UNWTO Awards

UNWTO Awards

The UNWTO Awards are the flagship awards for the global tourism sector.

What are the UNWTO Awards?

Since 2003, the Awards recognize the work of organizations and individuals around the world that positively impact and inspire the tourism sector through innovation and knowledge.

To date, UNWTO has acknowledged the contribution of distinguished scholars, inspiring leaders, as well as more than 80 initiatives from the public and private sector as well as NGOs. Their achievements serve 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 Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Recognition is given in the following categories:

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

  • UNWTO Award in Public Policy and Governance: An initiative is highly innovative and managed by a public or public-private institution that reflects tangible and sustainable improvements in policy, processes, and governance. It works towards an inclusive model of tourism governance which involves diverse tourism stakeholders.
  • UNWTO Award in Enterprises: An initiative presented by an enterprise that operates projects or offers products or services that are innovative in the tourism field. This innovation could be demonstrated through environmentally-friendly applications, social corporate responsibility engagement and other innovative contributions.
  • UNWTO Award in Non-Governmental Organizations: An initiative managed by a non-governmental organization with a clear non-profit scope using grassroots, partnership, governance, and/or civil society actions as key factors for its achievements. The initiative is original and inspiring in its nature, objectives, resource management and results, highlighting tourism as a strategic tool for balanced and sustainable development in economic, social and/or environmental aspects.
  • UNWTO Award in Research and Technology: The Award distinguishes a visionary pioneer whose initiative has helped the private sector, a community, a destination or a country to maximize the opportunities related to the use of technology to advance in the development of sustainable tourism. The research project or technological innovation initiative is highly inspirational and has given evidence of its effectiveness with practical applications and a measurable impact in the tourism sector.*
    *Note: This Award has been discontinued for 2018-2019.

The UNWTO Ethics Awards 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

Applications received from more than 70 countries



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.

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).

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).

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.

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.

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.

2016:  The UNWTO Ethics Award category is created, recognizing the excellent implementation of the principles of the Global Code of Ethics of Tourism.