects as they call them, around the world.

These projects benefit women, at-risk youth, and rural and Indigenous communities which are then built into more than 200 G Adventures tours, meaning more than 86,000 travellers had the opportunity to visit and experience a local meal, accommodation, handicrafts workshop, community tour or transport service owned and led by one of these social enterprises in the past year.

Learn more about their initiative here.

Best Travel Safety Initiative: Travello

Developed by Travello, BlueTee is a journey management software that allows travel companies, travel insurers and international student providers real-time customer visibility and in-destination messaging capacity. The aim of the BlueTee platform is to arm student travel providers, travel insurers and travel companies with a greater degree of risk management and risk mitigation, ultimately leading to a more robust duty of care.

If students or travellers go missing, BlueTee can be utilised to identify their location and initiate an appropriate course of action. In the case of international students, parents are trusting the placement provider to ‘look after’ their children, who are often going overseas, many for the first time. The reality is, that once these students land in a foreign country and decide to explore their new country, the placement provider, nor the international school has no idea where this student actually is.

Using the BlueTee platform, providers can not only see where their guests, policy holders and students are, but they can message them immediately if an incident or crisis occurs, notifying them of appropriate courses of action. Travellers can also be warned not to enter areas of danger, if applicable. BlueTee was only released to the market in late 2017 and can currently identify over 200,000 travellers in-destination.

Learn more about their initiative here.

Best Travel Tech Product: CultureMee

CultureMee is an app to help travellers navigate other cultures by providing engaging, unique content combining local proverbs with practical culture tips and crowdsourced culture videos. CultureMee also helps address typical traveller frustrations such as visas, vaccinations and other practical, good-to-know local information.

CultureMee is an app to help travellers navigate other cultures by providing engaging, unique content combining local proverbs with practical culture tips and crowdsourced culture videos. CultureMee also helps address typical traveller frustrations such as visas, vaccinations and other practical, good-to-know local information.

Best Work Experience Provider: Peterpans Travel

Established in 1998, the Peterpans Travel Group train international and domestic students who must complete an internship as part of their studies. On the back of the success of their internship progamme, Peterpans has recently launched a graduate programme, where graduates gain globally recognised industry qualifications, sales and marketing knowledge, and communication and presentation skills before beginning a management pathway at a Peterpans location for a period of up to 18 months.

With over 50 stores around Australia and New Zealand and 20 to 30 interns in place at any given time, Peterpans Travel Group shortlists applicants and interviews each candidate. Successful candidates are placed in a location that is suitable to their personal skill set and interests.
The programme is hands-on and students leave with an in-depth understanding of the daily operations behind running a successful travel agency and improved international business communication skills. On top of this, the students become Australia and New Zealand destination specialists.
Peterpans Travel Group demonstrates to internship participants that there really is another way to work; that being in a fun, energetic, goal-driven environment is both rewarding and motivating, proving that education really does extend beyond the classroom.
Learn more about their initiative here.

Extraordinary Experience: SAVE Foundation

At 21, Steph Lee first arrived at SAVE Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa in 2016, where she planned to take part in a two-week volunteering programme working within the settlement. By 2018, Steph is now leading their newest youth initiative TED-Ed. TED-Ed Clubs are extracurricular clubs which encourage students to stand up and have their voices heard. It offers students a chance to explore topics they’re passionate about, to convert their thoughts into speech and to then perform it to a live audience.

Club members are led through a curriculum developed by Steph, teaching them research skills, improving their English comprehension and their public speaking capabilities. The students also learn stress and time management skills, which are vital to their future successes in educational and professional prospects. The program started with seven disadvantaged youth from the Dunoon township, and within 11 months, it grew into six different communities across the Western Cape with 170 students participating (140 of which come from disadvantaged backgrounds).

In November of 2017, Steph organised and held an event for the seven students of the first SAVE Foundation TED-Ed Club. With over 100 people attending, the 13 and 14 year-old students researched and wrote talks about medical malpractice, voluntourism, their experience with apartheid, Xenophobia and more; all topics which were well beyond their years, yet delivered with confidence and a language developed through the valuable mentorship provided by Steph Lee.

Learn more about their initiative here.

Outstanding Volunteer Project: Global Vision International

The Global Vision International (GVI) Laos project focuses on sustainable progress in the field of education, and empowerment through local partnerships. All GVI programmes aim to empower the local community to increase their access to employment opportunities, to increase the capacity of educational institutions, and to develop the professional and personal skills of volunteers. There are three projects: teaching English to Buddhist novice monks, teaching English to children and young adults, and women’s empowerment.

GVI has helped approximately 800 students gain access to educational opportunities weekly. Six students from GVI’s novice monk programme are now studying further abroad on scholarships (two in Canada, and one in each in Singapore, China, Vietnam and Thailand). As a result of the vocational English offered at the Lao Buffalo Dairy Farm, two women have improved jobs. Through the menstrual health initiative, GVI provided gender equality workshops for men, as well as the reproductive and menstrual health training needed to enable three men to join the initiative.

GVI’s alumni programme allows volunteers to stay connected with GVI programmes by sharing their experiences with potential future participants. Volunteers can also remain involved in the GVI Laos programme through fundraising for the GVI Trust, a charitable organisation that provides essential funding to initiatives on the ground until they can become self-sustaining.

Learn more about their initiative here.

Consumer-voted awards winners:

Best Youth Travel Accommodation:

Best Youth Travel Agent: 

Best Youth Travel Airline:

Best Youth Tour Operator: