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


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

Why you need the right travel insurance

Photo by RAYMOND Wong on Unsplash

Lisa Kable presented this session at the Bangkok AGM in 2018.

Insurers want people to travel overseas with not just travel insurance but the right travel insurance.

To reduce the lethargy or confusion associated with researching travel insurance policies, insurers are designing their websites and policies to be straightforward, easy to understand and compare. Many comparison tables of policy inclusions are visual making it easier for travellers to choose the policy that best covers the important elements of the international trip being taken.

Let’s take a look at our globetrotting fellow Australians and how they insure or don’t insure themselves.
• 10.7 million travellers departed Australia in 2017/18
• 9,523,000 (89%) travellers had travel insurance
• 1,177,000 (11%) travellers didn’t have travel insurance
• 4,190,000 travellers with travel insurance took part in one or more risky activities not covered by travel insurance
• 153,000 (13%) of travellers without travel insurance expected the Australian Government to contribute to their medical expenses (it doesn’t)
• 2,033,000 travellers with a pre-existing medical condition didn’t check if their insurance covered the condition
• In 2015/16*, 168,658 Australians who travelled overseas experienced an insurable event but were left out of pocket as they didn’t have insurance.
Let’s look at the 1,177,000 uninsured travellers and ask why didn’t they buy travel insurance?
• 28% well they just didn’t think about it
• 21% were uncertain they needed it
• 14% just didn’t get around to it
• 20% said it was too expensive

Let’s now focus on the four million plus Australian travellers that engaged in what insurers consider a risky behaviour.
Risky behaviours include but are not limited to:
• Riding motorbikes, mopeds, scooters, quad bikes
• Skiing & snow sports
• Water sports
• Extreme sports including polo and hunting
• Consuming excessive amount of alcohol
• Taking illegal drugs
• Cosmetic surgery
• Some policies also consider sailing on a private vessel in international waters as risky.

Some of these risky behaviours can be covered as a policy add-on.
The 18-29 age group were mostly likely to engage in risky behaviour, the figure is about 82% did engage in one or more risky behaviours while travelling overseas.

Reasons a travel insurance claim may be declined:
• Excessive use of alcohol led to the claim
• Use of illegal drugs led to the claim
• Carelessness, leaving items unattended
• Undeclared pre-existing medical condition
• Undeclared pre-existing mental health condition
• Undertaking the already mentioned risky behaviours without the RIGHT cover
• Travelling to countries that have a current DFAT do not travel warning
• Lodging a claim for something not covered, a reminder to invest in the RIGHT travel
insurance policy for example stolen skis or golf clubs which count as specialty items
on some policies
• No accompanying paperwork; police reports, receipts
• No proof of ownership, keep receipts or take photos of items you have owned for a
• Claims not made within 30 days of returning from travels
• Not all destinations were included on the policy, always include stopovers
• Didn’t have a valid license to drive overseas
• Weren’t wearing the appropriate clothing or equipment, no helmet on a bike

How to choose the right travel Insurance;
1. Think about the activities and the style of holiday, invest in the right type of cover
2. Don’t be swayed by price, if the right policy isn’t purchased, if it doesn’t cover the traveller
for their specific trip needs, it’s the same as not having insurance but more expensive.

Travel Insurance and mental health
To assist Australians who may find themselves suffering from a mental health condition most
travel insurers have removed blanket exclusions and offer cover for first-instance episodes.
Many insurers will cover pre-existing mental health conditions on an individually underwritten
basis, similar to coverage available for pre-existing medical conditions.
The travel insurance industry is working with governments and other organisations to
improve travel insurance availability and options for mental health sufferers.
According to the Black Dog Institute about 45% of Australians are likely to suffer a mental
health condition in their lifetime.

Travel insurance and Terrorism
When it comes to terrorism-related events, travellers do need to check the PDS of their
policy, as the wording and cover varies. Look for cover for injury as a direct result of
terrorism, repatriation as a direct result of terrorism and cover for cancellation costs as a
direct result of terrorism, each item can be included or excluded depending on the policy.
When preparing your travel plans and before you leave, you should visit Smartraveller to
familiarise yourself with advice about your destinations.

Travel Insurance and natural disasters
Claims for losses due to natural disasters that are known events are never covered.
*Last time the survey was conducted. Travel Insurance Behaviour Survey

Meet our judges

Our judges for the ASTW Awards of Excellence 2019

Without judges, there are no awards. Every category in the ASTW Awards of Excellence has three independent judges. Many live overseas and are members of our sister writing associations in the USA, New Zealand, Canada or the UK. All are experts in their field and have considerable experience.

We thank them all.

Mark Andrews

Mark Andrews has been a travel writer and photographer for the last seventeen years. Over this time he has explored much of Asia and on the way lived in Japan, South Korea and now currently Shanghai, China. He feels that one of the best ways to get under the skin of a place is through the local food. Having experienced plenty of unusual dishes such as raw horsemeat and silkworm larvae, writing about his adopted city’s cuisine in this issue seemed positively tame.

