The winners of the 2016 National Coach Tourism Awards were announced last night (Wednesday 16 March) at a prestigious ceremony at the Vox, Resorts World, NEC Birmingham, following the first day of the British Tourism & Travel Show.
Weston-super-Mare's Grand Pier, Burnham-on-Sea, Blackburn Market, Hallmark Hotels, CalMac Ferries, Encore Tickets, Maynes Coaches, and Johnsons Coach Travel all took home accolades, while Roger Elsmere, managing director of Woods Travel, was this year's recipient of the Coach Monthly Special Award for outstanding contribution to coach tourism.
Celebrating its 11th 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 Coach Monthly magazine. This year's celebrity presenter was TV personality Anthea Turner.
The event brought together over 400 industry professionals, including coach tour operators, destinations, visitor attractions, hotels, and tourism industry suppliers, to recognise and celebrate excellence and innovation across the multi-billion pound coach tourism sector.
Tony Henthorn, group director at Diversified UK, says: "With nearly 120 finalists competing for the top spot across 19 specialist categories, coach tourism was the real winner of the night. And it has much to celebrate. As a snapshot of the industry, the incredible standard (and record number) of entries across the board for 2016, reflects a thriving industry and is a testament to the strength of commitment of the individuals working within it.
"There are many tourism awards, but only the National 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."
National Coach Tourism Awards 2016 winners include:
Coach Friendly Destination - sponsored by My Day Out
• Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset
Coach Friendly Visitor Attraction - jointly sponsored by Planet Hollywood and Hospitality Line
• Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Coach Friendly Shopping Destination of the Year - sponsored by British Tourism & Travel Show
• Blackburn Market, Lancashire
Cross-Sea Carrier of the Year - sponsored by Edwards Coach Holidays
• CalMac Ferries (Caledonian MacBrayne Clyde & Hebridean Ferries)
River and Inland Cruise Operator - sponsored by Coach Tourism Council (CTC)
• Ullswater 'Steamers', Cumbria
Heritage Railway - sponsored by DFDS
• Vale of Rheidol Railway, Ceredigion
Accommodation Provider: Hotel Groups - sponsored by Fieldfisher
• Hallmark Hotels
Accommodation Provider: Individual Hotels - sponsored by Visit Scotland
• Rendezvous Hotel, Skipton, North Yorkshire
Ticket Supplier - sponsored by West Midland Safari & Leisure Park
• Encore Tickets
Tour Wholesaler - sponsored by P&O Ferries
• Greatdays Travel Group
Holiday Programme - sponsored by Independent Coach Travel
• Shaws Coaches, Cambridgeshire
Day Excursion Programme - sponsored by Warner Leisure Hotels
• Johnsons Coach Travel, Warwickshire
Coach Tour Operator Brochure - sponsored by Towergate Chapman Stevens
• Silver Star Holidays, Gwynedd
Coach Tourism Innovation - sponsored by Eurotunnel Le Shuttle
• Johnsons Coach Travel - Bard on Board, Warwickshire
Coach Tourism Professional of the Year - sponsored by Group Line
• Alan Payling, owner of Coach Drivers Information Pack, Devon
Coach Tour Driver of the Year - sponsored by Cornmarket Insurance Services
• Alyn Frankel, tours director at Moving People, Lancashire
Coach Tour Operator: Small Fleets (1 to 5 coaches) - sponsored by Norman Allen Group Travel
• Fenn Holidays, Cambridgeshire
Coach Tour Operator: Medium Fleets (6 to 15 coaches) - sponsored by Roadchef
• Parrys International Tours, West Midlands
Coach Tour Operator: Large Fleets (more than 15 coaches) - sponsored by Wrightsure Insurance Services
• Maynes Coaches (Moray and Orkney)
Coach Monthly Special Award - sponsored by Hilton Worldwide
• Roger Elsmere, managing director of Woods Travel, West Sussex
Jessamy Chapman, the new editor of Coach Monthly, described how the winner of this year's Special Award - Roger Elsmere - set up business with a single taxi in a small, West Sussex seaside resort in the early 1970s. Today, she said, he "now oversees Woods Travel one of the most highly-regarded coach tour operators in the land".
"Roger Elsmere is an operator whose award-winning business is both widely admired within the coach tourism sector, and also highly-regarded in its home town [of Bognor Regis] as a shining example of a successful family-run business that has gradually grown to be a true star of the community and wider industry.
"After winning his local newspaper's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015, business people in the town queued up to offer their congratulations. 'Integrity', 'involved', 'charitable', 'professional', 'quality', 'dedicated', 'trustworthy' were just some of the words his friends and peers chose to describe him," she said.
"He is both a leader and innovator - and much, much more," she said, as Mr Elsmere accepted his award to a standing ovation.
For further information, including a full list of finalists and details of the 2016 judging panel, please visit http://www.ncta.co.uk.
The second day of British Tourism & Travel Show 2016 is open from 10am to 4pm today at the NEC, Birmingham. Exhibitors include CalMac Ferries, Love Weston, Hallmark Hotels, Encore Tickets, and Greatdays Travel Group. For more information, please visit http://www.tourismshow.co.uk.