The wetland reserve is one of 91 attractions across England to have clinched the top honour – and one of only eight in the North East
WWT Washington Wetland Centre has been awarded a Gold Accolade from VisitEngland – one of just eight visitor attractions in the North East to clinch the honour.
The 100-acre site, on the banks of the River Wear, is open 364 days a year and offers visitors of all ages and interests the chance to experience unique wetland wildlife encounters and explore amazing habitats across the seasons.
WWT Washington’s PR & Marketing Executive, Leanne McCormella, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have been recognised as one of England’s very best visitor attractions and are proud to be representing our amazing region alongside the other brilliant winners.
“Our staff and volunteers work tirelessly all year round to ensure that the experience we offer to each and every visitor is high quality, engaging and memorable.
“Whether it’s managing our wild reserve; caring for our collection of waterbirds, otters and flamingos; running our busy café and gift shop or delivering a host of events to school pupils and the public – every team member plays their part in helping people connect with wetland nature and does so with a smile on their face. We’re incredibly happy that they’ve been recognised for their efforts.”
The VisitEngland Gold Accolades were given to 91 attractions across England in total and celebrate all aspects of the visitor experience. They are awarded in five categories – ‘Hidden Gem,’ ‘Best Told Story,’ ‘Quality Food and Drink,’ ‘Welcome’ and ‘Gold’.
WWT Washington was given Gold for all round top scoring in every aspect of a recent VisitEngland Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme assessment – securing a total of 93% overall and being praised particularly for “consistently excellent levels of customer service, the refurbished cafe and the various ways to enjoy nature across the large site.”
Leanne added: “Our overall score of 93% during our recent assessment was a 5% increase from the previous assessment, which clearly demonstrates our ongoing commitment to continuously enhancing the overall visitor experience at Washington Wetland Centre.
“Autumn is well underway here now – with highlights including migratory birds, increased kingfisher sightings and gorgeous scenery, as well as our daily otter talks, flamingo feeds and the Drawn to Water Quentin Blake trail – and we look forward to delivering many more wonderful days out to visitors from across the region as the season unfolds.”
VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said: “These accolades are a testament to the outstanding experiences and customer service that attractions in England give visitors.
“They also recognise different aspects of the visitor experience with attractions who really go the extra mile, whether it’s offering exceptional food and drink or magical storytelling.
“The attractions honoured today go out of their way to make visits memorable, creating reasons for people to travel to new locations, also boosting local economies across England.”
Now in their ninth year, VisitEngland’s Visitor Attraction Accolades are available to participants of the VisitEngland Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme across a range of tourism attractions from historic houses, gardens, country parks and farm attractions to galleries, museums, churches and cathedrals.
North East winners
Ford & Etal Estates, Berwick-upon-Tweed – Quality Food & Drink
Hall Hill Farm, Durham – Gold
Raby Castle, Darlington – Welcome
Roman Vindolanda, Hexham – Best Told Story
Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, Sunderland – Gold
The Gardens at Wynyard Hall, Wynyard – Gold
The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle – Quality Food & Drink