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Westways Receives National Travel Writing Award

Corporate Information, Travel

For the fifth consecutive year, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Westways magazine has received a Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) Foundation award – this time for its May 2012 “Mission Space” issue.


The Society’s Foundation honored Westways with a Bronze Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award for “Special Package/Project.”  The “Mission Space” issue included stories about space-related travel in New Mexico, an interview with astronaut Rex Walheim, Star Wars’ 35th anniversary celebrations and telescopes and observatories.  The awards are considered by writers as the most prestigious in the country for travel journalism. Leslie Mieko Yap is Editor-in-Chief of Westways and Elizabeth Harryman is Travel Editor.


National Geographic magazine took Silver and enRoute magazine took Gold.  A year ago, Westways received the bronze award in the Best Travel Coverage Other Magazines category.


The Society’s awards announcement and judges’ comments praised Westways, stating that: “Westways magazine delivers an enjoyable and clever thematic issue, “Mission Space,” to satisfy anyone still clinging to a childhood dream of becoming an astronaut. The story package includes a profile of New Mexico’s many space-related destinations, including the alien-obsessed International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, a number of important telescopes and observatories and the newly opened Spaceport America, to be a launch pad for commercial space tourism.


“Another story points “Star Wars” fans to a number of destinations in Southern California ideal for celebrating the media franchise’s 35th anniversary, such as Disneyland’s Jedi Training Academy and the Star Wars Miniland display at Legoland California in Carlsbad. Engaging interviews with an astronaut and an observatory curator, and companion blog posts on Space Center Houston and Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., round out the special coverage, leaving space enthusiasts and the newly converted eager to hit the road and explore the country’s many space-related destinations.” 


This year marks the 29th anniversary of the competition.  The awards, recognized as the Pulitzer Prize in this field by travel writers, were announced earlier this month at the annual conference of the Society. 


The competition, which recognizes work from spring 2012 to spring 2013, drew more than 1,257 entries.  Judging was done by faculty at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The SATW Foundation travel journalism awards are named for the late Lowell Thomas, acclaimed broadcast journalist, prolific author and world explorer.  The late James Michener, noted author, is the Society’s founding honorary chairman.


Published since 1909 by the Auto Club, the award winning Westways serves six million members covering travel, lifestyle, shopping discounts, insurance and automotive relevant topics, local and regional affairs, as well as benefits of AAA membership. 


The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest member of the AAA federation of motor clubs, has been serving members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club’s members benefit by roadside assistance, auto, home and life insurance products and services, exclusive member discount programs, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing and buying programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services and highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club’s Web site at



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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.