Gold rush for Northumberland at regional tourism awards

Northumberland has swept the board at the North East England Tourism Awards, picking up more gold awards than any other area in the region.

The Alnwick Garden won Large Visitor Attraction of the Year.
The Alnwick Garden won Large Visitor Attraction of the Year.

Out of 15 categories the county received nine gold awards at the glittering ceremony held at Newcastle Civic Centre on Wednesday evening.Winners included Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland which walked away with two gold awards, Langley Castle which picked up the coveted Large Hotel of the Year award and The Alnwick Garden which won the hotly contested Large Visitor Attraction of the Year.Once again St Cuthbert’s House B&B in Seahouses showed its high standards continue as it was named Bed and Breakfast of the Year for the fifth time.

Serenity Farne Island Boat Tours won gold for Guided Tour of the Year, Laverock Law Cottages and Shepherds Hut, near Lowick, won the Sustainable Tourism Award and St Oswald's Farm, near Hexham, took gold for Self-Catering Holiday Provider of the YearNorthumberland topped the list of nominees at this year’s awards, organised by NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI), with 35 out of 57 businesses shortlisted from the county.As well as the gold awards there were also eight silver awards, 11 bronze winners and six highly commended from Northumberland. Coun Cath Homer, cabinet member for Culture, Arts, Leisure and Tourism at Northumberland County Council said: “Congratulations to all of tonight’s winners, what a fantastic night it has been for Northumberland. Whether you’re a gold winner, silver, bronze or highly commended you should be really proud of the contribution you make to the county’s economy.“The winners demonstrate the quality and diversity of what is on offer for visitors whether it’s our fantastic accommodation providers or excellent visitor attractions. Together those businesses help to make Northumberland an unforgettable place to live, work and visit.”

St Cuthbert's House won B&B of the Year.

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

Tourism is a key economic driver for Northumberland making up 11.8% of the county’s economy and contributing £665m. In 2017 the county welcomed more than 10 million visitors an increase of 6% on 2016.

Sarah Stewart, chief executive at destination management and marketing organisation NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “Congratulations to all of tonight’s winners and those who contribute to the success of the North East tourism sector. This year we received a record number of applications and all the categories were tightly contested.

“From our thriving city centres through to our beautiful coastline and stunning countryside, the tourism sector in the North East continues to flourish and grow. Next year, among other events, we will welcome the World Transplant Games and European Professional Club Rugby Finals to the region which will have a major impact on the region and the tourism industry.”

Laverock Law Cottages won the Sustainable Tourism Award.

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

Lisa Hamilton-Murray, assistant principal at Newcastle College, said: “It has been a delight for Newcastle College to sponsor the North East Tourism Awards once again. The success stories showcased at the event show just how much the North East has to offer to visitors, as well as those who live and work here, and how the sector is helping to drive our region forward.

“We are lucky enough to work in partnership with many of those celebrated at the awards, offering our students the chance to experience working in some of the best businesses in the region and these awards are a great opportunity for us to support and celebrate the industry alongside them.”

Speaking about the awards, Susan Justice, Head of Business Development at Bidfood, said: “We are delighted to have sponsored the North East England Tourism Awards for the second year running. There are so many brilliant hospitality and tourism businesses across the North East, and these awards are a fantastic way to see those worthy businesses recognised for all their hard work.

Serenity Farne Island Boat Tours won Guided Tour of the Year.

“This year, we sponsored the ‘Large Visitor Attraction of the Year’ category, which commended those organisations that have truly gone above and beyond to deliver the best possible experience to people visiting the North East.”

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

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

The North East 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.

Full list of winnersHotel of the YearGold - Langley Castle HotelSilver – Seaham HallBronze – Doxford Hall Hotel & SpaBronze – Gisborough Hall HotelHighly commended - Headlam Hall Country Hotel & SpaBoutique Guest Accommodation of the YearGold – Lord Crewe ArmsSilver – William De PercyBronze – Barrasford ArmsBed and Breakfast of the YearGold – Brunswick HouseGold – St. Cuthbert's HouseBronze – Layside Bed & BreakfastHighly commended – Budle HallHighly commended – Moor End Guest HouseSelf-Catering Holiday Provider of the YearGold – St. Oswald's FarmSilver – Woodside LodgeBronze – Mains Cottages, Northumberland Self Catering Cottages Ltd. Highly commended – Brown Rigg Lodges and Guest RoomsHoliday Park/Holiday Village of the YearGold – Doe Park Caravan SiteBronze – North ShireBronze – The Paddock Touring Park WolsinghamSmall Visitor Attraction of the YearGold – The Auckland Project - Mining Art GallerySilver – South Tynedale RailwaySilver – Wynyard GardenBronze – Hauxley Wildlife Discovery CentreLarge Visitor Attraction of the YearGold – The Alnwick GardenSilver – Beamish, The Living Museum of the NorthBronze – Whitehouse Farm CentreHighly commended – Alnwick CastleGuided Tour of the YearGold – Serenity Farne Island Boat ToursSilver – Lundgren Tours Ltd.Bronze – Behind the Books @ the Lit & PhilHighly commended – Chillingham Wild Cattle Association (CWCA)Dog Friendly Business of the YearGold – Lord Crewe ArmsSilver – Mains Cottages, Northumberland Self Catering Cottages Ltd.Bronze – South Tynedale RailwayHighly commended – The Lindisfarne InnTourism Pub of the YearGold – Barrasford ArmsSilver – Lord Crewe ArmsBronze – The Lindisfarne InnBronze – The Twice BrewedTaste of England AwardGold – Blackfriars RestaurantSilver – The Potted LobsterBronze – Block & BottleBronze – Lord Crewe ArmsSustainable Tourism AwardGold – Laverock Law Cottages and Shepherds HutSilver – St. Cuthbert's HouseInclusive Tourism AwardGold – Sage GatesheadSilver – Go North EastBronze – The Commissioners Quay InnHighly commended – The Hog's Head InnBusiness Tourism AwardGold – Event Durham, Durham UniversitySilver – Sage GatesheadBronze – Civic Centre Banqueting Suites, Newcastle Civic Centre, Newcastle City Council Visitor Information Provider of the YearGold – Durham PointersSilver – Durham World Heritage Site Visitor Centre