Catherine Beattie

Catherine Beattie edits and publishes Spa Wellbeing – an online spa, travel and lifestyle magazine. She also blogs and reviews cruises, spas and hotels for travel websites and consumer magazines and writes tourism reports for Mintel. Catherine is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers.

Ewen Bell

Ewen Bell is a Melbourne based photographer and journalist. He currently shoots for UK editions of National Geographic Traveller, Lonely Planet Traveller and Food & Travel. He is the former Editor at Large for Digital Photography magazine in Australia and regular contributor to Digital Photography magazine in the UK. His focus is always on sharing what makes the world beautiful, and the inspiration to step outside your boundaries and experience it for yourself. “Travel is the most valuable gift you can give yourself.”

Jennifer Bain

Jennifer Bain is an award-winning Canadian journalist. She is now freelancing for a variety of publications after spending 18 years at Canada’s largest newspaper (the Toronto Star), first as food editor and then as travel editor. She has published two cookbooks and her next book, 111 Places in Calgary That You Must Not Miss, is due out in Spring 2020. She’s currently writing a fishing memoir/thesis for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction. @thesaucylady

Sue Bryant

Sue Bryant (@sjbryant) is an award-winning writer and editor specialising in travel. She is cruise editor of the Sunday Times, writes for Cruise Passenger and World of Cruising. Her work has also appeared in High Life, Food & Travel and TRVL magazine for iPad, among many others. Wearing a different hat, Sue is editor of Journeys magazine (@JourneysMagUK), the UK’s first glossy mag dedicated to experiential travel. She also edits Uno Stile di Vita, the guestroom magazine for Baglioni Hotels.

Sue has also written or edited more than 25 travel books, from guidebooks about the Costa del Sol, Barcelona, Ibiza, Cyprus and Tel Aviv to Insight Guides’ Great River Cruises (Europe and the Nile). She has edited coffee table books, writes all the destination content for and has produced cross-cultural training guides to more than 70 countries for executives going to live and work abroad. She lives in west London with her two teenagers, two dogs and some chickens.

Paul Chai

Paul Chai has been a travel writer for over a decade, starting with the Australian launch of US travel magazine Travel + Leisure, a joint venture between Fairfax and American Express. He is a regular contributor to Fairfax Media’s Traveller website, as well as writing for inflight magazines for airlines from Singapore Airlines to Cebu Pacific. Pre-travel industry it was an eclectic journalistic ride from The Financial Times in London to working for the film industry bible Variety. He was editor of Tiger Air’s magazine Tiger Tales. @chai_paul

Isabel Conway

Isabel Conway is a multi-award winning Ireland based travel writer, based in Kinsale Co Cork..She writes regularly for the travel pages of the Sunday Business Post, Dublin, Irish Independent newspapers, The Irish Examiner, Sunday World and Evening ECho Newspapers. She also writes for the Sunday Times travel section and for the online travelezine She co-founded earlier this year.

Isabel has been Irish Travel Writer of the Year twice and also took the  long haul award twice in recent years and since 2011 has been in the prizes every year at the Travel Extra journalist of the Year awards, Ireland’s travel writer Oscars. She has also been awarded the British Guild of Travel Writers prize in the Europe category (over 1,000 words) and was a prize winner in the 2018 ATOUT France, French Tourism board awards. Isabel’s background is that of news reporter/feature writer in Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium where she has also written many travel features over the past 30 years.

Sue Dobson

Sue Dobson is an award-winning travel writer and magazine editor based in the UK, whose life-long passion for discovery and experiencing different cultures has taken her to every continent and into countries less travelled.

Hilary Doling

Hilary Doling is Editor in Chief of one of the world’s largest independent luxury travel websites, The Luxury Travel Bible (operating out of the UK and Australia) and Executive Editor of the glossy Five Star Kids magazine (Signature Media), devoted to luxury family travel. She started her career on London’s Fleet Street where she worked for newspapers such as The Times and The Guardian and for England’s glossy magazines. In search of sun she moved to Australia as Travel Editor at Fairfax newspapers (The Sun Herald) a position she held for twelve years and then became Editor in Chief of Luxury Travel Magazine. She is an international speaker on luxury hotels and travel, appearing at such events as ILTM Cannes and has visited every continent and set foot in more than 92 countries.

