Northumberland has swept the board at the North East England Tourism Awards, picking up more gold awards than any other area in the region.
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 Year
Northumberland 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.”
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.”
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.
“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 winners
Hotel of the Year
Gold - Langley Castle Hotel
Silver – Seaham Hall
Bronze – Doxford Hall Hotel & Spa
Bronze – Gisborough Hall Hotel
Highly commended - Headlam Hall Country Hotel & Spa
Boutique Guest Accommodation of the Year
Gold – Lord Crewe Arms
Silver – William De Percy
Bronze – Barrasford Arms
Bed and Breakfast of the Year
Gold – Brunswick House
Gold – St. Cuthbert's House
Bronze – Layside Bed & Breakfast
Highly commended – Budle Hall
Highly commended – Moor End Guest House
Self-Catering Holiday Provider of the Year
Gold – St. Oswald's Farm
Silver – Woodside Lodge
Bronze – Mains Cottages, Northumberland Self Catering Cottages Ltd.
Highly commended – Brown Rigg Lodges and Guest Rooms
Holiday Park/Holiday Village of the Year
Gold – Doe Park Caravan Site
Bronze – North Shire
Bronze – The Paddock Touring Park Wolsingham
Small Visitor Attraction of the Year
Gold – The Auckland Project - Mining Art Gallery
Silver – South Tynedale Railway
Silver – Wynyard Garden
Bronze – Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre
Large Visitor Attraction of the Year
Gold – The Alnwick Garden
Silver – Beamish, The Living Museum of the North
Bronze – Whitehouse Farm Centre
Highly commended – Alnwick Castle
Guided Tour of the Year
Gold – Serenity Farne Island Boat Tours
Silver – Lundgren Tours Ltd.
Bronze – Behind the Books @ the Lit & Phil
Highly commended – Chillingham Wild Cattle Association (CWCA)
Dog Friendly Business of the Year
Gold – Lord Crewe Arms
Silver – Mains Cottages, Northumberland Self Catering Cottages Ltd.
Bronze – South Tynedale Railway
Highly commended – The Lindisfarne Inn
Tourism Pub of the Year
Gold – Barrasford Arms
Silver – Lord Crewe Arms
Bronze – The Lindisfarne Inn
Bronze – The Twice Brewed
Taste of England Award
Gold – Blackfriars Restaurant
Silver – The Potted Lobster
Bronze – Block & Bottle
Bronze – Lord Crewe Arms
Sustainable Tourism Award
Gold – Laverock Law Cottages and Shepherds Hut
Silver – St. Cuthbert's House
Inclusive Tourism Award
Gold – Sage Gateshead
Silver – Go North East
Bronze – The Commissioners Quay Inn
Highly commended – The Hog's Head Inn
Business Tourism Award
Gold – Event Durham, Durham University
Silver – Sage Gateshead
Bronze – Civic Centre Banqueting Suites, Newcastle Civic Centre, Newcastle City Council
Visitor Information Provider of the Year
Gold – Durham Pointers
Silver – Durham World Heritage Site Visitor Centre