In a unique online awards day held over five sessions on Thursday 4th February this year’s Winners in the Dorset Tourism Awards have been announced.
The event saw 61 awards presented in 22 categories with a final ‘Winner of Winners’ award being the final announcement. It was the culmination of an 11 month programme that started in March 2020 with entrants judged on a combination of their entry submissions, digital presence, reviews and external evidence.
Amongst the day’s top winners was Bournemouth’s Marsham Court Hotel, collecting three Gold awards for Hotel of the Year, Business Events and Wedding Venue of the Year, Dog Friendly Business of the Year and the prestigious Winner of Winners award. Other top winners included The Tank Museum and Nothe Fort in the attraction categories, Dorset House, South Lytchett Manor Camping and Caravanning Park, Burnbake Forest Lodges & Campsite and Farmstead Glamping in accommodation categories and Bridport Tourist Information Centre.
Jurassic Coast Guides took two gold awards for Experience of the Year and International Visitor Experience, with HolidayInDorset – Birchcroft taking gold for Accessible and Inclusive Tourism and Pause Cat Café the hotly-fought gold for Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism. Another multiple-winner was Sculpture by the Lakes, taking a bronze and three silver awards. Food and drink golds went to Fish ‘n’ Fritz in Weymouth, The Half Moon in Melplash, Bournemouth’s Picnic Park Deli and Al Molo in Weymouth. There was a special New Business Award for the Cross Keys in Sherborne and the Tourism Innovation gold went to The Grange at Oborne, with the Tourism Event/Festival of the Year gold awarded to White Star Running – Run Jurassic 2019.
In what has been an extraordinary year for tourism three special Unsung Hero awards were announced for Heather Brown of Dorset Foodie Feed, Kellie Court of Tangerine Café & Gallery, and Yessica Falcon of Bournemouth Tourist Information Centre.
The 8th year of the competition has been run in unprecedented times for tourism, but the focus on excellence and feedback for entrants has remained as relevant as ever.
Awards organiser Robin Barker said: “It would have been very easy to cancel the Awards this year – we did think long and hard about it, but the level of early entries we received in spite of everything, and the creativity and determination shown by entrants inspired us to find a way to make this happen – and your responses and feedback ever since have completely blown us away.”
Clare Bushby of headline sponsors Clockwork Marketing says: “We are incredibly proud to share this genuinely memorable day with the finalists of the Dorset Tourism Awards. Huge congratulations to all the winners – what a fabulous day of good news and celebrations for Dorset hospitality businesses.”
Chair of the Judging Panel Professor Peter Jones adds his congratulations: “Dorset tourism, like tourism the world over, is demonstrating resilience and fortitude in coping with the impact and implications of Covid-19 in some amazing ways. Entrants demonstrated creativity and innovation, passion for the industry, and enthusiasm in providing a great experience for their customers in the most difficult of circumstances.
Sara Uzzell, Deputy Chair of the Dorset LEP, added: “What a fantastic day – I’ve really enjoyed celebrating the success of Dorset’s tourism businesses. A much needed boost in these tough times. It has been inspiring to see the energy, innovation and positivity about the future from all the participants in the awards process. The Dorset LEP is proud to support the Dorset Tourism Awards again and we’d like to congratulate all the entrants, the winners and Robin and his team for making it happen.”
All of the winners will be automatically considered for the regional South West Tourism Excellence Awards later in the year as well as receiving feedback from the judging process. The 2021/22 awards are planned to be launched in April.
For a full list of finalists see below or visit www.dorsettourismawards.org.uk.