The zoo scooped the accolade at the prestigious 2014 Group Travel Awards at a ceremony held in London – beating off competition from the likes of Yorkshire Wildlife Park, London Zoo, National SEA LIFE Centre and West Midlands Safari Park.

Chester Zoo’s marketing officer Julie Griffin said:“This is the first time we’ve won this award and we’re very, very pleased indeed – particularly as it’s voted for by those working in the travel industry who have been to the zoo, experienced what we have to offer and cast their vote on the back of their visit.

“The zoo is constantly evolving and offering visitors something different to see and experience – whether that’s a new  animal, such as spectacled bear Bernardo who has just arrived from America, or the opening of a new venture such as our ice-cream parlour. Looking ahead, we’ll be opening our major new attraction Islands which will take visitors on their very own conservation expedition when it launches in spring next year.”

Islands - the biggest and most ambitious development in UK zoo history – will open at the zoo in spring 2015. The £30m project will see visitors set off on an expedition - moving through detailed recreations of habitats in the Philippines, Bali, Sulawesi, Papua, Sumba and Sumatra. They will walk over bridges, travel in boats and see buildings that are architecturally identical to those found in south east Asia.

 

Visitors can expect to see species such as warty pigs, banteng cattle, cassowaries, Sumatran tigers, Sulawesi macaques, Sumatran orangutans and sunda gharial crocodiles along the way.

Mrs Griffin added:“Islands is all about immersion – we’re looking to take our visitors on an adventure where, for a couple of hours, they feel like they’re in south east Asia. There’s nothing else like it in the UK.”

Groups, tour operators, coach companies and travel agents will be able to ensure their parties are amongst the first to experience Islands with bookings being taken from June 2014, with special advanced rates available for groups who book before December this year.

The Group Travel Awards are voted for by readers of Group Travel Organiser magazine.  It recognises all the very best suppliers to the group travel industry from hotels and resorts to airlines and cruise lines.