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DOUBLE CELEBRATION FOR TIREE AT HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS TOURISM AWARDS

A small island music festival almost wrecked by storms this summer has blown away the opposition to win a major tourism award.

During this year’s Tiree Music Festival more than 1,000 people had to be evacuated from the site because of strong winds. A huge response from the community and local businesses helped find shelter for festival-goers in schools, the island airport and people’s homes so the event was able to continue.
The festival, which attracted a sell-out 1,700 audience – more than three times the island population – has been voted Best Cultural Event or Festival at the prestigious annual Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards.

And in a double success for the island, the Tiree Wave Classic windsurfing event also won HITA’s new Best Sporting Event category,

The awards were presented last night (13 November) by Fergus Ewing, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, at a glittering ceremony in the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness.

In all,15 tourism businesses and individuals were crowned winners at the event which was hosted by celebrity chef Tony Singh.

Mr Ewing said:
The Highlands and Islands boast some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery and exciting events and these awards recognise the wealth of experience, the commitment and excellence of tourism operators in the region.

I commend the hard work and commitment of everyone who extends a warm welcome and high standard of service to Scotland’s visitors. While Tiree in particular can celebrate a deserved double win, I congratulate all of this year’s winners and send best wishes for a long, enjoyable and worthwhile career in tourism and hospitality.
Tiree is just 12 miles long and three miles wide with a population of about 650. Its two major events have become significant economic drivers and attract thousands of visitors to the island.

The Tiree Music Festival, which started in 2010, has grown steadily over the years and is known as one of the most family-friendly in the UK. This year tickets sold out within five hours of going on sale with a line-up that included The Fratellis, We Banjo 3, Skerryvore and Manran.

The event was put in doubt when strong winds meant the entire festival campsite had to be evacuated after revellers’ tents were blown away. But organisers ensured the show went on after campers were given alternative accommodation and conditions improved the following day.

The HITA judges said of the festival:
The tiny, seemingly inaccessible Isle of Tiree has overcome local constraints to build its annual music festival into an incredible, cultural event which brings economic benefits to the community, highlights traditional and contemporary music and makes imaginative use of sponsorship. It is a worthy winner that has enhanced the overall visitor experience.

This year the festival faced unprecedented weather conditions which could have forced it to be abandoned. However, a truly remarkable effort by the organisers and the island community ensured it not just recovered but flourished in the following days.
Tiree Wave Classic is the longest running professional windsurfing event in the world. Founded in 1986, it showcases the best of the UK’s windsurfing talent, ranging from juniors to World Cup professional windsurfers.

Calum Ross, proprietor of the Loch Melfort Hotel, Oban, and Chairman of the British Hospitality Association Scotland, was chosen as HITA’s 2015 Ambassador of the Year.

Calum was described by the HITA board as someone with a quiet and unassuming manner but with a strong sense of leadership and great integrity.

Young Ambassador of the Year is Kyle Beattie, a trainee instructor with outdoor activity business Boots N Paddles, based in Kirkhill, near Inverness.

HITA judges voted Torrisdale Castle Estate in Kintyre as Best Holiday Accommodation. The self-catering properties on Kintyre’s east coast provide accommodation for groups of between two and 10 people. The estate is also used as a spectacular wedding venue.

The award for Best Informal Eating Experience went to the popular Mountain Café in Aviemore, and the Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience title was taken by Portree-based Skye Adventure which offers guided walking and climbing trips.

The Ninth Wave Restaurant in Mull was voted Best Restaurant Experience. Opened in 2009, the restaurant lies on a traditional croft and uses local produce including seafood, meat, cheese and herbs.

The Best Visitor Attraction title was won by the Aberlour Distillery, in Speyside, which offers a choice of three bespoke tours and tastings, and Friendliest Pub/Bar went to the Applecross Inn, in Wester Ross.

The five-star Ardtorna bed and breakfast in Oban was named Most Hospitable B&B /Guest House and the family-run Kylesku Hotel in Sutherland was chosen as Most Hospitable Hotel.

A new Innovation Award went to the North Highland Initiative. The initiative was established in 2005 as a result of Prince Charles’ involvement in bringing together the farming community, local businesses and the tourism industry in a management and marketing partnership to address challenges facing rural communities in the far north of Scotland.

The key tourism project which NHI is currently working on is The North Coast 500, a northern coastal road route, designed to attract visitors to the Northern Highlands.

