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LATA Achievement Awards – Winners and Runners-Up announced at LATA Expo

logo for LATA Achievement Awards 2024 logo for LATA Achievement Awards 2024 which includes a celebratory firework in orange and blue to match brand colours

Returning for the first time since 2019, LATA is delighted to reveal the winners of the LATA Achievement Awards 2024. Winners were presented with their trophies in front of more than 300 delegates and media during the gala dinner at the new-look LATA Expo.

Danny Callaghan, CEO of LATA says, “I am delighted to bring back the LATA Achievement Awards to rightly celebrate and recognise the achievements of all our members, who work tirelessly to offer the best of travel to Latin America. It was a pleasure to present the awards last night, and wonderful to be able to do so in front of so many of our members as part of LATA Expo”.

The awards, overseen by Danny Callaghan, were judged by a panel of independent industry experts including Kate Kenward of Visit USA UK, Adrian Phillips from Bradt Travel Guides, Basia Kolosinska from C&M Recruitment and Kate McWilliams from LOTUS. Our thanks to the judges for their time and input.

The winners of the LATA Achievement Awards 2024 are:

Cruise operator

Winner – Golden Galapagos

The judges were impressed with how Golden Galapagos has diversified its product offering to include twin stays with its sister lodge in the Amazon, as well as catering to the growing demand for vegetarian and vegan food.

DMC – Large

Winner – Intrepid DMC

Runner Up -Metropolitan Touring

The judges commented that Intrepid used its global network to expand and broaden the   training of the local tour leaders and guides, hosting regional conferences and sending the best-performing staff to Melbourne for a global summit. Intrepid has worked very closely with Indigenous communities and enabled women from a remote community to visit Machu Picchu as well as eliminating all single-use plastics from its Inca Trail operations.

The judges wanted to recognise Metropolitan Touring, noting how they donate 3% of net profits to the Fundación Futuro, which aims to mitigate climate change, and works with an Ecuadorian brand that creates the staff uniforms using repurposed plastic bottles.

DMC – Small

Winner – Onesixth Expeditions

The judges recognised that Onesixth Expeditions had worked quickly to secure B Corp certification, achieved in December 2023. They were also impressed with the initiative to give all customers a welcome kit made by a local NGO that works with vulnerable women.

DMC – New to LATA

Winner – Journey Costa Rica

Launched in 2023, the judges wanted to acknowledge Journey Costa Rica’s efforts to create individual journeys in a well-known destination. They commented on the sense of family and community that the company has created for its employees

Boutique Hotel

Winner – Estancia Cerro Guido, Chile

The judges liked the focus on the experiential offering at Estancia Cerro Guido, incorporating its heritage as a working ranch with its tourist product. They commented that guests can take part in the estancia’s annual sheep shearing and cattle drive, a very authentic experience. Being in a corridor with the world’s greatest puma population, the estancia’s pioneering project to establish a balance between ranching and conservation was also recognised by the judges.


Winner – Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

The judges were impressed with the new hummingbird garden at Mashpi Lodge, with an enhanced visitor area as well as the introduction of a charging points for electric vehicles. Commenting on the commitment to guests’ comfort, the judges said the installation of mosquito nets at the lodge’s Life Center was thoughtful and would enhance the experience.

Tour Operator – Small

Winner – LiNGER

The judges were impressed with the approach that LiNGER takes to sabbatical travel, slowing the pace and encouraging visits to lesser-known places, adapting to a shift in consumer behaviour and creating a product to reflect this. The judges also commented on the creativity of the styles of trips offered looking ‘beyond the obvious’ and at ‘return journeys’ that consciously exclude the obvious highlights.

Tour Operator – Large

Winner – Journey Latin America

Runner Up – Latin Routes

The judges all agreed this was the hardest category to award and was decided ‘by a hair’. The judges were impressed with Journey Latin America’s support of a variety of charities and projects focussing on three pillars of people, products and planet, and their achievement being awarded the Platinum Trusted Award by Feefo for the fourth consecutive year, recognising their outstanding customer service. The judges acknowledged the impressive growth recorded by Latin Routes reflected in the three new destinations added to their portfolio.

Tour Operator – New to LATA

Winner – True Travel

The judges commented on the breadth of product being offered by True Travel for an existing operator expanding into the region. They showed a commitment to the destination, promoting across social platforms, through PPC campaigns, a press trip and with in-person events.

Product Launch

Winner – Colombian Project

Runner Up – Amazonas Explorer

The judges all agreed that The Colombian Project’s Mataven jungle community tourism initiative was the well-deserved winner of this category. The initiative empowers communities to preserve their cultural and natural heritage, fostering sustainable development and showcasing traditions to visitors. The Colombian Project collaborated with the local indigenous groups and an NGO to ensure the whole community was involved and benefited.

The judges recognised the successful launch of Amazonas Explorer’s e-bike trip around Cusco and the Sacred Valley. The company identified that its original mountain biking trips were a popular concept but excluded many who found them too physically demanding. Realising the importance of inclusivity and accessibility, the e-bike version of the trip was introduced.

Marketing Campaign

Winner – Swoop Travel

Runner Up – Las Torres Patagonia

Highly Commended – Latin Routes

The judges all agreed that Swoop Travel had executed a targeted and well thought through marketing campaign, with impressive results. The campaign focussed on a lesser-known region of Chile aiming to distribute tourism away from more popular areas. The landing page received 86k page views and the wider campaign created 355 specific leads to the region.

The judges recognised Las Torres Patagonia as a runner up to acknowledge their campaign that created awareness of the fragility of the trekking trail in Torres del Paine. They were impressed with how the initiative combined elements of voluntourism, sustainable tourism and adventure travel to allow participants to contribute to something meaningful.

The judges also highly commended the training academy set up by Latin Routes to educate UK travel agents about the region. The immersive four-day educational trip to Peru immersed the agents in the destination as well as allowed them to meet with key suppliers from the region.

Significant Contribution

Winner – Maria Fernanda Sanchez-Salazar

Having completed the first LATA Sustainability Training Programme in 2023, Paul Cripps, owner of Amazonas Explorer, realised that however good the course was, it was of little benefit to the Spanish-speaking LATA members unless translated. Head of sales at the company, Maria Fernanda Sanchez-Salazar, volunteered to translate the whole programme before the second cohort started. Cripps says “Thank you Maria Fernanda, not just from us at Amazonas Explorer, but on behalf of all the Spanish-speaking members who have been able to complete the training programme”. We at LATA are also extremely grateful to Maria Fernanda for her work on this.

Unsung Hero

Winner – Wendy McNeill

Runner Up – Eneido Guzman Fuentes Sanchez

A lynch pin in the development of so many tour operators’ Latin American programmes, the judges all agreed that Wendy McNeill was a deserving winner of the LATA Unsung Hero award. Her nomination stated ‘Wendy was one of the first people we spoke to when setting up our Latin American programme, helping us understand the market and develop our trips, and I know she has done the same for so many others. Having returned to the industry after some time away, I can think of no one more deserving to be recognised for her tremendous work over the years’.

The judges recognised the achievements of Eneido Guzman Fuentes Sanchez, who has put an unknown part of Colombia on the tourist map. He belongs to a remote community, five hours by river from the nearest airport. Despite limited connectivity, Eneido has shared his territory with the tourism industry, and engaged the whole community to work together and use tourism to strengthen their heritage and conserve their traditions.

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