Kenya voted world’s top safari destination
By MATHIAS RINGA
Kenya has been voted the world’s leading safari destination by the World Travel Awards (WTA), giving a major boost to the tourism sector.
This is the second time it has scooped the prestigious global award. The country previously won the award in 2013.
Kenya bagged the award after overcoming fierce competition from South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In a addition, a Kenyan tour company — Twiga Tours — was voted the world’s leading luxury safari company. The firm also scooped the world’s responsible tourism award.
Winners of the coveted awards were announced at Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort in Morocco on Saturday during the World Travel Awards grand final gala ceremony 2015.
“It is with great pleasure that we announce the winners of the 22nd annual World Travel Awards 2015,” read a message on the WTA website.
In the continental category, Kenya Airways was voted Africa’s leading airline in the business class, while the Port of Mombasa was named Africa’s leading cruise port.
The Kenya Tourism Board won Africa’s leading tourist board award.
The world famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve bagged Africa’s leading national park award while Finch Hattons clinched Africa’s leading safari lodge award.
Diani walked away with Africa’s leading beach destination award, while Olanana Sanctuary was voted Africa’s leading eco-lodge.
Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa was voted Africa’s leading spa resort while Gamewatchers Safaris & Porini Camps won the leading tented safari camp award.
In the WTA country category awards, Diani Reef Beach Resort was voted the leading beach resort, while InterContinental Nairobi scooped the leading business hotel award.
Nairobi Serena Hotel was named the leading hotel, while Kempinski Hotels walked away with the leading hotel brand award.
Kinondo Kwetu scooped the leading resort award while Enashipai won in the leading spa resort category.
Fly540 was voted the leading domestic safari carrier while Presidential Suite @ Villa Rosa Kempinski Nairobi clinched the leading hotel suite award.
Palacina The Residence & The Suites emerged winner in the leading hotel residences contest while Avis Kenya won the leading car rental company award.
Porini Camps received the leading safari camp brand award while Encounter Mara was named the leading tented safari camp. Carlson Wagonlit Travel won both the leading travel management company and travel agency awards.
Hemingways Expeditions scooped the leading inbound tour operator award.
World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the travel and tourism industry.
The WTA brand is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality with winners setting the benchmark for others to achieve.
The WTA awards are dubbed: “The Oscars of the travel and tourism industry”.
In 2014, over 650,000 individual votes were cast by travel professionals and high-end tourism consumers.
The grand final gala ceremony is an key event in the industry’s calendar. It is attended by major decision makers in the travel and tourism industry, chief figure heads as well as leading trade media.
On Sunday, Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa was delighted with the victory.
The KTB boss said the country deserved to be recognised for the world’s best safari destination award since it offers authentic experiences.
“Our country scooped the global award due to the diverse flora and fauna found in our national parks and game reserves,” he said. “All parks and game reserves across the country have their own uniqueness in terms of the wildlife, giving international visitors different experiences,” he said.
Mr Ndegwa said the board would capitalise on the awards to market Kenya around the world in a bid to woo back more international tourists.
Twiga Tours Chief Executive Officer Minaz Manji said his firm bagged the world’s leading luxury safari company because it offered tourists the best safari experience.
He also said his company was recognised for the world’s responsible tourism award because it supports the education of children in the tourist circuits of Maasai Mara and Samburu.