Full sail towards top awards

HARTLEPOOL’S biggest ever event is one step away from clinching a top tourism award.

The town leg of The Tall Ships Races is one of three high-profile attractions from 2010 short-listed for the Tourism Event of the Year title at the North East England Tourism Awards.

The event which saw 970,000 people converge on Hartlepool is up against the Evolution Weekender festival – which saw top music acts such as Paolo Nutini and the Futureheads come to Newcastle and Gateshead – and the Extraordinary Measures art exhibition at Belsay Hall.

The award is one of 15 to be announced in a ceremony on Thursday, October 6, at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland.

Others include the Small Hotel of the Year category in which the Wynyard Hall Country House Hotel is one of three to be shortlisted. Its rivals for the title are Doxford Hall Hotel in Northumberland and Seaham Hall Hotel and Serenity Spa in County Durham.

The Wynyard Hall Country House Hotel is also short-listed for the Outstanding Customer Service award with the Macdonald Linden Hall Golf and Country Club, and Sodexo Prestige catering as its two opponents.

The full line-up was revealed by regional development agency One North East.

Geoff Hodgson, chairman of the North East Tourism Advisory Board said: “The North East England Tourism awards recognise the best tourism businesses across the North East.

“The success of this year’s shortlisted winners, also demonstrates that tourism businesses that invest in quality, not only provide more for their visitors, they also enjoy significant economic benefits.”

Tourism is a major part of the region’s economy. It is worth almost £4bn to the local economy and employs just over 60,000 people.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “I am very pleased. It is deserved.

“Out of the short-listed events, we were the biggest and arguably the most high-profile.

“We shall be keeping our fingers crossed.

“The reason we entered was because we felt the event deserved recognition. It was extremely well run and most of the people who came thoroughly enjoyed it.”

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