Leicestershire Tourism & Hospitality Awards 2022 - eligibility criteria

The modernised VisitEngland Awards for Excellence and its associated local and regional competitions recognises and celebrates businesses and individuals that deliver amazing experiences for visitors, raising the profile of England as a world-class destination.

The only way to be considered for the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence is to apply through your local or regional competition. 

You can apply for as many categories as you wish as long as you meet the criteria for each one. To see the eligibility criteria for each category scroll down the page.

Small Serviced Accommodation Provider of the Year

Recognises small hotels as well as bed & breakfast and guest house businesses providing truly memorable guest experiences and demonstrating excellence across every aspect of the business.

Eligibility criteria

  • Directly involved in tourism, making a contribution to the visitor economy with a significant proportion of business generated by people visiting from outside the local area.

  • This is a broad category for all types and styles of small serviced accommodation except large ‘full service’ hotels, as these have their own category.

  • Usually offers up to 35 bedrooms. However, serviced accommodation businesses with more than 35 bedrooms can apply if they consider themselves appropriate for this category.

For B&B and guest house style properties:

Proprietor considers their business to be a bed & breakfast or guest house and promotes it as such

  • The proprietor or a staff member likely live on site

  • Offers a maximum of 12 guest bedrooms. However, businesses with more than 12 bedrooms can apply if they consider themselves appropriate for this category

  • Property may also be the proprietor’s home

  • Most likely to be run by the owner with few or no additional staff

  • Guests are likely to have direct interaction with proprietor

  • Breakfast must be available on site, adjacent or close to the premises.

For small hotel style properties:

  • Offers a selection of hotel services, which are likely to include some or all of: reception, restaurant, bar, dinner and breakfast

  • A serviced accommodation business may consider this category or the Large Hotel of the Year – choosing the category that best suits their business and only entering one.

  • Businesses that serve food must have a minimum food hygiene rating of three out of five. The competition organisers reserve the right to refuse an application if this minimum requirement is not met at any point prior to the awards ceremony. An exception is made for new businesses who have not yet been graded.

  • Applications from a chain or group operator must relate to a single site and not multiple sites.

Businesses that have been trading for at least three months and up to two years when applications open are strongly recommended to apply to the New Tourism Business of the Year category before considering applying to any other categories.

For the purpose of eligibility for this competition, ‘trading’ means serving customers. If the business has not been trading this long, then they will need to wait to apply to the competition in 2023/24.

Judging process: Pre-booked announced day visit

Large Hotel of the Year

Recognises full service hotels providing truly memorable guest experiences and demonstrating excellence across every aspect of the business.

Eligibility criteria

  • Directly involved in tourism, making a contribution to the visitor economy with a significant proportion of business generated by people visiting from outside the local area
  • A business’ main offering must have been open for a period of at least eight weeks since the introduction of COVID-Secure operating guidelines (after July 2020) and this period must be reflected within the application. Businesses where the main offering has remained closed since April 2020 may consider applying to the Resilience and Innovation Award
  • A full service hotel – that must include a reception, restaurant, bar, dinner and breakfast
  • Offers a minimum of 35 bedrooms. However, a business with fewer than 35 bedrooms can apply if it is a full service hotel with extensive facilities
  • A serviced accommodation business may consider this category, or B&B / Guest House / Small Hotel of the Year – choosing the category that best suits their business and only entering one
  • A serviced apartment business must apply via the Self Catering Accommodation of the Year category and not this category
  • Businesses that serve food must have a minimum food hygiene rating of three out of five. The competition organisers reserve the right to refuse an application if this minimum requirement is not met at any point prior to the awards ceremony. An exception is made for new businesses who have not yet been graded
  • Applications from a chain or group operator must relate to a single site and not multiple sites
  • Businesses that have been trading for at least three months and up to two years when applications open are strongly recommended to apply to the New Tourism Business of the Year category before considering applying to any other categories.

Judging process: Pre-booked announced day visit

Camping, Glamping, Holiday Park & Self-Catering Accommodation of the Year

Eligibility criteria

Directly involved in tourism, making a contribution to the visitor economy with a significant proportion of business generated by people visiting from outside the local area.

