The tourism board’s 2019 Visitor Attraction Accolades – which highlight outstanding experiences from members of VisitEngland’s Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme – acknowledged a total of 73 tourist hot spots in categories ranging from storytelling to food and drink, and from customer service to overall winners.
Among those commended for their contribution to UK tourism – worth an estimated £127bn to the economy per year – were Publican Awards winners Camerons Brewery and Shepherd Neame. What’s more, St Austell Brewery, whose outgoing CEO James Staughton picked up the Outstanding Industry Contribution prize at this year’s gongs, was also recognised by VisitEngland.
“England’s attractions provide visitors with amazing experiences and these accolades recognise the outstanding customer service and quality on offer across the country,” VisitEngland director Andrew Stokes said.
“From Best Told Story interpretation to Hidden Gem and overall Gold, these accolades show that there is an attraction capable of capturing everyone’s imagination creating lasting memories and spreading the economic benefits from tourism.”
Other hot spots listed among England’s top attractions in 2019 included Cadbury World in Birmingham, Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, Liverpool and Manchester United football clubs, Durham Castle and Chatsworth House in the Peak District.
Hard work and dedication
- North-east – Camerons Brewery Visitor Centre, Hartlepool – Best Told Story
- North-west – The Lakes Distillery, Bassenthwaite Lake – Gold
- South-east – Hook Norton Brewery, Banbury – Quality Food & Drink
- South-east – Shepherd Neame Visitor Centre, Faversham – Welcome
- South-west – St Austell Brewery Visitor Centre, St Austell – Quality Food & Drink
- South-west – Wadworth Brewery Visitor Centre, Devizes – Hidden Gem
- Yorkshire – Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery, Driffield – Welcome
A total of 76 attractions were recognised in last year’s accolades, including a total of seven distilleries, wineries and breweries.
While 2019 winners Wiltshire-based beer maker and pub operator Wadworth Brewery; the Lakes Distillery at Bassenthwaite Lake in the Lake District; and Hook Norton Brewery, in Banbury, Oxfordshire; were all recognised in 2018’s gongs; Camerons, Shepherd Neame, St Austell and Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery, Driffield, in East Yorkshire, were all newcomers to the annual awards.
Operator of 75 pubs, Camerons – which won the Best New Pub/Bar at the 2020 Publican Awards for its flagship Head of Steam site in Park Row, Leeds – picked up the north-east region’s prize for Best Told Story for its Brewery Visitor Centre in Hartlepool, County Durham.
What’s more, St Austell Brewery’s visitor centre was commended in the south-west region’s Quality Food & Drink category, was dubbed a Hidden Gem.
Elsewhere, the winner of Best Tenanted/Leased Pub Company (up to 500 sites) at the 2020 Publican Awards, Shepherd Neame, picked up the prize for best Welcome in the south-east region for its visitor centre in Faversham, Kent.
Founded in 1698, Britain’s oldest brewer and operator of more than 300 pubs across London and the south-east was recognised for “high standards” achieved, which the VisitEngland assessor felt “were truly deserving of recognition”.
“We were delighted to receive a 100% rating from the assessor for the greeting visitors receive on arrival,” Giles Hilton, Shepherd Neame’s head of customer relations, said of the brewer and operator’s latest accolade.
“We pride ourselves on offering visitors a fantastic experience, and have made significant investment in recent months to improve the content of the tour. This accolade is well-deserved recognition for our team’s hard work and dedication.”