Dorset Tourism Awards, ‘Meet the Finalists’ event took place on Monday 25th January and showcased businesses and organisations from across the county and demonstrated the quality and depth of the county’s tourism offering.
Nick Fernyhough Partner at Saffery Champness LLP, sponsors of the Hotel and Venue categories commented, “It goes without saying that this has been an extremely difficult year for the tourism industry but it was great to hear how some businesses have innovated to make the best of the situation. The positivity coming through from the finalists was impressive – and there were some key messages.
“With trade varying hugely, from a mini-boom when the tap was turned on again for the late summer, to periods of complete closure, many businesses have had to look outside their normal sources of income to survive. That has led to significant steps forward in businesses on-line activity – some saying they have made five years progress in five months as they had the time to dedicate themselves to making it work effectively for them. Restaurants have developed on-line menus for take-aways, attractions have focussed on the on-line activity of their shops and many have taken the opportunity to build up social media presence or improve websites.
The flexibility of the people working in the industry was also impressive – turning their hand to whatever was needed most, with a strong sense of community helping local businesses survive in many cases. There was also positivity about the fact that many people are taking the chance to re-connect with their local area and our magnificent countryside and coast, as they rediscover the joys of walking and hiking and similar outdoor activities. This together with hopefully increased leisure time in the future coming from reduced travel due to more agile working is also a positive for the future and should boost the industry. In fact many of the businesses were looking forward (albeit with no guarantees) to a very strong
period ahead of us as people choose to holiday in the UK whilst travel is difficult.
The resilience on display was fantastic, but we mustn’t forget the numerous businesses (and the lost jobs) that have failed to survive in the sector or are on the brink. Richard Smith, Head of the Dorset Tourism Association, talked about his ongoing discussions with councils and MP’s to ensure that adequate support is received by all businesses in the sector and the need for a clear road map on the way to the new normal – acknowledging that we cannot expect predicted dates as it has been so difficult to foresee the course of the pandemic.
It was great to see the continued enthusiasm on display – once again the team at the DTA have done a great job in bringing the industry, which is so vital to Dorset, together – this time in very different circumstances.