Staffordshire is in the running to be voted the UK’s best group travel destination.
Already a popular spot for group visits, the county has not only been shortlisted for the prestigious industry award, but two of its leading attractions have also been nominated in two other categories.
Staffordshire is among six finalists in the annual Group Leisure & Travel Magazine Awards, up against group travel hotspots across the country, including London, Devon and York.
Thanks to its strong group travel and coach friendly attractions, as well as the overall destination award, the county’s National Memorial Arboretum has been shortlisted for Best UK Attraction, while Alton Towers Resort is in the running for Best UK Attraction for Children & Families.
Recognising the best providers, attractions and destinations for groups as voted for by readers of the magazine, the winners will be announced at a ceremony on 5 October.
Staffordshire has earned a reputation as a favourite spot for groups for its mix of history and heritage – especially in pottery and beer – and its variety of visitor attractions, from two of the UK’s top theme parks, to spectacular outdoor scenery.
One of the county’s largest attractions is the National Memorial Arboretum, the Nation’s year-round place to remember, which is home to more than 400 thought-provoking memorials dedicated to the Armed Forces, emergency services and community voluntary groups, set within 150 acres of maturing woodland. This is the second year running that the Arboretum has been shortlisted for the Best UK Attraction award and it hopes to emulate the success it achieved last year.
Dubbed the UK’s ‘biggest and best playground’, theme park fans have long been drawn to Staffordshire, and one of the biggest, Alton Towers Resort, is also in the running for yet another award to add to its long list of top titles. Home to world-class coasters and cutting-edge attractions, the Theme Park Resort offers fun, thrills and year-round events for families and thrill seekers alike.
Among other group travel hot spots are Lichfield Cathedral, the UK’s only medieval three-spired cathedral; Tamworth Castle, packed with 900 years of history, plus the new Battle and Tribute gallery: the Trentham Estate, one of the UK’s most diverse days out and home to the famous Italian Gardens, as well as a popular timber lodge Shopping Village; and the National Brewery Centre, Burton upon Trent, which reveals more about the Bass family and Burton’s international brewing reputation.
And the county’s worldwide reputation as the centre of UK ceramics is celebrated at a host of heritage sites with factory ours and hands-on experiences for groups, including the world class World of Wedgwood on the outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent.
Known as ‘The Potteries’ because of its connections to the area around Stoke-on-Trent, other popular attractions are Middleport Pottery, The Gladstone Pottery Museum, plus the Emma Bridgewater Factory.
With a central location within the UK, and good road links plus train connections, around 75% of the UK population lives within a three-hour drive of the area.
For full details about group visits, including suggested group itineraries, see www.enjoystaffordshire.com/groups.
Photo: Lichfield Cathedral group visit