Highlands & Islands Thistle Awards 2023 shortlist announced

Lead judge Lorna Maclennan says the calibre of submissions for HITA 2023 has been impressive

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 HITA 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 Ltd; The Pierhouse Hotel and Seafood Restaurant
  • Best Hotel Experience – Links House at Royal Dornoch; Heathbank; 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; 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 – Drumossie Hotel; Loch Insh Outdoor Centre; 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 and Moray. 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.”

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.”

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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