By Conor Kane
The 800-year-old Hook Lighthouse in Co Wexford has been presented with a "highly commended" prize at the prestigious World Tourism Awards in London.
Described as a "world class" tourist attraction, the lighthouse took the honour in the Best Tourism Project in the UK and Ireland 2018 category at the awards held by the British Guild of Travel Writers at their event in the Savoy Hotel, London.
Hook Lighthouse was the only Irish attraction to be shortlisted, having been nominated by award-winning global travel writer and guild member Isabel Conway, and went through a rigorous judging process since September.
The final stage of judging saw Isabel Conway showcase the lighthouse attraction to her peers via a video presentation which was captured during one of her visits to the lighthouse. Within the video, she said it is "world-class, unique and deserves further recognition".
Speaking from the awards ceremony in London, Hook Lighthouse manager Ann Waters said everyone involved is thrilled.
"This is a real team award. We have been working hard on developing new product experiences and travelling to trade tourism events sharing these with global tour operators for the last 18 months, this work is really paying off and this hugely high profile award will certainly help in this area now too."
She pointed out that Hook Lighthouse has a "100% eco and sustainable tourism policy" and that the global guild of travel writers aim to highlight "diverse attractions from all over the world which will ensure a greater experience for visitors, while also seeing a move away from over-populated tourism destinations".
We are honoured ...
what an achievement, thank you to the British Guild of Travel Writers and especially to the guild member @conwayisabel for nominating us. Everything at Hook is a team effort, well done and thank you to all of the team at #HookLighthouse #BGTWAawards pic.twitter.com/T2KlThyGEx— Hook Lighthouse (@hooklighthouse) November 4, 2018
The high-profile awards ceremony is held annually in London on the eve of the World Travel Market tourism event, which the Hook Lighthouse team will be attending to promote the world heritage attraction and their region within Ireland’s Ancient East, encouraging more visitors and tour operators to visit and highlight the area.
Travel Writer journalist Isabel Conway said she was "delighted" for all the team at Hook Lighthouse.
The 800-year-old lighthouse has undertaken a strategic review and development of its tour and facilities in recent years, developing a new visitor experience and additional evening and early morning tour and food offerings.
It is also starting a three-year development plan with Fáilte Ireland and Wexford County Council to develop its brand as part of Ireland’s Ancient East.