Kerala’s serene beaches, tranquil stretches of emerald backwaters, lush hill stations and exotic wildlife has emerged as the winning combination for the travellers to vote the state as the best Asian holiday destination ahead of Bali, Phuket and the Maldives.

The accolade was revealed in the ‘Best in Travel poll 2010’ carried out by an independent online travel magazine Smart Travel Asia. It is a destination of reader’s perception and favourite travel brands. The poll, conducted throughout May-July this year, puts the spotlight on ‘aspirational” brands and travel trends in the region.

Bali and Phuket were voted as second and third most favourite holiday destinations in Asia. The only other Indian destinations to be listed in the top 10 were Rajasthan and Goa which came in at eighth and tenth spot respectively.

“This is phenomenal recognition for the state and the people who are in the tourism sector, delivering an inspirational experience. Keralites should feel very proud of their contribution to this fantastic international achievement”, says Secretary, Kerala Tourism, V. Venu. The awards are unique because they single out not just popular places but truly exceptional places that enthrall travellers and keep them coming back, he added.

The vote is based on actual travel experience, word-of-mouth, as well as an idea of the brand drawn from ads and PR. Voters polled in 12 categories including Asia's best business hotels, luxury resorts, spas, destinations, business cities, shopping spots, and the world's best airlines and airports.

Bangalore figures in the eighth position in the top 10 cities in Asia for businesses. Jet Airways figure in the top 10 airlines worldwide and those for business class and for cabin services. In the category of budget airline, Spice jet and Kingfisher Red figure in the top 10.

Approximately 60 per cent of voters are based in Asia (largely Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, India, China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and the Middle East), 20 per cent in UK/Europe and 20 per cent in USA and North America.

On average, voters took 13.56 air trips over the last 12 months and earned US$164,501 in household income. Smart Travel Asia has over one million readers worldwide.