Purbeck organisations make it to finals of prestigious awards

The finalists for the Dorset Tourism Awards 2024 have been announced and there’s some familiar local names that are in with a chance to bag a trophy!

Swanage Information Centre, which was also a finalist in 2019, is back in contention for the visitor information service of the year award, alongside Swanage Carnival which is going for gold in the tourism event / festival of the year category.

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TankFest
Tank Museum

Swanage Carnival takes on The Tank Museum’s Tankfest!

Tank Museum gunning for four awards

Across Purbeck, National Trust Corfe Castle is hoping to do well in the accessible and inclusive tourism category, while Norden Farm Campsite, near Corfe Castle and the Wareham Forest Tourist Park are up against each other in the camping and caravanning park of the year category. Durdle Door Holiday Park is again a contender for holiday park of the year.

The Tank Museum at Bovington is gunning for four awards and up against Swanage Carnival in the best event / festival of the year category with its popular Tankfest event.

Overall, 62 finalists were announced following five months of judging for the annual competition, which is now in its 11th year.

This year’s awards took an ever greater account of entrants’ commitment to accessibility and inclusion, including mental health, as well as the environment and community.

Awards organiser Robin Barker of Services for Tourism said:

“I well remember the audience reaction at the very first Dorset Awards – delight that Dorset at last had an awards scheme of their own – and, after the tough few years the industry has been through, I fully expect more delight in February. Many congratulations to everyone.”

Weymouth Pavillion
Weymouth Pavillion

The award ceremony will take place at Weymouth Pavillion in February 2024

“Amazing work and the fantastic experiences”

Winners will be announced at a ceremony in Weymouth Pavilion on Thursday 1st February 2024, with successful businesses in most categories fast tracked into the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in March 2024 and possibly invited to represent Dorset in the 2024 national Visit England Awards.

The Visit Dorset tourism team congratulated the finalists:

“The team would like to wish the very best of luck to all the finalists in this year’s Dorset Tourism Awards. It’s great to recognise their amazing work and the fantastic experiences that they provide for all visitors to Dorset.”

Award categories cover everything from wedding venues, new tourism businesses, and accessible and inclusive tourism to restaurants, camping, hotels and pubs.

A winner of winners title, an unsung hero award and a special future of hospitality award will also be presented on the night.

Swanage Information Centre in Shore Road

Swanage Information Centre flying the flag for the seaside town

“World class customer service in a world class destination!”

Swanage Town Council visitor services manager, Culvin Milmer said:

“Fantastic to hear that Swanage Information Centre has once again made it into the finals for the Dorset Tourism Awards, along with Swanage Carnival.

“Swanage holds such a special place in the hearts of so many people and we feel so fortunate that throughout the year we get to showcase the best of Swanage to our wonderful customers which includes not just visitors from around the world but many residents as well. We feel we offer world class customer service in a world class destination!”

Setting up for Swanage Carnival 2023

Darren Strong addresses the volunteers at the start of Swanage Carnival 2023

“Testament to all the hard work”

Chair of Swanage Regatta and Carnival 2023, Darren Strong added:

“This is a fantastic achievement to be recognised and nominated as one of the best tourism events and festivals of the year in Dorset.

“It is a testament to all the hard work that goes into making our eight day event, now one of the biggest attractions along the South Coast, thanks to our brilliant dedicated team of volunteers.”

Corfe Castle with accessibility vehicle
National Trust

New measures to make Corfe Castle more accessible

“Striving to be as inclusive as possible”

With Durlston Country Park winning the accessible and inclusive tourism category in 2019 and then following it up with scooping gold in the national Visit England Awards for Excellence 2020, the National Trust has a hard act to beat.

Experience and visitor programming manager at Corfe Castle, Eoin McDowell said:

“We are very proud to have been nominated for this award. Over the past two years, we have worked hard to make the castle as accessible as possible for all our visitors.

“From interventions such as offering an all-terrain attendant propelled electric wheelchair, walking poles, ear defenders, opening at quiet times, providing various visual guides, an audio trail, disability awareness training courses for staff and giving free entry to carers, we are striving to be as inclusive as possible.”

