A stunning six of the finalist places in this year’s national VisitEngland awards have been taken by tourism businesses from the Devon - more than any other county - and bringing the South West total to 16 - making it another record year for the region and reminding visitors of the quality available in England’s pre-eminent tourism destination.

79 Finalists have just been announced for the Visit England awards, and with six from Devon and 16 of these from the South West there’s a clear message about the quality of The South West tourism experience.

The Visit England awards link with the South West Tourism Excellence Awards which held its regional awards ceremony in Plymouth on 30 January. This followed a rigorous selection process, including judging of nearly 350 entries from across the South West with many of them winning also in the Dorset Tourism Awards, Cornwall Tourism Awards and Devon Tourism Awards.

Since January, the regional entries have been pitted against further entries from across the country, with 13 entries selected as Finalists representing the South West at the VisitEngland awards night in Cheltenham on 12th May. These are joined by 2 winners from the Cotswold Tourism Awards and 1 finalist in the ‘Tourism Superstar’ category to make the total of 16 from the region. All of them are guaranteed to receive a Gold, Silver, Bronze or Highly Commended Award.

Devon boasts 6 finalists, including Calvert Trust Exmoor who are up for 2 awards in the Tourism Experience category and the Access for All award. The Arundell Arms Hotel is a finalist in the Business Tourism category for the 2nd year running, alongside The Old Rectory amongst the Small Hotels, River Cottage Canteen, Plymouth, in the Taste category and English Riviera Tourism Company, who are an award for Visitor Information Providers.

Carolyn Custerson, Chair of Visit Devon and Chief Executive of The English Riviera Company said: “This sends a strong message that Devon leads the UK as a quality visitor destination. The news comes at the perfect time as the South West trainline re-opens and will get Easter off to a great start! Congratulations to all our finalists.”

Chairman of the South West judging panel, Alistair Handyside, says: “This is a brilliant result for the South West, and is well deserved recognition of the ongoing investment made by our leading tourism businesses. Our congratulations to them all and we will be rooting for you on awards night on the 12th May.”

Robin Barker, from awards organisers Services for Tourism, comments: “Each year the standards in this competition get higher and higher, hence it is a testament to the industry that the South West again heads the ‘league table’ amongst English regions. We will have to wait until the 12th May to find out what accolade each has won, but they are all worthy ambassadors for the region and I wish them all my congratulations and best wishes.”