Jamaica’s tourism dominates World Travel Awards
DESTINATION JAMAICA scored big wins at the 29th World Travel Awards (WTA)at Sandals Montego Bay on Wednesday evening, as tourism stakeholders copped 26 individual awards and the super-inclusive, Jamaican-owned Sandals Resorts International swept 14 awards.
It was a fitting gift to the Jamaicans on the last day of August, the month when the island celebrated its 60th anniversary of Independence and Sandals Resort’s 40th anniversary.
Dubbed a night for the tourism torch bearers of excellence, the Jamaica Tourist Board was named the Caribbean’s leading tourist board for the 14th year in a row, the Caribbean’s leading destination for the 16th year in a row, and the Caribbean’s leading nature destination for 2022.
Three of the island’s ports took home big accolades: Falmouth was named the leading Caribbean cruise port; Montego Bay, the Caribbean’s leading home port; and the historic Naval Dockyard, Port Royal, copping the Caribbean’s leading tourism development for 2022.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, who accepted three of the awards on behalf of the country, described the evening as powerful. He was, however, quick to point out that Jamaica has traditionally lead the field. “The feeling of satisfaction is stronger this year because we all struggle. We all fought this pandemic, and we had varying levels of success. And for Jamaica to have emerged as the leading destination in terms of the awards is a very strong statement of how our team has worked assiduously to make this happen,” he told The Gleaner.
He credited the team of young men and young women who came together in the early stages of the pandemic, when all hope seemed to have been fading.
The red-carpet event marked the opening leg of the WTA Grand Tour 2022 – an international search for the finest travel and tourism organisation in the world, according to Justin Cooke, whose father, Graham Cooke, founded the awards.
Other winners of the night included Go Jamaica Travel, Half Moon, S Hotel and Spanish Court hotels, Jamaica Inn, Goldeneye, Rockhouse, Island Car Rentals, Island Routes, VIP Attraction’s Club MoBay, Sangster International Airport, the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Sandals Whitehouse, Sandals Montego Bay, Sandals South Coast, Beaches Negril and Hyatt Ziva.
Adam Stewart, who has been tasked with the job of carrying on his father’s legacy, couldn’t have been prouder of his brand’s achievements. His properties throughout the region, including Grenada, Barbados, St Lucia, Curacao and Turks and Caicos, were recognised by the WTA, and again they were named the Caribbean’s leading hotel brand.
Always at the top of its game, Stewart told The Gleaner that Sandals represents something that’s truly Caribbean, and that’s the secret to their sustainability.
“That’s the essence of who we are overall, and its excellence at its highest level. The company is made up of Caribbean nationals from across all the islands every day, in a quest to try to outperform our last best work,” he explained.
For him, the innovation, the creativity, the thought with the care and the warmth, the soul of the company has everything to do with us as a people, being from the Caribbean and how we make people feel.
“The product side deals with pools and innovation and entertainment. But ultimately, hospitality is about how you make people feel. And I think that’s what’s made us the world’s best year after year.”
Meantime, Go Jamaica Travel, the only other local company that came close to Sandals’ prowess on Wednesday evening, said 2022 has been a phenomenal year.
“Our sales to date for 2022 have passed all of our sales for 2019. In May 2021, we put in place procedures in anticipation of a tourism recovery, and we are now seeing the fruits of that endeavour,” the company’s CEO, Dave Chin-Tung, told The Gleaner.
S Hotel operator Christopher Issa gave the credit to his staff and management team for their commitment to delivering first-class service. S was named Jamaica’s leading hotel; and Spanish Court, Jamaica’s leading business hotel.