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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 02/06/2022

Today, we're talking about two of the categories in the Scottish Thistle Awards 2022/23 which celebrate the staff and volunteers who work at the forefront in Scottish tourism.

The pandemic has highlighted just how resilient, resourceful, and united these people are - they’re the key to ensuring world-class customer service and memorable experiences for visitors in Scotland.

The Tourism and Hospitality Hero and the Regional Ambassador categories give employees the recognition they deserve. Find out more about these awards, the criteria and how to apply.

Tourism and Hospitality Hero category


James Ryan

Picture shows James Ryan, Culloden Visitor Centre

This award aims to highlight and celebrate individuals showing resilience, resourcefulness, and kindness at the forefront – Scotland’s unsung heroes.

It celebrates those on the frontline of the customer service experience who have gone that extra mile for the benefit of others during an unprecedented time, whether that be customers, colleagues or the local community/area.

James Ryan was the winner of the Tourism and Hospitality Hero award at the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final in March 2020.

Winning was a truly wonderful experience for myself and showed just how far I have come. As a kid growing up with autism and spending time at school with support helpers, I feel I have overcome a huge barrier that many people in my situation may struggle to get over. It feels truly amazing to know how much my work in interpreting Scotland’s story is being appreciated.

I hope through my fulfilment in giving visitors a wonderful experience that I could inspire them to pursue similar careers and learn about the history that makes Scotland so special.

James Ryan, Visitor Services Assistant at Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre

Who should enter?

This category is open to anyone employed on the frontline of the Scottish tourism and hospitality industry.

From housekeeping staff and receptionists, to front of house staff, tour guides and drivers – who has gone above and beyond, striving to make their workplace, community and / or local area a better place for everyone.

Regional Ambassador category

The balmoral hotel staff

This award looks to recognise the commitment and passion shown for the tourism industry, in an individual who has dedicated their time and energy to advocate for their sector or local area / community during the recent unprecedented times.

Who should enter?

Entrants for this award should fit the following criteria:

  • A tourism industry professional employed anywhere within / relating to the Scottish tourism or hospitality industry.
  • An advocate for industry – this could be in a variety of ways; examples may include raising government awareness, lobbying or by way of community engagement.
  • Has shown leadership during COVID-19 – within and out with their business / employment.
  • Has dedicated time and energy to benefiting / supporting their local area and local community during COVID-19.

Enter now

There is no self-entry for this category. Therefore, if you know someone who deserves to be recognised for their contribution to the industry, there is an application available, on their behalf, via our entry portal. 

You can apply at the Scottish Thistle Awards website.

These categories close on Tuesday 14 June.

People are the essence of our tourism and events industry in Scotland. The Regional Ambassador and Tourism & Hospitality Hero categories in this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards aim to celebrate those individuals who have worked tirelessly throughout the last two years, during the most challenging period for tourism and events. It aims to shine a light on people’s resilience, resourcefulness and kindness in the face of new challenges and processes. If you would like to gain recognition for a member of your team, get your entry in before they close on June 10th

VisitScotland Regional Director, Neil Christison, who has judged the Scottish Thistle Awards in previous years

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