The Scottish Government has praised the work of the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards for helping to raise standards of excellence in the industry as this year’s search begins to find the industry’s leading stars.
The 2017 HITA scheme was launched at the Great Loch Ness Tea Party, an event to celebrate the future of the local tourism industry in collaboration with students of the Inverness College UHI hospitality department.
Pic caption: HITA chair Craig Ewan (seated centre) with HITA board members Marina Huggett (left) and Lorna Maclennan and Inverness College UHI students (left to right) Edward Holmes, Adam Nicolson and Lewis Mapplebeck
Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop declared her support for HITA in a message to the awards organisers.
She said: “Tourism is a vital and growing economic mainstay of the Highlands and Islands, supporting some 30,000 jobs and generating vital substantial revenue, and the industry’s reach into every corner of the area means that tourism is everybody’s business.
“The Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards highlight the very best businesses and individuals who go beyond normal standards to ensure superb visitor experiences, whether through hospitality, catering, events, activities or other pioneering industry work.”
Now in their 13th year, the awards celebrate excellence across all sectors of the industry in the Highlands and Islands. Last year, 203 businesses or individuals entered or were nominated for awards, the biggest ever response in the event’s history.
HITA chair Craig Ewan said: “Tourism operators have to constantly improve, develop and innovate to stay ahead in a highly-competitive industry. HITA does the same to ensure we reward the very best and promote the fantastic work being done by people across our region to provide excellent service for our guests.
“Last year was our most successful in terms of entries and nominations and we aim to build on that success to involve even more businesses and individuals who deserve to be recognised.”
HITA, which is run in association with SSE, is recognised as one of the premier industry hospitality awards programmes in Scotland, where the tourism sector is worth more than £4.5 billion to the economy.
The famous piper trophies will be awarded in 16 categories, with winners going on to compete at the glittering Scottish Thistle Awards next year.
This year, in line with Scotland’s themed Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, there is a new category, Best Heritage Tourism Experience.
Nominations and entries can be made from today via the HITA website www.highland-tourism-awards.co.uk
Nominations close on 23 June and the entries deadline is 30 June. The event will culminate in a grand ceremony for finalists at the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness, on 3 November.