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Shortlist announced for region’s tourism awards

19th December 2012

Categories: Latest News

The shortlist for the region’s largest awards celebrating the achievements of the tourism industry has been decided after businesses and individuals from across the region volunteered their time and services to help judge and organise the event.

NewcastleGateshead Initiative and its partners took on the North East England Tourism Awards in October, following the closure of One North East earlier this year. Sarah Stewart, chief executive at destination management and marketing organisation, NewcastleGateshead Initiative said: “We now have a very strong shortlist – businesses from across the region have really pulled out the stops with their submissions and some categories have seen a record number of applicants.

“Taking on the awards has been an incredibly rewarding project. They are an important platform and give our tourism businesses the opportunity to celebrate their achievements. The region has a lot to offer visitors and we feel very strongly that this should be recognised with businesses congratulated on the fantastic services and experiences they deliver.”

The North East England Tourism Awards will take place on Thursday 31st January at The Sage Gateshead and will be hosted by BBC Look North Presenter, Carol Malia. The annual event honours the achievements of venues, attractions hotels and service providers working in the tourism industry.

Carol Malia, BBC Look North presenter, said: “The North East England Tourism Awards are a brilliant opportunity for the many wonderful visitor attractions, hotels and experiences on offer in the region to shout about all they have seen and achieved in the last year, and really shine. I am delighted to have been invited by NewcastleGateshead Initiative to host this year’s event and look forward to hearing the inspiring stories our local tourism businesses have to tell.” 

The awards have been planned and delivered by NewcastleGateshead Initiative in partnership with Northumberland County Council – who administered the judging of six categories – and Michelle Beveridge, a freelance event manager who has recently set up her own company, Evention. Michelle was one of the first to offer support volunteering her time to provide full service delivery of the awards from start to finish. 

Sarah added: “We’ve had an overwhelming response from the local business community with individuals from tourism and non-tourism related organisations stepping-in to help with a range of tasks – from judging and organising, to hosting the awards, our thanks and gratitude go to all involved.”

Other volunteers have included judges from a range of different business sectors who sifted through more than 70 applications, including Nexus, Gateshead College and the North East Chamber of Commerce. Audio visual providers Hi-Lights have sponsored the event - providing their services free of charge, while The Sage Gateshead’s proposal to host the event as cost-effectively as possible includes a North East themed dinner with local entertainment.

Winners at the North East England Tourism Awards will have the chance to compete on a national stage against those winners from England’s other regions at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence in 2013. Successful North East businesses in 2012 were Beamish Museum (Large Visitor Attraction), Rockliffe Hall (Large Hotel) and Great North Museum (Access for All). 

The visitor economy supports more than 65,000 jobs across the North East and contributes an estimated £4.2bn to the local economy annually. The awards have taken place since 2003 to recognise the hard work and dedication of the industry across the region and were previously delivered by One North East.

The Northern Tourism Alliance, a collaboration of the region’s tourism bodies who work together on projects that will benefit the tourism industry across the region is supporting the North East England Tourism Awards. The Alliance is made up of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Northumberland Tourism, Visit County Durham, Tees Valley Unlimited, The North East Hotels Association and Hadrian’s Wall Trust.

Tickets to attend the awards are priced at £45 and are available now from NewcastleGateshead Initiative – [please contact Joy Sanders on 0191 440 5723 or visit


Supporting quotes

Venue provider, and shortlisted in the Access for All and Sustainable Tourism categories:

Anthony Sargent, general director of The Sage Gateshead, said: “We’re delighted to be doing our bit to support the Awards by hosting the ceremony. These events which recognise outstanding achievement do so much to drive up regional standards and encourage everyone to raise their game and aim high, and as our own contribution to the evening we’re looking forward to weaving in some distinctive North Eastern elements from local foods to the region’s own musicians.
“I’m also thrilled that The Sage Gateshead has been shortlisted in the Sustainable Tourism category (since being an environmentally responsible business is enormously important to everyone who works at The Sage Gateshead) and again for the Access for All Award which we previously won in 2009.”

Shortlisted in the Small Visitor Attraction and Sustainable Tourism categories:

Leanne McCormella, marketing manager at WWT Washington Wetland Centre, said: "We're thrilled to have been shortlisted for these two prestigious awards, which reflect the diverse visitor experience that we offer here at WWT Washington Wetland Centre.
"We believe we are a truly unique day out for the people of the North East; home to an abundance of wonderful wetland wildlife and habitats, where people can have fun, learn and connect with nature, while at the same time see sustainability in action."

Shortlisted in the Tourism Experience category:

Elisabeth Rowark, Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust director, said: “We are delighted to have been shortlisted; especially as this is the first time we have entered the awards. Over the last year the Park has enjoyed a growth in visitor numbers from 306,000 to 345,000 and also Kielder Observatory in particular has seen significant growth.

“Visitors say they have especially enjoyed our year round events programme that includes more than 150 star-gazing events, the Salomon Kielder Marathon and Kielder Osprey Watch to name a few. The north east offers such a wide and varied suite of high quality attractions and experiences so to be shortlisted among the top attractions is certainly a privilege. We look forward to finding out who the winners are.”