Natasha Dragun

The former managing editor of MiNDFOOD and deputy editor of DestinAsian, Natasha Dragun has been roaming the globe on the hunt for gripping story angles for more than 15 years. A freelancer specialising in travel, wellness, food and wine writing, Natasha contributes to a diverse range of media today, from CNN and Conde Nast Traveller to Escape, The Australian, Voyeur, Signature Luxury Travel & Style, International Traveller, Delicious, Selector, Vacations & Travel and Broadsheet, among others. @ndragun

Guy Dundas

Making the move across from travel wholesale and touring to travel writing and editing 11 years ago, Dundas has his eyes on the latest developing travel and stories news around the world. As Managing Editor of LATTE, his niche is refined to the luxury segment, producing LATTE’s weekly EDM and regular social content. @guydundas

Paul Dymond

Paul has been a travel and nature photographer for nearly 16 years, was contracted to Lonely Planet Images (now Getty) for more than ten of those years and has been published in most of the big magazines that we love so much. He even won the ASTW Photographer of the Year back in the day when connecting to the Internet involved R2-D2-like sounds coming out of the modem. These days, as he balances the needs of a young family with being away with work, his business is moving more and more towards helping large organisations get a handle on their out-of-control image libraries, creating custom photographic and video databases so that they can more easily access and utilise these mostly untouched photographs. He is still represented by three major photo agencies and continues to do photographic work when it comes across his desk in Cairns.

Barry Eaton

Barry Eaton originally trained as an actor in Sydney, but then mainly worked in radio and television as a presenter and news & sports anchor at the ABC in Sydney and also at various commercial radio stations, including 2GB and 2CH. As a freelance writer Barry has had four books published as well as writing feature articles for leading newspapers and magazines in Australia and the US. He wrote travel features for The Sun Herald and other newspapers and also worked as a media consultant with Tourism Canada, The Tahiti Tourist Bureau, Lauda Air, et al. His corporate experience includes running his own video production company as well as teaching business writing and currently as a trainer in presentation and media skills. He also works as a freelance voice over artist, MC and conference presenter and hosts his own radio podcast. Barry is former Co-ordinator of Journalism and lecturer in radio at Macleay College in Sydney.

Toni Eatts

During her impressive career as a journalist, Toni spent 10 years editing cruise publications, including Cruise Passenger magazine, and writing cruise stories aimed at passengers and travel industry professionals. Her articles have been published in The Australian, the Australian Financial Review, Cruise Passenger magazine, on Cruise Critic and in various trade publications. She also wrote three substantial cruise guidebooks for a leading travel chain.

Kerri Elstub

Kerri Elstub is a broadcast journalist with more than 20 years of industry experience. She has worked at Radio 2UE and Channel 9, where she was Supervising Producer on A Current Affair. Kerri is now Editorial Director of Nine Digital.

Mary Anne Evans

Mary Anne Evans is a former magazine editor and now a freelance travel writer living in London. She was the France expert for for 8 years and edited the Gault Millau Guides to London for 4 years. She is the author of guide books to Brussels, Bruges and Stockholm, writes on Finland, contributes to Frommer’s Guides to London and France and blogs on Silver Travel Advisor and Everett Potter’s Travel Report. She has just launched her own website:

Liz Fleming

As far as Liz Fleming is concerned, the only thing better than having a great adventure is sharing it. That’s why travel writing is her dream job. For more than 15 years, she’s been exploring the globe from Machu Picchu to the Arctic Circle and from the sultry beaches of Bora Bora to Botswana’s Okavango Delta – and writing about it all. Her work has appeared in major newspapers and magazines across North America, she’s the Editor-in-Chief of Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Magazine and is on the editorial mastheads of a couple of other travel magazines, makes regular radio talk show appearances and is always ready to jump into the next adventure.

Michelle Grima

Michelle Grima is an established media communications consultant based in the Blue Mountains. Having started her career at the Daily Telegraph in the late ‘80s, Michelle went on to manage national media for Tourism Tasmania, and now runs her own travel and lifestyle media business, Australia PR.

Catharine Hamm

Catharine Hamm is the Travel editor for the Los Angeles Times. She was born in Syracuse, N.Y., to a peripatetic family whose stops included Washington, D.C.; Honolulu; and Manila. Her varied media career has taken her from McPherson, Kan., to Kansas City, Mo., San Bernardino, Salinas and L.A. Hamm has twice received individual Lowell Thomas Awards, and the Travel section has been recognised seven times during her tenure as editor. Her favourite place? Always where she’s going next.

Alex Hayes

Alex has over a million followers on his social media feeds with over 600,000 on Instagram, 390,000 on YouTube, and 140,000 on Facebook. A former competitor on the junior pro-surfer circuit, Alex also loves throwing himself out of hot-air balloons, blimps and helicopters, is an in-demand DJ and is an ambassador for Instagram, and for Nickleodeon’s Junior Citizens of the Reef campaign. He is also involved in youth suicide awareness and working to improve mental health. @alexhayes

Nick Henderson

Nick Henderson is head of social media at Tourism Australia, the Australian Government agency responsible for attracting international visitors to Australia. Tourism Australia’s social media accounts are followed by more than 14 million people with the team creating up to ten pieces of content across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat, and Weibo each day. Nick started working in social media in 2009 in the United Kingdom and more recently was head of social media at Virgin Australia prior to joining Tourism Australia.

