Europe's travel-industry elite from across the continent gathered on Saturday evening at a gala held to announce the winners of the World Travel Awards Europe 2019, hosted at the historic hideaway of Belmond Reid's Palace in Madeira, Portugal, amid verdant gardens and overlooking the ocean.
The red-carpet event completes the fourth leg of the World Travel Awards (WTA) Grand Tour 2019-a series of industry galas held across the globe annually, as WTA seeks out the finest travel and tourism organizations in the world for recognition.
Other 2019 regional ceremonies are being held in Montego Bay (Jamaica), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Mauritius, La Paz (Bolivia), Phu Quoc (Vietnam), with regional winners progressing to the Grand Final, where they will compete head-to-head in corresponding world categories. Grand Final winners will then be announced at a VIP ceremony, to be held in Muscat (Oman) in November of this year.
Established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all key sectors of the travel, tourism and hospitality, WTA is now celebrating its 26th year in operation, and is widely recognized today as the travel industry's ultimate hallmark of excellence, with its gala events-which are attended by government and industry leaders, luminaries, and international print and broadcast media-considered to be some of the best networking opportunities in the industry.
Spanning nearly 130 categories, some with upwards of fifteen nominees, WTA's recognitions cover every tourism sector, from transportation-including air, cruise, car and rail, and even ferry-to attractions, destinations, hotels and resorts, meetings and conventions, agencies and operators, and travel technology providers.
Madeira itself made it onto the winner's podium, taking home 'Europe's Leading Island Destination', and deservingly so. Known as the "Islands of Eternal Spring", Madeira's eco-system, thanks to its year-round sub-tropical climate and rich volcanic soil, is bursting with colorful vegetation, waterfalls and lagoons. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, it boasts five areas declared nature reserves across the archipelago.
Paula Cabaço, Regional Secretary for Tourism and Culture, Madeira, said that they've worked hard to put their destination on the map for the European tourism market. Commenting on the win, she continued, "We could not be happier with this distinction. Receiving this prize, at home, the first time we host the WTA Europe Gala Ceremony, has an even more special flavor."
Saturday's ceremony concluded with a magnificent firework display to mark the opening of the Madeira Atlantic Festival-a series of celebratory events to kick off the start of the islands' summer season.
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