Tourism and journalism excellence recognised at BGTW Awards 2018

Adrian Phillips, managing director of Bradt Travel Guides, has been named ‘BGTW Travel Writer of the Year’ at the British Guild of Travel Writers’ Annual Gala Awards Dinner held at The Savoy in central London on 4 November.

The event, sponsored by the Balearic Islands Tourist Board (comprising Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera) and celebrating its 20th anniversary, was attended by around 270 leading travel industry professionals.

Two sets of awards were presented. The ‘BGTW Members’ Awards’ recognises excellence across all disciplines of travel journalism, including travel writing, photography and blogging. Entries are judged by a team of international editors and travel writers. The ‘BGTW Tourism Awards 2018’, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, showcases outstanding tourism projects in three categories: UK and Ireland, European, and the Wider World. Projects are voted for by Guild members.

In the BGTW Members’ Awards, Adrian Phillips added to his success by receiving awards for ‘Best Destination Feature’ and ‘Best Wider World Feature’. The award for ‘Best UK Feature’ went to Ben Lerwill, who also won the award for ‘Best European Feature’.

The ‘Kenneth Westcott-Jones Memorial Award for ‘Best Transport Feature’ was presented to Tristan Rutherford. The Adele Evans Award for ‘Best Guidebook’ was presented to James Lowen with Brian Jackman taking the award for ‘Best Narrative Travel Book’. The award for ‘BGTW Photographer of the Year’ went to James Rushforth with the ‘BGTW Award for Excellence in Blogging’ went to Kirsty Pelling.

In the ‘BGTW Tourism Awards 2018’, the award for ‘Best UK and Ireland Project’ went to ‘Being Brunel’, the Bristol-based attraction that celebrates Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s work and life.

Receiving the award for ‘Best European Project’ was Backwaters Tours for its electric hybrid cruise boat that started operating on the rivers and canals of France in June this year.

The final award, ‘Best Wider World Project’ went to the Waitukubuli National Trail on the island of Dominica in the Caribbean. The hiking trail, a major tourist attraction on the island, reopened earlier this year after being partly destroyed in a hurricane in 2017.

The evening’s charity raffle raised a magnificent £3,500 for the Family Holiday Association. Entertainment was provided by the Choir of the University of the Balearic Islands who had flown in specially for the event.

Commenting on all the award winners, Alastair McKenzie, chair of the British Guild of Travel Writers, says: “This has been an evening of celebration, recognising excellence among our own Guild members, and showcasing some innovative and remarkable tourism projects across the world.

“I would like to add my congratulations to all the winners, and to all those who were highly commended or received a Merit Award. I’m amazed just how often I walk into a visitor attraction in the UK, in continental Europe, or further afield, and spot a BGTW Tourism Awards certificate in pride of place at the entrance. The impact of these awards shouldn’t be underestimated.”

The British Guild of Travel Writers is a community of accredited writers, photographers, and broadcasters; the trusted body for independent editorial comment and expert content on worldwide travel.

The full list of award-winners is as follows:

BGTW Members’ Awards 2018

BGTW Travel Writer of the Year
Sponsored by
Winner: Adrian Phillips

Adrian is Managing Director of Bradt Travel Guides, the UK’s biggest independent guidebook publisher, and an award-winning travel writer and broadcaster covering everything from adventure travel to city breaks in destinations around the world. His work has been published in National Geographic Traveller, the Telegraph, the Guardian, the Independent, the Evening Standard and more. He’s also a guidebook writer, with Hungary/Budapest a particular speciality, a regular travel commentator on the BBC and SKY, and an experienced public speaker.

