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Awards Celebrations!

Parks, Hotels, Attractions & Volunteers amongst the top winners at inaugural Dorset Tourism Awards

It was an emotional and ground-breaking evening on Thursday as Dorset celebrated its best at the inaugural Dorset Tourism Awards ceremony, held in the fitting location of The Tank Museum, Bovington.

The evening saw 39 awards presented to winners from across the county, with several multiple winners including the Eastbury Hotel in Sherborne, National Trust Brownsea Island, The Inn at Cranborne and BridgeHouse Hotel in Beaminster.  West Dorset Leisure Holidays also shone out as Gold winner in two categories, with its Managing Director, Martin Cox, receiving a special award for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism.

The Dorset Tourism Awards were launched in June this year, following extensive liaison between their founder, Robin Barker, and local tourism leaders.  Robin was both proud and excited at the awards event, saying: “Dorset offers something special, yet for various reasons has not always punched its weight as a top destination – that’s why some 10 months ago my colleagues and I started liaising with the industry here in Dorset to assess the demand for your own Dorset Tourism Awards.  The response we had surprised us all.”

The awards attracted 60 entries in 12 different categories, each undergoing a rigorous 3-stage judging process comprising initial scoring, visits by a team of mystery shoppers and final assessment by an independent judging panel.  Chair of the panel, Professor Peter Jones said: "I was delighted to act as Chair of the Judging for the Dorset Tourism Awards and very impressed with the quality of the submissions. We have excellent tourism businesses in Dorset and to be involved in recognising them in this way has been a privilege and a pleasure."

"Dorset can often be overlooked as a premier tourist destination, but the quality of our tourism businesses is testament to the excellence of which we should be proud. This is reflected in the submissions for the Dorset Tourism Awards and all entrants should be complimented on how well they contribute to what Dorset has to offer."

A capacity audience of 160 guests enjoyed the Awards ceremony, which was hosted in the Tamiya Hall in the heart of the Tank Museum, surrounded by an array of tanks.  Andrew Alder, Partner at Headline Sponsors Saffery Champness, said: “We are delighted that tonight’s Dinner at the Tank Museum is a sell-out. The support from entrants and other local organisations for this, the inaugural year of the awards, has been amazing and as part of the celebrations, we have decided to present a further special award this evening for the most entrepreneurial business.”  The special award for innovation and entrepreneurship went to Beach Weddings Bournemouth.

Sherborne’s Eastbury Hotel took the Winner of Winners awards for its consistency of excellence and its ambassadorial role for Dorset, while Geof Curtis, a volunteer on Brownsea Island, took the Gold for Outstanding Customer Service.

Another special award was for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism, which was presented to Martin Cox, Managing Director of West Dorset Leisure Holidays, for his 30 plus years of innovative contribution to tourism in Dorset, the South West and the holiday park sector.

Successful businesses in the Dorset Awards will now be fast tracked into the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in January 2014 and then possibly on to the National Visit England Awards later in 2014.

See Winners for full list of the night's winners.

Photos from the evening can be downloaded from:   http://nickwilliamsphotographer.co.uk/p898355075        

The Awards Twitter Hash tag is #DorsetTourismAwards 

(PHOTOS - many thanks to the following award-winners for use of their photos on this site: Launceston Farm (Copyright Jo Condron), Eastbury Hotel, Urban Reef, The Jetty, Bournemouth International Air Show, Dorset Seafood Festival)

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