Top Award for Winchester Tourist Information Centre

Winchester has been named the winner of the ‘Tourist Information Centre of the Year’ category in this year’s Tourism South East Awards for Excellence. The centre, which is housed in the city’s historic Guildhall and managed by Winchester City Council, handles over 211,000 enquiries each year from visitors and enquirers all over the world.

Journalist and broadcaster Alastair Stewart presented the awards at a special ceremony and gala dinner in Egham on Friday evening. Winchester’s glass trophy and certificate was received by Tourist Information Centre Manager Alison Woods and Senior Information Assistant Stuart Fensome, accompanied by Winchester City Council Portfolio Holder for Environment, Economy, and Development, Cllr Simon Cook.

These regional awards and the national competition to which they lead are known and recognised throughout the industry as the ‘Oscars’ of tourism and were developed to encourage, recognise and honour outstanding achievement within all sectors of the tourism industry. Awards were made in 9 categories, with the winners spread across the whole of the south east, from Hampshire to Kent.

Judges were unanimous in their choice of Winchester Tourist Information Centre, where staff pride themselves on providing a high level of customer care. One example of literally ‘going the extra mile’ cited by the judges was of an occasion when off-duty team members Anne Brownlee and Sarah Harfield visited Jane Austen’s house in Chawton by bus, using their experience to produce a handy information sheet for visitors about the practicalities involved.

On another occasion, staff borrowed Shopmobility buggies to experience Winchester ‘on wheels’ in order to assess the quality of information given to visitors planning to follow the Winchester Visitor Trail by Wheelchair.

Alison Woods commented: "We are delighted to have been recognised in this way, as it represents a great deal of hard work by the tourism team. We feel that to be the winners in the whole of the Tourism South East region – the largest in the country - is a particularly impressive feat."

Cllr Therese Evans, Winchester City Council Portfolio Holder for Community Services, added: "This is an excellent performance which shows how well the team are providing a service of vital importance to the District. I have visited many TICs over the years, and I genuinely believe that Winchester is a hard act to beat, with staff remaining helpful and friendly no matter what query comes their way."

Winchester will now be entered into the VisitBritain Excellence in England finals, which will involve a mystery shopper exercise. The team will have to wait until St George’s Day on 23 April 2004 for the results of the national competition.

Eloise Appleby, Head of Tourism for Winchester City Council, commented: "In the meantime we will continue to do all we can to drive up standards in every area of tourism provision in the Winchester District. This win for the TIC follows the introduction last year of a quality assessment policy for guest accommodation, and is a further signal to visitors that Winchester is keen to offer an experience which can match – or exceed – any other destination in the country."

The Tourist Information Centre is open from 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and can be contacted on: 01962 840500 or e-mail or via the website located at: