Where better to celebrate the best of tourism in Africa and the Indian Ocean than the tropical paradise of Mauritius?
From luxury wine estates and gigantic tourist attractions, to the best ways to fly in the sky, the World Travel Awards is a grand achievement that tells travellers which are the most trusted brands.
On Saturday, the Africa and Indian Ocean edition of the awards was held at the swanky Sugar Beach Resort, under the emerald palm trees in front of quiet, lapping waves.
(Photo: Gabi Zietsman)
Guests were greeted with the blended cultures of Mauritius, each one more colourful than the next, slamming their drums while elegant women and dragons move their bodies to the sound of the island.
The nightly celebrations were welcomed by founder and president of the World Travel Awards, Graham Cooke who started the event in 1993. Since then, it has grown into one of the industry’s highest benchmarks.
Handed out by our very own Jo-Anne Strauss, there were some big winners from South Africa – Table Mountain won the continent’s Leading Tourist Attraction, while Cape Town International won the best airport category, as the city took home Best Events and Festivals Destination.
The Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa took home the Boutique Hotel category, while our summery Durban won in three categories – Best City, Best Meetings and Conference Destination and Best Cruise Port.
The Leading Wine Country Hotel in South Africa went to the rebuilt Lanzerac Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, while Shambala Private Game Reserve in Limpopo got Africa’s Leading Private Game Reserve.
Kenya also won big, their airline taking home two awards for their Business and Economy classes. Nairobi was named the top business travel destination and then the ultimate Africa’s Leading Destination. It was also announced that Kenya would be next year’s host for the World Travel Awards.
This year’s host – Mauritius – also raked in the wins. Besides scoring the coveted Indian Ocean’s Leading Destination Award, it also took top honours in the cruise, airline, airport, resorts and wedding destination categories.
Other winners include Seychelles for top cruise port and sustainable tourism destination, while the Maldives received a multitude of awards for top diving destination, romantic resort, private island resort, honeymoon destination and beach destination among others.
Click here to see all the winners.
Traditional Mauritian dancers provide entertainment at the World Travel Awards (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)
For the Mauritius Minister of Tourism Anil Kumarsingh Gayan, the World Travel Awards is a symbol of quality recognition.
“This gala event celebrates the outstanding achievements of those who have made the hospitality industry attractive, appealing, proud, resilient, inclusive and sustainable,” says Gayan.
Tourism Minister Anil Kumarsingh Gayan. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)
“If there is one activity carried out by mankind, which adds to the sum total of human happiness and well-being, it must be tourism. This is why no government can afford to ignore tourism as an engine of economic empowerment, creator of wealth and generator of employment.”
Added to that, tourism as a multiplier effect is clearly visible and measurable, but Gayan went on to applaud the moral advantage of tourism – to much applause.
“At a time when the world is witnessing the rise of nationalism and populism, terrorism, xenophobia and other phobias. They are putting up walls, intolerance, racist-inspired violence – we firmly believe in tourism as an effective means to counter such tendencies and to promote understanding between people of different cultures, religions and traditions.”
(Photo: Gabi Zietsman)
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*Disclaimer, Gabi Zietsman was hosted by the Mauritius Tourism Authority for her stay during the World Travel Awards, including flights and accommodation.
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