This year’s HITA Hospitality Hero is Emma Clark from Glenegedale House in Islay. Emma and her husband Graeme took over the hotel from her parents in 2013 and have since won a number of awards.

The Tourism Everyone’s Business category has been won by Inverness-based WOW Scotland Tours which specialises in providing fully customised private tours from Inverness and Invergordon.

The HITA winners will now go on to represent the region at the national final of the Scottish Thistle Awards next year.

Some 190 businesses and individuals entered or were nominated for this year’s HITA awards and 44 were named on the shortlist last month.

Marina Huggett, Chair of HITA, said:

Well done to all this year’s winners who are all outstanding in their categories. The record number of entries and nominations we received this year and the exceptionally high standards throughout the contest made it extremely difficult for the judges to pick winners.

Those who came out on top are deserving champions, but all those who entered or were nominated are worthy ambassadors of the Highlands and Islands and this key industry.

We know from speaking to individuals that the HITA awards help raise standards and encourage businesses to push the boundaries of quality, which can only be good for our visitors and the area.
Scott Armstrong, VisitScotland Regional Partnerships Manager, said:
I would like to congratulate this year’s winners on their respective awards. Tourism businesses in the Highlands and Islands have once again made their mark, with a number of outstanding finalists spread right across these regions. The awards send a strong message that the tourism industry in the Highlands and Islands is diverse, high-quality and in good health.

I’m thrilled at the successes of so many excellent businesses and individuals, and I’m already crossing my fingers they’ll deliver more Highlands and Islands glory at the Scottish Thistle Awards finals in March next year.
Useful Links

www.highland-tourism-awards.co.uk
Facebook – www.facebook.com/Highlands.and.Islands.Tourism.Awards
Twitter – @HiTourismAwards

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SCOTTISH OPEN 2016 CASTLE STUART TROPHY AT HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS TOURISM AWARDS

FERGUS EWING TO PRESENT HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS TOURISM AWARDS IN RECORD BREAKING YEAR
The iconic Scottish Open golf trophy will go on show at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards next week ahead of the European Tour event’s return to the region in 2016, organisers have revealed.
Both HITA and Scottish Open organisers declared it a fitting centrepiece for this year’s awards as the silver trophy takes the form of a Scottish quaich – a historic symbol of welcome and hospitality.

It will be on display at the HITA ceremony on Friday, 13 November at the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness as part of the build up to the 2016 Scottish Open from 7-10 July at Castle Stuart Golf Links, one of the biggest visitor events for the region next year.

This year’s awards, which attracted a record number of entries and nominations, will be presented by Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing.

Mr Ewing said:
The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open is a major event which brings huge rewards for tourism and the economy. I am delighted this prestigious event is returning to Castle Stuart, where it has been an enormous success previously, as the benefits will be felt across the north of the country.

2015 has been an exciting and successful year for tourism in the Highlands and Islands, as the unprecedented entry demonstrates, and the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open is just one reason to look forward to a great 2016.
Marina Huggett, Chair of HITA, said:
Our awards ceremony allows us to celebrate and reward the best in the industry over the last year. But we will also be looking forward to next year and the opportunities to improve further.

The Scottish Open will bring thousands of people to the area and the exposure we get from media coverage will promote the area across the world and benefit us for many years to come.

Having the Scottish Open trophy at the awards ceremony gives us an added attraction on the night, but also reminds us of the importance of this event for tourism operators and other businesses in the north of Scotland.
Robert Gordon, Head of European Tour Tickets and Commercial Director, Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, added:
We are delighted to bring the Scottish Open trophy to such a prestigious event and we look forward to working with the tourism industry to maximise benefits from the Scottish Open next year.
Friday’s ceremony is the culmination of HITA’s 2015 awards campaign, which was launched in April by Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, and is run in association with SSE.

The event, to be hosted by celebrity chef Tony Singh, will see winners announced in 15 categories.

The contest’s area was extended to include part of Argyll this year, but even without the boundary change the number of entries and nominations was nearly 40 per cent up on 2014.

The Scottish Open, sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management and the Scottish Government, will be held at Castle Stuart in 2016 for the fourth time in six years.

More than 65,000 people attended the event in 2013 when it was last held at the course near Inverness and it is hoped attendances will top 70,000 next year.

In 2011 a Highlands and Islands Enterprise economic impact study showed the event and pre-tournament Pro-Am helped contribute more than £5 million to the Scottish economy, including £4 million to the Highlands and Islands.

