Galloway fifteen shortlisted in tourism awards

Wigtown Book Festival, Laggan Outdoor and The Clachan Inn are among those shortlisted for a top tourism award, in a record-breaking year for entries.

A total of 15 businesses and events in Dumfries & Galloway have made it through to the regional finals of The Scottish Thistle Awards taking place in November. Now in their 24th year, tourism’s equivalent of the Oscars, celebrate innovation, excellence and quality in the industry.

Winners will be announced at the West Regional Final held at Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow on 24 November, hosted by TV presenter and former Miss Scotland, Jennifer Reoch.

Galloway West Regional finalists;

Best Cultural Event or Festival; Wigtown Book Festival

Most Hospitable Hotel; Knockinaam Lodge

Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House; Brookford B&B; Hillcrest Guest House; The Knowe

Best Accommodation Provider; Dundream

Best Restaurant Experience; Henry’s Bay

Best Informal Eating Experience; Marrbury Smokehouse; NonaLou’s Tearoom

Friendliest Pub/Bar; The Clachan Inn

Best Outdoor/Adventure; Laggan Outdoor

Best Visitor Attraction; Laggan Outdoor; Logan Botanic Garden

Tourism & Hospitality Hero; Julie Dumbarton - Fine Art Painter; Ruby and Vincent Marr - Marrbury Smokehouse

Innovation in Tourism Award; Galloway Activity Centre; Laggan Outdoor

This year the Scottish Thistle Awards received a record-breaking number of entries, totalling 715 across the 15 regional categories, amounting to a 16% increase on last year. Entrants were shortlisted by a panel of industry experts and regional winners will go on to the glittering Scottish Thistle Awards National final held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre in March 2017.

The awards recognise hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, visitor attractions and individuals who go the extra mile to provide customers with exceptional service.

The 15 regional categories, aligned with the Scottish Tourism Strategy 2020, include ‘Friendliest pub/bar’ and ‘Innovation in Tourism’, as well as new awards such as ‘Regional Rising Star’ – awarding young people aged 30 and under who have shown real passion for tourism – and ‘Tourism & Hospitality Hero’ – celebrating those front line staff, from tour guides to front of house, who provide exceptional service and a personal touch.

This year’s competition is the first to be overseen by new Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel and VisitScotland Board member, Rebecca Brooks.

Ms Brooks said: “It is fantastic to see a high calibre of shortlisted entrants for this year’s awards from an amazing record-breaking number of entries. The Scottish tourism industry and hospitality sector prides itself on delivering a rewarding experience for visitors and we are delighted to recognise those deserving nominees for their dedication to quality.

“Tourism is more than a holiday experience; it creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round and is at the heart of our country’s economy.

“The Scottish Thistle Awards are a chance to celebrate the shining stars of innovation and excellence in our tourism and hospitality sector and recognise those who strive to offer visitors a truly memorable experience of Scotland. On behalf of the panel I’d like to wish all the nominees the best of luck for the upcoming regional finals.”

Doug Wilson, Regional Director at VisitScotland, said: “We are delighted to have so many representatives from Dumfries & Galloway in the running for a regional award in this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards. This is fantastic news for Dumfries & Galloway and shows the quality of what visitors can experience here. These businesses have an excellent chance of securing a place at the national Scottish Thistle Awards which will take place in March next year. I’d like to wish all businesses the best of luck.”

The Scottish Thistle Awards are led by a panel of industry experts from several organisations including VisitScotland, 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.

Four regional ceremonies will be held in November: Central, Fife & Tayside and Lothians & Borders; West; Highlands and Islands, which will be organised by the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards; and Aberdeen City and Shire, which will be organised by Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards.

For further information or to book a place at the regional finals, go to