VISITOR attractions and hotels from around the North East dominate the latest Visit England tourism awards.
Newcastle’s Great North Museum, Beamish in County Durham and the Rockliffe Hall Hotel and Golf Spa Resort near Darlington all won gold at the UK tourism board’s Awards for Excellence 2012.
Adding to the North East’s success, The Tall Ships, held in Hartlepool in 2010, won the Best Tourism Event and Alan Fidler, the man behind the hugely-successful East Coast Tours, received a Tourism Superstar award.
Sarah Stewart, chief executive at tourism body Newcastle Gateshead Initiative (NGI), was delighted with the amount of recognition the region received and paid tribute to all the winners.
She said: “Their collective achievement is testament to the North East’s continued strength as a destination for tourism with some truly stand-out attractions and hotels.
“In also recognising Alan Fidler’s drive and commitment to ensuring the best possible experience for visitors as the nation’s Tourism Superstar, we can be proud of the inspiring personalities and places that make the area so popular with both domestic and international visitors.”
Mr Fidler, from North Shields, set up East Coast Tours as a sideline to East Coast Taxis around four years ago.
The firm shows visitors the best of the region from the back of a taxi and works with ferry firm DFDS Seaways on building tourism packages.
The ever-popular Beamish was named Large Visitor Attraction of the Year, beating off strong competition from sites including the Historic Dockyard in Chatham and Muncaster Castle in Cumbria.
Richard Evans, museum director at Beamish said: “I am thrilled to accept this award on behalf of Beamish and all of the dedicated staff who are the essence of the museum. It’s a great honour to be considered by industry professionals as the best large visitor attraction in the whole of England. The award will help to raise awareness of Beamish and highlight North East England as a first class tourist destination.”
The Great North Museum received gold in the Access for All Tourism category.
Head of museums Helen White said: “We are delighted to have won this award, particularly as it is so important to be recognised at a national level alongside such prestigious organisations.
“Since we opened in 2009, the museum has gone from strength to strength with over 1.7m visitors enjoying a variety of exhibitions and events. We continue to strive to maintain the standards expected from our ‘Great’ name.”
The Rockliffe Hall complex, at Hurworth in County Durham, has enjoyed rave reviews since it opened fully in November 2009.
Now it has been named Large Hotel of the Year at the Visit England awards and managing director Nick Holmes said it was fantastic to share in a night of huge success for the North East.
Mr Holmes said: “We set our stall out from day one to be something of a world-renowned hotel resort and while we don’t allow ourselves to be flattered by awards like this, it is nice to have that recognition, particularly when it’s from a national source.
“This region has got a lot to shout about from a tourism and corporate point of view.”
Seafield Caravan Park in Northumberland won a silver award while Dowfold House Bed and Breakfast in County Durham took bronze.