WHEN searching your sources to find out what's on locally, apart from reading the Echo of course, it seems the Visit Essex website is up there, having just scooped a top prize at the third Essex Digital Awards.

The organisation - the official tourism body for Southend, Thurrock and the county - was named as having the Best Website for Tourism and Hospitality, at the third annual awards ceremony.

The new-look visitessex.com site was launched in July 2015, in order to give visitors a more user-friendly experience and greater information about the county. The site now uses more images than before, allowing "potential visitors to the county to have a greater understanding of the stunning views, charming villages and stylish places to eat and stay throughout Essex".

A spokesman for Visit Essex says the imagery and experiential ideas are "also designed to challenge received perceptions about the county based on TV shows such as TOWIE".

The award ceremony was held last week at the Colchester United Football Club. Visit Essex strategic tourism manager Lisa Bone picked up the prize.

She said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been given this award – relaunching the Visit Essex website was a major, and vital, project for us and it is brilliant that all the hard work involved has been recognised.”

She added: “With the change in the way people access information, it was imperative for us to re-design the existing website in order to make the content accessible on the wide variety of devices we all use day to day. We also took the opportunity to completely re-design the content which now offers a greater variety of themes and experiences to be had whilst visiting the county. We want to extend our appeal, not just to local people and those already planning to visit, but also those who may have not previously considered Essex as a short break destination.”