2019 AITO Travel Writer of the Year Awards announced

October 16, 2019 | AITO Specialist Travel

AITO Travel Writer

AITO, the Specialist Travel Association, (www.aito.com) yesterday announced the results of its 2019 Travel Writer of the Year awards.

The five awards were presented at AITO’s annual Meets the Media event at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel.

With almost 300 entries for 2019, the judges reviewed each article according to four criteria, seeking copy that was inspirational, informative, interesting and well-written.

AITO Travel Writer

The five Travel Writer of the Year awards are:

– AITO Travel Writer of the Year – long (over 1,500 words)

– AITO Travel Writer of the Year – short (under 1,500 words)

– AITO Young Travel Writer of the Year (aged 30 and under)

– AITO Travel Trade Writer of the Year

– AITO Travel Blogger of the Year



AITO Travel Writer of the Year

This is the most hotly contested award and, over the past 23 years, some of the most respected travel journalists in the industry have featured on the roll of honour.

There are two separate categories for this award: Travel Writer of the Year for articles of Under 1,500 words (for pieces that are commissioned to be shorter and punchier) and Travel Writer of the Year for articles of Over 1,500 words (for the longer and more descriptive articles that have been commissioned).

The prestigious AITO Travel Writer of the Year (TWOTY) Over 1,500 words award was presented to Adrian Phillips for ‘Land of the Brave’, a piece for National Geographic Traveller. All judges were in agreement that his article was of the highest quality.

In second place, for her article ‘Raj Against the Machine’ for BA High Life, was Ianthe Butt.

In third place was Anthony Peregrine for his piece, ‘Why our modern snowflakes would be wise to visit the D-Day Killing Fields’, in The Daily Telegraph.


TWOTY Under 1,500 words

In first place for her article ‘Hot air ballooning over the herds’, for National Geographic Traveller, was Emma Gregg. One judge said it was “fresh writing and eco-thoughtful; gives a real flavour of the trip”.

In second place was Monisha Rajesh, whose cameos about riding the rails through Japan, Russia and the USA were published on Culture Trip.

In third place was Francisca Kellett for her memorable article on a road trip through the Scottish Highlands, published in House and Garden.


AITO Young Travel Writer of the Year

This award celebrates travel writing talent in the under-30s.

In first place was Tamsin Wressell for her article in National Geographic Traveller, ‘Can we save the coral reefs?’, which was described by the judging panel as “very inspiring, as well as informative; the argument for tourism and raising awareness of climate change was balanced perfectly”.

In second place was Greg Dickinson, with his article, ‘The humans cheered and the birds began to panic – what it’s like to watch a solar eclipse’, published in The Telegraph.

In third place, for his article on ‘Where Eagles Dare: The hidden treasures of Ethiopia’, is Guy Kelly, published in The Telegraph Magazine.


AITO Travel Trade Writer of the Year

This award recognises the technical writing abilities of travel trade writers – including the understanding of complex travel industry issues that is required on occasion.

In first place was James Draven for his piece, ‘Ahead for Heights’, in TTG, which one judge described as ‘a clear winner’ and a particularly ‘inspirational’ read.

In second place was Laura French, for her article, ‘Head in the Clouds’, which was featured in Travel Weekly.

In third place was Meera Dattani, who wins for her piece, ‘Wild West: Exploring undiscovered Sierra Leone’ in Travel Weekly.


AITO Travel Blogger of the Year

This category recognises the increasing influence of travel bloggers and their role within the travel writing community.

In first place, the winning piece by Phoebe Smith, ‘Sex on the Reef’, published on wanderlust.co.uk was described by judges as “eco-journalist at its best”.

In second place was ‘Pigging Out with Pata Negras’, by Heidi Fuller-Love, published on Rough Guides.

In third place, for his piece ‘Evil Saint of Guatemala’ published in Dearly Departures, is James Draven.

AITO Travel Writer


Chairman of AITO, Derek Moore, said: “Huge congratulations to all of the very worthy winners for this year.

