Tourism awards for the North East of England

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Inside the Seven Sisters

Inside the Seven Stories

Now it is the time for the North East England Tourism Awards and winners here go forward to the VisitEngland’s Awards for Excellence in 2016.

This year, the award for Best Large Attraction was split between two organisations Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books and Beamish, The Living Museum of the North. Whilst Beamish might be well known outside the north east of England, Seven Stories may not be. Tucked away from the inner part of Newcastle, this building is to remind us of the value of children’s books. Not only will find a large selection that will take you back to your youth but the Centre will show you how books are made and where they come from. Today first editions of children’s books like Wind in the Willows, and any of the books by Beatrix Potter, Roald Dahl and J.K Rowling can sell for thousands of pounds and the illustrations have attracted some of the most well-known artists around.

The Best Small Attraction was won by the Kielder Observatory which, as you might suppose, sits in the Kielder Forest, in Northumberland. It is at a place that has some of the least amount of intrusive light pollution in the UK making it ideal for star gazing and looking at the night sky.

The winner of the Tourism Experience of the Year was Durham University’s exhibition – Magna Carta & the changing Face of Revolt and the university was also successful in picking up the Best Business Tourism award as well. The Toursm Event of the Year was won by Festival of Thrift, an annual two day event that shows visitors how reusing, recycling and up cycling can be fun, save you money and benefit the environment


and inside the Beamish sweet shop

and inside the Beamish sweet shop

Only one other entity collected as many gongs and that was St Cuthbert’s House, winning two Gold awards, those for best B&B of the year and sustainability. This is beginning to be a habit for St Cuthbert’s having not only won this award before but being successful in winning VisitEngland’s overall Best B&B of the year as well.
In the accommodation categories, the Large Hotel of the Year award was won by Rockliffe Hall and the small hotel was split between Seaham Hall and The Morritt Country House Hotel & Spa. The Self-Catering Provider of the Year was Blacksmith’s Cottage and the Holiday Park / Holiday Village of the Year went to Leaplish Waterside Park run by Northumbrian Water. The Tourism Pub of the Year was The Bamburgh Castle Inn and the Taste of England Award went to the Martineau Guest House. The Access for All Tourism Award went to Sage Gateshead.

Unfortunately, there were no customer satisfaction or service awards – a real shame as the decision to re-visit an attraction, a provider of accommodation or an event is often due to how satisfied a visitor was with the service provided.
Finally, Morpeth Tourist Information and Craft Centre won the all-important the gold award in the Visitor Information Provider of the Year. As I wrote last week, without these information centres – often staffed by volunteers these days – rather than paid employees, visitors would be hard-pressed to be able to see as much and do as much as they could.

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