Abu Dhabi Unveils Expert Judges for Inaugural Abu Dhabi Tourism Excellence Awards
The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has unveiled the panel of world-class, expert judges who will determine the winners of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tourism Excellence Awards, a new award scheme that has been launched to honour excellence in the travel and tourism industry.
The new Abu Dhabi Tourism Excellence Awards (ADTEA) have been conceived by DCT Abu Dhabi to establish a new industry benchmark worldwide, and will recognise significant achievements, stimulate engagement and networking, and raise the industry’s overall competitiveness.
This year’s presentation ceremony will take place on April 1 at Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island, where the best of the best in each category will be presented with their accolades. The judging panel will be made up of industry titans from across the globe, including ‘Ex-Disney Guy’ John Formica, President for International Tourism Partnership Wolfgang M Neumann, Chief Executive Officer for the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Randy Durband, the first ICCA president from Africa Nina Freysen-Pretorius and freelance health and travel journalist Danae Mercer.
The expert panel will decide on the winners in key categories, covering all major touchpoints within the industry’s value chain, with awards for Grand Excellence in Tourism, Excellence in Tourist Happiness, Ambassador of Excellence, Excellence in Cultural Tourism, Excellence in Leisure, Hospitality Excellence De Luxe, Exceptional Cuisine Experience, Exceptional Travel Operator as well as an Excellence in MICE Events award.
Formica is a leading authority on tourism, hospitality and the service industry, and is a highly sought after internationally known keynote speaker, business and team trainer and small business consultant. He has more than 25 years of experience in top management positions with service industry leaders including Walt Disney World Resorts and Hyatt Hotels.
Austrian Neumann, is President of the International Tourism Partnership, a former President of Radisson Hospitality, former President of the Hilton Group and former CEO of Arabella Hospitality and has been part of the ITP Governing Council since 2013. He brings a wealth of experience within the hospitality sector to the role, having most recently held the position of president and chief executive of the Rezidor Hotel Group.
Durband, meanwhile, has had two careers in travel and tourism – more than 20 years’ experience in senior leadership positions at some of the finest US tour operators, having served as President for Travcoa, INTRAV, and Clipper Cruise Lines, and Executive Vice President of Tauck World Discovery. In his second travel and tourism career, Durband advanced the work of Sustainable Tourism as an advisor, consultant, and speaker.
As well as being the first ICCA president from Africa, Freysen-Pretorius is also only the third female president in ICCA history, whilst freelance health and travel journalist Mercer has previously worked as the editor-in-chief of Women’s Health Middle East and Men’s Health Middle East. She has also worked with CNN Travel, The Sunday Times, the BBC and The Guardian.
“The calibre of judges convened for the first-ever Abu Dhabi Tourism Excellence Awards reflects the aims of DCT Abu Dhabi to position the awards – and the celebratory presentation evening – at the forefront of the industry’s accolades,” said HE Saood Al Hosani, Acting Undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi. “By bringing together such industry luminaries, we are underscoring our commitment to excellence. We are looking forward to seeing all the nominations for the inaugural event, celebrating with the winners, and ultimately witnessing the gains to the industry – both at home and abroad – that this focus on excellence will bring.”
The glitzy event will be held at the iconic Louvre Abu Dhabi, with the evening hosted by Virgin Radio’s Kris Fade, along with Lebanese-British TV presenter and celebrity journalist at MBC Raya Abirached.
The awards have also been launched to cultivate a culture of achievement and, with the inaugural winners’ presentation ceremony to be held every year, the awards will also encourage the sharing of best practices, as the event will bring together industry partners to network, engage, interact and align strategies and direction. The launch of the Awards comes as Abu Dhabi’s 168 hotels and hotel apartments, which offer a full spectrum of accommodation ratings including luxury 5-star establishments, are enjoying higher global visibility and impressive year-on-year growth.
To make a submission for an award, entrants are invited to visit the website abudhabitourismaward.com and fill in the entry form, where further information about the awards can also be found. Deadline for submissions is 11pm on March 15.