North of Scotland’s tourism and hospitality sector to be celebrated as entries open for Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards

The Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards give tourism and hospitality businesses in the north of Scotland a chance to shine. Pictured (l-r) are Ryan Fraser, Royal Bank of Scotland; Lorna Maclennan, Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards; Fiona Hampton, Inverness Castle Project; and Shona Calder, Kingsmills Hotel.

THE Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) are back for 2022, and tourism and hospitality businesses in the north of Scotland have been urged to get their entries and nominations in now.

As the sector emerges from the unprecedented turmoil of the pandemic, the Awards aim to celebrate the resilience, innovation and perseverance of Scotland’s tourism and hospitality businesses.

Entry to the awards is free of charge, so there is every reason for businesses share their achievements, successes, skills and initiative – or nominate a business or individual for their exceptional talents and dedication to the industry and wider community.

Nominations are open until May 27, with entries closing on June 10, at

The 15 categories cover every aspect of the tourism and hospitality industry, including an exciting new award: the climate champion award, sponsored by Royal Bank of Scotland.

The awards and sponsors also recognise the high standards of excellence and professionalism in the people that not only strive to make their businesses a success but have a bigger impact on their local area.

The 15 categories are:

  • RBS climate champion
  • Highland rising star
  • Highland ambassador
  • Best bar or pub
  • Best hotel experience (under 20 rooms)
  • Best hotel experience (over 20 rooms)
  • Food tourism award
  • Best eatery experience
  • Best outdoor or adventure experience
  • Best self-catering accommodation experience
  • Best visitor attraction experience 
  • Best B&B or guest house experience
  • Outstanding cultural event or festival
  • Tourism and hospitality hero
  • Working together for tourism

The winners of the last 12 categories listed will go forward to the national finals of VisitScotland’s Thistle Awards. Since 2015, HITA winners have gone on to win multiple awards at a national level.

In addition, there are three other Thistle Award categories which businesses from across the Highlands and Islands can enter directly via VisitScotland:

  • Outstanding sporting event
  • Best business event 
  • Responsible tourism award 

The Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards bring together industry leaders, sponsors and, most importantly, all of those shortlisted.

All will gather at the award-winning Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness for an evening of celebration and recognition on Friday, November 4, 2022. It will be a night of fine dining, showcasing the best of locally sourced ingredients, with speeches from inspiring figures and entertainment too. 

After such a challenging two years, HITA board member, Lorna MacLennan, was delighted the awards were back: “The pandemic has caused many casualties in the industry, however we have also witnessed amazing resilience and innovation.”

“As the industry moves forward into the recovery phase, we have added a new category to the awards to reflect the changing landscape for tourism in the region.” 

“We are delighted to be working with our headline sponsors Royal Bank of Scotland on the climate champion award.”

“The Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards gives us such a fantastic opportunity to celebrate not only the best of tourism, but also how the industry has adapted and evolved in the face of adversity.”

Sponsoring this year’s Awards and the sponsor of the new climate champion award is RBS. Ryan Fraser, RBS commercial director, said: “The Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards are one of the key events in Scotland’s awards calendar and once again, Royal Bank of Scotland is delighted to support a programme which celebrates those organisations and businesses championing a key sector for the country.”

“As banking partner for COP26, we are excited to see the introduction this year of a new sustainability category. COP26 showcased the role Scotland can play in embracing the climate challenge and seeing the opportunities it can offer for forward-thinking entrepreneurs.”

“The breadth of categories this year shows the diversity, role and reach tourism plays for the region and we wish every finalist the very best of luck.”

The Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards recognise, celebrate and promote the achievements of the people and businesses across the sector. For 17 years, a volunteer board from across the industry and the area has delivered this industry-leading awards scheme.

All nominations should be made before the closing date of May 27. For entries to the awards, the closing date is June 10.

For details about the awards and to nominate and enter, visit

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