Camping, glamping and holiday park style businesses:

  • Businesses whose main offer is holiday parks, sites, villages, camping and glamping
  • Holiday parks/sites with static vans, touring pitches, tent pitches, glamping and other accommodation such as shepherd’s huts, or any combination
  • Sites ranging from small static caravan parks with no added services and facilities, up to larger sites with many on-site facilities, some of which might be open to the public
  • Holiday villages offering room only or self catering accommodation e.g. lodges and chalets. A holiday village is typically a complex with a range of facilities and activities available
  • Holiday parks that consist entirely of units that are owned may apply if used by owners for holiday purposes only (not as a permanent residence).

Self catering style properties:

  • Businesses whose main offer is self catering accommodation including cottages, houses, historic properties (or part thereof), holiday boats, barn conversions, apartments, hostels and serviced apartments etc
  • A single self catering property or a collection of self catering properties in one location (on a single site) owned by the same proprietor and of a similar quality
  • A business with multiple properties across different locations is not eligible to apply in its entirety. This includes agencies. However, an application may be completed for a specific location (on a single site) if it is clearly identified within any marketing e.g. website.
  • Businesses that serve food must have a minimum food hygiene rating of three out of five. The competition organisers reserve the right to refuse an application if this minimum requirement is not met at any point prior to the awards ceremony. An exception is made for new businesses who have not yet been graded.
  • Applications from a chain or group operator must relate to a single site and not multiple sites.
  • Businesses that have been trading for at least three months and up to two years when applications open are strongly recommended to apply to the New Tourism Business of the Year category before considering applying to any other categories.
  • For the purpose of eligibility for this competition, ‘trading’ means serving customers. If the business has not been trading this long, then they will need to wait to apply to the competition in 2023/24.

Judging process: Pre-booked announced day visit

Small Visitor Attraction of the Year

Recognises small visitor attraction businesses providing truly memorable visitor experiences and demonstrating excellence across every aspect of the business.

Eligibility criteria

  • Directly involved in tourism, making a contribution to the visitor economy with a significant proportion of business generated by people visiting from outside the local area
  • A business’ main offering must have been open for a period of at least eight weeks since the introduction of COVID-Secure operating guidelines (after July 2020) and this period must be reflected within the application. Businesses where the main offering has remained closed since April 2020 may consider applying to the Resilience and Innovation Award
  • Meets the visitor attraction definition:
  • “…a permanently established excursion destination, a primary purpose of which is to allow access for entertainment, interest, or education and can include places of worship; rather than being primarily a retail outlet or a venue for sporting, theatrical, or film performances. It must be open to the public, with or without prior booking, for published periods each year, and should be capable of attracting day visitors or tourists as well as local residents.”
  • Attracts 75,000 visitors or fewer per year or employs 10 or fewer full-time equivalent members of staff
  • Is capable of attracting day visitors, tourist and local residents
  • May occasionally require pre-booking for a visit or activity
  • Retail outlets, sporting venues and theatres are not eligible to apply unless there is also a tour, museum or exhibition element included
  • Guided tours that are not based within a visitor attraction should apply for the relevant Experience of the Year category
  • Businesses that serve food must have a minimum food hygiene rating of three out of five. The competition organisers reserve the right to refuse an application if this minimum requirement is not met at any point prior to the awards ceremony. An exception is made for new businesses who have not yet been graded
  • Applications from a chain or group operator must relate to a single site and not multiple sites
  • Businesses that have been trading for at least three months and up to two years when applications open are strongly recommended to apply to the New Tourism Business of the Year category before considering applying to any other categories.

Judging process: Unannounced day visit - applicant must provide a pre-paid voucher for judge +1

Large Visitor Attraction of the Year

Recognises large visitor attraction businesses providing truly memorable visitor experiences and demonstrating excellence across every aspect of the business.

