WINNERS of last year’s Dorset Tourism Awards have been drumming up support by explaining the boost they received from their success.

An informal launch for this year’s awards, held at National Trust Kingston Lacy, heard from those who had succeeded last year.

Nicky King of the Eastbury Hotel in Sherborne said the business had benefited in a host of ways, but particularly from local reaction.

“We’ve picked up much more local business than we ever dreamed possible. We are generally thought of as the first port of all if somebody’s got something to celebrate,” she said.

Jane Gould, of The Inn at Cranborne, said: “Right from the start the application process is a powerful motivator for staff. When we won, we splashed the news on every piece of paper and digital marketing we could. We also had a happy hour celebrating with our loyal customer club.”

Martin Cox, of West Dorset Leisure Holidays, whose Highlands End Holiday Park was a winner, said: “We’ve been in our business for over 40 years and we’ve never really entered awards, mainly because of the paperwork.”

But he said completing the forms had provided an opportunity to review processes.

“When we won, it was a great moment for the staff. Many of the staff have been with us for a long time. When we took the award back, you could see in their faces it really meant something to them.”

Winners of the awards are fast-tracked into the South West Tourism Awards, whose winners in turn go on to the national VisitEngland contest.

Organiser Robin Barker told how the number of Dorset finalists in the regional awards had risen from four to 13 in a year.

“The frustration was none of those went on to succeed at the Visit England awards and that’s part of our challenge for next year,” he added.

He stressed the value of the feedback all entrants received.

Andrew Alder, partner with the headline sponsor, Bournemouth accountants Saffery Champness, said: “After the success of the inaugural Dorset Tourism Awards we are delighted to continue with our arrangement and this year we are introducing two new initiatives.

“Firstly, we are going to sponsor a Tourism Entrepreneur Award to recognise individual innovation and leadership within the tourism industry.

“Secondly, shortly after the awards evening in October, Safferys will be hosting a winners’ dinner to celebrate the achievements of the recipients of gold awards.”

Entry is free and the deadline is midnight on Sunday June 29. Details are at