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RECAP: Small Visitor Attraction of the Year

13th August 2015

Categories: NETA - news

Award: Small Visitor Attraction of the Year 

Winner: WWT Washington Wetland Centre  

If you like to get close with nature and wetland habitats, WWT Washington Wetland Centre is the perfect place for you! 

This nature reserve on the River Wear comprises of 103 acres of spectacular wetlands, woodlands and meadows for all to enjoy and admire. 

It aims to bring nature and people together through beautiful landscapes, events and inspiring encounters with wildlife. 

As green spaces become smaller and opportunities to interact with the natural world grow scarce, WWT plays an increasingly important role in helping local people discover more about the wildlife and habitats around them, particularly those that are rare and threatened. 

Its mission is to ‘protect, preserve and develop wetlands and the diverse range of species that relies on them for survival’. 

Amazing dedication to the wildlife and excellent customer service made them outstanding at last year’s North East Tourism Awards, winning the Small Visitor Attraction of the Year Award 2014. 

Why did you enter the North East England Tourism Awards 2014? 

We’ve had great success in the North East England Tourism Awards in recent years, receiving gold for North East Small Visitor Attraction of the Year in 2009, 2011 and 2012, so we know the value and importance of them and couldn’t imagine not entering to be honest. 

What did it feel like to win? 

Absolutely fantastic. Each year we invite different staff and volunteers to attend the ceremony and in 2014 it was my turn to go along. We were up against some really outstanding fellow attractions, all of which were more than worthy winners, so when we realised we’d clinched gold we were genuinely shocked. And thrilled, of course. 

What impact has it had on your business? 

There are many intangible benefits to winning a tourism award, but those we can quantify include a +15% rise in visitor figures as well as bolstering staff and volunteer morale (the positive effect each of our wins has had on our team cannot be underestimated) and boosting engagement with our visitors and members. Tweeting from the 2014 awards gained us dozens of followers that night and being able to share our win with both our Twitter and Facebook families was a great PR tool as it allowed them to tell us how proud they were and how much they loved us – and we could tell them too! As a charity, the accolade is also something that appeals to potential funders.  

In your opinion, how important are the North East England Tourism Awards? 

They’re hugely important as they give tourism businesses of all shapes and size the chance to showcase who they are and what they do to the people that they do it for. For us, the very process of applying for the awards is also of great benefit as it gives us an opportunity to evaluate and take stock of all the amazing things we’ve achieved in the past year; something I’m sure none of us gets to do as often as we should. 

Why do you think other businesses should apply?

For the reasons immediately above but also because you’ve got to be in it to win it – and even if you don’t, the rigorous application process will have been worthwhile in itself. 

Will you enter again this year?

The form has already been downloaded…

By Karolina Osmak

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