Eligibility criteria

• Directly involved in tourism, making a contribution to the visitor economy with a significant proportion of business generated by people visiting from outside the local area
• A business’ main offering must have been open for a period of at least eight weeks since the introduction of COVID-Secure operating guidelines (after July 2020) and this period must be reflected within the application. Businesses where the main offering has remained closed since April 2020 may consider applying to the Resilience and Innovation Award
• Meets the visitor attraction definition:
 “…a permanently established excursion destination, a primary purpose of which is to allow access for entertainment, interest, or education and can include places of worship; rather than being primarily a retail outlet or a venue for sporting, theatrical, or film performances. It must be open to the public, with or without prior booking, for published periods each year, and should be capable of attracting day visitors or tourists as well as local residents.”
• Attracts 75,000 visitors or more per year, or employs more than 10 full-time equivalent members of staff
• Is capable of attracting day visitors, tourist and local residents
• May occasionally require pre-booking for a visit or activity
• Retail outlets, sporting venues and theatres are not eligible to apply unless there is also a tour, museum or exhibition element included
• Guided tours that are not based within a visitor attraction should apply for the relevant Experience of the Year category
• Businesses that serve food must have a minimum food hygiene rating of three out of five. The competition organisers reserve the right to refuse an application if this minimum requirement is not met at any point prior to the awards ceremony. An exception is made for new businesses who have not yet been graded
• Applications from a chain or group operator must relate to a single site and not multiple sites
• Businesses that have been trading for at least three months and up to two years when applications open are strongly recommended to apply to the New Tourism Business of the Year category before considering applying to any other categories.

Judging process: Unannounced day visit - applicant must provide a pre-paid voucher for judge +1

Pub of the Year

Recognises pubs that make a significant contribution to tourism in their area, with a food and drink offering that includes quality locally sourced produce.

Eligibility criteria

  • Directly involved in tourism, making a contribution to the visitor economy with a significant proportion of business generated by people visiting from outside the local area
  • A business’ main offering must have been open for a period of at least eight weeks since the introduction of COVID-Secure operating guidelines (after July 2020) and this period must be reflected within the application. Businesses where the main offering has remained closed since April 2020 may consider applying to the Resilience and Innovation Award
  • Offers food and the option to drink and not dine
  • Does or does not offer accommodation (accommodation not judged)
  • Has a unique selling point that might be food, theme or entertainment
A pub may consider this category or the Taste of England Award – choosing the category that best suits their business and only entering one.
Businesses that serve food must have a minimum food hygiene rating of three out of five. The competition organisers reserve the right to refuse an application if this minimum requirement is not met at any point prior to the awards ceremony. An exception is made for new businesses who have not yet been graded
  • Applications from a chain or group operator must relate to a single site and not multiple sites
  • Businesses that have been trading for at least three months and up to two years when applications open are strongly recommended to apply to the New Tourism Business of the Year category before considering applying to any other categories.

Judging process: Unannounced day visit (including lunch or evening meal) - applicant must provide a pre-paid voucher for judge +1

Experience of the Year

Recognises providers of truly memorable and immersive activities for visitors to participate in.

