Swanage information team strikes gold at regional tourism awards

Swanage Information Centre has officially been declared best in the West – just in time for the start of the 2024 tourist season.

During a black tie dinner at Exeter University on Thursday 14th March 2024, the information hub on Shore Road won a gold award at the prestigious South West Tourism Excellence finals.

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Swanage Information Centre is based in a former fisherman’s cottage on Shore Road

Better than the English Riviera

In an outstanding field, the team finished well ahead of Plymouth’s city funded centre at the Mayflower Museum and beat the joint silver medal Tourist Information Centres of the English Riviera at Torquay and of Exmoor National Park at Dulverton.

Trophies from both the South West finals and the earlier qualifying Dorset Tourism Awards went on display at the Information Centre on Monday 8th April 2024 so that the whole team had a chance to celebrate such an outstanding achievement.

Swanage Town Council visitor services manager Culvin Milmer said his only regret was that the national English Tourism Awards no longer had a category for visitor information centres.

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The team collected their award from the South West Tourism Excellence finals held at Exeter University

A former fisherman’s cottage

Culvin Milmer said:

“We enter most years and this is the third time we have won since 2017. It’s a great shame that the winner of this category doesn’t go on to the national finals, as we think we would hold up very well against any other information centre in the country.

“I have a feeling that the very best examples are located in the South West, so the regional winner would be in a very strong position for a national title.

“This building, a former fisherman’s cottage, was refurbished in 2016 as part of a pledge to support the facility at a time when others were being closed through lack of funding.

“We do everything we can to provide the best possible service for local residents and for visitors, and the judges did comment on how much we were embedded in the life of Swanage – we think it’s very important to be a part of community events.”

Sarah Tattersall and Culvin Milmer praised the entire team for outstanding work in helping Swanage to shine

A hub of help for everyone

The centre’s visitor services assistant manager Sarah Tattersall was praised for the way she gave visitors a one to one experience, making them feel special with eye contact and a smile as soon as they came in through the door.

Sarah Tattersall said:

“This is as much a place for local residents as it is for tourists, that’s why we call it an information centre and dropped the word ‘tourist’ from the title – it’s a hub of information and help for everyone.

“We have a very prominent position on the seafront and people come here for anything and everything from lost property to beach hut hire, National Express bookings or just for local knowledge about the town.”

A wealth of information about the delights that Purbeck has to offer

The Information Centre was praised for the range of local goods on sale

Judged by a secret shopper

Swanage Mayor Tina Foster said:

“I am so proud of all of you who work here and so thrilled for Swanage that we are right up there as gold medal winners! It is amazing to know that you have been a part of something so special!”

The information centre was visited by a secret shopper from the tourism awards judging panel, who praised the team on their friendliness, customer service and knowledge.

Seasonal assistant Lou Condie came in for special praise for her friendly and helpful manner, and the judges also had kind words for the bright and clean centre with its wide array of leaflets and local goods for sale.

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Bovington Tank Museum won a silver award for Event of the Year with Tankfest 2023

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Head of visitor experience at the Tank Museum, Rosanna Dean, was named as an unsung hero winner

Further Purbeck winners

Three other Purbeck businesses also took home awards from the South West Tourism finals.

The Tank Museum at Bovington collected silver awards for the Tourism Event or Festival of the Year with Tankfest 2023 and for the Business Events Venue of the Year, while the museum’s head of visitor experience Rosanna Dean was named as one of four winners in the Unsung Hero category.

Norden Farm Campsite was the bronze medal winner in the Camping and Caravanning Park of the Year award, while the gold medal in the same category was scooped by Wareham Forest Tourist Park.

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Wareham Forest Tourist Park won gold in the Camping and Caravanning Park of the Year category

NICK WILLIAMS PHOTOGRAPHER

Norden Farm Campsite won bronze in the same category on an outstanding night for Purbeck businesses

“South West is truly world class”

Helen Wylde-Archibald, CEO of main awards sponsor Wildanet, said:

“With the standard of entries being so high this year, it demonstrates the incredible work that businesses throughout the South West are doing to stand out and help to position our region as one that is truly world class.”

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