Entries are open for the Dorset Tourism Awards which shine the spotlight on the county’s top tourist businesses and attractions. Their judges also provide invaluable feedback to entrants

The best tourism and hospitality businesses in Dorset are invited to enter the Dorset Tourism Awards 2023/24. Nominations opened on April 17 and close on June 18, 2023. Categories include pubs, cafes and restaurants as well as accommodation, spa, wedding and business venues, attractions, events and experiences. There are also awards for unsung heroes, new businesses, dog friendly, accessibility and sustainability.

The awards are free to enter and offer a fantastic opportunity for tourism businesses across the county to raise their profile and stand out from the crowd. Awards are also great for PR, staff morale and networking, they can help attract more customers and offer reassurance to visitors that they are going to one of the best businesses in the county. 

Great British Life: Museum of East Dorset in Wimborne won Small Visitor Attraction of the Year. (Photo: nickwilliamsphotography.co.uk)Museum of East Dorset in Wimborne won Small Visitor Attraction of the Year. (Photo: nickwilliamsphotography.co.uk)

The Dorset Tourism Awards has its own accolade as it has been accredited as Outstanding by the Awards Trust Mark scheme after going through a rigorous assessment. This gives entrants the confidence that the judging follows a comprehensive scoring matrix; all judges are independent, sign non-disclosure agreements and they are trained and retrained annually.

Great British Life: Golden Acre Jurassic Coast Lodges won Dog Friendly Business of the Year. (Photo: nickwilliamsphotography.co.uk)Golden Acre Jurassic Coast Lodges won Dog Friendly Business of the Year. (Photo: nickwilliamsphotography.co.uk) What many businesses find incredibly useful is the free feedback they receive on their entry to these awards from the judges, regardless of whether they win or not. Services for Tourism, who run the awards, are also offering businesses the chance to attend an online workshop on May 23 to help complete their entry forms and ask any questions. Places can be booked via the website dorsettourismawards.org.uk. There are also sample entry forms you can look at on the website before you start your online application.

Applying for the Dorset Tourism Awards not only gives businesses a chance to compete locally but winners in some categories could also go through to the South West Tourism Awards and even the national VisitEngland Awards. Quite a few of the accolades at last year’s national awards went to Dorset businesses including: Nothe Fort who won Gold for Small Visitor Attraction of the Year; The Acorn Inn at Evershot won Silver for Pub of the Year; while Bronze awards went to West Bay Discover Centre for Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism, and All Hallows’ Farmhouse Cookery School at Wimborne St Giles for Experience of the Year.

Here is some of the feedback from the 2022/23 entrants:

Great British Life: The winners of the Dorset Tourism Awards 2022/23 at the awards held at The Tank Museum. (Photo: nickwilliamsphotography.co.uk)The winners of the Dorset Tourism Awards 2022/23 at the awards held at The Tank Museum. (Photo: nickwilliamsphotography.co.uk)

‘Even after several years of applying for the awards, we find the detailed judges’ feedback useful. Having independent assessment from industry professionals is invaluable – and free! The award ceremonies are an opportunity to meet and network with others from across the industry and celebrate our achievements. Having won an award, it demonstrates to prospective guests the quality we offer, it differentiates us from others and helps attract PR.’

‘It was lovely to have all our hard work, and that of our small team of staff, our ongoing investment and attention to detail recognised by the judges and we are grateful for their invaluable feedback and tips to help us build upon these successes even further in the future.’

And from Deborah Heather, CEO of our headline sponsor, Quality in Tourism: ‘We love being involved in the Dorset Tourism Awards. It works for us on so many levels, we get to give back, we get to see the best of the best, we get to work with some amazing people, and we get our brand out there, there is no downside.’

Judging will take place between July and December, with finalists announced in December, and a glittering awards event will be held on February 1, 2024. Businesses are encouraged to enter as soon as possible; closing date is June 18. Entry is online via the website dorsettourismawards.org.uk

Great British Life: Dorset Tourism AwardsDorset Tourism Awards