Refugee tour guide in Berlin wins a Lonely Planet Best in Travel award

Refugee tour guide in Berlin wins a Lonely Planet Best in Travel award

The annual announcement of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel awards is yet another tradition that looks a little different this year. But an attraction in Germany still found its way onto the list of recommendations. 

Lonely Planet presents revamped Best in Travel list

For the last decade and a half, the travel guide publisher Lonely Planet has marked the end of the year by naming its top travel destinations for the following year. The coronavirus crisis has, understandably, put a stop to that tradition. 

Instead of presenting the “Best in Travel” cities, countries and regions for the year 2021, Lonely Travel has this year honoured 30 places, people and groups that are changing the face of the travel industry across three categories - sustainability, community and diversity - and a tour guide based in Berlin is one of those singled out for praise. 

Meet the Berlin tour guide telling immersive refugee stories

Hesham Moadamani is a guide for Refugee Voices Tours, an initiative that seeks to humanise refugees by offering guided walks around different cities, led by refugees from Syria, Eritrea and Iraq. Drawing upon his personal experience as a refugee fleeing the Syrian civil war, Hesham guides people around some of the most significant sites in Berlin, including the Wall, the Topography of Terror and Checkpoint Charlie, to draw parallels between the 15 million people displaced by the Second World War and the current situation in Syria. 

“Conflict is not exclusive to Syrians from Muslim backgrounds,” Hasham says. “Germany witnessed such migration with people fleeing from it - and moving to it - in different periods of time.” His tour ends at a Syrian restaurant, where participants can sit down and talk through everything they’ve learned, while also getting a taste of Syrian culture. 

“I like that this tour exists and I hope that many people can come and take advantage of it,” says Hesham. “There are other amazing tour guides with other amazing stories that show hope and resilience too.” 

The future of travel

Alongside Hesham, other Best in Travel winners include Soraya Abdel-Hadi, who runs a blog and Instagram page on the topic of eco-conscious travel, and the UK-based tour group Invisible Cities, which offers people affected by homelessness the opportunity to become tour guides in their own city. 

Other destinations singled out for praise include the islands of Antigua & Barbuda, named as the most sustainable emerging destination; Greece, which wins the award for best sustainable food destination; and Costa Rica, which is named the most accessible destination for 2021. 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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