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Medway attractions commended at top tourism awards

Date: 11/11/2008           Category: Tourism

Two of Medway’s most popular and enduring visitor attractions have been given “Highly Commended” awards at the South East Tourism ExSEllence Awards 2008. Hosted and organised by Tourism South East, the awards recognise excellence, quality and innovation, achieved during the past 18 months, across all sectors of the tourism industry. Rochester Castle and The Historic Dockyard, Chatham were chosen from a shortlist of five attractions in the category of Best Large Visitor Attraction, having been previously selected from hundreds of attractions in the south east. The other short listed candidates were Hampton Court, Denbies Wine Estate in Surrey, and Blenheim Palace, which was the overall winner of the award. Rochester Castle was singled out for its imaginative approach to interpreting its rich 900-year history. Key features which have earned the castle its award include £200,000 of conservation works on the keep, new EU-funded interpretation technology including audio-guides and panels and a creative event programme. Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Strategic Development and Economic Growth Cllr Jane Chitty added: “These two awards are further proof that Medway is fast becoming a nationally recognised tourist destination. I’m delighted that two of our top attractions have gained the recognition they deserve and would like to congratulate all staff involved in achieving this result. We acknowledge that tourism is vital to Medway’s economy and it’s good to hear that we’ve been identified in this way." The Dockyard was awarded for its continuing commitment to customer service and the development of new attractions. Two recent examples are the Victorian Ropery Tour, led by a costumed guide in character, and 3 Slip - The BIG Store, where visitors can see items from the collections of The Historic Dockyard and the Royal Engineers Museum, as well as appreciate the awe-inspiring wooden roof structure of this covered slip. The Historic Dockyard enjoyed a 23 per cent growth in visitors in 2007 and has maintained this growth into 2008. The Historic Dockyard’s Chief Executive Bill Ferris said: “It’s excellent news that The Historic Dockyard has been awarded for its continued commitment to visitors, and this commendation will certainly help raise awareness of The Dockyard as a major tourist destination in the South East." Rochester Castle is open to visitors throughout the year. The Historic Dockyard is open at weekends until the end of November, and then reopens again in February. For opening times for Rochester Castle phone 01634 335882 and for the Historic Dockyard, Chatham phone 01634 823807 ENDS For further information please contact Lisa Caleno on 01634 338308 or lisa.caleno@medway.gov.uk