What’s new for 2023?  

The Scottish Thistle Awards are delivered by VisitScotland in partnership with regional awards programmes. They combine five regional awards, with a national final.

This year will see the introduction of a dedicated South of Scotland Thistle Awards, delivered in partnership with the South of Scotland Destination Alliance and South of Scotland Enterprise, which will invite nominations and entries from the tourism and events industry in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway.   

VisitScotland will continue to deliver two regional finals for Central & East and West.   

The Highlands and Islands Thistle Awards (HITA) and the Aberdeen City and Shire Thistle Awards (ACSTA) deliver their regional awards programme. Winners from all five regions progress to the National Final.  

Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel Steven Walker said:  “VisitScotland plays a key role in the delivery of the Scottish Thistle Awards, underlining our commitment to driving up quality and celebrating success across the industry.  

“We look forward to working with our regional partners to deliver another successful year of the Scottish Thistle Awards, helping to ensure that tourism is recognised for the positive impact it brings to the country.  

“The Scottish Thistle Awards programme continues to adapt to ensure our tourism and events industry received the recognition it deserves for the positive impact it brings to the country, supporting our aims to make Scotland a better place for people to live and visit. 

“Tourism is a force for good. It creates jobs, sustains communities and contributes significantly to the economy.”  

Find out more about the different regions that make up the Thistle Awards here.

Key Dates

For 2023 a shorter and more streamlined awards programme is in place.   

Nominations to all 17 categories are open from 15th March and close on 16th April. It is now easier than ever for members of the public to put forward their recommendations for businesses and individuals working hard to make Scotland such a fantastic place to visit.

Entries to all categories are open from 3rd April to 15th May 2023. Where businesses have been nominated, they will receive an email encouraging them to fill in the online entry form. Businesses can also enter at any time throughout this process.

We will make the announcement on those shortlisted for the regional awards in July, with regional finals taking place in Autumn. The shortlist for the national categories will be announced after this, with the National Final taking place in November 2023.   


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

There are a total of 14 regional categories in this year’s programme, celebrating the very best of Scotland’s accommodation sector, food and drink, outdoor experiences and visitor attractions. National-only categories celebrate Scotland’s outstanding sporting events, business events and luxury experiences.   

Responsible tourism remains 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 will be required to provide evidence on how their businesses addresses key areas of responsible tourism.    

In addition, new categories have been introduced for the first time this year.

  • The Celebrating Thriving Communities Award recognises the partnerships, collaborations and teams that come together to protect and enhance our environment, whilst growing social, cultural and economic wealth.   

  • The Tourism & Hospitality Employer of the Year award celebrates employers who are showcasing tourism, hospitality and events as an exciting career path and inspiring the next generation.  

  • The Inclusive Tourism Award celebrates a business that has developed an outstanding welcome for all customers.   

  • The Climate Action Award celebrates businesses, events and destinations who have made demonstrable progress on their climate action journey to NetZero.   
See our full list of categories here.

Media Partnership   

The Scottish Thistle Awards will once again include a media partnership with News Scotland for 2023. We look forward to building on a successful first year of this partnership which has helped raise the profile of the awards and winners across their online and print portfolio of titles that includes The Scottish Sun, Times and Times Alba and the Sunday Times.  

The partnership culminated in a 8-page supplement featuring dedicated content on all 17 winners. You can have a read here


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


© Copyright Scottish Thistle Awards 2023