Rick Steves Named 2011 Travel Journalist of the Year

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Avalon Travel is pleased to announce that travel writer Rick Steves has been named the 2011 Travel Journalist of the Year in the 27th annual Lowell Thomas competition, overseen by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation. The awards, recognized as the most prestigious in the travel-writing field, were announced on Thursday in New Zealand at the SATW’s annual convention.

Rick Steves

Rick Steves, 2011 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year

We’re proud to publish Rick’s guidebooks, but what sets him apart is what he’s made of his travels. Rick’s devotion to his mission as a teacher, a philanthropist, and political activist is an inspiration to everyone he encounters.

Avalon Travel is pleased to announce that travel writer Rick Steves has been named the 2011 Travel Journalist of the Year in the 27th annual Lowell Thomas competition, overseen by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation (SATW). His radio program, “Travel with Rick Steves,” and his blog, Blog Gone Europe, also received gold medals in their respective categories; and the sixth season of his public television program, Rick Steves’ Europe, was awarded a bronze in the “Travel Broadcast – Video" category. The awards—recognized as the most prestigious in the travel-writing field—were announced on Thursday in New Zealand at the SATW’s annual convention.

Steves is the author of fifty guidebooks to Europe, all published by Avalon Travel, a member of the Perseus Books Group. His guidebooks, which have sold more than 10 million copies to-date, have been published by Avalon Travel since 2000.    

“We’re proud to publish Rick’s guidebooks, but what sets him apart is what he’s made of his travels. Rick’s devotion to his mission as a teacher, a philanthropist, and political activist is an inspiration to everyone he encounters,” said Bill Newlin, Publisher of Avalon Travel.

Rick Steves began his career as a teacher of budget travel classes; today, his Europe Through the Back Door business has evolved into an international brand that includes guidebooks, guided tours to Europe, a popular public television series, a public radio show, travel gear, a travel website, and a syndicated newspaper column. The company is based in Edmonds, Washington.

Despite his financial success, Steves still travels like he always has—living out of his rucksack, picnicking, staying in simple B&Bs and guesthouses, experiencing everything he can, and taking careful notes. When asked how many countries he's visited, he said he's never counted. Steves believes there's too much fear in America; in his opinion, “fear is for people who don't get out much." He encourages an appreciation for the diversity of this planet, empathy for people who see things differently, and a broad worldview.

In addition to his best-selling guidebook series, Steves is also the author of Travel as a Political Act, which was inspired by his longtime interest in social causes. An active Lutheran, he received the Wittenberg Award in 2007 for his social activism. In 2009, the National Council for International Visitors presented Steves with their Citizen Diplomat of the Year Award. This year, Steves is co-sponsoring a new initiative with a newly-formed political action committee, New Approach Washington, whose goal is to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana within the state by authorizing the Washington State Liquor Control Board to regulate the production and distribution of marijuana for sale to adults.

In 2005, after having worked as an housing advocate for many years, Steves joined with civic groups to purchase a 24-unit housing complex dedicated to housing homeless mothers and children. In August of this year, he donated $1 million to the Edmonds Center for the Arts to support and expand the center's performances and community programs. A portion of the gift will also support Edmonds's Cascade Symphony Orchestra.

“Over the last decade, my tax burden has decreased even as public funding for important local programs and institutions has been decimated—a trend I find alarming,’’ Steves said. “It's my hope to inspire other caring high-income people to step up and fill those funding gaps with private donations to support causes that should be borne collectively by a community—arts centers, parks, schools, libraries, local symphonies—and to speak out against the wisdom of rolling back the tax cuts for our wealthy.”

For more information, or to set up an interview with Steves, please contact Eva Zimmerman at 510.809.3834 or at eva(dot)zimmerman(at)perseusbooks(dot)com.

About Avalon Travel
Avalon Travel is the largest independent travel publisher based in the United States. Major series include Rick Steves, the top-selling European guidebook series in the U.S.; Moon Travel Guides, with guides to more than 200 destinations around the world; and Road Trip USA. Based in Berkeley, Calif., Avalon is a member of the Perseus Books Group. For more information, visit http://www.avalontravelbooks.com.

About Rick Steves
Rick Steves is on a mission: to help make European travel accessible and meaningful for Americans. Since 1973, Steves has spent four months every year exploring Europe. He’s researched and written more than 50 travel guidebooks, writes and hosts the public television series Rick Steves’ Europe, and also produces and hosts the weekly public radio show Travel with Rick Steves. With the help of his hardworking staff at Europe Through the Back Door, Steves organizes and leads tours of Europe and offers an information-packed website, http://www.ricksteves.com. When not traveling through Europe, Steves lives in Edmonds, Washington.

About the Society of American Travel Writers
Founded in 1955, SATW is a professional association whose purpose is to promote responsible journalism; provide professional support and development; and encourage the conservation and preservation of travel resources worldwide. Members include writers, photographers, editors, film lecturers, broadcast/video/film producers, bloggers, website contributors and owners, creators of mobile apps and public relations representatives. The Society works to raise the standards of the profession, guard the right of freedom to travel, and encourage conservation and preservation of historic sites and natural wonders. Believing that travel is a bridge between peoples, SATW’s earnest desire is to make and keep travel a quality experience for everyone.

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