UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism



What are the UNWTO Awards?

The UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in tourism is the flagship event for the global tourism sector. Since 2003, this event seeks to highlight the work of organizations and individuals around the world that have positively impacted and inspired the tourism sector through innovation and knowledge.

To date, UNWTO has acknowledged and awarded the contribution of distinguished scholars, inspiring leaders, as well as more than sixty initiatives from the public and private sector as well as NGOs. Their achievements have served as an inspiration for competitive and sustainable tourism development at a local, national, regional and international level.

The contributions of the awardees are in line with the policies, priorities and Programme of Work of UNWTO, including the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and the principles and standards set in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Recognition is given in the following categories: 

The UNWTO Lifetime Achievement Award is conferred to recognize a lifetime achievement of individuals with visionary leadership and significant contribution throughout the nominee’s career as an inspirational role model for the development at the local, national, regional or international level. The selection of the UNWTO Lifetime Achievement Award will be reserved to the international Jury of Experts of the UNWTO Awards in recognition of the global significance of this category. No external nominations or applications for this award category shall be accepted.

The UNWTO Ulysses Prize is given to a distinguished scholar, whether in academia, government or private industry, for outstanding contributions to innovation and knowledge in tourism.

The UNWTO Awards for Innovation merit distinction in four categories for the significant contribution of innovative tourism initiatives which are both competitive and sustainable in their character.

  1. UNWTO Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance
  2. UNWTO Award for Innovation in Enterprises
  3. UNWTO Award for Innovation in Non-Governmental Organizations
  4. UNWTO Award for Innovation in Research and Technology

The UNWTO Ethics Awards, a newly created category, is conferred by the World Committee on Tourism Ethics to tourism companies and trade associations that have demonstrated excellence in the implementation of the principles of the Global Code of Ethics of Tourism within their business operations and Corporate Social Responsibility practices. Application is limited to signatories of the Private Sector Commitment to the Code of Ethics



Applications received from more than 70 countries since the creation of the UNWTO Awards






1. 2003: First edition of the UNWTO Ulysses Prize. Dr. Donald Hawkins, from the George Washington University (USA) was the first recipient of the UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge.

2. 2006: Two new award categories open up for specific tourism initiatives. The first award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance was granted to Black Stone Valley (USA) while the first award for Innovation in Enterprise was awarded to ACCOR (France).

3. 2007: The award for Innovation in Non-Governmental Organizations is created to complement the two abovementioned award categories. It was granted to the Évora Tourism Region (Portugal).

4. 2011: The 2011 Awards Ceremony took place in the framework of the UNWTO Algarve Forum (Portugal); The Forum – intended to bridge theory and practice in tourism as an instrument for development and good governance – convened over 300 representatives from the private and public sector who were joined by prestigious academics to conclude several months of on-line discussion and establish a consensus on future tourism strategies.

5. 2012: The UNWTO Award for Lifetime Achievement and the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Research and Technology are created. The first edition of the UNWTO Lifetime Achievement Award honored two eminent individuals from both public and private sectors - Mr. Shao Qiwei, Chairman of China National Tourism Administration and Mr. Gabriel Escarrer Juliá, Chairman and Founder of Melià Hotels International. The first winner of the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Research and Technology was the Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia (Spain). Upon the creation of these two categories, the previous UNWTO Ulysses Prize and Awards were rebranded UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism with different categories.To see the complete list of the 2012 edition awardees, please visit the following link.

6.  2013: The UNWTO Awards were jointly hosted, for the first time, by UNWTO and the Madrid International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR), a valued UNWTO Affiliate Member.  To see the complete list of the 2013 edition awardees, please visit the following link.