NATJA Announces 32nd Annual Award Winners for Excellence In Travel Journalism

PASADENA, CALIF. – The North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) announced the winners of the 32nd Annual NATJA Travel Media Awards Competition. Awards were made to publications, travel journalists and photographers, and destination marketing organizations. This year, NATJA established special recognitions for the publication, destination, journalist, and photographer who excelled across various categories in the competition. The special recognitions were awarded to Travel + Leisure for Magazine of the Year, Kansas Tourism for Destination of the Year, Autumn Phillips for Journalist of the Year, and Therese Iknoian for Photographer of the Year. A complete list of the winners and honorable mentions is attached below.

“Submissions for this year’s awards competition included a diverse group of journalists, publications, and destination marketing organizations from North America,” noted NATJA CEO, Helen Hernandez. “Selection of the winners by our independent panel of judges was particularly difficult this year because of the outstanding quality and broad range of articles, images and marketing campaigns submitted for consideration. I wish to extend my congratulations to all the winners for their exceptional work in enhancing the travel experience of those exploring new destinations and adventures.”

Judges for the competition included award-winning newspaper and magazine editors as well as educators from across journalism disciplines. One first place (Gold) winner is chosen in each of the categories along with second place (Silver), third place (Bronze), and Honorable Mentions. To qualify for an award or honor, work had to be published from October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

Founded in 1991, NATJA is a travel journalism industry leader that fosters high-quality journalism by supporting the professional development of its members, providing exceptional program benefits and valuable resources, honoring the excellence of journalism throughout the world, and promoting travel and leisure to the general public.

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  • Magazine of the Year: Travel + Leisure
  • Destination of the Year: Kansas Tourism
  • Journalist of the Year: Autumn Phillips
  • Photographer of the Year: Therese Iknoian


Travel Magazine – Print or Online

  • Gold Award:  Travel + Leisure, “July 2023 Issue”
  • Silver Award:  Condé Nast Traveler, “April 2023”
  • Bronze Award:  Range by Ensemble Travel Group, “Range Summer 2023”
  • Honorable Mention:  Robb Report, “May 2023”


Visitors’ Guide (Printed or Digital) or Website

  • Gold Award: Explore Gwinnett, “Explore Gwinnett Visitor Magazine”
  • Silver Award: Visit Buffalo Niagara, “Visit Buffalo Niagara Website”
  • Bronze Award: Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau, “Birmingham, AL 60 year Commemoration”,
  • Honorable Mention Award: Kansas Tourism, “Kansas Official Travel Guide 2023”

Destination Video

  • Gold Award: Indiana Destination Development Corporation, “Get IN!”
  • Silver Award: Love Catalina, “Cast Away”
  • Bronze Award: Kansas Tourism, “Capturing Kansas: The Gordon Parks Legacy”

Creative Marketing Campaign

  • Gold Award: Kansas Tourism, “The ‘Home on the Range’ Project”
  • Silver Award: Love Catalina, “Let Out Your Island Side and Kidalina”
  • Bronze Award: Meet Minneapolis, “Minneapolis: See What All the Fuss is About”


Travel Book

  • Gold Award: Andrew McCarthy, Walking with Sam, Grand Central Publications
  • Silver Award: Tim Tranchilla, BUCKET! Guide to the Holy Land
  • Bronze Award: Shelly Rivoli, Hiking with Kids Southern California: 45 Great Hikes for Families, Falcon Guides
  • Honorable Mention Award: Michelle Young, Laura Itzkowitz, and Hanna Frishberg, Secret New York Hidden Bars and Restaurants, Jonglez Publishing

Independent Travel Blog

  • Gold Award: Rina Nehdar, L.A. Family Travel
  • Silver Award: Christopher Mitchell & Briana Mitchell, Travelingmitch
  • Bronze Award: KyAnn Lewis, KidTripster
  • Honorable Mention: Anda Galffy, Travel Notes & Beyond
  • Honorable Mention: Michael Hodgson & Therese Iknoian, HITravelTales

