The Dorset Tourism Awards 2014
PUBLISHED: 15:47 18 June 2014 | UPDATED: 15:55 18 June 2014
Nick Williams Photography
The Dorset Tourism Awards were launched to help promote the county and the industry. Helen Stiles meets some of last year's winners and previews the 2014 event
The Tank Museum Bovington provided the dramatic backdrop for the inaugural Dorset Tourism Awards. Supported by Dorset Magazine, the official media partner, more than 160 guests attended the awards dinner with the aim of helping put Dorset on the quality tourism map. Robin Barker, the organiser, was delighted: “Dorset offers something special, yet for various reasons has not always punched at its weight as a top destination. In 2012, just four Dorset and Bournemouth businesses made it through to the finals of the South West awards. With the help of the 2013 Dorset awards, that figure has now tripled to 13, and our aim in 2014 is to grow it still further.”
It is a superb initiative with a great ethos that celebrates the county and the people who make it one of the country’s most popular destinations.
Dorset Magazine will be supporting the awards again this year because we believe that the quality of our tourism business deserves to be known about and appreciated by a wider audience.
At the launch of this year’s awards, hosted by the National Trust at Kingston Lacy - itself a Gold winner last year - winners and sponsors spoke of their passion.
Martin Cox, owner of Highlands End Holiday Park near Bridport and a double Gold winner, said he had been proud of the park’s success, and delighted to share it with his staff.
Jane Gould, of the Inn at Cranborne, who took Gold in the Pub category, was equally inspired. “When we won we splashed the news on every piece of paper and digital marketing we could,” she said.
Nicky King of the Eastbury Hotel, Sherborne, which won Gold for the Eating Out award, Silver in Hotel of the Year and the prestigious Winner of Winners Award, said that from start to finish the Dorset Tourism Awards had been an invaluable experience for all her staff.
“Just completing the application form makes you look at your establishment in greater detail than you may do on a day to day basis. It also encourages you to make changes even before the judges give you their input,” she said.
“Winning was a very proud moment for us. We all walked with a new spring in our step and it made us feel that we had put the Eastbury Hotel on the map of the South West.”
Andrew Alder, partner of Bournemouth accountants, Saffery Champness - the headline sponsor - has been delighted with the success of the inaugural Dorset Tourism Awards, and announced two new initiatives for 2104.
“Firstly, we are going to sponsor a Tourism Entrepreneur Award to recognise individual innovation and leadership within the tourism industry. Secondly, Saffery will also be hosting a Winner’s Dinner to celebrate the achievements of gold award winners.”
This year’s winners will be announced at a glittering awards dinner at the Tank Museum, Bovington, on Thursday 16th October.
Winners will then be fast-tracked into the South West Awards, with South West winners submitted to the 2015 national VisitEngland Awards.
The 2014 Dorset Tourism Awards comprises 16 categories, including best accommodation, attractions, events, activity providers, pubs, places to eat and drink, and venues.
Entry to the Dorset Tourism awards is free and all the entrants will receive feedback from the panel of judges.
The deadline for entries is midnight on Sunday, 29th June.
For more information on the awards, guidance notes and entry forms please go to dorsettourismawards.org.uk
Dorset Tourism Awards 2014 Categories
Tourism Entrepreneur Award (New)
Entrepreneurs from all sectors of the tourism industry in Dorset are eligible. Entrants must provide evidence to demonstrate proven business success.
Outstanding Customer Service Award
Aimed at individuals or small teams within a tourism business, that has stood out in delivering outstanding customer service. Winner 2013: Geof Curtis, Brownsea Island
Sustainable Tourism Award
For businesses that can demonstrate sustainability through environmental, community and communications initiatives. Winner 2013: Highlands End Holiday Park, Bridport
Tourism Information Service of the Year
Open to Tourist Information Centres as well as other providers of visitor information. Winner 2013: (Joint Gold) Lyme Regis TIC & Poole Welcome Centre
Large Visitor Attraction of the Year (New)
Visitor attractions with over 50,000 visitors, ranging from museums and historic houses to theme parks and garden shops.
Small Visitor Attraction of the Year (New)
Visitor attractions with fewer than 50,000 visitors that go that extra mile to ensure their visitors have a really enjoyable experience. Winner 2013 Visitor Attraction of the Year: National Trust Kingston Lacy
Best Tourism Activity, Sport and Experience
For tourism businesses such as activity, sport and leisure providers Winner 2013: National Trust Brownsea Island
Pub of the Year
Open to all pubs in Dorset. Winner 2013: The Inn at Cranborne
Eating Out Award
Open to restaurants and cafes using a high proportion of Dorset produce with local dishes as part of their business. Winner 2013: Eastbury Hotel, Sherborne
Large Hotel of the Year (New)
For hotels with over 35 bedrooms.
Small Hotel of the Year (New)
For hotels with 35 or fewer bedrooms. Winner 2013 Hotel of the Year: BridgeHouse Hotel, Beaminster
B&B, Guest Accommodation & Inns
Including B&Bs, farmhouses, inns, restaurants with rooms and guesthouses. Winner 2013: Launceston Farm B & B, Blandford Forum
Holiday Parks & Villages
Camping and caravanning parks and villages, including touring parks and lodge villages. Winner 2013: Highlands End Holiday Park, Bridport
For accommodation and serviced apartments that offer an excellent standard. Winner 2013: Greenwood Grange, Dorchester
Tourism Event of the Year
For a successful festival or special event (attracting over 5,000 visitors) that can demonstrate it has grown in visitor numbers, provides an outstanding experience to visitors and contributes to the local community. Winner 2013: Dorset Seafood Festival, Weymouth
Venue & Business Tourism Award (New)
For quality tourism businesses that are aimed at the corporate or weddings sector such as exhibition venues, convention hotels, conference and banqueting venues.