CHESTER ZOO has been crowned the Large Visitor Attraction of The Year at a top tourism awards ceremony.

The VisitEngland Excellence Awards, which have been running for more than 30 years, took place on Wednesday, June 8, at the Library of Birmingham and were hosted by broadcaster and author, Clare Balding.

Championing innovation, quality and best practice across the business industry, the awards recognise organisations and individuals who raise the bar of England’s tourism offering.

Gold, Silver and Bronze winners were selected from hundreds of applicants across England including hotels, self-catering accommodation, B&Bs, glamping operators, attractions, restaurants, pubs and museums.

On the night, Chester Zoo took home two awards and was praised for its efforts in overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic while also offering visitors a world class day out at the charity zoo.

Jamie Christon, CEO at Chester Zoo, said: “As one of the world’s leading charity zoos, we put everything into our conservation work both here in the UK and globally.

"Our huge team live and breathe wildlife conservation – from our animal and plant care, to our scientific breakthroughs, our policy work in government, through to our education programmes that are helping people from all walks of life to learn about nature. We’re fighting to tackle the root causes of wildlife decline, doing whatever it takes to create a brighter future for endangered species around the world.

“None of this could be possible without people coming to the zoo to enjoy a fantastic, inspiring day out. In doing so each and every person is contributing to our incredible species-saving work and so a huge thank you goes out to everyone that has visited and supported us. It means the world to us. This national award firmly confirms Chester Zoo as one of the must-see places to visit in the country.”

Tourism is one of England’s largest and most valuable industries, supporting hundreds of thousands of businesses, employing about 2.6 million people and, in 2019, generating £76 billion in domestic visitor spending.

Nick de Bois, VisitEngland Advisory Board Chair, added: “It is wonderful to see the awards event back in-person, giving us the opportunity to come together, celebrate and congratulate the best of the best across England’s world-class tourism industry.

“Millions of jobs and local economies depend on tourism and this year’s awards also highlight the dedication of tourism businesses as they rebuild, championing best practice and providing visitors with first-class experiences.”

Chester Zoo was representing the county of Cheshire at the national VisitEngland awards after automatically being selected, following two successful award wins at the Marketing Cheshire Annual Awards earlier in the year.

Joe Manning, CEO at Marketing Cheshire, praised the zoo for its contributions to the area: “Huge congratulations to the Chester Zoo team for a very well deserved win at the awards. The zoo consistently delivers a wonderful experience to the millions of people that flock through its gates, while continuing to build, innovate and improve on their excellence.

“They also inspire us: leading Chester to become the world’s first city to adopt sustainable palm oil, while also incorporating a wildlife corridor in the city - to name just a couple of their countless initiatives.

“They are a true ambassador for our region and we couldn’t be prouder of all they achieve – both globally and here in Cheshire!”