Eligibility criteria

  • Directly involved in tourism, making a contribution to the visitor economy with a significant proportion of business generated by people visiting from outside the local area
  • A business’ main offering must have been open for a period of at least eight weeks since the introduction of COVID-Secure operating guidelines (after July 2020) and this period must be reflected within the application. Businesses where the main offering has remained closed since April 2020 may consider applying to the Resilience and Innovation Award
  • Any visitor experience that requires participation in an activity
  • The experience may involve a host/teacher/instructor/guide or may be undertaken independently
  • Likely to be immersive and interactive
  • Typically experiences will be learning, adventure or relaxation based
  • Likely to fall under one of these themes:
  • Wellness and well-being (e.g. spa)
  • Sporting and active (e.g. caving)
  • Environment (e.g. beach cleaning, dry stone walling)
  • Arts & culture (e.g. guided tours, pottery making)
  • Culinary (e.g. cookery courses)
  • The experience must be open during the judging period
  • Food service experiences are not eligible for this category and should consider the Taste of England Award category, which assesses the quality of food and drink served to the visitor
Before applying to this category, please read the visitor attraction definition in large and small visitor attraction categories to ensure you are eligible
An experience located at a visitor attraction may only apply to this category if it can be booked separately to the main attraction and can be accessed without the need to pay for or visit the main attraction e.g. the Eden Project is eligible to apply for the Large Visitor Attraction of the Year category, but could also put forward their zip wire experience for the Experience of the Year category.
  • Businesses that serve food must have a minimum food hygiene rating of three out of five. The competition organisers reserve the right to refuse an application if this minimum requirement is not met at any point prior to the awards ceremony. An exception is made for new businesses who have not yet been graded
  • Events and festivals are not eligible to apply to this category due to the likelihood of VisitEngland Awards for Excellence winners not being announced until one or two years after the event took place e.g. an event taking place in 2020 may not be recognised by VisitEngland until 2022; the event may have ceased or declined in quality since then
  • Businesses of all sizes can apply as this category is judged within the context and style of the business
  • Applications from a chain or group operator must relate to a single experience or multiple experiences at a single site
  • Businesses that have been trading for at least three months and up to two years when applications open are strongly recommended to apply to the New Tourism Business of the Year category before considering applying to any other categories.

Judging process: Unannounced day visit - applicant must provide a pre-paid voucher for judge +1

New Tourism Business of the Year

  • Recognises high performing new tourism businesses, demonstrating excellent understanding of their market, exceeding the expectations of their customers with clear plans for future development.

Eligibility criteria

•     Directly involved in tourism, making a contribution to the visitor economy with a significant proportion of business generated by people visiting from outside the local area.

  •  Meets the tourism product definition:

  Only tourism businesses who directly serve the end-users are eligible (i.e. the tourist/ visitor/ guest). Business to business agencies or intermediaries e.g. that manage business to consumer (B2C) presence for tourism businesses; would not be eligible.

  'Tourism product' covers a number of different categories including:

  Accommodation e.g. hotels, bed & breakfasts, guest houses, self-catering/serviced apartments, hostels, holiday boats, camping, caravanning, glamping, lodges, shepherds huts, chalets

  Hospitality i.e. a single food and beverage service business e.g. pub, restaurant, café, tea room, coffee shop, bistros, food and drink markets, kiosks & street food (in a regular location). [For these purposes the definition of a food and drink market is a collection of independent food and drink establishments with ancillary services (e.g. parking area, toilets, security, visitor information) and maintained by a management firm as an entity.]

  •   Transport services e.g. rail, road, water, airports and rental
  •   Guided tours
  •   Cultural services, e.g. theatres, musical entertainment venues, sporting venues
  •   Travel agencies and other reservation services, including tour operators and destination management companies
  •   Sporting, adventure and recreational activities
  •   Retail i.e. a single retail outlet or shopping centre that attracts a significant number of people visiting from outside the local area [For these purposes the definition of a shopping centre is a collection of independent retail stores with ancillary services (e.g. parking area, toilets, security, visitor information) and maintained by a management firm as an entity.]
  •   Businesses providing supporting services to visitors in-person within the destination e.g. visitor information providers, left luggage services
  •   Visitor attractions that meet the visitor attraction definition: a permanently established excursion destination, a primary purpose of which is to allow access for entertainment, interest, or education and can include places of worship; rather than being primarily a retail outlet or a venue for sporting, theatrical, or film performances. It must be open to the public, with or without prior booking, for published periods each year, and should be capable of attracting day visitors or tourists as well as local residents.

•       Has been trading for at least three months and up to two years when applications open (for first applicable local/regional competition).

•       An existing business that has diversified by adding a new product at the same location or a different location may only apply if the new product is marketed as a standalone operation, and is available independently to the other products offered by the business. An existing business that has undergone a refurbishment or re-vamp would not be eligible.

•       An existing business with new owners will only be eligible if a fundamental change to the business has occurred within two years of the new owners starting trading. A fundamental change would include at least two of the following:

o   significant investment

o   rebrand/ name change/ change to Companies House registration

o   change in target market.