Destination Travel

  • Gold Award: Autumn Phillips, “Waking up in Finland”, The Post and Courier
  • Silver Award: Sarah Khan, “In Search of Lost Time”, Condé Nast Traveler
  • Bronze Award: Sydney Loney, “In Search of Iceland’s Hidden People”, Range
  • Honorable Mention Award: Jim Benning, Lydia Care, David Swanson, Tim Leffel, Kathleen Rellihan, Brad Wright, “The Magic of Mexico”, Westways
  • Honorable Mention Award: Gillian Kendall, “Trying to Feel at Home in a Grand Castle in Ireland”, Perceptive Travel

Illustrated Story

  • Gold Award: Chris Schalkx, “Road Less Traveled”, Virtuoso, The Magazine
  • Silver Award: Therese Iknoian, “Visit Basel: a dream travel destination for modern architecture fans”,
  • Bronze Award: Craig Wolfrom, “From Peak to Sea”, National Parks
  • Honorable Mention Award: Sivani Babu, “In Antarctic Light”, GeoEx’s Wanderlust
  • Honorable Mention Award: Matt Brass, “’Peace, Life & Tingly Happiness’”, National Parks

Long-Form Narrative/Personal Essay

  • Gold Award: Autumn Phillips, “Sudan in Calmer Times”, The Post and Courier
  • Silver Award: Katherine DeGroff, “Reservations Required?”, National Parks
  • Bronze Award: Mark Orwoll, “Austria’s Alps Adapt Traditions to Meet the Relentless Advance of Climate Change”, East-West News Service
  • Honorable Mention Award: Don George, “Unexplored Japan: Adventures in the Heart of the Country”, GeoEx’s Wanderlust
  • Honorable Mention Award: Autumn Phillips, “How to travel to complicated places. A journey to Lebanon.”, The Post and Courier

Luxury & Resort Travel

  • Gold Award: Richard Godwin, “Acqua di Vita”, Travel + Leisure
  • Silver Award: Mark Ellwood, “Clearing the Horizon”, Bloomberg Business Week
  • Bronze Award: Heather Greenwood Davis, “Should haves? Not in Nevis”, Curated Magazine
  • Honorable Mention Award: Mindy Poder, “A Hotel of One’s Own (web version: How to Book a Hotel Buyout)”, TravelAge West
  • Honorable Mention Award: Stacy Tillilie, “The Gift of Girl Time”, AAA Traveler Worldwise

Sports, Recreation, and Adventure

  • Gold Award: Chris Kassar, “Back to Breath”, Elevation Outdoors
  • Silver Award: Matthew Loh, “Death on the Savage Mountain”, Insider
  • Bronze Award: Jayme Moye, “Behind the Lines”, Kootenay Mountain Culture
  • Honorable Mention Award: Randy Johnson, “Staked in the Snow: WNC’s Guide to Camping Out During Winter’s Starkest Season”, WNC Magazine
  • Honorable Mention Award: Rona Marech, “A Greenway for the People”, National Parks


  • Gold Award: Elaine Glusac, “Outer Limits”, Virtuoso, The Magazine
  • Silver Award: Dinaw Mengestu, “Days of Wonder”, Travel + Leisure
  • Bronze Award: Thomas Chatterton Williams, “The Eternal River”, Travel + Leisure
  • Honorable Mention Award: Dori Saltzman, “Do Cruise Line Apps Leave Some Cruisers Out in the Cold?”,
  • Honorable Mention Award: Janice Wald Henderson, “My Black Daughter Has Always Been Skeptical About Cruises — We Took One Together Anyway”, Travel + Leisure

Historical Travel

  • Gold Award: Melanie Haiken, “Kanaye Nagasawa: The Samurai who Forever Changed California”, BBC
  • Silver Award: Don George, “Tracing the Arc of Archaeology in Chiapas”, GeoEx’s Wanderlust
  • Bronze Award: Tykesha Burton, “11 Places to Connect With Washington, D.C.’s Rich Black History”, Fodor’s Travel
  • Honorable Mention Award: Rich Grant, “Pirates of the British Caribbean”,
  • Honorable Mention Award: Jonathan Thompson, “Happily Ever After”, Travel + Leisure

