A record audience of 297 guests witnessed 66 trophies being presented to tourism businesses from across Dorset at the Dorset Tourism Awards dinner, held for the first time at The Lighthouse in Poole on Thursday 16th November.
Now in its fifth year, the Awards broke all records in celebrating the best of Dorset tourism and also as the route for Dorset businesses to win in the South West and national Visit England awards. This year saw 4 new categories for Spa & Wellbeing, Active & Sporting, Artistic & Learning Experience and Guided Tour at the celebratory dinner, with awards presented by national tourism leader Bernard Donoghue.
All parts of the county saw winners – from Swanage and Portland to Cranborne and Blandford Forum, from Ferndown to Lyme Regis, Christchurch to Sherborne, Bournemouth to Poole. Winners had been through a rigorous judging process involving initial study of entry forms and online presence, a programme of visits – often mystery visits – and ending with decisions by an independent panel.
Amongst the winners were two big surprises: an ‘Outstanding Customer Service’ award to Katie Davies at Moors Valley Country Park, for going the extra mile in researching and looking after autistic visitors, and the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Tourism’ award to the Jurassic Coast Team, for their long-term contribution to the coast and helping put Dorset on the international map.
The prestigious Winner of Winners trophy went to a business just 2 years old, Loose Reins, who also picked up two Gold awards. Another double Gold winner was The Town Mill in Lyme Regis, whilst Moors Valley Country Park, All Hallows Farmhouse – Cookery School and Mellulah Therapy & Yoga Retreats took the other attraction and experience Golds.
Food and drink Golds were collected by The Acorn Inn, Guildhall Tavern and Taste Café at Chesil Beach, with accommodation Golds going to Dorset House B&B, Higher Moor Farm, Rockley Park, Christchurch Harbour Hotel, Greenwood Grange, The Alexandra Hotel and The Grange at Oborne.
Cross-sector Golds went to Golden Acre Holiday Bungalows for being Dog Friendly, BOD Bournemouth for Access and Inclusivity, and Bagwell Farm Touring Park for Sustainable Tourism. The Visitor Information Gold was awarded to Swanage Information Centre with the Italian Villa taking Gold for Venue and Business Tourism, whilst the Tourism Event category saw joint Golds awarded to the Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival and Sherborne Abbey Festival.
Nick Fernyhough of headline sponsors Saffery Champness said: “Saffery Champness Accountants are delighted to be the headline sponsor for the fifth consecutive year. Tourism within the UK is an ever-growing sector, particularly in the light of the exchange rate movements due to Brexit. We are keen to see that Dorset is well placed to attract as much business and attention as possible, by delivering the highest quality product possible. These awards reward and celebrate that excellence which is essential in this sector.
“We wish congratulations to all the finalists at this year’s awards. Standards have, as always, been particularly high.”
Chairman of the Judges, Professor Peter Jones commented: “As chairman of the Dorset tourism awards judging panel I’m delighted to report that the work of the panel becomes harder year-on-year. This is not just because of the number and the quality of the applications, but is a reflection of the commitment of the tourism businesses of whatever size and type in enhancing and developing the true authentic Dorset visitor experience.”
The Dorset Tourism Awards have seen year on year growth since their launch in June 2013. Robin Barker, who has developed the awards from first concept to their current success has been delighted with progress, saying: “This year has seen record entries, more sponsors and our biggest Dorset event ever. Many congratulations to all the winners, who we look forward to working with in their quest for ever higher standards.”
Successful businesses in the Dorset Awards will now be fast tracked into the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February 2018 and possibly on to the National Visit England Awards in April 2018.
The full list of winners can be seen at www.dorsettourismawards.org.uk/page/48/2017-winners–highly-commended.htm
Photos from the evening can be downloaded free of charge from http://nickwilliamsphotographer.co.uk/p90363110
Further details about the awards can be found at www.dorsettourismawards.org.uk
For more information about the Dorset Tourism Awards contact Robin Barker, Services for Tourism Ltd, M: 07870 397438 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org