Tag: scottish tourism


Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards 2020 – ENTRIES NOW OPEN!

There is a huge amount to be recognised within the Tourism Industry in the Highlands and Islands, and this is exactly what the HITA awards aim to celebrate. Now in the 16th year of the awards, these accolades aim to promote and celebrate businesses and individuals who work tirelessly to ensure our tourism industry is world class.

Nominations for the 2020 awards are now open, and it is the perfect opportunity to have a think about the story your business wishes to tell, and why it stands out from the crowd. If you operate within the tourism sector in the Highlands, we have a category for you – read on for our full list of our 2020 award categories.

Best Bar/Pub
Best Cultural Event or Festival
Climate Champion
Best Hotel Experience Under 20 Rooms
Best Hotel Experience Over 20 Rooms
Best Informal Eating Experience
Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience
Best Restaurant Experience
Best Self-Catering Accommodation
Best Visitor Attraction
Highland Ambassador
Highland Rising Star
Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House
Tourism & Hospitality Hero

These awards aim to recognise excellence across our fantastic tourism industry here in the Highlands, so whether you are a cutting-edge venue attracting the latest talent in your area or offering a homely feel for your guests’ night after night, we want to celebrate you! Enter here.

Don’t delay, nominations close on the 12th of June, and entries close on the 29th.

2019 Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards Board

Meet the 2019 HITA Board!

The opportunity to enter the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards is brought to you by the HITA Board of Directors. Each of our twelve Board members offers their time and services on a voluntary basis and is committed to a ‘giving back’ tourism effort.


HITA has an important role to play in promoting business, as well as encouraging and rewarding excellence.

So I would urge business leaders and individuals to enter the awards or nominate someone for recognition. Its only by measuring yourself or your business against the best in the sector that you can learn and improve.

The Highlands and Islands is full of success stories and by highlighting them we not only raise the profile of the winners and the contenders, we also showcase the quality and excellence of the sector as a whole.

I was the most surprised person in the room when I was named Highland Ambassador at last year’s HITA. But I am extremely proud to have been given this prestigious accolade and see it as a reflection on the significant impact the cruise business now has on tourism and the economy in general in Scotland.

From 1989, when Invergordon welcomed just one cruise ship, the cruise business has grown into a multi-million pound industry which brings benefits to many parts of Scotland.

Cruise ships are expected to generate around £80 million in Scotland this year and the impact of the thousands of visiting passengers will be felt well beyond the ports from where they disembark.

Pubs and restaurants, castles, historic sites, distilleries, golf courses and museums will all benefit from their spending power, as well as buses, taxis and hire car firms.

Quality products, attractions and services draw these customers who can influence further visits, so its vitally important we maintain and improve standards and continue to innovate to keep pace with expectations.

HITA’s part in this process cannot be understated. By encouraging and promoting excellence in all areas of tourism and hospitality, it can ensure the Highlands and Islands is a must-see destination for global visitors.




As the countdown to this year’s Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards continues, a massed band of pipers are awaiting their cue.

These proud figures are to the tourism industry in the North of Scotland what the Oscars are to the acting profession. Made from high grade stainless steel, and standing on a base of Caithness flagstone, the distinctive and coveted trophies stand for excellence, quality and innovation in visitor service.

Come November, 15 pipers will have found a new home as the best businesses are identified in the annual awards event.

The iconic piper statues are made by Poseidon Design who came up with the piper image for the unique trophy and manufacture them using state-of-the-art water jet cutting facilities at their base in Oldmeldrum.

Water jets use a mixture of high quality garnet and water at pressures in excess of 60,000 PSI. This cuts the material by supersonic erosion with nozzle velocities up to Mach 3. The trophies are hand finished to ensure the highest standard and are striking additions to the awards ceremony.

Poseidon, formed in 2004 by co directors Marie and Garry Crichton, works in various fields including oil and gas and the whisky industry. Its distinctive work also includes the Cairngorm National Park signs and a floor mosaic for the Dalwhinnie Distillery visitors centre.

