Duncan Wise Lights Up Visit England Awards

VisitEngland has unveiled the finalists for its prestigious Awards for Excellence 2024, highlighting the stars of England’s tourism industry. Among the distinguished nominees is Duncan Wise, representing Northumberland National Park Authority in the Unsung Hero category.

Wise previously won gold in the Unsung Hero category at the North East Tourism Awards held in Newcastle upon Tyne on February 29th, 2024. The awards, which are held annually, recognise the most diverse and innovative businesses and visitor attractions in the region and the awards have a long history of exemplifying the vibrant visitor economy.

The VisitEngland Awards for Excellence are a testament to the outstanding quality, innovation, and exceptional service within England’s tourism sector. After a rigorous selection process by industry experts, 48 finalists have emerged, competing in 16 core categories at the national level.

Duncan Wise, Visitor Development & Tourism Officer, has worked at the National Park for over 24 years. His most celebrated achievement is the establishment of Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, the largest gold status dark sky park in Europe, and a collaborative effort with Kielder Forest Park. Northumberland’s Dark Sky status has not only brought in over £25 million in revenue for the local economy but has also extended the tourism season in Northumberland, drawing in visitors from across the world.

Cawfields car park at night

Upon hearing about his nomination, Duncan Wise, Visitor Development and Tourism Officer for Northumberland National Park said, “Being nominated for this national award is truly humbling. It is an honour to be recognised for helping to conserve our dark skies and supporting people to discover how wonderful they are. I feel truly fortunate to work every day with colleagues, volunteers and partners who are all passionate about Northumberland International Dark Sky Park. As current guardians of our dark skies, we have a duty to conserve them for future generations to enjoy and I hope this nomination will encourage others to gaze up at the night sky and do what they can to protect it.”

Tony Gates, Chief Executive Officer, Northumberland National Park Authority said, “Seeing Duncan nominated for the Visit England Unsung Hero Award is a moment of immense pride for everyone who knows him. Duncan’s tireless dedication to securing dark sky status for Northumberland ten years ago has not only transformed our understanding of the night sky as an integral part of our National park, but also put Northumberland on the map internationally as a gold-tier stargazing destination. This nomination is well-deserved recognition of his passion, commitment and unwavering contribution to Northumberland National Park, Northumberland International Dark Sky Park and North East tourism. ”

The national awards ceremony is scheduled to take place on June 5th at the Rum Warehouse, The Titanic Hotel Liverpool, where winners in Gold, Silver, and Bronze categories will be revealed.

Tourism plays a vital role in England’s economy, supporting countless small-to-medium-sized enterprises and employing millions of people. In 2022 alone, domestic visitor spending amounted to £66 billion, underscoring the industry’s significance.

The Awards for Excellence align with 16 local competitions held across England, with winners automatically advancing to the national stage. This integration ensures a comprehensive representation of England’s diverse and dynamic tourism offerings.