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2016/17 Tourism Awards open for entry

The Video shown at the last awards night can be seen at HERE

This year’s South West Tourism Excellence Awards are now open - and businesses are invited to enter by the deadline of midnight on 12th June.

After a record year, in which the South West’s tourism awards attracted 490 entries with over 100 winners and 26 going on to become national finalists, the 2016/17 cycle has started and hospitality businesses across the South West are invited to enter.

The Awards cover the whole South West, including Wiltshire & Gloucestershire, with linked schemes in Cornwall, Dorset and Devon and a new scheme for Bristol, Bath & Somerset. (Follow links to find out more)

Reflecting trends in the industry each year brings changes to the awards, and 2016 sees new awards for Glamping, for individual Self Catering properties and for Dog Friendly businesses. Industry feedback has also led to criteria changes for the Attraction, Boutique & Small Hotel, and B&B awards. Other categories include Spas and Wellbeing, Active & Sporting experience, Artistic, Cultural & Learning Experience, Cafes, Pubs, Restaurants, B&Bs, Hotels, Attractions, Business Tourism, Holiday Parks, Customer Service, Accessibility, Tourist Information and Sustainability.

Another development this year as a result of business feedback is the shortening of entry forms, reflecting the fact that most of the judging is based on visits.

John Crouch, Commercial Manager of headline sponsors South West Water Business Services says: “I am really excited about how high our regional tourism businesses can raise the bar this year. There’s a great buzz around new businesses opening, big improvements being revealed and innovative projects coming to fruition. I am sure it’s going to be another amazing year, bring it on!”

The Awards website includes new case studies from recent finalists, each of them sharing their top tips on why businesses should enter and how to win:

Patrick Langmaid of Mother Ivey's Bay, Cornwall, says: “At Mother Ivey’s Bay Holiday Park we feel the tourism awards are a great opportunity to bench-mark our business against best practice, with helpful feedback and scoring from both independent assessors and mystery shoppers. There is only so much we will spot ourselves, and we find it very helpful to have people from outside our business take a closer look. It is also great to answer the entry questions, as it encourages our whole team to look closely at the business.”

John Blake of Marlborough College Summer School says: "Our staff feel immensely proud that we have achieved Silver in the South West Tourism Awards and we unashamedly boast about our prize on all our marketing collateral. The recognition this has given us, and the increase in consumer confidence, has undoubtedly contributed to a growth in sales for this year’s Summer School."

Lucy Chilton from Gloucester Tourist Information Centre says “Gloucester Tourist Information Centre enters the South West Tourism Awards for a number of reasons. The awards are perfect for benchmarking yourselves alongside other similar businesses in the region, it increases staff morale, provides an opportunity to learn and how to be at the top of your game.”

Marie Thomas from Salisbury Cathedral says: "Our reward was gaining recognition not only regionally but nationally, getting the chance to go forward to the Visit England Awards. The judges feedback in both cases was very valuable."

The Cornwall, Dorset, Devon, new Bristol, Bath & Somerset, and South West awards are all independent, but linked in that winners from the county awards are fast-tracked into the South West awards, with most South West winners submitted to the national VisitEngland awards. Entry is free, the programmes being funded by a range of sponsors and partners, and all entrants receive feedback.

The deadline for entering all five schemes is midnight on 12th June, but businesses are encouraged to start preparing now and not leave it to the last minute. Visit HOW TO ENTER to start the process.