THE North-East’s best tourism businesses have been awarded for their work in welcoming people to the region.

Gold winners were handed out to 15 businesses and groups at a ceremony in Newcastle last night.

Best large visitor attraction of the year was Beamish Museum, near Stanley, in County Durham.

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There was also a gong for volunteer group the Durham Pointers, who were given a gold award for being the best visitor information provider of the year.

The group, known for their eye-catching pink tabards, volunteer to provide information to visitors in Durham city every day during peak tourist times.

Durham University’s events team - Event Durham - was given the business tourism award.

Sarah Stewart, chief executive at destination management and marketing organisation NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “Huge congratulations to all of tonight’s winners. It’s been another brilliant year for entries and we received a high standard of entrants across all categories.

“The tourism sector in the North East of England continues to thrive, from our buzzing city centres to our beautiful coastline and varied countryside.”

Other winners included South Tynedale Railway, which had two gold awards, including best small visitor attraction of the year.

Hotel of the year was Battlesteads Hotel, in Hexham and best pub was The Apple Inn, in Lucker, Northumbria.

Newton Hall, near Alnwick, won gold for boutique hotel of the year.