Run in conjunction with our partner, the Daily Mirror, the campaign champions careers in tourism (for people of all ages) and promotes quality, customer service and excellence within England’s tourism industry.
Finalists are nominated by either their businesses or local destination management organisation (DMO). The winner will be decided by public vote on the Mirror website and announced during English Tourism Week. They will receive their award at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence ceremony.
Meet the 2017 finalists
The final 10 shortlisted Tourism Superstars have been revealed and are now battling for your vote on the Mirror website. Watch their finalists' video and find out more about them below:
Alan Anderson, Park Ranger, Auckland Castle
Nominated by: Visit County Durham
What they say: "With a truly warm and engaging personality, Alan is a real treasure of Auckland Castle – full of knowledge, passion, enthusiasm and dedication. Far from being someone who works quietly in the background tending the estates, Alan shares his immense knowledge and passion for Auckland Park with everyone."
As well as carrying out his normal duties around the Castle, which includes unlocking the park gates at 5am every morning or helping injured sheep, Alan has proved to be an inspiration to the local community, mentoring local students at risk of exclusion and helping to turn their lives around. One particular disengaged student was taken under his wing and integrated into the volunteer workforce, and is now considering an apprenticeship at the Castle, thanks to Alan's patience and support.
Duane Dibartolomeo, Owner, Grosvenor Fish Bar
Nominated by: Visit Norwich
What they say: "If being a superstar is about the personality, the level of service and going the extra mile to make a queue feel like an event, then Duane should definitely be nominated for this award. As for the fish and chips well they are legendary too!"
A Miami native and long-time New Yorker, Duane brings America's famed excellent customer service approach to Norwich, welcoming each and every customer to his fish bar with wit, warmth and open arms. His warm, larger than life personality makes every customer feel the most important and, as well as entertaining the queue, he is full of informative information about the town itself, advising customers on what's happening in the area, where to shop and what to see.
Jane Carver and Gill Scotford, Accessible Derbyshire
Nominated by: Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire
What they say: “Gillian and Jane are firmly committed to making a positive difference to the everyday lives and leisure experiences of disabled people, their families and their carers.”
Inspired by their experiences of raising three children with a range of physical and mental disabilities, Jane Carver and Gill Scotford set up Accessible Derbyshire in 2014, to raise awareness of the challenges faced by disabled people, their families and carers, both as visitors and residents. Through the charity the pair have worked tirelessly with Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire to improve access to accommodation, attractions and activities throughout the area. They achieve this through sharing information, expertise and practical help, investing in equipment and support services and providing training and consultancy to local organisations, businesses, groups and individuals. In 2015 they took part in VisitEngland’s Access for All project, running their “Big Push” campaign to highlight accessible tourism options and activities.
Gemma Garwood, Falmouth Town Crier
Nominated by: Visit Cornwall
What they say: "Gemma quite literally shouts Falmouth’s praises and is a positive presence in the town walking around and making people smile.”
As the youngest town crier in the UK, Gemma Garwood actively spreads Falmouth’s message as a premier visitor destination. She started as a volunteer in March with the aim of breathing new life into an old tradition, and has been proactive in local events. She has also coordinated efforts with local businesses to spring-clean Falmouth for the start of the season, and was involved in Falmouth’s campaign in the GB High Street of the Year Awards.
Karl Gibson, Landlord, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem
Nominated by: Experience Nottinghamshire
What they say: “Karl is no ordinary Landlord. As well as providing a friendly welcome to all visitors to the pub, Karl goes over and above his duties to make sure they make the most of their time, not just in the pub, but for the remainder of their visit to the city.”
As Landlord of Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, said to be the oldest pub in England dating back to 1189, Karl Gibson serves up more than just beers and wines to his many visitors. Karl cares passionately about showing them the best Nottingham has to offer so they do not miss out on the other leading attractions and experiences in the city. As a ‘fountain of knowledge’ Karl provides free and entertaining cellar tours informing visitors about the history of the infamous pub, enlightening them with brewing tales and revealing the building’s gory past as a cell where criminals were often chained to the wall and left to die. He also acts as an unofficial tourism information centre for the city.
