Fourteen of York’s top tourism businesses celebrated a win in the Visit York annual Tourism Awards on Thursday 22 June. Winners were announced at a black tie awards ceremony, held in the Grand Station Hall of the National Railway Museum, compered by breakfast show hosts Ben Fry and Ellie Brennan from Minster FM radio station.
And in a new category this year, the award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Tourism’ went to Chinese York resident Will Zhuang for his commitment and services to promoting York in China.
Now in their 20th year, the Visit York Tourism Awards celebrate individuals and companies who offer that extra special service and experience for York’s 6.9 million visitors, recognising and rewarding excellence in the city’s multi-million pound tourism sector. There was a fantastic turnout, attended by five hundred tourism businesses, as well as the Civic Party.
In two of the most hotly contested categories, Tower Guest House scooped B&B of the Year and best hotel went to The Principal York. Restaurant of the Year title went to The Whippet Inn Steak and Alehouse and El Piano won in the title best Café for the third year in a row. In the attraction categories York Art Gallery (over 50,000 visits) and the National Centre for Birds of Prey (under 50,000 visits), at Helmsley, both came out on top. Käthe Wohlfahrt, the traditional German Christmas shop, which opened in the former Mulberry Hall building in August 2016, were delighted to collect the award for best retail experience, after less than a full year trading in the city.
Sally Greenaway, head of Visit York, said, ‘This year is special as we’re celebrating twenty years of excellence in the city’s tourism sector. The awards recognise the very best in our industry and I’m delighted to say the quality of entrants this year has been exceptional. We congratulate all of the winners and finalists for their commitment to ensuring York’s visitors have the best experience here.”
Fifteen businesses from across the city sponsored the glittering awards ceremony, which included a Black Tie Dinner, a prize draw and casino for national charity; the Family Holiday Association, as well as a celebration disco. The Family Holiday Association helps struggling families to create happy memories by having a holiday together.
Will Zhuang, originally from Shanghai, was honoured with the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Tourism’ award, for his services to promoting York to the Chinese. Will, whose Chinese name is Wei, studied at the University of East Anglia and later ran Carousel Guest House in York for eleven years with his wife Jean. Will was a founder member of the Guild of Media Arts and today is executive head teacher at the York Chinese School.
Over the last few years Will has supported Visit York on a voluntary basis helping to build York’s profile in China. He has given his time voluntarily to run Visit York’s social media channels in Chinese on Weibo and Wechat and he boosted the profile of the city by bringing top Chinese TV presenter Xiaodong on a trip to see York and Castle Howard, along with 100 of his Chinese fans. Added to this Will has worked closely with Hainan Airlines and supported Visit York in welcoming top officials to York from Beijing.
Michelle Brown, marketing manager, Visit York, said, “Since our first meeting with Will he has gone above and beyond to help us nurture our relationships in China. He has helped us to navigate the differences in social etiquette and supported numerous high profile Chinese visits, including welcoming a Chinese delegation from Nanjing when we signed our Sister City agreement in March this year. His passion for promoting York in China is commendable and he has made an outstanding contribution to tourism in York.”