ASTW Announces 2018 Convention Key Dates, Hotel & Airline Partners

The Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) announces key dates and event partners for the 2018 Convention, ahead of registrations opening next week. Sponsored by Tourism Authority of Thailand, the convention will be held in Bangkok from 16-19 August at Anantara Riverside Hotels and Avani Riverside with an exclusive flight offer available from Thai Airways International.

Registration and flight bookings open 5 March via Key dates include:

  • Convention registration: 5 March-15 April
  • Flight bookings: 5 March-30 June
  • Members notified of famils: from 4 May
  • Convention: 16-19 August 

The 2018 Convention consists of a three-day program of events; including speaker sessions and workshops, the annual general meeting, and events culminating in the Awards for Excellence gala dinner.

Award sponsorships and speaking opportunities are available for members and non-members. For sponsor enquiries, please contact For speaking opportunities, please send a pitch to

Tourism Authority of Thailand’s 2018 messaging “Open to the New Shades of Thailand” showcases the depth of Thailand’s tourism as a land of amazing diversity worth discovering further. A comprehensive pre and post famil program for media and PR members is themed around “Unique Thai Local Experiences” with a selection of 11 itineraries, from hillside villages to national parks and island retreats.

Set on the banks of the grand Chao Phraya River, Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort is a thriving oasis offering a unique way to experience the City of Angels. Majestic palms swaying in the breeze. Spa treatments hidden within lush tropical gardens. Luxurious suites lit by the twinkle of the city skyline. Delectable meals fusing tastes from around the globe.

At AVANI Riverside Bangkok Hotel, wake up in rooms and suites with arresting views – each and every one looks over the river and the city skyline. Wine and dine sky high and toast to the City of Angels taking in the panoramic views of the city’s skyscape. Treat yourself to a spa day or lounge by the rooftop infinity pool.

During 2018, Thai Airways International celebrates 58 years flying travellers from the heart of Asia across the world and 47 years connecting Australians with the world’s favourite Asian city, Bangkok. THAI now flies 39 times a week from Australia with daily services from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth and connections through its global hub, Suvarnabhumi Bangkok International Airport, to popular destinations in Thailand and across Asia to India and Europe.

For more information about ASTW or to become a member, visit or contact Secretariat, Justine White, on


Travel Awards

Travel Writing and Photography Awards Calendar

Travel Awards

Global Travel Awards

ASTW has partnering with the British Guild of Travel Writers and the Society of American Travel Writers for the inaugural Global Travel Awards. ASTW writers, photographers and PRs will be competing with colleagues from Britain and the US, with the winners pocketing US$1000 each as well as receiving a wonderful prize. More information here.

ASTW Awards for Excellence

The ASTW Awards are open only to ASTW members, with 21 categories in total. Entries close around 1 May 2020 and presented at the annual AGM in October. More information to be published soon. View the 2019 winners here.

CLIA – Media Award – Cruise Lines International Association

AFTA NTIA Awards – Australian Federation of Travel Agents

Nominations open Jan each year. Awards held in July.

Tasmanian Media Awards

Nominations close around mid-March. Awards held around May.

South Australian Media Awards

Entries close around March. Awards held around June.

PATA Gold – Award – Pacific Asia Travel Association

Entries close around April. Awards held around September.

Travel Media Awards (For work published in print or online in UK)

Entries close around April-May. Awards held in September.

Kennedy Awards – Outstanding Travel Writing

Entries close 1st July each year. Awards held around August.

Queensland Clarion Awards

Entries close mid-July. Awards held around September.

WA Media Awards

Entries open around June and close around August. Awards held around November.

NT Media Awards

Entries open around July and close around August. Awards held around November. 

Walkley Awards

Entries open around July and close around August. Awards held around November.

Australian Travel Awards

Categories include Social Media & PR Campaigns, Tourism Boards. Entries close around August. Awards held around November.

Photography Awards

Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize

Entries close around early March. Winners announced in May

National Geographic Travel Photo Contest

Categories include Nature, Cities, People. Entries close around March, late entries accepted until May for increased fee. Winners announced around June.

Head On Photo Festival

Categories include Portrait, Landscape, Mobile. Entries close around mid-February. Awards held around May.

Fremantle International Portrait Prize – Biennial Award

Entries closed for 2019. Exhibition 13-27 October 2019

Australian Photography Awards

Categories include Landscape, Travel/Street, Wildlife, Portrait, Mobile. Entries open June-Sept.