Stuart Innes

Stuart Innes was Travel Writer-Editor of The Advertiser newspaper in South Australia in the 80s and 90s and, until retiring in 2012, it’s Tourism Writer. He was one of the longest-serving ASTW committee members, including four terms as president during which he introduced the annual travel writing awards. He is a former judge of the South Australian Tourism Awards.

Alan Kennedy

Alan has been a journalist for the past 40 years. He began his career with a cadetship on The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, and has worked throughout Australia and in London. After working on the development of Australian Business magazine in the early 1980s, he pursued a successful career as a freelance journalist, concentrating on the car industry. As motoring editor of both Australian Business and The Bulletin, he wrote extensively on industry policy. He spent 19 years at The Sydney Morning Herald – firstly, as motoring editor. He edited the Stay In Touch column for three years, before becoming deputy editor and then editor of the sports section. He returned to reporting for his last few years with the Herald, covering the America’s Cup and Olympic sailing, the AFL, Formula One and tennis. Alan has been a member of the Australian Journalists’ Association (AJA), now part of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), for 40 years and has been active in the union for most of that time. He chaired the Australian Consolidated Press House Committee, then, after joining the Herald, became chair of the Fairfax House Committee. He was president of the journalists’ section of the MEAA for eight years. He was on the Walkley Awards judging panel for nearly 10 years. He was a member of the Australian Press Council from 2005 until 2016. He left The Sydney Morning Herald at the end of 2005 and now works as a freelance journalist.

David Kirkland

David Kirkland is one of the most widely published tourism photographers and writers in the Asia Pacific region (though, more recently, his work has taken him to the Middle East and the African continent). He specialises in capturing memorable promotional photographs for national tourism authorities and producing world-class images for international resorts and boutique properties. David became a professional travel and tourism  photographer and author in 2000 after more than a decade of managing tourism authorities in Australia. His earlier background was in journalism and public relations. He has written and photographed 15 books, and he owns the largest on-line photo library dedicated specifically to travel and tourism in the Asia Pacific region.

Matt Kirouac

A native of New Hampshire, Matt moved to Chicago in 2006 to attend culinary school. While cooking, he developed a love for food writing, and has written and edited for food- and travel-focused outlets like Culture Trip, TripExpert, Zagat, Plate Magazine, What Should We Do, and numerous others. He’s the author of Unique Eats & Eateries of Chicago, and the co-founder and co-host of the Parklandia podcast with iHeartRadio, talking all about travel and national parks. Check out his work at

Shirley LaPlanche  

Shirley LaPlanche joined the ASTW mid 1980s while editor of the Hospitality Section for The Australian. In 1990 she went freelance writing on a regular basis for the Australian Tourist Commission and travelling extensively on stories for magazines and newspapers in Australia and overseas. Her deep interest in eco-tourism led her to write her book Stepping Lightly on Australia which was published in 1995 by HarperCollins and sold worldwide. She says she is now semi-retired but is still travelling as often as time and money allow and still writing the occasional piece for her favourite magazines and newspapers.

Ben Lerwill

Ben Lerwill is an award-winning freelance travel writer based in England. His writing has appeared in more than 50 national and international titles, including National Geographic Traveller, BBC Travel, The Guardian and The Sunday Times.

Jules Lund

After 15 years hosting some of the biggest TV and radio shows in Australia, Jules Lund is now on a mission to unlock the world’s creativity through his tech company, TRIBE. With offices in five cities across the globe, TRIBE is a self-serve marketplace connecting 10,000+ brands with 50,000 everyday creators to generate premium content at scale, speed and a fraction of the cost. Known for his showmanship, Jules travels the world helping marketers get the jump on the next multi-billion dollar category.; @juleslund

Ewan McDonald

Ewan McDonald has been Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor and Features Editor with NZME, publishers of the NZ Herald and other print and online platforms. He is president of Travcom, the NZ Association of Travel Writers, Photographers and Communicators, and is a multi-award winning travel writer.

Denise McNabb

Denise McNabb has specialised in aviation, travel and business writing and editing on both sides of the Tasman for more years than she cares to remember. She came to Sydney in 2009 as the first Australia correspondent for the Fairfax New Zealand group of newspapers and was editor of Aviation Business magazine in Sydney before she returned to New Zealand last year where she is a freelance writer. Denise was the first New Zealand journalist to win the Airservices Australia Aviation Journalist of the Year in 2008. In 2007 she won the inaugural NZ Brook Asset Management Business Journalist of the Year award.  She was inaugural secretary of New Zealand Travel Communicators when it was formed in 1992 after returning from her first stint in Australia where she was a member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers when travel editor of the Sunday Mail and the now defunct News in Adelaide.  She co-founded the New Zealand Herald travel section and created for its publishers the tourism magazine arrival for inbound travellers at Auckland Airport. She has written for Vacations & Travel Magazine, the aviation and the business travel section for The Independent Business Weekly, The Press and The Dominion Post in New Zealand, and News Local, Platinum magazine, the US-based Global Business Travel magazine, and travel trade publications.