Shortlisted in the Large Visitor Attraction category:

Leigh Venus, Venue Manager for Tyneside Cinema said, “We’re delighted to have been shortlisted in the Large Visitor Attraction category at the North East England Tourism Awards. It’s a real honour to be nominated and we’re particularly proud to have been recognised this year, when more people than ever before have come through our doors to watch the best films from around the world and to engage with the heritage of this spectacular Grade II listed building, which has been lovingly restored to preserve and celebrate the grandeur of its original art deco design and enable people to enjoy it for generations to come.”

Shortlisted in the Business Tourism category:

Nick Holmes, managing director at Rockliffe Hall, said: “We’re really pleased to be shortlisted in this category as we’re passionate about bringing business to the North East. 2012 has certainly been a successful year for this as Rockliffe Hall now attracts companies and organisations from as far away as the USA and Middle East. This not only puts us on the map but the region, we’re world class and will continue to grow with 2013 promising some great developments. This is yet another proud achievement for everyone involved.”

The Shortlist

Access for all Tourism Award
Namco Funscape - Gateshead
The Sage Gateshead

Business Tourism Award
Event Durham (Durham University)
Rockliffe Hall - Hurworth, Darlington

Large Hotel of the Year
Jurys Inn Newcastle
Hilton Newcastle Gateshead
Sandman Signature Hotel, Newcastle

Large Visitor Attraction of the Year
Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham
Wallington Hall - Cambo nr Morpeth, Northumberland
Tyneside Cinema - Newcastle
BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art - Gateshead

Small Visitor Attraction of the Year
Washington Wetlands Centre
Kilhope Lead Mine - Weardale, Co. Durham
Monkwearmouth Station Museum - Sunderland

Visitor Information Provider of the Year
National Park Centre / TIC Once Brewed - Hadrian’s Wall
North Shields TIC
Corbridge TIC

Taste of England Award
The Feathers Inn - Stocksfield, Northumberland
Low Urpeth Farm - Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham 
Blackfriars Restaurant - Newcastle

Tourism Experience of the Year – Incorporating ‘Best Event’
Kielder Water & Forest Park - Northumberland 
The Late Shows - venues across Newcastle
Sunderland Association Football Club

Caravan Holiday Park / Holiday Village of the Year
Seafield Caravan Park - Seahouses, Northumberland
Ord House - East Ord, Northumberland 

Bed & Breakfast / Guest Accommodation of the Year
St Cuthbert’s House - Seahouses, Northumberland
Martineau Guest House - Tynemouth
Low Urpeth Farm - Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham 
Small Hotel of the Year
Jesmond Dene House - Newcastle
Close House Hotel & Golf - Heddon on the Wall nr Newcastle
Langley Castle - Hexham, Northumberland

Tourism Pub of the Year
The Broad Chare - Newcastle
The Feathers Inn - Stocksfield, Northumberland

Self Catering Holiday Provider of the Year
The Gate Lodge - Northumberland
Mill Granary Cottages - Teesdale, Co. Durham 
The Waiting Room - Hexham, Northumberland
Blacksmiths Cottage – Alnwick, Northumberland

Sustainable Tourism Award
Durham University
Woodhorn, Museum and Northumberland Archives - Ashington, Northumberland 
The Sage Gateshead
Washington Wetlands Centre

For media enquiries contact:
Shelley Armstrong
Media & PR Manager
T. +44 (0)191 440 5739
M. +44 (0)7717 631 109

Notes to editors:
• NewcastleGateshead Initiative is a destination management and marketing agency; a public-private partnership supported by Gateshead and Newcastle City Councils, working with around 170 private sector partner organisations across NewcastleGateshead and the wider region

• NewcastleGateshead Initiative is supported by a board offering expertise from a range of sectors and professions. We also work with a wide range of partners, stakeholders and businesses, who share our ambition to inspire people to visit and to live, learn, work and invest in NewcastleGateshead.

o Our marketing & communications team works to promote and position NewcastleGateshead as a vibrant tourism destination, through targeted campaigns nationally and internationally. Our visitor information team helps ensure visitors have the best possible experience when they’re here, providing information and support.

o Our cultural programming team work with partners across the destination to bring together NewcastleGateshead’s cultural offer and deliver some of our most popular festival & events, including EAT! NewcastleGateshead, Juice Festival and the NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival.

o Our Convention Bureau uses local knowledge and expertise to help organise conferences, meetings or events in NewcastleGateshead and the surrounding area. It provides a free service including, venue sourcing and accommodation booking, to arranging transport and entertainment for delegates

o Our inward investment team helps businesses locate, expand and flourish in NewcastleGateshead, providing a range of services to make it easy to realise their ambitions for growth

• United by seven bridges across a spectacular riverscape, Newcastle (a city on the north bank of the River Tyne) and Gateshead (a town on the south bank) form a single, diverse and extremely vibrant visitor destination. World-class culture, vibrant nightlife, award-winning dining, inspiring heritage, fantastic shopping and acclaimed architecture are combined here like nowhere else, by the famous Geordie spirit which is symbolised by Antony Gormley’s iconic Angel of the North as it welcomes travellers to the area.

Imagery / Photography opportunities:
• - NewcastleGateshead’s Initiative’s extensive royalty free image library

Useful links:
• - NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s media website
• - destination website for NewcastleGateshead

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