Virgin Holidays is to sponsor the first travel category in The Observer Ethical Awards to be launched on Sunday (January 20).

The travel category in the eighth annual awards will seek to reward a winner that is pioneering in their sustainable approach and a tourism game changer.

The judges will be on the lookout for collaborative enterprises rooted in their host communities, which have a clear positive impact, according to the organisers.

There are ten categories in total, including Retailer, Campaigner, Product Design and Big Idea, with the winners to be announced at a ceremony in London later this year.

Virgin Holidays marketing director Andrew Shelton said:“We work hard to innovate in this area, and to be the first to give readers of the paper the opportunity to celebrate ethical excellence in our industry is a real honour.

“I’m really looking forward to reading about some of the projects and initiatives which are nominated – I am sure it will be very inspiring.”

Observer ethical living columnist and chair of the judging panel Lucy Siegle said: “There is a major social and environmental justice dividend to be gained from our lust for travel if the sector prioritises sustainability and development and thinks long term.

“Virgin Holidays has robust knowledge, real world experience and dynamic interest in how to get to this dividend. I’m anticipating a lively and educative judging process with expert judges from Virgin Holidays and I think we’ll find some outstanding finalists.”