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Businesses from across the region are celebrating after being shortlisted for the North East England Tourism Awards, following a record year for entries.

Application numbers for the awards were up 25 per cent from last year to nearly 150 and new entries made up a significant proportion of these. Overall, 57 applications made the shortlist for the 15 award categories from a wide range of tourism businesses across County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.

The awards play a key role in showcasing the range of high quality tourism businesses and experiences on offer to visitors across the region. The tourism sector continues to be the fourth largest in the North East, highlighting the importance of the businesses working in the sector to the wider economy.

Sarah Stewart, chief executive at destination management and marketing organisation NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “It’s great to see a record number of applicants for the North East England Tourism Awards this year. We’ve had a variety of new applicants, as well as strong entries from those applying again, and there are some extremely competitive categories.

“Having hosted the biggest event in England in 2018, Great Exhibition of the North, and other significant events in the region, such as Tall Ships, the tourism sector is continuing to grow and flourish in the North East. These awards are a brilliant way to celebrate those businesses that make the tourism industry so successful and we’re looking forward to the award’s ceremony in November.”

Newcastle College and Bidfood are continuing their support for the awards as event sponsors for 2018.

Lisa Hamilton-Murray, assistant principal at Newcastle College, said: “Newcastle College is delighted to be sponsoring the North East Tourism Awards for another year.  We have a significant tourism provision at the College and many of our students go on to successful careers in the sector following their studies with us.

“Key to the success of our programmes are the fantastic partnerships we have with employers. Students benefit from work experience in some of the best hotels, restaurants and resorts in the North East and these awards are a great opportunity to support and celebrate this growing industry.”

Susan Justice, head of business development at Bidfood added: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the North East England Tourism Awards for the second year running. There are so many fantastic tourism and hospitality businesses across the North East and it’s great to see them recognised through these awards.

“This year, we are sponsoring the ‘Large Visitor Attraction of the Year’ category and I can’t wait to celebrate those organisations that go above and beyond to deliver the best possible experience to those visiting the region.”

Winners will be announced at a major celebration of the North East tourism industry on Wednesday 21 November 2018 at Newcastle Civic Centre. Hosted by BBC Radio Newcastle breakfast show presenter, Alfie Joey, tickets to attend the awards are priced at £67.50 and are available to buy at www.newcastlegateshead.com/tourism-awards/buy-tickets.

In 2019 the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence will celebrate 30 years of the awards and success in English tourism, with winners from the North East England Tourism Awards highlighted as part of this.

The North East England Tourism Awards are organised and delivered by NewcastleGateshead Initiative in partnership with the Northern Tourism Alliance.

The Northern Tourism Alliance is a collaboration of the region’s tourism bodies who work together on projects that will benefit the tourism industry across the region. The founding members of the alliance are NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Northumberland Tourism, Visit County Durham, and The North East Hotels Association. The North East England Tourism Awards are also supported by South Tyneside Council and North Tyneside Council.

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