Celebrating Leaders in English Tourism: VisitEngland reveals Awards for Excellence 2016 winners

9 March 2016: VisitEngland, the national tourist board revealed the winners for the Awards for Excellence 2016 at its 27th annual ceremony held last night at Winter Gardens Blackpool.

Celebrating excellence across the industry, the prestigious ceremony - held for the first time this year during English Tourism Week - announced 16 winners including Best Tourism Experience, Best Visitor Attraction and Best Large Hotel and this year’s new addition, the Best Dog-Friendly Business.

Additionally, two special awards honouring individual excellence were presented: Outstanding Contribution to Tourism and Tourism Superstar (run by VisitEngland in partnership with the Daily Mirror). BBC’s Countryfile was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism award which was accepted by the programme’s presenters, including John Craven, Adam Henson and the production team. The VisitEngland Board gave the award for the programme’s contribution to raising awareness of England’s rural tourism offer.  Through the series, millions of viewers are regularly introduced to the beauty and diversity of England’s countryside and destinations. In doing so the programme positively influences perceptions of England and its attractiveness for tourism.  

The Tourism Superstar 2016 winner was also recognised at the ceremony - Lilian Groves, Senior Guide at Durham Cathedral in Durham City recently won the VisitEngland competition with 22% of the total votes cast. Honoured for capturing the hearts and minds of Cathedral visitors from across the globe, Lilian’s accolade was presented by Nigel Thompson, Daily Mirror’s Travel Editor and was received by her colleagues from the cathedral. Tourism Superstar celebrates 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 memorable experience. 

Other award winners announced at the ceremony included:

  • Hoe Grange Holidays, Matlock, Derbyshire – Access for All Award
  • Trevose Harbour House, St Ives, Cornwall – Bed & Breakfast/ Guest Accommodation Award
  • Higher Wiscombe, Colyton, Devon – Dog-Friendly Business Award
  • The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Manchester - Large Visitor Attraction Award
  • Yorebridge House, Bainbridge, North Yorks - Small Hotel Award
  • Livingstone Lodge Overnight Safari Experience, Ashford, Kent - Tourism Experience Award
  • The Fleece Inn, Bretforton, Worcestershire - Tourism Pub Award

This year’s Awards featured 80 finalists: 16 Gold winners, 17 Silver winners, 16 Bronze winners and 31 Highly Commended were selected from over 400 entries which represented acclaimed tourism businesses throughout England. Winners were selected by a panel of tourism industry experts chaired by VisitEngland Board Member and Chief Executive of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, John Hoy.

Sally Balcombe, CEO of VisitBritain and VisitEngland said: “The VisitEngland Awards for Excellence – this year hosted at the magnificent Winter Gardens Blackpool – celebrate English tourism champions. These awards are the highest accolade in the industry, recognising the world class tourism experiences that can be found throughout England.  As ever competition has been fierce, with winners from the regions coming through to compete at a national level so my congratulations to all our winners, especially the Gold Award winners who are the standard bearers for English tourism.”

Tourism Minister David Evennett said: “The success of our world-leading tourism industry is due to the passion and dedication of individuals across the country. These awards highlight the huge talent we have, and the fantastic contribution winners and nominees have made to the sector, and I congratulate them all.”

Commenting on the Awards, Cllr Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of the Council (Tourism, Economic Growth and Jobs) said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have hosted this year’s VisitEngland awards. For the last few years we’ve been banging the drum to tell people that Blackpool is back, and this is a great chance to show the huge amount of regeneration that’s taken place to some of the country’s top tourism leaders. I’d like to pass on my congratulations to all the winners and hope they have enjoyed their time in Blackpool.”

