THE wait is nearly over for businesses, attractions and accommodation providers vying for honours in a new awards scheme.

The finalists in the first Destination Awards – which celebrate excellence in businesses that make Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole a great place to visit, live and work – are set to be announced.

Up to five finalists in each of the awards’ 14 categories will be named during a special event at the Lost Paradise Bar in Bournemouth on Monday, February 3.

The awards were set up by the Destination Management Board, made up of representatives from the tourism industry and BCP Council.

Independent judges, overseen by an independent adjudicator, have drawn up the list of finalists.

David Bailey, board chairman, said: “There are a huge number of businesses all working terrifically hard to raise the profile of this area and these new awards – very different to anything we have seen before – recognise these efforts. The standard of entries we have received has been remarkably good and our judges have really had their work cut out in choosing the finalists.”

The overall winners will be revealed on Thursday, March 19.

The 14 award categories are: Events & Cultural Award, Attraction of the Year, Large Hotel of the Year, Small or Boutique Hotel of the Year, Unserviced Accommodation of the Year, Café or Tearoom of the Year, Restaurant or Bistro of the Year, Retail Innovation Award, Getting About Award, Business Tourism Award, Responsible, Ethical & Sustainable Tourism Award, International or Inbound Tourism Award, Digital Transformation Award and Industry Support Award.