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. Check back for news and updates about the 2018 World Legacy Awards in the weeks ahead.


With the United Nations Declaration of 2017 as The International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development, a global movement is now fully underway to transform the travel and tourism industry to be a positive force for people and the planet. At National Geographic, this transformation reached center stage at ITB Berlin to celebrate the 2017 World Legacy Awards winners and finalists - the companies, organizations, and destinations that are blazing the trail in sustainable tourism best practices. You can read interviews with our finalists below, see the video about how travel can change the world, which played to a packed house during the opening of World Legacy Awards Ceremony at ITB Berlin on 8th March, and learn about this year's winners and watch their video clips by clicking on the links found on this page. You can also read interviews with some of our judges to learn who they are. As the global travel industry (yes, it is an industry, and a big one) continues to grow, the question before us is not whether sustainable tourism can work to harness the power of travel to safeguard cultural and natural heritage, support environmentally-friendly practices, and deliver meaningful economic and social benefits to local people. It does, as the World Legacy Awards winners and finalists also demonstrate. Rather, let’s focus on the most important topic: How far can we take sustainable tourism practices to usher in a brighter travel future? Each of our travel choices makes a difference. When travel is done the right way - the sustainable way - then we can all be part of this great travel transformation. Wishing you enlightened journeys!

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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