The winners of the eighth Eastern Daily Press Tourism Awards are tonight being presented at Norwich City Football Club.

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Opening the evening, EDP editor Nigel Pickover said all the finalists deserved to be winners - each playing their own important role in Norfolk’s £2.5 billion a year tourism economy which was 30pc bigger than Cornwall’s.

He said: “Welcome to our awards which celebrate the unrivalled wealth of attractions in our wonderful part of the world.

“Our region is blessed with stunning locations visited by hundreds of thousands of people each year and my title, from its print editions to its online platforms, is delighted to support all those who work in the growing tourism industry.”

Simon Altham, a director of awards sponsor Hoseasons, paid tribute to MBE recipient Brian Potter, architect of Potter’s Leisure Resort in Hopton, before treating guests to a premiere of the company’s new £1m television advert ahead of its Boxing Day launch on the small screen.

It won instant approval from the county’s leading tourism players with its shots of the Broads, north Norfolk and Waxham beach.

Following the washout summer, Mr Altham urged Norfolk’s tourism industry to “embrace the weather and build our businesses so we can cater for visitors come rain and shine”.

He also issued a rallying cry for East Anglia’s tourism businesses to work together across political and geographical boundaries to sell the region to visitors.

He ended his presentation by announcing Ms Smith as the unanimous choice for the outstanding achievement award for her contribution to tourism going back to the 1980s.

Full awards results later this evening.

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