British Coach Tourism Awards 2017: Winners announced

Domestic tourism community honoured at national awards

The UK's best coach tour operators, destinations, visitor attractions, hotels, and tourism industry suppliers, were honoured last night (22 March) at the 2017 British Coach Tourism Awards.

The prestigious awards ceremony, which took place at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham following the first day of the British Tourism & Travel Show, brought together over 350 industry professionals to recognise and celebrate excellence and innovation across the multi-billion pound coach tourism sector.

Popular seaside resort Southport, West Midland Safari & Leisure Park, Titanic Belfast, Chester Zoo, Windermere Lake Cruises, Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, Albatross Travel, Glenton Holidays, Warner Leisure Hotels, and Woburn Abbey's group coordinator Lisa Weaver all took home accolades. While winning coach tour operators included Crusader Holidays, Eastons Coaches, Galloway Coach Travel, Tallo Ho! Holidays, Highland Explorer Tours, and Edwards Coach Holidays.

Joan Johnson, of Johnsons Coaches, one of the first female coach drivers in the UK, was this year's recipient of the 'Special Recognition Award' for her outstanding contribution to coach tourism.

Celebrating its 12th anniversary this year, the annual awards - the only national awards scheme that specifically focuses on coach tourism - were organised by Diversified Communications UK, and hosted by Group Tourism & Travel magazine (formerly Coach Monthly). This year's celebrity presenter was TV personality and broadcaster Gethin Jones.

Helen Conway, group director at Diversified UK, says: "Once again the sheer quality of this year's awards entries has been outstanding. It sends a strong signal that the domestic tourism sector is getting stronger every year and is a real testament to the strength of commitment of the individuals working within it.

"There are many tourism awards, but only the British Coach Tourism Awards specifically focuses on coach tourism. They are the most important annual celebration of the very best our industry has to offer. As well as recognising excellence and innovation in all aspects of the trade on a big stage, the awards offer winners a year-round marketing opportunity and a big morale-booster for hard-working teams. Congratulations again to all our fantastic winners."

British Coach Tourism Awards 2017 winners:

Coach Friendly Destination (sponsored by P&O Ferries)

- Southport

Coach Friendly Visitor Attraction (sponsored by Coach Tourism Association)

- West Midland Safari & Leisure Park

European Coach Friendly Attraction (sponsored by DFDS)

- Titanic Belfast

Sea, Canal, Inland Riverboat Carrier (including under-sea) (sponsored by Edward Coaches)

- Windermere Lake Cruises

Heritage Railway (sponsored by Group Tourism & Travel magazine)

- Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

Accommodation Provider (sponsored by British Tourism & Travel Show)

- Warner Leisure Hotels

Tour Wholesaler (sponsored by Planet Hollywood & Ripley's)

- Albatross Travel

Holiday Programme (sponsored by Irish Ferries)

- Glenton Holidays

Day Excursion Programme (sponsored by Warner Leisure Hotel)

- Eastons Coaches

Accessibility Award (sponsored by Coach & Bus UK)

- Chester Zoo

Coach Tour Operator Brochure (sponsored by Hospitality Line & City Cruises)

- Crusader Holidays

Coach Tourism Innovation of the Year (sponsored by Eurotunnel)

- Galloway Coach Travel: School of Rock coach

Coach Tourism Professional of the Year (sponsored by Association of Group Travel Organisers)

- Lisa Weaver, Groups Coordinator, Woburn Abbey

Coach Tour Driver of the Year (sponsored by Coach Drivers Club)

- Driver team at Crusader Holidays

Coach Tour Operator: Small Fleet (1-5 coaches) (sponsored by Rendezvous Hotel)

- Tally Ho! Holidays

Coach Tour Operator: Medium Fleet (6-15 coaches) (sponsored by Roadchef)

- Highland Explorer Tours

Coach Tour Operator: Large Fleet (more than 15 coaches) (sponsored by Wrightsure)

- Edwards Coach Holidays

The British Coach Tourism Recognition Award (sponsored by Hilton Worldwide)

- Joan Johnson

Jessamy Chapman, editor of Group Tourism & Travel magazine, describes how the winner of this year's special Recognition Award, Joan Johnson, spent over 60 years working in the industry. She joined Johnsons Coaches - her husband Roy's family business, in 1956 and only retired in December last year at the age of 80.

"Having joined the business in 1956, with just three coaches, a furniture removal lorry and a taxi, Joan was soon raising five children whilst running a business, and becoming one of the first ever female coach drivers in the UK.

"In 1981, she completed her first coach tour to Blair Gowrie with her son John. From then she has escorted over 350 tours all over the UK, Europe and worldwide. A true family business, her dedication saw her taking on research to each destination and excursion, making sure that customers were well looked after, and even coming up with the company's motto: 'Travel with Johnsons, Travel with Friends'.

"To top it all off, in her spare time she volunteers for a local charity, raising over £11k in just three years," says Chapman.

For further information, including a full list of finalists and the judging panel, please visit

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