East of England Tourism Awards 2021-2022: Meet the New Tourism Business of the Year finalists

Crowds of people enjoying the sun at Beach Street Felixstowe

The judges said that Beach Street Felixstowe has really made its mark since launching last year - Credit: Alexander Ward

The finalists have been announced for the New Tourism Business of the Year award, sponsored by Larking Gowen, at the East of England Tourism Awards 2021-2022.

This award recognises high-performing new tourism businesses, demonstrating excellent understanding of their market and exceeding customers’ expectations with clear plans for future development.

Beach Street Felixstowe

Created in 2019 by brothers Charlie and Jonny Manning, Beach Street Felixstowe in Suffolk offers a unique street food and leisure experience while supporting small creative businesses and start-ups.

The site’s brightly coloured units were created from upcycled shipping containers and offer everything from street food and artisan coffee, to artists and a yoga studio, attracting both the local community and visitors to the region.

The judges all agreed that Beach Street shows a clear commitment to rejuvenating the Edwardian seaside resort, and has really made its mark since launching last year. 

Its championing of independent traders and inclusive nature are two areas which stood out as real strengths.

A converted Landrover Defender with rooftop tent from LandyCampers in Dunmow, Essex

LandyCampers was praised for the owners' passion and determination to convert non-campers to campers - Credit: Max Isham Photography

LandyCampers

LandyCampers is an adventure vehicle hire company in Dunmow, Essex, which rents out converted Land Rover Defenders that are fully equipped with rooftop tents and all the necessary camping equipment for an exciting holiday.

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Owners Max Isham and Bela Boehme have a wealth of camping experience and help to plan guests' trips with a curated list of recommended campsites. 

To keep environmental impact low, the business offsets double each rental’s emissions and provides eco-friendly gear such as solar panels and high-capacity batteries.

The judges praised LandyCampers as one of very few of its kind in the UK, offering a unique experience with owners that show commitment, passion and determination to convert non-campers to campers. 

A lakeside view at Old Buckenham Country Park, Norfolk

Old Buckenham Country Park's small team showed ambitious plans to take this labour of love from strength to strength - Credit: Old Buckenham Country Park

Old Buckenham Country Park

Set in 35 acres of scenic Norfolk countryside, Old Buckenham Country Park offers glamping, wild camping and touring experiences in unique accommodation including handmade tin huts, log cabins and safari tents.

Just seven months after opening, the park was forced to close due to Covid and also suffered a damaging flash flood. Determined to come back stronger, the small team rebuilt and reopened with an improved cafe, decking and a new shower block.

The judges were impressed with the amount of work, commitment and thought that has gone into making this new campsite a success. The park’s small team have ambitious plans to take this labour of love from strength to strength in 2022.

A Rayne Heritage tour guide showing a group of people the village's trail map.

The judges were impressed by the passion and commitment from all involved at Rayne Heritage - Credit: Richard Bale/Rayne Heritage

Rayne Heritage

Launched in 2021, Rayne Heritage is a community group of volunteers that champions the heritage of a small Essex village through local information boards, a website and The Rayne Heritage Trail.

Originally planned as a map with optional guided tours, Covid changed the approach to the trail and a website and portable web app (PWA) were instead built to enable the public to self-guide around the village. Rayne Heritage also offers informative guided tours of the trail for groups.

The judges were impressed by the interesting use of technology in this new venture, as well as the passion and commitment from all involved to work with the community and bring visitors to the village.

One of the rare species of deer living at Watatunga Wildlife Reserve in King's Lynn

Watatunga Wildlife Reserve was praised for creating a habitat where endangered animals feel safe - Credit: Georgina Preston

Watatunga Wildlife Reserve

Situated amongst 170 acres of woodland, grassland and lakes in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, Watatunga Wildlife Reserve provides a unique environment for over 20 types of deer, antelope and rare birds to roam.

Visitors join guided buggy tours where they learn about the conservation stories of the site’s animals. There is also self-catering accommodation in the newly-renovated holiday lodges.

The family-run business collaborates with international zoos and safari parks, running breeding programmes for some of the world’s most endangered animals. 

The ambitious conservation programme that provides a sanctuary for forgotten species stood out to the judges, who praised the team for creating a habitat where animals feel safe and can display natural behaviours.

The winners of the East of England Tourism Awards 2021-2022 will be announced at a black-tie event held at Imperial War Museum Duxford on Thursday, February 24.