The hugely successful Big Blog Exchange has been honoured by the prestigious United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Award for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism in the non-governmental organizations category.
UNWTO praised the unique and creative way that we engaged our Hostelling International customers with the Big Blog Exchange – which is the largest blog contest in history. During the four months the exchange ran it created a huge buzz on social media, generating 27,000 likes on Facebook, 126,000 unique visitors to the Big Blog Exchange website and media coverage in 173 countries.
Every year since 2003, the UNWTO has honoured tourism initiatives that contribute to advance tourism through knowledge and innovation. Initiatives must be in line with the principles of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
The Big Blog Exchange was one of just three finalists alongside the Alqueva Dark Sky Programme, Genuineland, Portugal, and From Charity to Social Entrepreneurship, Borneo Ecotourism Solutions and Technologies Society, Malaysia, which took first prize.
The Big Blog Exchange has already won two titles – 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.
Mikael Hansson, our chief executive, was present at the ceremony. He 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.”
More than 1,200 bloggers from around the world entered the Big Blog Exchange in the hopes of exchanging lives – and blogs – with a fellow winner. 100 finalists were chosen by you, the public, before the finalists were whittled down to 16 lucky winners. The competition aimed to encourage global understanding and, in doing so, prevent big conflicts.
Andy Andersen, from the United States, found himself swapping shoes with Spanish blogger, Sara Rodriguez, for the exchange. He said:
“By being granted the opportunity to travel and gain new experiences, lessons and knowledge, we are obligated to share those things and carry them with us or all is done in vain. What is the purpose of knowledge if it sits on a shelf collecting dust that benefits no one in society. Travellers have a sincere duty to the experiences that they receive, and that is a principle that has been re-branded in my mind permanently.”
Stay tuned for news on the Big Blog Exchange 2014!