TULUM, Mexico – The illustrious names of the travel realm spanning the Caribbean and the Americas shone brightly during an extravagant Gala Ceremony held in the picturesque haven of Saint Lucia. Distinguished luminaries of the industry journeyed from far and wide across the region to this paradise isle, gathering for the esteemed occasion of the World Travel Awards (WTA) Caribbean & America’s Gala Ceremony 2023. Their purpose: was to discover who among the elite had ascended to the pinnacle of excellence.
Under the luminous night sky, a red carpet was unrolled at the enchanting Sandals Grand St. Lucian, heralding the commencement of the WTA’s groundbreaking 30th-anniversary Grand Tour 2023—a globe-trotting quest for the crème de la crème of travel and tourism entities.
Emerging as triumphant champions were remarkable entities like Jamaica, prevailing over stiff competition to claim the coveted title of ‘Caribbean’s Leading Destination.’ The laurels for ‘Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Destination’ and ‘Caribbean’s Leading Tourist Board’ also adorned Jamaica’s achievements. Meanwhile, the pristine shores of Turks & Caicos secured the acclaim of being the ‘Caribbean’s Leading Beach Destination’. Across the azure waters, The Bahamas was crowned as the peerless ‘Caribbean’s Leading Luxury Island Destination’.
Canada, not to be outdone, claimed its accolade as ‘North America’s Leading Destination’. Miami Beach basked in the glory of being hailed as the much-coveted ‘North America’s Leading City Destination’, and Seattle proudly earned its stripes as ‘North America’s Leading Meeting & Conference Destination’.
With its alluring combination of sun-kissed beaches, verdant jungles, and ancient Mayan ruins, the Mexican retreat known as Tulum ascended to glory as the ‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Beach Destination’. Costa Rica, a treasure trove of biodiversity, took home the pinnacle honor of ‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Destination’.
Across the South American expanse, the vibrant nation of Peru emerged as the unrivaled ‘South America’s Leading Destination’. It was a fitting honor for a country whose innovative culinary landscape also earned the title of ‘South America’s Leading Culinary Destination’. Meanwhile, the romantic allure of San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina was celebrated as it clinched the title of ‘South America’s Leading Honeymoon Destination’.
Founder of the World Travel Awards, Graham Cooke, commended the winners, stating, “The breathtaking island of Saint Lucia provided an exquisite backdrop to kick off our 30th-anniversary festivities. The luminaries of the travel industry from the Caribbean and the Americas graced this remarkable ceremony. These victors are quintessential examples of tourism par excellence, and I extend my heartfelt congratulations to each one for collectively elevating the industry’s standards.”
Saint Lucia’s multifaceted tourism offerings were spotlighted through three prestigious awards: the island has bestowed the titles of ‘Caribbean’s Leading Honeymoon Destination’, ‘Caribbean’s Leading Adventure Destination’, and ‘Caribbean’s Leading Nature Destination’.
Honourable Dr. Ernest Hilaire, Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture & Information, expressed, “We take immense pride in hosting the 30th annual World Travel Awards Caribbean and the Americas Gala Ceremony, an event that truly highlighted Saint Lucia’s remarkable hospitality and rich cultural heritage. Being honored with three significant accolades that will undoubtedly enhance our marketing endeavors is a source of great honor. This recognition serves to further strengthen our standing as a premier destination and serves as a motivating force to continue providing unparalleled world-class experiences to global travelers, spanning adventure, romance, and the wonders of nature.”
Within the realm of hospitality, champions emerged: Amanyara in Turks & Caicos claimed the laurel of ‘Caribbean’s Leading Beach Resort’; Jamaica’s Halfmoon secured the esteemed title of ‘Caribbean’s Leading Hotel’; Round Hill Hotel & Villas was crowned ‘Caribbean’s Leading Villa Resort’; and Beaches Turks & Caicos proudly upheld the distinction of ‘Caribbean’s Leading All-Inclusive Family Resort’. The indefatigable pursuit of excellence enabled Sandals Resorts International to shine as the beacon of ‘Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand’. Meanwhile, Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, in St. Lucia stood tall as the embodiment of luxury, garnering the title of ‘Caribbean’s Leading Luxury Resort’, while Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia captured hearts as ‘Caribbean’s Leading Luxury Honeymoon Resort’.
Across the vast expanse of the Americas, a constellation of victors graced the stage: Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancún clinched the distinction of ‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Beach Resort’; Gaia Hotel & Reserve in Costa Rica was acknowledged as ‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Green Hotel’; Wyndham Guayaquil Puerto Santa Ana in Ecuador emerged as ‘South America’s Leading City Hotel’; Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverley Hills was crowned ‘California’s Leading Hotel’; The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara embodied distinction as ‘California’s Leading Resort’; One&Only Palmilla was hailed as ‘Mexico’s Leading Luxury Resort’; The St. Regis New York stole the limelight as ‘North America’s Leading Wedding Hotel’; and Mandarin Oriental, Santiago, held the prestigious title of ‘Chile’s Leading Business Hotel’.
Taking flight in the aviation category, Bahamasair soared to acclaim as the ‘Caribbean’s Leading Airline’, while Sangster International Airport in Jamaica was pronounced the ‘Caribbean’s Leading Airport’. Privé Jets secured the highest honor in the realm of private aviation, as ‘North America’s Leading Private Jet Charter’. The towering reputation of Air Canada was recognized with the title of ‘North America’s Leading Airline’.
Other luminaries who ascended to greatness include GO! Jamaica Travel, which stood out as the ‘Caribbean’s Leading Tour Operator’; Enchanting Travels, earning the title of ‘North America’s Leading Tour Operator’; Costamar Travel, celebrated as ‘South America’s Leading Travel Agency’; Llama Path, Peru, honored with ‘South America’s Responsible Tourism Award’; Liberty Travel, recognized as the ‘United States’ Leading Travel Agency’; Skylux Travel, shining as ‘North America’s Leading Travel Agency’; and Ekinox Tours, embracing distinction as ‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Adventure Tour Operator’.
Mario Cruz Rodríguez, President of the Tulum Tourism Promotion Council, enthusiastically shared that this honor fills Tulum with immense pride, reinforcing their commitment to collaborate seamlessly with local, state, and federal authorities, and the private sector.
“This achievement is undoubtedly the result of all Tulum residents dedicated to the service of tourism. We are exhilarated that this accolade raises Mexico’s name and, of course, our beloved destination, Tulum. Though we were notified officially a few days back, today marks the public revelation, and that’s precisely what we are doing,” he asserted.
Cruz Rodríguez affirmed that their efforts, primarily through the private initiative led by the Tulum Tourism Promotion Council, will persist in promoting the destination. Their endeavors stretch not just across international tourism fairs, where their vibrant participation under Mexico’s banner is notable, but also across forums dedicated to investment and economic projects, all geared toward attracting investments to this tourism hub.
He emphasized that tourism development generates employment opportunities and bolsters Tulum’s economy—a municipality with an unequivocal 100% focus on tourism, a pivotal lifeline for all its inhabitants.
It is worth reminiscing that in 2022, the World Travel Awards lauded Tulum as the premier leading beach destination in Mexico and Central America. This remarkable recognition marks the sixth occasion Tulum has secured this prestigious honor, adding to its victories in 2009, 2016, 2017, 2020, and 2022.