AITO Awards

Our awards recognise outstanding quality within our membership and also the wider travel industry.

Winners of the prestigious 2016 AITO Travel Writer of the Year Awards

19 October 2016

The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) has announced the results of its 20th Travel Writer of the Year awards. This year saw the highest number of entries since the awards began in 1997, with 240 articles submitted, all of an exceptionally high standard.

For the first time, AITO introduced a brand new category – Travel Trade Writer of the Year.

Additionally, after much deliberation, and following a suggestion from a high-profile writer, there were two separate categories for the Travel Writer of the Year Award: Under 1,500 words (for articles commissioned to be short and punchy) and Over 1,500 words (for those that can be as long and descriptive as the writer wishes).

Shortlisted from a total of 240 entries, the names of those who scored highest are as follows:

The top 10 places for the AITO Travel Writer of the Year award 2016 (Over 1,500 words) were as follows:

1. Liz Edwards, The Sunday Times Travel magazine

2. Hannah McKeand, SUITCASE magazine

3. Chris Haslam, The Sunday Times

4. Sarah Barrell, National Geographic Traveller

5. Alicia Miller, The Sunday Times Travel magazine

6. Nick Boulos, Wanderlust

7. Paul Bloomfield, The Sunday Telegraph

8. Nicky Holford, The Guardian

9. Sue Watt, The Daily Telegraph

10. Martin Hemming, The Sunday Times

11. Kerry Christiani, Lonely Planet Traveller

12. Annie Bennett, The Financial Times

The top 10 places for the AITO Travel Writer of the Year award 2016 (Under 1,500 words) were as follows:

1. Michelle Jana Chan, The Daily Telegraph

2. Aaron Miller, The Times

3. Rachel Johnson, Town & Country magazine

4. Matthew Teller, BBC News magazine

5. Ben Lerwill, Rough Guides

6. Nigel Tisdall, Marie Claire magazine

7. Jeremy Head, The Guardian

8. Simon Heptinstall, The Mail on Sunday

9. Richard Mellor, The Explorer

10. Jamie Lafferty, The Guardian

11. Sarah Bailey, Red magazine

12. Janine Di Giovanni, Harper’s Bazaar

The top eight places for the AITO Young Travel Writer of the Year award 2016 were as follows:

1. Francesca Angelini, The Sunday Times

2. Simon Parker, The Daily Telegraph

3. Emily Ames, SUITCASE magazine

4. Alex Allen, The Sunday Times

5. Cathy Adams, Escapism

6. Sophie McGrath, The Lonely Planet Traveller

7. Hazel Plush, The Daily Telegraph

8. Nicola Trup, The Independent

The top five places for the Travel Trade Writer of the Year 2016 were as follows:

1. Joanna Booth, Aspire

2. Josephine Price, ABTA magazine

3. Meera Dattani, Travel Weekly

4. Tamara Hinson, Travel Weekly

5. Sophie Griffiths, TTG

6. Lauren Jarvis, Selling Travel

The top five places for the AITO Travel Blogger of the Year award 2016 are as follows:

1. James Draven, Dearlydepartures.com

2. Emma Gregg, AllAboutEverywhere.com

3. Mike Gerrard, TravelDistilled.com

4. Hannah Summers, Burgersandbruce.com

5. David Whitley, Countrybycountry.com

6. Phoebe Smith, Wanderlust.com

Acknowledgements: Travel Writer of the Year Awards 2016

Our Sponsors and Judges

The Travel Writer of the Year awards are always extremely hotly contested and, over the past 19 years, some of the most respected travel journalists in the industry have featured on the role of honour (see past winners’ page). It recognises excellence in the huge field of travel writing, and this prestigious award is always an impressive entry on any writer’s CV.

Many thanks to our sponsors this year, who are offering prizes to the 5 category winners. In addition AITO would like to thank our judges for their time and dedication to finding articles with that winning-formula: well-known, interesting, informative and inspirational. This year we also had 12 AITO members participating in the first round of judging, of whom we offer our sincerest thanks and appreciation.

Our Sponsors

Sunvil - Young Travel Writer of the Year

Tucan Travel - Blogger of the Year

Classic Collection - Travel Trade Writer of the Year

Main Sponsors

On Foot Holidays - Travel Writer of the Year (Short)

Ramblers - Travel Writer of the Year (Long)

Our judges

Final Judges

Derek Moore – AITO Chairman

Desmond Balmer – Joint Editor of The Good Hotel Guide and former Editor of The Observer

Christopher Kirker – Former Owner and Chief Executive of Kirker Holidays and former AITO Chairman

Sue Ockwell – Managing Director of Travel PR and former Chief Executive of AITO

First-round Judges (AITO members)

Alison Hall - InnTravel

David Owen - Kudu Travel

James Palmer-Tomkinson - PT Ski Ltd

Martin Garland - Expressions Holidays

Aled Evans - Undiscovered Destinations

Melissa Hirst - Pettitts

Tav Kelly - KE Adventure Travel

Ted Wake - Kirker Holidays

John Thirtle - Geodyssey

Jess Millett - Tucan Travel

John Telfer - Explore

James Mundy - InsideAsia Tours

The winners will be announced, and the awards presented, at this year’s AITO Meets the Media event, held between 3pm and 6pm on Tuesday 18 October at Central Hall, Westminster. Please RSVP to events@travelpr.co.uk before 6pm on Friday 7 October 2016.

AITO 2016 TRAVEL WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARDS

SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED

The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) has today announced the short list for the prestigious annual AITO Travel Writer of the Year awards. The five categories – Travel Writer of the Year (Over 1,500 words), Travel Writer of the Year (Under 1,500 words), Young Travel Writer of the Year, Travel Trade Writer of the Year and the Travel Blogger of the Year– were shortlisted from a total of 240 entries, which is the highest number received since the awards started in 1997.

