HITA has an important role to play in promoting business, as well as encouraging and rewarding excellence.
So I would urge business leaders and individuals to enter the awards or nominate someone for recognition. Its only by measuring yourself or your business against the best in the sector that you can learn and improve.
The Highlands and Islands is full of success stories and by highlighting them we not only raise the profile of the winners and the contenders, we also showcase the quality and excellence of the sector as a whole.
I was the most surprised person in the room when I was named Highland Ambassador at last year’s HITA. But I am extremely proud to have been given this prestigious accolade and see it as a reflection on the significant impact the cruise business now has on tourism and the economy in general in Scotland.
From 1989, when Invergordon welcomed just one cruise ship, the cruise business has grown into a multi-million pound industry which brings benefits to many parts of Scotland.
Cruise ships are expected to generate around £80 million in Scotland this year and the impact of the thousands of visiting passengers will be felt well beyond the ports from where they disembark.
Pubs and restaurants, castles, historic sites, distilleries, golf courses and museums will all benefit from their spending power, as well as buses, taxis and hire car firms.
Quality products, attractions and services draw these customers who can influence further visits, so its vitally important we maintain and improve standards and continue to innovate to keep pace with expectations.
HITA’s part in this process cannot be understated. By encouraging and promoting excellence in all areas of tourism and hospitality, it can ensure the Highlands and Islands is a must-see destination for global visitors.