Travel essay competition fosters future talent for the travel and tourism industry
Secondary school students in South Africa, Russia, Hong Kong, Ireland and Britain have been named winners in a travel essay-writing contest sponsored by the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership (GTTP), a coalition of tourism education programs. The young writers responded imaginatively to the competition theme, ‘Secret Trails of My Country’, covering a wide variety of experiences ranging from hiking in South Africa to exploring a prehistoric copper mine in Ireland. The overarching aim of GTTP is to educate young people about the travel and tourism industry and the career options within it. It is hoped that the Travel Essay Competition has encouraged young people to develop the communication skills so integral to a career in the industry.
The competition judges awarded two principal prizes, with the best junior and best senior student essays each scooping US$1,000.
The winner of the international senior student category was Kingsley McGhee of East London in South Africa's East Cape Province, for her story Amatole Pirie Forest Hike. The judges were particularly impressed by Kingsley’s ability to bring the story to life, transporting the reader to the scene. Winner in the international junior student category was Dar'ya Smirnova,14, of Cherepovets in the Vologda region of northwest Russia. Her essay, entitled Ustuzhna: Meaningful History and Amazing Nature, details a historic Russian community and its unspoiled surrounding countryside. Judge Ingrid Eras represents her company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, on the GTTP board. She was particularly impressed by Dar’ya’s essay: “After reading about this fascinating place, I now really want to go and see it!”
The essays were judged on the basis of creativity, relevance to the theme, relevance of photos to the text, grammar, originality and style. “The most successful essays combined a factual basis with a personal enthusiasm that was both convincing and contagious," said another judge, Fran Gendlin, author of travel guides, former President of the Association of American University Presses and editor of several magazines.
Ian Wheeler, Senior Vice President, Marketing for global travel technology provider Amadeus and currently Chair of GTTP Advisory Board, was pleased with the success of the competition: "The idea is to encourage and reward the writing skills of young people who we hope to attract to our industry, while also to asking them to reflect on what visitors might find interesting in their native communities. The standard of entry was extremely high, and we very much hope to welcome some of these students into the travel & tourism industry in years to come."
The Global Travel and Tourism Partnership (GTTP) is a not-for-profit organisation working internationally to educate young people about the travel and tourism industry and the career options within it. Approximately 495,000 students around the world currently study in GTTP member schools. In addition to running the Travel Essay Competition, GTTP provides an academic curriculum, called Passport to the World; teacher training and international research. It also acts as a liaison between schools and local businesses to foster collaboration and provide work-study opportunities for students.
Other winners at the national level were:
Secret Trails of Hong Kong, Lam Hei Tung, Hong Kong
The Ross Island Mining Trail, A Secret Trail of My Country, Robert Lucey, Killarney, Ireland
A Simple Miracle: A Splinter of the Golden Empire, Aleksandra Mart’yanova, Primorsky Province, Russian Far East
Bramhill Park, Katy Murr, Stockport, United Kingdom.
The 'Hidden' Tyndale Monument, Will Clutterbuck, Wotton under Edge, United Kingdom
Sponsors of both the essay competition and of the GTTP are:
Amadeus IT Group; The American Express Foundation; Hogg Robinson Group; The Hertz Companies; KLM; Lufthansa; Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.; the World Travel & Tourism Council.