The Nature Conservancy 2019 Photo Contest

The global photo contest open in August. There will be a range of categories including one for Australia-based photographers, with fabulous local and global prizes you can win from a prize pool of $20,000.

National Photographic Portrait Prize

Entries open around October.

Underwater Tour Awards

This international underwater photography competition has five categories and closes 29 Feb 2020.

Prizes for each of the five category winners comprise; AUD$500 cash, a Nautilus Lifeline personal rescue beacon and Momento Pro AUD$250 photo book voucher PLUS an overarching GURU AWARD for the winning portfolio submission of a minimum of five (5) photos. The Guru winner will receive a Whales Underwater whale swim experience of 7 nights/5 days on the water in Tonga.

How To Be Successful On Instagram

You might want to grab a cuppa and a notepad and pen for this deep-dive into the world of Instagram. Thanks so much to PR member Hannah Statham of Media Mortar and influencer member Monique Ceccato for taking the time to help demystify ‘the ‘gram’ for us.

Do I really need Instagram? What possible advantage could it give me? 


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Instagram, like Facebook, is a non-negotiable in this profession these days. From the perspective of a brand, your Instagram is becoming one of the first touchpoints (even before Google), for a customer to find you and choose to buy your product or service.

From the perspective of a PR or writer or anyone in the industry, Instagram is an invaluable piece of personal branding.

It’s where people can quickly find out more about you, what you write about, your passions and what you stand for at a quick glance.

Whether I want to hire someone, work with someone or collaborate on a project, I always check out their online footprint. HS

Nobody really needs an Instagram account, but you’d be silly to not take advantage of the platform. You might not be the world’s best photographer, but as a travel writer, sharing your photos on Instagram allows you to showcase the destinations you have been and share your written work through another medium (yes, you can put multiple links to your work in Instagram). Plus, building a strong Instagram presence helps to persuade certain PRs and brands they should be working with you as opposed to someone else. MC

What to post on Instagram and what should I stay away from?

Social media is meant to be fun, not a chore, so post about the things that light you up and interest you.

If you’re stuck on what to post I’d recommend creating yourself a mini content strategy. It doesn’t need to be a tome – just a dot point list of things you could promote or talk about – which will help when you have social media caption/content block.

If I was a writer my content strategy might include: stories I’ve written (linking out to them where possible), trips I’m about to go on to create hype and build anticipation, trips I’m currently on, what to pack, how I pack, funny things I see and life behind the laptop. If you rotate your content through these themes, you’ll have lots of variety and never wonder “what should I post again”.

When it comes to what not to post, steer clear of anything illegal (obvs) and anything that promotes unethical practices. Remember that social media is just a megaphone for your voice – so use it wisely. If you wouldn’t say what you’re about to say on the street corner with a megaphone attached … don’t put it on the internet for the world. HS

Aside from the obvious “don’t post anything vulgar or illegal”, there’s only one rule about what you should be posting – “post what makes you happy”. Just make sure what you’re posting is a reflection of yourself and what you love. The more authentic you can be, the more your audience will resonate with what you’re putting out there. The simplest of photos can attract a lot of engagement if you accompany it with a fantastic, thought-provoking caption. MC

What’s the best way to attract and build followers?


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The first thing to call out here is that Instagram is both a push and pull channel. What I mean by this is, you have to push your content out, and then you need to engage on the platform and pull people back to your account. Let’s talk about push first – it’s easier. When I run social media workshops, I tell people there’s only three secret ingredients: consistency, frequency and quality content.

If you post good quality content, that’s consistent for your audience (e.g. don’t interrupt your nice travel photos with the kid’s birthday party) at a regular frequency, you’ll start to attract and build followers. To pull people to your feed – that’s a bit harder. You need to engage with other members of the IG community. This means responding to their photos, liking other people’s content and asking questions on other feeds. If you really want to grow your feed, I’d suggest spending more time pulling than pushing content. HS

Engage, hashtag, engage, engage, engage. If there was an easier answer, we would all have hundreds of thousands of followers by now. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple and building an audience takes time, effort, and a whole lot of authenticity. The more conversations you can start with accounts that you love, the better.

Try searching the hashtags that you use regularly, and engage with similar accounts. Don’t forget to geotag (the location) and tag other accounts (e.g. the tourism bureau you worked with on a famil, or the restaurant you’re eating at) either. There is a good chance they will share your image, exposing your account to even more eyes. MC

What about photos? Should I use only my own images? 


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Highlight #9/2019 – Becoming a billboard! You can just call me (BossHan) Miss Wynnum Road. Big love @hw_photography for the pic!

