The cream of the independent travel industry has been celebrated at TNT Magazine’s Golden BackPack Awards.

In a spectacular gala evening event at Shaka Zulu in London last night, 19 winners were announced with awards presented by Lonely Planet’s Tom Hall.

Scroll down for full list of winners

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Voted by TNT readers via live and online campaigns, the accolades recognised tour operators, airlines, accommodation and transport providers who have shown outstanding commitment to the adventure, backpacking and youth travel market.

It was the first time the Golden Back Pack Awards have been held in the UK – having been a huge success in Australia.

Winners included Intrepid Travel as Favourite Worldwide Tour Operator; Sail Croatia as Favourite Activity/Sports Tour Operator; British Airways as Favourite Long Haul Airline; and Balkan Road Trip scooped Best Sector Newcomer.

Busabout, specialising in budget travel in Europe, scored a hat-trick including Favourite Medium-Size Tour Operator, Favourite European Tour Operator and Best Tour Itinerary.

Worldwide group travel organiser, Contiki, also went home with two prizes for Favourite Big Tour Operator and Greenest Travel Initiative.

Kevin Ellis, CEO of TNT Multimedia said of the event: “We’re thrilled to have launched the UK version of the successful Golden Backpack Awards from Australia. This is the only dedicated awards for our market, and who better to vote than the people who genuinely go on these holidays; our readers.

“Congratulations to all winners and we can’t wait for next year’s event.”

Here’s a full list of the winners

Favourite big tour operator                                                       
Winner:  Contiki                                                                                                                
Finalist: Thomas Cook; Club 18-30
Favourite medium-size tour operator
Winner:  Busabout
Finalists:  Topdeck Travel; On The Go

Favourite smaller tour operator
Winner: GoBus
Finalists: Anderson Tours; Fez Travel
Favourite UK & Ireland tour operator
Winner: Paddywagon Tours
Finalists:   Haggis Adventures; Shamrocker Adventures

Favourite European tour operator

Winner:  Busabout
Finalists: Contiki Holidays; Expat Explore

Favourite Middle East tour operator
Winner: Topdeck Travel
Finalists:  Travel Talk; On The Go

Favourite worldwide tour operator
Winner: Intrepid Travel
Finalists: Contiki Holidays; Topdeck Travel
Favourite activity/sports tour operator
Winner: Sail Croatia Adventures
Finalists:  Action Outdoors; Outgoing Ltd
Favourite Festival tour operator
Winner: Topdeck Travel
Finalists: First Festival Travel; Fanatics
Favourite winter/ski tour operator

Winner:  Alpen Rider
Finalists: Contiki Holidays; Crystal Ski
Best tour itinerary
Winner:  Busabout
Finalists:  Contiki Holidays;  Topdeck Travel

Favourite transport provider

Winner:  Eurolines
Finalists:  Busabout; Spaceships Campervan Rentals

Favourite long haul airline
Winner: British Airways
Finalists: Emirates;  Qantas
Favourite short haul airline
Winner:  easyjet
Finalists:  bmi; Turkish Airlines
Best hostels
Winner:   Hostelling International
Finalists: Plus Hostels; Smart City Hostels
Best sector newcomer

Winner:  Balkan Road Trip
Finalist:  MedSailors Ltd

Favourite travel agency
Winner: STA Travel
Finalists:   Flight Centre;  Thomas Cook

Best support service                        
Winner:  1st Contact
Finalists:  Excess Baggage; Anglo Pacific
Greenest travel initiative
Winner:   Contiki Holidays
Finalist:     On the Go