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The Search is Back on for Durham’s Tourism Superstars 

After coming to a standstill for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Visit County Durham has announced that the search is officially back on for County Durham’s best and brightest Tourism Superstars.

Visit County Durham is calling for nominations of anyone working within tourism who has made a special effort to support the industry’s resurrection and continues to go that extra mile.

As well as formal recognition for the Superstars, the competition provides valuable exposure for businesses and organisations across County Durham that are finally getting back into the swing of welcoming tourists.

Michelle Gorman, Managing Director at Visit County Durham said: “We are all so relieved and excited that the search for Durham’s Tourism Superstar is finally back on.

“It has, of course, been an incredibly tough time for the tourism industry so to be able to shine a light on those that truly deserve it, perhaps this year more than ever, is fantastic.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the nominations pouring in this time around, it’s always a great reminder of the talent we have here in County Durham.”

In the nine years it has been running, three Durham individuals have gone on to be crowned national winners by VisitEngland and another three outstanding individuals made the UK’s Tourism Superstar shortlist.

Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnership, Councillor Elizabeth Scott, said: “We couldn’t be happier that the search is back on for Durham’s Tourism Superstar.

“Given our past triumphs, it’s safe to say that the county has the attractions, and the people, to truly set it apart for the millions of tourists who visit every year.

“I would urge all tourism businesses from B&Bs to restaurants to tourist attractions and volunteer organisations to nominate anyone who goes above and beyond to make visitor experiences in Durham extra special.”

In 2020, Tori Goodall, Director at Walworth Birds of Prey, was one of only ten national finalists across the country.

When asked about the competition, Ms Goodall said: “It was a strange but amazing feeling to be nominated for the regional heat let alone go on to be part of the national finals! Of course, no one ever feels like they deserve it but it was very humbling and the recognition for Walworth Birds of Prey was fantastic and totally worth it.

“I would encourage all businesses within tourism to nominate someone – it’s nice to be nice, and although competition is strong, it’s a great process to be a part of.”

She follows a number of other successful candidates from Durham, including the 2019 national champion Emily Hope (Beamish, The Living Museum of the North) and Lillian Groves (Durham Cathedral), who was named winner in 2015.

The closing date for nominations is Friday 17 June and finalists will be selected by a panel of industry experts in conjunction with the Northern Echo, with the winner being announced at Visit County Durham’s annual Garden Party in July 2022 (date TBC).

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(L-R) Emily Hope (Beamish Museum), Tori Goodall (Walworth Birds of Prey), Cllr Elizabeth Scott (Durham County Council), Matthew Henderson (Beamish Museum) and Ivor Stolliday, Chairman at Visit County Durham. 

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Notes to editors

Notes to editors Visit County Durham Visit County Durham (VCD) is the Destination Management Organisation for County Durham working on behalf of businesses and public agencies. We came into being on 1 April 2006 and are a private, not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, with a board of directors including an executive director. The company’s main funder is Durham County Council. The private sector also contributes financially to our work in return for benefits and activities that meet their needs. Visit County Durham assists the county to fulfil its potential as one of North East England’s lead destinations, attracting visitors to the region from across the UK and from target overseas markets. Its objective is to ensure that the tourism sector performs to its maximum capacity and brings economic benefits to the county in the form of wealth and job creation. Its broad aims are to attract people to the area and to provide visitors with the best possible experience. Durham Tourism Superstar The Durham Tourism Superstar initiative, run in conjunction with the Northern Echo and now in its ninth year, recognises the people working in the county’s tourism industry who go above and beyond to ensure visitors have an incredible experience. The first Durham Tourism Superstar was announced in 2014 at Visit County Durham’s annual garden party, and the winner, Matthew Henderson (Engagement & Participation Assistant at Beamish Museum) went on to be crowned VisitEngland’s national Tourism Superstar. The 2015 Durham Tourism Superstar, Lillian Groves (Senior Guide at Durham Cathedral), also received the national accolade. Emily Hope (Beamish Museum) won VisitEngland’s national Tourism Superstar in 2019. Durham’s hat-trick of national success showcases how incredible Durham’s visitor welcome truly is. 2016’s Durham Tourism Superstar winner Alan Anderson from Auckland Castle, Richard Darlington from Hall Hill Farm (2017) and Tori Goodall at Walworth Birds of Prey (2020) also made the shortlist for VisitEngland’s national Superstar award.

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