WASHINGTON (Oct. 23, 2014)—The National Geographic Society announced today a roster of 18 travel experts from across the globe as judges for the inaugural World Legacy Awards. The awards are a partnership between National Geographic and ITB Berlin to showcase leading travel and tourism companies, organizations and destinations — ranging from airlines to ecolodges and from cities to countries — that are driving the positive transformation of the travel industry based on sustainable tourism principles and practices.
The judging process includes three phases, starting with the selection of finalists in each award category, followed by an in-depth on-site evaluation to review sustainable tourism practices in action based on criteria of the United Nations Global Sustainable Tourism Council, and lastly the selection of winners.
Led by Costas Christ, one of the world’s top sustainable tourism experts who also serves as chairman of the World Legacy Awards and editor at large for National Geographic Traveler magazine, the judges are reviewing award entries in five categories:
- Earth Changers — Recognizing cutting-edge leadership in environmentally friendly business practices and green technology, from renewable energy and water conservation to zero-waste systems and carbon-emission reduction.
- Sense of Place — Recognizing excellence in enhancing sense of place and authenticity, including support for the protection of historical monuments, archaeological sites, cultural events, indigenous heritage and artistic traditions.
- Conserving the Natural World — Recognizing outstanding support for the preservation of nature, restoring natural habitat and protecting rare and endangered species, whether on land or in the oceans.
- Engaging Communities — Recognizing direct and tangible economic and social benefits that improve local livelihoods, including training and capacity building, fair wages and benefits, community development, health care and education.
- Destination Leadership — Recognizing destination leadership, including cities, provinces, states, countries and regions that are demonstrating environmental best practices, protection of cultural and natural heritage, benefits to local communities and educating travelers on the principles of sustainability.
The 18 judges for the National Geographic World Legacy Awards are:
- Eric Ricaurte, Founder, Greenview, Singapore
- George Stone, Editor at Large, National Geographic Traveler magazine, Singapore
- Gopinath Parayil, Founder, The Blue Yonder, India
- Hitesh Mehta, President, HM Design, United States
- Jessica Hall Upchurch, Community Liaison, Virtuoso Ltd., United States
- Judy Kepher-Gona, Co-founder, Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda, Kenya
- Karma Tshering, Chief of Nature Recreation and Ecotourism, Bhutan
- Keith Bellows, Editor Emeritus, National Geographic Traveler magazine, United States
- Laura Turner Seydel, Chair, Captain Planet Foundation, United States
- Mahen Sanghrajka, Chairman, Big Five Tours and Expeditions, United States
- Manal Kelig, Executive Director, Middle East, ATTA, Egypt
- Martin Krediet, General Manager, Francis Ford Coppola’s Turtle Inn, Belize
- Matthew Humke, Director, Latin America & Caribbean, Solimar International, Guatemala
- Pegi Vail, Associate Director, Center for Media, Culture and History, New York University, United States
- Richard Weiss, CEO, Strategic Travel Consulting, United States
- Rika Jean-Francois, Director, ITB Corporate Social Responsibility, Germany
- Tony Charters, Principal, Tony Charters and Associates, Australia
- Tony Williams, Tourism Development Consultant, Qatar Tourism Authority, Qatar
Christ said, “The very essence of the World Legacy Awards is the incredible team of judges who dedicate their time and effort to select the visionaries that exemplify the best of sustainable tourism and the National Geographic Society’s work of inspiring people to care about the planet.”
Finalists will be announced on Wednesday, Oct. 29, on stage during ITB Asia in Singapore, and winners will be announced during an awards ceremony gala held at ITB Berlin in March 2015. Winners and finalists will also receive recognition in National Geographic Traveler magazine and other National Geographic media, which reach a global audience of over 600 million.
The sponsors of the World Legacy Awards are Adventure World, Nomadic Expeditions and TreadRight Foundation.
For more information on the World Legacy Awards, go to www.nationalgeographic.com/worldlegacyawards/.
About the National Geographic Society
With a mission to inspire, illuminate and teach, the National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. The member-supported Society, which believes in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to change the world, reaches over 600 million people each month through its media platforms, products and events. National Geographic has funded more than 11,000 research, conservation and exploration projects, and its education programs promote geographic literacy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.
About ITB Berlin and the ITB Berlin Convention
ITB Berlin 2015 will take place from March 4 to March 9. From the Wednesday to the Friday, ITB Berlin is open to trade visitors only. The ITB Berlin Convention is held parallel with the trade fair, from the Wednesday to the Friday. It is the world’s largest specialist convention for the industry. More details are available at www.itb-convention.com. ITB Berlin is the leading trade fair for the worldwide travel industry. In 2014 a total of 10,147 companies and organisations from 189 countries exhibited their products and services to 174,000 visitors, who included 114,000 trade visitors.
About ITB Asia 2014
ITB Asia 2014 will take place at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, Marina Bay Sands, from 29-31 October 2014. It is organised by Messe Berlin (Singapore) Pte Ltd and supported by the Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau. The event will feature hundreds of exhibiting companies from the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Middle East, covering not only the leisure market, but also corporate and MICE travel. Exhibitors from every sector of the industry, including destinations, airlines and airports, hotels and resorts, theme parks and attractions, inbound tour operators, inbound DMCs, cruise lines, spas, venues, other meeting facilities and travel technology companies are all expected to attend. www.itb-asia.com.