A COUNTY Durham town is hoping to be recognised as one of the most welcoming in the country – thanks to its dedication to customer service and visitor experience.

Bishop Auckland, which is currently undergoing a £100m revitalisation programme led by Auckland Castle Trust and its sister charity, Eleven Arches, is aiming to achieve WorldHost Recognised Destination status by summer 2017 – and more businesses are being given the chance to take part.

The accolade, assessed by workforce development expert, People 1st, is achieved only when half of all staff from eligible businesses pass specialist, WorldHost training, designed to boost customer service to world-class levels.

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It was confirmed in a special celebration at Bishop Auckland Town Hall that 98 people from 50 businesses have now successfully completed the programme, with 14 companies being named WorldHost Recognised Businesses, after enrolling 50 per cent of their total workforce.

This includes the Park Head Hotel, Bondgate Gallery, Castlegate Café, Escomb Church, Fifteas Tearoom, Spice Lounge, Victorian Tearooms, Images Bridal, Inspiral Cycles, Trimmers Hairdressers, M&Co clothing store and Painting with Thread.

“WorldHost is an internationally recognised standard for quality customer service,” said Louise Costello, visitor experience manager for Auckland Castle Trust. “Reaching Recognised Destination status would really help to put Bishop Auckland on the map and show that the town is dedicated to giving its visitors the highest possible levels of customer care."

This training was funded by Cllr Joy Allen’s Neighbourhood Budget whose cash secured 125 places.

A limited number of places are still available for Auckland Castle Trust’s free WorldHost training, including workshops on Thursday (March 23) and March 29.

For more information or to book call 01388-743797 or email bookings@aucklandcastle.org