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Finalists announced for 2015/Awards

Finalists Announced for South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2015-16  

See Video of Feb 2015 Event here

After assessing a record 490 entries, 296 business visits and 20 hours of panel discussions, 93 Finalists and 13 Highly Commended entries have been announced in this year’s South West Tourism Excellence Awards.  90 of the Finalists have also been nominated as the South West representatives in the national VisitEngland awards in 2016. 

The South West awards are the biggest scheme of their kind and follow a rigorous 3 stage judging process.  Run with the support of South West Water Business Services, they attracted entries from as far afield as Salisbury in the east, the Isles of Scilly in the west and Cirencester in the north.  Successful entries from the Dorset, Cornwall and Devon Tourism Awards were all considered, alongside direct entries from Wiltshire, Somerset, Bath, Bristol and Gloucestershire.

The awards will be presented at a black tie dinner in Exeter Cathedral on 4th February, representing the ‘grande finale’ of the 10 month regional awards programme. They are also the official scheme for the South West, with most finalists nominated for the national VisitEngland awards later in 2016.

Entrants underwent a rigorous short-listing process with visits carried out by a team of 42 judges and mystery shoppers. All entrants have received feedback on their entry, giving them the best opportunity both to make improvements to their business and hone their entry in future years and.

Sponsor support meant entry into the Awards was free, with 19 categories to choose from ranging from pubs, restaurants, hotels, events, attractions, activities, holiday parks and self catering holidays to awards for customer service, access, sustainable tourism and business tourism. New categories this year included Spa & Wellbeing, Active & Sporting Experience, and Artistic, Cultural & Learning Experience.  Up to six finalists have been announced in each category, but all will have to wait until 4th February to learn whether they have won Gold, Silver or Bronze at the prestigious Awards Ceremony, to be hosted for the first time in the nave of Exeter Cathedral.

Robin Barker, Director of Services for Tourism Ltd, who manage the Awards, commented: “In announcing the finalists we are celebrating the excellence of the south west tourism offering – 93 entries selected from 490 entrants, who are pushing new boundaries in what this region has to offer.  They are the role models in tourism, constantly reinventing their offering and making sure this region stays at the fore in what is one of the biggest and fast growing industries in the world.”

John Crouch, Commercial Manager of headline sponsor South West Water Business Services, said: “The collective nominated businesses reveals an incredible diversity of customer offering which leaves your mouth watering and your body eager to explore. I know my weekends will be busy over the winter months! Well done to our fabulous tourism sector and best of luck as you take on the rest of the country, you’ll do us proud I am sure.

Amongst this year’s Finalists are several of last year’s Gold winners hoping to retain their titles.  These include Hell Bay Hotel from the Isles of Scilly, Wadworth Brewery Visitor Centre from Wiltshire, Deer Park Country House Hotel from Devon and Launceston Tourist Information Centre.

The full list of Finalists and Highly Commended entrants can be found HERE

The Awards hashtag is #SWTAwards