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WTA Grand Final: The final countdown begins

The winners of the World Travel Awards Grand Final ceremony will be announced this evening at a spectacular gala ceremony that will take place in Qatar.

The event, the highlight of the tourism calendar, is being hosted in Doha in partnership with Qatar Tourism Authority.

This is the latest scoop for Qatar, which is emerging as one of the world’s leading MICE destinations, having recently won hosting rights for a number of key international and sporting events including FIFA 2022.

Key organisations who have demonstrated the most resilience and strength will be acknowledged for their pioneering vision despite the challenges of 2011, from the earthquake and tsunamis that devastated Japan to the political unrest in the Middle East that has impacted on traveller patterns to the ongoing economic uncertainty which has touched everyone.

Companies in the running for top honours tonight have continued to innovate and inspire despite these challenges, including Sandals, Emirates, Banyan Tree, Cathay Pacific, oneworld, British Airways, Europcar, American Express and P&O Cruises.

Each of these organisations have rolled out new developments and remained ahead of their game over the past 12 months, continuing to offer world class products, with excellent customer service, whilst remaining accessible for their users with demonstrable evidence of their achievements over the past year.

The highly anticipated gala ceremony, to be staged at Katara Cultural Village (pictured), Doha’s ground-breaking new arts and exhibitions complex, will kick off at 19:00 tonight with a reception. Here the crème de la crème of the travel and tourism industry will have an unparalleled networking opportunity, with CEOs, Ministers and heads of the world travel and tourism industry present.

At 20:00 the Gala ceremony will kick off, marking the culmination of a year-long search for the very best travel and tourism brands in the world, and featuring the winners from WTA’s regional heats competing head to head.

Categories to watch include “World’s Leading Airline”, “World’s Leading Hotel”, “World’s Leading Destination”, “World’s Leading Tourist Board” and “World’s Excellence in Service Awards”.

WTA president Graham Cooke underlined the core strengths of the Grand Final nominees.

He said: “During times of economic uncertainty world-class brands come into their own, continuing to grow market share whilst competitors flounder, traits demonstrated by all those travel brands that have made it to our Grand Final in Doha.

“As one of the most progressive nations in the world, Qatar will prove a fitting host, and our ceremony will provide an excellent opportunity for the captains of travel and tourism to experience first hand the incredible array of projects happening there.”

This year’s new categories include “World’s Leading Dive Destination” with Great Barrier Reef (Australia), Zanzibar (Tanzania), Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt) and Sulawesi (Indonesia) all nominated.

Qatar Tourism Authority Chairman, Ahmed Al Nuaimi, said: “The staging of this ceremony in Doha is an illustration of the confidence the travel and tourism industry has in Qatar as well as the potential it has to develop further.

“Qatar’s strong presence in the list of finalists for the awards is showing the world that we are a country with a lot to offer travellers as well as one that operates at the highest international standards.”

WTA has partnered with tourism marketing firm Phenomena to bring the ceremony to Qatar

The regional WTA ceremonies that took place in 2011 included Middle East (Dubai, UAE), Europe (Antalya, Turkey), Africa & Indian Ocean (Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt), Asia & Australasia (Bangkok, Thailand), and Caribbean & the Americas (Montego Bay, Jamaica).

BTN will be interviewing the winners at tonight’s event to find out what it is that makes them tick, how they have stayed ahead of the game and what new innovations they have been working on. Tune in tonight to watch the BTN video interviews.