Awards

Published: March 15, 2022 | Updated: March 15, 2022

Eighteen Dorset finalists are named for this year’s South West Tourism Excellence Awards

By Andrew Diprose, editor

Eighteen Dorset businesses and individuals are through to the finals of the 2021/22 South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

They include hotels, guest houses, holiday parks and visitor attractions.

They’re among 90 finalists drawn from 476 entries in the region which also covers Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Bath, Bristol, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The tourism awards are returning to their face-to-face format with a celebratory black tie dinner at Exeter’s Sandy Park on April 7.

It’s the first time they’ve been held in person since February 2020 when Exeter Cathedral, pictured, hosted the ceremony.

The awards, which themselves won a national accolade last year after receiving the ‘Outstanding’ accolade in the Awards Trust Mark scheme, are the culmination of 11 months of evidence gathering, online entry, judging and county awards.

More than 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 which made the final decisions.

Gold, Silver and Bronze trophies will be presented at the awards with some of the finalists 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 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.”

Nigel Logan, Chair of the Judges, said: “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, pictured left, which manage the awards, added: “Tourism has been referred to as ‘the happiness business’.

“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 April 7!”

The Dorset finalists, and commended, for the 2021/22 South West Tourism Excellence Awards are:

  • B&B AND GUESTHOUSE OF THE YEAR

Finalist: St John’s Guest House, Weymouth

  • BUSINESS EVENTS & WEDDING VENUE OF THE YEAR

Finalists: Highcliffe Castle and Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth

  • CAFÉ/TEAROOM OF THE YEAR

Finalist: Picnic Park Deli, Bournemouth

  • CAMPING AND CARAVANNING PARK OF THE YEAR

Finalists: Monkton Wyld Holiday Park, Charmouth and South Lytchett Manor Caravan and Camping Park, Lytchett Minster

  • ETHICAL, RESPONSIBLE & SUSTAINABLE TOURISM AWARD

Finalists: Dorset Forest Garden Glamping, Beaminster, and West Bay Discovery Centre, West Bay

  • EXPERIENCE OF THE YEAR (ACTIVE OR LEARNING)

Finalist: All Hallows Farmhouse Cookery School, Wimborne St Giles, and Jurassic Coast Guides

Commended: Shore Campers – Campervan Hire

  • HOLIDAY PARK OF THE YEAR

Finalists: Golden Cap Holiday Park, Seatown, and Highlands End Holiday Park, Eype

Commended: Waterside Holiday Park & Spa, Bowleaze Coveway

  • LARGE HOTEL OF THE YEAR

Finalist: Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth

  • LARGE VISITOR ATTRACTION OF THE YEAR

Finalists: Dorset Museum, Dorchester, and Moors Valley Country Park and Forest

  • NEW TOURISM BUSINESS AWARD

Finalist: Carey’s Secret Garden, Wareham

  • PUB OF THE YEAR

Finalist: The Acorn Inn, Evershot

  • TOURISM EVENT/FESTIVAL OF THE YEAR

Finalist: FORM – The Sculpture Exhibition: Sculpture by the Lakes, Pallington Lakes near Dorchester

  • UNSUNG HERO AWARD

Finalist: Christine Hughes, Moors Valley Country Park & Forest