Westcountry's best tourist offerings rewarded in South West Tourism Excellence Awards
The cream of the South West's tourist businesses were last night celebrating success as a total of 61 awards for excellence in the region's holiday industry were presented.
The South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2012-2013, held in association with Source for Business at Cornwall's Eden Project, saw top restaurant owners, hoteliers holiday park bosses and attractions collect the prizes.
The awards were announced following a rigorous judging process in which over 300 entries were considered.
Included among the night's Gold winners were regional icons such as Nathan Outlaw's Seafood and Grill Restaurant in Cornwall, Devon's Gidleigh Park hotel and the internationally renowned Roman Baths. Cornwall's Trethem Mill Tourism Park picked up Gold in the Holiday Park category, and the prestigious "Winner of Winners" title.
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Gold in the new category of Tourism Pub went to Cornwall's Pandora Inn – recently re-opened after a devastating fire – 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.
Exmoor Zoo reinforced Devon's success, taking Gold for the Small Attraction category, whilst a special award for Outstanding Achievement went to Brian O'Brien of Devon Cliffs holiday park at Exmouth for his inspiration to staff, visitors and the local community in his role as environmental coordinator.
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 in May.
Chairman of the 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."
Robin Barker, of Services for Tourism, who manages the awards programme, said this year had been "an inspiration". He added: "No entry fees have been required and every entrant has received feedback."
The event was hosted by BBC Radio Cornwall's Daphne Skinnard, with presentations from Eden Project founder Sir Tim Smit and entertainer Lloyd Griffith.