Aaron Millar

Aaron is an award-winning travel writer, journalist and author. He contributes regularly to The Times, The Guardian, National Geographic Traveller (UK), CNN and many other national and international publications. He is The Times of London’s North American travel specialist and National Geographic Traveller’s USA columnist. He is the host of the podcast Armchair Explorer, where the world’s greatest travel writers tell their best story from the road, and is the 2014 and 2017 British Guild of Travel Writers Travel Writer of the Year, the IPW Best Destination Writer 2017 and Visit USA’s Best National Newspaper Writer 2014, 2016, 2017 & 2018. Aaron grew up in Brighton, England but is currently hiding out in the Rocky Mountains of Louisville, Colorado.

Janyne Moore

Janyne has 15 years’ experience working as a journalist including her time as an on the road reporter and newsreader at Sydney Radio 2UE and Executive Producer of the Ray Hadley Morning show on Radio 2GB before moving into Public Relations. Janyne co-founded In The Media PR generating widespread media coverage for clients like Cancer Institute NSW, Nike Damn Am event, UbiCar, Garvan Institute and MooGoo.

Kayte Nunn

Kayte Nunn is a former book and magazine editor, and the author of four novels, the latest of which, The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant, was published in Australia in June, 2019, and will be published in the UK in 2020. Her previous book, The Botanist’s Daughter was a top ten bestseller when it was published in Australia in July 2018, and has been published in Italy, Germany, France, Serbia and Spain, as well as in the UK. She lives in the NSW Northern Rivers.

Alan Orbell

Alan Orbell’s travel writing career began on the now defunct Travel Agency Magazine published by Canadian company Maclean-Hunter.  He was appointed editor of St James Press’s Travel Bulletin in 1977 and in the 1980s purchased the magazine from the company when it was taken over by Reed International. After a brief period as a freelance he was appointed launch editor of new magazine Selling Long Haul – later Selling Travel – in 1989 and subsequently became publisher and then part-owner of the publishing company, BMI Publishing.  After selling the company in 1995 Alan remained with BMI Publishing as publisher/managing editor until April 2015 after which he continued to write on a freelance basis.

April Orcutt

April Orcutt writes a weekly travel column for the Los Angeles Times and has written for National Geographic Traveler, BBC Travel, Vacations & TravelHemispheres (United Airlines’ inflight),, Travel.AARP.orgNational Geographic Traveller India, San Francisco Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, AAA (American Automobile Association) magazines, Alaska Air (Alaska Airlines’ inflight), and more. April has won top honours in the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition (Gold), Visit California’s Eureka! Awards, and U.S. Travel Association’s IPW Awards.

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie Pelling is a writer and journalist based in the North of England. She is Co-Director of The Family Adventure Project – a blog aimed at providing families with advice and inspiration for travelling and being in the outdoors. Together with her husband Stuart Wickes and three children she has biked, hiked and paddled in dozens of countries. The family’s latest adventure was an epic interrail trip from home to Istanbul with three teens and five folding bicycles. Kirstie won the British Guild of Travel Writers’ Travel Blogger of the Year Award in 2016 and 2018.

Oliver Pelling

Oliver Pelling is the Australia editor for and a freelance writer. He has written for the likes of Rolling Stone Australia, Smith Journal, New Zealand Herald, Huck magazine, and more besides, and works predominantly in the realms of travel, sustainability, music and (sub)culture. He’s happiest when he’s not writing bios.

Adrian Phillips

Adrian Phillips runs Bradt Travel Guides – the world’s largest independent guidebook publisher – and is also a leading UK travel writer and broadcaster for outlets including the BBC, ITV, Sky, The Telegraph and National Geographic. He currently holds the awards of Travel Writer of the Year (BGTW Awards), Consumer Writer of the Year (Travel Media Awards), Magazine Writer of the Year (LATA Awards) and Travel Writer of the Year (silver) (AITO Awards).

Diana Plater

Diana Plater was born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA but grew up in Sydney, Australia. Her journalism has appeared widely in newspapers, magazines and online. She has covered Indigenous and race issues since the beginning of her career and was based in Nicaragua in the mid-1980s during the Sandinista/Contra war. She has written several non-fiction books, including Taking Control: How to aim for a successful pregnancy after miscarriage, stillbirth or neo-natal loss, and the Cootamundra Girls Home chapter in Many Voices, Reflections on experiences of Indigenous child separation published by the National Library as well as a play, Havana, Harlem. Raging Partners, written with Ollie Smith, was short-listed for a 2001 NSW Premier’s Literary Award. Whale Rock, published in 2019, is her first novel.

