Tourism Cares honored Delta Air Lines, G Adventures and Planeterra, Collette, Urban Adventures, and the Valerie Wilson travel family, with its 2017 Heart of Travel Awards, last week at a ceremony in New York.
The awards, which Tourism Cares says “celebrate and share models of corporate social change to spotlight excellence and inspire others," are independently juried, except for the Personal Philanthropic Award, which is voted on by the organization's board of directors. This year, Tourism Cares considered 32 corporate nominees for its Legacy and New Innovator awards, up from 20 in 2016.
Delta Air Lines, G Adventures and Planeterra, and Collette were all awarded the Legacy in Travel Philanthropy Award, which honors long-term corporate giving. Delta won for the large company categories; and G Adventures and Planeterra, along with Collette, shared the award for the standard category.
According to Delta, one percent of its after-tax net income is donated to charity. In total, the company gave more than $37 million to charity in 2016.
G Adventures and Planeterra have provided $8 million in cash to charity since 2000, and their 50 in 5 campaign is hoping to develop 50 social enterprises by 2020.
Collette, which is celebrating its 100th year in business in 2018, was honored for its effort to beat its 1 Million Meals goal by next year. The company has also had a huge hand in supporting the Tenderfeet School in Kenya.
Urban Adventures, a tour company from Intrepid Travel, was awarded the New Innovators Award, which honors companies that have advanced their giving in the last three to six years. The company, in particular, was honored for its support of ActionAid’s Safe Cities program, which receives a donation for every Urban Adventures booking.
Valerie Wilson, Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg, and Kimberly Wilson Wetty were all honored for their personal commitments to giving back with the Personal Philanthropic Champions Award.
“Volunteering and giving back were values I grew up honoring and respecting,” Kimberly Wilson Wetty, Valerie Wilson Travel co-owner and co-president, said. “My life is fuller and more rewarding because of my volunteer work and financially supporting important causes around the world. “
In addition to supporting the Make a Wish Foundation, Valerie Wilson Travel has been the driving force behind projects such as the Dream Foundation, cancer causes, and community projects in Africa. They partnered with Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy to help the new maternity ward in the village of Nakatindi in Zambia.
“It highlights a mother-daughter family unit being able to give back through impactful and sustainable change, to create an environment where many new mothers will have access to quality maternal healthcare and can hopefully have many healthy births,” Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg, co-owner and co-president of Valerie Wilson Travel, told TMR.
Tourism Cares said about the Heart of Travel Awards recipients: “Throughout their business and giving careers, you’ll find these hallmarks: personal commitment beyond just money, engaging family and multiple generations, and leveraging the power of travel.”
At the ceremony, the Wilson travel family stressed that charity is not only the philosophy of their company, but it is also the philosophy of their personal family. At the holidays, they told attendees, instead of getting gifts, the children in their family choose a charity to donate to.