SEVEN tourism businesses have been shortlisted in a new national contest to find York’s best family friendly experience.

Visit York has announced 63 finalists in its annual Tourism Awards, aimed at celebrating individuals and companies who offer an extra special service and experience for York’s 6.7 million annual visitors.

Now in their 18th year, the winners are to be announced at a prestigious Black Tie awards ceremony on June 3 in the Grand Station Hall of the National Railway Museum, which is expected to be attended by 500 tourism businesses.

The decision on which contender wins the new Family Friendly Experience category will be decided through a nationwide Twitter campaign organised by Visit York.

Going head to head in this contest are the Jorvik Viking Centre, Jorvik DIG, Novotel, The Web Adventure Park, York Maze, York Racecourse and Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland.

“Businesses in York were invited to nominate themselves if they feel they offer a brilliant family friendly experience,” said a spokeswoman.

“They were invited to write in 300 words how they make families welcome, how they offer value for money and how they market their business to visiting families. All of the entries were considered very strong and therefore all will now go forward to the public vote.”

Kate McMullen, head of Visit York, said: “We know York has an outstanding variety of venues and attractions, as well as other experiences that families and children enjoy. This People’s Choice Award is decided by our visitors and we’re excited to see who wins.”

Visitors can vote online at www.visityork.org and vote on Twitter@VisitYorkBiz using the hashtag #FamilyYork

The spokeswoman said this year’s title of York Tourism Ambassador will be kept a closely guarded secret until June 3 and will be handed on by Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for The JORVIK Group, who was honoured with the title at last year’s awards.

The finalists are:

Bed & Breakfast of the Year
Bishops Guest House; Carr House Farm; No. 21 York

Café/Tearoom of the Year
Cakes d’Licious; El Piano; Kafeneion; Nunnington Hall; UGOT

Caravan Park of the Year
Cawood Holiday Park; Robin Hood Caravan Park

Conference Venue of the Year
National Railway Museum; Scarborough Spa; York Conferences; York Racecourse; York Science Park Ltd

Family Friendly Experience of the Year
Jorvik Viking Centre; Jorvik DIG; Novotel; The Web Adventure Park; York Maze; York Racecourse; Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland

 Actor Brian Blessed at York Maze, which has been nominated in several categories

Hotel of the Year
Middlethorpe Hall & Spa; Middleton’s Hotel; The Black Swan Hotel, Helmsley; The Judge’s Lodgings; York Marriott Hotel

Pub/Bar of the Year
The Blue Boar; The Golden Fleece; The House of Trembling Madness; Walmgate Ale House & Bistro; The Drovers Arms

Restaurant of the Year
Hudson’s Restaurant - Grand Hotel & Spa; Middlethorpe Hall & Spa; Mumbai Lounge; The Star Inn The City; The Whippet Inn Steak and Alehouse

Outstanding Customer Service Award
Deighton Lodge – Jennifer Marsden; Hilton Hotel, York - Donna Pryce; The Whippet Inn Steak and Alehouse - Morgan McDermott; York Museums Trust - Thomas Jacobs; The team at Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland; The team at York Maze

Self-Catering Venue of the Year
The Dovecote Barns; Lendal Tower - Tiercel Leisure Ltd; Wolds Edge Holiday Lodges; York Hop Store; Street Farm Cottages

Visitor Attraction of the Year (Over 50,000 Visitors)
Beningbrough Hall, Gallery & Gardens - The National Trust; Nunnington Hall - The National Trust; York’s Chocolate Story; York Maze

Visitor Attraction of the Year (Under 50,000 Visitors)
Goddard’s House and Gardens - The National Trust; The Richard III and Henry VII Experiences - The JORVIK Group of Attractions; The World of James Herriot; Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland

Visitor Experience of the Year
Wild Harvest; Yorkshire Food Finder; York Museums Trust -York Castle Museum; York Racecourse; York Maze - HallowScream

Shopping Experience of the Year
Love Cheese; Pandora York; York’s Chocolate Story; York Does Vintage - Now & Then Events