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I think this depends on what you want to achieve. I personally only use my own images as I’m trying to use my personal Instagram account to promote full-service content (words, images, videos) so it makes sense to use my own content rather than promote someone else’s. For a number of destinations’ social media accounts that we run, we only use user-generated content (UGC). If you’re using UGC, it’s important that you credit the photographer correctly and use their images with permission. HS

If personal brand-building’s not the aim of your Instagram-game, then #reposts are fine (so long as you credit the original photographer). Just remember that having a feed full of other people’s work is far less personal and while it may get a lot of likes because you’ve chosen great photos to share, it isn’t necessarily doing anything for building a super-engaged following. MC

How often should I post and does it matter what time of day it is?


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There are no hard and fast rules. If you’re new to social, I’d suggest starting slow. Posting once a week is better than no times per week. You can build (if you want to) from there. What’s arguably more important than how many times you post is when you post. To find out when your audience are online (if you are a business profile): hit the three lines in the top right-hand corner of the app. Tap insights, audience. Scroll down and then you’ll get a graph of when your followers are online. If you can, time your activity with them. HS

The more you’re posting and engaging on the app, the more your posts will be seen and the better chance you have of building an audience. That’s not to say you should be posting multiple times per day – nobody has time for or wants to see that.

If you don’t want to make the switch to a business account, plan your post for a time when most people would be sitting around checking their phone. Like after dinner but before bedtime or when most people would be commuting. It’s best to avoid Friday and Saturday nights. MC

What’s the best scheduling tool to use then?

Ha! I’ve used them all and to be honest, they all have pros and cons. For personal use, I think ‘Later’ or ‘Plan That’ are the best. If you’re running an enterprise account it’s hard to beat Falcon. My biggest tip is to plan your content. We plan ours fortnightly, allocating around 30 minutes each to plan 3 posts per week. That way we can get on with our work rather than scratching around wondering what to post each day. HS

Scheduling tools vary in features, ease of use, and price. But be aware they can severely impact the reach your posts have. The key to getting more people seeing your post (and therefore engaging with it) is to make sure you spend some time scrolling and engaging with other accounts right after you have posted your own image. When you use a scheduling tool, you miss out on that vital interaction. MC

Some Instagrammers seem to get lots of comments when they post, how do I get conversations happening? 

Just ask your followers a question and you’ll start to find the answer. For example, if you posted a carousel of Japan in summer vs winter – you might like to ask “Which is the best season to visit?” or “When is the best time to visit?”. If you give people something to respond to, you’ll start to see your comments and engagement spike. HS

Post something that gets people’s attention – be it the image itself, or a fabulous in-depth caption. You don’t need to be a world-class photographer to get conversations happening on your post. Be clever about what you post in your caption, and watch the comments come in. Heck, you can even ask a question in your caption to pry the comments out of them. MC

Hashtags. What are they, and why and how should I use them? 

Hashtags are just search words. So just as you could search “coffee Brisbane” to find a list of best coffee shops in Brisbane, you can do the same with hashtags. On Instagram you have 30 hashtags you can post with each picture, which I see as 30 opportunities to be found. You can put 10 hashtags on stories too, which I think is a lesser-known IG fact. When we do stories for clients, we bury these behind a gif so the story doesn’t look cluttered with text. Just pinch the text so it’s really small and move it around on the picture to a place that’s quite obscure.  HS

Hashtags basically help to categorise images into aggregate feeds. Say, for example, you want to see images of Fiji, you can search the #fiji hashtag and see any image that has been posted with that hashtag. This means your work becomes more visible when you use hashtags too. Just be careful about what you choose to hashtag with. It’s all well and good to use #fiji, but with thousands of posts using the tag each day, it’s easy for your image to get lost in the pile. Choosing more specific hashtags – e.g. #fijibeach – can sometimes end up being more fruitful. Using an irrelevant hashtag just because it seems to be performing well is also a no-no. MC

What are Instagram ‘stories’ and why should I use them? 

Stories started out as an add-on feature but they’ve become so powerful, many people are using them over their Instagram feed as their primary content. Consider them a bit like a visual diary of what you’ve been up to. Given they ‘die’ after 24 hours – the style can be more rough and ready, which I think makes them more accessible and appealing to people new/nervous to Instagram.

Stories offer a great opportunity to show the behind the scenes of life on the road. I’ve seen writers use them incredibly well for room walkthroughs, showcasing a meal and tourism experience. I’ve also seen writers save a destination to their ‘highlights’ reel, so you can refer back to their tips and tricks whenever you like.

