Tourism businesses from across Devon and Cornwall were celebrating today at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2012-2013.
The awards night, in association with Source for Business, took place this evening at Cornwall’s Eden Project, where 61 different awards were announced following a rigorous judging process in which over 300 entries were considered.
This year’s awards event was hosted by well known BBC Radio Journalist Daphne Skinnard, with presentations made by Eden Project founder Sir Tim Smit and entertainer Lloyd Griffith.
Winners came from across the South West, from as far west as Scilly and east as Wiltshire, south as Devon & Cornwall and as far north as the Cotswolds, with Gold awards being picked up by entrants from Bath, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall & Gloucestershire.
Included amongst the night’s Gold winners were regional icons such as Nathan Outlaw’s Seafood and Grill Restaurant in Cornwall, Devon’s Gidleigh Park and the internationally renowned Roman Baths.
These were balanced out by less known businesses with Cornwall’s Trethem Mill Tourism Park picking up Gold in the Holiday Park category, along with the prestigious ‘Winner of Winners’ title.
Gold in the new category of Tourism Pub went to Cornwall’s Pandora Inn, with Bodmin Visitor Information Centre & Falmouth Oyster Festival taking Joint Golds, and A Little Bit of Heaven, Pendragon House, Bedruthan Hotel & Spa, Bosinver Farm Cottages and Gwel an Mor all joining them in Cornwall’s haul of Gold awards.
Somerset saw greater success than in recent years, with Mill on the Brue taking Gold in the Sustainable Tourism category and RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day taking joint Gold for Tourism Event.
Exmoor Zoo reinforced Devon’s success, taking Gold for the Small Attraction category, whilst a special award for Outstanding Achievement went to Devon Cliffs’ Brian O’Brien for his inspiration to staff, visitors and the local community in his role as the park’s Environmental Coordinator.
Further afield, Gold’s were picked up by Wiltshire’s Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort as well as Razorcat Tours, who operate on the Bath/Wiltshire borders.
Gloucester Tourism Information centre also added to its accolades, picking up Joint Gold in the Tourism Information category.
Over 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 mystery shoppers.
Entry was free, and all entrants received 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.
Up to four Award winners from each category in this year’s awards will all now go on to represent the region at the National Enjoy England Awards for Excellence later in May.
Chair of Judges, Alistair Handyside, said: "Once again, leading tourism businesses in the South West have excelled themselves in maintaining a strong tradition of innovation and quality. Most will now go on to represent both themselves and our region at the Visit England national tourism awards and we wish them all the very best."
Dave Roberts, Head of Business Development for Title Sponsors, Source for Business, said: "On behalf of Source for Business and South West Water I would like to congratulate all of the South West’s tourism businesses represented at the Excellence Awards. Tourism is so important to our region, so it is fantastic to see that with each year the level of achievement gets higher and higher."
Robin Barker of Services for Tourism, who manages the awards programme, added: "After 10 months of work, this year’s awards are finally drawing to a close. It has been an inspiration, with over 300 of the region’s top tourism businesses involved and a judging process that has seen 164 visits, 16 panel meetings and hours of debate. No entry fees have been required and every entrant has received feedback. That’s what I call an Awards Programme!"