Ten Years Recognising Tourism Excellence Celebrated

HITA launches 10th Tourism Awards Programme for the Highlands and Islands

In 10 years, the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) has grown from a fledgling and aspiring tourism recognition programme, to what it is today, a nationally respected awards series, privately funded and steered by a board of industry leaders from across the Highlands and Islands.

We are delighted to announce our annual tourism awards programme open for submissions. This year is a big year for celebration. Not only is it HITA’s 10th anniversary, but tourism in the Highlands and Islands, and in Scotland as a whole, has never felt so alive, with the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup being hosted here.” said Marina Huggett, HITA 2014 chair.

In addition, Lewis and Harris was very recently voted Top Island in Europe and one of the top five in the world on Tripadvisor. These are strong indicators that the future of tourism in our region is officially on the up.”

The continuous and support from sponsors, affiliates and a dedicated board of directors has meant that every year since 2005 HITA have been able to reward and showcase the depth and breadth of tourism talent we have in the region. In addition, the awards programme has managed to maintain the ‘free to enter’ process for entrants every year.

George Baxter of lead sponsor SSE commented: “SSE is proud to be headline sponsor of the prestigious Highlands and Islands Tourism awards for the second year running.  Last year’s competition saw a record number of entries which is testament to the growing appetite for recognition of strong businesses in the region; let’s hope interest will be even higher in 2014, HITA’s 10th year.  Rooted in the north of Scotland, SSE has evolved in partnership with the Highland tourism sector.  The passion and the values that drive these awards are a natural fit with our commitment to supporting the Highland economy and communities, be it through the responsible development of our hydro and other renewable energy projects, our electricity networks, our work with local businesses or our community investment funds.”

HITA have been working on a new approach to rewarding and recognising the excellence that exists within the Highlands and Islands tourism industry. In 2014, HITA offer 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.

HITA’s new award categories have been selected to reflect the importance of the customer experience in the Highlands and Islands region and also to streamline the route for HITA winners to the national stage at the Scottish Thistle Awards. Each HITA 2014 winner, with the exception of the Ambassadors, will automatically become a finalist at the Scottish Thistle Awards 2015.

There are 14 categories for the 2014 awards programme: 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, Discovering Scotland Award, Young Ambassador Award, Ambassador Award and the Creative Ambition Award.

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

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