Skip to main content

Thistle be rewarding

Press Release   •   Oct 03, 2016 15:33 BST

Hinterland, which launched the Festival of Architecture 2016 as part of the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.

The audio and visual transformation of one of Scotland’s most iconic 20th century buildings, the hotel of Scots tennis ace Andy Murray and the 150-year-old cultural ‘home’ of Scotland are in the running for a top tourism award.

The shortlist for the regional finals of the Scottish Thistle Awards, which recognise hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, visitor attractions and individuals who go the extra mile to provide customers with exceptional service, has been announced today (3 October).

It sees some of Scotland’s major attractions, biggest events and top-class accommodation and eateries, compete for the coveted regional accolades.

Hinterland, which launched the Festival of Architecture 2016 as part of the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, luxury hotel Cromlix and the National Museum of Scotland, which celebrated its 150th anniversary this year with the opening of ten new galleries, are among the nominees. Nominees also include: the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships, Balmoral Hotel, The Helix, Edinburgh Gin, Go Ape Aberfoyle and Born in the Borders.

Shortlisted entrants, who represent the best in innovation, excellence and quality in the industry, will go head-to-head at regional finals held across Scotland next month with winners going on to the glittering Scottish Thistle Awards National final to be held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre in March 2017.

This year saw a record-breaking number of entries, totalling 715 across the 15 regional categories, amounting to a 16% increase on last year. Entrants were shortlisted by a panel of industry experts.

The regional categories, aligned with the Scottish Tourism Strategy 2020, include ‘Friendliest pub/bar’ and ‘Innovation in Tourism’, as well as new awards such as ‘Regional Rising Star’ – awarding young people aged 30 and under who have shown real passion for tourism – and ‘Tourism & Hospitality Hero’ – celebrating those front line staff, from tour guides to front of house, who provide exceptional service and a personal touch.

Rebecca Brooks, Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel, said: “It is fantastic to see a high calibre of shortlisted entrants for this year’s awards from an amazing record-breaking number of entries. The Scottish tourism industry and hospitality sector prides itself on delivering a rewarding experience for visitors and we are delighted to recognise those deserving nominees for their dedication to quality.

“Tourism is more than a holiday experience; it creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round and is at the heart of our country’s economy.

The Scottish Thistle Awards are a chance to celebrate the shining stars of innovation and excellence in our tourism and hospitality sector and recognise those who strive to offer visitors a truly memorable experience of Scotland. On behalf of the panel I’d like to wish all the nominees the best of luck for the upcoming regional finals.

The Scottish Thistle Awards are 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.

Four regional ceremonies will be held in November: Central, Fife & Tayside and Lothians & Borders; West; Highlands and Islands, which will be organised by the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards; and Aberdeen City and Shire, which will be organised by Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards.

  • The Central, Fife & Tayside and Lothians & Borders Regional Finals will jointly take place at Prestonfield House in Edinburgh on 10 November 2016.
  • The West Regional Final will take place at Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow on 24 November 2016.
  • The Highlands and Islands Regional Final, organised by the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards, will take place at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness on 4 November 2016.
  • The Aberdeen City and Shire Regional Final, organised by Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards, will take place at the Ardoe House Hotel and Spa in Aberdeen on 25 November 2016.

For a full list of shortlisted finalists go to:

- ENDS -

The regional categories are:

  • Most Hospitable Hotel
  • Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House
  • Best Accommodation Provider
  • Innovation in Tourism
  • Best Informal Eating Experience
  • Best Restaurant Experience
  • Friendliest pub/bar
  • Regional Ambassador
  • Best Cultural Event or Festival
  • Best Sporting Event
  • Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience
  • Regional Rising Star
  • Working Together for Tourism
  • Best Visitor Attraction
  • Tourism & Hospitality Hero

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
  • 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)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to
  • For information about business events in Scotland go to

      2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design started on 1 January 2016 and will end on 31 December 2016.It will build on the momentum generated by the 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate. 
  • Join the conversation at #IAD2016