Caribbean destinations, airlines compete for World Travel Awards

The London-based World Travel Awards (WTA) said on Oct. 6 that St. Lucia, Barbados, Jamaica and the Bahamas are among the nations that will compete head-to-head for the coveted title of “Caribbean’s Leading Destination” at the marquee VIP WTA ceremony in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on Oct, 19.

The WTA said another key category to watch at the 2011 Caribbean & The Americas Ceremony is “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel,” with Half Moon (Jamaica), Jumby Bay (Antigua), Parrot Cay (Turks & Caicos), Sandy Lane (Barbados), and Sandals Emerald Bay (Great Exuma, Bahamas) among the hot contenders.

The awards program, hailed as the “Oscars of the travel industry” by the global media, will reward those destinations, hotels, and organizations that have made the largest contribution to the travel and tourism industry over the past year.

The ceremony takes place at Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort & Private Island, and 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.

Negril (Jamaica), The Gold Coast (Barbados), Half Moon Bay (Antigua), Grace Bay Beach (Turks & Caicos), and Dawn Beach (St. Maarten) are all in the running for “Caribbean’s Leading Beach Destination.”

With boosting airlift considered the top priority for the region, all eyes will be honed on the “Caribbean’s Leading Airline” category. Nominees include Delta Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, Air Jamaica, and Air Canada.

“The Caribbean travel and tourism economy has demonstrated remarkable resilience, given the challenges faced by its key source markets in Europe and North America,” said Graham E. Cooke, president and Founder, World Travel Awards, underscoring the importance of travel and tourism in steering the Caribbean through the global uncertainty.

“In particular, our host, Jamaica, is enjoying an excellent year,” he added, stating that provisional estimates suggest gross earnings of almost US$1.5 billion during the first 8 months of 2011, thanks to a 5.7 percent increase in visitor arrivals.

“This is testament to tourism’s role as the engine of the Caribbean economy with the power to steer the region out of one of the most challenging periods in global financial history,” Cooke said.

“Our nominees represent those organizations that have made the greatest contribution to the performance of the Caribbean, and I look forward to finding out which ones will make it on to the winner’s podium on 19 October,” he continued.

John Lynch, Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board, feels that the Caribbean region has a strong brand.

“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,” he said.

“Caribbean people are also naturally hospitable and throughout history have had to conquer several challenges. Our resilience is well honed,” he added.

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.

“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,” he said.

“As we celebrate 30 years of providing Luxury Included® that exceed expectations, I can say that we are delighted to showcase those services and amenities to the travel industry once again this year,” he added.

John Lynch, marks the fifth and final leg of World Travel Awards 2011 Grand Tour, and will follow heats in Dubai, UAE; Antalya, Turkey; Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt; and Bangkok, Thailand. Regional winners from these events progress to the Grand Final at the end of the year.

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