Golf tourism is a major contributor to Scotland’s economy and is estimated to be worth close to £220 million annually, with forecasts of reaching £300 million by the end of the decade.

The current Scottish Open trophy was first played for in 2011 when Luke Donald won the event at Castle Stuart. Since then Jeev Milkha Singh, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler have all collected the much sought-after cup.

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CELEBRITY CHEF TONY SINGH TO HOST HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS TOURISM AWARDS

CELEBRITY CHEF TONY SINGH TO HOST HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS TOURISM AWARDS
Award-winning celebrity chef Tony Singh will add a touch of spice to proceedings when he hosts this year’s record-breaking Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) next month.
The Leith-born, fourth generation Scottish Sikh is a familiar face on television, having appeared on shows including Ready Steady Cook and The Great British Menu. He also recently appeared on the BBC programme A Cook Abroad when he visited India and explored and cooked the traditional food of the Punjab.

Tony has been in the restaurant industry for more than 20 years and is renowned for his contemporary Scottish cooking, which incorporates influences from around the world, and dishes such as his signature haggis pakora.

He has run a number of businesses, including Oloroso, Tony’s Table and the Ugly Brad Bakery and has worked in some of Scotland’s most prestigious restaurants including The Royal Yacht Britannia, The Balmoral Hotel, The Royal Scotsman train and Skibo Castle.

He has also cooked for some of the most famous people in the world, including the Sultan of Brunei, former President Bill Clinton, the Prince of Wales and Prince Albert of Monaco and was also the Scottish Government chef for Tartan Week in New York, for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and at the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

As Master of Ceremonies at this year’s HITA gala final in the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness on 13 November, he will oversee the presentation of awards in 15 categories. Each winner will go on to represent the region at the national final of the Scottish Thistle Awards next year.

Tony Singh said
I am delighted to be hosting this year’s HITA awards which is such an important occasion for people involved in the industry. To be recognised by your peers and the people who visit this area is fantastic.

Winning an award gives everyone in a business, the owner and the whole background team involved in making it work, a real boost and shows them they are doing it right.

I’m looking forward to a great night and a real celebration of what the Highlands and Islands has to offer.
Marina Huggett, Chair of HITA, added
Tony Singh’s great humour and extensive knowledge of the hospitality industry makes him an ideal choice to host this year’s awards.

It’s been a great year with record-breaking numbers of entries and nominations for the awards, so each category has been fiercely fought. It has made for an exciting competition and also helps with our continuous quest to raise standards even further across the industry.
Some 190 businesses and individuals entered or were nominated for this year’s HITA awards and 44 were named on the shortlist earlier this month.

Categories recognise quality and service in accommodation types from hotels to B&Bs, as well as experiences such as formal and informal dining and outdoor adventures. They also cover attractions and events, and identify individuals who champion hospitality or are young ambassadors for the industry.

This year four new sections were created to recognise tourism innovation, friendly pubs, outstanding sporting events, and individuals dedicated to hospitality.

The 2015 HITA awards, run in association with SSE, were launched in April by Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop. The contest’s area was extended to include part of Argyll this year, but even without the boundary change the number of entries and nominations was nearly 40 per cent up on 2014.

This year’s categories are

Best Cultural Event or Festival
Best Holiday Accommodation
Best Informal Eating Experience
Best Outdoor / Adventure Experience
Best Restaurant Experience
Best Sporting Event
Best Visitor Attraction
Friendliest Pub / Bar
Hospitality Hero
Innovation Award
Most Hospitable B&B / Guest House
Most Hospitable Hotel
Tourism Everyone’s Business
Ambassador Award
Young Ambassador Award

www.highland-tourism-awards.co.uk

Facebook – www.facebook.com/Highlands.and.Islands.Tourism.Awards

Twitter – @HiTourismAwards

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HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS FINALISTS FOR TOURISM AWARDS REVEALED

More than 40 businesses and individuals have been shortlisted for honours in the 2015 Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards, which this year saw a record number of entries and nominations.

The 44 finalists have been named across 14 categories in the annual awards, including four new sections created to recognise tourism innovation, friendly pubs, outstanding sporting events, and individuals dedicated to hospitality.

Shortlisted businesses, projects and people are spread across the region, including a hotel in Shetland, sporting events in Argyll, an adventure business on Skye and visitor attractions in Moray.