•       Businesses that serve food must have a minimum food hygiene rating of three out of five. The competition organisers reserve the right to refuse an application if this minimum requirement is not met at any point prior to the awards ceremony. An exception is made for new businesses who have not yet been graded.

•       Events and festivals are not eligible to apply to this category due to the likelihood of VisitEngland Awards for Excellence winners not being announced until one or two years after the event took place e.g. an event taking place in 2021 may not be recognised by VisitEngland until 2023; the event may have ceased or declined in quality since then.

•       Businesses of all sizes can apply as this category is judged within the context and style of the business.

•       Applications from a chain or group operator must relate to a single site and not multiple sites.

•       For the purpose of eligibility for this competition, ‘trading’ means serving customers. If the business has not been trading this long, then they will need to wait to apply to the competition in 2023/24.

If the business has previously won New Tourism Business of the Year, they are not eligible to enter this category again

Judging process: Pre-booked announced day visit

Business Events Venue of the Year

Recognises business events venues that demonstrate an excellent understanding of the market, exceeding the expectations of their clients and have a strategic plan for future development within this area, with clear goals.

Eligibility criteria 

·       Directly involved in tourism, making a contribution to the visitor economy with a significant proportion of business generated by people visiting from outside the local area.

·       Any business that hosts business events (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) e.g. hotels, conference centres, exhibition venues.

·       Clients may be exclusively from UK markets or may also be from international markets.

·       Businesses that serve food must have a minimum food hygiene rating of three out of five. The competition organisers reserve the right to refuse an application if this minimum requirement is not met at any point prior to the awards ceremony. An exception is made for new businesses who have not yet been graded.

·       Events and festivals are not eligible to apply to this category due to the likelihood of VisitEngland Awards for Excellence winners not being announced until one or two years after the event took place e.g. an event taking place in 2021 may not be recognised by VisitEngland until 2023; the event may have ceased or declined in quality since then.

·       Businesses of all sizes can apply as this category is judged within the context and style of the business.

·       Applications from a chain or group operator must relate to a single site and not multiple sites.

·       Businesses that have been trading for at least three months and up to two years when applications open are strongly recommended to apply to the New Tourism Business of the Year category before considering applying to any other categories.

·       For the purpose of eligibility for this competition, ‘trading’ means serving customers. If the business has not been trading this long, then they will need to wait to apply to the competition in 2023/24. 

Judging criteria: pre-arranged visit

Taste of England Award

  • Best Casual Dining Experience
  • Best Formal Dining Experience
  • Best Afternoon Tea

Recognises businesses within the tourism industry that offer food, beverage and service innovation and excellence.

Eligibility criteria

  • Directly involved in tourism, making a contribution to the visitor economy with a significant proportion of business generated by people visiting from outside the local area
  • A business’ main offering must have been open for a period of at least eight weeks since the introduction of COVID-Secure operating guidelines (after July 2020) and this period must be reflected within the application. Businesses where the main offering has remained closed since April 2020 may consider applying to the Resilience and Innovation Award
  • Food service businesses including restaurants, hotel restaurants, cafés, tea rooms, coffee shops, bistros etc
  • Ideally offers the option for table service, or at least a dining area with table and chairs. Counter service cafes, for example, would be eligible, as long as there are elements of ‘service’ provided, e.g. ordering at counter, payment at tills and clearing tables
  • Access to toilet facilities is available
  • Does not require payment of an admission fee to access the eatery
  • A pub may consider this category or Pub of the Year – choosing the category that best suits their business and only entering one
  • Businesses that serve food must have a minimum food hygiene rating of three out of five. The competition organisers reserve the right to refuse an application if this minimum requirement is not met at any point prior to the awards ceremony. An exception is made for new businesses who have not yet been graded
  • Events and festivals are not eligible to apply to this category due to the likelihood of VisitEngland Awards for Excellence winners not being announced until one or two years after the event took place e.g. an event taking place in 2020 may not be recognised by VisitEngland until 2022; the event may have ceased or declined in quality since then
  • Businesses of all sizes can apply as this category is judged within the context and style of the business
  • Applications from a chain or group operator must relate to a single site and not multiple sites
  • Businesses that have been trading for at least three months and up to two years when applications open are strongly recommended to apply to the New Tourism Business of the Year category before considering applying to any other categories.

