LA PAZ: The finest travel brands in Latin America have been unveiled at a star-studded gala ceremony in Bolivia. The elite of the travel industry assembled for the World Travel Awards (WTA) Latin America Ceremony in the administrative capital, La Paz, to find out who amongst them would be crowned best of the best.
Winners at the red carpet reception included Colombia, which fended off stiff competition to win ‘South America’s Leading Destination’, whilst Costa Rica, with its lush cloud forests and rich biodiversity, was voted ‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Destination’. The Incan citadel of Machu Picchu, Peru was named ‘South America’s Leading Tourist Attraction’ and the medieval charms of Quito, Ecuador helped it lift the title of ‘South America’s Leading City Destination’. Bolivia’s commitment to sustainability was acknowledged with the title of ‘South America’s Leading Green Destination’, and the mesmerizing beauty of its Salar de Uyuni recognized with ‘South America’s Leading Natural Tourist Attraction’.
Hundreds of the leading travel industries figureheads from across South and Central America attended the ceremony at Real Plaza Hotel & Convention Center.
Graham Cooke, Founder, WTA, said: “It has been an honour to bring WTA to Bolivia for the first time in our 26-year history. La Paz has proven a gracious host of what has been a spectacular evening of travel triumph, and a highlight of our 26th Grand Tour. We have had the privilege of recognising many of the leading hotels, airlines and hospitality providers from across Latin America and my congratulations to each of them.”
A fast emerging tourism destination, Bolivia is a country of incredible beauty and a rich indigenous culture. From luxury resorts on the shore of Lake Titicaca to the amazing salt flats of Uyuni, Bolivia is home to a wealth of travel experiences.
Wilma Alanoca Mamani, Minister of Cultures and Tourism of Bolivia, said: “The WTA Latin America Ceremony 2019 has been a wonderful forum to celebrate the achievements of our region’s travel industry, and to highlight the incredible unique attractions of our country. Bolivia’s particular achievements are product of a common effort of all Bolivians. Bolivia has a rich diverse cultural tangible and intangible heritage, and tourism is complementary to our magnificent resources. La Paz, is unique – its geography, its people, its culture, its gastronomy and customs coexist between the ancestral and the modernity of a metropolis.”
In the aviation sector, LATAM Airlines picked up the award for ‘South America’s Leading Airline’ and Aeromexico was voted ‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Airline’. Meanwhile Quito’s state-of-the-art Mariscal Sucre International Airport emerged as ‘South America’s Leading Airport’.
Hospitality winners included Wyndham Guayaquil, Ecuador (‘South America’s Leading City Hotel’); Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador (‘South America’s Leading Eco-Lodge’); Barceló Hotels & Resorts (‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Hotel Brand’); and Hilton Hotels & Resorts (‘South America’s Leading Hotel Brand’). In the newcomer categories, Brazil’s Vila Galé Touros was named ‘South America’s Leading New Hotel’ and Costa Rica’s Hotel Nantipa picked up ‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading New Hotel’.
Destination winners included Peru (‘South America’s Leading Culinary Destination’ and ‘South America’s Leading Cultural Destination’); Chile (‘South America’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination’); Bolivia (‘South America’s Leading Youth Travel Destination’ and ‘South America’s Leading Emerging Tourism Destination’ for La Paz); Guayaquil, Ecuador (‘South America’s Leading Business Travel Destination’ and ‘South America’s Leading Festival & Event Destination’); Santiago de Cali, Colombia (‘South America’s Leading Cultural City Destination’).
Travel provider winners included Explora Caribe Tours (‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Tour Operator’); Mundo Joven (‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Travel Agency’); Metropolitan Touring (‘South America’s Leading Tour Operator’); and Costamar Travel (‘South America’s Leading Travel Agency’).
A special award for ‘Latin America’s Leading Travel Personality’ was presented to Juan Cruz Adrogue, President of Chapelco Ski Resort, for his role in transforming it into one of South America’s finest ski resorts, and his ground-breaking initiatives to generate opportunities for the local community.
The VIP ceremony formed the fifth leg of the WTA Grand Tour 2019 – a search for the finest travel and tourism organisations in the world. Other 2019 regional ceremonies include Montego Bay (Jamaica), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Mauritius, Madeira (Portugal), Phu Quoc (Vietnam), with the winners progressing to the Grand Final in Muscat (Oman).