Despite a challenging year for tourism on the Isle of Wight due to the coronavirus lockdowns, and the effects of the pandemic on would-be visitors, Isle of Wight businesses are still shining.
The finalists of the Beautiful South Awards have been announced, with several Island establishments making the cut in the prestigious competition, which is run by regional organisation Tourism South East.
Isle of Wight businesses are up against tourism industry heavy hitters from across the south, including Kent, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire.
Finalists for gold, silver or bronze awards on the Isle of Wight include Away Resorts at Whitecliff Bay, Osborne which is operated by English Heritage and new tourism business Camp Wight, a wild camping site at Ningwood.
Gemma Cowley from Camp Wight said:
‘We are absolutely thrilled to have been named as a finalist in the New Tourism Business category of the Beautiful South Awards. We are very much a fledgling small family business.
‘To be shortlisted as one of the top three new tourism businesses in the South of England is a fantastic recognition of the work all our family, including our two children. We can’t wait to find out how we’re placed on March 4th.’
Island businesses commended in their categories include Tapnell Farm and Nettlecombe Farm for Self-catering Accommodation, and in the Restaurant, Tearooms and Café category, Vernon Cottage at Shanklin Old Village.
Susan de Vere, owner of the popular destination, with her husband Paul, said:
‘We are delighted to win this huge accolade. It is an enchanting place. We are thrilled our unique ‘Isle of Wight Shaped Scones’ - made by Paul every morning - and our signature ‘Old Shanklin Pie’ and fresh homemade food can win this fantastic recognition - together with our beautiful Award winning eco-friendly sunny Tea and Beer Gardens which are my passion. We also thank all our fantastic tearoom and restaurant staff plus the local volunteers who help man our Shanklin Tourist Information point in the Gift Shop, all of whom make Vernon Cottage world class.’
Will Myles, MD at Visit Isle of Wight said:
'Congratulations to all the businesses who have been shortlisted or commended for the Tourism South East Beautiful South Awards - it is a testament to the hard work of people here on the Island to continue to strive to make their tourism offering the very best it can be. I wish you all good luck for the awards night in March.
‘Being in lockdown people are looking forward to when the time is right to visit again, these businesses show that they are among the best in the South of England and will put the Isle of Wight at the forefront of potential visitors minds, but not until the time is right.’
Fran Downton, Chief Executive of Tourism South East, said:
‘We felt strongly that the Beautiful South Awards should go ahead this year. Recognising and celebrating the quality and excellence of our tourism business, in the face of adversity is really important to us. Tourism in the South East demonstrates national and world class offerings, and the entry standards to our awards are always high. This year was exceptionally challenging for our businesses and we are pleased to be able to deliver some well needed positivity and rewards.’
In 2019 Hovertravel’s Lorry Middleton won gold in the Customer Service category, eventually going on to win the national competition as Visit England’s Tourism Superstar in 2020.
The Beautiful South Awards will take place online March 4.
Island businesses featured in the Beautiful South Awards Finalists and Commended 2020/21 include:
Camping and Holiday Park of the Year - Away Resorts Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park (silver award winners in 2019 and 2018)
Large Visitor Attraction of the Year - Osborne
New Tourism Business of the Year - Camp Wight
Restaurant, Café & Tearoom of the Year - Vernon Cottage Tearoom
Self Catering Accommodation of the Year - Nettlecombe Farm (commended), Tapnell Manor & Farm Cottages (commended)