After months of intense voting featuring more than 2,000 organizations, the nominees have been whittled down to the elite few who will vie for prime places in the World Travel Awards (WTA) VIP ceremony in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on October 19, 2011.
The WTA awards program, hailed as the “Oscars of the travel industry” by the global media, highlights how Caribbean destinations such as Jamaica are experiencing a growth in tourism arrivals despite the on-going austerity challenges of key source markets in Europe and North America.
The ceremony, which takes place at Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort & Private Island, is set to attract the top decision-makers and thought-leaders from across the Americas and Caribbean as they compete for the most influential accolades in travel.
Categories to watch include “Caribbean’s Leading Destination” with Aruba, Barbados, Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Turks & Caicos among those competing for top honors.
Meanwhile “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel” sees stiff competition between such iconic properties as Half Moon (Jamaica), Jumby Bay (Antigua), Parrot Cay (Turks & Caicos), and Sandy Lane (Barbados).
Graham E. Cooke, President and Founder, World Travel Awards, underlined the strength and depth of the Caribbean’s travel and tourism offerings.
He said: “The region has shown remarkable resilience to overcome the challenges of recent times, with an exceptional focus on excellent customer service and facilities that are second to none.
“Jamaica in particular has proven one of the tourism stars of the global downturn because of its boundless appetite for reinvention – a spirit exemplified by our event hosts, Jamaica Tourist Board, and Sandals Resorts.
“The Caribbean is also capitalizing on the tremendous opportunities afforded by BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India, and China] nations, especially with traditional source markets stuttering. However, to unlock this potential, accompanying governmental support remains vital, including the easing of restrictions that currently limit intra-Caribbean travel.”
John Lynch, Chairman of Jamaica Tourist Board, feels that the Caribbean region has a strong brand.
He said: “As a tourism region, the Caribbean has a lot to offer. Many of the world’s premium brands are available within the region, and these are complimented by brands that developed in the Caribbean and have earned world-renowned status. Caribbean people are also naturally hospitable, and throughout history, have had to conquer several challenges. Our resilience is well honed.”
Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Chairman of Sandals Resorts, is pleased to once again support the Caribbean on the world stage by hosting this year’s World Travel Awards Caribbean & The Americas Ceremony.
He said: “At Sandals Resorts, we come from the region, we understand the communities, we understand the quality of the beaches, and we understand the services and standards that the customer now demands.
“As we celebrate 30 years of providing luxury vacations that exceed expectations, I can say that we are delighted to showcase those services and amenities to the travel industry once again this year.”
World Travel Awards Caribbean & The Americas Ceremony marks the fifth and final leg of its 2011 Grand Tour, and will follow heats in Dubai, UAE; Antalya, Turkey; Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt; and Bangkok, Thailand. Regional winners from these events then progress to the Grand Final in Doha, Qatar, on November 29.