Jamaica wins big at World Travel Awards
Jamaica remained the leading Caribbean destination for land-based and cruise ship passengers, copping top-tier awards at the 25th World Travel Awards (WTA) at Sandals Montego Bay in St James on Saturday night.
The island's ports also walked away with the title of Caribbean Leading Home Port, which went to Montego Bay and Caribbean's Leading Cruise Port, which was collected by the Ocho Rios port, complemented by Sangster International - the Leading Caribbean Airport.
It came as no surprise that the Jamaica Tourist Board was named the region's Leading Tourist Board or that Sandals Resorts International took home the most accolades at the 'red carpet white sand' glitzy event.
Tagged the World Travel Awards Caribbean and North America Gala, Sandals proved why it is indisputably the Caribbean's Leading Hotel Brand, picking up nine awards at the ceremony attended by the "who's who" of the travel industry.
... 'Jamaica has best product, team in region'
Professor Gordon Shirley, president and CEO of the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), says that while the cruise-shipping business is very competitive, "Jamaica has absolutely the best product, the best team anywhere in the region, to make the country the best in the Caribbean".
"The awards attest to the fact we are on our way to making this happen," Shirley said as he spoke with The Gleaner after accepting three awards for two of the island's cruise ports at the World Travel Awards in Montego Bay, St James, on the weekend.
The PAJ president noted that the Montego Bay Port was the fastest-growing home port terminal in the region, and as a result, the cargo terminal had to be transformed into a cruise ship terminal.
'And we are building a new cargo terminal," he said.
"We hope that this will be the best mixed-used terminal on completion," Shirley added.
For his part, Director of Tourism Donovan White described the recognition the country received during the awards gala on Saturday night as a proud moment.
"It is testimony to the work of the people in the industry who devote their lives to tourism - the people who give Jamaica the 42 per cent return rate business," White said.
He added: "It is not about the pretty ads. It is about the people. All the research we have done, the people tell us they come to Jamaica because of the people or love, and you don't get one without the other."
White said that it was confirmation that the 4.5 million people who come to Jamaica annually have a grand time.
Other Jamaican hospitality winners topping the awards included Goldeneye (Caribbean's Leading Boutique Resort), Round Hill Hotel and Villas (Caribbean's Leading Villa Resort), Jewel Grande Montego Bay (Caribbean's Leading New Resort), and Melia Braco Village (Caribbean's Luxury Resort).
Beaches Negril was named Leading Caribbean All-inclusive for Families; Spanish Court, Jamaica's Leading Business Hotel; while Go Jamaica Travel shone brightly, copping three awards, including the Caribbean Leading Destination Management Company and Leading Tour Operator.
Other winners included Jamaica Inn, Strawberry Hills Hotel, Caribbean Airlines, Sandals Montego Bay, Sandals South Coast, VIP Attractions, Trafalgar Travel, Island Car Rentals, Island Routes, Montego Bay Convention Centre, and Dolphin Cove.