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News Article Search

North East’s tourism stars shine on in Excellence Awards

28th March 2013

Categories: Convention Bureau News

Kielder Water and Forest Park, WWT Washington Wetlands Centre, Rockliffe Hall and Blackfriars Restaurant are among the tourism businesses that have been shortlisted for VisitEngland’s prestigious Awards for Excellence 2013, the highest accolade in English tourism.

In January, all four North East businesses won gold at the North East England Tourism Awards 2012 in the same categories they have been shortlisted in nationally.

• WWT Washington Wetland Centre for Small Visitor Attraction of the year
• Rockliffe Hall in the Business Tourism Award category
• Kielder Water & Forest Park for Tourism Experience of the Year
• Blackfriars Restaurant for the Taste of England Award

Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination management and marketing organisation NewcastleGateshead Initiative and a VisitEngland board member, said: “Each of the North East’s shortlisted entrants provide a truly individual experience for visitors; from the varied wildlife experiences on offer at WWT Washington Wetland Centre to the sculpture trail and observatory at Kielder Water and Forest Park.

“Blackfriars Restaurant’s atmospheric medieval banquets and locally sourced ingredients add a local flavour to dining experiences with a difference and the tranquil yet luxurious surrounding of Rockliffe Hall provide the perfect backdrop for everything from board meetings to team building.

“It’s a tremendous achievement to be shortlisted for such prestigious awards and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all four on the fantastic experiences they offer. On behalf of all at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, I wish them good luck for the finals in May.”

The awards, which have been organised by VisitEngland for more than 20 years, seek to raise standards across the industry by celebrating the very best quality and innovation in tourism; recognising businesses that contribute and help to secure England’s place as a world-class visitor destination.

Commenting on the finalists, James Berresford, VisitEngland’s chief executive, said: “I would like to congratulate all those nominated as VisitEngland Awards for Excellence finalists this year. 

“We received 320 applications and the quality of submissions was higher than ever.  It is therefore no small achievement to become a finalist and justifiably take credit and pride in earning a coveted place in the top five in their category in England.  I wish everyone all the best for the final in May”.

41 businesses were recognised at the North East England Tourism Awards 2012. They were planned and delivered by NewcastleGateshead Initiative in partnership with Northumberland County Council and were supported by the Northern Tourism Alliance. The Alliance is made up of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Northumberland Tourism, Visit County Durham, The North East Hotels Association and Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Trust.
VisitEngland’s Awards for Excellence include 14 categories, with 5 finalists shortlisted in each. The ceremony will take place on Monday 20 May 2013 at Lancashire County Cricket Club, Manchester.

Categories include:

• Visitor Information Provider of the Year
• Tourism Pub of the Year
• Tourism Experience of the Year
• Taste of England Award
• Sustainable Tourism Award
• Small Visitor Attraction of the Year
• Small Hotel of the Year
• Self Catering Holiday Provider of the Year
• Large Visitor Attraction of the Year
• Large Hotel of the Year
• Caravan Holiday Park / Holiday Village of the Year
• Business Tourism Award
• Bed & Breakfast / Guest Accommodation of the Year
• Access for All Tourism Award

For the full shortlist, please visit:


For further information, interview requests, images etc, please contact:

Rebecca Stephenson
Marketing and Communications Intern for NewcastleGateshead Initiative
E: T: 0191 440 5771

Shelley Armstrong
Media & PR Manager for NewcastleGateshead Initiative
E:  T: 0191 440 4539

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.

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