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Prize catch: the British Youth Travel Awards 2023

Top players in the youth, student and educational travel industry receive recognition for their key roles in the UK youth travel market.

One might say an aquarium is an odd venue for an award ceremony; except maybe the Outstanding Fish Awards. My money is on angel fish, personally.

The next logical choice would, of course, be the British Youth Travel Awards (BYTAs)! Organised by BETA, Wednesday night’s ceremony was in honour of the amazing businesses working in the UK youth travel market.

For those nominated, the deep blue waters, circling sharks, and smiling clownfish made a unique backdrop, representative of the distinct contributions each nominee gave to the world of educational travel this year.

Anchors away!

Attendees enjoyed a night of fun under the sea.

Once everyone was seated amongst the vibrant tropical fish – themselves watching on in fascination, or perhaps confusion – an evening of celebration and achievement was dutifully kicked off.

‘Through the BYTAs, we’re delighted to be able to reward the excellent work and high standards that our members and industry stakeholders demonstrate, from creating new and innovative products, to programmes for young travellers, to outstanding examples of customer service.’ said BETA Chairman, Steve Lowy, sporting his glorious Movember ‘tache.

Starting with just a single category back in 2007, the awards have since grown to 12, representing over 40 businesses; each one a winner in their own right for the vital roles they play in the industry.

And as everyone in the room would agree, travel is an important and enriching experience, but it can also be a privilege. Wednesday night’s celebration was kindly in aid of the Family Holiday Charity (FHC), an organisation that works with families experiencing hardship to give them the joy of travel. Through their kind donations, BETA was able to raise over £5000 for FHC this year.

The big fish

Across a sea of winners, one particular standout was Camp Leaders, an organisation who sends kids to Summer Camps in the US as part of a ‘cultural exchange experience’. Camp Leaders came away with two gold awards for Best Innovation and Best Customer Service, and a further silver award for Best Support Service.

Speaking of their achievements, Camp Leaders told the Gazette:

‘We’ve been to the awards before, but this is our first time winning gold. Since COVID we’ve invested so much in our customer service, our technology, and our support. We’ve got an amazing team with us who work hard and listen to our customers. It’s great to be recognised for what we’ve done.’

Murray Roberts accepts his Outstanding Achievement Award.

As the ceremony came to a satisfying close, the winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award was announced. This award is reserved for an individual who has made a significant contribution to the sector in the last 12 months. Accepting this accolade on Wednesday, was Murray Roberts of St Christopher’s Inns.

Murray has worked in hospitality his entire life, and is commended as an inspirational figure who has helped to guide many people through their careers in the industry.

‘I’ve been working 20-odd years in this sector and love it to bits,’ Murray told the Gazette. ‘We’ve been striving to get more recognition for the youth travel sector from British tourist boards, Visit Britain, and so on. If you focus on youth tourism, people will keep coming back. Look after them when they’re young.’

A sea of hope

With the night ebbing away, attendees basked in the glory of their peers’ worthy achievements. The passion of hard workers in such a key industry was palpable and will surely drive them to create even more meaningful experiences in the new year.

Emma English, Executive Director of BETA, said the night’s ceremony was a ‘clear indication the youth travel market is thriving’:

‘It has been an honour to recognise those in the industry who are going above and beyond to adapt, provide services and support young travellers in the UK.

‘The thriving businesses celebrated, both finalists and award winners, at the British Youth Travel Awards 2023 is a promising indication of a thriving sector. With businesses and industry experts positively approaching International student recruitment, supporting lobbying and adapting services, it bolsters the UK as a hub of higher education and learning.’

For the full list of winners, click here.

To support the Family Holiday Charity, click here.

And finally, congratulations to all the winners and nominees!

Image courtesy of ALEX MAGUIRE
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