Tourism awards leave judges spoilt for choice
Tourist attractions in Devon and Cornwall have made a strong showing in the industry's annual "Oscar" awards.
The finalists of the South West Tourism Excellence Awards were yesterday unveiled, with some destinations receiving accolades in multiple categories.
Chairman of the South West Awards panel, Alistair Handyside, said the judges had assessed nearly 350 entries, conducted a record 213 visits and had 20 hours of panel meetings.
As a result, he said, 63 finalists and 34 highly commended entries have been unveiled, with 59 of the finalists set to carry the South West's flag in the national VisitEngland awards next May.
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"This year sees a truly excellent collection of winners across the South West, with many new entrants as well as well-known established beacon businesses," said Mr Handyside. "The awards night at the Holiday Inn in Plymouth on January 30 promises to be a spectacular showcase of all that is best in the South West."
The finalists include the Falmouth Oyster Festival, which will go up against RNAS Yeovilton's Air Day in event of the year.
In the small visitor attraction of the year category, Geevor Tin Mine, at Pendeen in West Cornwall, will take on St Austell Brewery Visitor Centre and the Museum of Mid Devon Life in Tiverton.
Two sections of the Rick Stein empire have been nominated, with rooms at the Seafood Restaurant in Padstow up for best B&B, while The Cornish Arms, St Merryn, is a finalist in best tourism pub of the year.
Monica Read, director of headline sponsor Source for Business, said the standards had been high.
"The South West tourism industry should be rightly proud of the high standards in customer service, quality standards and overall visitor experience as exhibited by all the nominated businesses," she said. "Let's hope the sun continues to shine in 2014 for our wonderful region."
The South West Tourism Excellence Awards are the official tourism awards for the region, offering entry to businesses from Somerset to the Isles of Scilly.
They also form the regional heat of the national VisitEngland awards, to which eligible winners will now progress.