Devon swept to victory, winning 30 awards in this year’s South West Tourism awards and will see ten businesses go through to the national Visit England Awards for Excellence in March.
Ninety-five different awards were announced at the event, which took place in Exeter Cathedral last night (4 February).
Devon saw ‘Gold’ was awarded to Calvert Trust, Exmoor, for Access and Inclusivity; Mayflower Marina, Plymouth, for Active and Sporting Experience; River Cottage, Axminster for Artistic, Cultural and Learning Experience; Rydon Farm B&B, Woodbury for B&B Accommodation of the Year; Woodovis Park, Gulworthy for Camping & Caravanning Park; Plymouth Gin, Plymouth for Small Attraction of the Year; Kentisbury Grange, Barnstaple for Small Hotel of the Year; The Coach House by Michael Caines for Taste of the South West; and Highbullen Hotel, Umberleigh for Venue & Business Tourism. Rachel Grose from Finlake Holiday Park, Chudleigh was also awarded an Unsung Hero Award for Customer Service.
An Outstanding Contribution award was given to Alistair Handyside for his commitment to lobbying and supporting the region’s industry.
Victoria Hatfield, Chair of Visit Devon, commented: “This is great news for Devon and shows how seriously the county takes tourism. Visitors are vital to the Devon economy and this will only encourage more to come.”
The event broke new ground being hosted in the Nave of Exeter Cathedral, itself one of the region’s top tourist attractions.
The awards broke the previous record for entries with 490 submissions being considered, each going through a rigorous 3-stage judging process of marking, visits and panel meetings.
Alison Rice, Chair of Judges, commented: “These high-calibre awards reflect the quality and breadth of the treasures that visitors to the south west can enjoy. The judging panel of tourism professionals did not have an easy time!”
All entrants in the South West underwent a rigorous short-listing process with 296 being visited by a team of 42 mystery shoppers. Entry was free, and all entrants received feedback on how they had done, giving them useful tips for future success.
Robin Barker of Services for Tourism, who manages the awards programme, added: “This year’s awards have set new standards in both numbers and quality standards. It never ceases to amaze me how our top businesses continue to reinvent themselves to stay at the top in one of the world’s most fast-moving and competitive industries.”
Ten Devon winners go forward to the Visit England Awards for Excellence, taking place at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, on Tuesday 8 March.