By Marina Huggett
Chair of HITA 2014:
We are delighted to announce the launch of the 10th Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards. The success of the awards has grown each year and in 2013 seven of our winners went on to become champions in the national Thistle Awards programme. This clearly demonstrates the high quality of visitor experience within the area. This is the year the Highlands and Islands will have the chance to “welcome the world” with the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup being hosted in Scotland. In addition the Lewis and Harris was very recently voted Top Island in Europe and one of the top five in the world on Tripadvisor. We can therefore be optimistic that the future of tourism in our region is officially on the up and has never before felt so alive.
At HITA we try our best to practice what we preach and to never stand still or be complacent. After listening to feedback from participants, we have been working on an entirely new and refreshing approach to rewarding and recognising the excellence that exists within the region. In 2014 the revisions offer an opportunity for anyone to nominate a business or person that they feel deserves recognition.
The award categories have been selected to reflect the importance of the customer experience as highlighted in the Scottish Tourism Alliance 2020 strategy for growth within the industry. The vision is to make Scotland the first choice destination for those looking for a high quality, value for money and memorable visitor experience. The whole thrust of the industry’s 2020 strategy is maximising the potential of our Scottish assets to create rich experiences for visitors. In 2014, the judges will be focusing on the customer experience. They are looking for ways in which the people operating Highlands and Islands tourism businesses have used our nature, heritage and ingenuity to “go the extra mile” for visitors in creating something particularly positive in terms of customer service excellence.
This refreshed approach will be followed through by inviting the nominated businesses to complete a few simple questions as evidence to back up their nomination.
We would encourage everyone to nominate or self nominate the businesses or individuals whom they feel go the extra mile for our visitors and demonstrate passion and quality in the visitor experience.