Hola! World Travel Awards land in Mexico


North and Central American tourism industry decision makers and senior management started arriving over the weekend for the prestigious 2009 World Travel Awards in Mexico. The awards, described by the Wall Street Journal as the “Oscars” of the global travel and tourism industry will be announced Monday evening on Mexico’s culturally-rich Yucatan Peninsula.

The gala event will be staged at the luxurious new Hacienda Tres Rios, which is set in 326 acres of pristine nature parkland and is on the doorstep of eco-reserves, white sand beaches, world-class diving, snorkeling, fishing, and is the gateway to the mysterious Mayan world. In 2008, Mexico international arrivals rose 5.9 percent to 22.6 million visitors, while US dollar travel spending rose 3.4 percent to US$13.3 billion. The unspoiled Yucatan Peninsula is a unique combination of Mexican and Mayan cultures with cuisine, music, and dance reflecting both diverse heritages. Consider this reporter gobsmacked at the complete rebirth of a region that was hit hard by Hurricane Wilma a scant four years ago. The Riveria Maya and Yucatan Peninsula are back, better, and stronger than ever.

The World Travel Awards North and Central America regional ceremony is part of a world tour that finishes with a global Grand Final in London immediately before World Travel Mart 2009. Now celebrating its 15th anniversary, the World Travel Awards with 919 comprehensive categories are widely recognized globally as one of the highest honors a travel company or brand can achieve within the industry.

Graham Cooke, president, World Travel Awards, said they elected to stage the spectacular awards event in Mexico at the Hacienda Tres Rios for a number of reasons, but topping the list “it seems fitting to celebrate the North and Central Americas awards ceremony in this beautiful destination, which sets the bar very high for the global tourism industry and creates hope for many young travel professsionals.” Cooke went on to note “Mexico is one the most popular international travel destinations with tourism accounting for 13.2 percent of Mexico’s GDP in 2008.” Mexico’s travel and tourism industry have joined hands to pledge support for the World Travel Awards with sponsorship from Hacienda Tres Rios, RCI, Vive Mexico, Cancun Visitors & Convention Bureau, Yucatan Holidays, and Yucatan Travel.

“The World Travel Awards salutes the leaders in the tourism industry, and we are honored to host this year’s gala event,” said Orlando Arroyo, CEO of Hacienda Tres Rios. “We are proud to be able to showcase and share the successful balance of luxury and sustainable tourism we have created at Hacienda Tres Rios.”

Nominees at the 2009 World Travel Awards include American Airlines, United Airlines, Continental Airlines, US Airways, and Delta Airlines competing for the coveted title of North America’s Leading Airline. Ten big names battling it out for North America’s Leading Hotel include Burnham Hotel, Chicago; Four Seasons Hotel, Chicago; Jumeirah Essex House, New York; Mandarin Oriental, Miami; The Parker Palm Springs, California; The Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows, California; The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas; St. Regis Hotel, New York; The Westin Grand Bohemian, Miami; and Trump International Hotel & Tower, New York. Good luck to the judges trying to single out one hotel from that megastar line up! Check back with eTN for a round up of World Travel award winners, backstage interviews, photos, and video of these important awards for innovators who go the extra mile to deliver extraordinary products and service.