DORSET has a reputation for top tourist attractions- and now the county's best have been celebrated at a glitzy ceremony.

A record-breaking audience of more than 200 guests saw more than 51 businesses presented with prizes at the annual Dorset Tourism Awards, which was held at the Bovington Tank Museum on Thursday.

Now in its third year, the awards act as a celebration of the best in Dorset tourism and also as a county heat for the south west and national Visit England awards.

This year saw two new categories for cafés and tearooms, and for access and inclusivity and winners came from right across the county.

Nick Fernyhough, of sponsors Saffery Champness, said: “The level of entries in all categories has been outstanding this year and shows the high quality venues and activities that Dorset can provide for tourism.

“This is the 3rd year of Saffery’s involvement in these awards and each year we have seen the standard of entries and winners improving.

“It’s very impressive.”

Weymouth’s Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival was one of the biggest winners on the night, scooping gold for tourism event of the year as well as a special award for outstanding contribution to Dorset tourism.

South Lytchett Manor Camping and Caravanning Park took gold in the sustainable tourism category whilst BOD Bournemouth took top place in the access and inclusivity category.

In the serviced accommodation categories, gold went to Christchurch Harbour Hotel and Spa for best large hotel, Best Western The Grange at Oborne for best small hotel and The Balincourt for best B&B and guest accommodation.

Highlands End Holiday Park won gold in the best holiday park category, and the self catering gold went to the Symondsbury Estate.

In the food and drink categories, the White Post won Gold for tourism pub of the year, the Aroma Coffee House and Kitchen in Lyme Regis scooped gold for café and tearoom and the Arbor Restaurant at the Green House Hotel won gold for restaurant of the year.

The small attraction gold went to Compton Acres, with the top venue and business yourism award going to the adjoining Italian Villa.

In best tourism activity, sport and experience category the gold went again to Lyme Bay RIB Charter, with Bournemouth Tourism Information Centre taking the tourism information Gold.

Moors Valley Country Park and Forest won gold for large attraction and also scooped the prestigious winner of winners award.

A further special award went to Laurence Smith nominated as the unsung hero for outstanding customer service.

Robin Barker, who organised the awards, added: “This year has seen a further growth in entries, more sponsors, a bigger event and a further increase in quality.”

Firms that scooped prizes will now be entered into the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February.