Portugal has won the World Travel Awards coveted title as “Best European Destination” for the first time in a hotly-contested contest that saw the country pitch against former winners Greece, Italy, Spain, and France, as well as northern countries including the UK, Norway, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland.
Said a delighted secretary of state for tourism Ana Mendes Godinho, the vote, which took place in St Petersburg, Russia, shows “the whole country is an incredible package worth visiting”.
The result follows “everyone’s efforts to turn Portugal into a touristic destination of excellence, with unique diversity in what it has to offer, extended across the territory”, she said – adding that winning is “a clear indication” that Portugal is “on the right track”.
This tiny country at the edge of Europe actually scooped 30% of the prizes in the competition that has become known as the “Oscars of Tourism”.
It is now Europe’s leading cruise port (Lisbon), best beach destination (Algarve), it offers the best island destination (Madeira) and has the best ‘touristic development project’ (Passadiços do Paiva, in the Arouca UNESCO Global GeoPark – devastated last year by fire, but since rebuilt).
Beyond these accolades, Portugal took another 33 “Oscars”, 13 more than it won last year.
Listing some of the best examples, Observador website adds that Portugal boasts Europe’s leading:
River cruise company: Douro Azul
Tourist Board: Turismo de Portugal
Airline to Africa: TAP
Airline to South America: TAP
Inflight magazine: TAP
All-inclusive resort: Pestana’s Porto Santo Beach & Spa Resort
Beach resort: Hotel Quinta do Lago
Boutique Hotel: Vila Joya, Albufeira
Boutique Resort: Vila Joya, Albufeira
Design Hotel: Altis Belém Hotel & Spa, Lisbon
Landmark Hotel: Bairro Alto, Lisbon
Lifestyle Resort: Epic Sana Algarve Hotel, Albufeira
Luxury Business Hotel: Pestana Palace, Lisbon (the current temporary residence of Queen of Pop Madonna)
Luxury Lifestyle Resort: Conrad Algarve, Portugal
Meetings & Conference Hotel: Ria Park Hotel, Almancil
MICE Hotel (standing for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions): Epic Sana Hotel, Lisbon and last but not least, Europe’s Most Romantic Resort: Monte Santo, in Lagoa, Algarve.
World Travel Awards were created in 1993. Explains Lusa, “selection of the nominees takes place on a worldwide scale by thousands of professionals in the sector”.