Hilary Bradt, founder of Bradt Travel Guides, is the worthy winner of the prestigious Special Contribution Award at the Travel Media Awards 2019

Hilary began her professional career far from the travel industry as an occupational therapist, which took her to cities across the world including Edinburgh, London, Boston and San Francisco, sparking in her a passion for travel. The more she travelled, the more she realised this was where her future lay. In 1974, while living in South America, she founded the award-winning Bradt Travel Guides, almost by accident, when no other publisher was willing to commission a hiking guide to Peru and Bolivia.

Since then, Hilary’s love of travel, especially to more obscure destinations, has meant her books have focused on opening up new destinations to tourists. About half of all Bradt titles are the only ones covering that country and all have a strong emphasis on encouraging visitors to get involved with schools or local charities, so travellers can give something back.

Not content with being an award-winning publisher, Hilary has also worked as a tour leader in South America, Africa and Madagascar, with the aim of encouraging tourists to travel with an understanding of the culture and wildlife of the country they’re visiting. She’s also written or co-written 13 books and has had articles published in newspapers and magazines around the world.

Her recognition by the Travel Media Awards is the latest in a long line of awards. In 2008, Hilary was given an MBE for services to the tourism industry and to charity, and most recently, in 2018 she was awarded the equivalent of an OBE by the president of Madagascar for her services to the country.

On hearing about this latest award, Hilary said, “To receive an award from the leading travel organisation is a great honour. I’m particularly pleased that it’s for making a special contribution to the world of travel, since that implies teamwork — and teamwork and a shared ethos are what has kept Bradt Travel Guides going for 45 years. I owe our success to my wonderful staff, and particularly Adrian Phillips who now runs the company, but also to those adventurous travellers who are looking for something a bit different and who take travel seriously, so seek out a Bradt guide.”

The Travel Media Awards look forward to welcoming Hilary Bradt to the stage to pick up her award on 21 October at the Landmark London hotel. For tickets visit travelmediaawards.com/tickets