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Officially launched at the Destination Staffordshire Tourism Conference, held at St George’s Park, Burton, the initiatives come as a result of Destination Staffordshire’s recent grant of over £500,000 funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), to boost Staffordshire as a leading short break destination. Enjoy Staffordshire Tourism Awards’ include a number of categories open to public vote, and will be the first awards of their kind for the county. The awards will recognise the very best of the Staffordshire tourism industry and will promote excellence across the wealth of attractions on offer in the county. There will be 15 categories in total, ranging from ‘Large Hotel of the Year’ and ‘Tourism Experience of the Year’ to ‘Bed & Breakfast of the Year’. Mark Kerrigan, Chair of Destination Staffordshire, and Alton Towers Resort's Operations and Development Director, said: “Tourism, and the benefits that it brings to our county, are of utmost importance to Staffordshire. It is fast becoming one of the biggest economic contributors to the region, and it is fantastic that our top attractions can be celebrated in this manner.Also launched at the conference, which attracted over 200 delegates, was a major new programme of cutting edge business masterclasses, which will be run by Stafford-based international business consultancy, Winning Moves. In partnership with Destination Staffordshire, the project aims to create 50 new jobs and add over £1.5m to participating businesses' bottom lines. Project Manager, Ian McLaughlan said: "This is an exciting programme that many tourism businesses in Staffordshire should get great value from. Everyone involved wants to create a growing tourism sector in the county, with some of the best and most innovative businesses in the UK."
Winning Moves’ programme will include masterclasses with visits to leading tourism businesses in the county as well as detailed workshops looking at key tourism issues. Companies will also have one-to-one access to expert tourism advisers.
Graeme Whitehead, Staffordshire County Council’s Tourism Manager said: “The ERDF funds have provided a massive boost to Destination Staffordshire and the levels of support that we can give to our members.
“Upon receiving the funding our objectives were; to upskill the people employed in the industry to improve quality of service, drive profile for Staffordshire’s food and drink sector, support the many small businesses which comprise the bulk of the industry, and raise the awareness of the county as an excellent destination for business tourism. Both our new awards scheme and our partnership with Winning Moves will help us to achieve all of these goals, and continue driving Staffordshire’s tourism profile.”