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Article published 04/12/2023

The national final of the Scottish Thistle Awards took place on Friday 1 December at the Glasgow Hilton. Businesses and individuals working within the tourism and events industry received recognition.

The Genesis Scottish Open which took place at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick in 2022 received the award for Outstanding Sporting Event.  The competition forms part of the DP World Tour and, for the first time in 2022, the PGA Tour.

There were 156 competitors representing 31 different countries. In its first year back at full scale after the COVID-19 pandemic, the event welcomed over 68,000 spectators and reached a record global TV audience.

Nearby festival Fringe by the Sea was crowned Outstanding Cultural Event or Festival. The festival, which was founded in 2008, is a not-for-profit 10-day multi-arts festival in North Berwick.

The award-winning 2022 event was aimed at helping East Lothian recover from the pandemic, delivering more than 219 events to nearly 60,000 visitors and bringing more than £6.5 million economic benefit to the area.

Award winners with trophy at a ceremony

Outstanding Sporting Event (from left to right): Presenter Gary Innes, Sarah Jane Dooley, Andy Jeong, Ben Birks, Zander Culverwell, Billy Paterson from Genesis Scottish Open, Paul Bush – Director of Events, VisitScotland, and presenter Jennifer Reoch (credit: Chris Watt)

Other sporting events that won the regional finals were Battle of the Brits, and Mull Rally. Spectra, Dandelion Festival, Borders Book Festival, and HebCelt won their regions from a cultural angle. Congratulations to all of these fantastic events who made to the national final.

A total of 18 businesses and individuals were honoured with awards at Scotland’s premier tourism and events awards.  This includes The World Congress of Soil Science at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow which won Best Business Event.

Read our news item on the national final for more information.

About the Scottish Thistle Awards

The Scottish Thistle Awards are delivered by VisitScotland with support from headline sponsor Johnstons of Elgin.

The awards, which also include a media partnership with News Scotland, celebrate the very best of tourism in Scotland and the excellence, collaboration, and innovation that is helping to support the responsible growth of the industry.

Around 400 guests attended the special event that marks the culmination of the Scottish Thistle Awards programme for 2023.

The evening was hosted by TV presenter Jennifer Reoch and broadcaster Gary Innes with entertainment by Cammy Barnes.

Award winners with trophy at a ceremony

Best Business Event (from left to right): Gary Innes, Neil Brownlee – VisitScotland Head of Business Events, Dawn Lauder - Head of Association Sales at Scottish Event Campus (SEC), Willie Towers from the James Hutton Institute, Danielle Kelly – Director of Strategy & Sales Scotland STV and presenter Jennifer Reoch (credit: Chris Watt)

The Scottish Thistle Awards mark an important celebration of the very best of our tourism and events industry and the positive impacts the industry brings to Scotland.

Whether it’s quality food and drink, thrilling adventure activities, or friendly and welcoming faces, the Scottish Thistle Awards celebrate all aspects of what makes Scotland a fantastic place to visit.

Congratulations to this year’s winners, each demonstrating innovation, collaboration and sustainable practices, and supporting the ambition of the national tourism strategy, Outlook 2030, for Scotland to be a world leader in 21st century tourism.

Steven Walker, Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards industry panel

About our partners

The Scottish Thistle Awards are delivered in partnership with Highlands & Islands Thistle Awards (HITA), the Aberdeen City and Shire Thistle Awards (ACSTA) and the South of Scotland Thistle Awards, supported by a panel of industry representatives.  

The awards champion innovation collaboration, and sustainable practices, in line with the ambitions of the national tourism strategy, Outlook 2030.

This year, the awards also include a media partnership with News Scotland.

Responsible tourism is at the heart of the Scottish Thistle Awards, supporting the aim for Scotland to be recognised globally as a leader in this field.

Every entry was required to provide clear evidence on how their business addresses responsible tourism.

Find more information on

Award winners with trophy at a ceremony

Scottish Thistle Awards 2023 national winners (credit: Chris Watt)

Congratulations to all the finalists and, of course, the national winners in this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards.

The event categories shone a light on just some of the fantastic and diverse events taking place across the country that help make up Scotland’s amazing tourism offer.

They play an important role in our communities by offering the chance for everyone to connect, enjoy, and share memorable experiences.

Here’s to more outstanding events in 2024 and beyond!

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events

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