The South Asian Travel Awards 2019 (SATA) will be held in Sri Lanka, SATA President Ismail Hameed announced at a press conference today (23 July).
The awards celebrate players in the region’s hospitality and travel industry including hotels and suppliers. Since launching in 2016, the awards have grown in size from 200 nominations to over 700, across 39 categories and 10 segments.
The decision to hold the event in Sri Lanka was taken carefully Hameed said, after visiting the country several times between April and June.
Amal Goonetilleke, CEO of The Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) and a former judge of the awards, said although there were initial concerns, this is a great opportunity for Sri Lanka and a “good initiative for getting Sri Lanka back on the map”.
The awards will take place over the weekend of 19-20 September at the 172-room Amari Galle, part of the ONYX Hospitality group.
Hosting the awards in the Galle rather than Colombo will be seen as an endorsement that the whole of the country is open Goonetilleke added.
General Manager of Amari Galle, Puneet Dutta said he was excited that different segments of the travel trade will have the opportunity to come and experience Sri Lanka.
This is the fourth year for SATA and the second time in Sri Lanka. The first awards were held in Sri Lanka at the Mount Lavinia Hotel in 2016. Since then the event has also taken place in Addu City, Maldives in 2017 and Mumbai, India in 2018.
A higher number of attendees are expected at this year’s event, following the addition of Bangladesh to the awards this year.
The SATA 2019 nominees come from six countries – India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. All will go through a rigorous process that includes a 10-minute presentation to the judging panel. The “experienced expert panel of jurors” are diverse in nationalities with a wealth of experience and strong personalities Hameed explained.
The final decision on the winners is made based on 60 per cent of the judges’ recommendations and 40 per cent based on online voting, open to the public.
The September awards will be a weekend retreat, rather than a one-day ceremony, bringing together 250 visitors in a relaxed setting to celebrate the best of South Asian Hospitality.