ALMOST 40 businesses have been shortlisted to fight it out at this year’s Dorset Tourism Awards.

The ceremony at the Tank Museum in Bovington next Thursday, October 16, will see 38 finalists in a host of categories.

Launched last year, the awards will this time around see more categories and the aim is to raise the profile of Dorset as a destination and “recognise its top quality and progressive tourism businesses”, say the orgainsers.

Andrew Alder, of headline sponsors Saffery Champness and a member of the judging panel, said: “We have been delighted by the high standard of entrants and the quality of their submissions.

“It’s quite clear from all the hard work and commitment of the businesses involved that these awards have captured the imagination of the regional tourism industry and the accolades they bring. We were particularly pleased by the entries for the Entrepreneurs Category, which we helped to introduce this year. A big thank-you for everyone’s time and effort.”

The awards saw an increased 67 entries across 16 categories, with each going through a three-stage judging process. Each entry was pored over and scored by tourism professionals before a programme of visits was carried out, leading to recommendations for each category. Finally, the recommendations were considered by an independent panel.

Finalists were selected from across the county with businesses from Lyme Regis, Poole, Weymouth, Cranborne, Sherborne and Bournemouth among the list.

Robin Barker, of Services for Tourism, which created and manages the awards programme, added: “It is a real delight seeing the increase in entries this year, along with the commitment to quality shown by all concerned.

“The judges have faced some very difficult decisions and I congratulate all entrants for their vision, drive and dedication.”

The event next week will see gold, silver and bronze awards given out.

Successful businesses will be put forward for the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February, with the possibility of going on to represent Dorset at the National Enjoy England Awards.