Jamaica Observer

11 October 2011 - Jamaica Observer

THE organisers of the world's marquee tourism awards programme have praised Caribbean destinations for attracting higher visitor arrivals despite the economic difficulties in key source markets in Europe and North America.

The World Travel Awards said it will use its VIP ceremony next month in the Jamaican resort city of Montego Bay to acknowledge the role of leading travel brands in navigating the Caribbean through the global downturn.

"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," said WTA founder and president, Graham Cooke.

"The Caribbean is also capitalising 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," he added.

Out of more 2,000 organisations, an "elite few" are vying to win the top honours in the WTA, including six countries competing for the title of "Caribbean's Leading Destination" - Aruba, Barbados, Bahamas, Jamaica, St Lucia, and Turks & Caicos Islands, the WTA said in a release.

For the award of "Caribbean's Leading Hotel" four "iconic" properties are in the running: "Jamaica's Half Moon, Antigua's Jumby Bay, Parrot Cay in the Turks & Caicos, and Sandy Lane of Barbados, the WTA said.

The WTA awards programme, hailed as the "Oscars of the travel industry by the global media, takes place at Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort & Private Island.

The Montego Bay event's co-sponsors, Jamaica Tourism Board and Sandals Resorts, also supported Cooke's comments.

"As a tourism region, the Caribbean has a lot to offer," said chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board John Lynch.

"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."

"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," Chairman of Sandals Resorts Gordon "Butch" Stewart said.

World Travel Awards Caribbean & the Americas Ceremony marks the fifth and final leg of its annual world tour, and will follow heats in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Antalya, Turkey; Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt; and Bangkok, Thailand.

The Caribbean winners from the Montego Bay ceremony on October 19 will then progress to the Grand Final.

Source: Jamaica Observer

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