Interesting statistics for Instagram stories:

  • 6% of Instagrammers post on Instagram Stories.
  • Brands now use Instagram Stories and posts almost equally
  • 6% of Instagrammers prefer watching stories rather than Insta posts.

Therefore, it’s not just about getting rid of posting on Instagram altogether but spreading your message across posts and stories as they continue to grow in popularity.  HS

Instagram stories are 15-second snippets, a photo or video) and are a great way to share a more ‘real’ side to your Instagram account. Think of your Instagram feed as a portfolio, and your stories as a ‘behind the scenes’. You might post the hero shot in your feed, but then followers can get a behind the scenes look at that shot in your stories. They’re also another great way to interact with your audience, with poll, quiz, and Q&A functions. The best part? You can add swipe up links to your stories, making them a great way to showcase any work that’s been published online! MC

Any other tips for anyone just starting out? 

It’s really important to know your ‘why’ – that is, why you’re sinking time into Instagram. Everyone’s why will be different – maybe it’s to win more work, outperform competitors, establish a personal brand or just share funny travel moments – you’ll be able to measure your success if you know your why.  Your ‘why’ should never be “to have more followers than X person”.

The biggest mistake I see people make is they get frustrated they aren’t growing their followers fast enough so they a) buy them b) create ridiculous cross-promotion competition posts which spike their followers quickly and drop them just as fast. If your ‘why’ is to acquire new business, you’ll be able to accept the fact your growth is slow but steady – and measure your success not through Instagram itself but its conversion of customers. HS

You can follow hashtags in your feed! Just search the hashtag (i.e. #astw) and hit ‘follow’. Explore other accounts this way. Don’t stress about numbers. The worst thing you can do is get caught up in the numbers game and forget why you were there in the first place – to share things that you want to share. Follow accounts that you love. If you realise an account is making you think negatively, unfollow immediately (or hide their feed) and connect your Instagram to your Facebook feed (in your settings). You can post on two platforms with half the effort! MC

Global Travel Awards Unveiled

Global Travel Media Alliance (GTMA), unveiled the inaugural Global Travel Awards at TravMedia’s International Media Marketplace (IMM) held in New York today.

The GTMA awards will honour the 2020 Global Travel Writer, Global Travel Photographer, and Global Travel Communicator.

The GTMA is a collaboration between the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), the British Guild of Travel Writers (BGTW) and the Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW).

In September 2018, the three organisations, which represent the top travel writers, photographers, and PR professionals in three regions of the world, signed an agreement to identify synergies, to share best practices, and to collaborate on bi-national projects. The Global Travel Awards, open to members of SATW, BGTW and ASTW, represents a significant initiative.

2020 Global Travel Writer is sponsored by AccorHotels. The prize includes a five-night stay at the legendary Raffles Singapore. Originally opened in 1887, the Raffles Singapore reopened last August following a painstaking, two-and-a-half-year restoration. The winner will be among the first to experience this new chapter for an iconic hotel, now a flagship property for Accor.

Gaynor Reid, Vice President Communications and CSR Accor Asia Pacific, said that Accor is delighted to be involved in the inaugural Global Travel Awards because it will bring together the very best travel writers from around the world and help to inspire people to travel more and experience more of this beautiful planet. “With 5,000 hotels and resorts globally, including almost 1,200 in Asia-Pacific, Accor is the most diverse hotel operator in the world
with the broadest geographical footprint. We are always keen to help support great storytelling around the wonders of travel.”

2020 Global Travel Photographer is sponsored by Abercrombie & Kent, which will award an exciting Arctic Cruise Adventure to the winning photographer. The 15-day trip for two aboard the luxurious, all-balcony ‘Le Boreal’ will journey in search of the polar bear — from the Svalbard Islands to the remote east coast of Greenland on to the West Fjords of Iceland – in the company of an award-winning Expedition Team of scientists, historians and a dedicated photo coach.

Geoffrey Kent, Founder and Co-Chairman, Abercrombie & Kent said: “As the world’s leading luxury and adventure travel company with over 55 offices in more than 30 countries, we are pleased to sponsor this new global award to honour the best travel photography of the year. Distinctive images that capture authentic experiences inspire curiosity and fuel the desire to travel.

2020 Global Travel Communicator is sponsored by TravMedia, the travel industry’s global media networking platform. TravMedia will award a PR firm or individual for their work in PR communications focused on sustainable travel. The three organisations are committed to the promotion of responsible, sustainable and balanced tourism, and this award is designed to reward that effort on a global level. The winner will receive a $5,000 Apple gift card.