Liz Hill, Founder, Rural Concierge
Nominated by: Visit Herefordshire
What they say: "Liz has her own business providing travel options around Herefordshire for visitors and residents, and arranges travel around the county in conjunction with coach companies. She can create bespoke itineraries for groups and individuals as well as running popular tours.”
Spotting a gap in the market for local tourism information in Herefordshire, Liz Hill set up her own company, Rural Concierge, to share her passion and knowledge of the local area with visitors, with a personal touch. Liz and her team arrange tailored trips and itineraries for people including tips on how to “get off the beaten track” and works closely with local businesses and coach companies to provide travel around the county. Liz recently won ‘Best Rural Tourism Business’ award in 2016’s Rural Business Awards.
Peter Jay, Volunteer, Cotswold Water Park Trust
Nominated by: Visit Wiltshire
What they say: "Peter has been a volunteer for the Cotswold Water Park Trust for about five years, and has made a huge difference to the visitor experience here in the Cotswold Water Park, all in an unpaid capacity.”
Every Saturday, Peter Jay has manned the information desk at the Cotswold Water Park Trust with his wife Jenny, helping visitors find their way around the park. With stints lasting from five to seven hours Peter will not leave if a question needs answering, whether it’s on watersports, wildlife or walking routes, tailoring information to people’s needs and abilities. He also goes the extra mile helping visitors with requests such as calling taxis, finding lost keys or even a puncture. Peter also manages and trains the 12 other volunteers on the information desk, keeps the stockroom tidy, helps out at numerous Trust events, and is always keen to volunteer on Bank Holidays and during school holidays too.
Leye D. Johns, Host and Compere, Viva Blackpool
Nominated by: Marketing Lancashire
What they say: "With tireless commitment Leye has in four years built audiences to 50,000 visitors, brought much needed jobs to local people and helped support many local charities that are close to his heart.”
Leye started his working life in the NHS but as a natural showman, what had been a second job as a live entertainer, took a more serious turn when he and a co-investor set up Viva Blackpool. The initiative saw the transformation of a large empty Mecca Bingo Hall into a one room entertainment and events complex, dedicated to providing year round quality, live entertainment for Blackpool’s many visitors. With a huge variety of in-house production shows, visiting performers and Leye as resident compere, Viva has become the talk of the town, for all the right reasons.
Kevin Robson, Tour Guide and Owner, Wild Dog Outdoors
Nominated by: Northumberland Tourism/Cumbria Heritage & Archaeology
What they say: “Kevin is an amazing ambassador for Northumberland and his passion and boundless enthusiasm for this beautiful county transfers over to the visitors, and everyone he meets.”
Kevin Robson's knowledge and passion for the Roman and ancient history of Hadrian's Wall manages to take a subject which some could see as stuffy or boring and makes it interactive, relatable and fun. Wearing full Roman soldier attire, Kevin provides insightful and enthusiastic guided tours on Hadrian’s Wall, as part of his company, Wild Dog Outdoors. As well as generating an interest in visitors of the Wall and local history, he also promotes local businesses, B&Bs and Hotels to visitors.
Paul Schofield, City Tour Guide
Nominated by: Visit Hull and East Yorkshire
What they say: "Paul is an unassuming but dedicated hero and ambassador of Hull and East Yorkshire. His contribution to tourism is immeasurable because of the sheer volume of visitors and number of tours he has delivered.”
A freelance English Heritage Accredited guide, Paul Schofield has worked for 28 years sharing his knowledge and expertise with visitors to Hull. His talks cover everything from architecture to the abolition of slavery, the historic pubs to the part Hull played in England’s history and truly reveals his pride and passion for the city he loves. Paul’s welcoming friendly nature, enthusiasm and genuine belief in Hull and the East Yorkshire region makes Paul the only double winner of the ‘Remarkable Yorkshire Passion Award’ at the Visit Hull & East Yorkshire Tourism Awards.