AFTER 164 visits, 16 panel meetings and six hours of debate, 56 winners have been announced in this year's South West Tourism Excellence Awards.
The contest is open to businesses from Gloucestershire to the Isles of Scilly, and forms the regional heat of the national VisitEngland awards, to which most of the winners will now progress. Some 300 entries were considered for the awards, with all entrants undergoing a rigorous short-listing process and 164 going on to be visited by a team of more than 30 judges and mystery shoppers.
Up to five winners have been selected in each of the 16 categories, ranging from best hotel, event, attraction, activity, holiday park and self catering holidays to awards for customer service, access, sustainable tourism and business tourism.
But they will have to wait until February to learn whether they have won gold, silver or bronze in a ceremony at the Eden Project.
Winners in the Holiday Park & Village of the Year category include Cofton Country Holidays at Starcross and Oakdown Country Holiday Park near Sidmouth.
Gidleigh Park is a winner in the Small Hotel of the Year category, while the Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life has been recognised as a Small Visitor Attraction of the Year.
The Salty Monk at Sidford is a winner for Bed & Breakfast and Guest Accommodation of the Year, and Mazzard Farm Holiday Cottages near Ottery St Mary scooped a Sustainable Tourism Award.
Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum emerged victorious in the Large Visitor Attraction of the Year category.
Devon's Tourism Pub of the Year title went to the Lazy Toad at Brampford Speke.
Robin Barker, director of awards coordinator Services for Tourism Ltd, said: "Standing still is not an option in this industry, as amply demonstrated by this year's winners, whose innovation and investment in difficult times never ceases to amaze me."