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Statement on Scottish Thistle Awards

Thu 25 Mar 21

Due to the continued pressure and uncertainty that Scotland’s tourism and events industry faces, it is with regret that VisitScotland, in collaboration with Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA), Aberdeen City & Shire Tourism Awards (ACSTA) and the industry panel, have taken the decision to cancel this year’s programme of Scottish Thistle Awards.

Nominations and entries for the 2021/22 Scottish Thistle Awards, which celebrate success, innovation, excellence and best practice in the tourism and hospitality industry, were due to open in the coming weeks.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism and events industry. Whilst we are hopeful of some green shoots of recovery in the not too distant future following the publication of last week’s proposed timetable for the easing of restrictions, it is clear that this continues to be a very challenging time for our industry.

In view of this, and with the best interests of our industry at heart, we have very reluctantly taken the difficult decision with our partners to cancel this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards, understanding the need for businesses to focus on the immediate priorities they are facing.

We are very proud of the continued efforts, resilience and innovations that our tourism businesses are displaying – despite these unprecedented challenges – and we will look forward to having the opportunity to give our industry the recognition it deserves at future Scottish Thistle Awards.

In the meantime, we will continue to work in partnership with the industry panel and plan for the awards’ return for 2022/23. We want to make sure that when the Scottish Thistle Awards do return, they will recognise the resilience and innovation that the tourism and hospitality industry has shown throughout this pandemic. We will update as these plans are developed.

Tourism is a force for good – creating economic and social value in every corner of Scotland and enhancing the well-being of everyone who experiences it. We look forward to welcoming both domestic and international visitors to our beautiful country once again and we would like to convey our support to each and every tourism business in Scotland.

Rebecca Brooks, Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel and VisitScotland Board Member

This COVID nightmare has continued far longer than we ever imagined, taking many surprise turns along the way, which has made planning for the industry impossible. Even once the industry is able to reopen and on the road to recovery, many of us will be grappling with the impact of the pandemic for many months to come.

The HITA Board believes, very strongly, that the time to celebrate quality and success comes after the industry has reopened and is firmly on the road to recovery. The decision to cancel the 2021 Awards is right, and we look forward to turning our attention to 2022/23, when the time comes.

Laurence McPherson Young, Chair of the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards

2021 will be a recovery year for Scottish tourism, and the focus of businesses will be to rebuild. A lot of work lies ahead for everyone in the biggest challenge our industry has ever faced. We look forward to a year of fewer restrictions and are here to support our fellow professionals. We will celebrate the achievements of our sector next year with the return of the Awards.

The Scottish Thistle Awards are Scotland’s premier awards for the tourism industry. For the last 27 years, more than 370 national winners have been recognised for their valuable contribution to the sector.

The Scottish Thistle Awards is led by VisitScotland and a panel of industry experts from several organisations including Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards, Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards, Green Tourism, the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions, Orthic Consulting, Scottish Tourism Alliance, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, SportScotland and Wild Scotland.

Stephen Gow, Chairman of Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards


For more information, visit the Scottish Thistle Awards website.

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