Applauding English tourism

By | Category: Travel destinations

Nobody, least of all me, needs to tell the readers of Just about Travel that the tourism industry has been badly hit this year. At least with more people taking a staycation, the home countries have had something to for which to be thankful.

The chapel at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich. Image – ORNC

And in England, at least, they have given thanks to those tourism organisations with Visit England hosting the annual Awards for Excellence. 

As readers will know by now, the awards celebrate and champion innovation, quality and best practice across the industry recognising businesses and individuals who raise the bar of England’s tourism offer. 

The Large Visitor Attraction of the Year was won by the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich whilst the similar award for small attractions went to the Gladstone Pottery Museum in Stoke-on-Trent which is, unfortunately, still closed.

The Experience of the Year Award was delivered to Somerset’s Wild Wookey which, for those not in the know, is – in the attraction’s own words – for “explorers, thrill seekers and anyone wishing to sample a taste of true caving.”

The International Bomber Command Centre just outside Lincoln collected the International Tourism Award and Durlston Country Park & National Nature Reserve at Swanage in Dorset scooped the Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Award. The Hive Café and Bakery in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham Midlands picked up the award for Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism.

The Ned which is in the heart of the City in London walked off with Large Hotel of the Year and, in the Small Hotel category, Grays Court, the oldest inhabited house in York, was the overall winner.

The B&B and Guest House of the Year category was won by The 25 Boutique B&B which is in Torquay and Self Catering Accommodation of the Year was also collected by another Devon entrant, North Hayne Farm Cottages, which is in South Molton.

The top food award, the Taste of England Award went to The Dining Room at Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa in Malmesbury in Wiltshire but for more everyday dining, the Pub of the Year was voted to be the The Baskerville in the Oxfordshire river town of Henley-on-Thames.

Joining together an award that covers camping, glamping and holiday parks meant that the ultimate winner was the Landal Darwin Forest near Matlock in Derbyshire although when the awards for 2020 are given next year perhaps they should be split out given how busy the three different tourism offers are.   

The New Tourism Business Award went to Vine + Country Tours in St Leonards-on-Sea and which offers wine and food tours. Can you image there being a wine tours company not just operating but being able to make a profitable business in England a couple of decades ago?

The Business Events Venue of the Year went to a venue well-known to Londoners –  The Brewery – in the City.

In addition to the awards mentioned above there were four special awards this year. The Outstanding Contribution to Tourism was awarded to the business events industry in recognition of its work to support England’s Nightingale Hospitals.  The Tourism Superstar competition, run with the Daily Mirror, was this year won by Lorry Middleton from Hovertravel on the Isle of Wight, following a public vote earlier this year.

The Travel Content Award, which recognises the important contribution of the media in championing domestic tourism, was won by Rachel Dixon for her piece in The Guardian “Uncrowded Cornwall: fine food and walking on the Lizard.”  Finally, Visit County Durham was awarded the International Distribution Award in recognition of its commitment to increasing the international distribution of local tourism products, driving inbound tourism and also benefitting the domestic market.

The Westminster tourism minister, Nigel Huddleston wants to “encourage everyone to get out, Enjoy Summer Safely, and experience everything England has to offer.” And the tourism ministers of the other home countries would urge their residents to go any enjoy their nations’ offerings as well.

Visit England has already announced there will be some changes to honour – next year – those that have coped with the COVID-19 crisis but it would also be encouraging for us travellers and holidaymakers, guests and visitors to see customer satisfaction awards re-introduced so that those that make out stays and visits memorable are celebrated.

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