LONDON – The 11th Annual World Tourism Awards, co-sponsored by American Express Company (AMEX), Corinthia Hotels, International Herald Tribune (IHT), and Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), were presented at a special ceremony on November 11, 2008 at World Travel Market, Excel Centre, London. The 2008 award honorees are UNESCO World Heritage Centre and Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Inaugurated in 1997, The World Tourism Award was established to recognize “the extraordinary initiatives by individuals, companies, organizations, destinations, and attractions for outstanding accomplishments in the travel industry.” The 2008 World Tourism Award recipients were recognized for their dedication to the preservation of natural and cultural heritage, one as an organization and the other as an individual.

Presenting the awards on behalf of the sponsors were: Mark Roper, VP, Global Merchant Marketing, American Express Company, representing Donna Flora, CTIE, VP, Travel Industry Relations, American Express Company; Tony Potter, CEO CHI Hotels & Resorts; Alistair McEwan, International Advertising Director, New York Times, representing Patrick Falconer, Managing Director-UK, Northern Europe, MEA, International Herald Tribune; and Tom Nutley, President, Reed Travel Exhibitions.

The award to UNESCO World Heritage Centre was presented in honor of “the organization’s outstanding guidance, ,and encouragement to 185 countries around the world by establishing and monitoring 875 World Heritage Sites. The sites protect and preserve the irreplaceable natural and cultural heritage for the future of all the people of the world.” As part of the ceremony, two short films were shown featuring the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Accepting the award on behalf of UNESCO World Heritage Centre was Neville Shulman, CBE, Vice-Chairman, Culture Committee, UK National Commission for UNESCO. Representing Dubrovnik was the Director of the Tourist Board, Ms. Jelka Tepsic; and from Tanzania were Bernard Murunya, Acting Conservator, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA); Gerald Bigurube, Director General, Tanzania National Parks; Boniface Tumbu, Tourism Services Manager, NCAA; and Julius Kibebe, Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources & Tourism.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, was honored for “his dynamic and committed leadership in developing and implementing innovative management plans to care for and protect Egypt’s world famous ancient attractions, including several UNESCO World Heritage Sites.” A short video at the ceremony featured Dr. Hawass on-site talking about some of his dramatic discoveries. Accepting the award on behalf of Dr. Hawass, was Mohamed Shawfik, Chairman and Managing Director, Misr Travel, Egypt.

The World Tourism Awards are presented in the form of a specially-designed Steuben Crystal bridge entitled PARTNERSHIP, which “celebrates the bond of a supportive partnership which, like a bridge, spans both time and distance.”