Scottish Thistle Awards Return For 2023

The very best of Scotland’s tourism and events industry will be celebrated once again as nominations for the Scottish Thistle Awards 2023 open.

For more than 25 years, the Scottish Thistle Awards has helped shine a spotlight on individual businesses, people and partnerships working in this vital part of the Scottish economy, worth £11.5 billion.

And now for 2023, the nominations are open.

What’s new for 2023?

We deliver the Scottish Thistle Awards, in partnership with regional award programmes. They combine five regional awards, with a national final. We will continue to deliver two regional finals for Central and East and the West.

For the first time this year, the South of Scotland Destination Alliance will deliver the South of Scotland Thistle Awards, inviting nominations and entries from the tourism and events industry in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway.

The Highlands and Islands Thistle Awards (HITA) and the Aberdeen City and Shire Thistle Awards (ACSTA) are responsible for their own regional awards. Winners from all five regions progress to the National Final.

For 2023 a shorter and more streamlined awards programme is in place.

  • Nominations

    Nominations to all 17 categories are open from 15 March. It’s now easier than ever for members of the public to put forward their recommendations for businesses and individuals working hard to make Scotland such a fantastic place to visit.

  • Entries

    Entries to all categories are open from 3 April to 12 May 2023.

    Where businesses have been nominated, they will receive an email encouraging them to fill in the online entry form. Businesses can also enter without a nomination.

  • The shortlist

    We’ll make the announcement on those shortlisted for the regional awards in July, with regional finals taking place in autumn.

    The shortlist for the national categories will be announced after this, with the National Final taking place in November 2023.

The categories

The Scottish Thistle Awards champion innovation, collaboration and sustainable practices, in line with the ambitions of the national tourism strategy, Outlook 2030.

There are a total of 14 regional categories in this year’s programme, celebrating the very best of Scotland’s accommodation sector, food and drink, outdoor experiences, and visitor attractions.

The three national-only categories celebrate Scotland’s outstanding sporting events, business events, and luxury experiences.

Responsible tourism remains at the heart of the Scottish Thistle Awards, supporting the aim for Scotland to be recognised globally as a leader in this field. Every entry will be required to provide evidence on how their businesses addresses key areas of responsible tourism.

Comrie Croft

Comrie Croft, winners of the Responsible Tourism Award 2022/23

Regional categories

Best Bar or Pub

Best B&B or Guest House Experience

Best Eating Experience

Best Hotel Experience

Best Outdoor or Adventure Experience

Best Self-Catering Accommodation Experience

Best Visitor Attraction

Celebrating Thriving Communities Award

Climate Action Award

Inclusive Tourism Award

Innovation in Tourism

Outstanding Cultural Event or Festival

Tourism & Hospitality Employer of the Year

Tourism Individual of the Year

National categories

Best Business Event

Outstanding Sporting Event

Best Luxury Experience

New categories for 2023

New categories introduced for the first time this year include the Celebrating Thriving Communities, Inclusive Tourism, and Climate Action Awards.

The Celebrating Thriving Communities award recognises the partnerships, collaborations, and teams that come together to protect and enhance our environment, whilst growing social, cultural and economic wealth.

The Inclusive Tourism Award celebrates a business that has developed an outstanding welcome for all customers.

The Climate Action Award celebrates businesses, events and destinations who have made demonstrable progress on their climate action journey to net zero.

Media partnership

The Scottish Thistle Awards will once again include a media partnership with News Scotland for 2023.

We look forward to building on a successful first year of this partnership, which has helped raise the profile of both the awards and the winners across its online and print portfolio of titles that includes The Scottish Sun, Times and Times Alba and the Sunday Times.

The partnership culminated in an eight-page supplement featuring dedicated content on all 17 winners. Take a look at the article featuring all the winners at the 2022/23 national final.

VisitScotland plays a key role in the delivery of the Scottish Thistle Awards, underlining our commitment to driving up quality and celebrating success across the industry.
We look forward to working with our regional partners and sponsors to deliver another successful year of the Scottish Thistle Awards, helping to ensure that tourism is recognised for the positive impact it brings to the country.
The Scottish Thistle Awards programme continues to adapt to ensure our tourism and events industry receives the recognition it deserves for the positive impact it brings to the country, supporting our aims to make Scotland a better place for people to live and visit.
Tourism is a force for good. It creates jobs, sustains communities and contributes significantly to the economy.
Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel Steven Walker

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