The UK's best coach tour operators, destinations, visitor attractions, hotels, and tourism industry suppliers, were honoured last night (21 March) at the 2018 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 nearly 400 industry professionals to recognise and celebrate excellence and innovation across the multi-billion-pound coach tourism sector.
Beverley, National Memorial Arboretum, Lovers Canal Cruises, Condor Ferries, Broads Tours, West Somerset Railway, Rendezvous Hotel (Skipton), Hilton Worldwide, ICT Group Travel, Bateaux London, 42nd Street, Gardiners NMC, and Shaws of Maxey all took home accolades. While winning coach tour operators included: Gardiners NMC, Bakers Dolphin, Bayliss Executive Travel, Travel by Knight and Hough's of Lincolnshire.
Brian Way, former MD of Wayahead Travel, was posthumously awarded The British Coach Tourism Recognition Award for his significant contribution to the coach tourism industry.
The annual awards are organised by Diversified Communications UK and hosted by Group Tourism & Travel Magazine. This year's celebrity presenter was TV personality and broadcaster Angela Rippon CBE.
Jessamy Chapman, editor of Group Tourism & Travel Magazine, says: "Huge congratulations to all our winners at this year's British Coach Tourism Awards. It was one of our best yet, with a fantastic atmosphere of celebration and real emotion among our highly deserving winners.
"Once again, the quality of this year's entries was exceptional, reflecting the continuing commitment of coach operators, attractions and destinations to deliver the best possible experiences for groups on tour. To reward those who contribute to the thriving coach tourism sector with these prestigious awards is an honour. Well done to everyone who took part, for the stellar entries, being finalists, achieving highly commended and to those taking home Awards. Huge thanks to our judges, our partners, and everyone in the industry who supports the event."
British Coach Tourism Awards 2018 winners
Coach Friendly Destination (partnered by The NEC)
Coach Friendly Attraction (partnered by Shearings)
- National Memorial Arboretum
European Coach Friendly Attraction (partnered by DFDS)
- Lovers Canal Cruises
Cross-Sea Carrier (partnered by Edwards Coach Holidays)
- Condor Ferries
River and Inland Cruise Operator (partnered by Eastons Holidays)
- Broads Tours
Heritage Railway (partnered by the British Tourism & Travel Show)
- West Somerset Railway
Accommodation Provider (independent hotels) (partnered by West Midland Safari & Leisure Park)
- Rendezvous Hotel, Skipton
Accommodation Provider (hotel groups) (partnered by Bakers Dolphin)
- Hilton Worldwide
Tour Wholesaler and Industry Supplier (partnered by Planet Hollywood & The View from The Shard)
- ICT Group Travel
Dining Experience (partnered by the AGTO - Association of Group Travel Organisers)
- Bateaux London
Theatre Production - readers' choice award (partnered by Group Tourism & Travel Magazine)
- 42nd Street
Holiday Programme (partnered by Distinctive Systems)
- Gardiners NMC
Day Excursion Programme (partnered by Warner Leisure Hotels)
- Shaws of Maxey
Coach Tourism Innovation of the Year (partnered by Eurotunnel Le Shuttle)
- Travel by Knight: Mini sleeper coach
Coach Tourism Professional of the Year (partnered by Longleat)
- Adrian Smith, Melanie Cox, and Alistair Scott, Gardiners NMC
Coach Tour Driver of the Year (partnered by Roadchef)
- Michael Blowers, Bakers Dolphin
Coach Tour Operator: Small Fleet (1-5 coaches) (partnered by Condor Ferries)
- Hough's of Lincolnshire
Coach Tour Operator: Medium Fleet (6-15 coaches) (partnered by P&O Ferries)
- Bayliss Executive Travel
Coach Tour Operator: Large Fleet (more than 15 coaches) (partnered by Wrightsure)
- Bakers Dolphin
The British Coach Tourism Recognition Award (partnered by Hilton Worldwide)
- Brian Way, Wayahead Travel (posthumous)
In the dedication to Brian Way, the winner of this year's special Recognition Award, Jessamy Chapman, editor of Group Tourism & Travel Magazine, described how he had worked in the industry for over twenty years - building a successful tour operation along the south coast:
"Although his heart was in aviation, he embraced the coach holiday industry, which is where he made his reputation.
"He was a great supporter of our business and was proud to be appointed a director of the Coach Tourism Association, where he made a significant contribution. As a great socialiser, his popularity equaled his professionalism.
"It would be very hard to find anyone in our industry who would not be proud to say that they have been his business colleague and, more importantly, a personal friend. His health challenges never stopped him from participating in the industry he loved," she said.
For further information, including a full list of finalists and the judging panel, please visit http://www.britishcoachawards.co.uk.