The best of the South West were celebrating last night (7 February) at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards held under the last Concorde to ever fly at Aerospace Bristol.
With Concorde celebrating its 50th anniversary since the maiden flights in 1969, this year’s Tourism Awards were held under the plane wings, with a fitting introduction from Captain Les Brodie, who piloted the last ever flight to Filton in 2003.
With 390 people guests booked, it was the biggest annual regional gathering of South West tourism businesses, with 107 different awards presented following a rigorous judging process in which a record 651 entries were considered. Before the awards commenced the audience were delighted to hear from guest speaker Bonita Norris, the World’s youngest person to climb Everest and reach the North Pole.
There was a special Outstanding Contribution award given to the South West Mountain, Cliff and Cave Rescue Teams for the huge voluntary contribution to looking after visitors as well as their pets.
Entries into the Awards broke all records, aided by new excellence workshops helping businesses take their businesses to new heights. Winners were spread across the whole region from Wiltshire and Dorset in the east, to Cornwall in the west, and from Devon in the south to Somerset, Bristol, Bath and Gloucestershire in the north.
All entrants in the South West underwent a rigorous short-listing process with 472 being visited by a team of 51 mystery shoppers. Entry was free, and all entrants received feedback, valued by entrants as one of the top reasons for taking part.
Richard Stanbrook, director of headline sponsors South West Water Business, said: “As long-term supporters of the South West Tourism Excellence Awards we’d like to congratulate all of the winners and finalists. We’re committed to supporting the tourism industry – helping businesses to save money and improve their green credentials – and it is inspirational to hear about the innovation and excellence that the sector in the South West has to offer visitors to the region.”
Opening the event Robin Barker of Services for Tourism stated: “I’d like to commend you – the South West’s leading tourism businesses for your vision, investment, hard work and excellence. You have had the courage to put yourselves forward to be judged, have been through what is recognised as England’s toughest judging process, and will all be winners tonight.”