TURKEY – It was a night of elation – and some disappointment – at this year’s World Travel Awards Europe Ceremony held in Antalya, Turkey, on Friday, October 1.
The industry’s top brass – including CEOs and directors of leading travel companies, government ministers, and tourist board chiefs – all gathered to battle it out at the most important evening of the year in European travel and tourism.
Although it’s been a tough year for aviation on the continent, there have been a few notable exceptions. Turkish Airlines picked up the award for “Europe’s Leading Airline Business Class” following 12 months in which it posted record profits, grew market share, and continued its global expansion. Meanwhile, KLM’s unrivaled air travel experience in the face of such a tough market led to it being voted “Europe’s Leading Airline.”
The luxury sector continues its recovery, led by two of Turkey’s brightest hospitality stars – Mardan Palace won “Europe’s Leading Luxury Hotel” and Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort & Spa collected “Europe’s Leading Luxury Resort.”
And there was even more good news for Turkey, which also walked away with “Europe’s Leading Meetings & Conference Hotel” for Rixos Sungate, “Europe’s Leading Tourist Board” for the Turkish Culture and Tourism Office. and “Europe’s Leading Destination” for Istanbul.
Europcar received the award for “Europe’s Leading Car Hire” for an incredible eighth year running. P&O Ferries was awarded “Europe’s Leading Short Sea Ferry Operator,” Lisbon was crowned “Europe’s Leading City Break Destination,” and Easyjet took away the trophy for “Europe’s Leading Low-Cost Airline.” The award for “Europe’s Leading Marketing Campaign” went to “Welcome to Yorkshire.”
The biggest applause of the night was saved for the Special Achievement Award, which this year was presented to Talha Görgülü for his outstanding achievement within the Turkish travel industry. His “A Group” Travel Agency, Kayıtur, brings millions of tourists to Turkey while his charter operation SKY Airlines now flies to 50 destinations with a fleet of 17 state-of-the-art aircraft. In 2006, he set a new benchmark for style, not just in Turkey but worldwide, by opening the Adam & Eve hotel in Antalya.
There were awards, too, for travel companies, organizations, and destinations in over 50 individual countries across Europe.
Swissotel Krasnye Holmy Moscow won the award for “Russia’s Leading Hotel,” Minos Imperial Luxury Beach Resort & Spa took away the title for both “Greece’s Leading All-Inclusive Resort,” and the “Mediterranean’s Leading Family Resort.” Leopolis Hotel was awarded “Ukraine’s Leading Hotel” and Grace Santorini received the award for “Greece’s Leading Boutique Hotel.”
VIPs in attendance included Ilhan Açikgöz, president of GETOB; Sururi Çorabatir, president of AKTOB; Çemil Uĝurlu, president of Betuyab; Andres Erm, CEO of Leopolis Hotel; Talha Gorgulu, Kayi Group chairman; Tahir Gorgulu, Kayi Group CEO and general manager of Sky Airlines; Jason Ngobeni, executive director of economic development for the city of Johannesburg; Hamdi Topcu, chairman of Turkish Airlines; and Mohammed Al Amiri, CEO of Amiri Consultancy.
The world-famous Fire of Anatolia dance act provided the entertainment for the evening as the stunning cast of 45 dancers stepped, stomped, and swirled to traditional folk music from the Black Sea to the Balkans. Hosting the event was Turkish presenter and journalist Seda Akgul. Other entertainment on the night included The Magic Drifters.
The winners were selected with the help of thousands of industry professionals worldwide who have been voting online.
Graham E. Cooke, founder and president of World Travel Awards said that in addition to the prestige for their respective companies and destinations, the winners also gain considerable commercial benefit.
“Because of its global reach and reputation, World Travel Awards is unique and regularly referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of travel and tourism,” said Cooke. “This means that consumers are increasingly using our portfolio of winners as a reliable and independent guide when booking their travel.”
Established 17 years ago, the awards are committed to raising the standards of customer service and overall business performance throughout the international industry.
“What is so encouraging is the strength demonstrated by European travel and tourism in the face of adversity. Tonight’s winners represent the cream of the industry, and those players that are leading the continent’s recovery,” he added.
Winners of the regional ceremony will now go on to compete in World Travel Awards 2010 final in London, immediately before World Travel Market on Sunday, November 7.
Log on to www.worldtravelawards.com for a complete list of winners for the European region.