Tourism businesses have received recognition as Scotland’s premier tourism and events awards got underway last night (21 September). 

More than 200  people gathered at the Sheraton Grand in Edinburgh for the Central and East Thistle Awards that saw 14 awards given out to celebrate the very best of the tourism and events industry.  

The awards were presented by broadcaster Zara Zanjua with entertainment from Scottish Trad Fusion band DLÙ 

The Scottish Thistle Awards, with headline sponsors Johnstons of Elgin, celebrate the very best of the tourism and events industry, which is worth £11.5billion to the Scottish economy.  

2023 saw more than 600 entries submitted, including almost 1200 nominations from members of the public keen to give hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, visitor attractions and individuals the opportunity to earn the recognition they deserve in the part they play in making Scotland such a fantastic place to visit.  

The Central and East Thistle Awards winners include The Original Rosslyn Inn in Midlothian which was named Best Bar or Pub, sponsored by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, and Drift in North Berwick which was awarded the Best Eating Experience award. 

Cromlix in Dunblane was named Best Hotel Experience, sponsored by Fishers, while Lindores Stay, Ride, Relax in Newburgh, Fife, was named Best Self Catering Accommodation Experience.  

Newton Farm Holidays & Tours in Forfar was named Best B&B or Guest House Experience, sponsored by Abbey UK. 

Other winners include: Fringe by the Sea 2022 in North Berwick was named Outstanding Cultural Event or Festival; Alloa Hub Ltd was named winner of the Celebrating Thriving Communities award; RSPB Loch Leven was named winner of the Inclusive Tourism Award, sponsored by Historic Environment Scotland.  

The Best Visitor Attraction award, sponsored by The Scottish Sun, went to Camera Obscura & World of Illusions in Edinburgh, which also received the Innovation in Tourism award.  

Foxlake Adventures in Dunbar received the Best Outdoor or Adventure Experience award. The Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in St Andrews was named Tourism & Hospitality Employer of the Year, while Katie Scott, Operations Manager at The Real Mary King’s Close was named Tourism Individual of the Year. 

The Scottish Thistle Awards are delivered by VisitScotland in partnership with regional awards programmes. The five different regional awards ceremonies are taking place in September, October and November before the regional winners go through to battle it out for a national accolade at the National Final in December.   

The awards champion innovation, collaboration and sustainable practices, in line with the ambitions of the national tourism strategy, Outlook 2030.    

This year, the awards also include a media partnership with News Scotland.   

Responsible tourism is at the heart of the Scottish Thistle Awards, supporting the aim for Scotland to be recognised globally as a leader in this field.    

Every entry was required to provide clear evidence on how their business addresses responsible tourism, with new categories such as the Celebrating Thriving Communities Award, Inclusive Tourism Award, sponsored by Historic Environment Scotland, and Climate Action Award, sponsored by Times Scotland, introduced this year.   

There are 14 regional categories which progress to the National Final, as well as three national-only categories.   

Steven Walker, Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards industry panel said: “Congratulations to all of the winners at the Central and East Thistle Awards. The Scottish Thistle Awards shine a spotlight on the very best of Scotland’s tourism and events industry, celebrating the businesses and individuals who work hard to create the fantastic destination and visitor experiences that Scotland is famous for.    

“The Scottish Thistle Awards mark an important celebration of the very best of our tourism and events industry and support the ambition for Scotland to be recognised globally as a leader in this field.   

“I wish the regional winners the best of luck as they continue through to the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final later this year.”  


Scottish Thistle Awards
c/o VisitScotland
Waverley Court, 4 East Market Street, Edinburgh, EH8 8BG
0131 472 2228


© Copyright Scottish Thistle Awards 2024