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Changes on how World Travel Awards operates in the pipeline

Changes on how World Travel Awards operates may be in the pipeline

eTN publisher Juergen T. Steinmetz recently asked the question: Are the “Oscars of the Travel Industry” for real?

Feedback received from readers about the World Travel Awards (WTA) caused eTN publisher Juergen T Steinmetz to alert his readers on June 18 (click here to view the eTN article) about concerns he had on how the World Travel Awards are earned and offered. eTN immediately froze a media partnership agreement with World Travel Awards to allow us to investigate concerns received by readers.

The question eTN asked was: How are the World Travel Awards set up? How are these awards perceived by members of the travel and tourism industry? eTN received an overwhelming response from readers and shared pressing concerns with those in charge of organizing the awards.

According to the World Travel Awards, after the course of 63 gala ceremonies in 30 countries over a period of 22 years, they have only ever received positive feedback from their partner destinations and from the tourism industry. In a statement to eTN, Sion Rapson, Global Business Director of WTA, said, "World Travel Awards continues to invest substantially in the promotion of global tourism, and we look forward to our upcoming gala ceremony here with our friends in the Seychelles this weekend.”

When eTN asked readers about the awards, the majority of responses instead painted a very different picture.

Allegations included some saying the awards are for sale, the voting system is unfair and hardly relevant, and that winners are being charged a marketing fee before the awards are actually issued.

The response from Brad Parker of the Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii and Tahiti, may explain the most common challenge the World Travel Awards faces with the industry. He said: “The Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora and Four Seasons Resort Hualalai are very fortunate to have received numerous global awards from all sectors of the luxury travel market. With great pride we share these, as they reflect the commitment to service and quality we provide our guests each and every day. It is our strict policy to not pay for award entries or awards themselves. This is our particular choice, as we feel it best reflects the integrity of these two renowned resorts."

Yesterday, eTN presented a list of issues to Graham Cooke, President of the World Travel Awards, who is currently in the Seychelles preparing for the Indian Ocean Ceremony for WTA at the Kempinski Hotel Seychelles.

With a list of questions that Publisher Juergen T. Steinmetz needed to have answered in order to address the main concern of possible fraud, during a long phone call between Cooke and Steinmetz, the key issues raised by eTurboNews readers were addressed.

The result was that Mr. Cooke gave his personal assurance to Steinmetz about the legitimacy of their awards and said if necessary changes are needed, they will be made. He responded positive to Steinmetz' suggestion to employ an indepent auditor. Mr. Cooke promised eTN that WTA would allow an independent audit to evaluate its voting system.

eTN publisher JTS said: “This is a positive step forward to make the World Travel Awards transparent. eTurboNews has supported the World Travel Awards as a media partner for many years, and we welcome the response by Mr. Cooke to share information and assure us about the process of how awards are won, as well as how fees and marketing dollars would be implemented and made more transparent, fair, and reasonable.

“I found Mr. Cooke to be ready to take suggestions and resolve issues. His statement to allow an independent audit is a positive gesture and an achievement for the award travel industry. Mr. Cooke was very professional when addressing eTN's concerns. I realized he was at the same time under pressure to prepare for tonight’s award ceremony at the Seychelles Kempinski Hotel."

“He was able to convince me that he is ready to address challenges, perceptions, and procedures if necessary. I am pleased that this may be a door opener to re-join World Travel Awards as a media partner in the near future, and after changes are implemented.

The Global Business Director of the World Travel Awards wrote earlier: “eTurboNews has been a valued media partner with World Travel Awards for many years. As such, we are surprised to learn of accusations made by the publication. Like any organization, we are open to criticism, but we reject absolutely accusations of wrongdoing.”

eTN Publisher Steinmetz added, “I can appreciate Sion’s concern, and we wish World Travel Awards success at tonight’s gala event.”


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