By Russell Maddicks
Ecuador continued its successful run at the World Travel Awards on Saturday, 10 October, picking up 14 prizes at a glittering gala ceremony held at the Teatro Colón in the historic centre of Bogotá, Colombia.
For the third year in a row, Ecuador won the award for South America's Leading Green Destination, a nod the country's biodiversity and continuing commitment to eco-tourism and sustainable development.
Another top eco-tourism award went to the Finch Bay Eco Hotel - located on the island of Santa Cruz in the wildlife-rich and environmentally-important Galápagos - which walked away with the prize for South America's Leading Green Hotel.
It was also a big night for the historic Andean capital of Quito, a third time winner of South America's Leading Destination, considered among the most important prizes awarded on the night.
Quito's hotels also took home top gongs, with the stylish Hotel Plaza Grande taking the prize for South America's Best Luxury Hotel, and Swissôtel taking South America's Best Hotel.
Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport, which only opened in 2013, garnered the prize for South America's Leading Airport.
The Tren Crucero, Ecuador's revamped train route from Quito through the Andes to Guayaquil on the Pacific Coast, won the award for South America's Best Luxury Train.
"These international acknowledgments confirm, once again, that Ecuador continues to captivate the world with its spectacular destinations and tourism products," said Ecuador's Tourism Minister Sandra Naranjo, on hearing the results at the WTA Latin America Gala Ceremony 2015.
The annual WTA event is considered the Oscars of the travel industry and Ecuador's growing share of the top awards, especially in the luxury sector, is a testament to the high level of public and private investment in tourism infrastructure and promotion over the last ten years.
"Ecuador has made great strides in recent years, and is now a tourist force to be reckoned with in South America,” said Graham Cooke, the founder and president of the WTA, adding that Ecuador's sweep of the prizes "is a reflection of the country's success in positioning itself not only as a unique destination - with both Quito and Ecuador, as winners - but also through high-quality products."
In other top awards, Argentina picked up the trophy for South America's Leading Heritage Destination, and Peru won the gong for South America's Leading Adventure Tourism Destination.
Peru also won South America's Leading Culinary Destination and South America's Leading Cultural Destination.
South America's Leading Beach Destination, another major prize, was awarded to Colombia's Caribbean resort island of San Andrés.
Colombian flag-carrier Avianca won the prestigious award for South America’s Leading Airline, while Mexico and Central America's Leading Airline went to Copa Airlines.
The full list of Ecuador's pizes at the 2015 World Travel Awards (WTA):
Ecuador: South America's Leading Green Destination.
Quito: South America's Leading Destination.
Tren Crucero (Cruise Train): South America's Best Luxury Train.
Finch Bay Eco Hotel: South America's Leading Green Hotel.
Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito: South America's Leading Airport.
Hotel Plaza Grande (Quito): South America's Leading Luxury Hotel.
Swissôtel (Quito): South America's Leading Hotel.
The following Ecuadorian hotels and resorts also won awards:
Hotel Plaza Grande (Quito): Ecuador's Best Boutique Hotel.
Hotel Oro Verde (Guayaquil): Ecuador's Best Business hotel.
Mashpi Lodge: Ecuador's Best Green Hotel.
Swissôtel (Quito): Ecuador's Best Hotel.
JW Marriott Hotel (Quito): Ecuador's Best Presidential Suite.
Arashá Tropical Forest Resort & Spa: Ecuador's Best Resort.
Termas de Papallacta: Ecuador's Best Spa Resort.
For the full list of WTA 2015 winners click here.
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