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SOURCE National Geographic Traveler magazine
Partnership with United Airlines to Create Sustainable Travel Leadership Award Is Announced
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- National Geographic Traveler magazine today announces its 18 honorees for 2013 Travelers of the Year, including winners of the newly created United Airlines Sustainable Travel Leadership Award. The honorees are individuals who travel with passion and purpose, have an exceptional story to tell and represent a style of travel, motivation or method that can inspire us all. Voting for the first ever People's Choice Traveler of the Year runs through Friday, Oct. 25, and readers can vote daily at http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/vote-grid/vote-traveler-of-the-year-2013/.
The honorees include a pair of coastal conservationists who have hatched a plan to protect Costa Rican wildlife; an engaged couple, one of whom is a quadriplegic, who have embarked on a 10,000-mile handcycle/bicycle ride from Portland, Ore., to Patagonia; and a woman on a mission to save Thailand's elephants, one animal a time.
"We looked for extraordinary travelers doing inspiring things. People who embrace the world and all that's in it - and who have learned some valuable lessons along the way," said Keith Bellows, editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler. "We received some 1,500 nominations and heard travelers' tales that make you want to drop your iPad, grab your passport and go! This year's winners prove that travel can make a life-changing impact to individuals and, sometimes, to the places they visit."
As part of the Traveler of the Year program, National Geographic Traveler has partnered with United Airlines to create the first ever Sustainable Travel Leadership Award. The award recognizes individuals who exemplify the principles of ecotourism - environmental protection, conservation and education; local community enrichment and empowerment; and eco-conscious visitor behavior.
The Sustainable Travel Leadership Award winners Hilda and John Denham have spent two decades protecting Costa Rica's endangered leatherback turtles on the Pacific Ocean and green turtles on Caribbean coast. They established The Pacuare Nature Preserve, with a goal of protecting nearly four miles of turtle-nesting beach. Among other environmental efforts, the Denhams are preventing poachers from killing the turtles and robbing eggs from their nests. As part of their award, United will fly the Denhams to the sustainable destination of their choice.
"At United, we understand the importance of protecting the cultural, environmental, economic and aesthetic integrity of the destinations we serve," said United's Managing Director of Global Environmental Affairs and Sustainability Jimmy Samartzis. "The Sustainable Travel Leadership Award is an extension of United's efforts to encourage and promote environmental stewardship, and we are proud to partner with National Geographic to ensure those destinations remain attractive places to live, work and visit for generations."
The 2013 Travelers of the Year are:
National Geographic Traveler editors and guest advisers - including Russell Mittermeier, president, Conservation International; Angelique Kidjo, Grammy-winning singer, Batonga Foundation founder, UNICEF goodwill ambassador, and Kumi Naidoo, international executive director, Greenpeace - selected these gung-ho globe-trotters who turned trips into opportunities to assist with conservation efforts, connect with local cultures, volunteer in surprising ways, challenge themselves, deepen familial and community bonds and engage meaningfully with the world.
To learn more about each Traveler of the Year through photos and interviews and to vote daily for the People's Choice Traveler of the Year, go to http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/travelers-of-the-year/ or check out the November 2013 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine, on newsstands now.
For more information on United Airlines' commitment to the environment, visit www.united.com/ecoskies.
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