GTTP is a multi-country educational program to introduce high school learners to career opportunities in Travel & Tourism

2019 Travel Writing Competition

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“Showcase our magnificent country by writing a story that could be published nationally”

Every year, the GTTP is running a Travel Writing Competition for Tourism learners in South African High Schools.

The purpose of the competition is to provide learners the opportunity to write a travel article through which they communicate with other people.


  • Winner: R2 000,00 + Certificate + Publication on our website
  • Teachers: One year subscription to a travel magazine of your choice
The theme of the travel writing competition is:    DISCOVER MY COUNTRY


The objective of the competition is to showcase something unique and special in the area that will attract tourists to visit that part of South Africa.

You can write about anything – a historic area, a natural feature, a tourism event or a tourism activity. The sky is the limit as long as you take your readers on a journey with you to expose them to a secret trail in your area or province.

Remember to ask yourself the question:

Is this unique and special to my area and will my article attract tourists to our village, town or city?

Great cash prize is up for grabs, so get WRITING!

  • Only ONE article per learner
  • Maximum length: 500 – 800 words
  • Articles must be written in ENGLISH
  • Article must be typed (Arial 12 on A4 paper)
  • Maximum of 3 photographs (optional)
  • Written permission from the photographer to use his/her photos if you did not take them yourself.
  • The competition is ONLY open to Grade 10, 11 or 12 Tourism learners who are studying Tourism as a high school subject in South Africa.

GTTP ownership of your article:

All photos that are submitted become the property of the GTTP, and if used in print or electronic media, the student photographer will be credited.

Some more reading about writing good travel articles:

An important rule of creative travel writing is to show, not tell, wherever possible. Readers want to feel as if they’re eavesdropping on a conversation, or being shown something secret and magical. People don’t like being told what to think. If you write it well, they will “feel” what effect the encounter had on you.
– Mike Carter, author and contributor to a travel magazine

My golden rule when writing a piece is to include as much visual description as possible. It’s easy to presume a lot, but your readers don’t know what you’ve seen. So explain it as vividly as possible. Don’t ever describe something as “characterful” or “beautiful” – this doesn’t mean anything to anybody but you. Describe things as if you were explaining them to a blind person. To say a building is “old” isn’t good enough; explain the colours, the peeling stucco, the elaborate, angular finishes on windowsills, the cleaning lady in a faded blue smock who was leaning out of a second-storey window with a cigarette dangling from her mouth. There is a thin line between elaborate, colourful, evocative writing and pretentious writing. Never be dull and presumptuous.
– Benji Lanyado, writer and blogger

What sets good travel writing apart is detail, detail, detail. You must sweep the reader up and carry them off on the journey with you. Paint an evocation of where you are so we can experience it along with you. Be specific and drop “stunning”, “breathtaking” and “fantastic” from your vocabulary…. describe to the reader.
– Sally Shalam, hotel critic


  1. Write in the first person, past tense (or present if the action really justifies it), and make your story a personal account, interwoven with facts, description and observation.
  2. Many writers start their piece with a strong – but brief – anecdote that introduces the general feeling, tone and point of the trip and story. Something that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read on. Don’t start with the journey to the airport – start with something interesting, not what happened first.
  3. Early on you need to get across the point of the story and trip – where you were, what were you doing there and why. If there is a hook – a new trend, discovery or angle – make that clear within the first few paragraphs.
  4. Try to come up with a narrative thread that will run throughout the piece, linking the beginning and end; a point you are making. The piece should flow, but don’t tell the entire trip chronologically, cherry pick the best bits, anecdotes and descriptions, that will tell the story for you.
  5. Quotes from people you met can bring the piece to life, give the locals a voice and make a point it would take longer to explain yourself. Quote people accurately and identify them, who are they, where did you meet them?
  6. Avoid cliches. Try to come up with original descriptions that mean something. Our pet hates include: “bustling markets”… “azure/cobalt sea”… “nestling among” … “hearty fare” … “a smorgasbord of…”.
  7. Don’t use phrases and words you wouldn’t use in speech (such as “eateries” or “abodes”), and don’t try to be too clever or formal; the best writing sounds natural and has personality. It should sound like you. Don’t try to be “gonzo” or really hilarious, unless you’re sure it’s working.
  8. Check your facts! It’s good to work in some interesting nuggets of information, perhaps things you’ve learned from talking to people, or in books or other research, but use reliable sources and double-check they are correct.
  9. Write economically – don’t waste words on sentences that could be condensed, e.g say “there was a…” not “it became apparent to me that in fact there existed a…”.
  10. Moments that affected you personally don’t necessarily make interesting reading. Avoid tales of personal mishaps – missed buses, diarrhoea, rain – unless pertinent to the story. Focus on telling the reader something about the place, about an experience that they might have too if they were to repeat the trip.
  11. Describe the colours, sounds and smells of what you see as vividly as you can.