Winners of the Best Small Visitor Attraction category
A Teesdale-based visitor attraction has proved that good things come in small packages after walking away with the top prize in the hardest fought category at the North East England Tourism Awards last night.
Bowlees Visitor Centre, which is run by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership, was given the gold accolade in the Small Visitor Attraction category, beating off competition from 22 other entrants.
The centre was reopened in June 2013 and since then it has gone from strength-to-strength, offering a wide range of things for visitors to do including educational opportunities for schools, a children’s nature club and craft workshops. It also provides a venue for sell-out evening events that have attracted performances from best-selling authors and poets.
‘We are Delighted’
Shane Harris, Responsible Tourism Lead for the AONB Partnership, said: “We are delighted to achieve the gold award. It’s a credit to everyone involved in making Bowlees Visitor Centre the welcoming, high quality experience that it is. This recognition of what we’re trying to achieve at the centre means a lot to us and first and foremost it reflects the efforts of our dedicated band of volunteers who give so much to make the place the success it is.”
The AONB Partnership prides itself on offering visitors an immersive hands-on approach to wildlife and the natural world when they go to Bowlees Visitor Centre, as well as fulfilling the role of providing a gateway to Upper Teesdale and the wider North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark. It also provides a much-needed platform from which local producers and artists can sell their work.
Following on from last night’s announcement winners now have a chance to showcase their business, and the North East, on a national stage at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2017.
Andrew Stokes, VisitEngland Director, said: “These awards are a fantastic showcase of the quality and sheer diversity of tourism products on offer across the North East of England. They are testament to the passion and commitment of businesses who are working so hard to develop the region’s visitor economy, driving growth from tourism across the country.”
Looking to 2017
The centre will continue to expand its offer and development work is planned to take place over winter when a neglected patch of land will be transformed into a nature garden complete with new homes for wildlife and a wildflower meadow.
‘Such Positive Feedback’
Director of the AONB Partnership, Chris Woodley-Stewart, said: “We are delighted to win this award for our work at Bowlees Visitor Centre and we are indebted to our many volunteers and supporters, to our café partners, Café Fresh, and of course to all of our visitors who have provided such positive feedback about the welcome we provide.
“We’d also like to offer our congratulations to the other North Pennine business recognised in the tourism awards, South Tynedale Railway and Langley Castle Hotel.”
Released: 23 November 2016