East of England Tourism Awards 2022-2023: ‘Going above and beyond will always help businesses stand out'

Static caravans in a holiday park

The Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park of the Year award is now open for entries - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The East of England Tourism Awards 2022-2023 are open for entries. Here we speak to the judges and sponsors of the Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park of the Year and Self Catering Accommodation of the Year awards.  


Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park of the Year 

Andrew Hird, general manager at Next Phase Leisure: 

Can you tell us a bit about your involvement in the tourism industry? 

I have first-hand experience of developing and operating various businesses in the tourism industry, including holiday parks. This experience allows me to offer valuable advice in my role at Next Phase Leisure, a specialist consultancy firm for the holiday park industry. 

I am also chairman of Visit North Norfolk, the official destination management organisation (DMO) and visitor website for north Norfolk, which has an objective to grow the local visitor economy.   

Why were you keen to get involved in the East of England Tourism Awards? 

I am keen to get involved in the East of England Tourism Awards because it gives me an opportunity to help unite the many different aspects of tourism in our region. It also allows me to celebrate the importance of tourism, to salute those achieving the highest standards of operations, and to inspire other businesses to become the best they can be.

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Have you ever been judged for an award yourself? 

Yes. Applying for awards has enabled us to audit our business practices and assess them against others on a regular basis. The independent judge’s feedback is always a great learning opportunity and highlights areas in our business we could improve on.   

On the occasions we won, our entire team came together to celebrate. 

Andrew Hird, general manager at Next Phase Leisure 

Andrew Hird, general manager at Next Phase Leisure - Credit: Steve Adams


What advice would you give to a tourism business that’s considering entering this award? 

You have to be in it to win it! Commit to the process and make sure to give yourself enough time to complete all the steps. Read the application details carefully, gather all the relevant supporting material, and make sure your replies answer the questions asked – it will be worth it!  

Self Catering Accommodation of the Year 

Jolene Clark, regional sales director at cottages.com: 

Can you tell us a bit about your involvement in the tourism industry? 

Having lived and worked in the East of England for more than 20 years, helping to promote local tourism has played a key part in my career. I manage a team of local experts that work with holiday homeowners to offer self-catering accommodation which guests want to visit time and time again.    

What do you bring to the judging process? 

I know what customers expect, and I know what is going to exceed their expectations. I have a good eye for detail, and that’s important when looking to separate out great from good and judge the best of the best.

Jolene Clark, regional sales director at cottages.com 

Jolene Clark, regional sales director at cottages.com - Credit: cottages.com


What will it take to wow you? 

Something different! Location, interior design and finishing touches are all important, but going above and beyond to ensure a memorable experience will always help businesses stand out from the crowd. 

Do you have any anecdotes of tourism businesses who have blown you away over the last couple of years? 

I recently left a 10/10 review for a self-catering property I stayed in where the owner really understood the meaning of going the extra mile.  

It wasn’t overly lavish, and the location wasn’t anything special, but she made me afternoon tea on arrival and it really added to the welcome. I’ll never forget it and now I’m telling you! 


Archant organises and hosts the annual East of England Tourism Awards to recognise and celebrate those businesses and individuals that contribute to the regional visitor economy. The awards are open for entries until Sunday, October 2. To enter, please visit www.tourismawards.co.uk