Published on Friday, November 2, 2012
Holidaymakers have given a huge vote of confidence to ailing tour operator Thomas Cook which was named last night as the public's favourite travel company in five separate categories.
The cash-strapped operator, which is going through a tumultuous restructure, was named Best Family Holiday Company, Best Overall Sports Tour Operator, Best Weddings & Honeymoons Tour Operator (Thomas Cook Signature), Best Tour Operator to East & Central Asia (Thomas Cook Signature) and Best Cruise Holiday Retailer.
First Choice picked up three awards, as did Virgin Holidays.
The British Travel Awards, the only industry accolades voted for by members of the public, were presented at a glitzy ceremony hosted by actor and comedian Hugh Dennis in London, attended by more than 1,000 guests from the travel industry.
The full list of awards can seen here.
New rules introduced this year to make the awards fairer for smaller operators restricted companies to entering a maximum of five awards. Also, tour operator awards were divided by size of company, with separate awards for large, medium and small companies.
Small and medium tour operators who won awards for the first time include Simpson Travel, Imagine Africa, Light Blue Travel, Abercrombie & Kent, Titan Travel, Brittany Ferries Holidays and Red Sea Holidays.
P & O Cruises proved to be a firm favourite winning Best Mainstream Cruise Line, Best UK Departure Cruise Line and Best Family Cruise Line. Cunard won Best Luxury Cruise Line and Voyage of Discovery took the Best Niche Cruise line trophy.
British Airways won Best Airline for Short Haul and Virgin Atlantic Best Long haul. Gatwick Airport won Best UK Airport, Avis Best Car Hire Company and for the eighth year running the Post Office won Best Foreign Exchange and Best Travel Insurance Provider.
In the UK, Cornwall was the most popular destination, scooping four awards - Best UK Holiday County or Region, with Cornish town St Ives winning Best UK Coastal Town, Visit Cornwall winning Best UK Visitor Guide / Website and the county's Eden Project winning Best UK Leisure Attraction.
Edinburgh Castle won Best UK Heritage Attraction.
The Check-In Readers' Choice Award, special category open only to readers of the British Travel Awards' online publication, went to Jamaica, which was voted the world's top destination.
BTA chief executive Lorraine Barnes-Burton said: "The British Travel Awards are the benchmark for excellence when it comes to finding out who really is the best in the business of travel for the UK consumer."
More than one million votes and opinions were cast for the first time this year, coming from a wide demographic, said Barnes-Burton. "This year we introduced a fairer system for the tour operator awards so the large companies didn't walk away with everything and the smaller companies got a look in and this has worked very well.
"We were very impressed by the eagerness of the smaller independent companies to put themselves forward, now they have a fair chance of winning and for conducting tireless lobbying campaigns amongst their happy customers. All winners are to be congratulated on their achievement. "
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The recent insolvency of Low Cost Travel Group, one of the large players in the travel industry had a big impact on the travelers, hotels and all related players from both wholesale & retail arms. There were about 27,000 people on a holiday who had booked through the company comprised of a €200 million wholesale arm and €500 million OTA / retail arm.