Categories recognise quality and service in accommodation types from hotels to B&B’s, as well as experiences such as formal and informal dining and outdoor adventures. They also cover attractions and events, and identify individuals who champion hospitality or are young ambassadors for the industry.

The wider Inverness area accounts for 10 finalists, with others from small islands like Coll and Tiree and even one in mainland Scotland’s most westerly point, at Ardnamuchan, Lochaber.

In all, the judges considered 190 entries and nominations from all parts of the Highlands and Islands. The total was boosted this year with the inclusion of part of Argyll, but even without the boundary change the figure is nearly 40 per cent up on 2014.

The competition is run in association with SSE and will culminate in a grand ceremony at the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness on 13 November, from which HITA winners will go on to represent the region at the glittering national final of the Scottish Thistle Awards next year.

The HITA awards were launched in April by Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, and past winners say success has not only raised awareness of their businesses, but has also been an inspiration to further improve their operations.

Marina Huggett, Chair of HITA, said:
The record number of entries and nominations we received this year has been very encouraging. The extremely high standard has also demonstrated the outstanding level of service we are providing to visitors in the Highlands and Islands.
The independent judging panel is drawn from experienced industry professionals working across the region.

The shortlist is –

Best Cultural Event or Festival

Commando Spirit, Lochaber
Forres Events Ltd, European Pipe Band Championships, Moray
Orkney Folk Festival
Tiree Music Festival

Best Holiday Accommodation

Ardgour Estate, Lochaber
Coillabus Lodges, Islay
Torrisdale Castle Estate, Argyll

Best Informal Eating Experience

Applecross Inn, Wester Ross
Coll Hotel
The Mountain Café, Aviemore

Best Outdoor / Adventure Experience

Glenlivet Hill Trek, Speyside
Skye Adventure
WOW Scotland Tours Ltd, Inverness

Best Restaurant Experience

Kinloch Lodge Hotel and Restaurant, Skye
Ninth Wave Restaurant, Mull
Scalloway Hotel, Shetland

Best Sporting Event

Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon, Wester Ross
Mull of Kintyre Half Marathon and 10K
Argyll Tiree Wave Classic
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Fort William

Best Visitor Attraction

Aberlour Distillery, Speyside
EcoVentures, Cromarty
Loch Ness Centre Exhibition,
Drumnadrochit Scottish Dolphin Centre, Moray

Friendliest Pub / Bar

Applecross Inn, Wester Ross
The Anderson, Fortrose
The Old Mill Inn, Moray

Hospitality Hero

Emma Clark, Glenegadale House, Islay
Eleanor Harcus, Lodges at the Mains, Inverness
Andrew Mackay, The Caithness Collection

Innovation Award

Caledonian MacBrayne
Gordon Castle, Moray
North Highland Initiative, Caithness and Sutherland

Most Hospitable B&B / Guest House

Ardtorna, Oban
Inverglen Guest House, Inverness
Rockpool House, Ardnamurchan

Most Hospitable Hotel

Kylesku Hotel, Sutherland
The Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness
Uig Hotel, Skye

Tourism Everyone’s Business

Johnstons of Elgin, Moray
Morag’s Lodge Loch Ness, Fort Augustus
WOW Scotland Tours Ltd, Inverness

Young Ambassador of the Year

Christina Smith, Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness
Kyle Beattie, Boots n Paddles, Inverness
Alan Ewen, Inverness Airport
Adam McMaster, Lochness Country House Hotel, Inverness

www.highland-tourism-awards.co.uk

Facebook – www.facebook.com/Highlands.and.Islands.Tourism.Awards

Twitter – @HiTourismAwards

News

LUCID SUPPORTS RECORD-BREAKING YEAR FOR HITA

Well the word is well and truly out. Winning a HITA – or just setting your sights on one – not only yields industry and consumer recognition but also boosts the quality of the tourism product, generates team spirit and stimulates local community support.

This year’s record entry for the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards reflects their growing practical value, and tomorrow’s announcement of the shortlists across 15 categories will reveal the elite participants for 2015.

Lucid is delighted to have helped achieve the near-40 per cent increase in entries and nominations in our first year working with HITA.

As well as promoting the awards and individual entrants via traditional media, we have stimulated conversations through social media among the candidates, friendly rivals and others in the sector.

The HITA judges had to analyse nearly 200 entries and nominations this year, from diverse mainland and island localities.