Shortlists:

AITO Travel Writer of the Year (Over 1,500 words):

  • Sarah Barrell, National Geographic Traveller, Grenada
  • Annie Bennett, The Financial Times, Spain
  • Paul Bloomfield, The Sunday Telegraph, The Arctic
  • Nick Boulos, Wanderlust, Vietnam
  • Kerry Christiani, Lonely Planet Traveller, Antarctica
  • Liz Edwards, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Spain
  • Chris Haslam, The Sunday Times, Nepal
  • Martin Hemming, The Sunday Times, India
  • Nicky Holford, The Guardian, Botswana
  • Hannah McKeand, SUITCASE magazine, The North and South Pole
  • Alicia Miller, The Sunday Times Travel magazine, Kerala
  • Sue Watt, The Telegraph, Patagonia
  • AITO Travel Writer of the Year (Under 1,500 words):

  • Sarah Bailey, Red magazine, Italy
  • Janine Di Giovanni, Harper's Bazaar, Austria
  • Jeremy Head, The Guardian, Italy's Aeolian islands
  • Simon Heptinstall, Mail on Sunday, France
  • Michelle Jana Chan, The Daily Telegraph, Nepal
  • Rachel Johnson, Town & Country magazine, Burma
  • Jamie Lafferty, The Guardian, India
  • Ben Lerwill, RoughGuides.com, London to Edinburgh by Sleeper train
  • Richard Mellor, The Explorer, Peru
  • Aaron Miller, The Times, Wyoming
  • Matthew Teller, BBC News Magazine, Antarctica
  • Nigel Tisdall, Marie Claire, Oman
  • AITO Young Travel Writer of the Year:

  • Cathy Adams, Escapism, Delhi
  • Alex Allen, The Sunday Times, Bologna
  • Francesca Angelini, The Sunday Times, Iceland
  • Emily Ames, Suitcase Magazine, Arizona
  • Sophie McGrath, The Lonely Planet Traveller, New York
  • Simon Parker, The Telegraph, Clipper Yacht Race (round the world)
  • Hazel Plush, The Telegraph, Khiva, Uzbekistan
  • Nicola Trup, The Independent, Iceland
  • AITO Travel Trade Writer of the Year:

  • Joanna Booth, Aspire (Travel Weekly), Botswana
  • Meera Dattani, Travel Weekly, Sri Lanka
  • Sophie Griffiths, TTG, Space
  • Tamara Hinson, Travel Weekly, Norway
  • Lauren Jarvis, Selling Travel, Alberta and British Columbia
  • Josephine Price, ABTA magazine, Israel
  • AITO Travel Blogger of the Year:

  • James Draven, DearlyDepartures.com, Cape Horn
  • Mike Gerrard, TravelDistilled.com, The Scottish Highlands
  • Emma Gregg, AllAboutEverywhere.com, Brighton
  • Phoebe Smith, Wanderlust.co.uk, Japan
  • Hannah Summers, Burgersandbruce.com, Barcelona
  • David Whitley, Countrybycountry.com, New York
  • The winners will be announced, and the awards presented, at this year’s AITO Meets the Media event, held between 3pm and 6pm on Tuesday 18 October at Central Hall, Westminster.Please RSVP to events@travelpr.co.ukbefore 6pm on Friday 7 October 2016.

    If you are a bona fide journalist and would like to attend AITO’s Meet the Media event, please apply for an invitation, quoting your usual outlets and your interests, by emailing events@travelpr.co.uk.

    Thank you to everyone who entered the AITO Travel Writer of the Year awards. Entries were of an extremely high standard, and the competition for places on the short list was more intense than ever. Good luck to those shortlisted!

    For further information, visit www.aito.com.

    Ends/ 15 September 2016

    Press:For further information on AITO, please contact Travel PR on 020 8891 4440 or email Rebecca Milne (r.milne@travelpr.co.uk) or Sue Ockwell (s.ockwell@travelpr.co.uk).

    2015 AITO Awards

    Best AITO Operator, Agent and Affiliate

    The Association of Independent Tour Operators (www.aito.com) celebrated its 40th anniversary at a special dinner and awards ceremony last night (Tuesday 23 February) in the dazzling Gladstone Library and Reading & Writing Room of the Royal Horseguards Hotel, London.

    Over 150 AITO Tour Operators, AITO Agents, Affiliated Business Partners and Tourist Offices, Social and Honorary members and special guests attended. Simon Reeve – the British author, television presenter and explorer – was the special guest for the evening and delivered an inspirational speech. AITO was also delighted that Colin Murison Small, its founder and very first chairman, was able to attend the event.

    AITO’s members’ awards, which have been reintroduced after a gap of a few years and are now based around client reviews on AITO.com. The categories were AITO Tour Operator of the Year, AITO Agent of the Year and AITO Affiliate of the Year.

    2015 AITO Tour Operator of the Year

    This award goes to the member which has had exceptional customer reviews on AITO.com during 2015. The number of reviews had to be 10% or more of the total annual passengers carried to ensure a true reflection of that company's performance.

    Gold: Peter Sommer Travels

    Silver: CICERONI Travel

    Bronze: The Mountain Company

    2015 AITO Agent of the Year

    This award goes to the AITO Agent which has made bookings with the largest number of AITO tour operators during 2015 as voted by AITO’s tour operators.

    Gold: Traveller’s World Salisbury

    Silver: Journeys à la Carte

    Bronze: Deva Travel

    2015 AITO Affiliate of the Year

    This award goes to the AITO Business Partner which provided the best service and product in 2015 as voted by AITO tour operators and agents.

    Joint Gold winners: 3For and Holiday Extras

    Bronze: Faremine