BUSINESSES and individuals working within the tourism and events industry have received recognition at Scotland’s premier tourism and events awards.
A total of 17 businesses and individuals were honoured at the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final, the highest accolade in the Scottish hospitality, tourism and events sector.
After a break of three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Final returned to Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Thursday 9 February.
The Scottish Thistle Awards are delivered by VisitScotland, sponsored by Johnstons of Elgin and include a media partnership with News Scotland for the first time this year. They celebrate the very best of tourism in Scotland and the excellence that is helping to rebuild this vital part of the Scottish economy.
Calum Ross, managing director and proprietor of the Loch Melfort Hotel received the prestigious Silver Thistle Award which recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to tourism over many years. Under his ownership, Loch Melfort Hotel has thrived in the last 14 years, helping to support the local community and economy to grow, with responsible tourism at the heart of the hotel’s operations. Calum also holds several voluntary board positions, including Director of the Scottish Tourism Alliance and Chair of the Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards. He is also a member of the Tourism and Hospitality Industry Leadership Group and served on the Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce during COVID-19.
Comrie Croft in Perthshire won the inaugural Responsible Tourism Award, sponsored by The Times. This award celebrates businesses and events that are helping to grow the value of tourism, making better places for people to live and visit in Scotland. Comrie Croft, an ecosystem of collaborating nature-based enterprises on the site of a former farm, was praised by judges for leading the way in responsible tourism and ensuring that it is embedded into every aspect of their activity.
Glenmorangie House in Tain received the Best Luxury Experience award, sponsored by The Macallan. This award celebrates businesses bringing luxury to the Scottish visitor experience. The hotel which offers bespoke luxury experiences, from communal dining and foraging to mixology masterclasses and whisky weekends, was commended by judges for the “personalised and proactive” service it offers guests.
The 150th Open which took place in St Andrews and was the highlight of Scotland’s extraordinary summer of golf in 2022 received the award forOutstanding Sporting Event and Edinburgh International Festival was crowned Outstanding Cultural Event or Festival. The festival, which was originally started in 1947, drew praise for delivering a COVID-safe festival on a large scale in 2021 with a strong commitment to creating inclusive experiences and working towards net-zero ambitions.
Graham Rooney from Platform 1864 in Tain took home the Tourism & Hospitality Hero award, sponsored by HIT Scotland, in recognition of his efforts to deliver meals to the elderly and vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was praised by judges for his “selflessness, creativity and resourcesfulness.”
Other national award winners included Lys-Na-Greyne in Aboyne which received the Best B&B or Guest House Experience, sponsored by Abbey UK; MacGregor’s Bar in Inverness in the Best Pub or Bar category, sponsored by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association; WeeCOOK Kitchen in Carnoustie, winner of the Best Eatery Experience award; Auchrannie Resorton the Isle of Arran, winner of the Best Hotel Experience (over 20 rooms) award, sponsored by Fishers.
Douneside House in Aboyne received the Best Hotel Experience (Under 20 Rooms) award and Crathie-based Wild Discovery was named Best Outdoor Adventure Experience. Best Self Catering Accommodation Experiencewent to Morton of Pitmilly in St Andrews while The Helix; Home of the Kelpies received the Great DayOut Award voted for by the readers of the Scottish Sun.
Other national winners were: Thyme Deli & Bistro at Errichel Farm in Aberfeldy in the Food Tourism Award; A Toast to Gaia, Edinburgh Science in the Working Together for Tourism category, sponsored by Historic Environment Scotland; the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) received the Best Business Event award for its delivery of the COP26 conference in November 2021.
The evening, which brought together more than 400 representatives from the tourism and hospitality industry, was hosted by TV and radio presenter Jennifer Reoch and TV presenter JJ Chalmers.
Steven Walker, chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards industry panel said: “Tourism and events create jobs, sustain communities and contribute significantly to the economy.
“After an incredibly challenging few years for our tourism and events industry, the Scottish Thistle Awards have given us an important opportunity to recognise the positive impacts the industry brings to Scotland.
“The Awards shine the spotlight on the very best of Scotland’s tourism industry. From high quality food, drink and accommodation to the memorable experiences on offer, we have recognised the businesses and individuals who work tirelessly to create the fantastic destination and visitor experiences that Scotland is famous for.
“They also celebrated innovation, collaboration and sustainable practices as we work towards delivering the ambition of the national tourism strategy Outlook 2030, for Scotland to be a world leader in 21st century tourism.”
The Scottish Thistle Awards are delivered in partnership with Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) and the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards (ACSTA) and supported by a panel of industry representatives.
The awards champion innovation, collaboration and sustainable practices, in line with the ambitions of the national tourism strategy, Outlook 2030.
Responsible tourism is at the heart of the refreshed Scottish Thistle Awards, supporting the aim for Scotland to be recognised globally as a leader in this field.
As well as a new category celebrating those businesses and events which have embraced responsible tourism, every entry was required to provide clear evidence – covering the last two years – on how their business addresses four key areas of a low carbon economy, inclusivity, thriving communities and Scotland’s natural and cultural heritage.
For more information on the Scottish Thistle Awards, visitwww.scottishthistleawards.co.uk