Three OpenBritain businesses winners in VisitEngland's Awards for Excellence 2016!

VisitEngland, the national tourist board revealed the winners for the Awards for Excellence 2016 at its 27th annual ceremony held on 8th March at Winter Gardens Blackpool, with with Hoe Grange Holidays scooping Gold, and Calvert Trust Exmoor & The Roman Baths joint silver in the “Access for All” category. Celebrating excellence across the industry, the prestigious ceremony - held for the first time this year during English Tourism Week - announced 16 winners including Best Tourism Experience, Best Visitor Attraction and Best Large Hotel and this year’s new edition, the Best Dog Friendly Business.

Calvert Trust Exmoor

Calvert Trust Exmoor runs the only 5 star Activity Centre in the country, and caters for people with physical, sensory and learning disabilities of all ages and levels of ability, together with their families, friends and carers. Activities on offer include sailing, horse riding, wheelchair abseiling, accessible cycling and archery. Almost 4,000 guests had a residential break with Calvert Trust Exmoor last year.

Tony Potter, Chief Executive of Calvert Trust Exmoor said “We are incredibly proud to be the only medal winner in North Devon. We continually strive to deliver excellence to all of our guests; its very gratifying to be recognised at a national level for our excellence in accessibility and inclusivity. ”

The Centre has won several awards in recent years, including multiple Gold awards in the Devon and South West Tourism awards, and Gold in the 'Access for All' category at the 2014 Visit England awards.

Hoe Grange Holidays

2016 is proving a successful year so far for David and Felicity Brown of Hoe Grange Holidays, with double celebrations. Not only are they celebrating 10 years in business offering outstanding self-catering holidays on their working farm, but they have also  won two prestigious national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence.

Felicity Brown remarked “We love sharing our special place with guests and are absolutely thrilled and delighted to win two awards. To be presented with the awards in the very place where we first met made the occasion that bit extra special”

Gillian Scotford, co-founder of the charity Accessible Derbyshire, added “David and Felicity are passionate about what they do and as our Accommodation Ambassadors they share good practice and readily help others. To win two VisitEngland Awards is outstanding and proves they are “Simply the Best”.

The Roman Baths

The Roman Baths makes efforts to welcome all types of visitors , with British Sign Language (BSL) trained staff, BSL audio tours, large print leaflets, use of braille on exhibits and online information for people with claustrophobia. The provision for wheelchair users includes the availability of wheelchairs for visitors to borrow, lowered ticket office counters and accessible toilets.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “The Roman Baths constantly strives to improve accessibility for all visitors and local people.

“There have been many efforts made to ensure the historic site can be enjoyed by everyone, including staff training, information provision, and improvements to the building, such as the recent addition of new lifts.”

Commenting on accessible tourism, Mike Saul, Head of Hospitality & Leisure, Barclays Corporate said “Creating an environment which is not only free of physical barriers, but actively seeks to welcome everybody, regardless of disability or impairment, is something we firmly believe is not only the right thing to do, but also makes good business sense. The tourism sector has an important role to play in embracing accessibility to ensure that people have the choice and freedom to enjoy England and experience all it has to offer. It’s great to see examples of accessibility best practice, as demonstrated in the ‘Access For All’ shortlist. As a founding member of the Visit England Inclusive Action Group, it’s our pleasure to sponsor this category and we offer our congratulations to Hoe Grange Holidays and all finalists on their achievement”

Sally Balcombe, CEO of VisitBritain and VisitEngland said, “The VisitEngland Awards for Excellence – this year hosted at the magnificent Winter Gardens Blackpool – celebrate English tourism champions. These awards are the highest accolade in the industry, recognising the world class tourism experiences that can be found throughout England. As ever competition has been fierce, with winners from the regions coming through to compete at a national level so my congratulations to all our winners, especially the Gold Award winners who are the standard bearers for English tourism.”

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