This year the Alentejo pipped the Algarve to the post in taking the award for Best National Tourism Region after its southern rival had been awarded the title for three consecutive years.
The results of the annual Publituris Portugal Travel Awards, considered by those in the industry as the ‘Oscars’ of tourism, were announced last week. A lavish gala evening was held at the Hotel Tivoli Victoria, in Vilamoura (Algarve), during which the awards were announced.
For the first time in three years the Algarve did not take the most coveted award – best national region – which instead went to the Alentejo.
Ironically, the winner for ‘Best National Tourism Region’ was announced by the head of the Algarve Regional Tourism Board (ERTA), Nuno Aires, who joked that the award would be “on loan” to the Alentejo until 2011, when it would “have to be returned”.
The award could be seen as the proverbial ‘cherry on the cake’ for the Alentejo region, which over the past year has made headlines for emerging from the financial crisis as the only region in Portugal to have registered an increase in tourism figures, visitors, occupancy and revenue included.
In the category of ‘Best 5-star Hotel’, the award went to the Ritz Four Seasons Hotel, in Lisbon, to the detriment of its competition such as the Tivoli Collections and the Blue & Green Tróia Design Hotel.
The winner for ‘Best Hotel Resort’ was the Vila Vita Park Resort & Spa, in the Algarve, which took the title from the Praia d’El Rey Golf & Beach Resort, in Óbidos, and the Choupana Hills Resort & Spa, Madeira.
In the category of ‘Best Hotel Chain’ the winner was the Tivoli Hotel & Resorts Group and ‘Best Golf Course’ was awarded to the ‘Oitavos Dunes Natural Links Golfe’, located within the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.
Regarding transport, national airline TAP took the ‘Best Airline’ award, beating competition from Air France and Lufthansa.
‘Best Low Cost Airline’ was given to easyJet, who beat rivals Ryanair and AirBerlin to the title.
Within the ‘Best Travel Agency’ category, the award went to Nortravel’, who beat off competition from two other candidates, Soltour and MundoVip. Travel and holiday website ‘NetViagens’ took first prize for best website travel agency.
Regarding car hire companies, Europecar beat Avis and Budget to the winning position, with the award for ‘Best Incoming Operator’ being given to Citur, for the sixth consecutive time.
Spain was bestowed the ‘Best International Destination’, being favoured over France and the Dominican Republic.
The Publituris Portugal Travel Awards candidates are nominated via an online voting system, which this year drew in some 7,000 participants. A jury of 13 experts then elects the winners from each category.