Winchester: aiming for fame again

After the stunning victory for Winchester TIC in this year's national Enjoy England Awards for Excellence, four local tourism businesses are hoping to fly the flag for Winchester in the regional heats for next year's awards. 

The regional competition is run by Tourism South East (TSE) and known as the Tourism ExSEllence Awards.  It is designed to recognise and reward tourism excellence in south-east England and is open to organisations across the region from Buckinghamshire to Kent.  TSE has this week announced its shortlist after an intensive period of judging by industry experts.

Winners and runners-up will be revealed at a special awards ceremony and gala dinner to be held at Great Fosters Hotel, Egham, Surrey, on the evening of Thursday 5 October.  Presenting the 2006 Awards is one of the best known faces and voices in British broadcasting, Angela Rippon OBE.    Just 41 businesses have been shortlisted across the 14 categories with 4 of them based in the Winchester District.  These are:

Lainston House, Sparsholt, Near Winchester

Marwell Zoological Park, Colden Common, Near Winchester

South Winchester Lodges, South Winchester Golf Club, Pitt, Near Winchester

Signe Higgins, Museum Visitor Assistant, Westgate Museum, Winchester

Winchester City Council's Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economy and Tourism, Cllr George Beckett, commented, "We are delighted that the Winchester District's vibrant tourism industry is being recognised in this way.   For Winchester to have four out of the total 41 nominations for the whole of the south east region - the largest in the country - is a particularly impressive feat.  We wish all four finalists good luck for the 5 October."

Eloise Appleby, Head of Cultural Services for Winchester City Council, added, "Winchester is keen to offer visitors an unprecedented tourism experience.  I am delighted that the city council itself has a short-listed entry for a customer service award.  I would like to think that the city council has led by example after a run of regional and national wins by the TIC, and am looking forward to yet more success for our city."

Lainston House Hotel is a 17th century country house set in over 60 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens.  The four star hotel has 50 bedrooms all furnished to an exceptionally high standard with levels of service to match. Often frequented by the rich and famous, it even boasts its own helicopter pad.  For further information log onto

Marwell Zoological Park, set in 100 acres of landscaped Hampshire parkland, houses over 200 different species from tropical frogs to big cats, from little lovebirds to awesome ostriches.  Open every day, except Christmas Day, tickets are available on-line from their website,

South Winchester Lodges are set in a peaceful location at the heart of the South Winchester Golf Course.  These luxury Norwegian log cabins are equipped with modern facilities including a private outdoor hot tub in one lodge.  The accommodation has been awarded five stars, the highest grading available, by VisitBritain.  For further information log onto

Signe Higgins, Visitor Assistant at The Westgate, prides herself on her customer service, which comes as second nature to her.  She always strives to improve the experience for all visitors and recently suggested using a mirror to show the Westgate's famous ceiling, commissioned for the wedding of Mary Tudor and Phillip of Spain, to those who may have difficulty in looking up.  The museum, located in a fortified medieval gateway that served as a debtors' prison for 150 years, is open seven days a week during the summer months.   To plan your visit to the museum log onto