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The annual World Travel Awards were recently handed out at a Gala Ceremony in the Greek capital of Athens. The Divani Apollon Palace & Thalasso was the spectacular setting for the 2nd August ceremony. The World Travel Awards was established in 1993, and rewards outstanding achievement and proficiency across every conceivable sector of the tourism industry. Winners of awards are recognised industry-wide as having received a true hallmark of excellence.

Portugal has night to remember

This year’s awards offered several reasons to be positive for Portugal in particular. The Portuguese tourist board, Tourismo de Portugal, was named Europe's leading tourist board. Additionally, Lisbon received the prestigious award of being nicknamed Europe's leading cruise destination. And to top off an exciting night for the Portuguese nation, the Madeira Islands were awarded the title of Europe's leading island destination.

The Madeira Islands carried off the island award for the second year in succession, with the World Travel Awards choosing to recognise them ahead of other well-known tourist destinations such as the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, Sardinia, Malta and Cyprus. Aside from the island award, Madeira Hotels were also acknowledged for their outstanding achievements over the last twelve months as they garnered three other awards at the ceremony.

Yorkshire among the big winners

Another big winner on the night was a perhaps lesser known holiday destination from the north of England. Yorkshire is England's biggest county in surface area, and associated with a wide variety of rich cultural facets, as well as playing host to some of the most spectacular scenery in the British Isles. The county was acknowledged by the World Travel Awards in its receipt of the outstanding award of being named Europe's leading destination.

In addition to this honour, Yorkshire was also handed the award of running Europe's leading tourist marketing campaign. This was awarded to the British holiday destination due to its extremely successful approach related to the Tour de France cycle race. The world’s most prestigious long-distance cycling event kicked off in the Yorkshire dales this year, and the businesses and infrastructure of the local area benefitted greatly, as millions of people lined the streets to see the Départ.

Another recipient that was the envy of other attendees of the World Travel Awards was the famous city of Barcelona. The Spanish city that usually sees itself as Catalan in culture and nature was named as Europe's leading Meeting & Conference destination. In the country that also contains the extremely attractive and prestigious city of Madrid, this is no mean feat for Barcelona to have achieved. It is the qualities of Barcelona as a city that led us to choose the location for our Digital Tourism Innovation Campus for three years in succession. And we are certainly look in forward to the next one, which will take place on the 20th and 21st of November 2014!

Geneva sheds dry image

Further recognition was handed out to another of Europe's major cities, as the Swiss city of Geneva was named as Europe's leading city break destination. They can hardly be a more spectacular nation in terms of countryside than Switzerland, given the incredible spectacle and visage of the Swiss Alps that dominates the country’s alpine regions. But the award handed to Geneva shows that the urban areas of the nation carry equal appeal to tourists.

In common with Switzerland as a whole, Geneva has been recognised for some time as being one of the business centres of the world. But this particular award marks the first time that the city has been acknowledged as a leading tourist trap. The magnitude of this achievement was underlined by the renowned and high-level competition that Geneva had to see off in order to be named the leading city break destination. Also shortlisted were Paris, London, Madrid, Rome and Dublin, meaning that Geneva certainly has all the qualities required to be seen as an attractive leisure destination.

The winners of the World Travel Awards are determined by an online poll, which is cast by hundreds of professional people involved in the travel industry. The ceremony partners with numerous established media organisations including International New York Times, TV5Monde, CNBC Arabiya, Newsweek, Outlook Traveller, Travel & Leisure, Khaleej Times, Trade Arabia, TTN, Trav Talk India, Publituris, ASTA Network, Breaking Travel News, eTurboNews, Travel Daily News International and Focus on Travel News. The media network related to the World Travel Awards reaches a monthly readership of 1.7 million, and TV audience of no less than 90 million.

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