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Highlands & Islands Thistle Awards 2023 - shortlist announced!

By Features Reporter

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General manager at the Macdonald Drumossie Hotel, Inverness, Kenny McMillan, is looking forward to welcoming shortlistees and sponsors for the awards gala dinner and ceremony.
General manager at the Macdonald Drumossie Hotel, Inverness, Kenny McMillan, is looking forward to welcoming shortlistees and sponsors for the awards gala dinner and ceremony.

The shortlist for the Highlands & Islands Thistle Awards (HITA) 2023 has been revealed!

Over the past months, tourism and hospitality businesses and entrepreneurs have been submitting their applications to the awards which cover all aspects of the industry; from food and drink, and accommodation, to outdoor adventures, cultural events and attractions, innovation, inclusivity and action on climate change to awards for individuals and employers who have gone above and beyond their roles.

The 2023 shortlist:

Best B&B or Guest House Experience

  • Melfort House
  • Tigh na Mara Guesthouse
  • Torlinnhe guest house

Best Bar or Pub

  • MacGregors Hospitality
  • Scotch & Rye

Best Eating Experience

  • Edinbane Lodge
  • No 88
  • The Pierhouse Hotel and Seafood Restaurant

Best Hotel Experience

  • Links House at Royal Dornoch
  • Heathbank
  • Duisdale Hotel part of the Sonas Collection

Best Outdoor or Adventure Experience

  • Stravaigin Sailing
  • Wilderness Scotland
  • Wilder Ways

Best Self-Catering Accommodation Experience

  • Kabn Company
  • The Hollies Argyll
  • The Tin Shed

Best Visitor Attraction

  • Drax - Cruachan The Hollow Mountain
  • Seabirds-and-Seals ‒The Original Noss Boat Tours
  • The Highlanders Museum

Celebrating Thriving Communities

  • Gairloch and Loch Ewe action Forum (GALE)
  • Loch Ness Hub and Travel
  • The Pierhouse Hotel and Seafood Restaurant

Climate Action

  • JP Orkney
  • Wilderness Scotland
  • Woodlands Glencoe

Inclusive Tourism

  • Carradales
  • Seabirds-and-Seals ‒ The Original Noss Boat Tours

Innovation in Tourism

  • The Dramathon
  • SkyeConnect CIC
  • Stories of Scotland Podcast

Outstanding Cultural Event or Festival

  • Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival
  • Eden Court, Under Canvas
  • HebCelt Festival
  • Tiree Music Festival

Highland Rising Star

  • Dylan Wynne Cobbs
  • Natasha Wallis Dolphin Spirit
  • Kevin Barber Links House at Royal Dornoch

Tourism & Hospitality Employer of the Year

  • Kenny McMillan Drumossie Hotel
  • Jacalyn Freshwater Loch Insh Outdoor Centre
  • Fiona Mary McLean The Pierhouse Hotel and Seafood Restaurant

Tourism Individual of the Year

  • Chris O'Brien Nevis Range Development Company
  • Debbie Cole Dolphin Spirit
  • Michael Golding Visit Inverness Loch Ness

Sponsored once again by Royal Bank of Scotland, the Highlands & Islands Thistle Awards will culminate in a fabulous gala dinner and ceremony at the Macdonald Drumossie Hotel, Inverness on Friday, November 10.

The event will host industry leaders, sponsors, inspiring speakers, entertainment, and most importantly, all of those shortlisted for an award for a spectacular evening of celebration, recognition and pride.

Drumossie general manager, Kenny McMillan, is looking forward to welcoming shortlistees, their colleagues and sponsors to the awards gala: “The Highlands & Islands Thistle Awards are the highlight of the tourism and hospitality season in the region.

“It gives all of us who work in the industry the opportunity to celebrate the talent, dedication and often the innovation of the people who not only make holidays to our beautiful part of Scotland unforgettable but contribute to a vital sector in the Highland economy providing rewarding and exciting career opportunities.”

HITA vice chair and lead judge for 2023, Lorna Maclennan, added: “This year has seen another fantastic number of entries from businesses and individuals right across the Highlands, islands, Moray and Argyll. The range and calibre of submissions has been impressive and made our work as judges all the harder in deciding our shortlist!

“A big thank you goes to all of our judges for giving up their time away from their own businesses to read through all the entries and choose this year’s shortlistees. We also thank everyone who took the time and effort to submit their applications. The awards will be a wonderful evening and we look forward to celebrating with you on the night.”

A thank you to our sponsors

As well as celebrating local businesses, the awards are also an excellent way for the business community to show its support through sponsorship.

Ryan Fraser, director of commercial banking from awards sponsor, Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “At Royal Bank of Scotland we want to champion potential, helping people, families and businesses to thrive. The Highlands & Islands Thistle Awards celebrate those organisations, individuals and businesses who share similar values as well as demonstrating excellence and innovation in wanting to help the industry succeed and prepare for a more sustainable future.”

Commercial laundry specialists, Fishers, said: “The awards are the Oscars of the hospitality and tourism sector and are the awards that the whole industry aspires to win. For Fishers, being seen to support the industry in this way is important as we see ourselves as a vital part of the Highlands and Islands hospitality sector and want to put something back into this community.”

Renewable energy experts, BayWa r.e. added: “Developing our Corriegarth 2 wind farm project in the Highlands, we want to show our commitment to the area and in particular to the tourism industry. There are often negative perceptions around renewable energy projects and we want to be able to understand concerns first-hand and work with those promoting and contributing to the tourism industry in the Highlands.”

The Highland Tourism Partnership said sponsorship was a way to give back: “The partnership includes destination organisations and public sector partners in tourism. Collectively, the group represents thousands of businesses and their communities. These awards provide a way for the partnership to give back and highlight the unique role that it plays regionally and nationally.”

The 2023 awards welcomed entries from businesses and individuals in all regions of the Highlands and Islands; from Argyll in the west, to Moray in the east, and Orkney and Shetland in the north.

For more information visit www.hita-awards.com

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