Tomorrow, 44 of those will be another step nearer to getting their hands on one of the iconic stainless steel piper trophies. Then, at the 13 November HITA gala night in Inverness’s Drumossie Hotel, they will find out if they have triumphed in their category.

These best of the best will go on to represent the Highlands and Islands in the Scottish Thistle Awards, whose winners are announced next year.

Lucid is delighted to be presenting HITA’s Best Sporting Event award. This is particularly apt for us given our work with Castle Stuart Golf Links, which will host the Scottish Open next year for the fourth time in six years. We also work with Highland Golf Links, which includes Castle Stuart, The Nairn Golf Club and Royal Dornoch Golf Club as well as three major hotels in the Highlands, to promote quality Stay and Play packages for golfing visitors.

We well understand the critical importance of tourism for the Highlands and Islands and, having viewed the standard of entries this year, we know that the finalists and winners will be fitting ambassadors for the industry and its wellbeing.

 

Useful links

www.highland-tourism-awards.co.uk
www.facebook.com/highlandsandislandstourismawards
www.twitter.com/hitourismawards

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HIGHLAND TOURISM IS A GOOD STORY WORTH TELLING

By Thelma Henderson, Managing Director, Scottish Provincial Press
Tourism plays such an important role in the economy of the Highlands and Islands and, like many businesses in this area, its success impacts on our success.
As publisher of 15 weekly newspapers in the north of Scotland, Scottish Provincial Press is one of the biggest independent newspaper groups in the country. Tourism is vital to every area in which we operate and we actively support and help promote the people and the businesses that make such a valuable contribution to this part of the world.

We are proud to be able to celebrate and publicise the best of the Highland tourism business community by again being a sponsor of the HITA awards. Our involvement in the sector also included publishing a 12-page supplement to launch HITA in April and a collaboration with VisitScotland to produce a suite of 18 regional Explore (What to See & Do) guides for visitors.

As the record number of entries and nominations this year demonstrates, there is a wealth of talented individuals and quality businesses in the Highlands and Islands and many good news stories to tell. An annual awards event not only rewards the best, but it also stimulates healthy competition which produces even better results for our visitors.

SPP will continue to be a supportive partner for HITA and raise awareness of those who strive to offer the ultimate visitor experience and help make the Highlands one of the best places to holiday.

News

COMMUNITIES HAVE VITAL TOURISM ROLE IN HIGHLANDS

Stuart Black, Director of Development and Infrastructure, The Highland Council
Tourism is the most significant industry in our region, which is why The Highland Council is a leading supporter.

The council is a key partner in the Highland Area Tourism Partnership and shares its vision for the Highlands to be a destination of first choice for a high quality, value for money and memorable customer experience, delivered by skilled and passionate people. It also works closely with VisitScotland and local destination management organisations throughout the area in support of the sector.

The authority’s new programme ‘Highland First’ emphasises the importance of the tourism industry to the regional economy. It states it will “strive to grow tourism by working with partners to retain and develop world class events and promote destination management”.

The council has also been a supporter of the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards since their inception. In a highly competitive industry visitors can choose from thousands of destinations and in order to continue to attract visitors local businesses need to maintain exceptionally high standards and continue to innovate. The sponsorship of awards that recognise quality is therefore an appropriate part of our contribution to the industry.

The HITAs recognise and reward excellence across this vital industry which reaches all parts of our area. Tourism supports 17,000 jobs in the Highlands and generates revenues worth over £740 million per annum and the council is keen to see these figures continue to grow.

Communities lie at the heart of a successful Highlands and a successful tourism industry. We generally support awards that recognise the role of community-based activity or that encourage innovation. A key attraction of the HITAs is that they have always been open to communities or businesses of any size and over the years we’ve seen some wonderful nominees and winners.

This year, despite the challenging financial climate, the council has reaffirmed its commitment to the 2016 World Mountain Biking Championships and the 2016 Scottish Open at Castle Stuart. Both these high profile events not only attract thousands of people to the area, they offer marketing exposure which helps ensure further visits over many years.

The council firmly believes that tourism is everyone’s business and is delighted to support the HITA awards in 2015.

 

 

News

RECORD HITA ENTRY SHOWS STRENGTH OF REGION’S TOURISM SECTOR

Audrey Maclennan, Senior Tourism Manager, Highlands and Islands Enterprise
The increase in the number of entries to the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards this year reflects the health and vibrancy of the sector across the region.
HIE is delighted to support HITA as the tourism industry is crucial to the economy of the Highlands and Islands and proportionally more so than in the rest of Scotland.

