Taken from The Guardian September 3rd 2013...
"Yorkshire wins World Travel Awards." I read it online on my way home to York after a trip abroad. Not only that but the county had beaten off opposition from London, Berlin and Madrid to become European destination 2013 at the World Travel Awards held in Antalya, Turkey. Previous winners include Edinburgh, Istanbul and Lisbon. Reading all this, I was, I must admit, shocked, deeply shocked. How was it possible that God's Own Country had not won before? What flagrant prejudice and bigotry had denied the North, South, East and West Yorkshire victory in previous years?
Normally such a declaration would come accompanied by a disclaimer stating the writer's affiliations, but I was born in Cumbria and grew up in blissful ignorance of Yorkshire. It was not until the winter of 1994 that enlightenment came. Forced by circumstances to stay with relatives near Thirsk, I began a process of discovery: the magical wilderness of Swaledale, the North York Moors all the way to the coast at Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay, Fountains Abbey and the Strid waterfalls at Bolton Abbey. I was hooked. In fact I moved to the county that same year and have never moved away.
Over subsequent years I've discovered many other wonderful corners: the Wolds behind Bridlington in East Yorkshire, the farther dales around Tan Hill in the north of North Yorshire and the brutal, beautiful amalgam of nature and industrial detritus that lies around Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire. Then there are the pubs and the beer – try Galtres Festival in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, for sampling a wide range – the cheeses (Yorkshire Blue is my favourite) and the wine. Some of my favourite walks, hotels and campsites are in Yorkshire, plus some great beaches (perhaps not with the warm blue water of other places but you can't have everything). There is still plenty more to discover, I'm sure, and there's the Tour de France in 2014. Take it from this outsider: Yorkshire certainly deserves this belated award.