Barbara Ramsay Orr

Barbara Ramsay Orr is a freelance journalist, author of the Frommer’s Guide to the Niagara Region, third and fourth edition, and Globe Pequot’s Day Trips From Toronto.  Barbara is the immediate past president of SATW, having also served as Vice President and Active At Large. She is the recipient of multiple writing and photography awards, including Lowell Thomas Awards for Excellence in Travel Journalism. Her work has appeared in many national and international publications, including Chatelaine, Canadian Living, NUVO, The Globe and Mail, American Express UK and Readers Digest. She’s also an accomplished award-winning photographer, as a well as an embarrassingly inept but enthusiastic artist. Follow her adventures at

Christopher Reynolds

Christopher Reynolds has written about travel, the outdoors, arts and culture for the Los Angeles Times since 1990. Since 2009, he has climbed Mayan pyramids, roamed Red Square in a snowstorm, been shushed at the New York Public Library and jumped from the tallest building in Soweto (rope attached).

James Rushforth

James Rushforth is one of the world’s most awarded photographers with twelve international photography competition wins. His most recent achievement saw a double first place at the prestigious International Photography Awards, where he was also named Special Photographer of the Year. In 2018, he was named Photographer of the Year at the British Guild of Travel Writers awards. His work has been published in numerous magazines and national newspapers including National Geographic, The Times, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. James also writes tutorials and blog posts for a number of popular media platforms such as Viewbug and 500px and has appeared as a judge in several global competitions. James is also an experienced and professional climber, mountaineer, skier and travel writer.

Jock Serong

Jock Serong has worked as a criminal lawyer and surf media feature story writer. He was founding editor of Great Ocean Quarterly. His four published novels, most recently Preservation, have won awards both in Australia and internationally. He lives on the coastline of southwest Victoria with his family.

Megan Singleton, Blogger at Large

Megan Singleton (@bloggeratlarge) is an Auckland based award-winning travel writer and blogger. She founded one of New Zealand’s largest travel and lifestyle blogs, Blogger at Large in 2009 after beginning her blogging career in 2006 for a nationwide travel agency where she cut her teeth blogging twice a day, five days a week for three years. Megan’s travel writing career started in 2000 and her work is published around the world on websites, magazines and newspapers. She is also a weekly travel correspondent on two radio stations in New Zealand.

Susan Skelly

Susan Skelly has held executive positions with mastheads including Qantas The Australian Way, The Bulletin, and Good Weekend. She is an author and an award-winning feature writer, specialising in travel, luxury, and design for newspaper and magazine titles in Australia and abroad and for her website, Excess All Areas.

Amanda Statham

Following a BA Hons degree in Politics from Newcastle University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism from De Montford University, Amanda has enjoyed a successful career. Amanda is Travel Editor of Cosmopolitan and and was travel editor of You and Your Wedding magazine for eight years. She writes for national newspapers, magazines and guidebooks and has also presented films and university lectures on travel writing.

Eric Stoen

Eric Stoen is a writer and photographer specializing in family travel, based in California. His goal is to encourage everyone to take their kids to unique destinations, and he provides first-hand information through to make it easier to plan those trips. He’s travelled with his kids (ages 8, 10 and 12) to 49 countries on seven continents. He’s won Conde Nast Traveler’s Photo of the Year award and is a NATJA gold award winner for travel writing, and in 2017 Forbes named him the World’s #4 Travel Influencer. He’s an ambassador for Travelocity, AFAR Magazine and Universal Orlando. @travelbabbo

Ben Stubbs

Ben Stubbs is a lecturer at the University of South Australia. He has a PhD in travel writing. Ben has written numerous feature articles, essays and guidebooks for publications in Australia and overseas. His first book explored the ‘New Australia’ socialist utopian colony in the Paraguayan jungle. Ticket to Paradise: A Journey to Discover the Australian Colony in Paraguay Among Nazis, Mennonites and Japanese Beekeepers was published by HarperCollins in 2012. 18/07/2019His next book, After Dark: A Nocturnal Exploration of Madrid (2016) begins from the premise of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who once wrote that we are blind half our lives because of what we miss during the night. Ben was drawn to explore the Spanish capital at night like the flâneurs of the past. He set out when the sun went down to explore this often-maligned city and to experience Madrid as a trasnochador—one who lives After Dark.

David Swanson

David Swanson has been a freelance travel writer-photographer since 1995.  His stories and photos have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, American Way, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Miami Herald, Dallas Morning News, and San Francisco Chronicle, and he was a contributing editor at Caribbean Travel & Life magazine for 14 years, where he wrote the award-winning Affordable Caribbean column.  David is currently President of SATW, the Society of American Travel Writers, the world’s largest organization of travel communicators.

