Fantastic Lincolnshire attractions scoop half the Visit England awards for excellence handed out to region

Four Lincolnshire attractions are celebrating being awarded in the prestigious VisitEngland Visitor Attraction Accolades for 2020/21, recognising them as among the best visitor attractions in the country.

The Chadwick Centre, the main exhibition space at the award-winning International Bomber Command Centre. Photo: Tim Doyle EMN-210311-121438001

VisitEngland has today (Wednesday) announced the latest winners of its Visitor Attraction Accolades for 2020 and 2021 recognising the outstanding visitor experiences on offer across the country.

Judges from VisitEngland scour the country for the best quality attractions, and the highest scoring venues are awarded their prestigious Attraction Accolades. Out of eight East Midlands attractions awarded this year, four were from Lincolnshire.

The winners have been awarded Accolades based on the scores they gained in their annual Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme assessment by VisitEngland. With many attractions closed during the pandemic, the usual announcement in February 2021 has been postponed to October, with attractions assessed in 2020 and 2021 included.

A VisitEngland Gold award for all-round high scoring attraction, the International Bomber Command Centre near Lincoln. EMN-210311-121351001

VisitEngland’s Accolades are designed to celebrate excellence within the visitor attraction sector and showcase those businesses in the VisitEngland Visitor Attraction QualityScheme that go the extra mile to provide a high quality day out. This could be through a warm and friendly welcome, an engaging story, a delicious lunch or the overall visitor experience.

Accolades are given for the following categories: Welcome, Best Told Story, Quality Food & Drink, Hidden Gem and the Gold Accolade for all-round top-scoring attractions.

Lincolnshire winners were:

• Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre at Coningsby – Welcome

Illuminated wall walks will soon return to Lincoln Castle.

• International Bomber Command Centre, Lincoln – Gold

• Lincoln Castle, Lincoln – Welcome

• Lincoln Guildhall, Lincoln – Best Told Story

Nicky van der Drift, the Gold award-winning IBCC’s Chief Executive said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the county’s only Gold Accolade by VisitEngland following our annual assessment. It stands testament to the passion and dedication of the team of staff and volunteers who, despite all of the challenges of the pandemic and the threat of closure of the centre, have continued to deliver fantastic customer service and make the centre the best that it can be.

Coningsby's Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre.

“To be one of only 26 attractions across the country to receive this Accolade is a huge boost for the whole team”

Caroline Ward, Visitor Experience Manager at Lincoln Castle, said she was over the moon to receive the accolade: “Our team of staff and volunteers work hard to ensure that everyone receives the best experience at Lincoln Castle.

“In what has been a challenging 18 months, we’ve offered a warm welcome and a reassuring smile to everyone that has walked through the castle’s gates. We look forward to welcoming more visitors and continuing to share the fascinating history of this magnificent site.’’

The 11th century castle turned tourist hotspot is now gearing up to welcome tens of thousands of visitors over the festive period for the Lincoln Christmas Market, followed by their magical Lincoln Castle Illuminated event.

Angie Clay, Visitor Experience Manager for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that the work the team have put in over the last 18 months to make a trip to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre special has been recognised with this award, especially as we have received it coming off the back of such a difficult time, so it feels even more special.”

Located within the boundaries of RAF Coningsby, the attraction allows visitors to immerse themselves in Lincolnshire’s aviation heritage and provides a rare and unique opportunity to see historic wartime aircraft up-close.

Coun Lindsey Cawrey, executive member for cultural services, said she was delighted at the national recognition. The council runs the castle and BBMF visit centre. She said: “After throwing open their doors to welcome thousands of visitors as COVID restrictions eased last year, I am so pleased for our staff, at Lincoln Castle and the BBMF Visitor Centre, who have worked tirelessly and with imagination and humour to keep these venues open and safe. We mustn’t underestimate the importance of a warm welcome, especially in uncertain times, and these awards are a wonderful tribute to our staff across all our venues.

“Greater Lincolnshire’s visitor economy is estimated to be worth over £2.39bn a year, and it’s fantastic that awards like this recognise the high-quality of our visitor offer, put Lincolnshire in the national spotlight, and help us keep our visitor economy thriving.”

VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said: “I’m so pleased to see our visitor attractions back in the spotlight with these Accolades that recognise the amazing experiences available across the country. They also acknowledge the people who bring the attractions to life through their unparalleled customer service. They are the ones who make an attraction the most ‘welcoming’ and give life to the ‘Best Told Story’ whilst the quality of the attractions themselves are rewarded with ‘Quality Food and Drink’ and ‘Hidden Gem’ and of course ‘Gold’ for best all-rounders.

“Now more than ever we need these attractions to encourage and remind us to get out and explore the amazing tourism on offer across England, driving recovery and economic benefits through the regions.”

Seventy-six attractions are being recognised nationally as a result of the exceptional experiences they provide visitors.

Introduced by VisitEngland in 2014, the Visitor Attraction Accolades are available to members of the Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme who represent a wide range of tourism experiences across England, from museums and galleries, farm attractions, historic houses and gardens to churches, cathedrals and country parks. They are supported by a network of highly trained and experienced assessors who advise on improving and promoting the quality, accessibility and sustainability of their offer.

VisitBritain’s latest forecasts show that domestic tourism spending is estimated this year of £51.4 billion, just over half of the £91.6 billion in 2019. Last year alone saw about two-thirds of the value wiped off the domestic tourism industry in Britain, a £58 billion loss to the economy.