As many parts of the economy are preparing to reopen after lockdown, several Jurassic Coast Business Partners have received an extra welcome boost at the Devon Tourism Awards.
The team at family-run Andrewshayes Holiday Park learnt during an online awards ceremony, that they had clinched the top spot in the Devon Tourism Awards winning Gold in the Holiday Park category. The win marks an especially fitting milestone, as the park is also celebrating 85 years in business being run by the same family over 4 generations.
Over the last few years, Andrewshayes has invested in a new development of luxury holiday homes as well as continually improving existing facilities on the park. Other factors that helped the park win the awards were its customer service, environmental actions, online reviews and social media as well as other initiatives the park has implemented. One example is a tree planting scheme working with a charity in Kenya.
Director Clare Mackenney said of the win, “This is a huge achievement for the park. We are a small team so everyone’s hard work and loyalty really counts and has contributed our success. Last year many changes had to be made with extra safety measures in place to ensure our customers could feel relaxed on holiday. It was certainly a challenge, so to have won this award despite those circumstances feels extra special.
Looking ahead to opening after Easter we know that people are desperate for a change of scenery. Those of us that already live in the area know how lucky we are to be here. All precautions will be implemented again and reviewed as we ease out of lockdown. We want to make sure our customers feel confident to book with us and ensure we keep local people safe as well.”
Higher Wiscombe also cleaned up at the awards, winning Gold for Best Self-catering accommodation. The win represents just deserts for owner-operators Alistair and Lorna Handyside, who are long-time champions of tourism in East Devon and the wider south-west region.
The family and colleagues of Ian Stuart were delighted by the announcement that Ian Stuart, founder of Stuart Line Cruises, was to receive a prestigious posthumous award as ‘Unsung Hero’.
Emotional tributes were paid to Ian, in recognition of his exceptional achievements as one of the South West’s tourism business leaders throughout his life, and he was praised for being a truly remarkable friend and colleague.
Upon receiving this award, Ian’s wife, Philippa, said: “This award will mean so much to Ian’s family, colleagues and loyal passengers. We would also like to thank Anne Blackham of Devon’s Top Attractions, who nominated Ian for this award. Anne has always been a great friend and colleague to Ian, attending numerous trade shows and working together, especially within the Group Travel Market.”
Anne added: “It’s hard to put into words how amazing Ian was. He showed such incredible support for Devon tourism and his determination for the county to thrive as one of England’s leading destinations, was undeniable. Not only was Ian a brilliant businessman and a credit to Devon, but he was also a kind, funny and generous character with whom I adored working.”
The host of the event, Robin Barker of Services for Tourism, summarised several other comments from attendees and former colleagues, saying: “I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Ian on several occasions. It is clear that he was a very popular man who had great influence on tourism in Devon and the ways in which it has evolved over the past 50 years. He was a great man, and his achievements were nothing but admirable.”
As the awards are announced, holiday providers in the South West have reported that as soon as news of the Covid-19 roadmap dates were announced, bookings started to come in thick and fast. The return of visitors will be a huge boost to so many people whose livelihoods are linked to the tourism industry. Look out for the Visit Britain Good to Go and AA Covid-Confident accreditations when you look for places to book as a sign of having good procedures in place.
As Clare from Andrewshayes Holiday Park noted, “We are delighted to help put East Devon and our village of Dalwood on the map as we know the region is often overlooked. The area has such a fantastic variety of places to visit, attractions, artisan crafts and great local food as well as the glorious and varied coastline. This is definitely going to be the year of the staycation.”
For full details of this year’s winners, visit Devon Tourism Awards‘ website.