World Travel Awards has capped its year-long search for the most successful travel and tourism brands in the world with a glittering Grand Final Gala Ceremony in Doha, Qatar this evening.
Organisations including American Express, Starwood Hotels, Lufthansa, Abercrombie & Kent, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Europcar and Incredible India walked off with top honours for their respective roles spearheading the global tourism recovery.
The most important decision-makers in global travel were in attendance at the show, which was held in partnership with Qatar Tourism Authority, at Katara Cultural Village, Doha’s ground-breaking new arts and exhibitions complex.
The evening marked the culmination of the annual search for the very best travel and tourism brands in the world, and featured the winners from World Travel Awards’ five 2011 regional heats.
India saw off the likes of London, New York, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro and Sydney to win the blue riband “World’s Leading Destination” award in a year that saw international arrivals edged closer to the target of one billion travellers by 2016.
Etihad Airways continued its meteoric rise by being voted “World’s Leading Airline” for the third year in succession, following a milestone year that saw the UAE flag carrier break even for the first time.
World Travel Awards president Graham Cooke presents the Hotelier of the Year trophy to Mohammed Hassan Arkobi, vice president and managing director Fairmont Hotels Saudi Arabia
Meanwhile Abu Dhabi’s sparkling new Jumeirah at Etihad Towers beat the likes of Mandarin Oriental Paris, The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, The Park Hyderabad, Hotel Missoni Edinburgh and W Hotel London to pick up the coveted “World’s Leading New Hotel” title.
It was also an evening of celebration for Qatar, with Doha being voted “World’s Leading Business Travel Destination”, Qatar Airways named “World’s Leading Airline Business Class”, and Regency Travel & Tours winning “World’s Leading Travel Agency”.
In another win for Qatar, Aspire Zone was named the “World’s Leading Sports Tourism Development Project”, recognising the country’s superlative sporting credentials.
Qatar Tourism Authority chairman, Ahmed Al Nuaimi, said: “We are delighted to be honoured as the ‘World’s Leading Business Destination’ by our peers in the global hospitality industry.
“This is a great achievement and solidifies Qatar’s premier position as a great place to do business as well as one with first class leisure, sporting and cultural attractions.”
Hailed as “The Oscars of the Travel Industry” by the Wall Street Journal, WTA is recognised worldwide as the ultimate travel accolade.
Its 2011 Grand Tour featured regional heats in Dubai (UAE), Antalya (Turkey), Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt), Bangkok (Thailand) and Montego Bay (Jamaica).
Etihad Airways chief commercial officer Peter Baumgartner collects the award for World’s Leading Airline at the World Travel Awards Grand Final
Graham Cooke, president and founder, World Travel Awards, said: “The past year has continued to challenge every strata of travel and tourism.
“However our Grand Final winners have all demonstrated their world-class pedigree over this period, and are currently spearheading the global recovery of travel and tourism.
“In doing so they are also reinforcing our industry’s role as one of the mainstays of the global economy.
“Qatar in particular is playing a decisive role in generating new opportunities in travel and tourism, hence our decision to host our Grand Final in Doha.
“More than US $100 billion worth of infrastructure is due to be completed before the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” he added.
Established 19 years ago, World Travel Awards is committed to raising the standards of customer service and overall business performance throughout the international tourism industry.
The 2011 WTA nominations featured more than 5,000 companies in 1,000 categories across 162 countries.
The winners were selected by more than 210,000 industry professionals and consumers worldwide.
WTA partnered with tourism marketing firm Phenomena to bring the ceremony to Qatar.
Log on to the official World Travel Awards website for a complete list of winners.