Three young women from India sweep top awards in The Olive Tree essay competition

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BANGKOK, September 25, 2018 – Three young women from India have swept the top honours in the second round of The Olive Tree awards, a unique essay competition launched by this editor to forge a stronger linkage between Travel & Tourism and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Twinkle Malukani, 22, Vinita Srinivasan, 22, and Natasha Goel, 25, received the highest scores by nine judges who graded the 33 shortlisted essays. Ms Malukani and Ms Srinivasan are co-winners with a score of 37 points out of 45. They will share the prize money and receive US$750 each. Ms Goel, who came in a close third with 36 points, will receive US$500.

The prize money is being generously donated by a sponsor and well-wisher from the Islamic world, based in Dubai.

A total of 190 essays were received from 30 countries worldwide, but mainly in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The competition was open to young people under 30.

The essay competition is an adjunct to The Olive Tree, the first and only global publication designed to help travel & tourism become a more enthusiastic part of the solution in attaining the SDGs.

The official results are being announced today, Sept 21, the International Day of Peace, to celebrate the unmatched status of travel & tourism, and its affiliated sectors in the fields of environment, culture, heritage, art, music, dance, etc.,as a bigger contributor to peace and understanding (UN Sustainable Development Goal 16) than any other economic sector.

Click here to read their essays

The competition was judged by a panel of six women and three men ranging in age from the 60s to the 20s. I thank them all profusely for their time and effort. In order to ensure transparency and accuracy, all the judges were sent the final grading sheet to cross-check their scores. The judges were:

(+) Mrs. Narzalina Z. Lim, President, Asia Pacific Projects, Inc., Tourism and Hospitality Consultants, Manila.

(+) Ms Shiromal Cooray, Managing Director, Jetwing Travels, (Pvt) Ltd, Sri Lanka.

(+) Mr. Mario Hardy, CEO, Pacific Asia Travel Association.

(+) Mrs Erina Loo, Secretary-General, Southeast Asia Tourist Guides Association, Jakarta

(+) Ms Yasmin Ahammad, Program Development Officer, Focus on the Global South, Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute, Bangkok

(+) Mr. Dmitri Cooray, Manager Operations, Jetwing Hotels, Sri Lanka.

(+) Mr. Abdulla Ghiyas, President, Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators and PATA Face of the Future 2018-19

(+) Ms Jennifer Kim, Public Information Assistant, Strategic Communications and Advocacy Section at the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), Bangkok

(+) Mrs Rosni Muqbil, retired businesswoman (and wife of Travel Impact Newswire Executive Editor Imtiaz Muqbil).

Here is what some of the judges said about their judging experience:

Narzalina Lim: “I enjoyed reading most of the essays. These young people give me hope that the world will be a better place if we had more of them around. Congratulations on your continuing efforts to raise awareness on important issues.”

Shiromal Cooray: “Reading through the essays I was pleasantly surprised and very pleased to see how these young girls and boys are perceiving Travel and Tourism. It is no more simply a “Getaway”, it’s a learning, sharing, volunteering, conserving etc. etc. experience which enriches the life of the traveller and the host or the host community. They have written it with so much passion and creativity! Great effort, congratulations to the writers and to Travel Impact Newswire for creating this opportunity.”

Mario Hardy: “I must thank you for this great opportunity. I must admit that I’m not a great reader, but couldn’t keep my eyes away from these essays! The ones written by young people from developing countries or those who appeared to have a more difficult childhood seem so much more passionate than the ones from developed countries. I will most certainly take inspiration from those essays and will mention them in my speech at the PATA Youth Forum (in Langkawi, Malaysia, Sept 12).”

Jennifer Kim: “Evaluating the essays was a pleasure. The writers displayed innovative solutions and passion while critically engaging the role of tourism in achieving the SDGs.”

Dmitri Cooray: “It is really encouraging to see that many young people are taking so much interest and coming up with many ideas in relation to sustainability. As many will be future influences in the tourism industry it’s very positive to see such thinking at a young age.”

Yasmin Ahammad: “As I read through the essays, I grew increasingly impressed by the insights and analysis of these young writers. This generation of travellers will not only bear the brunt of climate change and its resulting socio-economic impacts, but they’ll also be the ones to work through the solutions. In this regard, this collection of essays gives me hope.”

All the 33 shortlisted essays will be published in the November-December issue Edition 10 of The Olive Tree.

The third round of the essay competition will be announced in early October. The prize money of US$2,000 is being generously sponsored by the PATA Foundation.

The winning and shortlisted essays from the first round are all published here.