updated 7/8/2010 4:00:18 PM ET 2010-07-08T20:00:18

New Orleans is back in Travel + Leisure magazine's top 10 cities list for the first time since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city and its tourism industry in August 2005.

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New Orleans took the No. 7 spot in the category of top cities in U.S. and Canada, part of the magazine's annual World's Best Awards. The 2010 awards were announced Thursday.

New Orleans was last named to the list, in the No. 10 spot, in July 2005. The city has steadily rebuilt and revitalized its tourism industry in the past few years.

New York took the No. 1 spot on the U.S. and Canada cities list, followed by San Francisco; Charleston, S.C.; Chicago; Santa Fe, N.M.; Vancouver, British Columbia; and after New Orleans, Quebec City, Quebec; Victoria, British Columbia, and Washington D.C.

Winners in the best islands category internationally include exotic locales like the Galapagos and Bali, but for the continental U.S. and Canada, the island winners are places mostly known for beautiful scenery and simple pleasures: Mount Desert Island, Maine; Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia; Vancouver Island, British Columbia; San Juan Islands, Wash., and Canada's Prince Edward Island.

The full World's Best Awards list will appear in Travel + Leisure's August issue, which is available on newsstands July 23. It can also be seen online at http://www.travelandleisure.com/worldsbest.

Winners in other categories include Abercrombie & Kent for best river cruise, a new category on the list; Crystal Cruises as best large-ship cruise line; Singapore Airlines as best international airline; Virgin America as best domestic airline; and Hertz as best car-rental agency.

Best hotels in the continental U.S. included San Ysidro Ranch, A Rosewood Resort, in Santa Barbara, Calif., as top resort; Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago as best large city hotel; and Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, Mont., as top inn.

Bangkok was rated as the best city internationally, but the magazine noted that data for the awards was mostly collected before the worst of the recent political upheaval in Thailand.

Winners for Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards were determined using results of a questionnaire made available to Travel + Leisure readers online, and through invitations in the January, February and March issues of the magazine. More than 16,000 readers participated.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Travelers rank ‘World’s best’

  1. Transcript of: Travelers rank ‘World’s best’

    ANN CURRY, co-host: This morning on TODAY'S TRAVEL , the world's best awards. For the past 14 years, readers of Travel Leisure magazine have voted on everything for the best cities, the best airlines to the best rental cars. And this year's survey attracted a record number of votes. So here with the results is Nilou Motamed , the features editor at Travel Leisure magazine. Nilou , good morning.

    Ms. NILOU MOTAMED (Features Editor, Travel Leisure Magazine): Good morning.

    CURRY: This is something. You basically let people make the decisions, and you love this issue because what do we gain when we see what people really choose?

    Ms. MOTAMED: For the last 15 years we have gone to our readers and we have asked them to tell us what is going on on the road when you're there around the world. There is something about this bellwether that we get as a result of what we get from them which tells us exactly what people want right now wherever they are.

    CURRY: OK. Let's take a look then at that bellwether, at the best cities on the list. And actually, there are 40 categories we should mention in the -- in the survey, but one of them is best cities. And who wins but Bangkok , Thailand .

    Ms. MOTAMED: Bangkok, Thailand.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Now, this is a city that is reclaiming its number one spot that it got in 2008 , and we couldn't be more thrilled for Bangkok . They have had some amazing upheaval there in this last spring, and it's great to see them back on top for all the things that the city offers. It is basically a joy-filled place, great for people who want culture, great for people who want amazing food, great for people who want value. And that's something that the combination of which makes it an unbeatable combination.

    CURRY: Are those the same kind of criteria that also had voters choose their favorite city...

    Ms. MOTAMED: The other city...

    CURRY: ...in the United States , which it turns out to be...

    Ms. MOTAMED: New York , New York !

    CURRY: And so is that the same criteria that was used?

    Ms. MOTAMED: Exactly.

    Ms. MOTAMED: And I think New York City , 10 consecutive years on top of this list for the continental US and Canada. Now, I think Mayor Bloomberg is somewhere doing a little dance right now. And it makes me happy. Obviously, we live here and we know how great New York is, and it's great for travelers as well. It's great for food, we have over 20,000 restaurants; great for cultural institutions, Lincoln Center just had a $1.2 billion renovation. And we have -- it's such an accessible city, a walking city . We have a brand-new park called the Highline that a lot of people don't know about. It's a terrific preservation story, the idea of an abandoned railway becoming an urban promenade. I mean, I can go on about New York City .

