More than 50 tourism businesses have taken a step nearer being crowned the best in the Highlands and Islands after being named as finalists in the industry’s annual ‘Oscars’.
Competition to win a coveted Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) trophy has reached an unprecedented level with entries and nominations this year surpassing previous record-breaking levels.
The 232 businesses and individuals vying for honours was more than 14 per cent up on last year’s figure.
From the Western Isles the Hebridean Celtic Festival is looking to be crowned in the ‘Best Cultural Event or Festival’ section and the Isle of Harris Distillers hope to take the award in the ‘Best Visitor Attraction’ section. Judges have had the arduous task of narrowing down contenders to a 55-strong shortlist in 16 categories.
Among those to be recognised will be the best places to stay, eat, drink and enjoy the area’s sporting and cultural events, as well as its wildlife and scenery. A new category, Best Heritage Tourism Experience, was introduced in 2017 to mark the Year of Heritage History and Archaeology.
The finalists represent the entire length and breadth of the region – from Shetland to Argyll and from Moray to the Outer Hebrides – and range from castles to pubs and from internationally-renowned visitor attractions to remote get-aways.
Craig Ewan, the HITA chairman, said: “Congratulations to everyone who has made the shortlist which is a fantastic achievement given the unprecedented number of quality entries and nominations we received this year. The geographical spread of finalists demonstrates the strength of tourism facilities across the Highlands and Islands.
“The competition is really hotting up now and the judges have a really tough job to pick our winners.”
Winners be annouced on November 3.
Best Accommodation Provider
Best Bar / Pub
Best Cultural Event or Festival
Best Heritage Tourism Experience
Best Informal Eating Experience
Best Outdoor / Adventure Experience
Best Restaurant Experience
Best Sporting Event
Best Visitor Attraction
Highland Rising Star
Innovation in Tourism
Most Hospitable B&B / Guest House
Tourism and Hospitality Hero
Working Together for Tourism
Most Hospitable Hotel