Make your nominations in new EDP Tourism Awards categories

The future is in their hands and a new category in this year's EDP Tourism Awards deservedly puts Best Young Tourism Talent in the spotlight.

The award, sponsored by the National Trust, aims to seek out the rising young stars of tourism aged 30 and under.

Are you a youthful hotelier or guesthouse owner going the extra mile to deliver five-star quality? Are you a dynamic young tourism manager making your mark? Perhaps you are a bright young star in the world of events organisation?

Richard Powell, regional director for the National Trust in the east, said: 'We have been looking after special places like Blakeney Point for 100 years so we know how much heritage or natural attractions not only benefit the people who live here but also attract large numbers of visitors who boost our local economy.

'We also know that to keep this sector sustainable you have to invest in the future and evolve to meet people's needs.


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'By encouraging exactly the people you want to attract as visitors to join the tourism sector then there is less chance of attractions becoming out of date. That's why we are so keen to support emerging stars of tourism.'

A visitor attraction that exemplifies the virtues of investing in youth is Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden in South Walsham, near Acle.

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At the age of 32, manager Louise Rout no longer qualifies for the award, but she proudly revealed that she had begun leaving her mark on the picture-postcard Broadland garden from the age of nine, saying: 'I began helping out one busy Easter when my mum was working there.'

She joined Fairhaven full-time in 1999 as assistant to George Debbage. who had managed the garden since it opened to the public in 1975. Managing the gift shop, providing office support, and learning every aspect of the business from plant cultivation to tearoom management, she was perfectly placed to take over as manager on George's retirement in 2007.

Within a year, she opened the now famous green tearoom – incorporating rainwater harvesting and a ground source heat pump – that has proved such a hit. She praised the trustees for 'letting me loose and allowing me to bring in technologies they had not even heard of'.

Establishing the tearoom's reputation for homemade food and expanding the garden's events' programme, she has seen visitor numbers grow from 24,000 in 2007 to 35,500 last year.

And realising the ongoing need to rejuvenate the business, she has taken on an apprentice to learn the ropes and see things through fresh eyes.

A second new EDP Tourism Awards category, sponsored by Newsmakers PR, is inviting nominations for the Best Event of the Year.

The category acknowledges how special events and festivals – from the crab and lobster festival in Cromer and Sheringham to the emerging Broads outdoors festival – play such a key role in Norfolk tourism. Newsmakers director Amanda Sandland-Taylor said: 'As event organisers and communicators, we understand the hard work and dedication that goes into putting on events. That's why we are delighted to honour the region's event organisers.'

The impact that a new event can have on the local economy is shown by the remarkable success of Great Yarmouth's Out There festival organised by SeaChange Arts.

Busily preparing for this year's expanded festival, running from September 4, with the main programme over the weekend of September 8 and 9, executive director Sarah James said: 'It is quite a different beast from when we started in 2008 as a general arts festival.

'We quickly realised street art was by far the most popular element and in 2009 we made that our USP. Since then we have added circus to the mix in a programme which is all outdoor, free and accessible.'

Visitor numbers have grown from 28,000 in the first year to 60,000 last year with 40pc of them coming from outside the region.

Ms James said: 'It is difficult to calculate the secondary spend of visitors but it is substantial. This year when we have been trying to book performers into hotels several have said they are already full with people coming to the festival.'

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