Richard Tulloch

Richard Tulloch began to travel extensively through his work as a writer of plays, books and television for young people, most famously writing the original Bananas in Pyjamas and recent plays adapted from The 13-Storey Treehouse series. He now divides his time between bases in Sydney and Amsterdam. Since 2009 he has been a regular contributor to Fairfax Media, particularly specialising in active travel stories.

Jacinta Tynan

Jacinta Tynan is a News Presenter with Sky News, Columnist for Sunday Life Magazine, author and mother of two young boys. With more than 25 years’ experience as a journalist, she’s regarded as a commentator for her generation with her candid and heartfelt columns about life, love and motherhood. Jacinta has published four books including Mother Zen – described as a manifesto of modern motherhood – and manages a website

Jacinta also writes travel stories focusing on travelling with kids as a solo parent. Her work has been published in various publications including Escape, Sunday Life, Kidspot, Holidays With Kids and Mindfood Magazine.  She also produces and presents Change Makers on Sky News, interviews with inspirational people making a positive difference in the world.

She is the proud patron of SISTER2Sister, a mentor program for teenage girls, an Ambassador for Barnardo’s Mother of The Year, Monkey Baa kids theatre and is an official Australia Day Ambassador. @jacintatynan

Kathryn Webster

For the past 12 odd years Kathryn Webster has been the editor of AA Directions, the New Zealand magazine for AA Members, which has a significant proportion of travel in its editorial mix. She was President of TravCom New Zealand for three years and is still on its committee.

Annabelle White

Annabelle White is a New Zealand Food and travel media personality who has and does appear on Tv/ nationwide radio, magazines and newspapers. The author of 11 cookbooks and former food editor for NZ House & Garden and NZ Womens’ Weekly and the food columnist for the Sunday Star-Times for over 23 years – this former history teacher followed her love of communicating food and travel into a busy full time job. She has an MA Hons first class in history and geography and a few years ago was awarded a distinguished alumni award from the University of Waikato.

Arnie Wilson

Arnie Wilson – former regional UK  TV reporter, former UK national newspaper reporter, deputy news editor and diary columnist, former Financial Times writer for 15 years (specialising in skiing but also writing regular non-skiing travel) former editor of the Ski Club of Great Britain’s magazine, Ski+board, and former regular columnist in  Australia’s Theskimag!) Now freelancing

Ruth Zukerman

Ruth Zukerman is a leading tourism and hospitality professional with a successful career spanning more than 25 years in Australia, USA and Asia.

Well respected in the areas of public relations, marketing, business development, communications and crisis management Ruth has worked with a range of high-end global brands including Four Seasons*Regent Hotels, Conrad and Intercontinental Hotels and Hyatt Corporation in the USA.

With a passion for hospitality her vast experience has included Regent International Hotels based in Australia responsible for global sales, marketing and public relations. She spent 10 years with the Conrad Bali, opening the resort as Director of Sales & Marketing and six years in the role of Director of Public Relations during the time when incidents such as terrorism greatly affected business to Bali. Ruth was part of a small team responsible for restoring tourism from Australia by means of PR campaigns and crisis management to expand develop and promote tourism to Bali.









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

The Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) is proud to announce the finalists for the 2019 Awards of Excellence.

“We had a record-breaking amount of entries this year”, said President of the ASTW, Helen Hayes. “Based on feedback from our members, we have also added a number of new categories to cater for the diversity of our members and the travel media industry.”

In announcing the finalists, Ms Hayes also acknowledged the support of sponsors and judges.

“We would like to thank each and every one of our sponsors – without them, we have no awards. In particular for those sponsors who continue to support us year on year.

“We would also like to thank the judges. We have three independent judges for each category, all of whom are industry leaders hailing from the USA, UK, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore and Australia”, she said

The winners will be announced at the 2019 Awards for Excellence, to be held at the Tanks Art Centre, Cairns, on 19 October.

The full list of finalists is below.

For media information contact ASTW PR representatives:
Saskia Baker on 0407 752 813 or
Mandy Dwyer on 0417 133 374 or

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




Andrew Bain

River runs for a raft of reasons – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

The full Monte Rosa – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

Top-end Tassie – Outback magazine


Catherine Marshall

On another planet with the apes – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

Colour by numbers – Weekend Australian

You want to be transformed – Qantas


Louise Southerden

High hopes in the Himalayas – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

The call of the high – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

Kyushu’s sacred mountain hike – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age



Dan Avila
Winter is coming – Signature Luxury Travel and Style magazine
In the belly of the glacier – Signature Luxury Travel and Style magazine
Greenland warmth – Vacations & Travel magazine
The lights are on – Vacations & Travel magazine
Beautiful Lech – Vacations & Travel magazine


Jocelyn Pride
Moose in the mist – Wellbeing
A grand view – The Finer Things in Travel
White thunder – The Road Ahead
Penguin party – Fodor’s Travel
Hidden beauty – Wellbeing


