I was invited to be guest speaker at the 7th annual Devon Tourism Awards last week. Many years ago I won the award for best B&B in the Southwest, went through to the nationals and came runner up to Castle Howard in Yorkshire. It was a fantastic boost to the business and I would recommend anyone to enter the awards.
Jo Pavey (Olympian runner) was there to assist Judi Spiers in presenting the awards and about 320 people attended for a sumptuous meal at the Great Hall at Exeter University. Seventy-five awards were presented to winners in categories as diverse as Glamping, Spa & Wellbeing, Hotels, Restaurants, Pubs and Attractions.
The National Marine Aquarium took the prestigious Winner of Winners award along with category awards for Sustainable Tourism, Access & Inclusivity and Venue & Business Tourism.
Attraction and experience Golds went to the Milky Way, Canonteign Falls, Reach Outdoors, the Old Kennels and the Ilsington Country House Spa. Food and drink Gold awards went to Home Farm Café, The Coach House at Kentisbury Grange and Millbrook Inn.
Thelma Hubert gallery took Gold for Access & Inclusivity, with Unique Devon Tours taking the top award for International Visitor Experience. Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centres won an award for tourism information and the final award of the night went to Plymouth’s Armed Forces Day for Tourism Event of the Year.
Chairman of the Awards Panel, David Fursdon, says: “I know how important the tourist industry is to Devon. The wonderful reputation that this very special County enjoys in this area depends on maintaining the highest standards and this year’s winners across a wide range of categories illustrate just that and personify one word; “Excellence”.”
Speaking after the awards were presented, Luke Hansford, Hoseasons Business Development Manager for Devon, said: “Tonight clearly belongs to our award winners, but the standard of entries was so high this year that each and every finalist on the shortlist deserves a huge pat on the back, not just for the passion and dedication they put into their own businesses, but also for the huge collective contribution they make to ensuring that Devon remains such a popular destination.”
Awards organizer Robin Barker was delighted by this year’s awards: “This year’s winners exemplify so much of what is great about Devon. Innovation, outstanding service and superb experiences. Many congratulations to everyone involved.”