Owner and CEO of TravMedia, Nick Wayland, said they are thrilled to be supporting the collaboration of the travel media organisations spread across three regions of the world. “Awards highlight the hard work and dedication of individuals in our industry, and it’s exciting to see our colleagues recognized for their contribution in promoting both great destinations and sustainable travel.”

Judging will be by an independent panel, three per category (nine total) of top travel editors, photographers, and PR professionals representing the US-Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. Contest rules are on the awards website,, and entries will be accepted from January 31 – February 28, 2020. Winners will be announced on May 12, 2020. #GTMAawards

For more information contact:
ASTW: Mandy Dwyer or Saskia Baker –
SATW: David Swanson or Barbara Ramsay Orr –
BGTW: Alastair McKenzie –

whitsundays heart reef


The Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) committee has called for tenders inviting destinations to bid for the ASTW 2021 and 2022 Annual Convention and famil program.

According to ASTW President Helen Hayes, hosting of the annual convention is an unparalleled opportunity to showcase a destination to leading editors, writers, digital influencers, photographers, broadcasters and PR professionals from Australia and internationally.

“As a result of their support and involvement, convention hosts receive significant media exposure in leading Australian and international magazines, newspapers, radio stations, television programs and numerous social media outlets”, said Ms Hayes.

“The 2018 convention generated in excess of 100 documented stories about the destination in leading Australian and international media outlets. This exposure has been instrumental in driving greater knowledge and increased tourism for these destinations”.

The successful tender will be required to demonstrate capacity to offer a tourism destination that is of interest to the Australian market; have facilities to host all elements of the convention; and the capacity to provide a comprehensive pre and post famil program for delegates.

Comprising more than 340 members, the Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) has been the peak travel writing body in the country for more than 40 years. Members include writers, photographers, editors, radio and television presenters, filmmakers, bloggers, digital influencers and public relations representatives who are professionally engaged to produce articles, reviews, photographs, stories and social media commentary on national and international travel destinations and experiences.

To request a copy of the tender document or for further details, please email ASTW PR Representatives, Saskia Baker and Mandy Dwyer via email:

Tender submissions are due: 2021 – 1 July 2020.

Download the tender document here

ASTW Bushfire Appeal

How ASTW members can help bushfire recovery

We have started 2020 with a baptism of fire affecting many Australian families and communities, some already struggling with drought. The nation’s profound thanks must go to the frontline services facing the fires head-on and the emergency responders.

With a situation that is continually changing, it is difficult for people who are out of the affected regions to know how they can help. Donating to a wide range of recognised charities (link to charities to donate to) is a good start, but the recovery from the bushfires, in particular, will need a long-term effort.

How can ASTW help?

As travel industry professionals, we all realise that many regions across Australia remain unaffected by the bushfires and continue to offer incredible and unique Australian experiences. We can use our skills as communicators to spread the word that these doors are still open.

Even more importantly, we can help communities recover by sharing stories about their regions when they are welcoming visitors again. Check the ASTW Facebook page for updates shared from local tourism bodies as these regions come back into the tourism realm.

Tourism Australia, in consultation with State Tourism Offices, has developed a Bushfire Information page on This page contains information about the key tourism regions in Australia that have been affected by the bushfires and is updated daily.

We can all help by supporting the communities that have been affected by buying their products and drinking their wine.  Check the ASTW Facebook page for links to charities and ways to help bushfire recovery.

How can writers help?

  • Share your Australian stories on the Australian Society of Travel Writers Facebook page, so they can be reshared with a broader audience.
  • Use your social media channels and websites to share positive stories on Australian travel to appropriate regions.
  • Pitch regional tourism stories to editors and publications

How can PR members help?

  • Work with your clients to find ways to support those affected.
astw hktb

Rising Star Winner 2019

ASTW & HKTB’s Rising Star Winner Announced

Tayla Gentle has been named the 2019 winner of the Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) and Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) Rising Star Award for her article published on the popular site.

Craig Platt, Managing Editor of Nine’s, who selected the winner from a shortlist of finalists, said: “Tayla Gentle’s story took a relatively common travel experience – a lesson at a cooking school – and turned it into a powerful story with humour and heart. Her piece on the inspirational women of Nepal showed that there are ways to go beyond the surface and learn from a local culture.”

