North East England shone at this year’s VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2015. Staged at Sage Gateshead earlier this month, the national tourism awards brought the cream of the industry here to enjoy a spectacular celebration which showcased the region - both through the impressive setting and the North East success stories of the night.
A special award celebrating individual excellence - Tourism Superstar (a competition run by VisitEngland in partnership with the Daily Mirror) - was scooped by the region. Recognised for winning Tourism Superstar 2015, Matthew Henderson from Beamish Museum in County Durham accepted his award on the evening. Receiving 36% of the total votes cast, Matthew was presented with his accolade by Nigel Thompson, Daily Mirror’s Travel Editor. Over 21,400 votes were generated in total for this award - a record since the competition started in 2012. The Tourism Superstar recognises the dedication and passion of those working in the tourism industry; who go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure visitors to England have a priceless experience.
Other successes for the North East included Matfen Hall Hotel, which won gold in the prestigious Large Hotel of the Year category and Kielder Winter Wonderland which scooped silver in Best Tourism Event of the Year.
This year 75 finalists (15 Gold winners, 15 Silver winners, 15 bronze winners and 30 highly commended) were selected from a total of 345 entries, representing tourism businesses across England. Winners were chosen by a panel of tourism industry experts and chaired by VisitEngland board member and chief executive of the Blenheim Estate in Oxfordshire, John Hoy.
VisitEngland chairman, Lady Cobham CBE, said:
“The VisitEngland Awards for Excellence - this year hosted at the wonderful Sage Gateshead - celebrate the very best in English tourism. It is the highest accolade and recognises the true champions of our industry, as well as the top quality visitor experiences we are fortunate to have on offer in England. The competition is of an increasingly high standard and so I offer my sincere congratulations to all our winners on this tremendous achievement, particularly the Gold Award winners for their exemplary contribution to tourism in this country.”
A regional initiative aimed at accelerating the development of the North’s digital economy will bring a welcome boost in promoting Newcastle as a leading UK business location for tech and digital companies; helping to attract talent, entrepreneurs, and investment to the area.
Tech North has been set up as part of the Tech City UK network to leverage the unique strengths of the digital and tech industries through supporting the needs of grassroots entrepreneurs and connecting tech communities in northern cities including Newcastle, Sunderland, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield.
Herb Kim, founder and CEO of the highly successful Thinking Digital conference which takes place each year in Gateshead and is billed as the UK’s answer to TED, will bring his experience as a respected northern business builder to the initiative in his role as executive chair.
Catherine Walker, inward investment director at Invest Newcastle, said:
“Development of the tech sector is a priority for the city and the Tech North initiative will play a key role in helping us to do that. It’s an exciting opportunity for us as a team to work in partnership with Tech North to align our priorities and further position Newcastle as a leading tech hub.
“We’re already working across the region with the North East LEP and the North East Combined Authority to ensure awareness, collaboration and focus around this new area of work and we’re looking forward to welcoming the Tech North team over the coming weeks, starting with a visit by head of Tech North, Claire Braithwaite, to the Thinking Digital conference this week.”
The latest phase of a multi-million-pound investment at one of the North East’s leading hotels has been put to bed. Ramside Hall Hotel near Durham recently opened its new wing of bedrooms, which features 47 premier rooms with luxury bathrooms - part of a £16m development, which will be completed when the Spa at Ramside opens this summer.
The state-of-the-art spa facilities include a 25m pool, a vitality pool, external infinity pool and a spa garden along with a variety of steam rooms, saunas and a Rasul mud chamber. It also includes a gym, aerobics and dance studio, hair salon, Asian restaurant and bar and 14 treatment rooms using ESPA products.
The on-going development comes after a huge investment in the hotel’s golf facilities, with an additional championship 18-hole course created and unveiled earlier this year.
“This is a huge development for the hotel and will be a massive boost for the North East,” said Tim Boyd, general manager at Ramside Hall Hotel.
Further information is available at www.ramsidehallhotel.co.uk