North East England Tourism Awards FAQs

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How do I enter?

Our process is aligned with local and regional competitions with the VisitEngland Awards, uniting them with an agreed collaborative purpose, application system and judging process.

Applicants are required to complete one application, in one system. You can begin your application by clicking here.

For more information on the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence, click here

Does it cost anything to enter?

No, there is no charge to enter the awards. However, you will be expected to cover the costs of pre-planned visits, or reimburse the costs accrued during mystery shopping.

Can I enter more than one category?

Yes. We encourage businesses to enter as many categories as they wish as long as they meet the required criteria for each category. However, separate application forms must be submitted for each, and some restrictions do apply for each category to ensure the process is fair.

Does my application have to completed electronically or are hard copies acceptable?

All applications must be submitted electronically via OpenWater. These are awards for excellence and we believe all entrants should be able to submit their entries in this way. Entrants must submit their application form through the online process.

The judging will be based on this entry form, your website (viewed on desktop, mobile and tablet), and any other online presence that you might have, including social media. The judges will also look at your online customer reviews.

If you are experiencing difficulties, you can email us at

Am I able to send any Supplementary Evidence?

While in the past we have accepted Supplementary Evidence through a PDF attachment, the application process does not allow for it this year. Instead, applicants may attach up to 3 photos, along with any websites you wish to link in the online application form.

What happens when you receive my application?

The Judges will assess each application and a shortlist will be identified. Applicants will be advised whether or not they were shortlisted by the end of October 2024.

Is the information I send to you kept private and confidential?

Yes. Only the organisers, facilitators and judging panel will have access to your application form and any supporting documentation. However, you should be aware that the judges’ comments about the quality of your business may be used as part of the script at the Awards Ceremony if you are a finalist.

How is the judging carried out?

Judging is carried out by a panel of judges, overseen by a facilitator, however the visits will be judged differently depending on the category. The judges decide on a shortlist and these shortlisted applicants will then be visited either by the same judges and facilitator at a pre-arranged date and time or by an unannounced mystery shopper.

The pre-arranged judges visit is your time to shine and really show the judges why you should win gold in your category. Shortlisted businesses will have the chance to win Gold, Silver, Bronze or Highly Commended in each award category, however, please note, just because a business is shortlisted, doesn’t mean it will win an award.

The categories that have an unannounced visit will be a half day, full day or overnight experience, depending on the category, with the judges’ decision based on the application form and the visit. This will allow an authentic experience of the business as a visitor, with all shortlisted applicants being judged on the same criteria.

Shortlisting will be carried out when applications close with judges’ visits taking place between 16 September 2024 and 28 February 2025. You must be open between these dates to allow your business to be visited.

When are the winners announced?

We are planning an Awards Ceremony in spring 2025 where the winners will be announced.

Can I get some feedback from the judges about my application?

Yes. The judges consider feedback to be an essential part of the competition. All applicants will be able to access their feedback, however this will not be until after the Awards Ceremony has taken place. Feedback will not be automatically sent to applicants; you can access your feedback after the awards ceremony has taken place by logging into OpenWater.

What should I do if I am having technical difficulties trying to complete my application?

We have attempted to make the application process as user friendly as possible. If for any reason you are having problems, you can email for assistance.

Apply now

Click below to start your application for the North East England Tourism Awards 2025
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