Photo Gallery: EDP tourism award winners celebrated
The winners of the eighth Eastern Daily Press Tourism Awards were toasted tonight at a presentation event at Norwich City Football Club.
While Holkham Hall and Wroxham Barns both scooped two awards, the former director of Norfolk Tourism, Lydia Smith, became the first female winner of the outstanding achievement award.
Opening the evening, EDP editor Nigel Pickover said all the finalists deserved to be winners - each playing their own important role in Norfolk's �2.5 billion a year tourism economy which was 30pc bigger than Cornwall's.
He said: 'Welcome to our awards which celebrate the unrivalled wealth of attractions in our wonderful part of the world.
'Our region is blessed with stunning locations visited by hundreds of thousands of people each year and my title, from its print editions to its online platforms, is delighted to support all those who work in the growing tourism industry.'
Simon Altham, a director of awards sponsor Hoseasons, paid tribute to MBE recipient Brian Potter, architect of Potter's Leisure Resort in Hopton, before treating guests to a premiere of the company's new �1m television advert ahead of its Boxing Day launch on the small screen.
The commercial - shot entirely in Norfolk - won instant approval from the county's leading tourism players with its shots of the Broads, north Norfolk and Waxham beach.
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Following the washout summer, Mr Altham urged Norfolk's tourism industry to 'embrace the weather and build our businesses so we can cater for visitors come rain and shine'.
He also issued a rallying cry for East Anglia's tourism businesses to work together across political and geographical boundaries to sell the region to visitors.
Mr Altham also announced Ms Smith as the unanimous choice for the outstanding achievement award for her contribution to tourism going back to the 1980s.
She was behind the creation of the Norfolk Tourism Management Partnership in 1995 and over the next 10 years helped to
develop Norfolk Tourism into a true partnership between public and private sectors.
The winners of the other 13 awards were nominated by the public and tourism businesses and selected by judges from Archant and the sponsors after a round of searching inspection visits.
Ian Russell, who built up his spectacularly successful Wroxham Barns craft and retail centre from a collection of disused farm buildings, won both the best marketing initiative, sponsored by Take One Media, and best food and drink tourism award, sponsored by Norwich Print Solutions.
The sponsor judge of the best marketing initiative felt he had developed 'an exciting vision for the future with a specific target audience in mind'.
The food and drink tourism judges described Wroxham Barns as 'very customer-focused, offering a first-class food and drink experience'.
Holkham Hall was also a double winner clinching best visitor attraction (over 50,000 annual visitors), sponsored by Norfolk Tourist Attractions Association, and business impact award, sponsored by Hansells.
As a visitor attraction, judges were impressed by 'the wide range of exhibits and events which take place on the estate'.
In terms of business impact they noted 'the commitment to place Holkham on the regional tourist map'.
Best Visitor Attraction (under 50,000 visitors), sponsored by the NTAA, went to True's Yard Fisherfolk Museum in King's Lynn, while Event of the Year, sponsored by Newsmakers PR, went to the Norfolk and Norwich Festival which impressed judges with its 'world class performers and diverse entertainment'.
Youth Development Award, sponsored by Inspired Youth, went to Blue Sky Leisure, which impressed judges with the opportunities it gave young people to develop in various roles, while Best Self-Catering Establishment, sponsored by Norfolk Country Cottages, went to Incleborough House, East Runton, judges loving the period property and modern amenities.
Customer Care, sponsored by Camplings, went to Nick Johnson, park warden at Kelling Heath, while Best Bed and Breakfast, sponsored by Lloyds TSB Commercial, went to Sisland Tithe Barn - 'from the moment guests are greeted by Lesley and Jane, the experience is marvellous'.
Best Broads Holiday Experience, sponsored by Broads Tourism, went to Waveney River Centre, 'offering a unique and outstanding experience for all ages', while Young Tourism Talent, sponsored by National Trust, was won by Sheree Webster, of Norfolk Country Cottages, who first impressed her employers with her 'dedication, enthusiasm and work ethic' during a two-week stint of work experience.
Best Independent Hotel, sponsored by Larking Gowen, went to Titchwell Manor, 'an impressive family-run hotel with a strong culinary offering'.