Galloway’s Thistle award winners

Pictured (l-r) Host Dougie Vipond; Vicki and Duncan McConchie of Laggan Outdoor Activity Centre; presenter Ben Mardall, Chairman of Wild Scotland; host Jennifer Reoch.
Pictured (l-r) Host Dougie Vipond; Vicki and Duncan McConchie of Laggan Outdoor Activity Centre; presenter Ben Mardall, Chairman of Wild Scotland; host Jennifer Reoch.

Laggan Outdoor Activity Centre and the Brookford B&B have been crowned the best in Scotland at Scottish tourism’s equivalent of the Oscars.

Laggan Outdoor Activity Centre at Gatehouse of Fleet picked up Best Outdoor/Adventure, while the Brookford B&B, in St John’s Town of Dalry, took home Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House, at the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final last night (16 March).

Pictured (l-r) Host Dougie Vipond; presenter Marina Huggett, Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards and Hit Scotland; Angela & Ronnie Bradford, owners of Brookford B&B; host Jennifer Reoch.

Pictured (l-r) Host Dougie Vipond; presenter Marina Huggett, Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards and Hit Scotland; Angela & Ronnie Bradford, owners of Brookford B&B; host Jennifer Reoch.

The glittering ceremony, held during Scottish Tourism Week, took place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre hosted by TV presenter and Deacon Blue drummer, Dougie Vipond, and presenter and former Miss Scotland, Jennifer Reoch. The 2016/2017 Scottish Thistle Awards, in association with Fishers, recognise innovation, excellence and success in the hospitality and tourism industry – rewarding hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, visitor attractions, events and individuals who go that extra mile to provide customers with exceptional service.

Thistle judges commended Laggan Outdoor Activity Centre’s focus on “quality and service” and noted its 40% growth last year.

They were particularly impressed by the human slingshot and the associated publicity for it.

Duncan McConchie, Managing Director of Laggan Outdoor Activity Centre, said: “We are delighted to have won this award on behalf of our team and of Dumfries & Galloway.

“It is testament to the hard work and enthusiasm of our incredible team that we have won and are able to continuously deliver first class activities and experiences to our customers.”

Ronnie Bradford, who owns Brookford B&B with his wife Angela, said: “We are thrilled to have won this award and feel very humble that we have been recognised in this way.

“We are particularly proud that our guests have been so generous with their praise, enabling us to reach this stage of the Awards.”

A total of 14 awards were handed out on the night including Caledonian MacBrayne Best Cultural Event or Festival, Fishers Most Hospitable Hotel, J Thomson Colour Printers Best Restaurant Experience, ScotRail Best Visitor Attraction and Braehead Foods Tourism & Hospitality Hero.

Comedian Des Clarke and Scottish band, Prides, provided the evening’s entertainment.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The Scottish Thistle Awards recognise excellence and reward the creativity and innovation that underpins Scotland’s tourism sector.

“Scotland’s tourism businesses, and their 217,000 jobs, work incredibly hard to make our country a must-visit destination, and ensure visitors are assured of a warm welcome.”

Rebecca Brooks, Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel and VisitScotland Board member, said: “Congratulations to all of the winners at the 2016/17 Scottish Thistle Awards National Final. They represent the best of the best in Scotland and epitomise the strength and depth of the tourism and hospitality experience across the country.

“The Scottish tourism industry and hospitality sector prides itself on delivering a rewarding experience for visitors and all of our finalists should be proud of their achievements in reaching the final – which, in itself, is both a recognition of excellence and innovation, and a sign of quality.

“Tourism is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy – supporting communities and creating jobs throughout the year in every corner of the country. We look forward to the 2017/18 Scottish Thistle Awards when we will celebrate the achievements of our industry colleagues during our 25th anniversary year.”

Scott Inglis, Commercial Director at Fishers, said: “We have supported the Scottish Thistle Awards for three years and are proud to have been the headline sponsor this year. At Fishers we don’t just think of ourselves as a laundry company, we know that we are an important part of Scotland’s tourism sector and we’re happy to show our support to other businesses in this sector.

“Last night we celebrated all the hard work that goes into making tourism a success in Scotland and there is a great deal to be proud of. All of the finalists deserve to be commended for their contribution to tourism and we would like to extend our congratulations to all of the winners.”

Doug Wilson, Regional Director at VisitScotland, said: “Huge congratulations to Laggan Outdoor Activity Centre and the Brookford B&B for being crowned the best in Scottish tourism.

“Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it creates jobs and sustains communities across Dumfries and Galloway and all finalists should be proud of their achievements in reaching this stage.

“These awards recognise the drive and passion the industry has for creating an unforgettable experience for visitors and I’m delighted that some of Scotland’s top visitor attractions and businesses are found right here on our doorstep.”

This year the Scottish Thistle Awards received a record-breaking number of entries, totalling 715, amounting to a 16% increase on last year.

The flagship tourism awards are organised by VisitScotland and led by an industry panel, including Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards, Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards, the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, Scotland Food and Drink, Scottish Tourism Alliance, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, sportscotland and Wild Scotland.