The World Travel Awards have announced the winners for the Middle East and Africa at its inaugural regional event. Over 1,000 industry leaders convened at the Emirates Palace, on Wednesday to celebrate their achievements at the star-studded event.
This year has seen the addition of satellite World Travel Awards ceremonies in a bid to recognise winners in their own region. A total of 65 awards were presented to winners throughout the evening’s gala. Abu Dhabi won Middle East’s Leading New Destination and Middle East’s Leading Tourist Board - fitting accolades since the emirate has seen such impressive growth in travel and tourism over the last year. The Emirates Palace won the title of Middle East’s Leading Resort, Middle East’s Leading Conference Hotel and UAE’s Leading Resort.
“Abu Dhabi is spearheading the globe when it comes to business and luxury travel, world class service and innovative tourism products. Their offerings are setting the benchmark for the industry worldwide, with a number of ambitious projects planned to boost the emirates tourism offering, so it is fitting for us to host our inaugural regional ceremony here,” says Graham Cooke, President of the World Travel Awards.
Fairmont Dubai, Burj Al Arab, Grand Hyatt Cairo, Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa and Saxon Boutique Hotel and Spa all received awards during the evening. Rotana Hotels and Resorts won Middle East’s Leading Hotel Brand, while Etihad Airways scored Middle East’s Leading Airline and Middle
East’s Leading First Class Airline. Also Europcar took home Middle East’s Leading Car Hire Company and Africa’s Leading Car Hire Company.
These companies have automatically been put forward as nominees in their global categories. The World category winners will be announced at the global World Travel Awards ceremony in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean towards the end of 2007.
Media coverage of the regional awards was at an all time high, with over 25 international publications attending the event. As the official WTA media partner, BBC World broadcast the big event to over 254 million homes in over 200 countries. Other media included Breaking Travel News, Condé Nast, International Herald Tribune, Khaleej Times, Gulf News, TTN, Hotel Executive, Emirates Today, Ahlan!, Travtalk ME, TravelTalkAl Bayan, Trends Magazine, Arabian Travel News, Jumeira Beach Magazine, Shawati’ Magazine, CNBC Arabiya, MICE International, Arabian Travel TV, Abu Dhabi TV and many more.
Nakheel, Tamouh, Burjuman, Sorouh, Aldar, Etihad Airways, Amadeus and Fortune Cookie are the major industry sponsors backing the regional World Travel Awards.
The star-studded event saw travel industry professionals enjoy music, comedy and entertainment throughout the evening. The event was hosted by Akhtar Khan and the original “pop princess,” Deborah Gibson. Haifa Wehbe captivated the audience with her headline performance. Chris Noth, best known for his role as Mr. Big in “Sex and the City”, and Lauren Holly, who appeared in the movie classics “Dumb and Dumber” and “What Women Want” also took centre stage, giving lively performances.
Global heads of industry rubbed shoulders with VIPs spanning the Middle East and Africa, including Sheikh Faisal Bin Khalid Al Qasimi, H.E. Ahmad Al Hmairi and H.E. Mubarak Al Muhairi of UAE, Governor of South Sinai Egypt H.E. Mr. Mohamed Hany Metwally Iman and Hon. Wayne Garland Minister of Tourism Turks & Caicos Islands.
A total of 167,000 travel agencies and professionals in over 163 countries worldwide have been asked to vote for their leading travel destinations, airlines, hotels and companies around the world. Voting for the Middle East and Africa categories started in January of this year and ended in May. During this period ballots were 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. “Voted for independently by travel professionals worldwide, our Middle East and Africa award winners are having a major impact and influence on regional and global tourism. They are the true innovators and benchmarks for our trade, especially in the areas of customer service, technology, operational efficiency, product offering and style.”
“Due to the phenomenal success of the World Travel Awards and increasing competition in every sector of the travel industry, it was a natural progression for us to expand the honours scheme and to recognise companies for their achievements in their own regions,” says Manon Han, Vice President, World Travel Awards. “We are delighted with the success of the first regional awards ceremony, which also marks the first time that we have held the awards in the Middle East, and Abu Dhabi was an ideal host destination. The glamorous ball gown and tuxedo-clad event provided an unparalleled networking forum for those who attended and a chance to share the limelight with other award winners.”
The other chosen locations for the 2007 world tour include Bangkok in Thailand, New York in the US and Newcastle Gateshead in England.
Click here to see full list of winners: www.worldtravelawards.com
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