On 12 December Madeira received one of the most prestigious tourism awards in the world: the Oscar, so to speak, for best island destination in the world!
Created in 1993, the World Travel Awards (WTA) are internationally recognised as the “Tourism Oscars” and they are handed out annually to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence in all areas of the tourism industry. Online voting among the general public and tourism sector professionals decide the awards, and according to WTA data some 800,000 votes are cast from over 170 countries.
In this year’s edition, Madeira, classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1999, was the winner in the World’s Leading Island Destination category, finishing ahead of giants of island tourism such as Bali, Barbados, Crete, Cook Islands, Jamaica, Maldives, Mauritius, Saint Lucia, Sardenia, Seychelles, Sicily and Zanzibar.
Madeira has thus earned two distinctions: the best island destination in Europe (third year in a row) and the best in the world. The World’s Leading Island Destination was a position held last year by Bali in Indonesia and before that by the Maldives in 2013 and 2012.
The WTA ceremony was held in El Jadida, Morrocco at the Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort and was attended by Mr. Eduardo Jesus, Madeira Regional Secretary of the Economy, Tourism and Culture, who said that the award “is also a way of honouring the entire population of Madeira, which has been perfecting the art of being good hosts for over two centuries, always knowing how to welcome its vistors and make the island a popular destination.”
This effort has led to the region becoming known for its friendly and cosmopolitan people, in addition to possessing other qualities that attract a large community of foreigners of various nationalities who choose Madeira to make their home: security that is unparalleled in Europe, boasting a low crime rate and significant social stability; an exceptional climate that visitors can enjoy throughout the year, whether to do maritime activities or go on fascinating hikes through the Laurissilva forest, which has been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site; modern and sophistocated infrastructure that includes and excellent motorway network and international airport with regular flights to major the European capitals; a reputable education network, including a university offering Master’s degrees in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University in the USA, international schools, private colleges and one of the best institutes in the EU in Man-Machine Interaction, Information Technology and Entertainment Technology; access to high-quality international goods and services and excellent quality housing and accomodation on a par with the highest European standards, not to mention the fact that there are currently very good opportunities in the real estate market.
For a region whose economy is essentially based on international services, where tourism and the International Business Centre of Madeira are its main sources of revenue, this award spurs on the region to maintain the quality of its main industry that every year attracts one million tourists to its hotels and half a million cruise ship passengers.
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