UNWTO honours Hostelling International for innovation in tourism

Hostelling International‘s unique digital campaign – The Big Blog Exchange – was second runner-up at the 2013 United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Award for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism in the category ‘Non-Governmental Organizations’. The awards ceremony was held on 22 January during the International Tourism Fair (FITUR) in Madrid, Spain.

Every year since 2003, the UNWTO has honoured tourism initiatives that contribute to advance tourism through knowledge and innovation, in line with the principles of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

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Mikael Hansson, chief executive of Hostelling International and STAY WYSE Board Member, who received the award, says: “This prestigious award is very close to Hostelling International’s heart, as it recognises the work we do all year long to support our mission to encourage a greater knowledge and understanding of the social and cultural differences in the world.”

UNWTO praised the unique and creative way that HI has engaged its customers with the Big Blog Exchange, the largest blog contest in history. The digital campaign invited bloggers from around the world to win an opportunity to exchange lives, cultures and blogs with another blogger. Some 1,200 bloggers from 72 countries applied then 100 finalists were chosen by the public to share with the online community how they would change the world using the power of their blogs. Then 16 winners were chosen to take part in the exchange trip of a lifetime, to immerse themselves in a life and culture of a blogger from another country. Their adventures demonstrated that through education and global experience, they could make small changes and stop big conflicts.who received the award, says: “This prestigious award is very close to Hostelling International’s heart, as it recognises the work we do all year long to support our mission to encourage a greater knowledge and understanding of the social and cultural differences in the world.”

During the four months the campaign ran it created a great buzz and generated 27,000 likes on Facebook, 126,000 unique visitors to the project website and coverage in 173 countries.

HI won two other awards last year for this project – the award for Best Marketing Innovation campaign by the World Youth Student and Educational Travel Confederation and the British Youth Travel Awards for Best Marketing.

HI will be running the Big Blog Exchange again in 2014.

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