TOP BGTW TOURISM AWARDS GO TO PROJECTS IN PORTSMOUTH, AMSTERDAM AND ECUADOR
The British Guild of Travel Writers' three top annual tourism awards have been won by the new Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the renovation of Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum and the rebirth of the Tren Crucero railway linking Ecuador's coastal Guayaquil with its World Heritage Site capital Quito.
The awards were presented at a glittering awards ceremony in London's Savoy Hotel last night, sponsored by the Belgian Tourist Office, Brussels and Wallonia.
Each tourism project was completed within the past three years, each was nominated by a Guild member and they were all selected via a secret ballot of the Guild's 275 professional journalists, writers, editors, photographers and broadcasters. They were asked to evaluate each proposed project on the basis of both its tourism potential and its benefit to the local community.
The Portsmouth project, nominated by Christina Ediss, won the Best UK Tourism Project award. The ship-shaped, space-age building houses the Mary Rose Tudor warship which mysteriously sank on a calm summer's evening in 1545 and was raised from the seabed in 1982. Cleverly displayed are 17,000 fascinating items ranging from Henry VIII's cannons and a unique compass to re-creations of the faces of seven crew members based upon their skeletal remains.
The two runners up in this category were the extension to East Grinstead of the Bluebell Railway, nominated by Tim Locke, and Belfast's £97 million Titanic Museum, nominated by Peter Lynch. Other projects given certificates of merit were The National Glass Centre at the University of Sunderland in Tyne and Wear, nominated by Stuart Forster, and Scotland's Great Glen Canoe Trail between Corpach and Inverness nominated by Daniel Neilson.
The Best European Tourism Award winner, Amsterdam's landmark Rijksmuseum, reopened in April of this year after a 375 million euro transformation had replaced a fusty, narrow entrance, gloomy galleries, ad hoc extensions and acres of white-washed walls with a soaring light-filled atrium, spacious and harmonious galleries and glowing restored paintings complemented by ceramics, sculpture and historic exhibitions.
The runners up were Valldal, Norway's Juvet Landscape Hotel, nominated by Roger Norum and consisting of environmentally-friendly, pod-like structures set in a river canyon in the midst of western Norway's fjord country, and the Louvre's first satellite gallery, The Louvre-Lens Museum,in the northern France former mining town of Lens and nominated by Gillian Thornton. Certificates of merit went to the DoloMeetCard, produced by Madonna di Campiglio. a resort in the Italian Dolomites (Valery Collins), and Le Musêe de la Mode (Museum of Fashion) in Albi, France (Paul Wade).
The Best Wider World Tourism Award went to the revived Andean railway line in Ecuador which allows passengers on the Tren Crucero (Cruise Train) to enjoy four-day rail itineraries with overnight stays in historic haciendas and hotels. As a result dozens of stations were restored and enhanced with additional amenities and more than 10,000 jobs were created, The project was nominated by Anthony Lambert.
The runners up - both in the USA - were Las Vegas's The Mob Museum telling the powerful story of the rise and fall of organised crime in America and also luring visitors away from the city's glitzy main Strip to its older, re-emerging Downtown area (Donna Dailey) and Seminary Ridge Museum in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Nominated by Kathy Arnold and commemorating the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War Battle of Gettysburg. the museum, set in part of a former theological seminary, highlights the lives of the ordinary soldiers and local townspeople during the bloody turning point of the war. Certificates of merit went to the Kalinago Home Stay Programme, Kalinago Barana Autê on the West Indian Island of Dominica (Judith Baker) and the Busselton Jetty on Western Australia's Geographe Bay (Helen Ochyra).
Guild Chair Roger Bray said: “The British Guild of Travel Writers has made these awards for 30 years as a way of celebrating the diversity and creativity and local contribution of tourism related projects around the world and their contribution to local economies. We had a particularly rich and varied number of nominated projects to choose from this year."
The BGTW also presented travel writing and photography awards, selected by an outside jury, to its own members during the evening, which was attended by some 300 top travel industry and media representatives.
Press release prepared by Guild member Mary Moore Mason. Further information and photos available from the British Guild of Travel Writers Secretariat:
, 020 8144 8713.