Judges included Hong Kong Tourism Board’s Regional Director – Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, Andrew Clark; former editor for RoyalAuto and travel writer for 20 years, Jeremy Bourke, and award-winning freelance journalist and media industry academic, Lee Mylne.

rising star 2019

Sarah McCarthy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board and ASTW secretary Jeremy Bourke are pictured with Tayla Gentle (centre), who was named the winner of the ASTW’s 2020 Rising Star Award

Tayla wins a hosted four-night famil to Hong Kong, sponsored by HKTB, with her subsequent story to be published on and considered for print. She also receives an annual Rising Star membership to the ASTW.

The award and prize were presented at the Melbourne ASTW Christmas lunch on December 5 by Sarah McCarthy, HKTB’s Manager, Public Relations & Media.

“I am incredibly grateful to be accepting the Rising Star Award – it’s such an honour to have my words recognised by the industry panel.,” Tayla said. “Travel to me has always been an antidote to ignorance, the best dose of perspective you can get, and it’s a privilege to think I might be able to share stories that help bring people and cultures together.

“As for Hong Kong, I am super excited to get on the ground and eat my way through the dai pai dongs. I’m also excited to work with the teams at Traveller and the Hong Kong Tourism Board to see what we can create together.”

Since studying journalism, Tayla has spent the last several years working as a freelance producer creating content for brands such as Intrepid Travel, Kathmandu and Pedestrian.TV. Her passion for adventure travel began when she moved to Guatemala as a 19-year-old and has since taken her into the wilds of Patagonia, the Mongolian steppe and the Lesotho Mountains.

The Rising Star Award collaboration between HKTB and the ASTW was introduced in 2018 and is aimed at encouraging a new generation of travel writers in Australia. The Award was open to writers and digital influencers who had their first paid travel story published in the past two years.

“The HKTB is thrilled to partner with the ASTW for the second consecutive year of the Rising Star Award and to be a part of an initiative that supports emerging travel writers. We look forward to welcoming Tayla to Hong Kong and working with the ASTW to continue to grow this award,” said Mr Clark.

Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting ethical and honest travel and the unbiased reporting of it. Its membership comprises of more than 300 travel writers, editors, broadcasters, digital influencers, authors, photographers and travel industry public relations professionals whose work appears regularly in Australian and international media. Members must satisfy strict criteria to join and are obligated to substantiate their membership annually by providing details of their published output or industry participation.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is a government sub vented organisation with the principal responsibilities of marketing and prompting Hong Kong as a preferred destination worldwide, as well as enhancing visitors’ experience once they arrive.

For more information contact:

Sarah McCarthy – / 02 8262 6810

Saskia Baker – / 0407 752 813

Travel books from the best in the business

CHRISTMAS is around the corner and what better gift than one that inspires, immerses and guides us through experience and words – travel books.

Six of the latest travel books to hit the market have been written by members of the Australian Society of Travel Writers and cover both far-flung destinations and those in our very backyard of Australia; including the recent award-winning “Go Your Own Way” written by Ben Groundwater.

The book collected “Best Travel Book” award at the ASTW Awards for Excellence in Cairns this year and is a perfect guide for solo travellers with tips on preparation, planning and safety, as well as anecdotal stories from his own experiences.

For a thought-invoking tale through the rugged landscapes of New Zealand, Laura Waters “Bewildered” will show how travel can do more than physically take you somewhere but change your very core.

Author and journalist Penny Watson has created a book on how to reconnect to the world at your own pace. “Slow Travel” is a beautifully designed and practical compendium of places, activities, tours and experiences.

For those looking for stories and advice on all things Australian, the following books and authors will have you searching for your next holiday close to home; Lee Atkinson’s “The Definitive Bucket List”- the ultimate guide to travel in your golden years; Melanie Ball has released an updated version of “Top Walks in Victoria“; and Danielle Lancaster’s latest release that just hit the shelves a week ago “Outback Queensland”.

For more information visit or check out your favourite online bookshop.

Best Travel Books

Go Your Own Way

Hacks, tips and tricks to travel the world solo.

By Ben Groundwater

Go Your Own Way will help you take your first bold steps into solo travel, with tips on preparation, planning and safety, as well as funny and useful stories from travel writer Ben Groundwater’s own experiences.

You’ll find details on all the best travel destinations for solo travellers, including the 10 best cities to visit, the 5 most amazing journeys, and also a few places that you may want to avoid on your own.

This guide will help you meet people and make friends, but it will also enable you to do all the things you love, in your own company.

