A Sheffield man who has travelled to more than 50 countries clocking up more than 1,000 holiday reviews online has won an award for his efforts.
Ernest Swift sold his engineering company two years ago to semi-retire and has spent the last 24 months travelling the globe.
Now the 58-year-old has been named UK Review Contributor of the Year by Tripadvisor – despite only using the website regularly for a year.
Keen photographer Ernest, whose work has appeared in the Sky at Night and other top magazines, began using the website as a way of looking up tourist must-sees before uploading his own photographs.
He said he was ‘flabbergasted’ by his win and insists his hundreds of reviews do not mean he is addicted to the website and he mostly writes his reviews when he returns home.
Ernest said: “I discovered that my opinion is valuable and that it is also, when I come back, a recollection of your memories.”
“It’s turned into a monster. I didn’t even know Tripadvisor did awards. It doesn’t even feel like I’ve done hundreds of reviews.”
In the last year, Ernest has travelled to more than 10 countries including seeing Switzerland by rail, visiting Christmas markets in Prague and taking photographs of the northern lights in Svalbard, Norway.
After working hard at his own business he now fits his work around his travels.
He said: “I’m not an extravagant traveller, if you know where to look for a bargain and you can get some good deals.
“I didn’t go abroad until I was 21. Our holidays were to Cleethorpes, we didn’t have a lot. Some people buy homes, flashy cars, I go on holiday.”
Ernest’s two sons Adam, 26, and Andrew, 21, have inherited the travel bug and he often takes trips with wife Catherine. These days Ernest’s favourite destination is a long way from Cleethorpes.
He said; “Nepal is a very special place for me. I just keep going back. I’ve trekked part way up Everest and have a lot of friends there.”
Ernest has also had some hair-raising experiences – including being arrested at Bucharest airport for taking currency out of the country.
“I’d forgotten I had a £5 note in a pocket. They dragged me off to the cells and I was made to sweat it out for a few minutes. I was terrified. They released me and I had to run to board the plane.”
Ernest plans to keep the reviews coming – with visits to Australia and New Zealand on his wish list and the possibility of a trip to the Arctic.
But not, he said, until he is at least 70 and can be ‘pushed around in a wheelchair’ and see the snow while relaxing.