THE shortlist has been announced for tourism awards saved from the closure of the North East’s regional development agency.
Businesses and individuals from across the region have volunteered their time and services to help organise the awards, with the NewcastleGateshead Initiative taking the lead after previous organisers One North East was closed down.
The North East England Tourism Awards will take place on January 31 at The Sage Gateshead to honour the achievements of venues, attractions hotels and service providers working in the tourism industry. Winners will then have the chance to compete against those from other regions across the country at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence in 2013.
Sarah Stewart, chief executive at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “Taking on the awards has been an incredibly rewarding project. They are an important platform and give our tourism businesses the opportunity to celebrate their achievements – the region has a lot to offer visitors and we feel very strongly that this should be recognised with businesses congratulated on the fantastic services and experiences they deliver.
“We now have a very strong shortlist – businesses from across the region have really pulled out the stops with their submissions and some categories have seen a record number of applicants. I’m confident the North East will be well represented when our winners go up against national competitors at the VisitEngland Excellence Awards next year, helping the North East compete on a national stage.”
The awards have been planned and delivered by NewcastleGateshead Initiative in partnership with Northumberland County Council and events company Evention.
Other volunteers have included judges from a range of different business sectors who sifted through more than 70 applications, including Nexus, Gateshead College and the North East Chamber of Commerce. Audio visual providers Hi-Lights have sponsored the event, providing their services free of charge, while the Sage offered to host the event on a cost-effective basis.
The tourism economy supports more than 65,000 jobs across the North East and contributes an estimated £4.2bn to the local economy annually. The awards have taken place since 2003 to recognise the hard work and dedication of the industry across the region and were previously delivered by One North East.
The Northern Tourism Alliance – a collaboration of the tourism bodies including NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Northumberland Tourism, Visit County Durham, Tees Valley Unlimited, the North East Hotels Association and Hadrian’s Wall Trust – is also supporting the awards.
Anthony Sargent, general director of the Sage, said: “We’re delighted to be doing our bit to support the awards by hosting the ceremony. These events which recognise outstanding achievement do so much to drive up regional standards and encourage everyone to raise their game and aim high, and as our own contribution to the evening we’re looking forward to weaving in some distinctive North Eastern elements from local foods to the region’s own musicians.”
Leanne McCormella, marketing manager at WWT Washington Wetland Centre, which is shortlisted in the Small Visitor Attraction and Sustainable Tourism categories, said: “We believe we are a truly unique day out for the people of the North East; home to an abundance of wonderful wetland wildlife and habitats, where people can have fun, learn and connect with nature, while at the same time see sustainability in action.”
Elisabeth Rowark, Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust director, said: “We are delighted to have been shortlisted, especially as this is the first time we have entered the awards. Over the last year the park has enjoyed a growth in visitor numbers from 306,000 to 345,000 and also Kielder Observatory in particular has seen significant growth.”
THE AWARDS SHORTLIST
Access for All Tourism Award
Namco Funscape, Gateshead
The Sage Gateshead
Business Tourism Award
Event Durham (Durham University)
Rockliffe Hall, Hurworth, Darlington
Large Hotel of the Year
Jurys Inn, Newcastle
Hilton Newcastle Gateshead
Sandman Signature Hotel, Newcastle
Large Visitor Attraction of the Year
Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham
Wallington Hall, Cambo, Northumberland
Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead
Small Visitor Attraction of the Year
Washington Wetlands Centre
Kilhope Lead Mine, Weardale, County Durham
Monkwearmouth Station Museum, Sunderland
Visitor Information Provider of the Year
National Park Centre / TIC Once Brewed - Hadrian’s Wall
North Shields TIC
Tourism Experience of the Year, Incorporating Best Event
Kielder Water & Forest Park, Northumberland
The Late Shows, venues across Newcastle
Sunderland Association Football Club
Caravan Holiday Park/ Holiday Village of the Year
Seafield Caravan Park, Seahouses, Northumberland
Ord House, East Ord, Northumberland
Bed & Breakfast/Guest Accommodation of the Year
Small Hotel of the Year
Jesmond Dene House, Newcastle
Close House Hotel & Golf, Heddon on the Wall
Langley Castle, Hexham
Tourism Pub of the Year
The Broad Chare, Newcastle
The Feathers Inn, Stocksfield, Northumberland
Self-Catering Holiday Provider of the Year
The Gate Lodge, Northumberland
Mill Granary Cottages, Teesdale, County Durham
The Waiting Room, Hexham, Northumberland
Blacksmiths Cottage, Alnwick, Northumberland
Sustainable Tourism Award
Woodhorn, Museum and Northumberland Archives, Ashington, Northumberland
The Sage Gateshead
Washington Wetlands Centre