VisitEngland announced the winners of its 2017 Awards for Excellence on Monday with England’s Premier Football League among the big winners.
The prestigious awards, now in their 28th year, celebrate businesses and individuals who continuously raise the bar of England’s tourism offer.
The 25 award winners, from Afternoon Tea of the Year to Sustainable Tourism Award, Tourism Pub of the Year to Business Tourism Award, span the length and breadth of England from Yorkshire to Devon, Warwickshire to Northumberland.
The awards ceremony was held at the Hilton Waldorf in London and welcomed 67 finalists selected from almost 600 applications, the highest number ever received.
The football Premier League was singled out for the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award as a result of English football’s draw for domestic and international visitors.
More than 800,000 overseas visitors attended a football match during their trip to Britain in 2014, spending about 875 million U.S. dollars.
One of Britain’s best known stately homes, Blenheim Palace, won the Great China Welcome of the Year, sponsored by Ping Pong Digital and Destination Britain.
The Great China welcome program aims to make Britain the destination of Choice for the rapidly-growing Chinese market.
The palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, and the birthplace of former British prime minister Winston Churchill.
The award for Family Friendly Attraction of the Year went to Thames Rockets, which offers high speed sightseeing tours of London aboard a fleet of speedboats on Britain’s most famous river, the Thames.
The Anchor Inn at Seatown in Dorset won the award for being the Tourism Pub of the Year, while Monkey Haven, a primate rescue center on the Isle of Wight picked up the prize as England’s small attraction of the year.
Other winners included Chester Zoo in northern as England’s Family Friendly Food & Drink Business of the Year, and a guided ghost tour in Liverpool called Shiverpool.
VisitEngland’s CEO Sally Balcombe said: “This we had some terrific applications, showcasing not only the excellence on offer within English tourism but also the outstanding innovation and the sheer diversity of experiences throughout the country.”
Balcombe said the tourism economy is worth 136 billion U.S. dollars annually to the English economy.