Tropical Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef

By Danielle Lancaster

From Australian Geographic, this 62-page book is full of brilliant photography and facts from one of Australia’s leading travel writers. Includes sections on geography, wildlife and plant life, culture, and destinations such as Cape York, The Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef, Cairns and Kuranda and others.

RRP: $19.99. Individual copies available from Booktopia
For wholesale prices, personalised signed copies and copies for reviews please email

Outback Queensland

By Danielle Lancaster

From Australian Geographic, this 64-page book is full of vibrant photography and is accompanied by a concise but fascinating commentary from one of Australia’s leading travel writers. Travellers and children will pick it up time and again to whet their appetites. plan their own visits or relive their last visit. Includes sections on geography, wildlife and plant life, culture, and destinations such as Mount Isa, Birdsville, Longreach, Charleville, Winton and the Bulloo and Barcoo Shires and others.

RRP: $19.99
Individual copies available from Booktopia
For wholesale prices, personalised signed copies and copies for reviews please email

The Definitive Bucket List

Travel experiences in Australia and New Zealand.

By Lee Atkinson

Adventure before dementia. Spending the kids’ inheritance. Growing old disgracefully. Life begins at 50. 60 is the new 40. You see these catchy phrases on bumper stickers, tea towels and even t-shirts, but all jokes aside there is one thing we all know – no matter how old our driver’s license says we are, we all feel much younger at heart.  The Definitive Bucket List is the ultimate guide to travel in your golden years.

Travel keeps the memory sharp, the body fit and is a wonderful way to meet like-minded people, and this book shows how to get the most out of the best years of your life with hundreds of holiday experiences across Australia and New Zealand including insider tips, handy hints, special events and once-in-a-lifetime dream destinations for special occasions and family get-togethers.

There’s something for every kind of traveller, be it RV holidays in New Zealand or road trips around Australia to gourmet adventures, wildlife encounters, train trips, guided walks and cycling holidays.

Published by Hardie Grant Travel, hardcover, rrp $45

Australia’s Best Nature Escapes

A Curated Guide to Australia’s Best Wild-at-heart Getaways.

By Lee Atkinson

Getting back to nature doesn’t have to mean roughing it, not with this collection of 100 of Australia’s best nature-based holidays. There’s something for every kind of nature-lover in this beautiful book, from camping to glamping and six-star luxury lodges to rustic cabins in national parks, family-friendly holiday parks, great value holiday homes, luxe beachside resorts, rainforest retreats, hotels, island escapes, country hideaways, boathouses, houseboats and even a treehouse.

However you like to travel, from guided walks to cruising, safaris, to 4WD adventures and bareboat charters, you’ll find inspiration for your next holiday with more than 100 of Australia’s Best Nature Escapes. Whatever your budget, however, you like to go wild, you’ll find it here.

Published by Hardie Grant Travel, paperback, rrp $39.99


Leaving everything behind for 3,000km in the wilds of New Zealand (travel memoir).

By Laura Waters

What would move you to ditch your life and take off into the wild for five months? For Laura Waters, it took the implosion of a toxic relationship and a crippling bout of anxiety. Armed with maps, a compass and her life in a bag on her back, she set out to walk the untamed landscapes of the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand, 3000 kilometres of raw, wild, mountainous trail winding from the top of the North Island to the frosty tip of the South Island. But when her walking partner dropped out on the second day, she was faced with a choice: abandon the journey, or face her fears and continue on alone? She chose to walk on.

For five months, Laura battled not only treacherous terrain and elements, but also the demons of self-doubt and anxiety. As the kilometres fell behind her, nature did its work, stripping away her identity and guiding her towards a new way of being. At the end of Te Araroa, it was the hard-earned insights into the power of nature, emotional wellbeing and fulfilling relationships – with others as well as with herself – that were Laura’s greatest accomplishments. She emerged ‘rewilded’, and it transformed her life.

Top Walks in Victoria 2nd Edition

Victoria offers a jaw-dropping diversity of bushwalks through areas rich in natural wonders and colourful human history. Find a leg stretch for every weekend of the year and all levels of experience and fitness among the 69 walks in this pack-size guide.

The book divides the state into 12 regions and each walk is described in detail, mapped and illustrated with beautiful colour photographs. There are also tips on what to take and wear and how hikers can limit their environmental impact.

Walks included in the 1st edition (2014) have been fully updated and several new routes added.

Published by Hardie Grant Publishing; RRP: $34.99

Individual copies available through Booktopia. Other stockists are listed on the Hardie Grant Publishing website. For editors’ copies contact Hardie Grant Publishing.

