Leading tourism businesses from across South West England were celebrating in style last night (Thursday 7 April) as over 90 awards were presented at the 2021/22 South West Tourism Excellence Awards.
The event was the first time since February 2020 that the region’s tourism awards have been able to return to their face-to-face format, with a celebratory dinner April enjoyed by over 300 winners, supporters and tourism leaders. The awards saw 476 entries from the region including Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Bath, Bristol, Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
The Awards, which themselves won a national accolade in 2021, achieving the ‘Outstanding’ accolade in the Awards Trust Mark scheme, are the culmination of 11 months of evidence gathering, online entry, judging and county awards. In what has been another difficult year for tourism they are recognised for their rigour and independence of judging.
Over 70 judges spent months poring over entry submissions, websites, social media and review sites, as well as carrying out business visits, many of them mystery visits. Reports and recommendations were then submitted to an independent panel who made the final decisions.
All forms of hospitality business were amongst the winners, with cafes, pubs, cookery schools and sailing schools all celebrating alongside attractions, camping and glamping sites, holiday parks, B&Bs, cottages and hotels. Many have also been nominated to represent the South West in the national VisitEngland awards later in the year.
Jo Ecroyd, Customer Service Director of headline sponsor South West Water, said: “The South West is home to 860 miles of beautiful coastline and wonderful beaches which are major draws for the millions of visitors to our region each year. In 2021, for the first time ever, 100% of our classified coastal bathing waters passed stringent standards, meaning our regions beaches can proudly take their place as amongst the best in Europe.
“We are delighted to support the South West Tourism Awards which shine a spotlight on the best tourism businesses right across our region. The resilience and adaptability of the tourism industry over the last couple of years is inspirational, it is wonderful to be back together in person for this year’s Awards. Congratulations to all.”
Robin Barker, Director of Services for Tourism Ltd, who manage the Awards, added: “What a night! Tourism is known as ‘the happiness industry’ and last night showed everyone why, with friends, colleagues and competitors all reunited to join in the celebrations after two years of being kept apart. Congratulations to everyone who has continued to excel and innovate despite the countless hurdles.”
Co-Director Nell Barrington added: “I am so thrilled that we are all able to come together at Sandy Park for our first South West awards ceremony in two years. After such a terrible time for tourism, hospitality and indeed everyone it is great to be able to share the successes of all these amazing businesses in person. Congratulations to them all.”