South West Tourism Excellence Tourism Awards winners South West Tourism Excellence Tourism Awards South West Tourism Excellence Tourism Awards South West Tourism Excellence Tourism Awards South West Tourism Excellence Tourism Awards

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Tourism businesses from across South West England were celebrating in Plymouth last night (30 Jan) at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2013-14, in association with Source for Business.

With military drummers bringing the audience to attention and dancing till the small hours, this year’s awards were announced last night (30 January 2014) at Plymouth’s Holiday Inn, where 66 different awards were announced following a rigorous judging process in which a record 350 entries were considered.

This year’s awards event was hosted by ITV Westcountry news presenter Ian Axton, with a stimulating opening presentation by travel writer Sally Shalam, one of the few in her trade to focus on British rather than overseas travel.

The awards broke the previous record for entries, with a new awards scheme in Dorset attracting new entries from the ‘east’ of the region and an increased bevy of entries from the Isles of Scilly in the ‘far west’.  In addition, there were increased entries from the Cornwall Tourism Awards and Devon Tourism Awards and many ‘first-timers’ from Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. 

Amongst the Gold winners were Cornwall’s Pentillie Castle, the Headland Hotel, the Pandora Inn and Little White Alice.  Devon picked up fewer awards overall, but more at the Gold level, with the top awards for English Riviera Tourism Company, the Arundell Arms, River Cottage in Plymouth and the Old Rectory Hotel. Dorset’s Highlands End Holiday Park took another Gold, with Somerset taking a further one for Coleridge Cottage. Four entrants from Wiltshire took the remaining Golds, going to Longleat, Lucknam Park, Bybrook Restaurant and Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival.

Alongside the awards for businesses was the rather different ‘Superstar’ award for outstanding customer service.  This saw tougher competition than ever before, with a draw for the top position between Dickon Allen from Montacute in Somerset and Matt Druce from Westward Living in Devon.

In addition to the category awards, two special awards were presented.  Pennywell Farm received a special award for water management whilst the award for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism went to The South West Coast Path.

The night’s final Winner of Winners award, went to Calvert Trust Exmoor, who also picked up two other Golds having inspired the judging panel with their achievements, vision and inspiration.

Nearly 350 entries were considered for the Awards, with all entrants undergoing a rigorous short-listing process and 213 going on to be visited by a team of 35 mystery shoppers. Entry was free, and all entrants received feedback on how they had done, giving them useful tips for future success.

Up to four Award winners from each category in this year’s awards will all now go on to represent the region at the National Enjoy England Awards for Excellence in May.

Chair of Judges, Alistair Handyside, said:

“It’s that time of year when the tourism industry get together to present the top businesses in our region with their well-deserved awards. This year we have had the most entries ever and the most challenging judging, the list of finalists really does look like a who’s who of the best in the South West. Once again the entrants have surpassed themselves in showing that investment, innovation and creativity remain at the heart of the visitor economy in the region.”

John Crouch, Marketing Manager for Title Sponsors, Source for Business, said:

“The Tourism Awards once again demonstrate how impressively the tourism sector is delivering a great visitor experience in the south west. What is especially pleasing is how businesses are embracing sustainability and particularly water efficiency as demonstrated by Pennywell Farm, winners of the special award for water management.”

Robin Barker of Services for Tourism, who manages the awards programme, added:

“After 10 months of work, this year’s awards are finally drawing to a close.  The event is just a small part of it all – the major tasks being liaising with business, managing the judging and helping our best get even better! Very many thanks to all concerned – the sponsors, judges and entrants.  It’s great working with such an enlightened group.”

For a full list of Winners and Highly Commended Finalists, see Winner List.

Twitter: #SWTAwards 

For more information about the awards please contact Robin Barker at  rbarker@services4tourism.co.uk or 07870 397438

Images from Awards night available to download from http://nickwilliamsphotographer.co.uk/p94482227

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