Italy, having just won the football World Cup, has done it again. After dominating as the World’s Best City a remarkable eight out of 10 times, Sydney has this year been eclipsed by Florence and Rome in Travel + Leisure’s 11th annual World’s Best Awards survey.Sydney - 2005’s World’s Best city - lost its crown to the Italian cities, along with Bangkok, with the Harbour City still coming in a credible fourth in the influential, independently-audited poll of tens of thousands of sophisticated US travellers.
Despite slipping on the overall World’s Best City list, Sydney has retained its number one position in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific regional category. Melbourne is ranked the second best city in the region. Sydney held the number one position for the past four years.
Tasmania is ranked sixth in the Top 10 World’s Best Island category, and as the top island in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. Last year, the Great Barrier Reef islands were named number one island in the region. In other results, Qantas claimed the eighth best international airline spot.
Only one Australian operator makes it into the Top 100 Best Hotels list - Voyages’ Lizard Island resort slipping 49 places, down from number nine last year.
Travel + Leisure Australia today announced the results on behalf of its US parent publication, which uncovers US readers’ favourite cities, islands, hotels, cruise lines, airlines, tour companies, spas and car-rental agencies.
The World’s Best Awards are the most independent travel awards in the world. Because the US remains such a high-spending, influential market, the awards reflect trends on a global scale that have a direct impact on the industry here.
Anthony Dennis, editor of Travel + Leisure Australia, said: “Just as the Socceroos were knocked out of the World Cup by Italy, two Italian cities have now pipped Sydney by a narrow margin for the prestigious prize of World’s Best City.
“Sydney can remain satisfied that it makes the top five - a brilliant result. And, congratulations, as well, to Tasmania which is enjoying the benefits of having completely reinvented itself as a destination in recent years.
“Sydney’s case clearly wasn’t helped in the last year by a high Australian dollar, making the long trip to Australia an expensive exercise for Americans. And an industry-wide perception remains that Sydney may not have done all that it could to capitalise on the success of the 2000 Olympics and the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
“The fact that only a handful of Australian operators figure on the lists of best hotels, resorts and airlines favoured by Americans is indicative of the intense competition for international tourist traffic and the immense challenges facing the Australian tourism industry.
“Ever-improving international service standards, continued innovation in terms of hotels and resorts, and the sheer level of choice and value from competitor markets around the world are the key findings from these awards for the local travel industry,” Anthony Dennis added.
In other World’s Best results, New Zealand’s Huka Lodge in Taupo makes it into the Top 50 and beats Australian hotels and resorts to the number one spot in the 25 Best Hotels Asia Pacific category; Rydges Jamison is a surprise entrant at number four on this list, eclipsing a number of Sydney and Melbourne’s stellar properties. Rydges didn’t make it onto last year’s list at all.
Travel + Leisure Australia is one of seven international Travel + Leisure editions, including the US parent title.