Tourism awards launched to celebrate attractions in the West Midlands

An annual awards ceremony celebrating the importance of tourism and highlight the "jewels" in the West Midlands has officially launched.

Train loads of people at Dudley Zoo
Train loads of people at Dudley Zoo

Leaders in the region have called on businesses to enter the second West Midlands Tourism Awards after a tough year due to the pandemic.

They have been set up this year with a focus on celebrating the strength and resilience of the region's economy and how it will bounce back.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council and member of the West Midlands Regional Board for Tourism, said: "The Black Country is home to some of the jewels in the West Midlands’s tourism offer, from fantastic heritage attractions, which tell the story of the region, to food and drink venues and accommodation.

"The West Midlands Tourism Awards provide an opportunity for us to raise a glass and pay tribute to the passionate ambassadors, whose hard work and great welcome make trips to the region more memorable for our visitors. The Black Country’s tourism and hospitality businesses deserve to be recognised, so I hope to see lots of our venues enter and earn their moment in the spotlight."

Tourism and hospitality venues across the West Midlands are encouraged to apply to compete for honours in 14 categories, including Large Visitor Attraction of the Year; Experience of the Year; and the Accessible & Inclusive Tourism Award. Both Shropshire and Telford attractions fall within the geography for the awards.

The gold and silver winners of each category will be automatically shortlisted for VisitEngland’s National Awards for Excellence next summer. Last year, the Hive Café and Bakery in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter; the Birmingham Hippodrome; and the Howard Arms in Warwickshire all won national recognition, following their success at the regional event.

And a new category – the Resilience and Innovation Award – will recognise companies, which have demonstrated flexibility and support for their local communities during a turbulent 18 months for the tourism sector.

It will be backed by the West Midlands Growth Company, which aims to attract visitors and events to the region, with the awards being free to enter and independently judged. The closing date for entries is October 10, with the ceremony taking place early next year.

Becky Frall, head of visitor attraction at the West Midlands Growth Company, said: "The West Midlands Tourism Awards highlight excellence across the sector. After an incredibly tough time for our region’s visitor economy, next year’s ceremony will celebrate the efforts of our businesses, which have delivered outstanding service because the show must go on.

"Whether it’s providing a backdrop for friends and family to get together or offering people job opportunities, our tourism sector plays a crucial role in the West Midlands’s quality of life.

"We want to celebrate the achievements of our visitor destinations during our awards night next year, and we urge businesses across the region to log on to our website and get involved."

It comes as the West Midlands is set to play host to major sporting and cultural fixtures over the next 12 months including the Commonwealth Games, the British Art Show in Wolverhampton and the world's leading international women's cycle race – the Women's Tour – in Walsall.

Coventry UK City of Culture will also continue to offer ways to explore the region and the stories of its people, with major events including the Turner Prize at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.

In 2019, the tourism sector contributed £13.1 billion to the regional economy, attracting 134 million visitors and supporting more than 137,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

For more information about the West Midlands Tourism Awards 2022, including details of how to enter, visit makeitwm.com/wmta

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