Dorset strikes gold six times in night of triumph at 2023/24 South West Tourism Excellence Awards

Lighthouse, Poole's centre for the arts and entertainment, named Business Event Venue of the Year. Picture: Nick Williams.

By Andrew Diprose [email protected]

Published: March 18, 2024 | Updated: 18th March 2024

Dorset enjoyed a night of triumph at the 2023/24 South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

Golds were awarded to:

  • Lighthouse, Poole’s centre for the arts and entertainment – Business Events Venue of the Year
  • Wareham Forest Tourist Park – Camping and Caravanning Park of the Year
  • The Acorn Inn, Evershot – Pub of the Year
  • Nothe Fort, Weymouth – Small Visitor Attraction of the Year
  • Arts by the Sea Festival, Bournemouth – Tourism Event/Festival of the Year
  • Swanage Information Centre – Visitor Information Service of the Year

The Arts by the Sea festival team receive their award. Picture: Nick Williams.

Rosanna Dean, of The Tank Museum, was also named as an Unsung Hero.

Silver awards were presented to:

  • Dorset Museum – Accessible and Inclusive Tourism and Business Events Venue of the Year
  • The Tank Museum – Business Events Venue of the Year
  • Bournemouth Beach Lodges – Self Catering Accommodation of the Year
  • Tankfest 2023 – Tourism Event/Festival of the Year

Bronze awards went to:

  • Alexander Lodge, Southbourne – B&B and Guesthouse of the Year
  • Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth – Business Events Venue of the Year
  • Upwey Wishing Well Tearooms – Cafe/Tearoom of the Year
  • Norden Farm campsite – Camping and Caravanning Park of the Year
  • South Lytchett Manor Camping and Caravanning Park – Camping and Caravanning Park of the Year
  • Holiday Inn, Bournemouth – Large Hotel of the Year
  • English Cottage Vacation – New Tourism Business Award

Commendations were also presented to:

  • The National Trust, Corfe, Purbeck Estate – Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Award
  • Dorset Museum – Large Visitor Attraction of the Year

A total of 89 awards were presented at the annual event.

It was the grand finale of 12 months of entry, judging and feedback.

More than 300 winners, supporters and tourism leaders celebrated in the Great Hall of the University of Exeter.

Many have also been nominated to represent the region in the national VisitEngland awards, which concludes in Liverpool in June.

All forms of hospitality business were among the winners, with cafes, pubs, karting centres schools and distilleries celebrating alongside attractions, camping and glamping sites, holiday parks, B&Bs, cottages and hotels.

The event also saw a prize draw fundraise in support of Hospitality Action, the charity that supports those in the industry who are facing times.

Nothe Fort – Small Visitor Attraction of the Year. Picture: Nick Williams.

Helen Wylde-Archibald, CEO of main awards sponsor Wildanet, said “With the standard of entries being so high this year, it demonstrates the incredible work that businesses throughout the South West are doing to stand-out and help to position our region as one that is truly world-class.

“Many congratulations to all the winners from the evening, and we look forward to seeing you again at the next awards.”

Robin Barker, Director of Services for Tourism Ltd, which manages the awards, said: “The impact of these awards on the region’s top tourism businesses never ceases to amaze me.

“It means so much to them.”

Co-Director Nell Barrington added: “Congratulations to all the brilliant tourism and hospitality businesses who celebrated in such style last night.

“I would encourage everyone who reads this to click here to find out where the best award-winning places are to visit this year.”

The 2024/25 tourism awards will launch in April with a programme of events throughout the autumn and winter.

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