For the first time, Portugal has taken the prestigious title of Best European Destination in what have become known as the ‘Oscars’ of the travel industry, the World Travel Awards, which were held last weekend in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Portugal pipped a dozen other contenders including Austria, Greece, Norway and Turkey to the post to be crowned Best European Destination 2017.
It was one of 37 awards bestowed on the country in what was the 24th World Travel Awards Europe Gala Ceremony, held Saturday 30 September, at the Russian Museum of Ethnography.
Portugal’s State Secretary for Tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho, was at the awards ceremony and said the title is “ a great pride and honour” and shows that “the entire country is an incredible asset that needs to be seen.”
In her view, Portugal being voted the best destination in Europe is the result of “the commitment of all to make Portugal a tourist destination of excellence, with diverse and unique offerings that extend throughout the land.”
Overall Portugal scooped up nearly a third of all awards on offer, taking 37 in total, which was 13 more than last year.
Among them, national flag carrier took the title of best leading airline to Africa and South America, while its in-flight magazine was voted Europe’s Best In-Flight Magazine.
Lisbon took Best European Cruise Port, the Algarve was awarded the prize for Best European Beach Destination, and Madeira was voted Europe’s Best Island Destination.
Cruise company Douro Azul won the badge for Best River Cruise Company, while the Passadiços do Paiva walkway was regarded Europe’s Best Tourist Development Project.
The national tourism board, Turismo de Portugal, was also voted as the best official tourism organism in Europe for the fourth consecutive year.
These accolades, State Secretary Godinho said, “bring the added responsibility of continuing to improve our destinations, our offer, our human resources, and to innovate to ensure that we are up to the demands of an increasingly sophisticated and demanding market.”
Luís Araújo, president of Turismo de Portugal, expressed his “huge pride” at bagging the best official tourism organism in Europe title for the fourth year in a row, especially, he stressed, as the board “is only ten years old.”