    CURRY: You could go on, and -- but I wish you would stop...

    Ms. MOTAMED: I -- and our readers did too.

    CURRY: ...because I think -- I think our -- all of our relatives are going to be calling now to come back and visit us again. OK, now top hotels -- although we want the relatives, but you know what I'm saying. Top hotels.

    Ms. MOTAMED: The top hotels...

    CURRY: One of them is in India , the top one.

    Ms. MOTAMED: The top hotel overall is the Vanyavilas Oberoi in India . Now, this is on a tiger preserve, so we often talk about the idea of going on safari and going to Africa . But what about going on safari and going to India ? So if you love the idea of seeing tigers, but also being in the lap of luxury, these tented accommodations are 790 square feet. You have four-poster beds, you have incredible butler service. Now, this does not come cheap. It's about $790 a night. But what you get is actually considered a value by our readers.

    CURRY: OK, all right. Let's talk about the top hotel in the United States . It's in Chicago .

    Ms. MOTAMED: It's in Chicago . the Trump International Tower Hotel in Chicago . Now, this hotel has got amazing views. It soars right above the landscape in Chicago and northern Michigan . And what's great about this hotel, per our readers, is the rooms, the service and the great restaurant. At the Terrace restaurant in the summer, Wednesdays and Saturdays, you can see fireworks, you can see the Navy Pier fireworks. How cool?

    CURRY: Twice a week?

    Ms. MOTAMED: Twice a week!

    CURRY: Remarkable.

    Ms. MOTAMED: All the way through -- all the way through September.

    CURRY: Running out of time , so I want to get to the river cruises as being one of your categories. What's that about?

    Ms. MOTAMED: This is a brand new category we've added because river cruises have doubled -- 200 percent booking increase since 2004 . So this is a big category. We see Abercrombie Kent giving -- getting number one for their array of cruises, everything from the Nile to the Yangtze to the Danube . And you get super personalized service. There's even cruise trips that are as small as four people.

    CURRY: I've done the Nile , and it's very relaxing to be on a river cruise . Now let's talk about the top airlines because, of course, we need to get there.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Now, so important. Airline service is such a big and important issue for everybody. And Virgin America gets top. And it's interesting that every airlines that was in the top 10 list was either a regional or a low-cost carrier.

    CURRY: Yes.

    Ms. MOTAMED: So the big airlines are getting a little bit of a wake-up call by -- from our readers saying you need to shape up because otherwise you're not making the list.

Photos: Big Easy returns

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  1. Katrina's mess

    A junked car lies near empty houses in the Lakeview neighborhood near the site of the levee breach on the 17th Street Canal, August 29, 2005. More than five months after caused by Hurricane Katrina made landfall, there was little progress in some areas of New Orleans. Today, tours are offered to visitors to have a better understanding of events pre and post Katrina. (David Rae Morris / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Big Easy blues

    Costumed revelers dressed as blue roof tarps pose at the annual MOMs Ball, thrown each year by the Krewe of Misfits, Orphans and Mystics in New Orleans. Many of this years Mardi Gras floats and costumes reference the blue tarps that still protect broken roofs across the city after Hurricane Katrina. (Matthew Cavanaugh / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Soul sounds

    Jen Pearl (L) and Michelle Loughnane stand under an umbrella with a reference to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, April 2006. Jazz Fest '07 will be held on April 27-29 and May 4-6. (Lee Celano / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Dancing in the streets

    A member of the Young Olympia Aide and New Look Social Aid and Pleasure Club dances in a second line parade at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. (Lee Celano / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Jeweled celebration

    Members of the Krewe of Thoth throw beads as they travel down St. Charles Avenue where thousands of revelers showed up to enjoy 2006 Mardi Gras festivities. Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday") is the day before Ash Wednesday, and a celebration of the last the day before the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. Mardi Gras 2007 will be observed on Feb. 20. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Eye candy

    Revelers ogle a woman exposing herself on Bourbon St. during Mardi Gras festivities in the French Quarter of New Orleans. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Closing time

    Orleans Parish mounted Police Officers march down Bourbon Street in the French Quarter announcing the official end of Mardi Gras 2006. (Sean Gardner / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A shout for freedom

    "Big Chief" Victor Armstrong wears an elaborate Mardi Gras Indian costume. The Indian tradition of Mardi Gras pays homage to the relationship between Native Americans and escaped African slaves of the 1700s. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
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