THIRTEEN businesses from Dorset have been announced as finalists and/or highly commended entries at this year's South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

The South West awards are the biggest scheme of their kind and follow a rigorous three-stage judging process and are run with the support of South West Water Business Services.

Successful entries from the Dorset, Cornwall and Devon Tourism Awards were all considered, alongside direct entries from Wiltshire, Somerset, Bath, Bristol and Gloucestershire.

The awards will be presented at a black tie dinner in Exeter Cathedral on Thursday, February 4.

Entrants underwent a rigorous short-listing process with visits carried out by a team of 42 judges and mystery shoppers.

All entrants have received feedback on their entry, giving them the best opportunity both to make improvements to their business.

There were 19 categories for businesses to choose from ranging from pubs, restaurants, hotels, events, attractions, activities, holiday parks and self catering holidays to awards for customer service, access, sustainable tourism and business tourism. New categories this year included Spa and Wellbeing, Active and Sporting Experience, and Artistic, Cultural and Learning Experience.

Up to six finalists have been announced in each category.

The businesses nominated from Dorset include; Lyme Bay Rib Charter, BOD Bournemouth, The Balincourt in Bournemouth, Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, The Acorn Inn in Evershot, The White Post in Rimpton, Compton Acres in Poole, Arbor Restaurant at The Green House Hotel in Bournemouth, Aroma Coffee House and Kitchen in Lyme Regis, The Italian Villa in Poole, Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival in Weymouth and Bournemouth Tourist Information Centre.

Robin Barker, director of Services for Tourism Ltd, who manage the awards, said: "In announcing the finalists we are celebrating the excellence of the south west tourism offering who are pushing new boundaries in what this region has to offer. They are the role models in tourism, constantly reinventing their offering and making sure this region stays at the fore in what is one of the biggest and fast growing industries in the world."

The full list of Finalists and Highly Commended entrants can be found at


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