TV favourite hosts awards for tourism
TV presenter and ambassador for VisitSomerset Martin Roberts is to be the host of the county's first tourism awards.
The inaugural Somerset Tourism Business Awards were launched last November in the Western Daily Press to recognise the excellence and professionalism of the county's 3,000 tourism-related businesses.
Mr Roberts, who presents the BBC property auction show, Homes Under the Hammer, said: "I'm delighted to be presenting the Somerset Tourism Awards 2013. The entries will be outstanding and I'm sure it will be a very memorable night on which we will recognise the best that Somerset has to offer."
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The award ceremony will be a black-tie evening with a three-course dinner featuring Somerset food and drink as well as after-dinner entertainment at the ceremony on May 2 at the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare.
Sponsors for the nine categories are being secured and the competition opens for entries on February 18.
John Turner, vice-chairman of Visit Somerset, said the awards are part of an exciting year for the county and says the organisation is determined to make Somerset the top destination for travellers in the UK as it builds on its work in 2012.
Mr Turner says the association has drawn vision from the Olympic focus that proved so successful in the summer of last year.
"2012 was the year that we have celebrated the Olympic Games and the incredible grit and determination that saw us create some incredible feats of sporting dynamism and international history, seeing the UK lead the field in so many areas of international sporting competencies.
"Many of these sporting legends were born out of humble beginnings, many with second jobs, many training early in the morning and late at night, seven days a week, to attain with single focus the ambition to win. It's these types of people that have led the UK to perhaps see these dull days of economic austerity with a little more optimism and vision of a better future. The Somerset Tourism Association has drawn vision from this Olympic focus and we see Somerset like one of those many Olympic medal athletes.
"Somerset still does not have official DMO status, which means, 'destination management organisation status', and thus is not entitled to any long standing public funding to support its tourism and leisure market.
"We hope this will all change in 2013, with all the work that is now going on to promote and support the county.
"Many of the Somerset Tourism Association team, like many of our British Olympic athletes, continue with the challenge of increasing the performance through unrelenting odds, through huge amounts of dedication and many hours of voluntary time, in helping to turn, communicate and market Somerset as the great place to visit. This is now Visit Somerset's vision – to make Somerset the number one destination of choice in the UK."
And one of the biggest initiatives is the plan to turn Glastonbury's legends and history into a big screen epic.
Mr Turner said: "This really has been the major news of the year as Somerset prepares for probably the biggest global public display ever to hit the county – the film development Glastonbury: Isle of Light, which retells the story of Joseph of Arimathea's flight from hostility in Jerusalem to his landing in Britain, his stewardship of the Holy Grail, his alliance with the rebel prince Caractacus and their leadership of a Celtic resistance against Roman imperial domination.
"Visit Somerset has had the privilege of working with many of the great Hollywood names this year, such as Nuala Barton, mother of Mischa Barton and executive producer of the Glastonbury movie, and John Rhys Davies, of Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones trilogy fame, coming to Somerset to lend his support to the pre publicity of the movie."
For more information on the awards visit www.visitsomerset.co.uk