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Region’s tourism businesses celebrated at annual awards

The region’s top tourism businesses will be celebrated at the North East England Tourism Awards on Thursday, March 24.

The annual event, hosted by NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) will be held at Newcastle Civic Centre.

Attractions, hotels and individuals from across the North East will compete in 15 categories including two new categories, Unsung Hero and Resilience and Innovation and more than 100 applications were received for this year’s awards.

Ian McAllister, Head of Marketing and Communications at The Alnwick Garden, who have been nominated in three categories this year, said:

“We were absolutely delighted to be nominated in this year’s Tourism Awards.  After a couple of years of the entire industry re-finding its feet, it is incredible to acknowledge the amount of work that our entire team have put in to make The Alnwick Garden one of the most recognisable tourist destinations in the North East.

“We of course couldn’t have had such a successful year without the support of our visitors, staff and volunteers and it has finally been so nice to see so many happy and smiling faces throughout the site.

“As previous winners of the North East and national tourism awards we know first-hand how important they are in highlighting how unique our venue is and as such has driven new visitors through our gates.  We are incredibly excited to join all of the other nominees on the night to showcase quite how much the North East has to offer.”

Carl Howe, of Valhalla North Axe Throwing, in Newton Aycliffe has been shortlisted in one of this year’s new categories Unsung Hero.

Carl and his wife Kat set up Newton Aycliffe-based Valhalla in 2019 and it is now the UK’s leading independent axe throwing venue. Kat decided to nominate her husband as recognition for the hard work in getting the business recognised particularly during the Covid pandemic.

Speaking about his nomination Carl said: “I was shocked to hear Kat had put me forward and truly humbled to hear I had been shortlisted. I don’t do what I do to be noticed, but to ensure the business is succeeding and that visitors are having the best experience possible and enjoying a sport I am so passionate about.

“It would be an honour to win this award and I would be extremely thankful to Kat for nominating me and to the judges for awarding it to me.

Sarah Green, chief executive of NGI said: “The last few years have been incredibly challenging for the region’s tourism industry, however the resilience shown by our businesses, attractions and individuals to adapt and establish new ways of working has been phenomenal.

“These awards are an important step in demonstrating that the region is a world-class visitor destination with an exciting and quality offer. Congratulations again to all those businesses shortlisted and we’re looking forward to celebrating with you all.”

Businesses are now being invited to buy their tickets for the awards ceremony with BBC Radio Newcastle presenter Alfie Joey as compere for the night.

The awards are once again sponsored by Newcastle College and Bidfood. The North East England Tourism Awards are organised and delivered by NewcastleGateshead Initiative in partnership with the North East Tourism Alliance.

The Alliance is a collaboration of the region’s tourism bodies who work together on projects that benefit the industry. Members of the North East Tourism Alliance include, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, North East Hotels Association, North Tyneside Council, Visit Northumberland, South Tyneside Council, Sunderland City Council, Tees Valley Combined Authority and Visit County Durham.

Tickets are £40+VAT each and can be purchased here

The awards ceremony will start at 6.30pm.

Eligible winners from the North East England Tourism Awards will automatically feed into the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2022 for the chance to be recognised as a national winner.

For a full list of shortlisted businesses go to