When it came to Contribution to Experiential Travel, our panel were looking for individuals whose efforts have directly influenced the development of the experiential travel movement – true mavericks whose commitment, curiosity and daring sets new standards for the industry at large.
Discover this year’s shortlist below and remember to vote for your winner by 12 September. The winners will be revealed at the Awards Party in Marrakech on Tuesday 13 September, brought to you by Tourism Australia and hosted by Sofitel Palais Impérial.
Born and bred in Zimbabwe and a true conservationist at heart, Wilderness Safaris CEO Keith Vincent plays a vital role in pioneering authentic and sustainable ecotourism in Africa. His daring nature has seen the company launch new camps in Namibia and Zimbabwe, sign agreements with like-minded partners in East Africa and continuously pursue opportunities to build further conservation economies in Africa; Bisate Lodge will open in Rwanda in 2017 for gorilla ecotourism and community empowerment.
LOUISA ‘CHOPPY’ PATTERSON
2016 marks the 30th anniversary of Over The Top. Starting in 1986, Louisa ‘Choppy’ Patterson is a pioneer in high-end tourism, creating helicopter excursions to provide access to remote and pristine areas. She has been a leader in the industry and put her stamp on experiential travel in Fiordland, Queenstown and New Zealand. Today, she holds a Platinum Safety Award and operates the latest helicopters. With her team, she continues to innovate and set the benchmark for New Zealand’s interpretation of luxury.
Sixteen years ago, while buses dropped off tourists at the Forbidden City, Mei Zhang was leading luxury camping trips into China’s southwest jungles. This year, Mei changed the way the Chinese travel in their own country through the website, Newugo, the Airbnb of experiential travel. Travelers choose from over 230 experiences, provided entirely by local community members, like supper at a farmer’s home or a day at a cheese maker’s workshop. Mei is again breaking through traditional travel agency models.
For 21 years Paul Strachan has been the most innovative and influential figure in the river boat cruising market in Asia. His knowledge, vision and determination have enabled thousands of travellers to experience up close the unspoiled natural and cultural tapestries of rural Southeast Asia. Pandaw pioneered immersive expeditions on the Irrawaddy, Mekong and Ganges on specially-built vessels invoking the comforts and service-levels of a vanished era. Many others have followed in his wake.
A lifetime spent setting and raising the bar for Ecuador’s environment, along with his well-respected business acumen, made it possible for Roque Sevilla to realize his dream of expanding the impact of his visionary purchase of 1,400 hectares (ha) of primary forest in the almost destroyed Choco region by successfully lobbying for the creation of a 17,200 ha protected area that has transformed the map of Ecuador. Visitors to the reserve’s stunning Mashpi Lodge leave inspired to forge change at home.
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