by Simon Calder, The Independent, April 25, 2017
A Liverpool enterprise with the slogan “We Scare Because We Care” has been chose as the Guided Tour of the Year in the prestigious VisitEngland Awards for Excellence. Shiverpool, a ghost walk around the city, took the prize ahead of two East Midlands tours: the Nottingham Robin Hood Town Tour and Vintage Adventure Tours, based in Derbyshire.
One of Shiverpool’s stated core values is “To think outside the coffin”, and the company prides itself on employing “the most promising acting talent, train them to a high standard and continually nurture the creative talent in the City of Liverpool.”
A neighbouring business, Liverpool’s Art School Restaurant, won the Taste of England Award. Its location is the Lantern Room of the Victorian Home for Destitute Children on Sugnall Street. Unusually, it offers a Vegan Prix Fixe menu, featuring dishes such as warm salad of roasted fig and Asian-marinated pan-fried tofu.
Across the Pennines, the Afternoon Tea award went to the Countess of York restaurant in a railway carriage at the National Railway Museum in York. The four-course tea, price £22.50, includes smoked salmon sandwiches with a lime relish, pea and asparagus soup, Yorkshire scones with “vanilla enhanced clotted cream” and lemon and blueberry drizzle cake.
The B&B of the Year was until recently a “neglected and tumbledown old church.” St Cuthbert's House in Seahouses, Northumberland, was restored by its owners, Jeff and Jill Sutheran. Mr Sutheran said: “We set out to create 'the B&B we'd love to stay in' and found that not only did we really enjoy it, but so did our guests too.”
The owner of the Grosvenor Fish Bar in Norwich, Duane Dibartolomeo, was chosen as Tourism Superstar of the Year — an award that “champions careers in tourism”.
Cornwall’s Eden Project picked up the Inclusive Tourism Award for its focus on visitors with disabilities.
The value of football to the UK visitor economy was recognised with the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award, won by the Premier League. An estimated 800,000 overseas visitors see a top-flight football match while in Britain.
Previous winners of this award have included HM The Queen, Sir Paul McCartney and the National Trust.
Also honoured was Viscountess Cobham, the outgoing chair of VisitBritain. She was presented with the Services to Tourism Award.
Sixty-seven finalists for the Awards for Excellence were selected from almost 600 applications across 22 categories.
Sally Balcombe, chief executive of VisitEngland, said: “This year’s awards were fiercely contested and we had some terrific applications, showcasing not only the excellence on offer within English tourism but also the outstanding innovation and the sheer diversity of experiences throughout the country.”
The organisation says the tourism economy is worth £106 billion annually to England.
2017 VisitEngland Awards for Excellence winners
Glamping Provider of the Year: The Dandelion Hideaway, East Midlands
Self-Catering Property of the Year: Cottage in the Dales — The Byre, Yorkshire
Sustainable Tourism Award: Battlesteads Hotel & Restaurant, North East
Guided Tour of the Year: Shiverpool, North West
Afternoon Tea of the Year: Countess of York, York
Business Tourism Award; Warwick Conferences, West Midlands
Family Friendly Accommodation of the Year: Bosinver Farm Cottages, South West
Family Friendly Food & Drink Business of the Year: Chester Zoo, North West
Family Friendly Attraction of the Year: Thames Rockets, London
Bed & Breakfast of the Year Award: St Cuthbert’s House, North East
Tourism Superstar: Duane Dibartolomeo, Grosvenor Fish Bar, Norwich
Boutique/Guest Accommodation of the Year award: Glazebrook House Hotel, South West
Visitor Information Provider of the Year: Gloucester Tourist Information Centre
China Welcome of the Year: Blenheim Palace, South East
Tourism Pub of the Year: The Anchor Inn, South West
Small Visitor Attraction of the Year: Monkey Haven, South East
Dog-friendly Business of the Year: Letheringham Water Mill Holiday Cottages, East of England
Taste of England Award: The Art School, Liverpool
Holiday Park/Holiday Village of the Year: Trethem Mill Touring Park
Self-Catering Holiday Provider of the Year: Blakelow Farm Holiday Cottages, East Midlands
Inclusive Tourism Award: Eden Project, South West
Large Visitor Attraction of the Year: Waddesdon Manor, South East
Hotel of the Year: Northcote, North West
Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award: The Premier League
Services to Tourism Award: Viscountess Penelope Cobham