It is no secret rural Yorkshire holds treasures for visitors, from glorious green vistas to locally produced food at award-winning dining establishments, but a challenge remains to lure overseas visitors away from the bright lights of London.
Another record-breaking year for tourism in Yorkshire and Britain as a whole came with the caveat of missed opportunities for the countryside from the region’s tourism chief Sir Gary Verity at a recent parliamentary committee hearing, yet any questions about the quality awaiting those who travel were answered emphatically last night, as a long list of rural businesses were named as winners at the White Rose Awards.
This was the UK’s largest celebration of tourism, with Welcome to Yorkshire’s annual awards bash, backed by The Yorkshire Post, this year held at Yorkshire Event Centre’s new Hall One in Harrogate, the largest single events space in Yorkshire.
More than 1,100 people witnessed tourism heroes across 17 different categories honoured at the high-profile evening which featured one-off musical performances of scores from the James Bond films and smash-hit Broadway musical Annie, and appearances from local Olympic and Paralympic heroes, as well as stars from Emmerdale and The Yorkshire Vet.
Sir Gary Verity, Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive, said: “Last week’s EFRA Select Committee hearing wanted to hear evidence about how vital the rural community is for tourism and the awards reflect just that. You only have to look at the number of finalists based in rural areas to see the world-class quality of tourism businesses there are here in Yorkshire.
“It is paramount that nationally we capitalise on opportunities to market and signpost both foreign and domestic visitors to rural England and we will continue our work to raise Yorkshire’s profile globally through campaigns and events including the White Rose Awards.”
Winning Tourism Event of the Year was the Flying Scotsman. The Doncaster-built locomotive, famously the first in the UK to clock 100mph, made its long-awaited return to the tracks in February after a decade-long £4.2m refurbishment by York’s National Railway Museum. The treasured engine’s inaugural journey from London King’s Cross to York was greeted by thousands along the route.
Representing rural Yorkshire: best small attraction was the National Centre for Birds of Prey in Helmsley; the Taste of Yorkshire award went to Bradford and Skipton’s Keelham Farm Shop; best self-catering accommodation was Wensleydale’s Cottage in the Dales; best caravan and holiday park was Wolds Edge Holiday Lodges, York; and The Pheasant Hotel, Harome won best small hotel.
Best guest accommodation was Low Mill Guesthouse in Bainbridge; best large hotel was The Devonshire Arms Hotel and Spa at Bolton Abbey; the Visitor Information award went to Hebden Bridge Visitor Centre; and best maker and producer was Sloemotion near Malton.
Restaurant of the Year was The Hare Restaurant in Scawton; Bettys Café Tea Rooms in Harrogate won for its outstanding customer service; best restaurant with rooms was The Star Inn at Harome; Harrogate’s Coach and Horses was named Pub of the Year; Pavilions of Harrogate won the Business Tourism Award; best large attraction was Yorkshire Sculpture Park; and Yorkshire Young Sinfonia won the Arts and Culture Award.
AND, HIGHLY COMMENDED WERE:
Business Tourism Award: York Conferences
Restaurant with Rooms: Prashad, Drighlington, near Leeds
Large Attraction: Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth
Taste of Yorkshire: Yorkshire Food Finder, York
Arts and Culture Award: Swaledale Festival
Visitor Information: Humber Bridge Tourist Information Centre, Hessle
Self-catering: Broadgate Farm Cottages, Beverley
Caravan & Holiday Park: Humble Bee Farm, Scarborough
Guest Accommodation: Grassfield Hall, Pateley Bridge
Makers & Producers: Dalesbred, Settle
Small Attraction: National Emergency Services Museum, Sheffield
Outstanding Customer Service: The 36. Riding Redefined, Harrogate
Tourism Event of the Year: Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate