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News release - Issued by Visit York

Winners Announced – Visit York Annual Tourism Awards

Fourteen of York’s top tourism businesses celebrated a win in the Visit York annual Tourism Awards last night (Thursday 22 June). Winners were announced at a prestigious Black Tie awards ceremony, held in the Grand Station Hall of the National Railway Museum, compered by breakfast show hosts Ben Fry and Ellie Brennan from Minster FM radio station.

And in a new category this year, the award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Tourism’ went to Chinese York resident Will Zhuang for his commitment and services to promoting York in China.

Now in their 20th year, the Visit York Tourism Awards celebrate individuals and companies who offer that extra special service and experience for York’s 6.9 million visitors, recognising and rewarding excellence in the city’s multi-million pound tourism sector. There was a fantastic turnout, attended by five hundred tourism businesses, as well as the Civic Party.

In two of the most hotly contested categories, Tower Guest House scooped B&B of the Year and best hotel went to The Principal York. Restaurant of the Year title went to The Whippet Inn Steak and Alehouse and El Piano won in the title best Café for the third year in a row. In the attraction categories York Art Gallery (over 50,000 visits) and the National Centre for Birds of Prey (under 50,000 visits), at Helmsley, both came out on top. Käthe Wohlfahrt, the traditional German Christmas shop, which opened in the former Mulberry Hall building in August 2016, were delighted to collect the award for best retail experience, after less than a full year trading in the city.

Sally Greenaway, Head of Visit York, said, ‘This year is special as we’re celebrating twenty years of excellence in the city’s tourism sector. The awards recognise the very best in our industry and I’m delighted to say the quality of entrants this year has been exceptional. We congratulate all of the winners and finalists for their commitment to ensuring York’s visitors have the best experience here.”

Fifteen businesses from across the city sponsored the glittering awards ceremony, which included a Black Tie Dinner, a prize draw and casino for national charity; the Family Holiday Association, as well as a celebration disco. The Family Holiday Association helps struggling families to create happy memories by having a holiday together.

Will Zhuang, originally from Shanghai, was honoured with the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Tourism’ award, for his services to promoting York to the Chinese. Will, whose Chinese name is Wei, studied at the University of East Anglia and later ran Carousel Guest House in York for eleven years with his wife Jean. Will was a founder member of the Guild of Media Arts and today is Executive Head Teacher at the York Chinese School.

Over the last few years Will has supported Visit York on a voluntary basis helping to build York’s profile in China. He has given his time voluntarily to run Visit York’s social media channels in Chinese on Weibo and Wechat and he boosted the profile of the city by bringing top Chinese TV Presenter Xiaodong on a trip to see York and Castle Howard, along with 100 of his Chinese fans. Added to this Will has worked closely with Hainan Airlines and supported Visit York in welcoming top officials to York from Beijing.

Michelle Brown, Marketing Manager, Visit York, said, “Since our first meeting with Will he has gone above and beyond to help us nurture our relationships in China. He has helped us to navigate the differences in social etiquette and supported numerous high profile Chinese visits, including welcoming a Chinese delegation from Nanjing when we signed our Sister City agreement in March this year. His passion for promoting York in China is commendable and he has made an outstanding contribution to tourism in York.”



Winners of the Visit York Tourism Awards 2017:

B&B of the Year
Sponsored by Little Hotelier

Winner: Tower Guest House

Highly Commended: The Bar Convent Guest House

Carr House Farm Bed and Breakfast
Lil's on the Waterfront


Café or Tearoom of the Year
Sponsored by Booker York

Winner: El Piano

Countess of York at the National Railway Museum
The Balloon Tree Farmshop & Café
The Garden Room at The Principal York


Conference Venue of the Year
Sponsored by Colour Options

Winner: The Principal York

Highly Commended: The National Centre for Early Music (NCEM)

The Bar Convent (Conferencing)
York Science Park


Family Friendly Experience of the Year
Sponsored by P&O Ferries

Winner: Yorkshire's Winter Wonderland

The Bloody Tour of York
York Art Gallery
York Maze


Hotel of the Year
Sponsored by Streamline Taxis

Winner: The Principal York

Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa
Hotel du Vin York
Hotel Indigo York
The Black Swan Hotel


Newcomer of the Year
Sponsored by Hungate York Regeneration

Winner: Can You Escape? York

Brew York Craft Brewery & Tap Room
Joe's Kitchen
Staycity Paragon Street York
The Botanist York


Outstanding Customer Service
Sponsored by Manchester Airport

Winner: Alison Storey (York Racecourse)

Anna Bialockleb (The Whippet Inn)
Damian Palmer-Bunting (Robin Hood Caravan)
Edward Kelly (Stay City)
Frank Caulfield (Dean Court Hotel)


Pub of the Year
Sponsored by Hunter Gee Holroyd

Winner: Pairings Wine Bar

The Blue Bell
The Chapter House at The Principal York
The Drovers Arms
Thomas's of York Pub & Kitchen


Restaurant of the Year
Sponsored by Morrell Middleton

Winner: The Whippet Inn Steak & Alehouse

Ambiente Tapas
Melton's Restaurant
The Drovers Arms Restaurant & Country Pub
The Raj
The Weathervane Restaurant

Self-catering Venue of the Year
Sponsored by Yorkshire Laundry

Winner: The Old Brewery, York

Highly Commended: Robin Hood Caravan & Camping Park

Forest Holidays
York Stay Holidays


Shopping Experience of the Year
Sponsored by York BID

Winner: Käthe Wohlfahrt, Mulberry Hall

Bishy Road
Pandora's Box


Visitor Attraction of the Year (Over 50,000 Visitors)
Sponsored by F R Fowler & Son

Winner: York Art Gallery

Eden Camp Modern History Theme Museum
Energi Trampoline Park York
North Yorkshire Moors Railway
The York Dungeon


Visitor Attraction of the Year (Under 50,000 Visitors)
Sponsored by First Group

Winner: National Centre for Birds of Prey

Go Ape Dalby
The Bloody Tour of York
York Army Museum


Visitor Experience of the Year

Sponsored by Virgin Trains East Coast
Winner: Hallowscream at York Maze

BOBH - Day Trips from York
Eboracum Roman Festival
Yorkshire's Winter Wonderland


Visit York Outstanding Contribution Award 2017
Sponsored by The Great Yorkshire Fringe

Awarded to: Will Zhuang




Notes to the Editor

Interview Opportunities: Please call us to set up interviews with any of our winners.

Photos: if using stock photos in advance of this embargoed release, we kindly request as much discretion as possible to ensure this news is strictly confidential until after the awards ceremony.

For further information please contact:
Kay Hyde – Head of Communications – Make It York
Direct Line: 01904 554451
Mobile: 07506 048852

About Make It York

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally - as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. The company’s remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, festivals and events, business support and inward investment.

Visit York is a part of Make It York and is the leisure tourism brand
Under the brand Visit York, Make It York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure visitor and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York.


Key tourism facts:
6.9 million visitors annually, £564 million total visitor spend, supporting 19,000 jobs

Images Available: Winners at the Visit York Tourism Awards 2017