SIXTY-six businesses and individuals were saluted for their contribution to one of Britain’s biggest industries at the Dorset Tourism Awards.

Bernard Donoghue, chief executive of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, told the guests: “Tourism is Britain’s fifth biggest industry and the third biggest employer, worth £127billion every year and creating a job every eight minutes.”

He said the event was a chance to thank the award-winners for their work and for the difference they made in people’s lives. “You provide the backdrop for people’s happy memories,” he added.

Nick Fernyhough of headline sponsor Saffery Champness said: “Tourism within the UK is an ever-growing sector, particularly in the light of the exchange rate movements due to Brexit. We are keen to see that Dorset is well placed to attract as much business and attention as possible, by delivering the highest quality product possible.”

A surprise award for Outstanding Customer Service went to Katie Davies of Moors Valley Country Park, for going the extra mile to look after visitors with autism; while the prize for Outstanding Contribution to Dorset Tourism went to the Jurassic Coast team.

The Winner of Winners trophy went to a two-year-old business, the Shillingstone equestrian resort Loose Reins, which picked up two gold awards.

Winners were as follows.

Access and inclusivity (sponsor: Purple Cloud Consultancy): Gold, BOD Bournemouth; silver, Monkey World.

Active and sporting experience (Beales Gourmet): Gold, Loose Reins; silver, Go Ape Moors Valley; highly commended RockReef and Pier Zip.

Artistic, cultural and learning experience (Real Recruitment Solutions): Gold, All Hallows Farmhouse-Cookery School, Wimborne St Giles; silver, Moors Valley Country Park and Forest.

Bed & breakfast (Goadsby): Gold, Dorset House, Lyme Regis; silver, Home Farm House, Wimborne St Giles; bronze, Balincourt, Bournemouth; highly commended, Swallows Rest, Weymouth.

Café/tearoom (Dorset Food & Drink): Gold, Taste Café at Chesil Beach; silver, Worth Matravers Tea & Supper Room; bronze, Aroma Café Bridport. Highly commended, Seasons Kitchen & Coffee Barn, Ashley Heath.

Camping and caravanning park (Visit Dorset): Gold, Higher Moor Farm, Weymouth; silver, Shamba Holidays, St Leonards; bronze, Longthorns, Wareham.

Dog friendly business (NFU Mutual): Gold, Golden Acre Holiday Bungalows, Bridport; silver, Upton Country Park; bronze, Lancombe Country Cottages & Lodges, Dorchester.

Glamping and alternative accommodation ( Gold, Loose Reins, Blandford; silver, Bloomfield Camping, Blandford and Bournemouth Beach Lodges.

Guided tour (Jurassic Coaster): Gold, Town Mill, Lyme Regis; silver, Monkey World; bronze, RNLI College.

Holiday park (Hoseasons): Gold, Rockley Park, Poole; silver, Highlands End, Bridport.

Large attraction (Take One Media): Gold, Moors Valley Country Park and Forest; silver, Swanage Railway; bronze, Monkey World and Tank Museum, Bovington.

Large hotel (Nat West): Gold, Christchurch Harbour; silver, RNLI College; bronze, Marsham Court, Bournemouth.

Outstanding contribution to Dorset Tourism (Saffery Champness): Jurassic Coast Team.

Outstanding customer service (Bournemouth Water Business Services): Katie Davies, ranger at Moors Valley Country Park and Forest.

Restaurant/bistro (Source Trade): Gold, Guildhall Tavern; silver, Seasons at the Eastbury, Sherborne; bronze, Dorset Burger Company, Weymouth.

Self-catering business (Quality in Tourism): Gold, Greenwood Grange, Dorchester; silver, Lancombe Country Cottages & Lodges, Dorchester.

Small attraction (Resort Marketing): Gold, Town Mill, Lyme Regis; silver, Compton Acres, Poole; bronze, Sandworld Weymouth.

Small/boutique hotel (Clockwork Marketing): Gold Green House Hotel, Bournemouth, and Grange at Oborne, Sherobrne; silver, Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Dorchester; bronze, Alexandra Hotel & Restaurant, Lyme Regis and Orchid Hotel, Bournemouth.

Spa and wellbeing experience (A Head for PR): Gold, Mellulah Therapy & Yoga Retreats, Milton Abbas; silver, La Vie Spa, Portland.

Sustainable tourism (Brittany Ferries): Gold, Blagwell Farm Touring Park, Weymouth; silver; Alexandra Hotel & Restaurant, Lyme Regis; bronze, Bloomfield Camping, Blandford.

Tourism event/festival (Bournemouth University Department of Tourism and Hospitality): Gold, Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival, Weymouth and Sherborne Abbey Festival; silver, Great Dorset Chilli Festival, Wimborne St Giles, and Original Shake & Stir Vintage Festival, Bournemouth.

Tourism pub (Porter Dodson): Gold, Acorn Inn, Dorchester; silver, Three Horseshoes Pub & Kitchen, Burton Bradstock; bronze, Inn at Cranborne.

Venue and business tourism (Shopper Anonymous): Gold, Italian Villa; silver, Upton Country Park.

Visitor information service (Italian Villa): Gold, Swanage Information Centre; silver, Discover Purbeck Information Centre, Wareham; bronze, Bridport Tourist Information Centre.

Winner of winners:(Dorset LEP): Loose Reins, Blandford.