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Press release   •   Jun 15, 2017 11:55 BST

Scotland’s most prestigious tourism awards have celebrated the success of more than 350 winners since their creation 25 years ago.

The impressive total comes as the annual competition, which this year celebrates its ‘silver’ anniversary, unveiled the launch of a new category in the Scottish Thistle Awards.

In celebration of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017, the Historic Environment Scotland – Best Heritage Tourism Experience award will honour those who excel in bringing to life Scotland’s rich history, heritage and traditions.

Gillian MacDonald, Head of Sales & Marketing at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “We’re delighted to be sponsoring a new Scottish Thistle Award for Best Heritage Tourism Experience, particularly this year as we celebrate Scotland’s rich and vibrant History, Heritage and Archaeology.

“Heritage tourism plays a key role in contributing to the success of Scotland’s overall tourism industry and this award is a great opportunity to recognise and celebrate excellence in this area.”

The new award is one of 16 different categories which members of the public, businesses and organisations can make nominations in. Others include Fishers - Most Hospitable Hotel, Best Pub/Bar, Best Visitor Attraction and Tourism Hospitality Hero.

This year marks a milestone for the Scottish Thistle Awards, which celebrates success, innovation, excellence and best practice in Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industry.

For the past 25 years, over 350 national winners have been crowned at the event, recognising those who have made valuable contributions to the sector.

Entrants will be shortlisted by a panel of industry experts and the finalists will go head-to-head at special regional ceremonies in November. Winners will then go on to represent their respective region in the glittering national Scottish Thistle Awards final held next year.

Rebecca Brooks, Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel, said: “The Scottish Thistle Awards is a chance to celebrate those who work tirelessly to ensure that all visitors, whether from Scotland or further afield, enjoy a truly memorable experience. Tourism is more than a holiday experience, it creates jobs and sustains communities. I’m delighted that these awards continue to recognise the shining lights within our industry.

“This year marks a very special anniversary for the Scottish Thistle Awards; it is our 25th anniversary. In that time we have recognised the dedication, talent and success of over 350 winners and this year is no exception. I’m urging everyone to help us celebrate in style by nominating the businesses, attractions and individuals that have inspired them.

“Even without a nomination, our fantastic Scottish tourism businesses can put themselves forward, so we would urge them to go online, find out what category or categories they think best represents them and enter.”

The Scottish Thistle Awards is led by a panel of industry experts from several organisations including VisitScotland, Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards, Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards, the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, Scotland Food and Drink, Scottish Tourism Alliance, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, sportscotland and Wild Scotland.

The full 16 regional categories are:
• Fishers - Most Hospitable Hotel
• Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House
• Best Accommodation Provider
• Historic Environment Scotland – Best Heritage Tourism Experience
• Innovation in Tourism
• Best Informal Eating Experience
• Best Restaurant Experience
• Best Pub/Bar
• Regional Ambassador
• Best Cultural Event or Festival
• Best Sporting Event
• Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience
• HIT Scotland Regional Rising Star
• Working Together for Tourism
• Best Visitor Attraction
• Tourism & Hospitality Hero

The deadline for nominations across all categories is Friday 23 June and nominees will then have until Friday 30 June to enter.

To nominate, enter or for further information on the Scottish Thistle Awards visit:

Notes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • To ensure everyone can safely enjoy Scotland’s amazing countryside and landscapes, VisitScotland encourages all visitors to fully respect their surroundings by behaving in a responsible and appropriate way.
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit or follow @scotgovESIF
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit or join the conversation at #HHA2017