Culinary Travel

  • Gold Award: Sarah Khan, “Dubai on the Rise”, Food & Wine
  • Silver Award: Mike Fisher, “First of its Kind Voyage Explores the Salish Sea’s Wine and Islands”, Calgary Herald
  • Bronze Award: Carrie Dow, “Where Spirits Rise”, Our State
  • Honorable Mention Award: Matt Goulding, “Cocina Madrileña”, Travel + Leisure
  • Honorable Mention Award: Lindsey Tramuta, “Liquid Gold”, Afar Magazine

Family or 60+ Travel

  • Gold Award: Jeffrey Gettlemen, “All Creatures Great and Small”, Travel + Leisure
  • Silver Award: Josh Condon, “You Can Go Home Again”, Robb Report
  • Bronze Award: Michael Croley, “The Big Swing”, Bloomberg Businessweek
  • Honorable Mention Award: Timothy Moore, “Fort Wilderness Family”, WDW Magazine

Cultural Travel

  • Gold Award: Randy Johnson, “The Life and Legacy of Shelby Native and Blue Grass Icon Earl Scruggs”, WNC magazine
  • Silver Award: Rachel Ng, “All in the ‘Ohana”, AAA Explorer Hawaii
  • Bronze Award: Tracey Teo, “Musicians preserve Endangered Creole Language Through Song in Southwest Louisiana”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Honorable Mention Award: Tim Leffel, “Fertility and flight: No vertigo for the Voladores of Veracruz”, CNN Travel
  • Honorable Mention Award: Simon Willis, “The Hidden Kingdom”, Travel + Leisure

Sustainable Travel

  • Gold Award: Jen Ruiz, “This Lesser-Known Hiking Area in Puerto Rico Is Home to More Than 130 Bird Species”, AFAR
  • Silver Award: Jen Murphy, “Your Travel Destination Has Suffered a Disaster. Should You Still Go?”, Outside
  • Bronze Award: David Nikel, “Why Norwegian Fjords Cruises Will Soon Change”,
  • Honorable Mention Award: David Farley, “How a Bike Tour in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula Pedals Travelers Toward a Regenerative Future”, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler
  • Honorable Mention Award: Rina Nehdar, “7 Places To Swim With Whale Sharks Responsibly”, Frommer’s

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in Travel

  • Gold Award: Bridgette Bartlett Royall, “Isle of Freedom”, Travel + Leisure
  • Silver Award: Kelly Rosenfeld, “Indigenous Travel: How to Book Respectful, Responsible Experiences”, TravelAge West
  • Bronze Award: Morgan Goldberg, “Crushing It”, Travel + Leisure
  • Honorable Mention Award: Jennifer Bain, “Mesa, Ariz., is the world’s first autism-certified city. A mom and her son find out what that means”, Globe & Mail
  • Honorable Mention Award: Lebawit Lily Girma, “The Travel Boom Hasn’t Been Inclusive. One Woman is Finding Solutions”, Bloomberg Pursuits

Independent Travel Video

  • Gold Award: Alice Ford, “Solo Backpacking the West Coast Trail Part 1”, Youtube
  • Silver Award: Juliana Broste, “Adventures in Tübingen with TravelingJules”, TravelingJules YouTube Channel
  • Bronze Award: Karen LeBlanc & Ryan Hamilton, “A Restorative Retreat to the Mendocino Coast”, The Design Tourist

Travel Reel or Short Video

  • Gold Award: Juliana Broste, “An Adults-Only Luxe Hotel Escape in Mexico”, TravelingJules Instagram
  • Silver Award: Cory Lee, “Adaptive Paragliding Over the Swiss Alps”, @curbfreecorylee
  • Bronze Award: Mercedes Bleth, Hashim Badani, Vidya Balachander, Lauren Alberti, “Choon Pan Reel, Breaking Bread”, Condé Nast Traveler
  • Honorable Mention Award: Jen Ruiz, “Volcano Pizza in Guatemala”, Jen on a Jet Plane (TikTok)

