THE organisers of the South West Tourism Awards are celebrating after they won a Gold Award in the Awards Trust Mark scheme.

Services for Tourism, who organises the South West Tourism Awards, are the first awards scheme of any kind in the South West and the first tourism scheme in the country to win the accolade.

The award is being presented to Services for Tourism by the Independent Awards Standards Council following an assessment of the processes and standards applied by Services for Tourism in running the awards, along with interviews with winners and judges.

Services for Tourism director Robin Barker said: “Tourism is a fast-moving dynamic industry with leaders constantly innovating and investing.

"In judging them we cannot stand still and the Tourism Awards of 2019 bear little relation to those of 2008, when we first took them on.

"Feedback from entrants tells us that the main reason people now enter the awards is for the free feedback and to improve their business, this being one of the reasons entries have grown each year to a record 651 in 2018. It is of course a team effort, and I must thank our 50+ judges and 40+ sponsors in making it possible.”

To win the Gold accolade Services for Tourism required evidence against 16 criteria including independence of judges, confidentiality, judge training and feedback.

Chris Robinson, co-founder and chairman of the Independent Awards Standards Council, said: “We are delighted to award the South West Tourism Excellence Awards a Gold Trust Mark for its ethics, transparency and general great practice.

"The first tourism award to receive Gold. What impressed me most about the awards is how they give feedback despite being free to enter, and how they truly listen to entrants – surveying them every year to ensure continuous improvement. A great scheme.”