An independent judging panel has awarded Unsung Hero in the South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2015-16 to Visit Nunney editor Adrie van der Luijt.
After assessing a record 490 entries, 296 business visits and 20 hours of panel discussions, 93 Finalists and 13 Highly Commended entries have been announced in 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. Run with the support of South West Water Business Services, they attracted entries from as far afield as Salisbury in the east, the Isles of Scilly in the west and Cirencester in the north.
Successful entries from the Dorset, Cornwall and Devon Tourism Awards were all considered, alongside direct entries from Wiltshire, Somerset, Bath, Bristol and Gloucestershire.
The Unsung Hero Award for Customer Service is for an individual or team within a tourism business that has stood out in delivering outstanding customer service. Unlike other categories, this is not for ‘corporate’ or ‘business’ entries, but for individuals and small teams.
Robin Barker, Director of Services for Tourism Ltd, who manage the Awards, said about Visit Nunney editor Adrie van der Luijt: “The judges were hugely impressed by all he does. If there were Adries everywhere, there’s little doubt that tourism would be in a better condition than it is across the country.”
Visit Nunney previously reached the finals for UK Website of the Year in the Good Web Guide Awards 2014 and 2015, and was also in the Top 3 for Best Community Support Business at the 2015 Mendip Business Awards.
The awards will be presented at a black tie dinner in Exeter Cathedral on 4 February, representing the ‘grande finale’ of the 10 month regional awards programme.
They are also the official scheme for the South West, with most finalists nominated for the national Visit England awards later in 2016.
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 and hone their entry in future years and.
Sponsor support meant entry into the Awards was free, with 19 categories 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 & Wellbeing, Active & Sporting Experience, and Artistic, Cultural & Learning Experience.
Up to six finalists have been announced in each category, but all will have to wait until 4 February to learn whether they have won Gold, Silver or Bronze at the prestigious Awards Ceremony, to be hosted for the first time in the nave of Exeter Cathedral.
Robin Barker commented: “In announcing the finalists we are celebrating the excellence of the south west tourism offering – 93 entries selected from 490 entrants, 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.”