Tourist industry leaders from across the Westcountry gathered at the Arundell Arms Hotel at Lifton in West Devon yesterday, to celebrate the region's success at the national tourism awards in 2012-13 and to launch the regional awards for the year ahead.
A total of 19 South West tourist businesses, from hotels to attractions, were finalists in the VisitEngland awards presented on Monday in Manchester. Yesterday at the Arundell Arms, bronze award winners for Business Tourism in the Visit England awards, guests heard about the benefits of awards' success in boosting the South West's all-important tourist industry.
Andrew Foulkes, general manager of the Gidleigh Park Hotel, near Chagford – which took gold in the national awards for best small hotel – said bringing the trophy back to the hotel was "like winning the FA cup".
He said success in national awards helped top hotels like Gidleigh Park to recruit the best staff. "The quality of the CVs that come through the door always goes up if you have the VisitEngland award on your website," he said.
Adam Fox-Edwards of the Arundell Arms, which made its name as a country sports and fishing hotel, said it has now also found success as a business conference venue, thanks, in part, to entering – and winning – awards which bring in much-needed publicity.
Robin Barker, whose Servies4Tourism company runs awards in Devon, Cornwall and the South West, said that while public funds were available for tourist awards in other parts of Britain, the South West had to stand alone, with business sponsorship
He said 2012 had been a very difficult season for tourism, thanks to the Olympics, poor weather and recession. But the top, award-winning businesses, who took quality seriously, still succeeded.
For details long onto southwesttourismawards.org.uk; devontourismawards.org.uk or cornwalltourismawards.co.uk