In the same month that saw the one millionth person log-on to the Northumberland tourist information website visitnorthumberland.com, Northumberland have swept the board at the 2015 North East England Tourism Awards, and then scooped Silver at the prestigious British Travel Awards. It is a great result for Northumberland - a county sometimes known as England's last 'hidden gem' - proving that the county is considered amongst the top visitor destinations in the UK.
North East England Tourism Awards
Northumberland businesses were shortlisted in eleven categories at NEETA 2015. From that, they scooped seven Gold awards, along with a further five Silver, five Bronze and four Highly Commended awards, seeing off competition from popular Newcastle and Durham.
It was a particularly successful night for coastal B&B St Cuthbert's House, who won Gold for both 'Bed & Breakfast/Guest Accommodation of the Year' and 'Sustainable Tourism'. Other Gold award winners were Bamburgh Castle Inn at Seahouses; Morpeth Tourist Information and Craft Centre in central Northumberland; and Blacksmith's Cottage, Leaplish Waterside Park and Kielder Observatory – all from the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park.
British Travel Awards 2015
It is the second time Northumberland has won Silver in the Best UK Holiday Destination/County in the prestigious British Travel awards. Rising above well-loved tourist destinations Devon and the Pembrokeshire Coast, the county was just pipped to the post by tourism giant Cornwall, who took Gold for the seventh time in a row.
The voting campaign for the 2015 British Tourism Awards aimed to encourage visitors and residents alike to vote for Northumberland and “Share the Northumberland Spirit”. Part of this was to highlight the unique qualities of Northumberland such as local produce, a landscape with a perfect blend of dramatic coastline and vast open countryside, and of course… inky-black dark skies!
This year, local businesses and residents have been key to this success by consistently encouraging their social media followers to vote. A host of famous Northumbrians and others with links to the county gave their support, including Sting, Robson Green, Jack Charlton, and Ann Cleeves, author of the 'Vera' crime novels on which the hit ITV series is based.
Ann Cleeves said: “The Vera of my books captures the spirit of Northumberland. She's rugged, individual, but worth getting to know. However, the country is much more beautiful.”