Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides have been shortlisted in the top 10 finalists for the VisitEngland Tourism Superstar award 2024.
The annual competition champions those in the tourism industry who are passionate about the destination they work in and provide an unforgettable visitor experience, setting the bar high for the standard of service in England’s tourism industry. The winners will be revealed at the end of English Tourism Week, 15 – 24 March, based on the highest number of public votes on VisitEngland’s website.
A highly-trained team of volunteers who have earned the right to wear the coveted Blue Badge or Green Badge symbols of tour guiding excellence, Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides have been running for 45 years and are integral to the town’s operation as a visitor destination.
Sue Warren, Marketing Manager for the town’s official tourism brand Bury St Edmunds and Beyond, who nominated the tour guides said; “Our guides are the unsung heroes of our destination delivering tours to visitors since 1978. What they don’t know about Bury St Edmunds is not worth knowing”.
The guides currently run daily tours for both UK and international visitors plus ghost walks, tours for schools and journalists and orientation tours for new US personnel stationed at USAAF Lakenheath and Mildenhall. They also devise bespoke tours to coincide with special celebrations and events such as the town’s Abbey 1000 anniversary in 2022 and currently the Masters of the Air, showcasing the town’s US WWII heritage to coincide with the Apple TV series and Donald L Miller’s Book Masters of the Air.
Ensuring everyone is included, the guides have delivered tours and talks to groups with health conditions or impairments as well as those living with dementia and sight loss. These have included a party of 40 German students and carers from a boarding school for the physically impaired and members of Ukrainian families who have recently moved to the town.
They also volunteer at the Visitor Information Point based in the St Edmundsbury Cathedral shop, a service that is staffed solely by volunteers.
“We are so extraordinarily fortunate to have this special group of people in our town, very often the first people our visitors will encounter,” added Sue Warren.
John Saunders, Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides, said: “The town guides are delighted to have become finalists. We take pride in showing visitors what a wonderful and interesting town we have here in Bury St Edmunds.
“We have tried hard to reach out to people who might consider that disability or impairment prevents them from enjoying the tours, to support the town’s economy and to deliver topical tours, for example to commemorate the foundation of the Abbey or Bury St Edmunds in wartime. To be recognised in the top 10 superstars in England is a tremendous accolade and we hope that people will support us with their votes.”
The 10 finalists were selected out of dozens of submissions from employers and destinations across England covering all areas of tourism. The public will be able to vote for their favourite superstar on VisitEngland’s website from mid-February when the competition officially opens. Short films of the finalists carrying out their tourism roles will be shown on VisitEngland’s website to support the voting.
The superstar with the highest number of votes will be crowned winner with the Tourism Superstar award handed out in spring at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence event.
VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said: “We have the most wonderful people working in our industry and Tourism Superstar is about recognising those individuals who go the extra mile to make visitor experiences truly special.
“I congratulate the 10 finalists and wish them every success in the competition, though of course, they are all superstars already. I also encourage everyone to get involved and cast their votes once the competition opens.”
For more information about the Tour Guides visit the Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides website and for VisitEngland’s Tourism Superstar competition go to www.visitbritain.org/working-us/visitenglands-tourism-superstar-award.