The industry is worth £411 million to the region and employs 14 per cent of its workforce. Working with partners, especially VisitScotland, HIE is a key player in meeting the national ambitions to grow the value of the tourism sector, equating to an additional £600 million expenditure into the region.

Tourism is an extremely competitive industry, but businesses like those recognised in the awards are setting the standard for Scotland. Our businesses are helping to positions the Highlands and Islands as a premium destination for visitors.

The sector includes a wide range of accommodation establishments; visitor attractions; restaurants, bars and take-away food shops; travel agencies and tour operators; libraries; and sporting and other recreational activities.

Most visitors come to the area because of its natural and cultural heritage, and to participate in outdoor activities such as walking and cycling, mountain biking and even surfing.

Famous destinations such as the Isle of Skye and Loch Ness with its fabled monster attract large numbers of visitors each year. Global whisky companies such as Diageo and Pernod Ricard showcase their individual brands through 5-star visitor centres, distinctive cultural and sporting events and exciting food and drink festivals.

The Highlands and Islands is a top destination for extreme sports enthusiasts. Sponsored events such as the Corona Extra Wave Classic PWA Windsurfing Championships in Tiree, the Nissan World Cup Mountain Bike Championships in Fort William, and the O’Neill Highland Open Surfing Championships in Thurso showcase our sports resources and attractions to a worldwide audience.

Globally, tourism is the world’s largest industry in terms of outputs, creating some eight per cent of jobs worldwide and expanding annually at the rate of four-five per cent.

It will remain a key sector for HIE and one that can make a significant contribution to a competitive region.

News

CHIVAS RAISES A GLASS TO HITA SUCCESS

By Caroline Mitchell, Visitor Centres Manager, Chivas Brothers.
This year Chivas Brothers is sponsoring the Best Cultural Event or Festival category at the HITA awards. As a key player and major supporter of tourism in the Highlands and Islands, we are proud to be backing the awards for a sixth successive year.

We have four whisky distilleries in the HITA area – Strathisla, The Glenlivet and Aberlour, in Speyside, and at Scapa in Orkney which opened to the public for the first time in its 130-year history.

These centres make a valuable contribution to the local economies and to the tourism industry in general. In the year until the end of June 2015, more than 76,000 people visited the four distilleries and spent over £2.5 million.

Across Scotland generally, whisky distilleries are attracting more visitors from the UK and abroad than ever before. Some 1.5 million people called at visitor centres in 2014, a rise of six per cent on the previous year and 15 per cent on 2010, according to a survey by the Scotch Whisky Association.

The importance of this market is demonstrated by the fact visitors to distilleries spent £50 million last year on tours and in shops and cafes, up from £27 million in 2010.

With these significant figures in mind, we are constantly improving facilities to make sure our visitors have the best possible experience in the Highlands and Islands when learning about our national drink and the people who help make it.

And we know what it takes to win a prestigious piper trophy. In 2013 the Glenlivet Visitor Centre picked up a HITA in the Best Visitor Attraction category, eventually going on to win the national Thistle Award .

The HITAs are fitting rewards for everyone who promotes tourism and helps raise standards for our visits guests and we wish everyone success this year.

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HARD WORK AND INNOVATION ARE SHOWCASED FOR ALL IN THE HITA’S

BY IAIN CORMACK, SALES EXECUTIVE, J THOMSON COLOUR PRINTERS
Our company is proud to have been a sponsor of the HITA’s every year since we first opened our Inverness customer service office to serve the North of Scotland in 2008.
For us, it’s a great way to support this industry and help showcase the innovation, hard work and attention to detail that make it so special.

The HITAs enable the Highland tourism sector to highlight and celebrate the many success stories that come from within this diverse and exciting industry, and we have never ceased to be impressed by the high calibre of nominations and the imagination and creativity which is continually displayed.

Across Scotland as a whole the tourism sector is important to J Thomson Colour Printers, and this is especially true of the Highlands, where it supports so much of our economy. We supply many attractions, accommodation providers and government bodies associated with tourism with high quality marketing collateral, which is a critical element of delivering the visitors who are the lifeblood of any enterprise.

Tourism will always play an important role in the Highland economy, where we and our customer businesses continually strive to improve our collective offerings.

The HITA’s provide a unique industry platform whereby success in this process can be shared, acknowledged and learned from.

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