The best tourist destination and also the best cultural destination in the world for 2012, is Trinidad and Tobago!
This decision was made recently at the European Union Council on Tourism and Trade in Bucharest, Romania. At this meeting, tourism organisations from 27 European Union member states overwhelming voted in favour of Trinidad & Tobago for both awards.
The twin island Republic's Minister of Tourism, Dr Rupert Griffith, commented, "We are, actually, the first country in the Western Hemisphere to receive such an award. I was also honoured and humbled to be inducted as an honorary member of the European Union Tourism Academy. All of this augurs well for Trinidad and Tobago as we strive to brand Trinidad and Tobago as a premier destination in the Caribbean region."
The designation of the World's Best Tourist Destination is the highest and most prestigious honour to be awarded for a country's achievements in tourism.
A team from the European Council arrived in Trinidad last Saturday to present the award to the Government and People of Trinidad and Tobago. The award has previously been won by Syria in 2007, Turkey in 2008, United Arab Emirates in 2009 and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) in 2010.
The Best Tourist Destination award is offered to countries that have complied with the United Nations Tourism Division, UNESCO and the European Union on Tourism and Trade's principles "on fair tourism, ethical tourism and safety standards and the historic preservation of cultural sites".
The World's Best Tourist Destination for 2012 was awarded to Trinidad and Tobago based on several factors. Some of these being, as highlighted by the awarding panel, the respect for cultural patrimony and traditions "in offering to tourists a possibility to participate in impressive paraphernalia festivals such as Holi, Hosay, Divali, Corpus Christi, Eid-ul-Fitr, Tobago Heritage Festival, Tobago Fest and Trinidad's greatest show on earth (Carnival)".
The country's dedication to the protection of the environment, especially along the east coast, the wetlands, beaches and ecological and geographical biodiversity was also key.
Congratulations to the people and government of Trinidad & Tobago on winning such a very important award.