“With near to 300 entries, we’d also like to thank the judges for their time spent reading so many examples of great travel writing.

“I would also like to say a special thanks to the five sponsors who contributed the very welcome cash prizes for the winners.

“Finally, thank you to all the writers who entered this year’s competition. There were so many beautifully written pieces on numerous fascinating destinations, which the writers brought to life through their words. These articles no doubt will inspire many journeys and new adventures.”

AITO Travel Writer

For further information on AITO’s Travel Writer of the Year Awards, visit www.aito.com.

Press:  For further information on AITO, please contact Travel PR on 020 8891 4440 or email Laura Forbes (l.forbes@travelpr.co.uk) or Charlotte Griffiths (c.griffiths@travelpr.co.uk).

Notes to editors: For the full 2019 shortlist, see this link.

The list of past and present winners in full:

The AITO Travel Writer of the Year award – celebrating 23 years of excellence in travel writing

2019           Over 1,500 words – Adrian Phillips (National Geographic Traveller)
2019           Under 1,500 words – Emma Gregg (National Geographic Traveller)
2018           Over 1,500 words – Suzanne O’Sullivan (The Telegraph Magazine)
2018           Under 1,500 words – Hannah McKeand (SUITCASE Magazine)
2017           Over 1,500 words – Stanley Stewart (Condé Nast Traveller)
2017           Under 1,500 words – Chris Haslam (The Sunday Times)
2016           Over 1,500 words – Liz Edwards (The Sunday Times Travel magazine)
2016           Under 1,500 words – Michelle Jana Chan (The Daily Telegraph)
2015           Oliver Smith (Lonely Planet)
2014           Oliver Smith (Lonely Planet)
2013           Mark Jones (BA High Life)
2012           Oliver Smith (Lonely Planet)
2011           Stephen Bleach (The Sunday Times)
2010           Stephen Bleach (The Sunday Times)
2009           Minty Clinch (FT/How to Spend It magazine)
2008           Chris Haslam (The Sunday Times)
2007           Peter Hughes (The Daily Telegraph)
2006           Chris Haslam (The Sunday Times)
2005           Nigel Tisdall (Ultratravel Magazine, The Daily Telegraph)
2004           Brian Jackman (The Daily Telegraph)
2003           Peter Hughes (The Daily Telegraph)
2002           William Gray (Wanderlust)
2001           Matt Rudd and Stephen Bleach (joint winners – The Sunday Times)
2000           Max Anderson (The Sunday Times)
1999           Jane Bussman (The Mail on Sunday)
1998           David Wickers (The Sunday Times)
1997           Jill Crawshaw (The Times and The Independent on Sunday)

AITO Young Travel Writer of the Year award

2019           Tamsin Wressell (National Geographic Traveller)
2018           Alicia Burrell (The Sunday Times Travel Magazine)
2017           Sophie McGrath (Lonely Planet Traveller)
2016           Francesca Angelini (The Sunday Times)
2015           Maria Alafouzou (SUITCASE magazine)
2014           Laura Goodman (The Sunday Times Travel Magazine)
2013           Alasdair Baverstock (The Daily Telegraph)
2012           Rory Goulding (Lonely Planet)
2011           Nick Boulos (Wanderlust)
2010           Oliver Smith (Lonely Planet)

AITO Blogger of the Year Award​

2019           Phoebe Smith (wanderlust.co.uk)
2018           Amelia Duggan (National Geographic Traveller blog)
2017           Hannah Summers (Burgers and Bruce)
2016           James Draven (Dearly Departures)
2015           Emma Gregg (All About Everywhere)
2014           Mark Hodson (101 Holidays)
2013           Charlie Walker (Charlie Walker Explore)

AITO Travel Trade Writer of the Year

2019            James Draven (TTG)
2018            Sarah Gilbert (Travel Weekly)
2017            Pippa Jacks (TTG)
​2016            Joanna Booth (Aspire magazine)​