Sandra Saltern, Assistant Recreation Ranger, Forestry Commission; Katie Davies, Communication Ranger, East Dorset District Council; Matthew Beavan, Visitor Services Ranger, East Dorset District Council and Tracey Churcher – Recreation Manager, Forestry Commission.

Moors Valley Country Park near Ringwood has added to its already impressive tally of tourism accolades by being awarded ‘Bronze’ in both the Access & Inclusivity and Sustainable Tourism categories of the 2016/17 South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

The new awards recognise the strides that the team at Moors Valley has made in ensuring it operates in an environmentally responsible manner and that everyone, whatever their age or ability, can enjoy the wide range of activities available at the Dorset park, one of the most-visited attractions in the south with over 750,000 visitors each year. The awards follow on from winning Gold in both categories of the Dorset Tourism Awards.

“Some of the biggest names in domestic tourism are based in the south west and we are thrilled that we can hold our head up in such exalted company,” said Clare Gronow, Team Leader at Moors Valley.

“We offer a unique combination of outdoor play, working forest, wonderful wildlife and healthy outdoor exercise and we aim to provide a friendly, accessible environment for all our visitors and the widest possible access to the Park and Forest whilst doing all we can to minimise the environmental impact of our operation. These awards are welcome recognition of our efforts.

“According to a 2016 research report*, tourism contributes over £10.5m to the south west economy with around 60% of this directly attributable to outdoor activities and visits. As one of the most visited country parks in the UK we are at the forefront of environmental tourism, running a minimum-impact sustainable business whilst having a responsibility to do everything we can to be accessible to all.”

The South West scheme is the biggest of its kind in the country attracting over 600 entries from Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. Judges made 380 visits to entrants and held 24 hours of discussions before arriving at their decisions. Over 450 people representing more than 130 finalists attended the gala evening at Bristol’s Ashton Gate stadium to witness the presentation of twenty-six awards on 2 February.