Friday, 6 February 2009 12:00 AM
After years of jostling between New Zealand and Namibia, Japan has been named Top Country in the Wanderlust Travel Awards 2009.
Not only has the country snatched the top spot, Kyoto is also runner up in the Top City sector. This is the first ever showing for Japan in the awards top ten, reflecting a surge in interest among adventurous travellers.
Namibia and New Zealand were voted in second and third place respectively.
Wanderlust readers were wowed by Japan’s diversity, from Tokyo’s fluorescent skyscapes and hi-tech loos, to the tranquil scenery of Mount Fuji.
The wildlife and culinary experiences were also a big hit.
Antigua in Guatemala was voted Top City overall, ending the two year reign of Luang Prabang (Laos), which was knocked down into seventh position.
Readers raved about Antigua’s vibrant market, friendly people, and characterful shops and cafes.
Nearly 3,000 travellers voted in the annual awards, which are based on customer satisfaction over the past year. Japan received an impressive 97.42 per cent satisfaction rating with Namibia receiving 96.21 per cent and New Zealand 95.75 per cent.
Overall, Wanderlust readers have visited over 170 countries and 631 cities between them in the past year.
Syria, an oft-maligned nation, came in fourth place in the Top Country category, and its political ally Iran came in 11th place.
Algeria trailed in last place with a disappointing 20 per cent rating.
Wanderlust editor-in-chief Lyn Hughes says: “I’m thrilled that Japan has topped the charts.
“I plan to go for my first visit next year and like our readers, I have long been intrigued by Japanese culture.
“I feel that there is so much to see there that we don’t hear about in the UK.”
In response to the surging interest in rail travel Wanderlust introduced a Top Rail Journey category this year.
Out of 400 different nominations the West Highland Line in Scotland came out top.
Full results of the Travel Awards will appear in the March edition of Wanderlust, on sale February 12th.