DIVISIONS have emerged over the organisation of a popular county-wide tourism awards programme.

The Bournemouth and Poole tourism management board announced the Bournemouth and Poole tourism awards (BAPTAs) would not take place in 2019 ahead of Local Government Reorganisation in Dorset.

It was also revealed that ROUTEpr and Events, who had organised the event for the last three years, would not work with the board on the awards, with the contract going out for tender in the coming months.

However, the bosses of ROUTEpr said they will continue to run their own tourism awards scheme, continuing next year.

It is believed the separation is due to a difference in opinion over the geographical area the awards cover.

A statement from the tourism management board said the decision to suspend the BAPTAs in 2019 will allow for a full review and name change to reflect the new local authority for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, with a scheduled return in March 2020.

Andy Woodland, chair of the current Bournemouth and Poole tourism management board said: “This is an exciting time for the conurbation and the tourism industry. We have three very distinct, core destination brand propositions that form an unparalleled umbrella offer for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. This is in addition to the propositions of our neighbours in New Forest and across the rest of Dorset.

“We want to reflect the diversity of the combined destination and it will be a key priority for the board to continue to celebrate the contribution that businesses of all sizes and individuals in all areas make to a dynamic and high quality offer.”

ROUTEpr's three year contract to organise the BAPTAs concluded this year.

The firm's own statement said they had decided not to go ahead with the next awards on behalf of the tourism management board due to "commercial differences" regarding the geographical areas the awards covered.

Jackie Phillipson and Richard Blunderfield, directors of ROUTEpr, said: “We do not want to let the destination, our sponsors and supporters down.

"The awards celebrate tourism, retail and hospitality and we’ve been told entrants and sponsors want them to continue, therefore, from us to you, we’re launching the awards this autumn as usual for businesses and sponsors from the BH postcode area." The details of these awards are expected to be unveiled soon, with renamed criteria to "suite the majority of applicants".