With no fewer than seven of the Devon Association of Tourist Attractions’ (DATA) 36 members named as finalists in four different categories for the prestigious 2020 Devon Tourism Awards, a number of the coveted medal titles went to DATA attractions yesterday (Thur 11 March).
The annual Devon Tourism Awards are organised on behalf of the county’s destination marketing organisation ‘Visit Devon’ by ‘Services for Tourism’, and the seven DATA finalists were: The Big Sheep, Bideford; Quince Honey Farm, South Molton; Pennywell Farm, Buckfastleigh; Powderham Castle, Kenton; Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter; Stuart Line Cruises, Exmouth; and the South Devon Railway, Buckfastleigh.
Current DATA Chairman and the South Devon Railway’s (SDR) PR & Business Development Manager, Dick Wood, and former DATA Chairman and Pennywell Farm owner Chris Murray were both losing finalists in the ‘Business Leader’ category which was won by Kerry Dawson of the National Trust.
The Tourism Innovation Gold award went to Quince Honey Farm, South Molton and the Silver to The Big Sheep, Abbotsham.
The ‘Large Visitor Attraction of the Year’ Gold medal went to Pennywell Farm, along with two joint Bronze medals for the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter and Quince Honey Farm, South Molton.
In the ‘Unsung Hero’ award category which had five nominations, all five were declared as winners by the judges, including three DATA members: Naomi Hunt from Powderham Castle, Hannah Pattle from Pennywell Farm, and a posthumous award for the late Ian Stuart of Stuart Line Cruises, Exmouth.
Commenting on the 2020 Devon Tourism awards, DATA Chairman Dick Wood said:
“It’s always a pleasant surprise to be even nominated for an award let alone then being named as a finalist in this year’s Devon Tourism awards. But all of the finalists are winners of course.
“ I was very pleased that the great contribution towards Devon tourism of my good friend and DATA colleague, the late Ian Stuart of Stuart Line Cruises, was also fittingly recognised as an Unsung Hero in these awards – a great man who is sadly missed by all who knew him.
“And seeing that so many other fellow DATA members also reached the finalist stages too is a great honour for our association which is now in its 36th year.
“It just goes to endorse the quality of ‘Devon’s Top Attractions’ and the high calibre and standards of our members. It augurs well for the future that we are going on into 2021 as a stronger, more unified organisation to promote the best of Devon.”
Announcement of the award winners will come as really welcome news for Devon’s tourism sector as the local and national tourism and hospitality industries are all still navigating through the Covid-19 pandemic, with most West Country businesses having had to face the worst financial crisis they have ever had to endure.
And, after going through a really tough 2020 when some attractions were unable to open at all, Devon Association of Tourist Attractions (DATA) members will be delighted to learn that so many ‘Devon’s Top Attractions’ have been recognised for their excellence and resilience and shown that they are clearly leading the way in dealing with the pandemic properly and safely.
Within this ever-changing crisis situation and uncertainty for the future caused by CV-19, all of the award winners have shown solid leadership, innovation, re-invention, and adaptation of their businesses, as well as demonstrating why they are so successful and exhibiting a strong, unified will to survive.
The 2020 Devon Tourism Awards received 124 entries and nominations, with 66 selected as finalists, including seven members of DATA.