Bishop Auckland has been officially named as one of the most welcoming towns in the country as it prepares to greet thousands of new visitors.
In November 2017, Bishop Auckland became the first North East location to be awarded WorldHost Recognised Destination status, following a training initiative delivered by The Auckland Project and Durham County Council.
An internationally renowned programme, WorldHost has set a new benchmark for excellence in customer service and was used to great effect for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
As the latest official WorldHost destination, the world-class welcome in Bishop Auckland puts the town on par with locations such as Liverpool, a former UK City of Culture.
To attain the accolade, 286 employees from 22 local businesses in Bishop Auckland completed a training course, gaining new skills to deliver a warm and friendly welcome to all visitors.
The businesses involved include Bishop Auckland Town Council, Bishop Auckland Town Hall, Bishop Trains, Bondgate Gallery, Castlegate Café, Eleven Arches, Escomb Saxon Church, Gillian Arnold, Image Bridal, M&Co, No.17 Bar and Bistro, Painting with Thread Gallery, Park Head Country Hotel, Premier Inn, Saxon Inn, Spice Lounge, The Auckland Project, The Merry Monk, Trimmers Hair Design, and the Victorian Tearooms.
To become a WorldHost Recognised Business, 50 per cent of frontline employees at each of the 22 businesses had to complete WorldHost customer service training programmes.
Councillor Carl Marshall, Durham County Council Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “This is a fantastic achievement. We are, of course, renowned for our warm and friendly attitude in the north east but achieving WorldHost status is proof of just how committed the businesses of Bishop Auckland are to offering the best possible welcome to visitors.
“Providing the highest levels of customer service has an invaluable impact on the economy, ensuring visitors return time and again and building on the town and county’s reputation as a top class visitor destination.”
Becci Nye, who manages Fifteas Vintage Tearooms in Bishop Auckland Market Place and completed the WorldHost training, said: “Bishop Auckland is going to grow and grow and grow. I feel it is becoming an international destination and I’m really excited to be part of it. Having WorldHost status puts the town in a great position. If businesses are full of enthusiasm and knowledge for the town, people will want to come back.”
Gary Ewing, whose shop, Inspiral Cycles on Newgate Street, is also now a WorldHost Recognised Business, said: “Bishop Auckland is going to greater lengths than any other town in the area and this highlights the positive atmosphere in the town. Things are starting to happen and people are pushing things forwards which makes Bishop Auckland quite an exciting and unique place to be at the moment.”
The recognition status has been awarded by performance and talent management expert, People 1st, which has seen more than 200,000 people across the country trained using WorldHost Programmes.
Jane Rexworthy, Executive Director at People 1st said: “Becoming a WorldHost Recognised Destination is a fantastic achievement and it’s incredibly encouraging to see so many businesses willing to go the extra mile for their customers.”