National Geographic - World Legacy Awards
Announcing the 2017 World Legacy Awards Winners
See the 5 Winners Here!
About the Awards
Honoring Leaders and Visionaries in Sustainable Tourism Best Practices
2017 Winner's Gallery
The Best in Sustainability
The World Legacy Awards in the News
Discover What's New

In honoring the UN Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, congratulations to all of the 2017 Winners and Finalists of the World Legacy Awards, who are leading the way to a brighter sustainable tourism future.


At National Geographic, we are always pursuing our mission to push further to illuminate the unknown and the spectacular. Travel fits perfectly within this broad mission, and we see travel as a positive force to inspire more people to care about the planet through exploration, science, discovery and, yes, a great trip shared with friends and family. Fifteen years ago, we pioneered the World Legacy Awards, based on a firm belief that travel should also be about giving back to local people and the planet. In 2002, National Geographic Traveler and Conservation International came together to launch the first-ever global sustainable tourism awards that included rigorous on-site inspections, led by a team of international travel experts who were also at the forefront of the ecotourism movement. We wanted to make sure that what a travel company said they were doing on paper was real in practice. We sent film crews to document innovative sustainability best practices and, in 2003, the first World Legacy Awards were celebrated on stage at National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, D.C., with Queen Noor of Jordan serving as our official Chairperson.

The World Legacy Awards grew in stature and National Geographic went on to partner with ITB Berlin in 2015, bringing the awards to the largest travel-industry gathering on Earth. As the UN World Tourism Organization celebrates the 2017 Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, we are now setting our compass towards the new frontiers of travel, including a new vision for recognizing global leadership among innovative hotels, outfitters, and destinations that embrace exploring the world while safeguarding cultural and natural treasures for future generations.

We want to thank the great partners who have joined us on this worthy quest, especially our friends at ITB Berlin, Adventure World, TreadRight Foundation, and Botswana Tourism. The journey continues, as we reshape and redefine the World Legacy Awards to take travel further in 2018 and beyond.

Costas Christ
World Legacy Awards Chairman

About the Awards

The World Legacy Awards honor the companies, organizations, and destinations-ranging from airlines to hotels, from communities to countries-that are driving the positive transformation of the tourism industry, showcasing leaders and visionaries in sustainable tourism best practices, and sharing their stories with millions of today's travelers.


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World Legacy Awards Finalist Interviews

This year's 15 World Legacy Awards Finalists - 3 each in 5 different award categories - range from a private island resort in the Indian Ocean working to protect rare and endemic species to indigenous community groups in South America harnessing the power of tourism to safeguard their cultural heritage and improve their livelihoods. From the Arctic tundra to the rainforests of South East Asia, these Award Finalists are demonstrating how a great holiday can also make the world a better place. As the United Nations celebrates 2017 as The International Year of Sustainable Tourism, we spoke to each of the Finalists about their own work to make travel a force for good. Here is what they had to say:

World Legacy Awards Judge Interviews

World Legacy Awards Judges are passionate visionaries, movers and shakers working to save the planet, promote peace, fight poverty and safeguard cultural heritage - united under the banner of sustainable tourism. Meet three of our judges who, in their own words, talk about what it is like to be a judge for the world's most distinguished sustainable tourism awards, and their thoughts on the travel and tourism industry.

Laura Turner Seydel
Laura Turner Seydel
Laura is an international environmental advocate and eco-living expert dedicated to creating a healthy and sustainable future for children... READ MORE »
Jessica Hall Upchurch
Jessica Hall Upchurch
With a deep love for the outdoors and children, Jessica spearheads the $15.5 billion Virtuoso global travel network efforts on ensuring the organization uses its influence to advance sustainable tourism practices... READ MORE »
Sandra Howard
Sandra Howard
Sandra served as the Secretary General of Sustainable Tourism for the Small Islands Forum and has represented Colombia at the Americas Commission of the United Nations World Tourism Organization... READ MORE »
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Related Content

World Legacy Awards Chairman and Traveler magazine Editor at Large Costas Christ is on the sustainable travel beat at National Geographic. Follow him on Twitter @CostasChrist and read some of his stories by clicking on the links below.

My Sustainable Travel Manifesto
Some people look for the pool. Others head to the concierge. Me? The very first thing I do when I arrive at a hotel is... READ MORE »
Saving Nature
A notable thing is taking place around the globe: Communities and conservation entrepreneurs are creating private nature reserves, from coral lagoons in Asia to sanctuaries in the Americas... READ MORE »
Jane Goodall
Questions for Jane Goodall
Conservation crusader, renowned primatologist, and Nat Geo Explorer-in-Residence Emeritus Dr. Jane Goodall talks about her hope for the future and the double-edged sword of tourism... READ MORE »
Hard Truths from the Backpacker Trail
I was a 21-year-old backpacker in search of paradise. I thought I found it in southern Thailand, then things went wrong... READ MORE »
Lessons From the Philippines
A tale of tourism development on two islands reveals important lessons for other travel destinations... READ MORE »
The Giver's Conundrum
Volunteering while traveling, or voluntourism, is growing but who really benefits... READ MORE »
A Sustainable Travel Compendium
A collection of tales and tips from Costas' National Geographic Column... READ MORE »
Show More »


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