Highly Commended: Emma Thomson; Pól Ó Conghaile

Best Destination Feature
Sponsored by
Winner: Adrian Phillips, for ‘Fear Factor: Staying Afloat’, published by National Geographic Traveller – January 2018

Highly Commended:
Aaron Millar; Juliet Rix

Best UK Feature
Sponsored by
Winner: Ben Lerwill, for ‘Sweet Thames, Run Softly’, published by BBC Countryfile magazine – July 2018

Ben Lerwill has been a freelance travel writer since 2006. He contributes regularly to consumer, trade and online publications and has travelled widely. Key areas of interest include the outdoors, adventure travel, rail travel, family travel and cultural tourism. Outlets include National Geographic Traveller, Wanderlust and BBC Countryfile. He enjoys travel to lesser known destinations, and also edits #LiveMoreYHA, a quarterly magazine for YHA England & Wales.

Highly Commended: Martin Symington; Mike Unwin

Best European Feature
Sponsored by
Winner: Ben Lerwill, for ‘Paris: The City of Artisans’, published by National Geographic Traveller – June 2018

Highly Commended: Emma Thomson; John Malathronas

Best Wider World Feature
Sponsored by
Winner: Adrian Phillips, for ‘The Hothouse Heart of the Jungle’, published by National Geographic Traveller – November 2017

Highly Commended: Mike Unwin; Emma Gregg

Best Transport Feature
The Kenneth Westcott-Jones Memorial Award 

Sponsored by

Winner: Tristan Rutherford, for ‘The Rail Thing…The Cambodia Riviera’, published in The Daily Telegraph – 26 February 2018
Based on the French Riviera, Tristan Rutherford has been a freelance travel journalist for the likes of The Times, The Daily Telegraph and National Geographic since 2002. As well as living in France, he spends significant periods in Croatia, Thailand and Turkey. His interests include luxury travel, sailing and great rail journeys.

Highly Commended: Stuart Forster; Sue Watt

BGTW Photographer of the Year
Sponsored by
Winner: James Rushforth

James Rushforth is an experienced and professional climber, mountaineer, skier and high-liner and is an expert on the Italian Dolomites. An acclaimed photographer, he has won 12 international photography competitions, while his articles have been published in National Geographic, The Times and The Daily Telegraph.

Highly Commended: Tim Bird; Chris Coe

Best Guidebook
The Adele Evans Award
Sponsored by

Winner: James Lowen, for ’52 European Wildlife Weekends’, published by Bradt Travel Guides – April 2018
An award-winning travel writer, with a particular focus on wildlife, James Lowen is the author of five books about the UK, Antarctica and South America, one scooping ‘Travel Guide Book of the Year 2016’. James loves jumping the ditch between twitcher and interested layman, opening up specialist knowledge to a much broader readership. He also edits travel books and magazines and his photography is represented by FLPA and Alamy.

Highly Commended: Duncan JD Smith; Rudolf Abraham

Best Narrative Travel Book
Sponsored by
Winner: Brian Jackman, for ‘Wild about Britain’, published by Bradt Travel Guides – September 2017

Brian Jackman is a FRGS and Travel Writer of the Year, 1982. After 20 years with the Sunday Times, he left to freelance and pursue a love affair with Africa and the natural world. He is the co-author (with Jonathan Scott) of The Marsh Lions, acclaimed as an African wildlife classic and re-issued in 2012.

Highly Commended: Adrian Mourby

BGTW Award for Excellence in Blogging
Sponsored by
Winner: Kirstie Pelling, for ‘The Family Adventure Project’ –

Highly Commended: Steph Dyson; Kathryn Burrington

BGTW Tourism Awards 2018

Best UK and Ireland Tourism Project

Winner: ‘Being Brunel’, Bristol, UK
‘Being Brunel’ is a new attraction that brings together the world’s most significant collection on Isambard Kingdom Brunel and tells the story of this engineering genius, with many items that have not previously been on public display. The attraction is housed within a custom-built museum building alongside Brunel’s ship, SS Great Britain, with access to the restored Grade II* historic Dock Office building, which formerly housed the offices of the Great Western Steamship Company and Brunel’s Drawing Office.

