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Top awards for tourist attractions

PUBLISHED: 11:25 25 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:37 05 July 2010

Visitor attractions and businesses across Suffolk and Norfolk have dominated the regional tourism Oscars.

Venues including Southwold Pier and the Africa Alive centre at Kessingland picked up prestigious awards for their excellence in an industry which generates more than £5bn a year across the six counties in the East of England.

Visitor attractions and businesses across Suffolk and Norfolk have dominated the regional tourism Oscars.

Venues including Southwold Pier and the Africa Alive centre at Kessingland picked up prestigious awards for their excellence in an industry which generates more than £5bn a year across the six counties in the East of England.

Top of the tree, with two awards, was Wroxham Barns, adding to its 25th anniversary celebrations by taking the outstanding customer service award for the second year running, and added the Taste of England title for using local produce too.

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Welney in West Norfolk also took the best small attraction for up to 50,000 visitors and was highly commended for its sustainable tourism.

Other Norfolk winners were Byfords of Holt as best bed and breakfast, and Park House at Sandringham, a hotel for disabled guests and their carers run by the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity, which took the Access for All section.

In Suffolk, Southwold Pier won the best tourism experience award.

Highly commended across the two counties were: Carrick's at Castle Farm Swanton Morley (bed and breakfast); RAF Radar Museum Neatishead (small visitor attraction); and Africa Alive, Kessingland (large visitor attraction)

The regional winners received their awards from travel writer and broadcaster Simon Calder at a black tie dinner held in Ickworth House near Bury St Edmunds. They will now go forward to the national awards, which will be announced in April.

East of England Tourism chairman, Derek Langslow, said: 'These awards recognise the excellent standards being achieved within the tourism industry throughout the region.

“They highlight the high quality and excellent customer service within the industry, as well as some marvellous examples of best practice in welcoming visitors with disabilities, promoting local produce and looking after the environment.”

Norfolk Tourism team manager Lydia Smith said the county's “brilliant night” of multiple successes, was a superb boost to its reputation as a quality holiday destination.

Wroxham Barns director Ian Russell said: "Winning two awards is a wonderful tribute to all the staff. We are working hard to build a very special business. Our success in the regional tourism awards will inspire us in our quest to develop an excellent sustainable business rooted in the local community."

And Julie Ward, centre manager WWT Welney said: "We are delighted to have won best visitor attraction and also to be commended in sustainable tourism for the second year running. We work hard to keep standards high for our visitors and tonight's success is a great reward for everyone at Welney."

Regional statistics show that Norfolk is the most popular tourist destination in the region attracting a quarter of its visitors, while Cambridgeshire tops the table with overseas tourists, who spend £720m in the region - with Germans the biggest group ahead of Americans, French and Dutch.

The full list of awards is on the East of England Tourism website www.eet.org.uk.

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