West Dorset came out on top in this year’s South West Tourism Awards, including a special accolade for outstanding contribution.

Martin Cox, director of West Dorset Leisure Holidays, was honoured with the special outstanding contribution award in recognition of his decades of support and impact on holiday parks and tourism.

Mr Cox serves on a range of tourism groups and enterprise partnerships in the south west, including Destination Dorset which unites private sector firms to help raise the county’s profile.

At an international level, he is a former president and now the British representative to European Federation of Campingsite Organisations and Holiday Park Associations, the European federation which represents more than 20,000 holiday park businesses.

Mr Cox is also vice president of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association with over 3,000 parks across the UK in membership, and previously served for two years as its national chairman.

There was praise too for his advocacy of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, and his parks’ raising of over £80,000 to support the trust’s appeal.

Mr Cox said he was humbled by the award and that he felt honoured to be able to promote the interests of a county in which it was a privilege to both live and work.

There was also a silver award for Highlands End Holiday Park in Eype, the flagship of Mr Cox’s family business, in the holiday park of the year category.

The Three Horseshoes in Burton Bradstock were awarded gold in the pub of the year category with the West Bay Discovery Centre winning silver in the new tourism business award.

John West, trustee of the discovery centre, said: “We are really amazed and delighted to win this award, thanks are due to all those involved in setting up the centre and making it a success, including our sponsors, supporters, visitors and not least our great team of volunteers.

“We have had over 32,000 visitors and continue to look at ways to innovate and improve. We want to make visitors’ time in West Bay as memorable as possible and providing the local community with an added amenity.”

Award winners also included Bridport Tourist Information Centre, which was commended in visitor information service of the year and Jurassic Coast Guides was also commended in the international tourism award.

Awards organiser, Robin Barker of services for tourism, said: “I never cease to be amazed by the innovation, dedication and imagination of our tourism businesses - not to mention their sheer hard work.

“It’s humbling to be part of this, and I’d like to add my congratulations to all the winners.”