The latest news and press releases from the ASTW team to the world.

New Committee Line-Up

Awards Sponsorship 2020

The ASTW has released details of sponsorship opportunities available for the upcoming awards event scheduled for 5 November.

Download the Awards Sponsorship & Application Form.

Please feel free to email for further information.


ASTW Convention accommodation RFT released

June 18, 2020: The Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) committee today released a Request For Tender for an accommodation partner for the upcoming 2020 ASTW Convention scheduled to be held in October in Sydney, NSW. With the release of the RFT, the ASTW is inviting interested parties to submit an offer for the contract position by June 26, 2020. The tender document can be viewed here

 ASTW president Elisa Elwin said the ASTW as a whole is looking forward to reuniting as many members as possible in Sydney after what has been the most turbulent year for the travel and media industry in the history of the ASTW. 

 “We are already in strong discussions with industry partners to assist us in creating our convention and, although it will look different to previous years, the event will be an uplifting and inclusive occasion,” Elwin said.

“The convention will also provide opportunities for members of the ASTW to support our domestic tourism industry, which has also faced unprecedented challenges throughout the year, from the bushfires to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic,” she says.

Elwin said members of the ASTW are focused on planning stories and content and continuing the relationship with fellow members of the tourism industry by inspiring readers to think about where they next want to travel to.

For further details, please email

The Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) has been the peak travel writing body in the country for more than 40 years. Its more than 350 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.    

For more information about the ASTW, visit our website or contact our PR representatives Saskia Baker or Kylee Kay

The request for tender document can be viewed here


The Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) committee today released a Request For Tender for the role of Secretariat and Convention Manager for the ASTW and is inviting interested parties to submit an offer for the contract positions by May 14, 2020.

The tender document can be viewed here. The tender offer must outline which contract the applicant it responding to; Secretariat, Convention Manager or both Secretariat and Convention Manager.

ASTW president Elisa Elwin said the committee is looking forward to the process of filling the role and working closely with the incoming secretariat to shape the future of the organisation post-Covid-19.

“Like our whole industry, the society is at a turning point and the entire committee is working tirelessly around the clock to deliver better processes, greater transparency, and more value to our members”.

For further details, please email

Comprising more than 300 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.

For more information about the ASTW, visit our website or contact Saskia Baker or Kylee Kay


While we’re aware of the dynamic nature of the situation in which we find ourselves, we will attempt to provide our members with current information relating to COVID-19 and its impact on their finances and mental health in particular. We will keep a file of these resources on our Facebook page and will also post it on our website. Many thanks to those who have supplied us with relevant websites.



Australian government’s WhatsApp service: click on the link or message +61 400 253 787 to get #COVID19 information from the official Australian Government chatbot. Whatsapp is available from the Apple Store or Google Play. #coronavirusaustralia

Coronavirus (COVID‑19): This site is regularly updated to give you the latest Coronavirus news, updates and advice from government agencies across Australia.

World Health Organisation: resources on research and guidance, situation reports and staying safe.f



JobKeeper: Register your interest for the Australian Government’s JobKeeper payment, which will provide wage subsidies to businesses (including sole traders and self-employed people) that are significantly affected by COVID-19. If legislation is enacted, support will be directed to employers to pass on to employees.

Covidassist: A government website which helps users navigate the welfare and social support services provided by Centrelink and state and territory governments during this time.

Government support for individuals and households: information for members who need to register for financial assistance.

National Debt Helpline: free financial counselling; available nationally and is independent and confidential. 1800 007 007

Small business helpline: The Australian Government has established the Small Business Support Line to provide one-on-one financial support.



Beyond Blue: looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

Beyond Blue: general support for anxiety, depression and suicide prevention

Lifeline A national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. 13 11 14



IATA: resources for airlines and other travel professionals.

IATA: government’s responses to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Travel Awards

Travel Writing and Photography Awards Calendar

Travel Awards

Global Travel Awards

ASTW has partnered 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.

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 in January 2020.

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.

***** Entry period extended until 11.59 p.m. HST (Hawaii Standard Time) which is 8.59 p.m. AEDT (Australian Eastern Daylight Time)  on March 10, 2020.

Accor Hotels Logo

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.”

Abercrombie & Kent logo

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.

TravMedia Logo

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 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

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