How to apply and judging Process

Your journey to the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence starts by entering into the West Midlands Tourism Awards. The process is easy: simply complete an online application form on the *OpenWater system*, answering a few key questions and providing links to your online presence and customer reviews.

You can view the application forms, including the eligibility criteria for each category here.

In the West Midlands Tourism Awards there are two types of categories:

Local: these categories are only offered at a regional level.

Core: these categories feed into the national awards, so all winners are put forward to the main judging panel. These categories use an application form that is consistent across all local competitions. For competitions covering large areas, additional winners may also be eligible to progress.

Full list of 2025 categories.

Eligible winners will be automatically entered into the national awards and judged within their category via the main judging process. Then, finalists are invited to the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence Awards event, where the national winners are announced.


Round 1 is the ‘desk judging’ stage. This round looks at eligibility, online presence, top qualities, recent improvements, results and future plans. These sections will scored by several industry judges, with the highest scorers selected to progress to Round 2.~

Round 2 for most categories is a visit to the entrant’s business, experiencing it first hand – and resulting in a further report.

Please note, it is important to ensure your application covers both accessibility and sustainability throughout as this could drastically reduce your overall score.

No matter where you are based in the country, your local and national application will be judged against nationally set standards, with the same scoring criteria and judging guidance for all core categories.

Please note that you will, if requested, be required to reimburse the judge and his/her partner (or family/companions in the case of some visitor attractions or experience categories) on departure for the cost of the mystery visit/overnight stay, any meals and drinks taken (refund of an alcoholic drink per person is only eligible for pub, taste and small/large hotel categories), or any admission or ticket cost as appropriate to the category. The judge will present you with a letter of authorisation stating this after their visit, please advise your staff in advance that this may happen to avoid confusion. Receipt of your entry is taken as agreement to this requirement.

Eligible winners from the VisitEngland core categories may be selected to represent the area in the national VisitEngland Awards.