FOUR of Galloway’s leading tourism attractions have been shortlisted in the regional finals of the Scottish Thistle Awards - the annual competition celebrating businesses or suppliers which have gone the extra mile to offer an outstanding visitor experience.
Annual highlights of the local events calendar Wigtown Book Festival and Wickerman Festival are both named as Central South West regional finalists in the Best Event or Festival category. The third event shortlisted is Glasgow Film Festival.
Galloway Activity Centre, near Parton, Castle Douglas is named as regional finalists in two categories: Best Outdoor / Adventure Experience and is up against Cruise Loch Lomond, based at Tarbet in Argyll and Bute. Galloway Activity Centre is also vying with Beam Suntory of Islay and The Cook School Scotland of Ayrshire for the title of Best Visitor Attraction.
Another local tourism business to be named as a Thistle Award regional finalist is Solway View Holidays of Kirkcudbright which is competing against two Argyll businesses, Clan Cottages and The Majestic Line, for the title of Best Holiday Accommodation.
The Central South West regional winners will be announced on 7th November at Hampden Park. They will then progress to the Scottish Thistles glittering national final at the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow on 5th March 2015, the closing night of Scottish Tourism Week.
Now in its 22nd year, the Scottish Thistle Awards is organised and delivered by VisitScotland but, as announced earlier this year, is now led by several organisations, including VisitScotland, the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.
With a particular focus on customer service, this year, for the very first time, members of the public were invited to nominate their tourism champions for the Scottish Thistle Awards 2014. Entries were made across a range of different categories including Friendliest Pub, Most Hospitable Hotel, and Our Warmest Welcome.
A total of 670 businesses were nominated, with 555 businesses entering the regional heats. In addition to the Central South West regional final in Glasgow, there will be regional finals for Central South East (5th November in Edinburgh), Highlands and Islands (7th November in Inverness) and North East & Tayside (11th November in Perth). A total of 48 finalists will go forward to compete for 12 awards at the national final in March 2015.
A panel, comprising of some of the most senior figures in Scottish tourism as well as tourism ambassadors such as Nick Nairn, Martin Wishart, television presenter Kaye Adams and the man behind T in the Park Geoff Ellis, will be responsible for determining the national winners in each category.
Stephen Carter OBE, VisitScotland Board Member and Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel, said: “Galloway is home to a wealth of tourism talent of the highest calibre and I congratulate those local attractions and business shortlisted as Thistle Awards regional finalists and wish them the best of luck in the next stages of the competition. These awards provide us with a perfect opportunity to celebrate and reward the hard work, dedication and innovation taking place within the tourism sector throughout the country during what has been an exceptional year for the industry in Scotland.”