Our annual Tourism Superstar competition recognises the dedication and passion of those working in the tourism industry. It is awarded to an individual who goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure visitors to England have an unforgettable experience.
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.
Now in its eighth year, Tourism Superstar recognises and celebrates those individuals in the tourism industry who go the extra mile to ensure tourists in England have an amazing and unforgettable visitor experience. Tourism Superstar nominees are passionate about where they work and the destination they live in and consistently set the bar high for the standard of service in England's tourism industry.
Amanda is a professional blue badge guide in Windsor. She is accredited to guide at Windsor Castle and also offers walking tours of Windsor and Eton, often along different themes reflecting historical events and anniversaries or bang up-to-date with insider knowledge of recent events such as the Royal Wedding in May.
Since establishing her guiding business in 2006 Amanda has become integral to the tourism offer in Windsor. Her passion and enthusiasm for the town is infectious and she’s loved equally by the visitors she shows around the town and the locals she meets along the way including the police, Crown Estate and Royal Household staff.
Anthony Hurd, Living Seas Centre, Yorkshire
Ant channels his passion for the marine environment in managing the daily and strategic operations of Flamborough’s Living Sea Centre - one of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s flagship visitor centres and located on a Headland surrounded by iconic wildlife from puffins to whales and rare migratory birds. Through Ant’s vision and teaching expertise, he has created a welcoming and engaging Centre which tells the story of the North Sea’s amazing wildlife.
Ant is at the forefront of national activity in marine conservation, which enriches the visitor experience and delivers one of the Trust’s most successful education programmes. His work includes: designing a formal education programme for the 2,500 school children who pass through the centre each year; hosting public events and managing a team of volunteers to encourage hands-on public engagement and citizen science including rockpooling, beach cleans and shoreline surveys; and sourcing locally produced and ethically made items for the Centre’s retail and catering facilities, reducing waste and carbon footprints, as well as ensuring conservation and sustainability is at the heart of the building’s operations.
Emily Hope, Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, Durham
Impeccably dressed in her beautiful Edwardian costume, Emily Hope always goes the extra mile to guarantee every single visitor has an unforgettable day out.
Her roles and responsibilities are varied, including guaranteeing their 764,000 annual visitors have an amazing time at Beamish from the second they arrive to the moment they leave. Emily also leads on developments that will further enhance visitors’ experience.
Emily recently volunteered to become a Dementia Friends Champion training more than 100 staff, volunteers, and members of the community, to become Dementia Friends, making a real difference to visitors living with dementia, as part of the museum’s health and wellbeing work. She held a Dementia Friendly Café in the Coffee Shop.
Emma Ashley, National Space Centre, Leicester
Emma has worked at the National Space Centre in Leicester since 2015. She first worked as part of the ‘Space Crew’ visitor service team, but was promoted to the Space Communications presenter team in 2017, where she brings exhibitions to life every day through family-friendly talks and planetarium shows about space, engaging science demos, and tours around the galleries.
Emma has an incredible way with visitors and goes above-and-beyond every single day to make people feel welcome. She excites them about space through her engaging stories, warm personality, and humour. No question about space is too big or too small for Emma, and if she doesn’t know the answer, she’ll do the research and get back in touch later.
Emma has also taken the lead on developing and running activities suitable for visitors with special needs, including tactile tours of the galleries and sensory experiences.
Jess Twitchin, QuirkyAccom.com, England
Jess set up QuirkyAccom.com eight years ago, to build and promote the largest specialist directory of the quirkiest holiday accommodation available. 1,150 properties advertised are in England, to boost the English tourism industry. Jess has driven her vision relentlessly to enable people to easily search and find unforgettable and exciting holiday experiences, in beautiful parts of England. She has chosen to give all of her company profits to charities, so far raising £100,000 in the last two years for MacMillan Cancer Support, Rainbow Trust, World Vision, Friends of the Earth, Kidney Research UK and Right to Play UK.
