A search has been launched to find the heroes of the tourism and hospitality industry in North Wales after the “absolute nightmare” of the past 18 months.

Jim Jones, the chief executive of North Wales Tourism, hopes the glittering Oscars-style awards ceremony will herald a reboot for the sector that’s been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nominations are now being sought for 15 categories at the Go North Wales Awards that will be held at Venue Cymru in Llandudno on Thursday, November 25. The closing date for nominations is Sunday, October 10.

The event will be hosted by the acclaimed BBC News television journalist, Sian Lloyd, who hails originally from Wrexham.

The private sector body which has around 2,000 members was due to celebrate its 30th anniversary at last year’s cancelled awards.

But just like the Olympics and the Euros the event is going ahead a year late and guests will be wearing 1990s garb to mark the occasion.

Until the pandemic struck, the tourism industry in North Wales was breaking all kinds of records.

In 2019 the overall income generated  increased to an all-time high of £3.6 billion and the number of visitors rocketed to nearly 37 million.

It was responsible for one in every seven jobs in the region, employing 42,000 people.

Then the industry collapsed like a house of cards when the first lockdown was imposed in March last year.

But the staycation boom this summer has shown that North Wales is still a hugely popular destination for holidaymakers.

Jim Jones said: “The last 18 months have been an absolute nightmare.  It’s probably been the most stressful and most challenging time everybody, not just for the tourism industry.

“Of all the economic sectors in the North Wales economy, tourism and hospitality have borne the brunt of the pandemic and the restrictions and everything was against us.

He added: “One reason why we were really keen to put on these awards is to celebrate our 30th anniversary.

“The original plan was to have a big celebration last year but we’re going to follow in the footsteps of the Olympics and the Euros and do it a year later than we had originally planned.

“The awards will be about recognising the heroes of the tourism and hospitality industry and the incredible resilience they have shown and are continuing to show during the most challenging time that our sector has ever faced.

“We’re not out of the woods yet because it’s going to take a good few years before we ever get anywhere close to full recovery as we were back in 2019.

“Just surviving this incredibly difficult time has been a massive achievement for a lot of people in the industry but there is now a real opportunity to start the process of recovery.

“We have 15 different categories with some designed to stand out in order to recognise some of the sacrifice and the innovation that have come out of the pandemic as well.

“A case in point is where the awards will be held. Venue Cymru was transformed into a temporary hospital and became a vaccination centre right on the frontline in the battle against Covid.

“In essence we want to champion all that is best in the regional tourism and hospitality sector and the achievements of our fantastic members over the past three decades.

“Even during the pandemic there have been some new and exciting developments including the release of new whiskies by the Aber Falls distillery, the new Penderyn whisky distillery and visitor centre in Llandudno and the new Hilton hotel at Adventure Parc Snowdonia.

“What we also want to flag up and celebrate is the huge contribution tourism makes to the regional economy and how it can play a central role in leading North Wales to economic recovery.

“In the long term we have a lot to be optimistic about and the awarding of World Heritage Status to the Slate Landscape of North West Wales has provided a brilliant boost at just the right time.”

North Wales Tourism will also be using the occasion to raise money for their nominated charity, St David’s Hospice in Llandudno.

To make a nomination go to: https://gonorthwalestourismawards.website/submit-application/

The categories up for grabs are:

  • Go Attraction of the Year
  • Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award
  • Go Tourism & Hospitality Hero
  • Go Responsible and Sustainable Green Award
  • Go Hotel of the Year
  • Go 30 years of the Tourism Industry
  • Go Best B&B/Inn
  • Go Holiday Park of the Year Award
  • Go Pet Friendly Award
  • Go Self Catering of the year
  • Go Activity of the Year
  • Go Caravan, Camping or Glamping
  • Go Taste of North Wales Award
  • Go Resilience and Innovation Award
  • Go Business Events and Incentive Travel Award

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