Drama Students To Take Centre Stage At Highland Tourism Awards

Two young students have talked their way into hosting a prestigious awards ceremony in a first for the event.

Annie Bonney and Fraser Szymborski-Welsh, who are both studying BA (Hons) Drama and Performance at Inverness College UHI, will co-present the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards(HITA) ceremony which will be attended by the tourism minister and more than 300 industry representatives.

Student awards winners (l to r front) Leanne Munro, Annie Bonney and Fraser Szymborski-Welsh, with HITA judges and board members Steve Barron and Ken Macaulay.

Student awards winners (l to r front) Leanne Munro, Annie Bonney and Fraser Szymborski-Welsh, with HITA judges and board members Steve Barron and Ken Macaulay.

To mark the Year of Young People, HITA held a competition to give one student the chance to compere the industry ‘Oscars’ alongside a professional presenter.

However, after hearing student auditions, it was decided that Annie and Fraser should themselves anchor the entire four-hour event, featuring 14 categories – the first time it will have been held without a professional presenter.

Leanne Munro, a 3rdyear BA (Hons) Visual Communication and Design student at Inverness College UHI, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, won a separate competition to create a marketing campaign aimed at attracting the next generation of visitors to the Highlands and Islands.

Her design will be on display at the awards ceremony, which will be held at the Kingsmills Hotelin Inverness on 2 November with Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, in attendance.

Steve Barron, a HITA board member and one of the competition judges, said: “We were taken aback at the very high standard of entries in both contests.

“We heard some truly amazing presentations, but Annie and Fraser stood out and, although they have very different styles, it was impossible to separate them. We decided, therefore, that they should both have the opportunity to host the ceremony.

“It’s a bold step, and one we have not taken before, but in this Year of Young People it is a brilliant way to showcase exciting local talent.”

The marketing strategy competition challenged students to produce a campaign specifically aimed at inspiring future travellers aged between eight and 25. They were asked to come up with new ideas to engage with young visitors and to make the designs and branding transferrable across social media, digital, print and broadcast platforms.

Leanne’s concept was widely praised by the judges for its design, innovation and creativity. Using the acronym Aye (Adventurous Young Explorers), she envisaged it being used to promote various aspects of a visit, including ‘Aye Explore’, ‘Aye Dance’ and ‘Aye Discover’.

It features a mobile phone app to help find places to stay, visit and eat and also to accumulate exploration points when visiting new places which can then be redeemed for discounts at shops and services. The app could also have a built-in game allowing visitors to find and log virtual versions of mythical creatures.

Steve Barron said: “Leanne’s marketing campaign was stunning and something any professional agency would be proud to present.

“It was incredibly well researched and thought out and ticked all the boxes in terms of hitting the brief.”

Rachel Burgess, lecturer on the BA (Hons) Visual Communication and Design course and programme co-ordinator for Cultural and Creative Industries at Inverness College UHI, said: “The HITA brief was an excellent opportunity for students to exercise their skills of research and strategic design.

“They engaged with the competition on a professional level with a clear understanding of the importance of the project and produced highly imaginative and viable proposals.

“Leanne’s design went that extra step and covered every aspect of the brief to produce a fun and effective solution for the HITA team.”

Lesley Mickel, programme leader for the BA (Hons) Drama and Performance, said: “The HITA competition was a wonderful opportunity for our drama students to display their talent, creativity, and professionalism, as well as their ability to work to a brief to a very high standard.

“Annie and Fraser have very different styles, but complement each other exceptionally well and will do a great job of compering the awards.”

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