Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 13.10.57VisitEngland, the national tourist board, revealed the winners for the Awards for Excellence 2016 at its 27th annual ceremony held on Tuesday at Winter Gardens Blackpool. Celebrating excellence across the industry, the prestigious ceremony – held for the first time this year during English Tourism Week – announced 16 winners including Best Tourism Experience, Best Visitor Attraction and Best Large Hotel and this year’s new edition, the Best Dog Friendly Business.

Additionally, two special awards honouring individual excellence were presented: Outstanding Contribution to Tourism and Tourism Superstar (run by VisitEngland in partnership with the Daily Mirror). BBC’s Countryfile was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism award which was accepted by the programme’s presenters, including John Craven, Adam Henson and the production team. The VisitEngland Board gave the award for the programme’s contribution to raising awareness of England’s rural tourism offer.  Through the series, millions of viewers are regularly introduced to the beauty and diversity of England’s countryside and destinations. In doing so the programme positively influences perceptions of England and its attractiveness for tourism.

The Tourism Superstar 2016 winner was also recognised at the ceremony – Lilian Groves, 87, Senior Guide at Durham Cathedral in Durham City recently won the VisitEngland competition with 22% of the total votes cast. Honoured for capturing the hearts and minds of cathedral visitors from across the globe, Lilian’s accolade was presented by Nigel Thompson, Daily Mirror’s Travel Editor and was received by her colleagues from the cathedral. Tourism Superstar celebrates the dedication and passion of those working in the tourism industry who go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure visitors to England have a memorable experience.

Winners from Durham announced at the ceremony were:

  • Rockliffe Hall (Large Hotel of the Year – Gold)
  • Beamish Museum (Large Visitor Attraction of the Year – Bronze)
  • Seaham Hall (Business Tourism Award – Highly Commended)
  • Durham University – Magna Carta Exhibition (Tourism Event of the Year – Highly Commended)

This year’s Awards featured 80 finalists: 16 Gold winners, 17 Silver winners, 16 Bronze winners and 31 Highly Commended were selected from over 400 entries which represented acclaimed tourism businesses throughout England. Winners were selected by a panel of tourism industry experts chaired by VisitEngland Board Member and Chief Executive of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, John Hoy.

Michelle Gorman, Managing Director of Visit County Durham, said: “We are thrilled that Durham businesses have once again scooped honours at these prestigious awards. These are extremely well deserved and indicative of the fantastic variety and quality of the tourism offer in our county.”

Sally Balcombe, CEO of VisitBritain and VisitEngland said: “The VisitEngland Awards for Excellence – this year hosted at the magnificent Winter Gardens Blackpool – celebrate English tourism champions. These awards are the highest accolade in the industry, recognising the world class tourism experiences that can be found throughout England.  As ever competition has been fierce, with winners from the regions coming through to compete at a national level so my congratulations to all our winners, especially the Gold Award winners who are the standard bearers for English tourism.”

Tourism Minister David Evennett said: “The success of our world-leading tourism industry is due to the passion and dedication of individuals across the country. These awards highlight the huge talent we have, and the fantastic contribution winners and nominees have made to the sector, and I congratulate them all.”

Commenting on the Awards, Cllr Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of the Council (Tourism, Economic Growth and Jobs) said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have hosted this year’s VisitEngland awards. For the last few years we’ve been banging the drum to tell people that Blackpool is back, and this is a great chance to show the huge amount of regeneration that’s taken place to some of the country’s top tourism leaders. I’d like to pass on my congratulations to all the winners and hope they have enjoyed their time in Blackpool.”

2016 Winners

Access for All (sponsored by Barclays www.barclays.com)

Hoe Grange Holidays

Matlock, Derbyshire

http://www.hoegrangeholidays.co.uk/

Bed & Breakfast/ Guest Accommodation (sponsored by Quality in Tourism www.qualityintourism.com)  

Trevose Harbour House

St Ives, Cornwall

http://trevosehouse.co.uk/

Business Tourism

Crewe Hall

Crewe, Cheshire

http://www.qhotels.co.uk/our-locations/crewe-hall/

Dog Friendly Business (sponsored by PetsPyjamas http://www.petspyjamas.com)

Higher Wiscombe

Colyton, Devon

http://higherwiscombe.com/

 Holiday Park/ Holiday Village

Woodovis Park

Tavistock, Devon

www.woodovis.com

Large Hotel

Rockliffe Hall

Darlington, County Durham

https://www.rockliffehall.com/

Large Visitor Attraction

The Whitworth

The University of Manchester, Manchester

www.manchester.ac.uk/whitworth

Self Catering Holiday Provider (sponsored by Cottages.com www.cottages.com)

Treworgey Cottages

Looe, Cornwall

https://www.cornishdreamcottages.co.uk/

Small Hotel

Yorebridge House

Bainbridge, North Yorkshire

www.yorebridgehouse.co.uk

Small Visitor Attraction

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Whitechurch, Hampshire

www.distillery.bombaysapphire.com

Sustainable Tourism

Railholiday

Saltash, Cornwall

http://www.railholiday.co.uk/index.htm

Taste of England

Eckington Manor

Eckington, Worcestershire

http://www.eckingtonmanor.co.uk/

Tourism Event

Liverpool City Council – Memories of August 1914

Liverpool

https://www.liverpool.gov.uk/

Tourism Experience

Livingstone Lodge Overnight Safari Experience

Ashford, Kent

http://www.aspinallfoundation.org/livingstone-lodge 

Tourism Pub (sponsored by freetobook http://www.freetobook.com)

The Fleece Inn

Bretforton, Worcestershire

www.thefleeceinn.co.uk

Visitor Information Provider

Thanet Visitor Information Service

Margate, Kent

http://www.visitthanet.co.uk/

For a full list of winners see www.visitenglandawards.org

To find out more information on the winners visit: www.visitengland.com/excellenceawards