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Article published 17/05/2022

What are the Scottish Thistles Awards?

Scotland’s premier tourism and events awards are back for 2022/23 and entries to this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards close in just under a month, on 10 June.

The Scottish Thistle Awards aim to recognise those who have worked tirelessly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic to create the warm destination and visitor experiences that Scotland is famous for.

So what's new?.....

 

New media partnership

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Thistles Advert

For the first time, VisitScotland has secured a media partnership with News Scotland, publishers of The Times, The Sunday Times and The Scottish Sun, to promote the Scottish Thistle Awards.

This media partnership will help raise the profile of the Scottish Thistle Awards, encourage entries and boost recognition for the winners.

In addition, as part of the media partnership, News Scotland will introduce a new readers’ choice award. The Great Days Out Award national award will be voted for by readers of the Scottish Sun in an online poll. The winner will be announced at the National Final in February 2023, with readers asked to vote from the regional winners of the Best Visitor Attraction awards in October and November.

Hamilton and Inches, Luxury Jewellers, Edinburgh

Over the past couple of years, our attractions sector, and wider tourism industry, has been hit hard by the impacts of the pandemic, so we’re delighted that The Scottish Thistle Awards are back for 2022/23 to celebrate the resilience, dedication and achievements of its champions.

The Best Visitor Attraction Experience regional accolades will provide a fantastic opportunity to shine a spotlight on the outstanding attractions across the length and breadth of the country prior to the overall winner being chosen for the Great Days Out Award.

The new national ‘people’s choice’ title - and the prominent profile this will have through the News Scotland media partnership - will raise awareness and appreciation of the incredible visitor experiences Scotland’s attractions offer, and the vital role they play, not only as a key contributor to our economy but as an integral part of Scotland’s heritage, culture and identity.

Gordon Morrison, CEO of ASVA: Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions, and member of the Scottish Thistle Awards industry panel

New criteria - Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism is at the heart of this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards. A new category celebrating those businesses and events which have embraced responsible tourism has been introduced. 

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 will be asked to provide evidence on 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. 

Corrie fee cycling

New categories

This year the awards feature revised categories, here's the full list to help you decide which category suits your business.

 

The Regional Categories

Is this for you?

Best B&B or Guest House Experience

This category celebrates going the extra mile to demonstrate heart-warming levels of customer service to every guest who steps through the door.

Best Bar or Pub

This award celebrates the key role of bars and pubs as part of the Scottish visitor experience. 

 

Best Eatery Experience

This category is designed to recognise and celebrate restaurants and eateries that provide an exceptional customer experience and a quality food and drink offering, promoting local Scottish produce.

Best Hotel Experience (over 20 rooms)

The hotel experience is key to creating visitors' lasting impressions of Scotland and our world-famous Scottish hospitality. 

Best Hotel Experience (under 20 rooms)

The hotel experience is key to creating visitors' lasting impressions of Scotland and our world-famous Scottish hospitality.

Best Outdoor or Adventure Experience

This category celebrates businesses that provide unforgettable, quality and authentic experiences to their visitors who engage with the landscape and local communities in a positive and environmentally sensitive way.

Best Self-Catering Experience

This category celebrates businesses that provide fantastic and genuine emotional engagement with the visitor, whether online or in person, and an exceptional service.

Best Visitor Attraction Experience

This category celebrates the variety of opportunity provided to Scotland's visitors, and the attractions which provide world class service with a distinctive Scottish twist.

Food Tourism Award

This category is designed to recognise and celebrate those businesses providing visitors with a unique and memorable tourism experience centered around food and drink.

Outstanding Cultural Event or Festival

This category aims to celebrate and recognise outstanding cultural events/festivals delivered during the pandemic that are part of our tourism offering.

Regional Ambassador

Individuals who go above and beyond to contribute to the development of tourism in their area with a passion for the future of tourism.

Tourism and Hospitality Hero

We have in mind tourism guides, front of house staff, drivers and receptionists - anyone who works on the front line of the tourism industry - so if you know a "service hero" in any appropriate role, please apply!

Working Together for Tourism

This category celebrates partnerships, collaborations and team working, whether that be with local businesses, communities or a group of individuals.

You can nominate a business for the categories below from 22 March until 27 May 2022.  All entries must be completed by 10th June 2022 to be considered by our judging panels. 

National Categories

Is this for you?

Best Business Event

This category celebrates business events as catalysts for economic and social transformation.

Best Luxury Experience

This category aims to celebrate unique tour offerings or experience packages, with a focus on exclusivity and attention to detail.

Outstanding Sporting Event

This category aims to celebrate and recognise outstanding sporting events delivered during the pandemic. 

Responsible Tourism Award

This category aims to celebrate and recognise outstanding sporting events delivered during the pandemic. 

You can nominate in the categories below from 22 March until 19 August 2022. All entries must be completed by 2 September 2022 to be considered by our judging panels.

New sponsor for 22/23

World renowned heritage retail brand Johnstons of Elgin has been announced as headline sponsor of this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards.

It comes as Johnstons of Elgin, a previous category sponsor of the Scottish Thistle Awards, celebrate a landmark 225 years of manufacturing excellence in 2022. Since 1797, the Johnstons of Elgin signature innovation and quality have been without compare. You can read the full story in our news section of the Scottish Thistles website.

 

Johnstons of Elgin

We've also had confirmation of Abbey UK as the sponsor of the B&B category, exciting news. Keep an eye on our news section for further announcements.

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.

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 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

You can find out more about the Scottish Thistle Awards how to nominate and enter at the Scottish Thistle Awards website.

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