Tag: HIE


2019 Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards winners announced

The winners of this year’s Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) have been announced at an awards ceremony at the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness.
Self Catering Accommodation Experience 2019 - Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards

HITA 2019: Why Enter / Breakdown of Categories

You may remember our ‘World Story Telling Day’ Blog where Willie Cameron told us that entering the Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards is a great opportunity to have a think about the story your business has to tell. Don’t be put off by the application process – just think about what it is that makes your business stand out from the crowd and then tell your story.


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


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

Twitter – @HiTourismAwards



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


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

Twitter – @HiTourismAwards



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




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.



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.





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.


Wemyss House – We talk to the owners of the best B&B/Guest House in the region!

Reading through the answers from Christine and Stuart from Wemyss House has left us feeling really warmed on this cold winter’s morning, not least because of the mentions of homemade bread and marmalade!  It has also left us feeling very proud. They are two exceptional people who have created and maintain one of the most outstanding tourism businesses in our region. Read on to learn what they do and how they do it…


Congratulations again on your award win! How does it feel to have won at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards 2013?
We were surprised and delighted to hear we had been short-listed for the Tourism Awards.

The HITA event in October at the Drumossie Hotel was fantastic and then to find ourselves the winners of the Best B&B/Guest house category was totally ‘mind-blowing’ – we never expected it and it took some while to sink in.

As winners we feel honoured to represent the Highlands and Islands, and totally committed to providing excellent customer service and memorable Tourism experience.


What impact does winning awards have on your business?
The award can do nothing but have a positive impact for our business. In business terms it has put us and Wemyss House ‘on the map’, introduced us to other business providers through direct contact and social media and from those points alone it has and is having a positive benefit.

Also the award has had a positive impact on us, ourselves ,as the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards has recognised the work and attention to detail we have put in and commended us as providing ‘exceptional quality’.

All awards help towards visitor choice. This award, which we advertise on our website, will show prospective visitors and tourists that we have been recognised by the Highlands and Islands as the Best B&B/Guest House and as an indication of quality, will, we hope, lead to increased visitor numbers and returners.

The process of entering the HITA awards was done over a period of time – it is not something which can be done in a hurry.  To make it fair across all categories, the questions have to be answered in 400 words so that alone is enough to make you think just what is important to you and your business.

The whole thing proved to be an examination of what, why and how your business operates.  You had to think hard about each question, make notes, discuss with your business partner (s) and then encapsulate the answer in a short paragraph. Only the important elements could go forward…no padding!

This self-evaluation was something all businesses should do but probably never find the time to sit down and ask ‘where am I going with this, how can I learn from past events and how can we improve in the future what we are offering the customer?


Tell us a bit about what is most special about Wemyss House?
Our business is special because as a couple, we have been able to address every issue ourselves, making sure that everything is done to our high standards and attention to detail… from the welcome, the cleanliness and comfort of the rooms, the quality of the food and the time we offer to our guests, listening to them and helping them make the most out of their stay. Of course this is also to our benefit as happy and contented guests are the ones most likely to return, and return they do!

When customers give a review about their stay at Wemyss House, they talk about us as hosts, so we know that welcoming, talking and understanding the needs of your guests is paramount.

The other item mentioned by guests, one of our USPs, is the quality and presentation of the food. The food we buy for the guests is of the best quality and preparation. We do not save money by giving them less than we would expect ourselves.

In February 2013 we were awarded a Silver in the World Marmalade Competition in Cumbria, judged by the ex MD of Tiptree Jams. This award proved so worthwhile and has been such a talking point at breakfast. No marmalade was available for sale as we had only made enough for the B&B, but we could have sold many, many jars to guests had we known to make more. We shall know another time!

We think Wemyss House is also special as Stuart has handmade most of the furniture in the bedrooms and around the house. The guests eat dinner and breakfast –with our homemade bread, yogurt, preserves from his handmade table and we have many local works of art, tweeds and pottery around the house. Also the new contemporary entrance extension built by Stuart and myself has proved very popular with guests especially for relaxing evenings chatting and watching the sun go down over the Cromarty Firth.


Are there any new developments for Wemyss House in the near future we can look out for?
During the winter we are upgrading to enhance the visitor experience with luxury contemporary pieces from Matki and Kohler in one of our double en-suite bathrooms.

January 2014 sees the Seville Oranges come into the shops so marmalade making will be on the agenda …question is do we enter the competition and if so how many jars do we make, in case it is judged to be a good batch? Hummm…

The help from HIE has been put to good effect this year and help from the digital team has set us up with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. It felt like an uphill journey to begin with but now we have the hang of it we realise the benefits of ‘keeping in the loop’ of Highlands and Islands businesses and providing a good image and offers for guests on our Facebook page. Pinterest can also be utilised to promote tourism (I have added Pictish Cross Slabs). So all in all, 2013 with the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards and great help from HIE has been wonderful and we offer our thanks to all who have made this possible for us.

Thank you HITA and HIE from Christine and Stuart at Wemyss House!


Wemyss House
Phone:       +44 1862-851212

Web:           www.wemysshouse.com

Facebook:  wemyss house B&B

Twitter:      @wemysshouse

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