Applications are open for the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence, with three new categories announced for 2017.
This year will see ‘Family Friendly Business of the Year’, ‘GREAT China Welcome of the Year’ and ‘Afternoon Tea of the Year’ added to the list of 16 core categories including hotel, boutique/guest accommodation, bed and breakfast, ‘glamping’, self-catering, taste of England and guided tour.
Patricia Yates, VisitEngland director, said: “These awards are a celebration of the outstanding tourism products and services on offer across England’s regions, from the local B&B that goes above and beyond for its guests to the restaurant that offers a world-class dining experience.
“The three new categories reflect the importance of delivering the right products to the right customers at the right time, whether that means appealing to visitors from China, catering to young families or delivering an excellent, quintessentially English afternoon tea.”
The endorsement of ‘family-friendly’ businesses comes after VisitEngland’s 2015 Great Britain Tourism Survey found that families with children accounted for almost 40% of all domestic holidays in England last year.
The ‘GREAT China Welcome of the Year’ award is named after VisitBritain’s GREAT China Welcome programme which aims to make Britain the ‘destination of choice’ for the rapidly-growing Chinese market by helping local businesses adapt their products for Chinese visitors.
Visits from China, the world’s largest outbound market, were up almost 50% to 270,000 in 2015, and spend was up 18% to £586 million, moving China into the UK’s top 10 most valuable inbound markets for the first time.
The VisitEngland Awards, now in its 28th year, is run by VisitEngland in partnership with local tourism boards and businesses across the country.
Applications for the 2017 Awards will be accepted until mid-October (with the exception of some categories which close earlier).
Shortlisted businesses will be visited by judges between October to February and finalists will be announced in March, with the awards ceremony taking place in April 2017.
The 2016 awards attracted 417 entries resulting in 80 gold, silver, bronze and highly commended awards.
Pictured at 2016’s awards ceremony is travelGBI editor George Clode (right) with the Large Visitor Attraction of the Year Gold award being presented to The Whitworth, Manchester.