Fiona Harper
Humans of Amritsar, India ­­- KarryOn
Amritsar ­- KarryOn
Wagah border ceremonial parade – KarryOn
Street scene in Amritsar – KarryOn
The Golden Temple in Amritsar – KarryOn


Sponsored by TRAVMEDIA

Laura Speirs – Glasgow
Jodi Clark – TFE Hotels/Tourism NT
Kate Parker – Intrepid Travel
Shelley Winkel – Tourism and Events Queensland


Mary O’Brien – Smooth operator – Australian Financial Review
Danielle Lancaster – Shades of Thailand – Vacations & Travel magazine
Flip Byrnes – The Sanctuary – Fernwood magazine


Aleney de Winter – Sugar & spice and all things nice – Holidays with Kids magazine
Dani Wright – Snowshoe to fondueEscape/News Ltd
Flip Byrnes – Finding Aladdin – Holidays with Kids magazine


John Borthwick – Iron Horse Trek Is One Helluva Ride – The West Australian
Michelle Hespe – All Shook Up – True Blue magazine
Sarah Reid – What’s it like to swim into the world’s weirdest underwater orgy? –


Andrew Bain – Top-End TassieOutback magazine
John Borthwick – The Indian Pacific: An epic train journey across Australia, from Perth to Sydney – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Celeste Mitchell – Walking the Larapinta Trail, NT – Escape/News
Catherine Best – Walk on the dark side – Mahubay (Philippine Airlines)


Aleney de Winter – A taste of Cambodia – Escape
Catherine Marshall – Palate of Persia – MiNDFOOD magazine
Mark Daffey – Flavour of the Month – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Penny Watson – Sweet-toothed LondonTraveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age


Dan Avila – Sunset Polar Bear
Laura Waters – Mt Taranaki
Lynn Gail – Monkey face


Carolyn Beasley – Into the wild – Luxury Escapes magazine
Catherine Marshall – A naturally kinder future The Australian
Kerry van der Jagt – Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe safari: Seeing cheetahs in the wild – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

Sponsored by G ADVENTURES

Craig Tansley      – Zimbabwe, Mana Pools: A game park where guests can walk among the wildlife – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Steve Madgwick – The things I learned taking public transport the entire length of Africa –
Tracey Croke      – There’s no war in the Wakhan –

Sponsored by ASTW

Brand USA
Intrepid Travel
Tourism New Zealand


Catherine Marshall – Troubled waters – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Kate Armstrong – Natural Selections – The Weekend Australian
Maggy Oehlbeck – Sea Dreaming – World Magazine
Susan Gough Henly – La Belle France – International Traveller magazine

Sponsored by ACCORHOTELS

Catherine Marshall – On another planet with the apesTraveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Craig Tansley – Ladakh, India Himalayas hiking: Sublime loneliness – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Roderick Eime – Find your rhythm in CubaVacations & Travel magazine


Catherine Marshall – Sound of silence – Australian Financial Review
Dan Avila – Going to extremes – Signature Luxury Travel and Lifestyle
John Borthwick – Five pleasures of Patagonia – My Discoveries
Rob McFarland – The chorus from the canopy – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age


DC&A Worldwide – Destination Canada PR Content Campaign

Intrepid Travel – Adventure Travel Index Campaign

Tourism New Zealand – #GETNZONTHEMAP campaign

PEPR – Hilton Destination Marketing Campaign – Australia and NZ


Sponsored by SCENIC

Christine Retschlag – Beautiful one day, bitcoin the next – Queensland Uncovered
Helen Hayes – The rise of the family safari in Africa – Holidays with Kids magazine
Julie Miller – Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Kerry van der Jagt – Zimbabwe wildlife safari: Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe signals a new era of wildlife tourismTraveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age


Aleney de Winter – BoyEatsWorld
Christine Retschlag – The Global Goddess
Fiona Harper – Travel Boating Lifestyle

Sponsored by TFE HOTELS

Aleney de Winter – Minneriya National Park – Ethical Elephant Attractions in Sri Lanka
Carrie Hutchinson – What it’s like spending the night in a Qashqai homestay on a women’s expedition in Iran – Intrepid Travel blog
Helen Hayes – Aspen guide: Everything you need to know about Colorado’s glitziest ski town – 9Honey

Sponsored by THAI AIRWAYS

Dan Avila – Greenland warmth – Vacations & Travel
Mark Daffey – Dolphin delight – Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Tracey Croke – The Afghanistan You Never See: Game of “Buzkashi” –


Lee Atkinson – Australia’s Best Nature Escapes
Melanie Ball – Top Walks in Tasmania
Ben Groundwater – Go Your Own Way: Hacks, Tips and Tricks to Travel the World Solo


Travel Corporation
Intrepid Travel
World Expeditions