London Pocket Precincts

A shopping, eating, drinking and cultural guide to the city

By Penny Watson

London is one of the world’s grandest cities, retaining many of those English traditions that are steeped in the culture – just like a good pot of tea. But at the same time, the city is an ever-evolving and multicultural melting pot where you’ll find cutting edge art and bohemian fashions. From hip Bermondsey with its markets and wine bars to affluent Knightsbridge’s grand department stores, this book covers the must-see attractions and also encourages you to wander off the main streets to find places that fly under the radar.

London Pocket Precincts is your curated guide to the city’s best cultural; shopping, eating and drinking experiences. As well as detailed reviews and maps for major attractions through to hidden gems, this guide includes a selection of field trips encouraging you to venture further afield to Greenwich, Bath, Henley ad Brighton.

Published by Hardie Grant Travel, RRP $19.99. Individual copies are available through Hardie Grant.

Slow Travel

Reconnecting with the world at your own pace.

By Penny Watson

It can be challenging to travel in the modern world, easily lured by the temptations of fast planes, cheap airlines, last-minute tickets, quick-fix travel apps and overzealous tour operators. To actually take a back seat, and allow time to embrace the ebb and flow of travel, requires a more thoughtful and philosophical way of journeying.

Slow Travel is a beautifully designed and practical compendium of places, activities, tours and experiences. In these pages, you’ll find a how-to guide of helpful tips, from planning for slow travel to what music to listen to in the slow zone, insightful interviews with the ultimate slow travellers, and ways to slow down your adventures in urban and far-flung locations. Be inspired to get on the road in your own time and on your own terms.

Published by Hardie Grant Travel, RRP $50. Individual copies are available online from Hardie Grant.

Whitsundays 2020

Tourism Whitsundays is excited to announce the 2020 Australian Society of Travel Writers annual convention will be held in The Whitsundays, The Heart of the Great Barrier Reef.

Australian Society of Travel Writers Announce the Winners of the 2019 Awards for Excellence

Australia’s top travel writers and public relations professionals were honoured at the annual ASTW Awards for Excellence gala held at TaNKs Art Centre, Cairns, on 19 October, 2019.

The top writer accolade, Travel Writer of the Year, sponsored by Visit USA Australia, was awarded to Louise Southerden who was judged on three stories published in Sydney Morning Herald’s Traveller section.

While not present at the gala awards night, Ms Southerden was delighted to win, saying via a proxy that, “I feel deeply honoured to win this award. Big thanks to the ASTW Committee and this year’s judges, to our generous award sponsor Visit USA, to Intrepid Travel and Walk Japan for the amazing trips that inspired my winning stories, and to Traveller for continuing to publish my work and for being one of the best outlets in Australia for thoughtful travel journalism.”

Hele Hayes and Dan Avila.

Photographer of the Year – sponsored by Abercrombie and Kent – went to Dan Avila: “I am honoured to receive this award tonight and to be in such prestigious company with the other nominees. Photography is my passion and I am honoured to be recognised for doing something that I love”.

Dan also was one of two winners for the Best Travel Photo sponsored by Thai Airways.

Francesca Baldi and Shelley Winkel.

The top PR Accolade, Communicator of the Year, was awarded to Shelley Winkel from Tourism and Events Queensland.

“Thank you to the ASTW for once again putting on such a great event, and thank you to the other nominees. I am humbled to be up against such powerhouses of the industry and it reflects the strength of our profession and its future”.

Catherine Marshall

These prestigious awards are now in their 26th year and are a highlight of the annual ASTW Convention, with over 150 guests travelling from across Australia to attend.

Other categories included Best Family Travel Story, Best Australian Story Over and Under 1000 words and Best Food Travel Story. Categories, winners and finalists are detailed below.

“ASTW members represent the leading writers, editors, publishers, content creators and public relations professionals of the Australian travel industry. Over 500 entries – a record-breaking number – were received across the 21 Award categories with an exceptional calibre of entrants. Being named a finalist is an absolute honour and I congratulate you all,” said ASTW President Helen Hayes.

“I would also like to thank each of the sponsors, in particular, Tourism Tropical North Queensland, who were the major sponsor of this year’s convention. Finally, thank you to our esteemed judges from Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Canada and the USA who gave their time to judge the awards, all commenting on the high quality of work.”

For media information contact ASTW PR representatives:
Mandy Dwyer on 0419 490 521 or

Saskia Baker on 0407 752 813 or

For more information on the ASTW or to become a member visit