National Geographic - World Legacy Awards
Announcing the 2017 World Legacy Awards Finalists
See the 15 Finalists Here
About the Awards
Honoring Leaders and Visionaries in Sustainable Tourism Best Practices
2016 Winner Gallery
Postcards from the Cutting Edge
The World Legacy Awards in the News
Discover What's New


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, National Geographic 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. Our goal was to make sure that what a company said they were doing on paper was real in practice. We sent film crews to document sustainable tourism in action 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.

We look forward to the day when there may be no need to put "sustainable" as a qualifier for describing better tourism. We look forward to the day when helping to protect global heritage and improve local livelihoods will be expected of any travel outfitter, hotel or destination. So, nearly two decades after we first introduced the World Legacy Awards, we are now setting our compass towards the next frontiers of travel. We will continue to embrace exploring our planet while safeguarding cultural and natural treasures for future generations. As we push beyond the World Legacy Awards, we will embark on new stories and innovations, taking the positive power of travel further.

We are proud to thank our friends at ITB Berlin, Adventure World, TreadRight Foundation, and Botswana Tourism, who joined us in making the World Legacy Awards a great success.

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.


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 four 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 »
Show More »
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 »


  • Announcing the 2017 Winners READ MORE »
  • Announcing the 2016 Winners READ MORE »
  • Announcing the 2016 Finalists READ MORE »
  • New Sponsors Announced for 2016 World Legacy Awards. Learn about their sustainable tourism efforts. GO NOW »
  • View the 2015 Winner's Gallery. VIEW NOW »

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