Choose gold medal winners in EDP Tourism Awards
Norfolk's tourism businesses are being urged to get on their marks and make the most of the post-Olympics feel-good factor.
And to showcase our fabulous tourism offering the starting gun has been fired on the eighth EDP Tourism Awards.
The county is blessed with an unrivalled wealth of attractions from the stunning north Norfolk coast and the ethereal beauty of the Broads to the kaleidoscope of old-fashioned seaside fun to be found in Great Yarmouth.
But it is our tourism businesses and the people working in them which can give Norfolk that winning edge in the race to attract more visitors.
Our awards recognise every aspect of our tourism experience: from the best independent hotels and visitor attractions to the top bed and breakfasts and finest self-catering establishments.
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We provide a deserved podium for businesses demonstrating outstanding achievement and the most memorable Broads holiday experience.
New categories for this year recognise Young Tourism Talent, the lifeblood for our future, and the Event of the Year, showcasing the top class festivals which take place in every corner of our region.
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We want our readers to make their own nominations for the various categories; businesses are also invited to nominate themselves.
When nominations close on September 30, awards judges - made up of our sponsors and Archant representatives - will draw up a shortlist and visit businesses to make their final decisions. An awards ceremony and dinner will be held at Norwich City Football Club in November.
EDP editor Peter Waters said: 'We've got the best tourism offering of any area in the country and this is the EDP's way of helping to celebrate that fact. In the aftermath of the Olympics, we've got to promote our holiday options and hospitality ventures strongly to ensure there's a lasting legacy. 'We'd urge everyone to get involved and put forward their suggestions for winners, particularly in our two new categories, Event of the Year and Young Tourism Talent.'
Mark Durrant, chairman of Norfolk Tourism and manager at Kelling Heath holiday park, in north Norfolk, said: 'The EDP Tourism Awards have always proved hugely successful, showcasing the very best that Norfolk has to offer in terms of quality, service and sustainability and I am delighted that Archant are supporting the awards again. Year on year we have seen standards improve where tourism businesses are looking to not just meet but exceed their customer's expectations.'
Keith Brown, chief executive officer of Visit East Anglia, said: 'The events of 2012 including the Queen's Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games have given England in particular unprecedented levels of both domestic and international positive media coverage which is potentially of great benefit to tourism in Norfolk.
'Now it is up to tourism businesses in Norfolk to focus on consistently delivering a high quality experience to attract visitors to our county to ensure we benefit fully from these unique opportunities. The Tourism Awards are an important part of that process. Britain has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to realise the potential that this amazing summer of sport has offered us.'
Simon Altham, director for Hoseasons, said: 'The UK has received unprecedented media exposure with London hosting the greatest show on earth, seeing thousands of people flock to the capital with knock-on effects across the UK.
'This wave of enthusiasm, positive patriotism and a general feel-good factor has coincided with an upturn in the weather, resulting in strong late demand for domestic holidays.
'Hoseasons understands how important tourism is to this region and are once again a proud sponsor of The EDP Tourism Awards. These awards provide an opportunity to celebrate these accomplishments and also to recognise those who have achieved the very highest standards in the tourism industry.'
Richard Powell OBE, regional director for the National Trust, which is sponsoring the Young Tourism Talent award, said: 'Tourism in its many forms is crucial to Norfolk's economy and along with the placements, careerships and advice we offer youngsters in more traditional areas, we are pleased to support the awards that recognise emerging passion and talent in this area.'
Chris Scargill, a partner for Larking Gowen chartered accountants, sponsors of the independent hotel category, said: 'Tourism is Norfolk's biggest industry, and the hotel sector plays an important role. With such a broad cross-section of people and businesses using hotels in the county, they are a fundamental ingredient to what our fantastic county has to offer.'
Barbara Greasley, chairman of Broads Tourism, said: 'Broads Tourism is happy to once again sponsor the Best Broads Experience award. The award fits well with the ethos of the quality pledge that all Broads Tourism members are asked to sign up to on joining and gives them the opportunity to showcase and celebrate all the hard work and investment that has been made in recent years.'
Carl Woodwards, senior manager at LloydsTSB Commercial Norfolk, said: 'We are delighted to be able to sponsor the Best B&B category for a 3rd consecutive year. Norfolk B&B's are at the heart our buoyant tourism economy and we are proud to be able to support their business success through a team of experienced relationship mangers based in the local towns across the county.'
Newsmakers PR director Amanda Sandland-Taylor said sponsoring the new Event of the Year category was a natural choice for them.
She said: 'As event organisers and communicators, Newsmakers understands and appreciates the hard work and dedication that goes into putting on events. Tourism is extremely important for Norfolk's economy. It creates jobs, brings people into our fabulous county and is an essential contributor to the region's growth.'
Norfolk Tourist Attractions Association chairman Peter Williamson said the NTAA was delighted to be a sponsor for awards that showcased East Anglia's leading industry and 'supported the benefits of the investment made by our members'.