Dorset Tourism Awards
Dorset Tourism Awards

The awards ceremony was held at Bovington’s Tank Museum in 2023

Dorset Tourism Awards 2024

Accessible and inclusive tourism award sponsored by Bournemouth University Business School

Finalists

  • Dorset Museum, Dorchester
  • Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth
  • National Trust Corfe Castle, Purbeck
  • The Tank Museum, Bovington

B and B and guesthouse of the year sponsored by Goadsby

Finalists

  • Alexander Lodge, Bournemouth
  • Barton Cottage Bed and Breakfast, Dorchester

Business events venue of the year sponsored by NFU Mutual, Bournemouth

Finalists

  • Dorset Museum, Dorchester
  • Lighthouse, Poole
  • Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth
  • The Tank Museum, Bovington

Café / tearoom of the year sponsored by Dorset Tea

Finalists

  • Compton Acres Café Tearooms, Bournemouth
  • Pause Cat Café, Bournemouth
  • The Story Pig, Sherborne
  • Upwey Wishing Well Tearooms, Weymouth

Camping and caravanning park of the year sponsored by Anytime Booking

Finalists

  • Coppet Hill Camping and Glamping, Bridport
  • Norden Farm Campsite, Wareham
  • South Lytchett Manor Caravan and Camping Park, Lytchett Minster
  • Wareham Forest Tourist Park, Wareham

Commended

  • Burnbake Forest Lodges and Campsite, Corfe Castle

Casual dining award sponsored by Sunflower Social Media

Finalists

Lolas Restaurant, Bournemouth
MezeBag – Baraca Restaurant, Bournemouth
Poco Pizza, Lyme Regis

Ethical, responsible and sustainable tourism award sponsored by Saffery

Finalists

Highlands End Holiday Park, Bridport
Pause Cat Café, Bournemouth
Warmwell Holiday Park, Weymouth

Experience of the year

Finalists

  • Durdle Door Cruise – Weymouth Bay RIB Charter, Weymouth
  • Sea Train Adventure – City Cruises, Poole
  • Treetop Adventure Plus – Moors Valley Go Ape, Ringwood

Commended

  • Mellulah Therapy and Yoga Retreat, Blandford

Future of hospitality award sponsored by NFU Mutual, Bournemouth

Finalists

  • To be announced at the awards event

Holiday park of the year sponsored by Tozers

Finalists

  • Durdle Door Holiday Park, Wareham
  • Highlands End Holiday Park, Bridport

Large hotel of the year sponsored by Guestline

Finalists

  • Christchurch Harbour Hotel, Christchurch
  • Holiday Inn, Bournemouth
  • The Nici, Bournemouth

Large visitor attraction of the year

Finalists

  • Dorset Museum, Dorchester
  • Lighthouse, Poole
  • The Tank Museum, Bovington

Commended

  • The Oceanarium, Bournemouth Aquarium, Bournemouth

New tourism business award sponsored by Visit Dorset

Finalists

  • English Cottage Vacation, Shaftesbury
  • Rudge Farm Cottages, Bridport
  • The Queen’s Arms, Sherborne

Commended

  • Weymouth Land Train, Weymouth

Pub of the year

  • The Acorn Inn, Dorchester
  • The Old Thatch Pub, Kitchen and Country Store, Wimborne
  • The Queen’s Arms, Sherborne

Restaurant of the year

Finalists

  • Restaurant Les Enfants Terribles, Weymouth
  • St Tropez Lounge, Poole
  • The Jetty Restaurant, Christchurch
  • Upper Deck Restaurant in Christchurch Harbour Hotel, Christchurch

Commended

  • The Oyster and Fish House, Lyme Regis

Self catering accommodation of the year sponsored by Booking.com

Finalists

  • Bournemouth Beach Lodges, Bournemouth
  • Rudge Farm Cottages, Bridport

Small hotel of the year sponsored by Quality in Tourism

Finalists

  • Kings Arms Hotel, Christchurch
  • Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Dorchester

Small visitor attraction of the year sponsored by Resort Dorset

Finalists

  • Museum of East Dorset, Wimborne
  • Nothe Fort, Weymouth
  • Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth
  • Shire Hall Museum, Dorchester

Commended

  • Compton Acres, Bournemouth
  • Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf, Bournemouth

Tourism event / festival of the year sponsored by Les Enfants Terribles

Finalists

  • Arts by the Sea Festival 2022, Bournemouth
  • Swanage Regatta and Carnival 2023, Swanage
  • Tankfest 2023, Bovington

Commended

  • Shire Hall Christmas Market 2022, Dorchester

Unsung hero award sponsored by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Tourism

Finalists

  • To be announced at the awards event

Visitor information service of the year sponsored by Holidaymaker App

Finalists

  • Swanage Information Centre, Swanage
  • Upton Park Visitor Welcome Centre, Poole

Wedding venue of the year sponsored by Touch Stay

Finalists

  • Dorset Museum Weddings, Dorchester
  • Highcliffe Castle, Highcliffe
  • Kings Arms Hotel, Christchurch
  • The Italian Villa at Compton Acres, Bovington

Winner of winners sponsored by Dorset LEP

  • To be announced at the awards event

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