Tourism bosses have launched the 2016 North East England Tourism Awards, calling on businesses across the region to enter and celebrate their achievements and success.

This year sees three new categories; ‘Guided Tour of the Year’, ‘Self Catering Property of the Year’ and a new ‘Dog Friendly Business’ category which is included to celebrate tourism businesses which go the extra mile to ensure that both visitors and their pooches have an unforgettable experience.

Sarah Stewart, chief executive at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “The past year has been both busy and exciting for the tourism sector. A year packed with sporting highlights in the North East has included Rugby World Cup 2015, Magic Weekend (in 2015 and 2016), the Westfield Health British Transplant Games, the Tour of Britain and the annual Great North Run – all attracting day and overnight visitors to the North East.

“The tourism sector is an important part of the local economy, supporting over 55,000 jobs. The awards provide a great platform to celebrate the success of tourism businesses across the region whilst reinforcing the importance of the industry in the North East.

“I would like to encourage all visitor economy businesses, from hotels and pubs to attractions and eateries, to consider entering this year’s awards – applications are now open.”

The North East England Tourism Awards, which are free to enter, are organised and delivered by destination marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative in partnership with the Northern Tourism Alliance and local authorities across the region. Entries close at 4pm on Friday 9 September and the awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday 22 November 2016 at Newcastle Civic Centre.

Northumbrian Water has announced they will be supporting the awards for the fourth consecutive year, joined by Gateshead College as headlines sponsors for 2016.

David Hall, head of leisure, strategy and transformation at Northumbrian Water, said: “We are delighted to yet again be supporting the awards and are proud to aid in shining a light on and celebrating the success of the hard working tourism industry. The new ‘Dog Friendly Business’ category comes as exciting news as we are currently redeveloping our dog friendly offering at our very own Leaplish Waterside Park.”

Judith Doyle, principal and chief executive at Gateshead College, said: “The North East Tourism Awards is a fantastic celebration of all the amazing experiences that our region has to offer and they would not be able to do so if they did not have talented, enthusiastic employees. At Gateshead College we are working with many of our local tourism businesses to ensure they have the skilled workforce they need to thrive and ultimately boost economic growth for the North East. We are delighted to support the awards especially because it will also create opportunities for our students to gain some inspirational work experience and inspire them to pursue their future careers here in the region.”

Winners at the North East England Tourism Awards 2016 will have the chance to compete nationally at VisitEngland’s Excellence Awards. Earlier this year, six North East businesses went on to see success nationally following the 2015 Awards – they were Rockliffe Hall (Large Hotel of the Year - gold), St Cuthbert’s House (Sustainable Tourism Award – bronze and Bed & Breakfast / Guest Accommodation of the Year – highly commended), Beamish, The Living Museum of the North (Large Visitor Attraction of the Year – bronze), Martineau Guest House (Taste of England Award – highly commended), Seaham Hall (Business Tourism Award – highly commended), Magna Carta & the changing Face of Revolt, Durham University (Tourism Event of the Year - highly commended).

More information on the North East England Tourism Awards can be found at, where applications are available to download.

The Northern Tourism Alliance is a collaboration of the region’s tourism bodies who work together on projects that will benefit the tourism industry across the region. The founding members of the alliance are NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Northumberland Tourism, Visit County Durham, and The North East Hotels Association. The North East England Tourism Awards are also supported by Northumberland County Council, South Tyneside Council, North Tyneside Council and Sunderland City Council.