Travel Podcast

  • Gold Award: Oneika Raymond, Robin Bennefiel, Valerie Conners, Kait Walsh, Kristy Westgard, Gale Straub, Elliot Davis, “About the Journey: Washington Heights, NYC: Embrace ‘The Little Dominican Republic’ and Its Unexpected Running Scene”, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler
  • Silver Award: Todd Christopher, “Opening Day”, The Secret Lives of Parks
  • Bronze Award: Jennifer Errick, “Hope Along the Cuyahoga”, The Secret Lives of Parks

Cover or Feature Photo, Illustration

  • Gold Award: Brian Austin Lee, “Cover Design –  31•81, The Magazine of Jekyll Island”, 31•81, The Magazine of Jekyll Island
  • Silver Award: Judi Cohen, “A Guide to Planning Your Antarctic Adventure – Cover Photo”, Big Weekly Blend Magazine -Vol 1, Issue 8
  • Bronze Award: Rose Palmer, “Faces of Laos”,
  • Honorable Mention Award: Sarah Blevins, “Magical Manatee Memories”, Our Little Lifestyle
  • Honorable Mention Award: Sandra Foyt, “An ambitious new Florida trail links two U.S. national parks”, National Geographic

Landscape and Nature Photography

  • Gold Award: Therese Iknoian, “Silent Dunes”,
  • Silver Award: Michael Hodgson, “Eye on the Prize”, Facebook
  • Bronze Award: Heather Trimm, “Happy Birthday USA!”, Trimm Travels
  • Honorable Mention Award: Sandra Foyt, “Winter Is Coming: Game Of Thrones Iceland Locations”, TravelWorld International Magazine
  • Honorable Mention Award: Rose Palmer, “King Penguin Portrait”,

Portrait Photography

  • Gold Award: Cindy Baker, “The Coppersmith”, Travel Bliss Now
  • Silver Award: Rose Palmer, “The Gunpowder Maker”,
  • Bronze Award: James Rajotte, “Cocina Madrileña”, Travel + Leisure
  • Honorable Mention Award: Dennis Garrels, “Older woman on bench”, Getty/iStock

Photo Essay

  • Gold Award: Pallavi Kumar, “Meet the Bolivian Skateboarders Bringing Andean Culture to the Halfpipe”, Condé Nast Traveler
  • Silver Award: Rich Grant, “Pirates of the British Caribbean”,
  • Bronze Award: Dennis Garrels, “Los Cubanos son MMuy Bueno”, Travel World International
  • Honorable Mention Award: Ash Ryan, “Discovering Hecla Island”, Non Stop Destination

Action and Adventure Photography

  • Gold Award: Therese Iknoian, “Pedaling through the woods”,
  • Silver Award: Michael Hodgson, “Dune buggy sand storm”, Facebook
  • Bronze Award: Margot Black, “The Dolomites: An Otherworldly Alpine Paradise”, Creators Syndicate
  • Honorable Mention Award: Tom Parker, “Big Water”, Travel + Leisure

Cultural Photography

  • Gold Award: Michael Hodgson, “Joy of Dance”, HI Travel Tales
  • Silver Award: Cindy Baker, “Ancient Dye Job”, Travel Bliss Now
  • Bronze Award: Rose Palmer, “Laotion Mother and Newborn”,
  • Honorable Mention Award: Kevin West, “Treasures of Arabia”, Travel + Leisure

Travel Tips & Advice

  • Gold Award: Catherine Toth Fox, “How can tourists help Maui recover? Here’s what locals say.”, National Geographic Travel
  • Silver Award: Nikki Ekstein & Lebawit Lily Girma, “Seven Money-Saving Tips to Beat Travel Inflation This Summer and Beyond”, Bloomberg Pursuits
  • Bronze Award: Adam Pitluk, “Is Your Airline’s Trip Insurance Worth It?”, AARP
  • Honorable Mention Award: Jacqueline Swartz, “Cats on Planes”, CNN Travel
  • Honorable Mention Award: Ramsey Qubein, “The Only Hack for Hotel Discounts That Still Works Right Now”, Bloomberg Pursuits
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