The East of England Tourism Awards 2022-2023 are open for entries. Here we speak to the judges and sponsors of the Pub of the Year and Taste of East of England Award categories, who tell us why they are eager to celebrate the sector.

Pub of the Year

Gareth Hatton, associate director at Everard Cole:

Can you tell us a bit about your involvement in the tourism industry?

The past 20-plus years of my working life has been devoted to the hospitality industry. Past roles have included pub and hotel management, hospitality recruitment and events management for a notable venue in Chelsea, London. I have been fortunate enough to have provided front-of-house services to a host of royalty and celebrities from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to The White Stripes!

Why were you keen to get involved in the East of England Tourism Awards?

We were fortunate enough to sponsor this award last year, and it really was so satisfying to see so many independent and regional operators and all their staff recognised for their hard work.

What do you bring to the judging process?

I am very front of house orientated – due to my background. So, I believe my past ‘hands-on experience’ helps to better understand and highlight exactly what these businesses bring to the table, literally!

What advice would you give to a tourism business that’s considering entering this award?

Make sure you highlight your key qualities and recognise your staff. Explain what makes you unique and stand out from the crowd. Tell me why I would want to visit you, instead of a similar pub that may be closer to me. I would quite happily drive 30-40 minutes to go to a pub that provided that USP.

Do you have any anecdotes of tourism businesses who have blown you away over the last couple of years?

We were fortunate to visit last year’s winner ‘The Alma’ in Harwich. It was a pub that was not really known to us, but the whole experience was enchanting – from the coastal décor and beautifully tasty, locally-sourced food, to the knowledgeable and friendly staff.

Taste of East of England Award

Dr Andy Wood OBE, DL, CEO of Adnams:

Can you tell us a bit about your involvement in the tourism industry?

My involvement in the tourism industry stretches back over many years, from my first job as a schoolboy which involved refuelling and cleaning broads cruisers and showing customers how to drive them before they took off for a week or two exploring the Norfolk Broads. I have led Adnams for many years, am chair of Visit East of England and sit on the VisitEngland Advisory Board.

Why were you keen to get involved in the East of England Tourism Awards?

The past few years have been dramatic for our industry with the pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis. Our industry is so creative, resilient and adaptive, and therein lies its great strength. Add to this that East Anglia remains one of the UK tourist industry’s best-kept secrets and you have my reason. Anything that showcases our place and our great talent is right by me.

What do you bring to the judging process?

I hope I bring a depth and breadth of experience and pride about our place and a passion for the food, drink and hospitality businesses that form our tourism eco-system.

What will it take to wow you?

I am made to say ‘wow’ so often by our industry. Tourism businesses have thousands of moments of truth – that interaction with the customer at check-in, the delivery of a plate of food or any other transaction between a team member and customer. We all want these to be outstanding experiences, so examples of wonderful customer service in a world with ever-rising expectations will always catch my eye.

Archant organises and hosts the annual East of England Tourism Awards to recognise and celebrate those businesses and individuals that contribute to the regional visitor economy. The awards are open for entries until Sunday, October 2. To enter, please visit