Regional Categories

View the list of regional categories below and find out more about each of them, including the full questions and criteria. Entries are free and there are lots of categories to choose from.

Please note, there is no self-entry for Tourism Individual of the Year or Rising Star categories. If you'd like to put someone forward for an award, we ask you to complete an entry form on their behalf.

Each regional heat is managed independently and culminates in a regional awards ceremony. The regional winners proceed to the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final to represent their region and compete with the best of the rest of the country.

Best B&B or Guest House Experience

This category celebrates businesses going the extra mile to provide a personal memorable and authentic experience.

Best Bar or Pub

This award celebrates the key role of bars and pubs as part of the Scottish visitor’s memorable experience.

Best Eating Experience

This category is designed to recognise restaurants and eateries that provide an exceptional experience for diners, as well as a warm Scottish welcome.

Best Hotel Experience

This award celebrates hotels of all sizes which provide customers with a memorable and authentic experience.

Best Outdoor or Adventure Experience

This category celebrates businesses that provide unforgettable, quality and authentic experiences to their visitors who engage with the landscape and local communities in a positive and environmentally sensitive way.

Best Self-Catering or Unique Stay

This award celebrates those providing a unique and bespoke accommodation experience to suit visitors' travel style, while ensuring true Scottish hospitality is at the forefront of the offering.

Best Visitor Attraction

This category celebrates the variety of opportunity provided to Scotland's visitors, and the attractions which provide world class service with an authentic, memorable Scottish experience.

Celebrating Thriving Communities

This category celebrates partnerships, collaborations and team working – whether that be with local businesses, communities or a group of individuals – coming together to protect and enhance our environment whilst growing social, cultural and economic wealth.

Climate Action Award

The purpose of this award is to celebrate success across businesses, events, and destinations, who have made demonstrable progress on their climate action journey to Net Zero.

Inclusive Tourism Award

This award celebrates a business, who has a developed an outstanding welcome for all customers, who provides accessible facilities which can enjoyed by all customers.

Innovation in Tourism

This category celebrates businesses taking significant steps to improve and invest in the future of 21st century Scottish tourism. 

Outstanding Cultural Event or Festival

This category aims to celebrate and recognise outstanding cultural events/festivals that are part of our tourism offering.  

Rising Star Award

This award aims to recognise the achievements of individuals that are at the start if their career within the tourism and hospitality industry and who display a passion and enthusiasm and give companies an opportunity to demonstrate the investment they make in their workforce.  

Tourism & Hospitality Employer of the Year

This category celebrates employers who have demonstrated a real commitment to the welfare of their employees, providing a supportive and inspiring work environment.

Tourism Individual of the Year

This award aims to highlight and celebrate those individuals who act as an ambassador for change within the industry, showcasing a commitment to tourism as a force for good.  

National Categories

View the national-only categories below and find out more about each of them, including the full questions and criteria.

Best Business Event

This category celebrates business events as catalysts for economic and social transformation. 

Best Luxury Experience

This award celebrates those businesses bringing luxury to the Scottish visitor experience. 

Outstanding Sporting Event

This category aims to celebrate and recognise outstanding sporting events which make an important contribution to our thriving communities and cities. 

Silver Thistle Award

The Silver Thistle Award recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to tourism over many years.

The Silver Thistle Award winner will continue to act as an ambassador for the Scottish tourism sector in general, and the Thistle Awards in particular, for years to come, as they have much to offer the industry.

Nominations are put forward by the Scottish Thistle Award Industry Panel members and VisitScotland Chair, Chief Executive and Executive Directors. Nominees must be an established figure within their field and the wider Scottish tourism industry. They should inspire excellence in others as well as encouraging and delivering stand-out work.

Responsible tourism is now at the heart of the Scottish Thistle Awards, supporting the aim for Scotland to be recognised globally as a leader in this field. The Silver Thistle Award recognises an individual who is pivotal in helping the tourism and events industry become the best it can be, having embraced best practice and leading by example in one or more of the four key areas of a low carbon economy, inclusivity, thriving communities and Scotland’s natural and cultural heritage.

2023 South of Scotland Silver Thistle Winners Wilma & David Finlay

Delivered by South of Scotland Destination Alliance and supported by South of Scotland Enterprise