Turkey's on top of the world
Who would have thought? Turkey has been granted the status of travel heaven by the planet's fussiest holidaymakers. It's usually the Canadas and New Zealands of this world that grab poll position at the annual 'best of the best' Condé Nast Traveller awards, but this year, it's Turkey's time to shine.
The land of haggling, hamam and Hagia Sophia soared past head-turners like Italy, India and South Africa to be chosen as the world's favourite holiday destination in 2010 for three simple reasons: range of accommodation; friendly people; and that increasingly important component of any vacation -- value for money.
Egypt came in a close second, followed by Australia in third.
Drastically, Ireland didn't even make it into the top 20 in the poll, which also judged countries on their food, scenery, attractions, culture, safety, kindness to the environment and climate.
We were embarrassingly absent, too, in the top-cities category. Our dear, old capital could never compete with the likes of global supermodels Venice, New York and Paris -- the top three must-see cities on the list -- but surely she's a step ahead of Copenhagen, Prague and Madrid.
Not so, according to the judges, although there's some consolation in the fact that London did not make an appearance in the top 20 either.
But at least Bono managed to keep the tricolour flying.
His Clarence on the Liffey was the only Irish hotel to get a mention in the prestigious awards, as the ninth best in Europe. Not bad at all in a category that included five-star stunners like the Splendido in Portofino and George V in Paris.
And good for Wexford's Monart, which was included in the best 'Destination Spa' list and so up with the top-notch resorts in the world.
A clap on the back should also go to Aer Lingus, which came sixth in the short-haul airline slot, but there was no sign of Ryanair in the low-cost category. The winner there was easyJet.
So, while we might fancy our little island as being a big player in the global tourism stakes, the rest of the world isn't quite so impressed.
Here's a full list of the winners, which could teach us a thing or two about welcoming visitors to our shores.
- Best country: Turkey
- Best city: Venice
- Best island: Hong Kong
- Best hotel: Jack's Camp, Botswana
- Best short-haul airline: Lufthansa
- Best long-haul airline: Air New Zealand
- Best villa-rental firm: Villas of Distinction
- Best global airport: Changi Singapore
- Best European airport: Heathrow T5
- Best train: The Blue Train, South Africa
- Best cruise line (large ship): Crystal Cruises
- Best cruise line (small ship): Silversea Cruises
- Best spa: Shambhala Estate, Bali