Seaton Tramway has been awarded the accolade of Small Visitor Attraction of the Year 2002-2003 in the South West regional section of the Excellence in England Awards. The Awards are held in each of the regional tourist board areas and recognise quality, innovation and achievement in fields such as accessibility, sustainability and improvements. The winners in each region go forward to the national final at the Savoy Hotel in London in April 2003; the Tramway will therefore be representing the South West in the “small” visitor attraction category; this is defined as an attraction recording less than 100,000 visitors per year. Large Visitor Attraction of the Year was awarded to the Eden Project in Cornwall, so the Tramway can count itself in very good company.
Managing Director Mark Horner commented after the ceremony: “This is a great honour for Seaton Tramway and all of our staff, whether full time, part time or volunteer, can be very proud that all their hard work has been recognised by the tourism industry. We have worked hard to improve our facilities over the last ten years, and I am particularly proud that we were commended for the quality of our welcome – all of our staff are very enthusiastic about what they do and I am sure that visitors pick up on this. We have the great privilege of operating in a beautiful area, and I hope that this award will serve to promote East Devon’s glorious Axe Valley as a tourism destination and so benefit local people and businesses”.
This was the first time that Seaton Tramway had entered the awards, and it was particularly commended for its innovations in accessibility, including a tram for wheelchair users and the easy access features on the three newly-built cars, which will enter service around Easter 2003. The Tram Stop Restaurant at Colyton was also highly commended, as were staff in all jobs for the quality of their welcome and service.
Seaton Tramway has enjoyed a record year in 2002, continuing on from a record performance in 2001. New innovations this year have a full programme of Bird Watching trips alongside the River Axe, and plans are currently being finalised to extend the programme through to the end of 2003. The Tramway is currently gearing itself up for the “Santa Special” season; Santa will be visiting on the 15th, 21st and 22nd December and his popularity is so high that extra trips have had to be added this year after a sell-out in 2001. A short break will follow, but the Tramway will reopen again on 23rd February 2003 for the Half Term Week, at the start of what looks set to be another very busy year.