The 12-month long Devon Tourism Awards programme has concluded with an emotional day-long online Awards Day.
The online event saw 67 awards presented in 24 categories with a surprise ‘Outstanding Contribution to Tourism’ award being the final announcement.
124 entries were received into the awards, which are now in their 11th year, with entrants judged on a combination of their entry submissions, digital presence, reviews and external evidence.
A surprise Outstanding Contribution award went to Rhys Roberts following his 5 years as Chair of VisitDevon and decades contributing in multiple roles across tourism, with the National Trust’s Kerry Dawson taking the Business Leader award. Accommodation golds went to Higher Wiscombe, Lincombe Hall Hotel, The Horn of Plenty, Andrewshayes Holiday Park, Stowford Farm Meadows, Highcliffe House and Brownscombe Luxury Glamping.
Attraction and Experience gold awards were awarded to Exewake, the spa at Lincombe Hall, and Pennywell Farm, with Paschoe House taking gold for Wedding Venue and Lynmouth Pavilion Exmoor National Park Centre the gold for Visitor Information. Food and drink golds went to Fishcombe Cove Café, the PIG at Combe, the Three Crowns and The Angel – Taste of Devon.
There were cross-sector golds for Leafy Field Glamping for access and inclusivity, Bolberry Farm Cottages for dog friendly, Little Comfort Farm for ethical, responsible and sustainable tourism, the Cottages at Blackadon Farm for new business and Quince Honey Farm for tourism innovation.
There was much emotion as five Unsung Heroes were announced: Clive Simmons from the Palace Theatre in Paignton, Hannah Pattle of Pennywell Farm, Naomi Hunt from Powderham Castle and Sereny Damon from Dartmouth Steam Railway. A posthumous Unsung Hero award was also presented to the family and colleagues of Ian Stuart, in recognition of his hard work and partnership working across the sector.
Deborah Heather of headline sponsors Quality in Tourism says: “A truly awe-inspiring day with the good and great of Devon celebrating Tourism’s’ best in this amazing county. Quality in Tourism is honoured to have played a role in supporting these amazing businesses who have been hit so hard but are about to rise like the proverbial phoenix supporting the wellbeing and happiness of locals and holiday makers alike in Devon once we’re open again.”
Chair of the Judging panel, Evelyn Stacey, commented: “2020 was a challenging year for us all which made the efforts of the award winners all the more amazing. I have nothing but admiration for the resourceful way in which our tourism businesses – accommodation, hospitality, activities, attractions, services, both established and new – provided high quality service for locals and tourist visitors alike in a safe and responsible manner. Having shown skill and innovation during a national crisis, they have firm foundations on which to build for the future and they fully deserve the accolades.”
Sally Everton, General Manager of VisitDevon, comments: “The Devon Tourism Awards has showered some positivity on what has been the most challenging year for so many tourism businesses across Devon. With some definite light now at the end of what has been a very gloomy tunnel, it is a huge boost to the tourism industry to have something as prestigious as these awards to celebrate.”
Awards organiser Robin Barker of Services for Tourism added: “After an extraordinary year it’s so good to spread good news. Winner reactions on the day included comments such as “thanks for spreading seeds of joy” and “we all work in the happiness business”. Hear, hear to that!”
For a full list of finalists visit devontourismawards.org.uk.