A record 72 trophies were presented to tourism businesses from across Dorset at the 2018 Dorset Tourism Awards dinner, held at Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre for the Arts on Thursday 8th November with guest speaker impressionist Debra Stephenson.
Now in its sixth year, the Awards broke all records in celebrating the best of Dorset tourism and also as the route for Dorset businesses to win in the South West. This year saw a new category for Tourism Innovation and New Business along with many category changes at the celebratory dinner, with awards presented by impressionist and Dorset resident Debra Stephenson.
All parts of the county saw winners – from Christchurch in the east to Lyme Regis in the west, including Poole, Lulworth, Sherborne, Bournemouth, Weymouth and Dorchester. Winners had been through what is recognised as one of the country’s most rigorous judging processes involving assessment of entry forms, 98 business visits and ending with decisions by an independent panel.
Amongst the winners were two big surprises: an ‘Outstanding Contribution to Tourism’ award to the team from the Dorset County Museum and Jurassic Coast Trust that brought Dippy to Dorset and an ‘Outstanding Customer Service’ award to Dougie Macandrew from Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park.
The prestigious Winner of Winners trophy went to Dorset House bed and breakfast in Lyme Regis, who also picked up a Gold award for the third successive year. Other double Gold winners were The Italian Villa and South Lytchett Manor Caravan and Camping Park in Poole.
Create at the Cove took Gold for the inaugural New Tourism Business category, with Tourism Innovation Gold going to Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum. Moors Valley Go Ape took Gold for Active and Sporting Experience, with Jurassic Coast Guides winning the Guided Tour Gold, Lulworth Outdoors the Gold for Learning Experience and Mellulah Therapy and Yoga Retreats the Gold for Spa and Wellbeing.
Food and drink Golds were collected by The Acorn Inn in Evershot, The Jetty in Christchurch and Compton Acres Café and Tearoom, with accommodation Golds going to Rockley Park, Christchurch Harbour Hotel, the Alexandra Hotel and Restaurant, Bournemouth Beach Lodges and Dove House and Swallows.
The inaugural award for Responsible, Ethical and Sustainable Tourism went to Bagwell Farm Touring Park, while Portland Port took Gold for International and Inbound Visitor Experience.
The Tourism Event category saw Gold going to Dorset County Museum for Dippy on Tour, while Attraction Golds went to Swanage Railway, RockReef and Pierzip on Bournemouth Pier and Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park. Bridport Tourist Information Centre took Gold in the all-important Visitor Information category.
Nick Fernyhough of headline sponsors Saffery Champness said: “It is great to see a record number of entrants and the quality undoubtedly increases every year.
“Our Bournemouth team of over 50 people is very proud of all entrants, all the winners and all those that then go on to compete at South West level- they show the way for the whole of this vital industry here in Dorset.
“Safferys are delighted to be part of the success story that is Dorset Tourism and Leisure.”
The Dorset Tourism Awards have seen year on year growth since their launch in June 2013. Robin Barker, who has led the awards throughout this development has been delighted with progress, saying: “This year has seen record entries, more sponsors and our most challenging judging ever. It has been an honour to be associated with so many outstanding businesses and I want to offer my congratulations to all the winners. You set the bar!”
Successful businesses in the Dorset Awards will now be fast tracked into the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February 2019.
The full list of winners can be seen HERE
Photos from the evening can be downloaded free of charge from here
Twitter @DorsetTourAwds #DorsetTA