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Announcing the 2017 Hearts of Travel Awards

November 28, 2017

Norwood, MA—November 21, 2017— The Tourism Cares Board of Directors and the selection committee proudly announce five 2017 Hearts of Travel Awards honorees, recognizing excellence in travel corporate social responsibility and philanthropy.

Legacy in Travel Philanthropy Award

Delta Air Lines for the large company category, with G Adventures and Planeterra, and Collette sharing the standard category for long term excellence in corporate giving.

New Innovators Award

Urban Adventures, a division of Intrepid Travel, in recognition of recent advances in giving in the last three to six years

Personal Philanthropic Champions

Valerie Wilson, Jennifer Wilson Buttigieg and Kimberly Wilson Wetty for outstanding personal commitment to giving back.

The Hearts of Travel Awards celebrate and share models of corporate social change to spotlight excellence and inspire others, reflecting Tourism Cares’ belief that corporate citizenship, especially in travel, is good for business and employees as well as the community.

The awards committee reviewed 32 corporate nominees for the Legacy and New Innovator awards, up from 20 in 2016. The board of directors selects honorees for the Personal Philanthropic Leadership Award.

The committee scored submissions in the following areas: theory of action and execution (e.g. problem statement, activities and outcomes); community engagement; storytelling; communications and advocacy; and overall financial commitment. The selection committee consists of leaders in the travel and philanthropic industries:

  • Paul Eisenberg, Micato Safaris (2014 Legacy award winner)
  • Kristin Lamoureux, Virginia Tech
  • Arnie Weissmann, Travel Weekly
  • Jennifer Wilson Buttigieg, Valerie Wilson Travel
  • Melissa Wisniewski, Key 360 Advisors
  • Dien Yuen, Kordant Philanthropy Advisors
  • Highlights among the winning nominations include:

Delta Air Lines’ tremendous commitment to community, a direct reflection of their culture and values. They contribute 1% of after-tax net income and their cumulative support for charitable organizations was more than $37 million in 2016, giving around three pillars:  education, global health and armed services and veterans. For example, their partnership with the Red Cross dates to 1941; they are the second largest US corporate donor of blood at 9,375 pints; and they spiked disaster giving from $1 million to over $3.5 million in response to the events of late 2017.

G Adventures and Planeterra and their 27 years of commitment and some of their core values speaking to giving: We Love Changing People’s Lives and Create Happiness and Community.  They’ve provided $8M in cash and in-kind support since 2000, and their 50 in 5 campaign has the goal of developing 50 social enterprises by 2020. These enterprises create 3,000 jobs for marginalized women, at-risk youth and indigenous populations, with indirect benefit for an additional 60,000.

Collette, a champion of giving and volunteering for over 20 years, giving deeply to local Rhode Island communities and well beyond. One could spotlight their goal to beat their 1 Million Meals goal (by 200,000) in honor of next year’s 100th anniversary. Or their critical support for the Tenderfeet School in Kenya. But one thing that stands out is their corporate culture and volunteerism: associates get 4 hours every month to volunteer; 10% of the workforce participates in giving committees or task forces; and their employee engagement has tripled since 2011.

Urban Adventures as a New Innovator, leveraging its giving, staff and business to help communities all over the world. They support ActionAid’s Safe Cities program, making a donation for every booking. Yet they’ve also launched the broad and diverse In Focus tour experiences, building a platform where all fees for such experiences flow directly to the meaningful, social experiences such as those in Uganda, India, Nepal, Chile and Greece.  The results are transformative for all involved – and sustainable.  It also inspires traveler donations.

The Tourism Cares Board of Directors is honoring the Valerie Wilson Travel family, recognizing that giving goes with the family business and the lives of Valerie Wilson, Jennifer Wilson Buttigieg and Kimberly Wilson Wetty. Decades of community and commitment were showcased at their recent 35th anniversary celebration, including support for cancer causes and the Make a Wish Foundation, community projects in Africa; and the Dream Foundation, founded in 2015 for veterans. 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.

The honorees will be recognized 5-6:30 p.m. December 14 at the Hearts of Travel Awards reception, immediately preceding Travel Weekly’s Readers Choice Awards at the Conrad Hotel in New York City. Tickets can be purchased at

Thanks to sponsors American Express for the Legacy in Travel Philanthropy Award, and Amadeus for the New Innovators Award, which make the Awards possible.

About Tourism Cares
Tourism Cares, Inc., a US 501(c)(3) public charity, advances the travel industry’s social impact to help people and places thrive. We unite the industry to make a greater impact on shared priorities, as well as helping each company fulfill its giving goals. Our members include leading travel associations and companies. Together we help destinations in need, support our workforce and improve our corporate social responsibility. Learn more at and @TourismCares.


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