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Medal success in Tourism Excellence Awards

Judges have announced the order of medal winners, including Brunel’s ss Great Britain, for the South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

Brunel’s ss Great Britain received silver award for ‘Large Visitor Attraction of the Year 2011/12’.

Winners across all categories were announced at a glittering ceremony in Torquay’s Riviera Centre. Respected travel writer and travel editor for The Independent newspaper Simon Calder presented the awards.

This year’s judging was the tightest ever, according to organisers, with winners separated by fractions in their ‘mystery shop’ scores. Each medal winner represents the best in the tourism industry and plays a vital part in the wider economy.

Brunel’s ss Great Britain, the historic steamship in Bristol, competed against two Cornish attractions – the National Trust’s Cotehele and Trebah Garden (joint gold winners).

Improvements undertaken over the last 18 months by the ss Great Britain Trust, which manages and operates Brunel’s ss Great Britain, have included the:

  • New historic galley, with smells and moving rats and a lazy cat, and a Victorian-style toilets on board ship, plus new dockyard scenes;
  • Beautifully designed trails, including stickers and scratch and sniff panels, for children and their families;
  • Opening of the Brunel Institute, with its Visitor Centre, new shop and ticket office, the National Brunel Archive and David MacGregor Library, and Viridor Theatre;
  • The roll out of agenda-setting educational programmes.

Brunel’s ss Great Britain first entered the South West Tourism Excellence Awards five years ago, winning ‘Large Visitor Attraction of the Year’ in 2007; ‘Outstanding Customer Service’ in 2008; and ‘Business Tourism’ for its weddings, venue hire and Christmas parties in 2009.

The attraction went on to win two gold medals and one silver medal at the national
tourism board’s EnjoyEngland Excellence Awards (now renamed VisitEngland Excellence Awards).

The South West Tourism Excellence Awards’ Judging Panel Chairman, Alistair Handyside, commented: “These finalists represent the best of the best tourism businesses in the South West. The visitor economy is crucial to our region and these businesses are an example to all of us, to show what can be achieved in these challenging times.”

Robin Barker, Director of Services for Tourism Ltd, who coordinates the Awards on behalf of the South West Tourism Alliance, added: “Five years ago the Awards judges were often comparing good with bad, but that time is well passed. Now it’s simply about who is the more excellent! I offer my congratulations to everyone involved.”

The ss Great Britain Trust’s Director Matthew Tanner MBE commented: “Trustees, staff and volunteers are delighted by this latest recognition of the museum attraction and our many developments and improvements over the last year.”

Mr Tanner added: “It is important that we constantly strive to maintain the highest standards, and ‘wow’ factor, for our visitors and venue hire clients. Not only do we enjoy listening to visitors telling us they have had a great time, we need to ensure that as an independent museum and registered charity we continue to attract visitors to generate the revenue needed to care for this historic ship and Bristol icon.”

The last year has witnessed award recognition for Brunel’s ss Great Britain including:

  • Loo of the Year Awards’ ‘National Category Winner Heritage’ and silver for the Four-Star all-category ‘Overall Grade’;
  • Evening Post Business Awards 2011‘Business of the Year’;
  • Bristol Tourism And Hospitality Awards 2011 ‘Outstanding Contribution to Bristol Tourism and Hospitality’ and ‘Team of the Year’;
  • 2011 Museums & Heritage Awards for Excellence ‘Marketing Campaign’ for the 40th anniversary of the ship’s homecoming.

Other winners which represented Bristol in the South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2011/12 were Bristol International Balloon Fiesta and Bristol Festival of Nature in the ‘Tourism Event’ award and At-Bristol in the ‘Sustainable Tourism’ category. Highly commended were Bristol’s Tourist Information Centre and Harptree Court Bed and Breakfast. See www.southwesttourismawards.org.uk for a full list of winners.