VisitEngland, the national tourism agency, has named Visit York’s Visitor Information Centre the best in the country.
The team in York represented one of three finalists at the 29th VisitEngland Awards for Excellence in the Visitor Information Provider of the Year category and were thrilled today to be bringing home the gold.
54 finalists battled it out at awards which were held in the exquisite 18th century Bath Assembly Rooms on St George's Day (Monday 23 April).
Julie Brookes, Visitor Centre Manager, and Sharon Holman, Joint Assistant Manager were presented with the gold award by Location Location’s Kirstie Allsopp. Silver went to Oxford and Bronze to Liverpool.
VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: “These awards are a celebration of our thriving tourism industry. They highlight the people and organisations that deliver amazing experiences for visitors, raising the profile of England as a world-class destination.
The finalists have shown themselves to be of the highest calibre, using their talent and innovation to deliver excellence. The hundreds of applications this year reflect the quality products across our tourism landscape and I warmly congratulate all the winners and finalists.”
Julie said: “I’m so proud of everyone. When you get up every morning and love what you do each day it shines through. It gets very busy sometimes but we treat every single visitor as if they are our first. Promoting York is a real privilege and it is really wonderful to be recognised for a job we all love doing.”
Ten staff and 30 volunteers keep York’s Visitor Centre running seven days a week. Between them they speak nine languages including, French, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, Portugese, German, Hungarian, Dutch and Catalan. The volunteers age from 20 to 78 give over 80,000 hours of their time each year and the centre attracts over 10,000 visitors every week from across the UK and overseas.
The Visitor Centre was mystery shopped by VisitEngland’s judges to test out their customer service, expertise and knowledge about the city and welcome. They were praised for their commitment to become accredited as dementia friendly, as well as training to be autism champions. The centre was praised too for getting its staff out into the city at the St Nicholas Fair and for offering a warm welcome at the railway station on arrival.
Sally Greenaway, Head of Visit York, said: “We’re all over the moon! I can’t thank the team enough for their hard work and dedication – they are absolutely awesome, as are our 30 passionate volunteers who give their time, free of charge, seven days a week.”
As well as booking accommodation and offering expert tourism advice, the Visitor Centre team sell tickets and tours, offer currency exchange and holds regular open evenings for tourism businesses.
York’s Chocolate Story scooped the gold award for Best Guided Tour, beating competition from the World of Wedgwood and Cotswolds Distillery. Meanwhile the Grand Hotel and Spa won Bronze in the Inbound Tourism Award category.
The good news comes after York was named most Festive City in the UK in a social media poll by Virgin Trains in January and Best Place to Live York earlier this month by the Sunday Times.
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