WASHINGTON Wildfowl and Wetland Centre flew off with top honours at the North East’s tourism “Oscars”.
The centre was named Small Visitor Attraction of the Year in the North East England Tourism Awards, the second year running it has claimed the trophy.
It also took bronze in the Sustainable Tourism category, while other Wearside winners included Monkwearmouth Station Museum, which claimed silver in the Small Visitor Attraction category, and Sunderland football club, which took bronze in the Tourism Experience of the Year section.
Low Urpeth Farm, in Chester-le-Street, won the Bed and Breakfast/Guest Accommodation of the Year category.
Wetlands centre manager Doug Tuck said: “The North East is home to a thriving and competitive tourism industry, so to be recognised as being up there with the best is a real honour and a reflection of all the hard work and commitment shown by our dedicated staff and volunteers.
“Washington Wetland Centre is a unique day out; a nature reserve home to an abundance of wonderful wetland wildlife and habitats, where people can have fun, learn and connect with nature, while at the same time see sustainability in action – a truly diverse experience which is summed up perfectly by these two awards.”
Other winners included Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema and Gateshead’s Baltic gallery, who shared gold in the Large Visitor Attraction category, The Sage Gateshead, which took the Access for All Award, and Kielder Water and Forest Park, which won Tourism Experience of the Year.
Sarah Stewart, chief executive at organiser NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “The enthusiasm we’ve seen from businesses for this year’s North East England Tourism Awards has been fantastic.
“The results demonstrate the quality and innovation within the visitor economy from across the whole region and I’d like to congratulate all of the winners on their success.
“The judges were highly impressed with the quality of entrants and all of the shortlisted businesses should be proud of their achievements.
“The awards have presented an opportunity for the industry to come together and demonstrate the importance and scale of tourism in the North East.
“I’d like to extend my thanks to everyone who volunteered to judge and deliver what has been a truly spectacular event.”
Winners will have the chance to compete on a national stage against those from England’s other regions at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence.
Regional businesses who were successful in the national awards in 2012 were Beamish Museum (Large Visitor Attraction), Rockliffe Hall (Large Hotel) and Great North Museum (Access for All).