By Rebecca Brooks, VisitScotland Board Member and Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel.
After a hugely successful 2016/17 Scottish Thistle Awards, highlighting the fantastic work of the tourism and hospitality sector across the length and breadth of the country, we are now embracing the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.
The year will celebrate both our tangible and intangible heritage – everything from our buildings and archaeological sites to our diverse stories, traditions and culture – which will both involve and inspire the tourism sector.
In addition, this year’s theme will be reflected by the introduction of a Best Heritage Tourism Experience category.
It is appropriate that in the year which looks to Scotland’s past, the Scottish Thistle Awards marks its own historical milestone. For a quarter of a century, the excellence, innovation and tireless work that goes into creating a world class visitor experience in Scotland has been recognised by the tourism industry with the annual awards.
The Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA), now in their 13th year, play a crucial role within this historical movement by not only being a regional heat for the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final but also reflecting the importance of customer experience in the region.
To receive a HITA nomination is a huge honour and something that those select few should be proud of and share with visitors and the industry. Past recipients such as Scotland’s Best B&B, Mull Eagle Watch, Glenlivet Distillery Visitor Centre, Hebridean Celtic Festival and Eilean Donan Castle, reveal the real strength and depth of quality that the Highlands and Islands has to offer.
Each year, the awards continue to grow in strength, and we look forward to a bumper competition in 2017 following last year’s record-setting number of entries – and the chance for Highlands and Islands businesses to make their own history in the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.