Excellence and quality in Poole’s Tourism industry was celebrated at The Palms, the prestigious Sibbett Gregory Poole Tourism Awards, held at Hytes restaurant, Harbour Heights.

In its seventh year, Poole’s annual awards ceremony, sponsored by local commercial property agents and surveyors Sibbett Gregory, hosted over 80 tourism and business figures to celebrate the high standard and diversity of tourism businesses in the town.

This year the judges were faced with some difficult decisions, demonstrating the strength of businesses, organisations and individuals who make a key contribution to Poole’s reputation for quality.

This year’s winners were: l Tourism Development of the Year – Hotel du Vin Hotel du Vin opened in Poole in September 2008 in the former Mansion House Hotel, following a £4.4 million refurbishment.

It has 38 bedrooms and an 80-seat bistro, and the La Roche tasting table, where fine wines can be sampled.

l Tourism Personality of the Year – Andrew Silver, managing director, Banquets Group Mr Silver has been involved with Poole for 40 years and his passion, dedication and vision has been instrumental in developing the Poole brand and product. In 2003 he transformed an old cafeteria into Branksome Beach Café. In 2009 he invested £1 million in Sandbanks Beach Café.

l Tourism Promotion of the Year – RNLI Open Day, September 5 to 6 The bi-annual RNLI Open weekend based at its Poole headquarters has become a massive family attraction attended by thousands of local residents and overseas visitors. It highlights the work of the RNLI through spectacular sea survival and rescue demonstrations, lifeboat tours, mobile training units and opportunities to meet the crews and lifeguards. Additionally the new RNLI memorial sculpture, unveiled by the Duke of Kent in September, which pays tribute to those who lost their lives at sea while saving others, has become an attraction, further enhancing Poole’s reputation. l Green Tourism Initiative – Poole Harbour Trails Poole Harbour Trails Community Group is a small community group which established Poole Harbour Trails. These are designed to give access to pedestrians and cyclists around Poole Harbour. Supported by funds from both Poole and Purbeck local authorities, six walks including ones from Poole to Greenlands and Wareham to Sandford have been published with separate printed leaflets for each. Alan White, master potter at Poole Pottery and Vivienne Endecott, who runs Ginger Pop, an organisation dedicated to 1950s children’s author Enid Blyton, both received two special awards from the sponsors, Sibbett Gregory, for contributions to tourism.

Sibbett Gregory director Jonathan Sibbett said: “We are proud to sponsor this event as Poole has a fantastic tourism product and so much to shout about and celebrate. The Palms is a way of rewarding those businesses and individuals who have invested both their enthusiasm and commitment to play their full part in Poole’s reputation for excellence.”

Bruce Grant-Braham, chairman of the Poole Tourism Management Board, said: “We may not have had the sun all of the time but there has been plenty of sparkle this year.

“Poole businesses are leading the way and setting even higher standards that exceed customers’ expectations. This is no mean feat, particularly in the current economic climate, and we can never be complacent about just what this level of dedication and investment means for the town in terms of jobs, facilities and reputation, which benefit residents and visitors alike.”