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Kent Tourism Awards 2018: Dreamland, Leeds Castle, Wingham Wildlife Park among the big winners

By Chris Britcher

The cream of the county's tourism businesses have been recognised as the prizes were handed out at the Kent Tourism Awards.

Taking place in Margate, it was the host of the evening, Dreamland, which won the big prize, as it collected the Ultimate Tourism Experience of the Year gong.

The revamped park has enjoyed a new lease of life since millions were invested in the struggling site to turn it into a versatile entertainment venue which has attracted a host of big names.

Kent Tourism Awards 2018 - winners celebrate
Kent Tourism Awards 2018 - winners celebrate

There was also much to celebrate for the village of Wingham, near Canterbury, which won three out of the seven awards.

The Dog at Wingham pub picked up awards as Tourism Pub of the Year and the Taste of Kent trophy.

Meanwhile, nearby Wingham Wildlife Park won the Large Visitor Attraction of the Year title.

Dreamland in Margate hosted the event - and took home one of the big prizes
Dreamland in Margate hosted the event - and took home one of the big prizes

Leeds Caste in Maidstone won the Small Accommodation of the Year award, while Tunbridge Wells' Hotel du Vin added another trophy to its cabinet as Large Accommodation Provider of the Year.

Maidstone-based attraction Kent Life picked up a special award recognising their on-going charity work with the Family Holiday Association, which provides breaks for families in need.

Presented by the FHA's John Kinnear, he said: "We are thrilled to work with so many Kent attractions who have generously given us so many tickets over the years to help us offer family days out to struggling families having a tough time.

Wingham Wildlife Park won a top award
Wingham Wildlife Park won a top award

"This award really recognises that Kent Life have gone above and beyond this year, donating tickets throughout the entire year and helping us to deliver family days out to people that really need them.”

The other winner on the night was Chapel Down Winery in Tenterden which scooped Small Visitor Attraction of the Year.

The awards were organised by Go To Places - parent company of the county's tourism agency Visit Kent.

Hotel du Vin in Tunbridge Wells has scooped another award
Hotel du Vin in Tunbridge Wells has scooped another award

Devised and launched in 2017, the awards are designed to reward exceptional standards of customer service and outstanding visitor experiences within the local tourism industry.

Following an initial round of judging by an expert panel of independent tourism judges from outside the county, the shortlisted finalists were decided by public vote across social media and the Visit Kent website.

Just under 4,000 people voted for the winners.

Deirdre Wells. Visit Kent and Go To Places CEO
Deirdre Wells. Visit Kent and Go To Places CEO

Deirdre Wells CEO of Go To Places and Visit Kent, said: “The Kent Tourism Awards are an opportunity for us to celebrate the best in the business in tourism in Kent and to really showcase the ‘best in class'.

"We’ve had some really exciting winners today, from wonderful food and drink providers to exciting attractions – all of whom are providing a world class service to our customers, and really helping to grow the economy in Kent.”

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