Boracay Island in Aklan, Philippines was formally honored last Thursday night as the World’s Best Island for 2012 at the Travel + Leisure Magazine’s 17th annual World Best Awards at the newly opened Conrad New York Hotel at Battery Park in Manhattan.

Vernie Velarde Morales, director of the Philippine Department of Tourism in New York and Chicago, personally accepted the award from Travel + Leisure editor-in-chief Nancy Novogrod and the magazine’s vice president and publisher Jean-Paul Kyrillos.

Philippine Deputy Consul General in New York Tess Dizon-de Vega also attended.

Also invited were Filipino Reporter publisher Bert Pelayo and associate publisher Dr. Linda Pelayo, who is from Aklan.

Readers of Travel + Leisure have voted to put Boracay on top of the “world’s best islands” for this year earning a score of 93.10 percent and besting other A-List island destinations like Bali in Indonesia (No. 2 at 90.41), and Galapagos Islands in Ecuador (No. 3 at 89.55).

The criteria for World’s Best Island include natural attractions, activities and sights, restaurants and food, visitors and people, and value for money.

Last year, Boracay, which is known for its crystal blue waters and white, powdery sand, was ranked No. 4 in the list.

Boracay has joined the league of the world’s best such as New York City voted as the Best City in America and Canada, Waldorf Astoria Chicago as Top Large City Hotel in the U.S., Bangkok as the World’s Best City, and Virgin America as the No. 1 Domestic Airline.

Based in New York City, the 74-year-old Travel + Leisure has 4.8 million readers and is published monthly by American Express Publishing Corp., a subsidiary of American Express Company.

Rounding out the top 10 islands are Maui, Hawaii; Great Barrier Reef Islands, Australia; Santorini, Greece; Kauai, Hawaii; Big Island, Hawaii; Sicily, Italy; and Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Boracay’s Discovery Shores also bagged this year’s Best Hotel Spa Award in Asia, up from No. 7 last year.

“This is important, Boracay. It beat out Bali, No. 2,” said Travel + Leisure editor Nilou Motamed, in an interview on “The Today Show” on NBC.

“It’s one of those islands you should know about if you’re interested in culture and value.”

New York-based businessman Ray Rogan of Rayland Enterprises, who also attended the awards night, said the whole province of Aklan is taking the award seriously because of the impact it will create in the economy and tourism industry of the entire region.

“It’s a big honor for all Aklanons...a great pride,” Aklan native Rogan told the Filipino Reporter.

“The award is a big boost to the economy of the province, it will create more jobs for the people, and it will invite more investors.”

“Boracay always lands in the Top 10 when it comes to world’s best resorts or islands, but this is the first time it won the No. 1 spot,” according to Rogan, who also runs a business in the province called Estrall Marketing, distributor of Magnolia fresh and frozen chicken in the whole of Aklan and neighboring provinces.

His wife, Aliena, is also from Aklan.

Rogan credits the collective efforts of both the local government and the people led by Lone District Rep. Florencio Miraflores and Gov. Carlito Marquez.

“The tandem of Miraflores and Marquez, and the local government have done so much for the last decade to bring Boracay to where it is now,” Rogan added.

“More and more people are also picking Boracay as the perfect place for retirement.”

This October, Boracay will also be one of the two ports in the Philippines that will be visited by Legend of the Sea, a cruise ship of the Royal Caribbean International based in Asia.

The other Philippine port in its itinerary is Manila.

Every year, Travel + Leisure ask its readers to tell which hotels, destinations and companies represent the very best in travel.

The magazine added new and expanded categories and highlighted the newcomers, great value options and editors’ picks.

It also recognized for the first time the 97 Hall of Fame winners that have been on the list for a solid decade.

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