BROWNSEA Island was one of several multiple award winners in the first-ever Dorset Tourism Awards held at the Tank Museum in Bovington.

The evening saw 39 awards presented to winners from across the county, with many winners including the Eastbury Hotel in Sherborne, The Inn at Cranborne and BridgeHouse Hotel in Beaminster receiving more than one award.

The awards were launched in June this year, following extensive liaison between their founder, Robin Barker, and local tourism leaders.

“Dorset offers something special, yet for various reasons has not always punched its weight as a top destination” said Robin.

“That’s why my colleagues and I started liaising with the industry here in Dorset to assess the demand for your own Dorset Tourism Awards. The response we had surprised us all.”

The awards attracted 60 entries in 12 different categories, each undergoing a rigorous 3-stage judging process. A capacity audience of 160 guests enjoyed the Awards ceremony.

The special award for innovation and entrepreneurship went to Beach Weddings Bournemouth.

Sherborne’s Eastbury Hotel took the Winner of Winners award for its consistency of excellence and its ambassadorial role for Dorset, while Geof Curtis, a volunteer on Brownsea Island, took the Gold for Outstanding Customer Service.

Another special award was for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism, which was presented to Martin Cox, Managing Director of West Dorset Leisure Holidays, for his 30 plus years of innovative contribution to tourism in Dorset, the South West and the holiday park sector.

Successful businesses in the Dorset Awards will now be fast tracked into the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in January 2014 and then possibly on to the National Visit England Awards later in 2014.

Other winners included Poole Welcome Centre, the British Beach Polo Championships, Kingston lacy and the Tank Museum.