West Bay Discovery Centre, West Bay, Bridport, DT6 4EN.

Our award journey to excellence in England

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We have been amazed and delighted to have received so many awards of the past few months! To the outsider it might feel as if all we do is put in for awards – which isn’t the case we are too busy welcoming, running the centre and planning new events and activities for all our visitors to enjoy.

We initially heard about Dorset Tourism Awards back in 2018, when our fantastic Tourist Information Centre in Bridport won an award. As we had recently opened we felt it was a good way to meet other Tourism Businesses, help put us on the map and get expert advice on our performance. We put in for the New Business category in 2019 and were awarded Gold! If you win or score highly in your category you automatically go through to the next level which for us is the South West Tourism Awards, where we won silver. It was such a boost for the Centre and we were all excited and looking forward to welcoming new visitors when COVID struck and we ended up closed with no visitors for months! Undeterred we worked on improvements to the Centre and focused on improving our accessibility offering. We produced a on line accessibility guide and a large print guide for the Centre it enabled us in the Dorset Tourism awards in 2020 to gain a Silver Award in Accessibility and Highly commended in Small Visitor Attraction.

Located along the coast the sea we can see the effect that humans and climate change can have on our environment and from the initial plans for the Centre we have always tried to ensure that the impact to the environment is minimised, but there is always more that can be done. We work closely with other charities and organisations that share our aims. Our exhibition in 2021 called ‘ Turning the Tide’ looked at the impact of plastics in our lives and what we could do to reduce our usage. With overseas travel difficult and more day trips we had seen the increased rubbish the majority of which was plastics left on our beaches all along the Jurassic Coast.

We continued to make further operational improvements to the Centre and in 2021/22 were awarded a Bronze for Small Visitor Attraction one Gold for Visitor Information and another Gold for Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable. The 3 awards led us to also winning Winner of Winners in the Dorset Tourism Awards! Going through again to the South West Tourism Awards led us to achieving a Gold in The Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Category. This was a great achievement in itself but also resulted in us being put forward to the National Visit England Award Finals. There are 14 Regional Areas so to actually get through to the National Awards is quite an accolade! The Visit England awards were held in Birmingham Library and the awards were presented by Claire Balding. We were absolutely thrilled to be awarded a Bronze award in the Ethical, Responsible & Sustainable Category and come third in the nationwide competition alongside three other Dorset businesses and 15 from the South West. It has been a fantastic experience and we would highly recommend that other businesses consider applying. We have gained so much and it has helped us build a visitor centre that is appreciated and enjoyed by so many.

Many thanks to our amazing team of volunteers, we just couldn’t have achieved so much without them.

VisitEngland Awards for Excellence. Library of Birmingham. 8 June 2022
Picture by Simon Hadley/ www.simonhadley.co.uk
VisitEngland Awards for Excellence. Library of Birmingham. 8 June 2022
Picture by Simon Hadley/ www.simonhadley.co.uk
Photo of Bronze Winners for Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Award – West Bay Discovery Centre (Sarah West, John West) – in front of the branded photo backdrop


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