A TOURIST information centre (TIC) that has stayed open throughout the Covid-19 pandemic is now a finalist in a county-wide travel-based competition.

The Dorset Tourism Awards is returning for 2021, albeit virtually as a result of the coronavirus crisis, and Shaftesbury TIC is a finalist in the Visitor Information Service of the Year category, against Bridport TIC.

Despite what had felt like a quieter year for tourism, David Taylor, manager of Shaftesbury TIC, said the rise in staycations and walking holidays between the lockdowns in 2020 had caused the town’s volunteer-run centre to thrive.

This is in addition to essential services it already offered the public, including topping up residents’ electricity and gas payment cards, distributing recycling containers and selling products for charity.

David did not tell the 25 volunteers he had entered the competition, adding: “When I found out [the centre was shortlisted] I sent the good news out as a nice and well deserved surprise. I can’t speak for all of them but I think they felt appreciated for all they do.”

Due to the current pandemic and restrictions, the centre is open two hours a day, six days a week.

Since the operation became volunteer-led 15 years ago, David said the centre has always been open six days a week, no matter what obstacles the team faced.

“When the weather has been bad, when other shops closed – we have always found a way to stay open, even when the centre was being re-carpeted and we were serving on the pavement,” David said.

“I would like to think we would win, the volunteers deserve to be recognised.

“We’re not just a tourist information centre, we support the local community and they rely on us for these services.”

The centre is now waiting for the online ceremony, with finalists encouraged to dress up for the event, to find out whether it will be crowned the winner.

As well as Shaftesbury TIC, Farmstead Glamping in Sturminster Newton is a finalist for the Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism award and Glamping Business of the Year award.

Hammoon Manor, also near Sturminster Newton, is up for Self Catering Accommodation of the Year.

For more information about the finalists and the presentation on February 4, visit the Dorset Tourism Awards website.

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By admin