Over 90 Tourism businesses have been named as Finalists in this year’s South West Tourism Excellence Awards, which saw 476 entries from the region including Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Bath, Bristol, Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
For the first time since February 2020 in Exeter Cathedral the region’s tourism awards are returning to their face-to-face format with a celebratory evening planned at Exeter’s Sandy Park on 7 April.
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.
After two years of online events, businesses and sponsors are looking forward to enjoying the kind of camaraderie and celebration that is at the core of South West hospitality, with awards presented at a black tie dinner at Sandy Park.
Up to four finalists have been announced in each category, but all will have to wait until 7th April to learn whether they have won Gold, Silver or Bronze trophies. Some will also be 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. Congratulations to all those businesses which have made it to the finals and good luck to all the finalists.”
Chair of judges Nigel Logan commented: “This has been another challenging year for the Awards but the resilience of the Services for Tourism team and the dedication of the many volunteer judges have been outstanding. Despite the challenges of staff shortages in the face of unprecedented demand for Staycations all sectors of our tourism industry have shown incredible resourcefulness and made time to embrace this awards process. The judging panel would like to pay tribute to that especially.The diversity and focus of businesses, large and small, is of particular note and we offer our best wishes to all finalists for the year ahead.”
Robin Barker, Director of Services for Tourism Ltd, who manage the Awards, added: “Tourism has been referred to as ‘the happiness business’ and after two years of online events I can’t wait to share some happiness once again with the region’s tourism businesses and the many sponsors, partners and supporters who make the awards possible. It has been a life-changing two years in so many ways – roll on 7 of April!”
The full list of Finalists and Commended entrants can be found here.