The great and the good of the Midlands tourism scene were rewarded at a glitzy awards ceremony in Birmingham.
Judges from The Heart of England Excellence in Tourism Awards 2008 presented gold, silver and highly commended gongs to the region’s best eateries, days out and guesthouses, at the ICC.
Award for best cultural experience, sponsored by the Birmingham Post, went to Ironbridge Gorge Museum.
The winners will go forward to the national awards by Enjoy England.
Brian Summers, chairman of Tourism West Midlands, told guests it aimed to increase the value of the visitor economy from £6 billion to £8 billion by 2012. He said the board also wanted to make the region “one of the best business tourism destinations in the world”.
Its strategy for doing this will be to concentrate on major conferences and exhibitions, food and drink, culture and festivals and events.
Those honoured included Drayton Manor Theme Park, which won the large visitor attraction award and Severn Valley Railway, which picked up awards for the best tourism experience and Mr Summers’ own award for an organisation’s outstanding contribution to tourism.
He said: “At last year’s awards I talked about the difficult year we had with the floods.
“You’ll remember large chunks of the Severn Valley Railway had been washed away and at times it felt like the West Midlands had its own coastline.
“This year we face different but still challenging times. We now have an economic recession and this will undoubtedly affect every industry including ours.
“But we don’t see it as all doom and gloom. Indications are that business visitors still want to meet and sell their products and consumers still want to enjoy a bit of relief and escapism and are looking closer to home for short breaks and outings.”
Tourism West Midlands worked with Advantage West Midlands, spending £3.5 million to support businesses affected by the flooding.