By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Last weekend (October 10th) the South American World Travel Awards ceremony took place in Bogotá, Colombia. An annual event, the evening recognizes the best in hotels, resorts, travel and tourism on the continent. Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, scooped the top title of South America’s Leading Destination but Brazil was prominent throughout the evening, winning accolades in a number of different sections.
With an eye on next year’s Olympic Games, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was named the Leading Sports Tourism Destination in South America, and Paulo Senise, the president of TurisRio, Rio’s state tourism authority, picked up Latin American Travel Personality of the Year 2015 in a special presentation. According to the Academy, Senise is a major contributor to the maintenance of tourism as the fastest growing industry on the planet.
For the sixth time, Pier Mauá in Centro in Rio was named South America’s Cruise Port. RIOCENTRO, in Barra da Tijuca, was also recognized as South America’s Leading Meetings and Conference Center.
The beach categories were hotly contested with many entrants from all over the continent. However the Dom Pedro Laguna Resort in Aquiraz, Ceará, won the title of best beach resort. It also won Brazil’s Leading Resort. Located not far from Fortaleza in the Northeast, it is a family-friendly luxury eco-resort, set on a lagoon with its own golf course and 200 meters of seafront.
In the Brazil-specific category, Rio’s Belmond Copacabana Palace won Leading Hotel. The Unique, which is shaped like a boat, in São Paulo, was named Leading Boutique Hotel. Also in Sao Paulo, the Hilton São Paulo Morumbi was the best business hotel and the Mofarrej Presidential Suite at the Tivoli was considered to have the best suite.
Casa Grande Hotel Resort & Spa on São Paulo’s coast picked up Leading Spa Resort and the Saint Andrews hotel in Gramado won the Leading Romantic Boutique Hotel.
Ecuador, which is home to the Galapagos islands, won the Leading Green Destination. Its Finch Bay Eco Hotel also picked up the award for best green hotel. Chile won in the adventure tourism category, Peru was the Leading Culinary Destination and Argentina took home the award for heritage tourism. Bogotá, Colombia’s capital and the host city for the awards ceremony, was cited as Leading Business Travel and City Break Destination.
“What a wonderful evening we have shared with the leaders of Latin American tourism this evening. It is been a privilege to recognize the very best among them and I offer my heartfelt congratulations to all our winners,” said Graham Cooke, president of the World Travel Awards. “We could not have hosted this Gala Ceremony without the ceaseless support of Bogotá Tourismo and it has been an honor for World Travel Awards to visit Colombia for the first time.”
It was the 22nd edition of the World Travel Awards, which are voted for by travel agents across the world. The event, held at the Teatro Colon in Bogotá’s historical center, brought together many leaders of the tourism industry. The ceremony was televised to three hundred million people in two hundred countries around the world. For a full list of winners, see here.