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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 04/12/2023

Businesses and individuals working within the tourism and events industry have received recognition at Scotland’s premier tourism and events awards. 

A total of 18 businesses and individuals were honoured with awards at the Scottish Thistle Awards national final, which took place at the Glasgow Hilton on Friday 1 December.  

We deliver the Scottish Thistle Awards 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. 

Find out who took home a prestigious Scottish Thistle Award this year.

Group shot of winners at national final

Silver Thistle Award

Wilma and David Finlay received the prestigious Silver Thistle Award which recognises an individual or individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to tourism over many years.

The couple are partners in family farm Rainton Farm in Dumfries & Galloway – home of The Ethical Dairy. They also built up a successful food product range and visitor attraction at Cream o’ Galloway that they recently retired from and sold.  

Described as "pioneers in ethical agricultural techniques," they were also ground breaking in adopting the early principles of responsible tourism within their business, bringing benefits to the wider community and visitor economy.

David and WIlma Finlay

Climate Action Award

Wilderness Scotland based in Aviemore won the inaugural Climate Action Award, sponsored by The Times.

This award celebrates businesses, events and destinations that have made demonstrable progress on their climate action journey to net zero.

Wilderness Scotland, which also received the Best Outdoor or Adventure Experience Award, was praised by judges for their efforts in setting an industry standard for carbon measuring.

Wilderness Scotland

Best Luxury Experience Award

Airhouses received the Best Luxury Experience Award, sponsored by The Macallan Estate. This award celebrates businesses bringing luxury to the Scottish visitor experience.

The self-catering accommodation is located in the heart of the Scottish Borders sleeping 32 guests in total within one large house, two glamping pods and four lodges.

Judges commended the family business for their strong community engagement and fair employment, that they said will help "inspire other businesses in the Scottish tourism industry."


Sporting and Outstanding Cultural Event

The Genesis Scottish Open which took place at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick in 2022 received the award for Outstanding Sporting Event and 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 ten-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.

Fringe by Sea

Tourism Individual of the Year award

Melanie Allen took home the Tourism Individual of the Year award, sponsored by HIT Scotland, in recognition of the positive impact she has made on the visitor experience at a regional and national level in Scotland.

Melanie, proprietor of Nithbank Country Estate in Dumfries & Galloway alongside her husband John,  was also named winner of the Best B&B or Guest House Experience, sponsored by Abbey UK, was described by judges as an influential leader and ambassador.

Melanie Allen

And the other winners are...

The Cross Keys Inn in Ettrickbridge in the Scottish Borders in the Best Pub or Bar category, sponsored by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.

Edinbane Lodge on the Isle of Skye were winners of the Best Eating Experience Award.

Cromlix in Dunblane were winners of the Best Hotel Experience Award, sponsored by Fishers. 

Best Self Catering Accommodation Experience went to Arden Holiday Cottage in Dumfries & Galloway.

The Burrell Collection was named Best Visitor Attraction, sponsored by The Scottish Sun.   

Winners on stage at final

Glasgow Science Centre were winners in the Inclusive Tourism category, sponsored by Historic Environment Scotland.

Rediscovering the Antonine Wall Project in the Celebrating Thriving Communities category.

Camera Obscura & the World of Illusions in Edinburgh won the Innovation in Tourism Award.

The World Congress of Soil Science received the Best Business Event Award for the delivery of the congress at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in 2022.  

SEA LIFE Loch Lomond won the inaugural Tourism & Hospitality Employer of the Year Award.

Guests at final taking selfie

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