Eligibility Criteria

General criteria:
Unless stated otherwise in the criteria for the specific award, all businesses must meet the following criteria:

All businesses MUST be based within Lancashire.

IMPORTANT: Those categories marked with VE are eligible to progress to the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence / national awards competition (subject to meeting criteria).

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.
Businesses must be 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.

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

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

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
• 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.

Business Events Venue of the year – VE
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.

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
• 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.
• 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.

Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park of the Year -VE
Recognises holiday parks, sites and villages providing truly memorable guest experiences and demonstrating excellence across every aspect of the business.

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
• 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.
• 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).

Cultural Venue / Organisation Of The Year
Recognises culture and heritage based experiences that engage with both residents and visitors.

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
Any business can enter that provides an outstanding Culture based experience for its audience.
Entries could be a one-off event or a body of work over a period of time.
Entries could include the following:
• Museums
• Galleries
• Heritage sites
• Dance
• Drama
• Visual Arts
• Music
• Film
• Theatre
• Religious venues and places of worship
• Other cultural venues.

Judges will be looking for evidence of how you engage with audiences, how you reach new market segments, how you have developed over the last 3 years, how the organisation makes a valuable contribution to the local economy, diversity, continuity, and a legacy.

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.

Dog Friendly Business of the Year
Recognises providers of truly memorable experiences for dogs and their human companions.
Businesses of all sizes can apply as this category is judged within the context and style of the 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.
Meets the tourism product definition: ‘Tourism product’ covers a number of different categories including:
• Accommodation e.g. hotels, bed & breakfasts, guest houses, self-catering/serviced apartments, holiday boats, camping, caravanning, glamping, lodges, shepherds huts, chalets
• Hospitality i.e. food and beverage service businesses e.g. pubs, restaurants, cafés, tea rooms, coffee shops, bistros
• Transport services e.g. rail, road, water, air networks and rental
• Sporting venues and theatres that have a tour, museum or exhibition element included
• Guided tours
• 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
• 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.

Ethical, Responsible & Sustainable Tourism Award – VE
Recognises tourism businesses committed to being sustainable, responsible and ethical in how they operate and interact with customers, the wider community and the environment.

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
• 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.

Experience of the Year – VE
Recognises providers of truly memorable and immersive activities for visitors to participate in.

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
• 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.
• 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.
• Likely to fall under one of these themes:
o Wellness and well-being (e.g. spa)
o Sporting and active (e.g. caving)
o Environment (e.g. beach cleaning, dry stone walling)
o Arts & culture (e.g. guided tours, pottery making)
o Culinary (e.g. cookery courses)
• 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.

Lancashire Perfect Stay – Small serviced Accommodation provider – VE

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.

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
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.

Large Event of the Year (15,000+ Visitors)
Recognises providers of truly memorable and immersive tourism events.

If your event is outside the application period contact us at [email protected] without delay so we can explore options.

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
This award covers events and festivals of a substantial nature attracting 15,000+ visitors.

The event can be for either a paid entry or free audience/attendance event. The event can be a one off or an annual event with a proven track record. It should be noted that the supporting evidence in the submissions for this category are particularly important as any final assessment is likely to be retrospective.

Judges will be looking for evidence of innovation and a sense of distinctiveness that adds to an event’s appeal to the visitor. Please also provide evidence of the profile this brings to the local community and the contribution the event makes to Lancashire.

Large Hotel of the Year – VE
Recognises full service hotels providing truly memorable guest experiences and demonstrating excellence across every aspect of the business.

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
• 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 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, Small Hotel of the Year or B&B and Guest House 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.

Large Visitor Attraction of the Year – VE
Recognises large visitor attraction businesses providing truly memorable visitor experiences and demonstrating excellence across every aspect of the business.

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
• 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 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.
• 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 are eligible to apply to both the small or large visitor attraction of the year category must choose the one that best suits their business and only enter one.

New Tourism Business of the Year – VE
Recognises high performing new tourism businesses, demonstrating excellent understanding of their market, exceeding the expectations of their customers with clear plans for future development.

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.

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

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
• A single pub site from an independent, chain or group operator.
• 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.

Resilience and Innovation Award- VE
Recognises businesses within the tourism industry that have demonstrated great innovation, resilience and adaptation during a crisis or period of adversity.

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
• 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.

Small Event of the Year (Fewer than 15,000 Visitors)
Recognises providers of truly memorable and immersive tourism events.

If your event is outside the application period contact us at [email protected] without delay so we can explore options.

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:

This award covers events and festivals attracting fewer than 15,000 visitors.

The event can be for either a paid entry or free audience/attendance event. The event can be a one off or an annual event with a proven track record. It should be noted that the supporting evidence in the submissions for this category are particularly important as any final assessment is likely to be retrospective.

Judges will be looking for evidence of innovation and a sense of distinctiveness that adds to an event’s appeal to the visitor. Please also provide evidence of the profile this brings to the local community and the contribution the event makes to Lancashire.

Self Catering Accommodation of the Year – VE
Recognises self catering accommodation businesses providing truly memorable guest experiences and demonstrating excellence across every aspect of the business.

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
• 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.
• Large self catering accommodation complexes (e.g. with chalets and lodges) with a range of facilities and activities available should apply for the Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park of the Year category.

Small Visitor Attraction of the Year – VE
Recognises small visitor attraction businesses providing truly memorable visitor experiences and demonstrating excellence across every aspect of the business.

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
• 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.
• 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 are eligible to apply to both the small or large visitor attraction of the year category, must choose the one that best suits their business and only enter one.

Taste Lancashire Award – VE
Recognises businesses within the tourism industry that offer food, beverage and service innovation and excellence.

Must meet the general criteria laid out at the top of the page as well as the following:
• 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 single site from an independent, chain or group operator.
• 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 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.

Taste Lancashire Producer
Recognises Lancashire businesses that create local Lancashire food or drink contributing to the visitor experience by championing Lancashire distinctiveness.

They will either have a visitor offering and/or demonstrate a dedicated promotion of Lancashire through their product and routes to market.

The judges will be looking for creativity in the use of quality local ingredients, materials and/or methods.

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

Unsung Hero Award – VE
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.

• 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 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.

• 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.

Wedding Venue
Recognises exclusive wedding venues that demonstrate an excellent understanding of the market, exceeding the expectations of their clients and contribute to the wider visitor economy.

Any business that hosts weddings exclusively and not within a hotel or restaurant setting. The venue may offer accommodation to wedding guests, but this is not considered a stand-alone service offering outside of wedding provision. Wedding venues which also offer hotel services as general sale should apply into the Hotel
Wedding Venue category.

Judging will take account of all aspects of the wedding service provision, including the venue itself and other services offered to wedding guests

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

Special attention will be given to those demonstrating an innovative approach to the traditional wedding experience, who have developed new market opportunities or to those who have adapted, upgraded, or created new facilities linked to this specific market.

Hotel Wedding Venue
Recognises wedding venues that demonstrate an excellent understanding of the market, exceeding the expectations of their clients and contribute to the wider visitor economy.

Any business that hosts weddings in addition to their other hospitality activities such as accommodation or restaurant services which are available to the general public. Wedding venues which are exclusive to the wedding market should apply into the Wedding venue category.

Judging will take account of all aspects of the wedding service provision, including the venue itself and other services offered to wedding guests.

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

Special attention will be given to those demonstrating an innovative approach to the traditional wedding experience, who have developed new market opportunities or to those who have adapted, upgraded, or created new facilities linked to this specific market.

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