VisitEngland has announced the shortlist for its annual tourism industry awards. Formerly known as the EnjoyEngland Awards, the winners of the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2012 will be announced at a ceremony on 22 May at the Athena, Leicester.
This year’s finalists include a walking tour through a 900 year-old Cumbria slate mine, a family-run organic dairy farm and the UK’s first overnight safari experience, where guests can spend the night in a luxury lodge at a safari park in the Kent countryside.
Both regional winners and direct entries for the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence are rigorously assessed by independent assessors and judged by a board of tourism industry experts chaired by VisitEngland board member David Orr and travel broadcaster Alison Rice.
“The level of entry has once again been outstanding, with exceptional progress being made in terms of accessible tourism. Finalists for the Access For All Tourism Award range from campus accommodation at the University of Leeds, where the Canadian paralympic rugby team are staying, to Sandcastle Waterpark, which has a gold standard wet changing room with sensory equipment and hoist tracking system,” said VisitEngland.
This year’s ceremony will also include the official presentation of the inaugural Tourism Superstar Award to Newcastle cab driver, Alan Fidler. As part of English Tourism Week in March, VisitEngland teamed up with the Daily Mirror to find England’s unsung tourism hero – someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty to make visitors feel extra special and is a real ambassador for the local area. Other categories include the award for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism, which will be announced on the night, and Travel Article of the Year.
Jeremy Brinkworth, director of business development at VisitEngland, and member of the judging panel, commented: “We have had more entrants than ever before this year, and the sheer breadth and quality of events, businesses and organisations operating across England’s tourism industry has been truly inspiring. All the finalists should be extremely proud of their contribution both to their local area and to the industry as a whole, and it is very satisfying to reward their hard work and dedication.”