Africa Set To Be Next International Hot Spot?

Africa seems to be making a comeback, drawing travelers from around the globe to a variety of destinations within the world’s second largest continent. The next international hotspot? Recent travel awards won by Africa’s luxury travel brands indicate that’s possible. A focus by adventure brands adds fuel to the fire; Africa is the place to be.

The World Travel Awards (WTA) highlight and reward travel brands that are the best in quality, innovation and service over the past year. While natural wonders and popular iconic destinations are common bucket list items, visitors have to get there first.

They might fly in, take a cab or rent a car to go someplace. Once there, luxury travelers might want a good hotel room or resort for the base of their operations. Adventure travelers could be looking for guides, tour operators or packages geared to backpacking, hiking, camping or climbing. All those services need to be in place in advance.At the World Travel Awards this month, coming in as highly-rated were tour operators Abercrombie and Kent, South African Airways, luxury experiential travel company &Beyond and a variety of luxury hotels and resorts.

“Our winners are drawn from the breadth of Africa, reflecting how the outstanding natural attractions of the continent are being complimented with a growing portfolio of luxury facilities.” said Graham E. Cooke, President & Founder, WTA in a Travel Daily News article.

Indeed, looking to 2013, service providers have upped their game, offering more packages, tours and accommodations than before.

It’s not just luxury travel either, outdoor expert REI Adventures added six new trips to its collection of African adventures for 2013 with a strong focus on the southern part of the continent. The REI trips are not just backpacking via safari.

REI’s Exploring Africa series includes a focus on Botswana, Namibia or Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. In Ultimate Adventures, REI takes travelers across country via small aircraft, assuring they will see all major attractions and highlights on one 11-day adventure.

Tour operators, hotels, airlines and service providers are ready. 2013 looks to be a big year for Africa. Gadling’s Kraig Becker agrees, saying, “Having visited South Africa myself, it is easy to understand why it is such a popular destination. The country truly has something to offer travelers of all types,” in “South Africa Sees Nearly 20 Percent Increase In Tourism In 2012.”

[Photo courtesy REI Adventures]

World Travel Awards handed out, Middle East wins big

The World Travel Awards (WTA) were handed out Wednesday in a Grand Final Gala Ceremony in Doha, Qatar. Honoring the world’s most successful travel and tourism brands, the ceremony was a culmination of a year-long search for the best of the best. The winners we chosen by over 200,000 travel professionals for their role in helping the worldwide economic recovery who put travel-related companies in the Middle East on top.

Abu Dhabi
won some of the most sought-after travel awards in the industry as Emirates Palace picked up two honors, World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre and World’s Leading Presidential Suite.

Qatar has a “decisive role in generating new opportunities in travel and tourism,” said Graham Cooke, the president and founder of World Travel Awards reports CNN. Over $100 billion worth of infrastructure is planned for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Doha, according to Cooke who chose to hold the award ceremony in the Qatari capital.
Etihad Airways, fastest growing airline in history, was voted World’s Leading Airline for the third year in a row. Etihad also won for World’s Leading Airline First Class and World’s Leading Airline to the Middle East.

“We are delighted to have been named World’s Leading Airline at the World Travel Awards for the third successive year,” James Hogan, Etihad Airways chief executive told BreakingTravelNews.

Etihad Airways success in Doha comes on the heels the World Travel Awards Middle East in May, when the airline won Middle East’s Leading Airline, Middle East’s Leading Airline First Class, Middle East’s Leading Cabin Staff and Middle East’s Leading Airline In-flight Entertainment.

See full list of winners

Flickr photo by rogerbarker2