Four North East tourism businesses and individuals have been announced as finalists for the national tourism awards.
Hotel Indigo Durham, Seaham Hall, Triple A Food Tours and Clive Goodwin of The Ouseburn Trust will be competing for Gold at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence at a ceremony on June 8. The awards, which will be held in Birmingham, will see them go up against finalists from around the country in 15 categories.
All four nominees were selected after picking up Gold at the North East Tourism Awards in March, with two of the finalists representing the region in brand new categories.
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Triple A Food Tours, based in Newcastle, will be taking on Rowley Farm Holidays in Worcestershire and Three Mile Beach in Cornwall for New Tourism Business of the Year. In the Unsung Hero category, which celebrates individuals who go the extra mile to ensure visitors have a truly memorable experience, Clive Goodwin, of the Ouseburn Trust will be flying the flag for the North East.
Amy Whitfield, owner of Triple A Food Tours, which runs tours around Newcastle, Ouseburn, Northumberland and Durham, said: "I actually can't put into words how over the moon I am!
"I will definitely be attending the evening to fly the flag for the North East. I really am blown away to be shortlisted for Visit England Award. It's an honour to be able to represent the North East's incredible independent food scene."
Clive Goodwin, who co-ordinates the programme of tours at The Victoria Tunnel, which celebrates its 180th birthday this year, said: "I am privileged to be doing the job I love.
"The Victoria Tunnel was a largely unknown part of Newcastle's rich mining and WW2 heritage and from getting the job in 2010, I have put everything into sharing its fantastic story into the public domain. I am so proud to have achieved this and helped make the Victoria Tunnel Newcastle's most popular tourist attraction."
Two of the region's hotels will also be hoping to come out on top in their respective categories. Hotel Indigo, Durham, will compete with The Langham in London and The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa in Somerset in the Large Hotel of the Year Category.
Seaham Hall is going for the Small Hotel of the Year, after its spa was named the best in Western Europe and Scandinavia at the World Spa & Wellness Awards and one of the UK's best spa breaks in the Guardian, alongside another County Durham Hotel, The Morritt. Seaham Hall, which recently opened two new luxurious bungalows, is up against The Idle Rocks in Cornwall and No 15 by Guesthouse in Somerset.
Sarah Green, Chief Executive of the NewcastleGateshead Initiative, who deliver the regional tourism awards, said: "This is incredible news for the region and for the tourism industry. Congratulations to all of the nominees, in particular those NewcastleGateshead businesses Triple A Tours and Clive Goodwin at The Ouseburn Trust, who are fantastic examples of businesses and individuals going the extra mile to offer visitors an unforgettable experience.
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"Here in the North East we already know the quality, passion and innovation that our tourism businesses and individuals bring to the sector, but for that to be recognised on a national scale is credit to everyone involved. Tourism remains the fourth largest sector in the region's economy, and we would like to wish all the nominees good luck - Go North East England!"
Patricia Yates, VisitEngland Chief Executive, said: "Millions of jobs and local economies depend on tourism and this year’s awards are also a timely opportunity to acknowledge the determination and dedication of tourism businesses as they rebuild, and continue to champion best practice and customer service excellence, providing visitors with a stand-out experience."
Applications for the North East England Tourism Awards, which celebrates its 20th anniversary next year, will open following the national awards in June. For the full list of finalists, click here.