DORSET B&Bs, bistros, tearooms and tourist businesses have topped this year's South West Tourist Excellence Awards proving the county once again to be a leading tourist destination.

Businesses from Dorset won awards in 14 of the 26 categories as 10 months of work culminated in the presentation of 135 trophies presented to South West businesses last night at a ceremony in Bristol.

With 469 people in attendance, it was the biggest ever regional gathering of South West tourism businesses.

Greenwood Grange in Higher Bockhampton topped the bill winning Gold in the Self Catering Holiday Provider of the Year category.

Dorset House, a boutique B&B in Lyme Regis swiftly followed up winning Silver in the Bed & Breakfast of the Year category. Tankfest at The Tank Museum in Bovington also won Silver in Tourism Event & Festival of the Year category.

Taste Brasserie in Dorchester added to its growing collection of awards winning Silver in the Café & Tearoom of the Year category. Symondsbury Kitchen in west Dorset won Bronze in the same category.

Based on Symondsbury Estate, the whole estate went on to receive nods in two more categories, winning Bronze awards for Self Catering Property of the Year and Venue & Business Tourism Award.

The Dorset Burger Company in Weymouth won Bronze in the Restaurant/Bistro of the Year category.

Many finalists in the awards have also been nominated to represent the region in the VisitEngland awards, the finalists for which will be announced in March.

All entrants in the South West underwent a rigorous short-listing process with 380 being visited by a team of 36 mystery shoppers.

The Winner of Winners award went to the Gloucester Tourist Information Centre for their innovation, consistency and service over many years.

This year’s awards event was hosted by ITV news presenter Kylie Pentelow, with an inspiring opening address by travel journalist and chair of Family Holiday Association Alison Rice.

Alison was also this year’s Chair of Judges and commented: “Yet again the South West leads the way in tourism excellence. Whatever 2017 throws at this very special region of Britain, tonight’s award winners will excel at what they do best - offering all comers the best possible visitor experiences.”

Robin Barker of Services for Tourism added: “Excellence is elusive. It takes creativity, commitment, investment, and persistence to achieve. Standards have to be maintained for every guest, in all situations, at all hours of every day.

"Achieving excellence is one thing, maintaining it in a world of ever-rising expectations is an even greater challenge. So well done to all of this year’s winners – you are at the cutting edge of this region’s top industry and are genuine business icons.”

The full list of finalists and highly commended entrants can be found at