2019/20 National Winners

PUBLISHED: 6 March 2020

The spotlight shone on the individuals and businesses working across Scotland’s tourism industry last night at the national final of the Scottish Thistle Awards.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018, Paisley Halloween Festival and Aberdeen International Airport were among those honoured with the highest accolade in the Scottish hospitality and tourism sector.

The National Final of the Scottish Thistle Awards took place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, where 470 people gathered to see 18 individuals, businesses and events honoured for their contribution to the tourism sector.

Amongst those honoured was Brigadier David Allfrey who received the prestigious Johnstons of Elgin Silver Thistle Award.

The Brigadier has held the position of Chief Executive and Producer of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo for ten years and has helped transform the much-loved annual event in Edinburgh into an international entertainment brand celebrating military music and tradition that attracts audiences of 220,000 to Edinburgh Castle esplanade as well as 100 million viewers from around the world. He was described by judges as an ‘inspiring leader of many in the industry’ and was commended for ‘always finding the time for others to share his thoughts and to support initiatives to help grow quality tourism in Scotland.’

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 received the inaugural Inclusive Tourism award, sponsored by The Cumberland Building Society. Introduced for the first time this year, the award celebrates a business of destination offering a service that can be enjoyed by all. Edinburgh Festival Fringe attracts thousands of international visitors each year to watch live performances across a plethora of art forms, with over 150 countries represented on and off stage. As well as building inclusive practices into the services it provides, the society also encourages external partners and venues to build accessibility into their approach with judges praising their global influence. 

The All-Energy Exhibition & Conference 2019, which took place at the Scottish Event Campus, was awarded Best Business Event, sponsored by P&J Live, which celebrates the importance of business events in showcasing Scotland’s world-class credentials as a destination for congresses, meetings and incentives programmes from around the world.

There was also a special award for The 2019 Solheim Cup which was held at Gleneagles in September. The special recognition award was accepted by European Solheim Cup Director for the Ladies European Tour, Polly Clark, and Catriona Matthew, who captained Team Europe to victory in dramatic fashion and who was shown receiving the award in a pre-recorded film at Thursday’s awards ceremony The event, which was the highest attended women’s golf event ever held in the UK, helped showcase women’s sport to new audiences as well as helped shine a spotlight on Perth & Kinross and Scotland as a world-class and accessible tourism destination with images from the thrilling event beamed around the world.

Other national award winners included Paisley Halloween Festival (Best Cultural Event or Festival), The McManus: Dundee’s art Gallery & Museum (Best Visitor Attraction sponsored by ScotRail), James Ryan, Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, (Tourism and Hospitality Hero) and Salomon Skyline Scotland 2018 (Best Sporting Event).

The 2019/20 Scottish Thistle Awards, in association with Fishers, rewards hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, visitor attractions, business and consumer events, and individuals going above and beyond to create a destination and visitor experience worth talking about amongst our valuable tourism industry.

Comedian Craig Hill co-hosted the evening with Heart Radio presenter and former Miss Scotland, Jennifer Reoch. Entertainment was provided by Scottish singer-song writer, Callum Beattie.

Rebecca Brooks, chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel and VisitScotland Board member, said: “The Scottish Thistle Awards help shine the spotlight on individuals and businesses going above and beyond to create a destination and visitor experience worth talking about amongst our valuable tourism industry.

“On behalf of the industry panel, I would like to extend a huge congratulations to all of the national winners of the 2019/20 Scottish Thistle Awards. These awards are firmly established within the tourism industry in Scotland and these winners should feel very proud to join the prestigious roll of honour that celebrates innovation, success and excellence in the Scottish hospitality and tourism sector.”

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

The regional finals were: Central, Fife & Tayside; Lothians & Borders; West; Highlands and Islands, organised by the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards; and Aberdeen City and Shire, organised by Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards.

For full list of winners click here


Scottish Thistle Awards
c/o VisitScotland
94 Ocean Drive
Edinburgh EH6 6JH
0131 472 2228


© Copyright Scottish Thistle Awards 2022