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Jamaica Observer

12 October 2011 - Jamaica Observer

JAMAICA, St Lucia, Barbados, and the Bahamas are among the countries competing for the coveted title of 'Caribbean's Leading Destination' at the VIP World Travel Awards to be held in Montego Bay on October 19.

Hailed as the 'Oscars of the travel industry', the awards ceremony — which will be held at the Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and Private Island — seeks to reward destinations, hotels and organisations that have made the largest contribution to the travel and tourism industry over the past year.

Among the top contenders for the coveted title of Caribbean's Leading Hotel are Sandals Emerald Bay (Great Exuma, Bahamas), Half Moon (Jamaica), Jumby Bay (Antigua), Parrot Cay (Turks and Caicos) and Sandy Lane (Barbados).

The ceremony 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 and Caicos) and Dawn Beach (St Maarten) are all in the running for the 'Caribbean's Leading Beach Destination'.

With boosting airlift considered the top priority for the region, all eyes will be on the 'Caribbean's Leading Airline' category with nominees such as Delta Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, Air Jamaica, and Air Canada.

Graham E Cooke, president and founder of World Travel Awards, underlined the importance of travel and tourism in steering the Caribbean through the period of global uncertainty.

"The Caribbean travel and tourism economy has demonstrated remarkable resilience, given the challenges faced by its key source markets in Europe and North America. In particular, our host Jamaica is enjoying an excellent year," Cooke said.

The president added that provisional estimates out of that country suggest gross earnings of almost US$1.5 billion during the first eight months of 2011, thanks to a 5.7 per cent 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.

He explained that the nominees represent those organisations that have made the greatest contribution to the performance of the Caribbean. "I look forward to finding out which ones will make it on to the winner's podium on the 19th of October."

Meanwhile, 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 complemented 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."

Meanwhile, 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 and 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," Stewart said.

"As we celebrate 30 years of providing luxury-included (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," he added.

The Caribbean and The Americas Ceremony 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 Finale at the end of the year.

The event partners are the JTB, Sandals Resorts and WeClickMedia, while media partners include National Geographic Traveller, ABTA Magazine, ASTA Network, eTurboNews, Breaking Travel News, JaxFax, and Travel Daily News.

World Travel Awards was launched in 1993 to acknowledge and recognise excellence in the world's travel and tourism industry.

Source: Jamaica Observer


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