The Fylde coast snapped up the lion’s share of the trophies in the Lancashire Tourism Awards collecting nine out of the 21 honours.
The event was held at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom; with headline sponsor, the University of Central Lancashire and host sponsor VisitBlackpool leading the way, in support of the only county-wide celebration of Lancashire tourism.
The Fylde coast winners included the Winter Gardens which picked up two awards, for best Business Tourism Provider and the Culture and Heritage award.
Blackpool’s Illuminations-linked Lightpool Festival with its innovative lighting and music won best Large Tourism Event Award, while Viva Blackpool won the best Large Visitor Attraction Award. Newton Hall Holiday Park, off Staining Lane won the Self Catering Holiday Award.
The best New Business Award went to Ascent Trampoline Park, in Litle Marton.
The Lancashire Pub Award went to the Cartford Inn of Little Eccleston, while the Lancashire Producers and Makers Award went to cheesemakers Dewlay of Garstang.
Finally, the Small Hotel Award was won by The Villa at Wrea Green.
Martin Heywood from Viva Blackpool said: “To win one of the biggest regional prizes there is in Tourism (if not the biggest) is an exceptional achievement – and caught us all by surprise as we were up against some pretty stiff competition!
“It’s easy to forget that Viva is a privately owned business – and that in itself is a challenge as there is no safety net, but we are dedicating to reinvestment and continual improvement.
“Our application was focused not only on our commitment to an excellent experience for all of our customers and visitors, but our commitment to development, reinvestment and real innovative thinking when it comes to finding ways of partnering with local business with our brand new VIPartnership scheme.
“It’s really been a challenging year. There’s been a lot going on and behind the scenes it’s taken us a while to get the new ‘Viva Vegas Diner’ to where we want it to be in terms of operation.
“But with our new management team and a lot of love and hard work - it’s completely turned around now and is a very special and unique place to visit and slots into the Viva brand perfectly.
“A huge thank you to VisitLancashire and the judges, and a huge well done to all the management and whole ‘Viva family’ who are the heartbeat of the whole venue.
Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council said: “We are delighted LightPool Festival won the Large Event Award at the Lancashire Tourism Awards which was truly deserved.
“Last year’s LightPool Festival was a real achievement and a massive team effort.
“I am so proud of everyone involved in the event and look forward to seeing this event continue to grow.”
Anthony Williams. from the Winter Gardens, said: “It’s a huge honour to be recognised by our peers and testament to the hard work that the entire team at the Winter Gardens Blackpool and our partners put in for, not only the success of the business, but also that of the wider region.”
Shelley Jones park manager at the Newton Hall Holiday Park which won the self catering title said investment over the years in the caravan and apartments at the site off Staining Road plus a personal approach by the family owned firm had helped.
She said: “I was delighted and proud to receive the award on behalf of the whole team – it really was a team effort from the groundspeople to the Partington family who own it.”
Julie Beaume, from the Cartford Inn, said: “It is a fantastic feeling to win last night.
“We dedicate this award to our staff, family and friends who continue to inspire and support us.
“The atmosphere at the Inn today is buzzing.”
Alan Bowness, from the Ascent Tampoline Park, said: “All the team at Ascent trampoline park were jumping with joy at our award for best new business!
“We are proud of our engagement with the local community over the past 12 months, in particular the Golden Ticket scheme we launched to offer schools free Jump Passed for school children as part of an Incentives scheme to reward good behaviour and attendance”
The annual awards, organised by Marketing Lancashire, was attended by more than 500 guests who enjoyed a Lancashire-inspired dinner before chairman of the Board of Marketing Lancashire, Tony Attard, introduced this year’s guest presenter, the Burnley-born journalist and presenter of Drive on BBC Radio 5 Live, Tony Livesey.
Ruth Connor, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire in her opening speech, said: “A thriving visitor economy makes such a difference to a place and the latest annual visitor figures to Lancashire are now at a record-breaking 67 million.
“With these visitors spending over £4.1bn and with almost 60 thousand people now employed in tourism, we have a great deal to celebrate and look forward to together. This is a fantastic industry to work in with so many opportunities and we all need to encourage more young people to choose careers in tourism. I believe we have the people, the products and above all else, the right attitude to get this county noticed and appreciated.”