Over a thousand people tuned into Welcome to Yorkshire’s virtual White Rose Awards on Monday evening to celebrate the county’s tourism industry. The social event was a big hit online with 624,139 social media impressions and 11,896 social engagements for the night.

Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive James Mason said: “These are incredibly impressive White Rose Awards figures and it goes to show the importance of celebrating and showcasing Yorkshire tourism to a wide audience, to not only inspire all and encourage support of local businesses in tricky times, but to also ensure that Yorkshire is at the forefront of everyone’s minds to visit, live, work, study … and enjoy, in accordance with Government guidelines. The exceptional evening brought the county together and I’m incredibly proud of the Welcome to Yorkshire team who brilliantly organised the event whilst facing challenging COVID-19 circumstances, praise indeed also to the exceptional Yorkshire businesses who entered and to all the winners, the event sponsors, the wonderful celebrity guests and to everyone who joined in the celebrations online.

"The positivity and sheer determination to continue doing what Yorkshire does best is an absolute inspiration and an incredible incentive to all to keep calm, carry on and make 2021 a huge success for the county and all tourism businesses.”

The annual White Rose Awards are the biggest celebration of tourism in the UK and take place each year at a huge Yorkshire event location, with 2019’s awards being held at the First Direct Arena Leeds. However, due to the coronavirus crisis and lockdown, the 2020 awards ceremony, sponsored by York City Knights, was held virtually for the first time ever.

York City Knights chairman Jon Flatman said: “It’s always a great pleasure to work with the team at Welcome to Yorkshire and it was an honour for York City Knights to sponsor the prestigious White Rose Awards. The county has so much to offer and during such a tough year for all, it was amazing to celebrate so many success stories with some top tourism businesses. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening of exciting entertainment and inspiring examples of business brilliance, and great to see the social media interaction throughout too.”

Online special celebrity guests included Yorkshire legend Chris Kamara and Hollyoaks actress and singer Bethannie Hare, both appeared on screen with White Rose Award messages and shared performances of their latest song releases. Calderdale comedians Pete Emmett and Lea Roberts provided the laughter as they performed outdoors at the spectacular The Piece Hall in Halifax and there were some fabulous congratulatory messages on the night from Yorkshire Shepherdess and star of Our Yorkshire Farm Amanda Owen, All Creatures Great and Small actor Nicholas Ralph, Paralympian Hannah Cockcroft and writer and TV personality Dr Amir Khan.

Returning for another year to host the White Rose Awards, it was a pleasure to welcome back Yorkshire’s very own Natalie Anderson and Rich Williams who presented Gold, Silver and Bronze awards in 17 categories to top Yorkshire businesses and organisations in the tourism and hospitality sector, recognising the very best accommodation, attractions, food and drink, produce, arts and culture.

Harewood House Trust, director of engagement Edward Appleyard said “Everyone at Harewood was overjoyed to receive two fantastic wins at the White Rose Awards – a wonderful event that, despite being online, was a packed evening to celebrate the amazing diversity of what Yorkshire has to offer. With as much style as all could muster, bringing that ‘awards ceremony’ feeling to our homes, Welcome to Yorkshire’s commitment to keeping the awards alive this year gave so many of us the opportunity to celebrate the region’s great successes – much needed at such a difficult time for the whole industry.
Our programme of events and exhibitions at Harewood has been a key focus of our work over the past few years – to have our inaugural Biennial Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters get the recognition of a Silver Arts & Culture Award is real testament to those efforts. Winning Large Visitor Attraction of the Year is a dream award for us – the entire team have worked tirelessly to reinvent the idea of the Country House and create new and vibrant experiences for our audiences; we are overjoyed to have taken home the Gold.

"Our heartfelt congratulations go out not just to all the winners, but all those who entered and engaged with audiences and visitors from far and wide to jointly celebrate this wonderful, vibrant county. It is the sum of our parts that makes this region the most exciting place to live and visit and we have no doubt we will recover, and look once more to the future, working closely together.”

Gold winner and owner/director from Cottage in the Dales Diane Howarth said: “We’re honoured to win Welcome to Yorkshire’s 2020 White Rose Award for Accessible & Inclusive Tourism. Providing accessible & inclusive accommodation that doesn’t appear clinical, has been one of our best business decisions ever. We pride ourselves on delivering a luxury experience that caters for all guests, regardless of age, physical or mental ability so they can enjoy the amazing ‘Distinctly Dales’ experiences the Yorkshire Dales offer. We enjoy sharing our experiences with other businesses considering the accessibility market. Promoting #AccessibleYorkshire via the virtual White Rose Awards is so important to visitors & residents alike.”

White Rose Awards chair of judges Elaine Lemm said: “What fun it was to spend the evening celebrating the best of Yorkshire tourism and hospitality from my sitting room. It may have been a bit different to how we normally celebrate, but even remotely, the enthusiasm and joy of the winners on their zoom calls was so wonderful to be a part of and well-done Welcome to Yorkshire for making it happen.”

If you missed the White Rose Awards live or want to enjoy the experience again. Watch at: https://wra.yorkshire.com/