Thanet’s tourism heroes were celebrated at an awards ceremony in Broadstairs last night (March 27).
Finalists in the Pride of Thanet Awards, run by Thanet council with sponsors Southeastern and the Isle of Thanet Gazette, met at the Pavilion to hear who had scooped the top awards.
The event, now in its 12th year, seeks to find those working within the local tourism, leisure and hospitality industry who ‘go the extra mile’ to ensure their customers receive a warm welcome and excellent customer service.
Speaking on the night Thanet council’s director of community services, Rob Kenyon, said the isle was bucking the tourism trend with national visitor trips being down 5 % while Thanet has seen a 16% increase.
Highlighting recent successes with Heritage Action Zone funding for Ramsgate and upcoming investment in Dreamland and the opening of St Augustine’s visitor centre Mr Kenyon said: “Business continues to boom and the Heritage Action Zone could be a major step change for all isle businesses.
“Thanet is the fastest growing tourism destination in the UK.”
Thanet tourism in numbers
Tourism brings £300m to Thanet’s economy
There are 7,300 jobs across the sector – a rise of 20% in 2 years
The isle has 4million visitors a year
There are 3.4million day trips to Thanet annually
Overnight visits bring in £122million
There has been a 59% increase to the isle in overseas visitors
Thanet is Kent’s 2nd most popular destination for overseas visitors
Guest speaker was Shane Godwin, commercial director at East Kent College and the driving force behind The Yarrow hotel on the college site.
Mr Godwin revealed that the hotel had generated an income of £500,000 since its opening last July and created 40 full and part time jobs alongside the work-based training of more than 125 students so far.
He also revealed plans for EKC to launch a recruitment agency to place young people in work.
He said: “We are investing time in young people and being at the hotel will give them the skills needed for when local businesses need people for last minute shifts.”
Students working at The Yarrow receive payment and all staff are paid the living wage.
The Yarrow in numbers
1890s – convalescent home
World War One hospital
1960s – College
2011 – building in empty
2016 – It opens as the UK’s first further education hotel The Yarrow
The hotel has 28 beds and 5 suites
64 cover restaurant
50-person capacity bar
120 person capacity function room
Since opening 2,600 beds have been made
Income generated is £500,000
126 students in training so far
Average age of staff is 28
Thanet Tourism Super Star
The ceremony this year saw the award for the first Thanet Tourism Super Star.
Paula Harbidge, from Thanet’s tourism team, introduced the award, saying: “The first Thanet Tourism Super Star award goes to someone who goes over and beyond to make sure every visitor receives a memorable and rewarding experience.”
The award was presented to Sam Watling from Revolution skate park for his enthusiasm and work with customers.
Sam will be entered into the national tourism super star competition.
A special award was also presented to Debbie Fifield for her work with the Beach Within Reach charity which provides all-terrain wheelchairs for locals and visitors who may need extra help accessing the beach.
Awards were presented by Thanet council’s Rev Stuart Piper and Diane Burke from main sponsor Southeastern.
Winner Amanda Hart – Margate train station
Highly commended Habibollah Shayegani, Central Taxis
Winner Donna and Ian Burdock of Club World
Highly commended Ian Langley of Quex Adventure Golf
Winner David Dray of the Royal Harbour Hotel, Ramsgate
Highly commended Charles and Rebekah Smith, of The Glendevon in Ramsgate, and the Payne family of the Devonhurst, Broadstairs
Winner Emma Barrowcliffe and Mark Salter of Nethercourt Touring Park
Highly commended Andy Gilder of Manston Court Caravan Park
Winner Raushan Ara of Ramsgate Tandoori
Highly commended Ramsay Taralis of CCCP and Aram Rawf of the Royal Albion Hotel
Winner Abigail Lightfoot of Café G
Highly commended Liz Baldry and Patsy Bowers of Zara’s Café
Winner Gill Gilmour of Ramsgate Tunnels
Highly commended Mike and Carol Deer of the Ramsgate Micro Museum
Winner Powell Cotton Museum, Quex House and Gardens
Highly commended Turner Contemporary
Winner Thanet Coastal Wardens
Highly commended St Peter’s Village Tour
Winner Suzy Humphries Nice Things
Highly commended Tracey and Greg Ruskin of Ruskin de la Mer
EKC student awards
Hospitality Karl Beverley
Customer service Taylor Fielder