DESPITE tough times in the sector, the travel industry celebrated the best in the business at the Irish Travel Trade News awards last night.
The glitzy ceremony and inaugural travel industry Christmas party, held in the Burlington Hotel, played host to the top names in travel, all vying for coveted prizes at the end-of-year bash.
Sunway Travel was voted Ireland's favourite travel agent, Thomas Cook Holidays was voted best sun holiday tour operator, and Topflight took the prize in the ski tour operator
Aer Lingus was voted best airline to Europe.
Meanwhile, United won in the North America sector and Etihad Airways won both the long haul and business class categories.
A newcomer, One Stop Touring Shop -- with brands such as Insight Vacations, Uniworld River Cruises and Contiki -- scooped the best niche tour operator category.
Irish Ferries won the ferries award category, Celebrity won best cruise company (5-6 star) and the Spanish Tourism Office was judged the best tourist board.
Liam Lonergan of Club Travel was named Irish travel industry entrepreneur of the year, beating off competition from CarTrawler and Clubs to Hire.
"We are delighted that the Irish travel industry has come together for this inaugural event," a Travel Trade News spokesperson said.
"And that the two major supplier organisations, the Association of Foreign Airlines and the Irish Tour Operators Federation, have joined us in selecting the very first entrepreneur of the year.
"I congratulate Liam Lonergan and all his team at Club Travel."