Judging process: Unannounced day visit (including lunch or evening meal/ afternoon tea) - applicant must provide a pre-paid voucher for judge +1


Accessible & Inclusive Tourism Award

Recognises tourism businesses providing truly memorable visitor experiences for everyone, particularly those with accessibility requirements, and demonstrating excellence across every aspect of the business.

Eligibility criteria

•     Directly involved in tourism, making a contribution to the visitor economy with a significant proportion of business generated by people visiting from outside the local area.

·       Meets the tourism product definition:

·       Only tourism businesses who directly serve the end-users are eligible (i.e. the tourist/ visitor/ guest). Business to business agencies or intermediaries e.g. that manage business to consumer (B2C) presence for tourism businesses; would not be eligible.

·       'Tourism product' covers a number of different categories including:

o   Accommodation e.g. hotels, bed & breakfasts, guest houses, self-catering/serviced apartments, hostels, holiday boats, camping, caravanning, glamping, lodges, shepherds huts, chalets

o   Hospitality i.e. a single food and beverage service business e.g. pub, restaurant, café, tea room, coffee shop, bistros, food and drink markets, kiosks & street food (in a regular location). [For these purposes the definition of a food and drink market is a collection of independent food and drink establishments with ancillary services (e.g. parking area, toilets, security, visitor information) and maintained by a management firm as an entity.]

o   Transport services e.g. rail, road, water, airports and rental

o   Guided tours

o   Cultural services, e.g. theatres, musical entertainment venues, sporting venues

o   Travel agencies and other reservation services, including tour operators and destination management companies

o   Sporting, adventure and recreational activities

o   Retail i.e. a single retail outlet or shopping centre that attracts a significant number of people visiting from outside the local area [For these purposes the definition of a shopping centre is a collection of independent retail stores with ancillary services (e.g. parking area, toilets, security, visitor information) and maintained by a management firm as an entity.]

o   Businesses providing supporting services to visitors in-person within the destination e.g. visitor information providers, left luggage services

o   Visitor attractions that meet the visitor attraction definition: a permanently established excursion destination, a primary purpose of which is to allow access for entertainment, interest, or education and can include places of worship; rather than being primarily a retail outlet or a venue for sporting, theatrical, or film performances. It must be open to the public, with or without prior booking, for published periods each year, and should be capable of attracting day visitors or tourists as well as local residents.

·       Businesses that serve food must have a minimum food hygiene rating of three out of five. The competition organisers reserve the right to refuse an application if this minimum requirement is not met at any point prior to the awards ceremony. An exception is made for new businesses who have not yet been graded.

·       Events and festivals are not eligible to apply to this category due to the likelihood of VisitEngland Awards for Excellence winners not being announced until one or two years after the event took place e.g. an event taking place in 2021 may not be recognised by VisitEngland until 2023; the event may have ceased or declined in quality since then.

·       Businesses of all sizes can apply as this category is judged within the context and style of the business.

·       Applications from a chain or group operator must relate to a single site and not multiple sites.

·       Businesses that have been trading for at least three months and up to two years when applications open, are strongly recommended to apply to the New Tourism Business of the Year category before considering applying to any other categories.

·       For the purpose of eligibility for this competition, ‘trading’ means serving customers. If the business has not been trading this long, then they will need to wait to apply to the competition in 2023/24

Judging process: Pre-booked announced day visit

Ethical, Responsible & Sustainable Tourism Award

Recognises tourism businesses committed to being sustainable, responsible and ethical in how they operate and interact with customers, the wider community and the environment.