If you think you have what it takes to be HITA 2015 winner then you can enter here www.highland-tourism-awards.co.uk

This year’s categories are –

Most Hospitable Hotel
Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House
Best Holiday Accommodation
Best Informal Eating Experience
Best Restaurant Experience
Friendliest Pub/Bar
Best Event or Festival
Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience
Tourism Everyone’s Business (open to community tourism destination management organisations, destination marketing companies, transport operators, retail and entertainment venues)
Best Visitor Attraction
Best Sporting Event
Hospitality Hero
Innovation Award (open to small or large businesses)
Regional Young Ambassador Award (open to people aged 30 or under)
Regional Ambassador Award (open to people aged 31 or over)



Winning the HITA Special Judges Award was a tremendous marketing and confidence boost for Links House, in only our first full year of operation. 

As an entirely new hotel and restaurant in a locality not well known for luxury, this was a great confirmation of our strategy for overall superb quality, across our bespoke architecture and interiors, fabulous restaurant and wine cellar and unparalleled customer service.

The award cited our ‘vision and commitment to quality, bringing a new level of luxury to the northern Highlands,’ which endorses us in the marketplace and rewards the tireless efforts of our staff to create a unique visitor experience.

This accolade was then almost immediately strengthened when we were given three TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Awards. These guest-driven awards placed us in the UK’s top ten luxury hotels and top 20 country house hotels, as well as the top 30 luxury hotels throughout Europe.

HITA and TripAdvisor generated exceptional trade and wider press coverage and allowed us to develop extensive social media-based marketing efforts, which again support our high quality market positioning.

Tourism essentially drives the Dornoch economy and feedback from our guests has demonstrated that, as the HITA judges stated, we have added a new high-value tourism element to the area. Most of these customers would not previously have visited the northern Highlands based simply on its golfing and other traditional attractions.

Our guest profile typically includes couples and others who normally stay for a number of nights and enjoy luxury experiences including spa treatments, castle and garden tours, country sports and top-notch shopping.

Recognition from HITA has therefore not only provided peer-group endorsement for our efforts and for our team but has also helped inform highly-targeted customers of a distinctive venue and destination they will want to visit.

Todd Warnock, co-Proprietor, Links House Hotel at Royal Dornoch


HITA 2014 Categories and How To Nominate

HITA have been working on an entirely new and refreshing approach to rewarding and recognising the excellence that exists within the Highlands and Islands tourism industry. In 2014 we are offering the opportunity for anyone to nominate a business or person that they feel deserves recognition. Tourism businesses will still be able to register and complete an entry without being nominated.

The new award categories have been selected to reflect the importance of the customer experience in our region and also to streamline the route for our winners to the national stage at the Scottish Thistle Awards. Each HITA 2014 winner, with the exception of our Ambassadors, will automatically become a finalist at the Scottish Thistle Awards 2014.

Most Hospitable Hotel
Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House
Best Holiday Accommodation
Best Informal Eating Experience
Best Restaurant Experience
Friendliest Pub/Bar
Best Event or Festival
Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience
Our Warmest Welcome
Best Visitor Attraction
Creative Ambition Award (Regional nominations for national presentation, no regional winners drawn in this category)
Discovering Scotland Award (National award, no regional winner)
Young Ambassador Award (30 years old and under)
Ambassador Award (30 years old and over)

Nominate now!

Anyone can nominate a company or individual or register themselves* by completing the form online at www.highland-tourism-awards.co.uk
The winners will be announced at the HITA ceremony and gala dinner in Inverness on Friday 7 November 2014 at the Kingsmills Hotel, Kingsclub & Spa in Inverness.


*Young Ambassador and Ambassador hopefuls cannot enter themselves, they must be nominated by another party.


We caught up with The Culloden Run!

Just before the end of the year, we interviewed the organisers of the Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland Culloden Run to hear their thoughts on winning awards and learn why the event is so special. Here is what they told us:

How did it feel to have won at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards 2013?
Everyone involved with the Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland Culloden Run event was absolutely delighted to have won ‘best sporting event’ at the 2013 HITA awards. As a relatively small and new sporting event, it was wonderfully rewarding to be recognised in this way and it provides a valued appreciation to all those who work so hard over many hours to make the event happen. This prestigious award really enhances the event and also provides positive motivation to the team behind it.

Do you feel, as a tourism business, that winning awards has a positive impact on your event?
Without doubt winning an award enhances the reputation of an event and clearly suggests that a peer review of the event has shown the quality and economic benefits of the event are readily evident against similar events. The award will only enhance subsequent marketing and attracting more entrants and also gives the whole organisation a valued morale boost and sense of pride – both for CHSS and NTS Culloden staff. The award system is a clear benchmarking tool for us.

