South Africa’s glitterati rolled into Durban for the first-ever World Travel Awards Africa Ceremony, held in partnership with the International Convention Centre, Durban.The reigning King of the Zulu nation, His Majesty King Zwelithini Goodwill kaBhekuzulu, opened the ceremony with an inspiring speech about the significance of the WTA ceremony being hosted in Durban and Kingdom of Zulu.
Speaking afterwards to Breaking Travel News, he said: “This ceremony is history for our province and our country, and I am delighted it will be returning next year.”
“When you travel to our country you see how peaceful and beautiful it is,” he added. “The most important thing is to look after and preserve it.”
The packed audience of VIPs came from all corners of the African continent to honour and celebrate excellence in Africa’s travel industry.
Winners of the prestigious World Travel Awards included South African Airways winning Africa’s Leading Airline, Arabella Starwood Hotels & Resorts receiving the Africa Leading Family Resort award; Cllr. Grant Haskin, Cape Town’s Deputy Mayor, receiving Africa’s Leading Destination; and Wally Gaynor, Managing Director of Club Travel, scooping the Africa’s Leading Travel Agency Award.
Country-specific awards included: Botswana - Gaborone Sun, Botswana’s Leading Hotel; Cameroon - Hillton Yaounde, Cameroon’s Leading Hotel; Cape Verde - Hotel Oasis Praiamar, Cape Verde’s Leading Hotel ; Egypt - Grand Hyatt, Cairo, Egypt’s Leading Hotel; Gabon - Le Meridien Mandji, Gabon’s Leading Hotel; Gambia - Sheraton Gambia Resort, Gambia’s Leading Hotel; Kenya - Intercontinental Nairobi, Kenya’s Leading Hotel; Morocco - Amanjena, Morocco’s Leading Resort.
The star-studded evening was hosted by Gerry Rantselli, whilst South African pop sensation Freshlyground had the audience dancing around the auditorium late into the night.
“It was a wonderful evening for African tourism and hopefully an inspiration for all those nominated but who were unlucky enough not to win”, said Graham Cooke, President and Founder, World Travel Awards.
Durban’s International Conference Centre is to host the World Travel Awards Africa Ceremony in 2009. The deal was signed just hours before the event by Miller Matola, CEO of ICC Durban and Graham Cooke, President and Founder, World Travel Awards.
“The ICC is a state-of-the-art world class conference centre”, said Mr Cooke, “and perfect for such a prestigious ceremony for African travel and tourism. We have been delighted with not only the facilities, but also with the wonderful support from the ICC staff.”
Since its inception 15 years ago, The World Travel Awards has evolved globally into the “Oscars of the Travel Industry”. Last night’s event was the first Africa Ceremony and kicks off The World Travel Awards Grand Tour, with regional awards staged throughout the world, culminating in a Grand Final at Turks & Caicos on 12 December 2008.
Winners of all 75 categories for Africa and African countries are listed on the World Travel Awards website www.worldtravelawards.com