The business events industry has won the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism prize in VisitEngland’s Awards for Excellence 2020.
For the first time, the awards took place online, with the advisory body’s chair, and former chair of the Events Industry Board, Nick de Bois, announcing the winning sector.
The sector was praised for its contribution in supporting the public and NHS in helping to set up the five Nightingale hospitals across England.
In an online address, de Bois said: “This is a special award presented every year to a person, body or an institution that has contributed something special or unique to tourism in England.
“Previous recipients have included the great English pub, the Harry Potter films, the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, travel agents, the chefs of England, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. And, of course, last years winners: England's National Parks.
This award is awarded by the VisitEngland Advisory Board, and this year I am delighted to announce that we have chosen to give the award to the business events industry, for England's Nightingale hospitals.”
De Bois added: “The efforts of business events venues and the broad range of suppliers, from those providing the materials to logistics, have been pivotal in supporting the NH S response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Five exhibition and conference venues across the country stepped up to provide capacity for 2,300 beds with a potential maximum of over 7,000 beds if needed. These were ExCeL London, the first hospital which was constructed in just nine days, the NEC in Birmingham, Manchester Central, Harrogate Convention Centre and the exhibition and conference centre at the University of West England in Bristol.
“Many congratulations to all those involved; you played a critical role in supporting the British people, the NHS, and the Government during these unprecedented times. This is a very well-deserved award.”
Business events may now once more operate to Covid secure standards for up to a maximum of 30 people, with the full unlocking of the events industry conditionally slated for 1 October, subject to the virus being under control.
Organisers and venues will need to meet the Government-approved All Secure Standard.
Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston paid homage to the wider tourism sector, saying: "Not only does our tourism industry offer incredible experiences to those who holiday here, it supports millions of jobs up and down the country. I'm delighted to see so many great establishments, from major Lincolnshire attractions to boutique Yorkshire hotels, being celebrated.
"I would like to congratulate all the winners and businesses around England who are doing an outstanding job in showcasing the best in tourism. I encourage everyone to get out, Enjoy Summer Safely, and experience everything England has to offer."
VisitEngland's chief executive, Sally Balcombe, added: “These awards celebrate the outstanding businesses and individuals in tourism across England who have delivered excellence. From a world-class boutique B&B in Devon to adventure-packed experiences in Somerset, from an accessible country park and national nature reserve in Dorset to a bespoke English wine tour in Kent, our award winners provide stand-out experiences of the highest calibre.
“Millions of jobs and local economies depend on tourism and this year’s awards are also a timely reminder of the determination, innovation and commitment of businesses across the country who have been working extremely hard to reopen, to welcome visitors back safely and to continue to provide a first-class experience.”