Moors Valley Country Park and Forest near Ringwood, has ‘done the double’ by coming away with two Gold awards in this year’s Dorset Tourism Awards.
The Park was awarded Gold in both the Access and Inclusivity and Sustainable Tourism categories.
The Access and Inclusivity award recognises a business that can demonstrate exceptional customer service to all, particularly those with impairments and other access needs, including mobility, auditory, sensory or dietary. The Sustainable Tourism award is made to companies that demonstrate commitment to sustainability and implements clear reduce, reuse and recycle initiatives.
“To win one award is amazing, but to come away with two is simply fantastic!” said Clare Gronow, Team Leader at the Park.
“Over the last few years we have increased our focus on improving access to the Park and across all our activities. At the same time, we have set out to minimise the potential negative impact that such a large operation can have on the environment.”
In the past year, Moors Valley has hosted a disabled access day when people could try out some of the accessible equipment and activities on offer. Since entering the award, the Park has also undertaken an access and inclusivity audit using an independent specialist and will be implementing their recommendations over the coming months.
Jointly managed by East Dorset District Council and the Forestry Commission, sustainability initiatives in the Park include using vegetable oil for vehicles and chain saws, solar panel heating, a biomass boiler, rainwater harvesting and a range of other reduce, reuse and recycle activities. Sustainability is at the heart of how the Forestry Commission manages the forest and harvests the timber. It makes sure all timber is produced responsibly and revenue from harvesting and selling timber locally is re-invested to ensure the forest remains vibrant, open and attractive.
“A large and diverse site such as Moors Valley poses a host of challenges beyond those faced by many other tourism operations. The drive to ensure access and inclusivity for all is an ongoing process and real improvement only comes through embedding the principles of access and inclusivity in everything we do” commented Clare, “Similarly, the challenges of making a major outdoor visitor attraction and working forest as sustainable as possible are considerable, and it is gratifying that our efforts have been rewarded in this way”
Moors Valley welcomes over 750,000 visitors every year and offers an unrivalled combination of outdoor leisure, wildlife and health activities in a safe environment. In 2015 the Park was awarded Silver in the Access and Inclusivity category of the awards, Gold in the Large Visitor Attraction section, and was named Winner of Winners at the presentation dinner last October.