Breaking Travel News

WTA 2006: 13 years of travel benchmarking

The World Travel Awards (WTA) has announced the results of one of the world’s most comprehensive travel trade polls of its kind at the gala ceremony in Turks and Caicos, which was attended by over 350 travel executives.
This year saw nearly 50 new elements enter the World Travel Awards, boosting the number of categories for the tourism industry to 791.

The Turks and Caicos took the title of “World’s Leading Beach” and “World’s Leading Island Destination,” a fitting accolade since the Caribbean destination hosted the gala ceremony of the World Travel Awards. 

“It’s a great location and the Turks and Caicos has visionary leadership, with Premier Michael Misick at the helm,” says Graham Cooke, president of the World Travel Awards.

“In the 30 years I’ve been in this business, I’ve never met a leader so committed to investing in the travel industry. There are very few heads of state who lead their government and the ministry for tourism, yet Premier Misick is one of them.”

“World’s Leading New Airline” was won by Etihad Airways, Jumeirah Emirates Towers scored the “World’s Leading Business Hotel,” while Europcar won “World’s Leading Leisure Car Rental Company.”


A total of 24 categories have been added in North America alone, bringing the total number of awards in the continent to 100. In this region, business and boutique hotels, as well as state specific titles, have been expanded.

The awards have recently been hailed as the “travel industry’s equivalent to the Oscars,” by the Wall Street Journal newspaper. A number of media reports have also described it “as the most comprehensive and the most prestigious awards program in the global travel industry.”

Companies from the Middle East featured highly in this year’s ceremony taking home a total of 14 global, World Travel Awards.

“Due to significant investment, the Middle East is spearheading the globe when it comes to luxury travel, good service and great tourism products. Their offerings are setting the benchmark for the industry worldwide,” says Cooke.

Gala ceremony

Trophies for the awards were given out at a gala ceremony at The Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort on the island of Provodenciales in the Turks and Caicos on the evening of Wednesday, 20th September.

The event is broadcast by media partner BBC World, as well as other media outlets to 254 million homes in over 200 countries and territories worldwide on FASTTRACK, one of the station’s best known travel programmes.

It was a night to remember as over 400 guests enjoyed music, comedy and entertainment. The event was hosted by BBC World’s, FASTTRACK presenter, Akhtar Khan, and the original “pop princess,” Deborah Gibson.
Disco diva, Maxine Nightingale and brother band, The Tavares took centre stage for a lively performance as did the multi-talented comedian and ventriloquist, Taylor Mason. A range of dignitaries and industry luminaries were in attendance including Senita Been, the original “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Kristy Swanson and Fox TV ‘24’ star, Roger Cross.

“We have worked hard over the last 12 months to bring together an eclectic mix of entertainment from around the world,” commented Manon Han, event director, World Travel Awards.

On the evening, trophies were well received by British Airways, which was voted “World’s Leading Airline,” Conrad Hotels and Resorts picked up “World’s Leading Luxury Hotel Brand,” while the Burj al Arab in Dubai picked up “World’s Leading Hotel.”

Throughout the evening, global heads of industry rubbed shoulders with VIPs from over 25 countries, ranging from the Maldives to Jamaica and Australia.

Adding diversity to this year’s gala ceremony, the event was preceded by a high-level networking day—The World Travel Internet Conference. This took place on Monday, 18th September, bringing together a roster of top speakers from the travel technology sector who engaged and debated the industry’s future. Companies in attendance included the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Sabre Airline Solutions and Amadeus.

The World Travel Golf Tournament, on 19th September enabled award winners and travel professionals to network in a relaxed manner.

World’s leading travel experience

This year if you are looking for the world’s leading travel experience, you are likely to have had a conference at the Dubai World Trade Centre, taken a flight from Singapore’s Changi Airport, travelled first class on Emirates. Having had an in-flight meal on Qatar Airways organized through American Express Travel, before cruising on the QM2 for a honeymoon in St Lucia.

...this is what the travel industry has voted for in various categories and are just some of the results of this year’s World Travel Awards.

From the Seychelles to Scotland, Brazil to the Bahamas, travel professionals have dolled out World Travel Awards across the globe.

For some, the World Travel Awards is a coming of age on the tourist map, for others it is an endorsement of their new contribution to the travel industry and for many it is recognition for continued achievements in the tourism trade. Some companies have won an award for the 13th time, others have knocked their competitors from the top within their designated categories.

A total of 167,000 travel agencies and professionals in over 140 countries worldwide have been asked to vote for their leading travel destinations, airlines, hotels and companies around the world.

“The survey is truly global in scale, independent and accountable,” says Graham Cooke, president of the World Travel Awards.

“With a growing number of travel award ceremonies in the marketplace, we are still the most comprehensive travel survey out there with global coverage.”

The World Travel Awards

Voting started in May of this year and ended in September. During this five month period 3,600 different nominations competed, with more than two million individual voting decisions completed, returned and processed using the online voting form.

The World Travel Awards accounts for all sectors of the global travel industry.

“Since founding the World Travel Awards in 1993, we have seen a growing sophistication in the travel and tourism trade and increased competition. Yet our winners have always been at the forefront of this process with their initiatives and products,” says Cooke.

“This year’s winners are no different, even with soaring oil prices and terrorist threats, our winners have continued to survive and thrive—they’ve seen challenges as opportunities and led the way for the industry.”

“Voted for independently by travel professionals worldwide, our award winners are having a major impact and influence on the world’s travel and tourism industry. They are the true innovators and benchmarks for our trade, especially in the areas of customer service, technology, operational efficiency, product offering and style,” explains Cooke.

The full list of World Travel Awards 2006 winners can be found at

For more information contact Anna Gouldman on [email protected] or call +44 207 843 6813 or +44 7837 965 399