Eyebrow-raisers at the World Travel Awards 2012

Eyebrow-raisers at the World Travel Awards 2012

Without the WTA, we would never know the best polar expedition tour operator or the best shopping mall hotel
World Travel Awards 2012
We'd be grinning too if we were Etihad Airways.

Another year, another "what the beep" travel award.

The World Travel Awards 2012 gave major props to travel-related companies in the Middle East.

There were, as well, some side-stream accolades in its long list of award titles.

Established in 1993, the World Travel Awards this year were voted by 210,000 travel industry professionals and consumers from around the world.

Out of the 1,000 categories and 5,000 nominated companies, Etihad Airways won World's Leading Airline and World's Leading First Class.

See the full list of awards here

While the new Jumeirah at Etihad Towers won World's Leading New Hotel, beating the Mandarin Oriental Paris, The Park Hyderabad, as well as Hong Kong's own The Ritz Carlton amongst others.

Qatar also won big, with Doha voted World’s Leading Business Travel Destination and Qatar Airways named World’s Leading Airline Business Class. The Regency Travel & Tours also took home World’s Leading Travel Agency.

Asia and the Middle East win big

Graham Cooke, the president and founder of World Travel Awards, said Qatar has a "decisive role in generating new opportunities in travel and tourism."

More than US$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.

Asia also made its mark at the World Travel Awards with India winning the big prize, World's Leading Destination.

Outstanding Asian airlines include Korean Air, which was voted World's Most Innovative Airline, and Cathay Pacific, which won World's Leading Economy Class.

Singapore's Changi Airport won World's Leading Airport for the third consecutive year.

We're sad to say that Hong Kong International Airport was not amongst the 17 nominees for this category.

And that is just the beginning of the list. There are so many award titles for the World Travel Awards that it would be easy to mistake them for trying to hand one out to everybody.

Take, for example, the World's Leading Polar Expedition Operator, won by Oceanwide Expeditions. Or the World's Leading Shopping Centre Hotel, an award won by the Kempinski Mall of Emirates, Dubai. 

Talk about "niche."

Then there is the World's Leading Airport Hotel awarded to -- you'll never guess -- Papua New Guinea.

Visiting PNG has been described by the Lonely Planet as "stepping into the great unknown" as it has "almost no tourism infrastructure."

But at least they have a kick-ass airport hotel, according to the World Travel Awards.

Major and less-major awards from the World Travel Awards 2012:

World's Leading Airline: Etihad Airways

World's Leading Airport: Singapore Changi Airport

World's Leading Destination: India

World's Ultimate Service Award in Hospitality: Dukes Hotel, London

World's Leading First Class: Etihad Airways

World's Leading Business Class: Qatar Airways

World's Leading Economy Class: Cathay Pacific Airways

World's Leading Airline to Asia: Malaysia Airlines

World's Leading Hotel: Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE

World's Leading Dive Destination: Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

World's Leading Heritage Hotel: The Raj Palace

World's Leading Tourism Property Development Company: Emaar

World's Leading Shopping Centre Hotel: Kempinski Mall of Emirates, Dubai

World's Leading Polar Expedition Operator: Oceanwide Expeditions

World's Leading Car Hire: Europcar

World's Leading Meetings and Conference Hotel: Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

World's Leading Meetings Hotel: Swissotel Krasnye Holmy, Moscow, Russia


After traveling around the world on a fistful of dollars, Zoe returns to Hong Kong, where she grew up, to discover and write about all the inspiring stuff that happens here on a daily basis.

Read more about Zoe Li