World Travel Awards – The Oscars of the Travel Industry

What do Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Beckham, and Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickenson have in common? Or 3-time Olympic gold medalist Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt (see photo), Spanish tennis pro Rafael Nadal, and Kevin Spacey? And what do they have to do with travel news?

They were all among the favorites to win the World Travel Awards "Face of Travel 2010" award. The winner was announced on Sunday, November 7th, during the 17th annual World Travel Awards ceremony, which took place at London's posh Grosvenor House Hotel.

The World Travel Awards (WTA) organization "serves to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the global travel and tourism industry." This year was the most hotly contested yet. Over 5,000 individuals and businesses representing 162 countries were nominated in numerous categories ranging from best airport to best beach resort to best safari. And, yes, best travel ad.

The new “Face of Travel” award acknowledges the celebrity endorsement that has made the biggest contribution to the travel and tourism industry over the past year.

Nominee highlights included Usain Bolt’s “Once You Go You Know” campaign and its role in boosting Jamaica’s tourism profile; David Beckham, serving as ambassador for England’s 2018 World Cup bid, earned him the nod for boosting his nation’s tourism profile; and Iron Maiden frontman and airline pilot Bruce Dickenson was nominated for his new job as marketing manager of Astraeus Airlines.

Rafael Nadal, also a hot favorite, fronted a hugely-successful campaign highlighting the sport tourism credentials of his native Balearic Islands. California's "Governator" was nominated for the popular "If California seems like your kind of work when can you start?" tourism ad with his wife, Maria Shriver.

Kevin Spacey touted the comforts of American Airlines' business class with "you'll know your seat when you find it." And English ex-soccer star Jamie Redknapp and his pop-star wife, Louise, were nominated for their hit ad campaign that led to a surge in summer bookings for England's venerable tour company Thomas Cook.

Hailed as “The Oscars of the Travel Industry” by the Wall Street Journal, the World Travel Awards is recognized globally as the ultimate travel accolade. The WTA 2010 Grand Final in London marked the climax of a year-long search to find the very best travel businesses in the world.

Oh, and the winner of the Face of Travel 2010 award? Jamaican Usain Bolt. Other awards included: World's Leading Travel Destination - London (beating out such luminaries are Bali and Dubai); World's Leading Airport: Singapore Changi Airport; and World's Leading Honeymoon Destination: St. Lucia.

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