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Article published 22/03/2022

The very best of Scotland’s tourism and events industry will be celebrated as entries and nominations open for the 2022/23 Scottish Thistle Awards.    

The awards, which for the first time this year include a media partnership with News Scotland, shine a spotlight on individual businesses and people working in this vital part of the Scottish economy, which is worth £11.5 billion. 

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.

The Scottish Thistle Awards is delivered by VisitScotland, 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.  

Entries can be made to five regional award ceremonies, including the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards and the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards. Regional winners go forward to compete in the national final in February 2023.  

Now more than ever, the Scottish Thistle Awards present an opportunity to showcase tourism as a force for good, helping to ensure that tourism is recognised for the positive impact it brings to the country.

It has been a challenging two years for tourism and events, but our industry has continued to adapt and innovate.

Scotland’s tourism offering is making huge efforts to develop in a responsible way - visitors to Scotland can benefit from a wide range of eco-friendly, sustainable and responsible tourism choices right across the country.

The benefits of tourism spread far beyond the industry itself – to the wider economy, to communities, and to the wellbeing of so many individuals.

The Scottish Thistle Awards recognise the businesses and individuals who are striving to make Scotland a fantastic place to visit now and in the future.

Lord Thurso, Chairman of VisitScotland

News Scotland partnership

We've partnered with News Scotland, publisher of The Times and Sunday Times Scotland and The Scottish Sun to promote the Scottish Thistle Awards. Today as part of the launch, The Times published a news article online and in print, celebrating both businesses and staff in the tourism industry.

The mutually beneficial partnership will allow News Scotland and VisitScotland to develop a deeper relationship and maximise opportunities around content, marketing and networking, showcasing what tourism can offer consumers, businesses and the wider economic community

As part of this exciting media partnership, News Scotland will support two awards:

  • The Best Luxury Experience Award
  • The Great Days Out Award

The partnership will provide readers of The Scottish Sun the opportunity to vote for a particular winner for the Great Days Out Award.

To encourage nominations across the country, News Scotland titles will create editorial content to raise awareness among its regular audiences and the wider public leading up to, during and after the national event.

We are delighted to be working with VisitScotland as media partners for the Scottish Thistle Awards – the pinnacle of recognition for the Scottish tourism and hospitality sector, which will be so crucial to rebuilding the economy in the post-Covid era.

Readers of our Scottish products – The Scottish Sun, The Times Scotland and The Sunday Times Scotland – love to travel in Scotland for long and short breaks. We look forward to joining VisitScotland in celebrating the industry in the run up to the awards over the coming year, and beyond.

Richard Bogie, managing director of News Scotland

Thistles logo on laptop

Get involved by entering or nominating

Businesses can enter themselves or be nominated by someone else. Entries can be made to five regional award ceremonies. The regional winners then go forward to compete in the national final taking place in February 2023. 

Categories range from Best B&B or Guest House Experience, Best Eatery Experience and Best Hotel Experience.  

A new category celebrating those businesses and events which have embraced responsible tourism has also been introduced this year. 

In addition, every entry will be asked to provide clear evidence – covering the last two years – on how their business addresses four key areas in line with the Outlook 2030 strategy’s ambition for sustainable and responsible growth.  

Individuals, businesses and events entering any of the 17 categories must evidence how they have embraced best practice covering the four key areas of a low carbon economy, inclusivity, thriving communities and Scotland’s natural and cultural heritage. 

Visit the Scottish Thistles website for a full list of the award categories.



The finals

The regional finals for businesses and individuals based in the Lothian & Borders; West; Central, Fife & Tayside will be held in October and November 2022. 

Winners from these regions will join those selected in the Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards and the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards at the national final. 

The revised awards programme for 2022-2023 will see a total of 13 regional entries and four national entries crowned as the very best in the industry.  


Thistles finals


The Scottish Thistle Awards shine the spotlight on the very best of Scotland’s tourism industry.

It is also fitting that we launch the programme for this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards during Scottish Tourism Month, which is held every year to inspire and celebrate our industry.

We want to recognise the resilience of the industry, support its recovery from the pandemic, and celebrate the enormous contribution it makes to Scotland’s economy and beyond.

Steven Walker, Chairman of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel

The sponsors

This year’s sponsors of the Scottish Thistle Awards include Johnstons of Elgin and Fishers.  You can find out more about the sponsorship opportunities available as part of this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards programme at the Scottish Thistle Awards website.

Fishers sponsor image


Dates for your diary

  • Nominations to the regional categories close on 27 May 2022
  • Entries close on 10 June 2022.
  • Entries to the national categories close on 2 September 2022. 

Visit the Scottish Thistles website for a full list of the award categories and to nominate and enter


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