VISIT County Durham has announced that the search is on for the region’s best and brightest Tourism Superstars – following a break for the Covid-19 pandemic for the last two years.

Launched today (May 26), the tourism body is calling for nominations of anyone working within tourism who has made a special effort to support the industry's resurrection.

After coming to a standstill for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the competition provides valuable exposure for businesses and organisations across County Durham that are finally getting back into the swing of welcoming tourists.

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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, added: “We couldn’t be happier that the search is back on for Durham’s Tourism Superstar.

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“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 several 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, June 17 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.

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