Emotional Evening as all corners of Devon celebrate their outstanding achievements in tourism
The Devon Tourism Awards paid tribute to Chair of Visit Devon Carolyn Custerson for her outstanding contribution to tourism and to Westward Living for its catalytic impact on Westward Ho! amongst a host of winners at last night’s (13 Nov 2013) Devon Tourism Awards Ceremony held at the Grand Hotel, Torquay.
Now in its fourth year, the Awards have seen increasing numbers of both entries and winners, with last night’s event taking every available seat at the Grand Hotel. Winners had all been through a three-stage judging process, including assessment of their websites and entry forms, mystery visits and a final independent judging panel which was chaired by David Fursdon, former High Sherriff of Devon, who said: “Running a tourism business at a time of austerity is never easy but to do so with the style and expertise shown by our award winners demands a special skill and I am delighted to see them publicly recognised in this way.”
The cream of Devon’s tourism industry was at awards event, which was presided over by popular Devon celebrity Judi Spiers. No fewer than 15 Gold Awards were presented to businesses across 14 categories, with top awards going to businesses from right across the county.
A surprise winner was Carolyn Custerson, Chair of Visit Devon, from whom all news of the judging was kept totally secret. She was recognised for her Outstanding Contribution to Devon Tourism in a career that has lasted over 30 years. The award was presented jointly by Rosie Bates of Devon County Council and awards organiser Robin Barker, whose citation included the phrase: “The impact that Carolyn has had on the industry cannot be underestimated. The Devon tourism industry is all the richer for her involvement, her tenacity, drive, commitment and enthusiasm, and loyalty for her team and colleagues”. Carolyn and her team at the English Riviera Tourism Company also took top prize in the Tourism Information Service category.
Another outstanding winner on the night was Westward Ho!’s Westward Living at Duckhaven Stud. They picked up the Gold award for Self Catering, their Groundsman Matt Druce took the ‘Tourism Superstar’ award for outstanding customer service, and they went on to take the evening’s special ‘Winner of Winners’ award for their wider contribution towards the regeneration of Westward Ho!
The Arundell Arms at Lifton was also a multiple winner, taking Gold for Venue & Business Tourism as well as a joint Gold alongside Calvert Trust in the Tourism Activity, Sport and Experience category.
In the Attractions sector Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life clearly wowed the judges taking Gold as a Small Attraction, whilst North Devon’s Big Sheep took a deserved Gold amongst the Large Attractions
Food and drink providers were also well recognised, with River Cottage Canteen & Deli in Plymouth taking the top Gold award in the Taste category, the Start Bay Inn winning Gold as Tourism Pub of the Year and Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink recognised as the top Tourism Event.
Hedgehog Corner followed its national success in the Gold Star awards for Sustainable Tourism, taking Gold amongst the B&Bs, whilst newcomer the Old Rectory in Martinhoe took the title of Hotel of the Year and Cofton Country Holidays took Gold for Holiday Parks. After past successes in two other categories, Compton Pool Farm impressed the judges enough to take Gold in the keenly fought Sustainable Tourism category.
Eddie Bent of headline sponsors e-Strategy said: “I would like to extend my congratulations to all of the winners of the Devon Tourism Awards. In these tough economic times, it is heartening to see so many businesses going that extra mile to deliver an exceptional service - congratulations to you all!”
Successful businesses in the Devon Awards will now be fast tracked into the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in January 2014 and then possibly on to the National Visit England Awards later in May 2014.
See WINNERS for the full list of 2013 Winners.
The Twitter hash tag for the awards is #devonta13
PHOTOS FROM THE EVENING FROM http://nickwilliamsphotographer.co.uk/p604930610
Purple Cloud Consultancy is delighted to be sponsoring the Tourism Superstar for Customer Service category of the Devon Tourism Awards 2013
Finalists Announced for Devon Tourism Awards 2013
Awards Title Sponsor e-Strategy is hosting #Digital Trends conference at Sandy park, Exeter, on the evening of 12th September.