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Article published 10/10/2023

Celebrating the region’s leading lights in tourism and hospitality

Tourism and hospitality businesses from across the South of Scotland are celebrating after emerging victorious at the region’s first ever dedicated regional Thistle Awards, held on 5 October.

Finalists, key suppliers and local leaders turned out for the glittering ceremony at the Cairndale Hotel and Leisure Club, Dumfries, sponsored by Caledonia Park Designer Outlet.

The Scottish Thistle Awards celebrate the very best of the tourism and events industry, helping to shine the spotlight on this vital part of the local economy.

This year saw the South of Scotland host its first ever dedicated regional awards event, encouraging even more businesses than in previous years to achieve richly deserved recognition.

South of Scotland winners

South of Scotland Thistle Award-winners were unveiled in 13 separate categories.

The winners, who will now go on to represent the South of Scotland at the national Scottish Thistle Awards finals in December, are:

  • Innovation in Tourism | Dalscone Farm Fun
  • Best B&B or Guesthouse Experience | Nithbank Country Estate
  • Best Self-Catering Accommodation Experience | Arden Holiday Cottage
  • Best Bar or Pub | The Cross Keys Inn Ettrickbridge
  • Best Hotel Experience | Cringletie
  • Best Eating Experience | The Allanton Inn
  • Outstanding Cultural Event or Festival | Borders Book Festival
  • Climate Action Award | Nithbank Country Estate
  • Celebrating Thriving Communities Award | The Devil’s Porridge Museum
Read the full press release from the South of Scotland Destination Alliance


Scottish Thistle Award 2023 trophies

  • Best Visitor Attraction | Trimontium Museum
  • Best Outdoor or Adventure Experience | Kitchen Coos and Ewes
  • Tourism and Hospitality Employer of the Year | The Beagle Country Pub and Barend Holiday Lodges
  • Tourism Individual of the Year | Melanie Allen (Nithbank Country Estate)

Hosting our first ever South of Scotland Thistle Awards has been a wonderful way of bringing together and honouring the leading lights in tourism and hospitality from our region – it’s been a celebration of the South of Scotland, by the South of Scotland. The independent judging panel were blown away by the calibre of all those who applied for the Awards, and while of course last night was all about recognising our brilliant local winners, we want to celebrate and pay tribute to everyone who took part in the process.

I’d like to thank all our generous sponsors and fantastic suppliers for helping make our inaugural awards event such a roaring success. Now we wish our splendid winners every success as they get ready to fly the South of Scotland flag at the national Scottish Thistle Awards finals on 1 December.

David Hope-Jones, Chief Executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA)

Congratulations to all of the winners at the very first South of Scotland Thistle Awards. The Scottish Thistle Awards shine a spotlight on the very best of Scotland’s tourism and events industry, celebrating the businesses and individuals who work hard to create the fantastic destination and visitor experiences that Scotland is famous for.

The Scottish Thistle Awards mark an important celebration of the very best of our tourism and events industry and support the ambition for Scotland to be recognised globally as a leader in this field. I wish the regional winners the best of luck as they continue through to the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final later this year.

Steven Walker, VisitScotland Board member and Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards industry panel

The national final

All of the winners of the South of Scotland Thistle Awards will now progress to the national Scottish Thistle Awards. The Final will take place in Glasgow on Friday 1 December.

Find out more about the National Final

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