What makes the Culloden Run such a special event?
The Culloden Run event is a unique partnership between CHSS and the NTS and was designed to have mutual benefits for both parties. The event takes place at an iconic venue and the skills and talents of both parties ensure that the overall experience for participants is as high a quality level as possible and always seeking to improve and enhance the experience.

What can we expect from the event in 2014?
2014 will see the third staging of the award winning Culloden Run event on October 26th and we are aiming to be bigger and better than ever!

We also hope to announce a brand new adrenaline event in the Highlands for summer 2014 but await final confirmation in the next few weeks!




From award-wining food writers and hoteliers to kilt makers and even the Loch Ness Monster, The Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) have received a wealth of worthy nominations over the years for their highest accolade, The Highlands and Islands Ambassador of the Year Award.
The HITA board are now calling for nominations from the community for the 2013 Ambassador of the Year Award, presented at the HITA ceremony and gala dinner on 4 October at the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness. The award is traditionally kept under-wraps until the night of the awards ceremony and no short-list is drawn for the category.

Marina Huggett, chairwoman, HITA, encourages nominations for potential 2013 Ambassadors from across the Highlands and Islands and highlights the importance of the accolade: “The Highlands and Islands Ambassador of the Year award is a very significant one in our programme. It is the people in our industry that drive excellence forward and these people must be recognised and encouraged to keep going.

“We know that many of our previous Ambassadors feel that receiving the award has enabled them to further their tourism mission and gain greater profile for the tourism work they are involved in. For this award, we are looking to identify an individual who has dedicated their time and energy to making a marked difference to tourism in the Highlands and Islands.”

The criteria states that nominees for this category should be 31 years or over on 1st November 2013 and should have demonstrated commitment in their chosen field and business community. They should have a track record of inspiring and leading others to create a more sustainable tourism industry.

Previous HITA Highlands and Islands Ambassadors have been Shirley Spear of award winning restaurant ‘The Three Chimneys’ in Skye in 2012, Grant Sword, director at the Royal Golf Hotel in Dornoch and partner at Castle Stuart Golf Links in 2011, Lady Claire Macdonald, acclaimed cook and food writer in 2010, Gavin Ellis, owner of the Knockomie Hotel, Forres in 2009, Freda Newton, managing director of five star visitor attraction, Jacobite, Inverness in 2008, Duncan Chisholm, kilt maker, in 2007, Hamish Swan, chairman of CairnGorm Mountain Ltd (1997-2011), in 2006 and Willie Cameron, director, business development director, Cobbs Group in 2005.

Those wishing to nominate should send the name of the nominee and write, in 750 words or less, what the candidate has contributed to tourism in the Highlands and Islands. Nominations should be sent to info@highland-tourism-awards.co.uk by Friday 30 August 2013.



We asked three 2012 winners who went on to victory at the Scottish Thistle Awards in 2012 what it means to win an industry award, and this is what they told us:

“The process of pulling together an awards application is a very holistic way of assessing what you are doing well as a business and is also a useful tool in identifying any areas you need to be working on in the future.

“Winning the HITA award was a tremendous confidence boost for the whole team as it generated a collective sense of pride. Winning the Thistle award was the icing on the cake which rewarded the team and confirmed that their efforts were recognised at a national level”.
Ian Whitaker, CEO CairnGorm Mountain Ltd.


“Morag’s Lodge, Loch Ness has had an incredible year by winning ‘Best Self-Serve Accommodation 2012’ at the HITA 2012 which then led to winning a Thistle Award in the same category last year. We are extremely proud of the team who work very hard to keep the concept of Highland Hospitality alive.”
Claire Christie, manager, Morag’s Lodge, Loch Ness, Fort Augustus


“We are delighted that the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running won the ‘Best Sporting Event’ category at the 2012 Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards and Scottish Thistle Awards. Our aim is to provide the best participant and spectator experience for those that travel from around the UK and the rest of the world to the event. “Thanks must go to the amazing team of volunteers from around the Highlands that are instrumental in making the event so memorable and special”.
Malcolm Sutherland, race director, Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running

To enter visit www.highland-tourism-awards.co.uk Deadline 3 May 2013.

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