2016 Winners

Access for All (sponsored by Barclays www.barclays.com)

Hoe Grange Holidays, Matlock, Derbyshire



Bed & Breakfast/ Guest Accommodation (sponsored by Quality in Tourism www.qualityintourism.com)  

Trevose Harbour House, St Ives, Cornwall



Business Tourism

Crewe, Cheshire



Dog Friendly Business (sponsored by PetsPyjamas www.petspyjamas.com)

Higher Wiscombe, Colyton, Devon



Holiday Park/ Holiday Village

Woodovis Park, Tavistock, Devon



Large Hotel

Rockliffe Hall, Darlington, County Durham



Large Visitor Attraction

The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Manchester



Self Catering Holiday Provider (sponsored by Cottages.com www.cottages.com)

Treworgey Cottages, Looe, Cornwall



Small Hotel

Yorebridge House, Bainbridge, North Yorkshire



Small Visitor Attraction

Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Whitechurch, Hampshire



Sustainable Tourism

Railholiday, Saltash, Cornwall



Taste of England

Eckington Manor, Eckington, Worcestershire



Tourism Event

Liverpool City Council - Memories of August 1914, Liverpool



Tourism Experience

Livingstone Lodge Overnight Safari Experience, Ashford, Kent



Tourism Pub (sponsored by freetobook www.freetobook.com)

The Fleece Inn, Bretforton, Worcestershire



Visitor Information Provider

Thanet Visitor Information Service, Margate, Kent



For a full list of winners see www.visitenglandawards.org

To find out more information on the winners visit: www.visitengland.com/excellenceawards


Notes to editor:

About the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2016

  • Currently in its 27th year, The VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2016 celebrate the best of English tourism. They promote healthy industry competition and high standards, helping to ensure England's place as a world-class destination. www.visitenglandawards.com/biz.
  • The VisitEngland Awards for Excellence are firmly established as representing the highest accolade in English tourism
  • The categories for the 2016 awards include: Access for All Tourism Award, Bed & Breakfast Award, Business Tourism Award, Dog Friendly Business of the Year, Holiday Park / Holiday Village of the Year, Large Hotel of the Year, Large Visitor Attraction of the Year, Self-Catering Holiday Provider of the Year, Small Hotel of the Year, Small Visitor Attraction of the Year, Sustainable Tourism Award, Taste of England Award, Tourism Event of the Year, Tourism Experience of the Year, Tourism Pub of the Year, Visitor Information Provider of the Year.
  • In addition to the 16 categories are the additional Awards of Tourism Superstar and Outstanding Contribution to Tourism.  Previous winners of the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award have included The Great English Pub, Michael Eavis CBE, HM The Queen, the Harry Potter films, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Sir Paul McCartney, Liverpool, The National Trust, the English Garden, 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Makers, The Travel Agent and last year The Chefs of England.


About VisitEngland

  • VisitEngland’s focus is on the development and delivery of the new Discover England fund for product development to ensure that bookable regional product is being sold in international markets. This activity will also benefit the domestic industry by building engagement and partnerships between and across regions and developing product that will be attractive to both domestic and international markets.
  • Our work is underpinned by robust research and customer insights. You can access the latest in-depth market intelligence and statistics on www.visitengland.org/insight-statistics
  • For corporate information see www.visitengland.org and for consumer information visit www.visitengland.com.


About English Tourism Week 

  • English Tourism Week is led by the national tourist board, VisitEngland, and is an industry-wide initiative designed to shine a light on the importance of tourism in England. The industry as whole is worth £106billion to the UK economy and supports 2.6 million jobs. Hundreds of tourism organisations and businesses will be putting on events to celebrate English Tourism Week this year.
  • For more information about English Tourism Week which takes place between 5 – 13 March 2016, see www.englishtourismweek.co.uk and a guide on making the most of local and national things to see and do www.visitengland.com/english-tourism-week


About Tourism Superstar

The initiative provides destination management organisations with the opportunity to participate for free in a national campaign which guarantees national media coverage.  The campaign champions careers in tourism (for people of all ages) and promotes quality, customer service and excellence within England’s tourism industry.  It importantly acknowledges that the industry is a people-facing, people-focused industry. For more information visit www.visitengland.com/biz/about-us/campaigns-and-opportunities/english-to...