Eligibility criteria

  • Directly involved in tourism, making a contribution to the visitor economy with a significant proportion of business generated by people visiting from outside the local area
  • A business’ main offering must have been open for a period of at least eight weeks since the introduction of COVID-Secure operating guidelines (after July 2020) and this period must be reflected within the application. Businesses where the main offering has remained closed since April 2020 may consider applying to the Resilience and Innovation Award
  • Meets the tourism product definition:
  • Only tourism businesses who directly serve the end-users are eligible (i.e. the tourist/ visitor/ guest). Business to business agencies or intermediaries e.g. that manage business to consumer (B2C) presence for tourism businesses; would not be eligible
  • 'Tourism product' covers a number of different categories including:
  • Accommodation e.g. hotels, bed & breakfasts, guest houses, self-catering/serviced apartments, hostels, holiday boats, camping, caravanning, glamping, lodges, shepherds huts, chalets
  • Hospitality i.e. a single food and beverage service business e.g. pub, restaurant, café, tea room, coffee shop, bistros, food and drink markets, kiosks & street food (in a regular location). [For these purposes the definition of a food and drink market is a collection of independent food and drink establishments with ancillary services (e.g. parking area, toilets, security, visitor information) and maintained by a management firm as an entity.]
  • Transport services e.g. rail, road, water, airports and rental
  • Guided tours
  • Cultural services, e.g. theatres, musical entertainment venues, sporting venues
  • Travel agencies and other reservation services, including tour operators and destination management companies
  • Sporting, adventure and recreational activities
  • Retail i.e. a single retail outlet or shopping centre that attracts a significant number of people visiting from outside the local area [For these purposes the definition of a shopping centre is a collection of independent retail stores with ancillary services (e.g. parking area, toilets, security, visitor information) and maintained by a management firm as an entity.]
  • Businesses providing supporting services to visitors e.g. visitor information providers, left luggage services
  • Visitor attractions that meet the visitor attraction definition: a permanently established excursion destination, a primary purpose of which is to allow access for entertainment, interest, or education and can include places of worship; rather than being primarily a retail outlet or a venue for sporting, theatrical, or film performances. It must be open to the public, with or without prior booking, for published periods each year, and should be capable of attracting day visitors or tourists as well as local residents
  • Businesses that serve food must have a minimum food hygiene rating of three out of five. The competition organisers reserve the right to refuse an application if this minimum requirement is not met at any point prior to the awards ceremony. An exception is made for new businesses who have not yet been graded
  • Events and festivals are not eligible to apply to this category due to the likelihood of VisitEngland Awards for Excellence winners not being announced until one or two years after the event took place e.g. an event taking place in 2020 may not be recognised by VisitEngland until 2022; the event may have ceased or declined in quality since then
  • Businesses of all sizes can apply as this category is judged within the context and style of the business
  • Applications from a chain or group operator must relate to a single site and not multiple sites
  • Businesses that have been trading for at least three months and up to two years when applications open are strongly recommended to apply to the New Tourism Business of the Year category before considering applying to any other categories.

Judging process: Pre-booked announced day visit

Unsung Hero Award

Recognises an individual working for a tourism business who excels in their role and deserves to be applauded for their work and commitment to the industry.

