Leading travel brands from across the region have shared top honours at the World Travel Awards (WTA) Caribbean & The Americas Gala Ceremony 2012 hosted at Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa this evening.
A packed delegation of VIPs, senior tourism figures and international media travelled from more than 30 nations to attend the event, which was supported by Turks & Caicos Tourist Board and Scotiabank.
It was an evening of travel triumph for nations across the region.
St Lucia won the coveted title of “Caribbean’s Leading Honeymoon Destination”, Coco Reef Resort (Tobago) picked up “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel”, while Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island (British Virgin Islands) was voted “Caribbean Leading Private Island”.
Buccament Bay Spa & Resort (St Vincent) nudged ahead of The Hotel Chocolat (St Lucia), Hotel Riu Palace Bavaro (Dominican Republic), The Magdalena Grand Beach Resort (Tobago) and Cofresi Palm Beach & Spa Resort (Dominican Republic) to win “Caribbean’s Leading New Hotel”.
Jamaica’s continuing rise up the global tourism order was acknowledged after it was named “Caribbean’s Leading Destination”.
In North America, Las Vegas saw off competition from New York, Miami, San Francisco, Montreal and Vancouver to win the coveted title of “North America’s Leading Destination”.
New York won the “North America’s Leading City Break Destination” title, while American Airlines was voted “North America’s Leading Airline”.
Meanwhile, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) was voted “South America’s Leading Destination”, beating off stiff competition from the likes of Easter Island (Chile), Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) and Machu Picchu (Peru).
The WTA awards programme, hailed as the ‘Oscars of the travel industry’ by the global media, highlights and rewards those travel brands that have made the greatest contribution to the industry over the past year.
WTA president Graham Cooke underlined the depth and quality of the travel and tourism sector across the region.
He said: “Our winners are also drawn from the breadth of the Caribbean & The Americans and , reflecting the strength and depth of the region’s travel and tourism sector.
“I am sure these organisations will fare strongly in our Grand Final, which takes place in New Delhi, India on December 12th 2012.
“The ceremony has also served as a glittering spotlight for Turks & Caicos – a paradise nation that has welcomed a record number of tourist visitors over the past year.
“This is testament to its overwhelming natural attractions, its luxury hospitality facilities and its rich local heritage.”
Rising Caribbean star and the reigning Miss Bahamas, Anastagia Pierre hosted the show with American actor and comedian Walt Willey.
Some of the Caribbean’s finest vocalists, including Shawn Campbell and Elroy Simmons, performed to the packed audience.
Gordon “Butch” Stewart, chairman of Sandals Resorts International, added: “We are honoured to receive the highest number of awards in Sandals Resorts’ history.
“We always strive for excellence, and continue to invest in our product so that each year we can be proud to say we are the Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand.”
Other WTA Grand Tour 2012 regional heats include Dubai (UAE), Algarve (Portugal), and Singapore.
The winners of these legs will go head-to-head in WTA’s Grand Final, which takes place at The Oberoi, Gurgaon on December 12th 2012.
Ralph Higgs, director of tourism, Turks & Caicos Tourist Board, concluded: “The Turks & Caicos Islands Tourist Board congratulates the winners and the nominees for this year’s World Travel Awards.
“With another 30 nations represented at these awards, we hope that each of you will take a piece of our islands home with you, etched in your memory forever.
“Congratulations again and we do hope to see you here in the future as we celebrate and acknowledge the brightest and best in the global hospitality industry.”
World Travel Awards
WTA was launched in 1993 to acknowledge and recognise excellence in the global travel and tourism industry.
Now celebrating its 19th anniversary, it is regarded as the very highest achievement that a travel product could hope to receive.
WTA’s global media partner network includes International Herald Tribune, CNBC Arabiya, Newsweek, ASTA Network, National Geographic Traveller, Access New York, Travel & Leisure China, Khaleej Times, Trade Arabia, TTN, Trav Talk India, Publituris, ABTA Magazine, Outlook Traveller, Breaking Travel News, eTurboNews and Travel Daily News International.