SOME of the brightest and best of Dorset’s tourism industry have been shortlisted to represent the county at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

Following the Dorset Tourism Awards earlier this year, some winners have been chosen to represent the county against the rest of the region. They will go up against winners of tourism awards in Bristol, Bath and Somerset, Cornwall and Devon with direct entries from Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

Those shortlisted have been whittled down from 602 entries to a final 132 finalists and five highly commended.

There are 21 finalists from Dorset in total at the awards. These include Taste Brasserie, Dorchester in the café and tearoom category, Dorset Burger Company in the restaurant or bistro category and the Tank Museum for Tankfest in the event category.

Other local finalists include The Anchor Inn for tourism pub of the year and Discover Purbeck Information Centre in the information service category.

The judging process includes a visit from mystery shoppers as the awards look to recognise ongoing quality development of tourism businesses in the region.

The winners will be announced at a black tie dinner at the Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol in February 2017.

Most of the finalists are also nominated for the VisitEngland awards in April 2017 Alison Rice, national travel journalist & broadcaster and chairman of the awards panel, said: “Once again the South West has produced a great and varied selection of excellent finalists.

Such high-quality standards are essential for the reputation of the region, especially as 2017 looks likely to be a record year for holidaying at home thanks to the failing pound, security fears and Brexit uncertainties.”

The Symondsbury Estate has been nominated in three categories, café and tearoom, self-catering holiday provider and venue and business.

Robin Barker, director of Services for Tourism Ltd which manages the awards, praised the finalists.

He said:“I pay tribute to all this year’s finalists for being ‘beacons’ for the region and demonstrating just what tourism can do.”