Over the past decades, destinations in Europe, North America, and the Caribbean have been the stars in both destination branding and popularity among travelers. And while all the above certainly remain among the world´s most powerful performers in tourism, the World Travel Awards (dubbed “the Oscars of travel”) in 2023 have underscored strong showings outside these traditional areas, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. Here´s a quick rundown of this year´s winners:
At the top of the list again: the Maldives, which for the fourth year in a row nabbed “World’s Leading Destination” thanks especially to its paradisiacal plethora of beaches, coral reefs, luxury resorts and spas, and adventure options. And as the icing on the cake, for the second consecutive year the Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation (MMPRC) got top honors as the “World’s Leading Tourist Board.” Kudos, of course! But at the same time, it´s also worth noting that this extremely low-lying country is one of those most in danger over the coming decades from climate change, especially as it pertains to sea-level rise.
Read more on Tripatini about the Maldives here.
Speaking of the seas, farther east in Asia the Philippines also proved a big winner for its water-centric allures, winning “World’s Leading Beach Destination” (for the likes of Boracay Island off the major island of Panay and Palawan Island 118 miles to the southwest, as well as the beaches of Cebu province in the south center of the sprawling Philippine archipelago). The country also nabbed “World’s Leading Dive Destination” thanks to spots like Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park near Palawan and Apo Reef Natural Park off the town of Sablayan on the island of Mindoro, just south of Luzon.
Read more on Tripatini about Boracay here and the Philippines in general here.
Meanwhile, over in the Middle East, Dubai and the United Arab Emirates have of course been garnering endless travel press in recent years, but in 2023 the star has been Qatar, especially since its month on the world stage last year as host of the FIFA World Cup. In large part thanks to that, and to hosting with distinction various other sporting events since, its capital Doha was awarded “World’s Leading Sports Tourism Destination,” and the ‘World’s Leading Business Travel Destination” thanks to its aggressive pursuit of the meetings and conventions sector as well as rapidly expanding business facilities and infrastructure. Qatar Tourism was also feted for this year´s top destination marketing campaign (which among other things for example featured one of the world´s top soccer legends, David Beckham, traveling around the country), though the country also received some international pushback due to its sketchy human rights and especially anit-gay record. Be that as it may, all of this contributed to a rise in Qatar tourism this year of more than 140 percent.
Read more on Tripatini about Qatar here.
Europe of course continued to put in very strong performances this year as well, and at the World Travel Awards “World´s Leading Island Destination” went to Madeira, a balmy, dreamy outpost of Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean famed for its dramatic landscapes and often pristine beaches as well as its food and wine. And this year the “World’s Leading Festival and Event Destination” was the ever-glamourous French Riviera city of Cannes.
Ditto for the Caribbean, where Saint Lucia took “World’s Leading Honeymoon Destination” thanks to its romantic landscapes (especially its irresistibly photogenic twink peaks, the Pitons) and beaches. Meanwhile, Jamaica of course continues to be one of the region´s top tourism powerhouses, and these awards came away with the twin honors of the top family and cruise destination.