Winners celebrate at WTA Europe Gala

Winners celebrate at WTA Europe Gala

In a night of mixed emotions the World Travel Awards European Gala Ceremony has taken place at the Rixos Premium Belek – with elation for some tempered with a touch of disappointment for others.

Attended by the leading lights of the international tourism industry, the event is considered by many to be the most important evening of the year in European travel.

Pictured: Rixos celebrate at the World Travel Awards

Company directors rub shoulders with tourism board chiefs, discussing the latest developments in the sector, and while it has been a tough year for aviation on the continent in particular there have been a few notable exceptions.

Turkish Airlines picked up the award for Europe’s Leading Airline Business Class following 12 months in which it posted record profits, grew market share and continued its global expansion.

Meanwhile, KLM’s unrivalled air travel experience in the face of such a tough market led to it being voted Europe’s Leading Airline.

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Turkish Airlines chairman Hamdi Topçu [centre left] picks up the award for Europe’s Leading Airline Business Class

Luxury Holiday Ideas

Also undergoing a renaissance, the luxury sector has continued its recovery into mid-2010, led by two of Turkey’s brightest hospitality stars – Mardan Palace, which won Europe’s Leading Luxury Hotel, and Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort & Spa which collected Europe’s Leading Luxury Resort.

And there was even more good news for Turkey, which also walked away with Europe’s Leading Meetings & Conference Hotel for Rixos Sungate, Europe’s Leading Tourist Board for the Turkish Culture & Tourism Office and Europe’s Leading Destination for Istanbul.

This was just the latest accolade for the city, which was recognised as the 2010 European Capital of Culture.

Europcar received the award for Europe’s Leading Car Hire for an incredible eighth year running. P&O Ferries was awarded Europe’s Leading Short Sea Ferry Operator, Lisbon was crowned Europe’s Leading City Break Destination and easyJet took away the trophy for Europe’s Leading Low-Cost Airline.

A relatively new category, the award for Europe’s Leading Marketing Campaign went to ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’.

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Rixos staff celebrate at the World Travel Awards Europe Gala Ceremony

Special Achievement

The biggest applause of the night, however, was saved for the Special Achievement Award which this year was presented to Talha Görgülü for his outstanding achievement within the Turkish travel industry.

His “A Group” Travel Agency, Kayitur, brings millions of tourists to Turkey while his charter operation SKY Airlines now flies to 50 destinations with a fleet of 17 state-of-the-art aircraft.

In 2006, he set a new benchmark for style, not just in Turkey but worldwide, by opening the Adam & Eve hotel in Antalya.

There were awards too for travel companies, organisations and destinations in over 50 individual countries across Europe.

Swissotel Krasnye Holmy Moscow won the award for Russia’s Leading Hotel, Minos Imperial Luxury Beach Resort & Spa took away the title for both Greece’s Leading All-Inclusive Resort and the Mediterranean’s Leading Family Resort.

Leopolis Hotel was awarded Ukraine’s Leading Hotel and Grace Santorini received the award for Greece’s Leading Boutique Hotel.

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Entertainment was provided by the Magic Drifters

VIPs in attendance included Ilhan Açikgöz, president of GETOB; Andres Erm, chief executive of Leopolis Hotel; Talha Gorgulu, Kayi Group chairman; Tahir Gorgulu, Kayi Group chief executive and general manager of Sky Airlines.

Jason Ngobeni, executive director of economic development for City of Johannesburg; Hamdi Topcu, chairman of Turkish Airlines and Mohammed Al Amiri, chief executive of Amiri Consultancy also created a stir among the crowds.

The world-famous Fire of Anatolia dance act provided the entertainment for the evening as the stunning cast of 45 dancers stepped, stomped and swirled to traditional folk music from the Black Sea to the Balkans.

Hosting the event was Turkish presenter and journalist Seda Akgul. Other entertainment on the night included The Magic Drifters.

Thousands Voted

The winners were selected with the help of thousands of industry professionals worldwide who have been voting online.

World Travel Awards founder, Graham Cooke, said that in addition to the prestige for their respective companies and destinations, the winners also gain considerable commercial benefit.

“Because of its global reach and reputation, World Travel Awards is unique and regularly referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of travel and tourism,” he added.

“This means consumers are increasingly using our portfolio of winners as a reliable and independent guide when booking their travel.”

Established 17 years ago, the awards are committed to raising the standards of customer service and overall business performance throughout the international industry.

“What is so encouraging is the strength demonstrated by European travel and tourism in the face of adversity. Tonight’s winners represent the cream of the industry, and those players that are leading the continent’s recovery,” added Mr Cooke.

Winners of the regional ceremony will now go on to compete in World Travel Awards 2010 final in London, immediately before World Travel Market on Sunday November 7th.

Log on to the World Travel Awards website for a complete list of winners for the European region.