THE nominations are in and now voting begins to find the 2014 Oxfordshire Cotswolds Tourism Superstar.
The competition aims to find an unsung hero who helps to make West Oxfordshire an unforgettable experience for visitors.
West Oxfordshire District Council, in partnership with VisitEngland and the Witney Gazette, launched this year’s competition last month.
When it took place last year, it was the first contest in the country to replicate at a local level VisitEngland's annual search for England’s Tourism Superstar.
This year, businesses were again asked to nominate someone who is welcoming, friendly and passionate about their work in the district’s tourism industry.
Five people, working in a variety of roles, have made the shortlist.
Richard Langridge, the district council’s cabinet member for local economy, communities and culture, who is responsible for tourism, said: “Tourism in West Oxfordshire supports about 4,800 full-time jobs and is hugely successful, adding much to the economic prosperity of our district.
"This is a time to thank the many people who work in this industry and I would like to encourage everyone to vote for those they feel have gone that extra mile to make sure our visitors feel welcome.”
The choice of the winner is now down to a public vote online.
Votes can be cast until 5pm on Tuesday, July 29.
The winner will be announced at the Oxfordshire Cotswolds Summer Networking Event at Eynsham Hall on Tuesday, August 19.
Ingrid Allen, Cogges Manor Farm Museum, Witney
Ingrid is a relatively new volunteer at Cogges. Appreciating all that has gone before; she has brought a breath of fresh air.
She has coordinated a group of volunteers into a sewing group that has made an entire wardrobe of dressing up clothes for the manor house covering all the ages of Cogges from Saxon times to the 1960s.
She regularly helps in the kitchen, not only making the recipes of years gone by, but also pizzas and pancakes.
She always involves visiting children in the cooking process and they love her optimism, energy and enthusiasm. She also helps out with visiting groups of schoolchildren and is an inspiration to everyone.
Karen Flynn, head housekeeper, Witney Four Pillars Oxford Hotel
Karen has 20 years’ service at the hotel, starting as a room attendant and working her way up to head housekeeper, managing a team of 20 room attendants and overseeing the cleaning and maintenance of the hotel bedrooms and public areas.
Guests are encouraged to give feedback about staff members and Karen’s name crops up time and again because of the efforts she goes to in making their stay at the hotel a welcome and enjoyable experience.
Whether it’s a feather pillow or extra biscuits; recommending places to visit and shop to assisting other staff Karen will always go that extra mile to ensure the guest comes first.
Chris Green, Cotswold Wildlife Park
Chris works in the bird section and does the daily penguin talks at 11am and 3pm.
His talks amuse, delight and inform the public about the Humboldt penguins and their plight in the wild.
He is often asked questions after the talks and is always happy to help. He’s always there with a smile and happy to chat to the public.
For Dream Night at the zoo – an evening for sick and disabled children – he even dressed in a penguin onesie, much to the delight of the children.
Reza Kezami, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock
Reza Kezami is a visitor services assistant who has been working at Blenheim for the past four years.
He is a charismatic and friendly character who always has a smile for everyone, staff or visitor.
Reza has a real passion for Blenheim Palace and goes above and beyond. He has taken on extra duties that include helping out with cleaning the shop after his shifts and taken on the role of car park supervisor ensuring traffic management is in order when up to 11,000 visitors per day arrive for large events.
Reza is a star performer who will help any visitor to ensure their experience is unforgettable and is a joy to have in the team.
Catherine Marray, Macdonald Bear Hotel, Woodstock
Catherine brings the best of genuine northern hospitality to the heart of Woodstock.
Within her first week, regular guests were raving about her bubbly personality and excellent customer service.
She is very young and this is her first supervisory position, however, she is not afraid of a challenge and looks after the entire food and beverage operation when the manager is away on days off or holidays.
Her constant good mood is truly contagious and lifts everyone’s spirit in the hotel, Catherine is definitely a customer service high-achiever, who makes everyone welcome and comfortable and their stay memorable.