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Awards Finalists Announced

After 164 visits, 16 panel meetings and 6 hours of debate 56 winners have been announced as Winners in this year’s South West Tourism Excellence Awards.  They will now have to wait till the Awards finale at Eden Project on 8th February to learn whether they have won Gold, Silver or Bronze.

The South West Tourism Excellence Awards are the ‘official’ tourism awards for the region, offering entry to businesses in Somerset, Dorset, Bath, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Bristol and the Isles of Scilly as well as linking closely with the awards in Cornwall and Devon.  They also form the regional heat of the national VisitEngland awards, to which most of the winners will now progress.

300 entries were considered for the Awards, with all entrants undergoing a rigorous short-listing process and 164 going on to be visited by a team of over 30 judges and mystery shoppers. Entry was free, and all entrants will receive feedback on how they’ve done, giving them the best opportunity both to hone their entry in future years and make improvements to their business.

This year’s list of winners includes many former entrants whose past feedback has helped them develop and enhance their business.  As quoted by Wendy Wright of award winning Bodmin Visitor Information Centre: “We have learnt so much from the mystery shopper and every year we use this to make improvements to what we offer.”

Support from a wide range of sponsors meant entry into the Awards was free, with 16 categories to choose from ranging from best hotel, event, attraction, activity, holiday park and self catering holidays to awards for customer service, access, sustainable tourism and business tourism. New for this year was a category of ‘Tourism Pub’, with winners from Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, whilst the ‘Taste of the South West’ winners list includes businesses from as far afield as the Isles of Scilly and Bournemouth. Up to five winners have been announced in each category, but all will have to wait until 8th February to learn whether they have won Gold, Silver or Bronze at the prestigious Awards Ceremony, to be hosted at Eden Project. 

This year’s judging was the tightest ever, with winners separated by fractions in their mystery shop scores and requiring lengthy debates amongst the Judging Panel.

Chris Loughlin, Chief Executive of headline sponsor South West Water, said: “We are proud once again to be sponsoring awards which recognise the best of the best holiday region in the UK - our own beautiful south west.

"Over the last 20 years we have invested £2 billion to help maintain the region's coastline. We look forward to meeting the nominees on the night and hearing how they are helping keep the South West the nation's favourite destination.”

Robin Barker, Director of Services for Tourism Ltd, who coordinate the Awards, added: “Five years ago the Awards were a seasonal standalone activity, judged by a handful of mystery visitors and funded largely by the public purse.  They have now developed into a significant year-round quality development and marketing operation, with an increasing range of benefits both to entrants and sponsors.  Standing still is not an option in this industry, as amply demonstrated by this year’s winners, whose innovation and investment in difficult times never ceases to amaze me!”