Highly Commended – Hook Lighthouse Visitor Experience, County Wexford, Ireland
Highly Commended –  ‘Eat Exmoor’, Somerset/Devon, UK

Best European Tourism Project

Winner: Electric Hybrid Cruise Boat – Backwaters Tours, France
‘Natalia’ is a purpose-built, eco-friendly, 60-seat, electric hybrid boat, perhaps best described as a floating observation lounge. Launched in June 2018 to tour the hidden canals and rivers of France, the vessel has been developed by UK-based Backwaters Tours to champion responsible tourism and strong green credentials in a market sector that traditionally relies on diesel-engined craft. ‘Natalia’ is now providing the focus for a no-fly tour-cruise holiday option. The slow pace of travel means the same hotel can be used all week. Guests enjoy a morning cruise and lunch supplied by a local boulangerie, before travelling by coach to visit local chateaux, vineyards and historic towns and cities.

Highly Commended – ‘Cambrai Tank 1917’, Flesquières, Nord, France
Highly Commended – ‘Journey on the High Seas’, Nausicaá, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Pas de Calais, France

Best Wider World Tourism Project

Winner: Waitukubuli National Trail, Clearance and Restoration, Segment 11
On 18 September 2017 Hurricane Maria struck the Caribbean island of Dominica, killing 65 people, destroying roads, bridges and farms, and leaving 90 per cent of homes without a roof. It also battered the island’s tourism industry. Annette and Stefan Loerner, owners of the Tamarind Tree Hotel, decided the best way to encourage visitors back was to restore a section of the now blocked Waitukubuli National Trail, a 115-mile hiking route that was a flagship attraction.

Highly Commended – Tennessee Williams Key West Exhibit, Florida, USA
Highly Commended – United States Civil Rights Trail, USA

Merit Awards
Best UK and Ireland Tourism Project
Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, England
Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, Westminster Abbey, London, England Nominated by
Restoration of Farringford, Home of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Isle of Wight, England
St Albans Museum + Gallery, Herts, England
Seaton Tramway New Station, Devon, England

Best European Tourism Project
Allas Sea Pool, Helsinki, Finland
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, Athens, Greece
Tirpitz Museum, Blåvand, Denmark

Best Wider World Tourism Project
American Writers Museum, Chicago, USA
Paisley Park, Minnesota, USA
Percé Geopark (Géoparc de Percé), Quebec, Canada
Spyscape, New York, USA

BGTW Members’ Awards – Judging panel
From the Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW):
Bob Jenkins, Travel writer
John Borthwick, Writer/photographer and book author
Justine Costigan, Journalist/editor of Royal Auto
Helen Hayes, (President ASTW 2018) Editor-in-Chief Vacations & Travel magazine, Editor Ski and Snowboard with Kids magazine
Kerry van der Jagt, Travel writer/photographer
Amanda Kendle, Blogger/podcaster
Danielle Lancaster, President ASTW 2015-2018. Freelance writer/photographer
Catherine Marshall, Feature and travel writer
Lee Mylne, Travel writer
Aleney de Winter, (ASTW Vice President) Travel writer/editor/blogger.

From the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW):
Catharine Hamm, Travel editor of the Los Angeles Times
Anna Hobbs, Canadian travel writer
Domini Clark, travel editor, Globe and Mail, Toronto
Christine Loomis, Travel writer
Barbara Ramsay Orr, President of the ASTW 2017-2018. Canadian journalist/guide book author
David Swanson, (President SATW 2018-19). Travel writer/photographer.

UK judges:
Henry Hemming, Managing Director, TravMedia UK
Debbie Hindle, Managing Director, Four Travel
Andrew James, journalist/photographer
Steve Keenan, Founder Travel Perspective, freelance writer and social media expert/consultant
Tony Maher, Director of Hand Held Events, literary event management company
David Mantero, Head Buyer at Stanfords
Pat Richardson Travel writer
Ben Ross, Deputy Head of Travel Editorial at Telegraph Media Group
David Rowley, British graphic designer/photographer
Richard Trillo, Rough Guide author/travel writer. Kenya Destination Manager for Expert Africa.

Benita Finanzio
By: Benita Finanzio Secretariat