Larry Bowden, Discover Newmarket, Newmarket
In his role as a Discover Newmarket Tour Guide, Larry takes visitors to various parts of the town including the National Stud, The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art, Newmarket’s famed Training grounds and behind the scenes to the various racing yards in town.
Larry has a great sense of humour and an amazing affinity with people and has an incredible ability to make sure that everyone on his tours is engaged.
Larry is also incredibly patient, caring and kind which is evident in his ability to deal with elderly guests, people with disabilities and with children. This is evidenced by Larry going to fetch guests from their care home before taking them on a tour of The National Stud earlier this year, completely on his own accord.
Martin Curtis, Jurassic Coast Guides, Dorset
Martin Curtis has a passion for Dorset’s Jurassic Coast that’s been instilled in him from a childhood spent exploring it with his father. He’s enthusiastic, knowledgeable and dedicated to sharing his love of Dorset with visitors, providing a fantastic experience, an understanding of the geological significance of our magnificent coastline and memories to last a lifetime.
Martin’s enthusiasm for his work is infectious and his knowledge rubs off on those he guides, captivating and inspiring everyone, young and old, with his knowledge and humour. Safety on our coast is paramount and Martin delivers this aspect of his tours in a professional, engaging way. All walks and tours are planned meticulously; he’s guided a group of blind veterans on a tour of the Jurassic Coast with great success, demonstrating his commitment to meeting the needs of every group he guides.
Ryan Sanders, Brunel's SS Great Britain, Bristol
Ryan is an inspiring role model for many visitors and provides memorable experiences for everyone. Diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when he was seven, he has developed confidence and interpersonal skills, giving tours and greeting visitors, in his role employed in the visitor experience team.
Ryan’s positive and inspiring attitude touches everyone he greets, being frequently mentioned by name in the visitor book and TripAdvisor reviews. A group of adults with learning difficulties recently visited, with Ryan proudly telling them that he has Asperger's. Only 16% of adults diagnosed with Asperger syndrome are in full-time employment.
Ryan’s work also inspires colleagues, with a speech he gave to the entire workforce resulting in a standing ovation (and tears!). He’s grown with the organisation and colleagues love him. As well as inspiring and delighting visitors, Ryan is consistently generating new ideas that create amazing visitor experiences, none more so than through his informative and scene-setting introductions for our new immersive theatre experience.
Sarah Bird, Timber Festival, National Forest, Leicestershire
Sarah is Director of award-winning festival producers, Wild Rumpus. Wild Rumpus exist in a space where arts and culture meet the natural environment. Working from the Whirligig, four acres of woodland in Cheshire, they create experiences and large scale outdoor arts events, most often in wild natural landscapes. They believe that when audiences engage together in the highest quality arts in the great outdoors, something quite amazing can happen.
Sarah’s invaluable connections built partnerships that delivered an exceptional and high-quality event, showcasing and building the profile of the National Forest. Audiences of 4,000 were achieved in the festival’s first year, securing outstanding media coverage including a four-star review in The Guardian.
Tim Green, CBA Events, Lake District, Cumbria
Tim joined CBA Events three years ago. He has been instrumental in spearheading a new phase for the company, persuading the owners of the private Graythwaite estate on the shore of England’s largest lake to offer their grounds as a haven for highly personalised, tailored and unrushed outdoor pursuits. His aim has been to create the antithesis to places he has worked before, which he feels had a “conveyor belt approach” to outdoor adventure.
Tim has a genuinely hands-on approach to his work, getting stuck into everything from bushcraft skills deep in the heart of the World Heritage Site to helping visitors overcome personal challenges by encouraging them to take the wheel of a 4x4 or try stand-up paddleboarding for the first time - all at the same time as inspiring people about the world-class landscape they are exploring.
The winner of VisitEngland’s Tourism Superstar 2019 will be invited to attend a lunch towards the end of April at a London restaurant. Nigel Thompson (Daily Mirror) and a senior VisitEngland Executive will be present (date and venue TBC).