Eligibility criteria

  • Works for a business directly involved in tourism, making a contribution to the visitor economy with a significant proportion of business generated by people visiting from outside the local area
  • Works for a business that meets the tourism product definition:
  • Only tourism businesses who directly serve the end-users are eligible (i.e. the tourist/ visitor/ guest). Business to business agencies or intermediaries e.g. that manage business to consumer (B2C) presence for tourism businesses; would not be eligible.
  • 'Tourism product' covers a number of different categories including:
  • Accommodation e.g. hotels, bed & breakfasts, guest houses, self-catering/serviced apartments, hostels, holiday boats, camping, caravanning, glamping, lodges, shepherds huts, chalets
  • Hospitality i.e. a single food and beverage service business e.g. pub, restaurant, café, tea room, coffee shop, bistros, food and drink markets, kiosks & street food (in a regular location). [For these purposes the definition of a food and drink market is a collection of independent food and drink establishments with ancillary services (e.g. parking area, toilets, security, visitor information) and maintained by a management firm as an entity.]
  • Transport services e.g. rail, road, water, airports and rental
  • Guided tours
  • Cultural services, e.g. theatres, musical entertainment venues, sporting venues
  • Travel agencies and other reservation services, including tour operators and destination management companies
  • Sporting, adventure and recreational activities
  • Retail i.e. a single retail outlet or shopping centre that attracts a significant number of people visiting from outside the local area [For these purposes the definition of a shopping centre is a collection of independent retail stores with ancillary services (e.g. parking area, toilets, security, visitor information) and maintained by a management firm as an entity.]
  • Businesses providing supporting services to visitors e.g. visitor information providers, left luggage services
  • Visitor attractions that meet the visitor attraction definition: a permanently established excursion destination, a primary purpose of which is to allow access for entertainment, interest, or education and can include places of worship; rather than being primarily a retail outlet or a venue for sporting, theatrical, or film performances. It must be open to the public, with or without prior booking, for published periods each year, and should be capable of attracting day visitors or tourists as well as local residents
  • Will be an individual rather than a team
  • Must be nominated by a colleague or by a local awards competition judge
  • Demonstrates commitment, passion and enthusiasm for their work and the tourism industry; exceeds expectations and is an inspiration to their colleagues
  • Works in any area of the business; does not need to be in a customer-facing job role
  • Unlikely to be a business owner or a senior manager
  • May be new to the tourism industry or have worked in the industry for some time
  • Only one application is required per nominee
  • If the nominee moves business/organisation between nomination and the awards ceremony, they will remain eligible, provided they are still working in the tourism industry and their new employers support their nomination.

Judging process: no visit

Rising Star

Do you have a colleague who has shown exceptional promise and is working their way up the ranks in your business? Do you want to celebrate their achievements, if so this is the award for them.

Eligibility criteria

  • This award covers all individual staff members working in an accommodation establishment, food and drink establishment, visitor attraction, conference venue, event venue or other facility that targets tourism for its customers. It is especially suitable for apprentices, trainees and new enterers or a student studying a tourism related course.
  • This can be a self-nomination, or you can nominate someone else. However, you must have the agreement of the person you are nominating.
  • As this category may be mystery shopped, the nominee must be able to share details of working patterns and locations when requested.
Judging process: no visit

Best Festival / Event of the Year with admission charge

Each year Leicestershire's calendar is packed full with vibrant festivals or events. We love the sounds, colour and art that this brings to the destination. What makes yours stand out above the rest?

Eligibility criteria

  • This award covers all festival and events that target visitors, which offers free entry and takes place for a fixed period of time, usually annually. However one-off events may also enter.

Judging process: no visit 

Best Free Event of the Year

Each year Leicestershire's calendar is packed full with vibrant festivals or events. We love the sounds, colour and art that this brings to the destination. What makes yours stand out above the rest?

Eligibility criteria

  • This award covers all festival and events that target visitors, which offers free entry and takes place for a fixed period of time, usually annually. However one-off events may also enter.

Judging process: no visit 

Best Team

We all say that we work with the 'A Team' but do you work with the best team in the tourism business? Do you want to celebrate their achievements? Then this is the award for you!

Eligibility criteria

  • This award covers all recognised teams of people of at least three members working in an accommodation establishment, food and drink establishment, visitor attraction, conference venue, event venue or other facility that targets tourism for its customers. All members of the relevant team must be included in the nomination.

This can be a self-nomination or you can nominate someone else. However, you must have the agreement of the team you are nominating.

Judging process: no visit

Best Marketing Campaign

From email campaigns, to social media, print and broadcast advertising, marketing is the life blood that drives our businesses. We are looking to recognise innovation, creativity and above all, success in this new category.

Eligibility criteria
  • Applications are welcome from any public facing business or organisation. You can submit a single specific campaign or a longer term strategy or approach. Budget is not an issue and your activity can have cost from nothing, to £000’s!
  • The campaign must be targeted at consumers and have been running in the previous 12 months. Judges will be looking at outputs but more importantly outcomes, so it is important to demonstrate the impact of your campaign and the return on your investment.  
Judging process: no visit