Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
bottlenose dolphin

A bottlenose dolphin. Image© EcoVentures

The winners of the 2016 Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards were announced in early November. Our apologies to the organisers, the winners and our readers for just getting around to mentioning the fact.

EcoVentures in Cromarty were named the best visitor attraction. The company isn’t a green advisory group as the name might suggest but a wildlife tour into the North Sea to see the resident colony of bottlenose dolphins and whatever else is to be found on the day.

The Oban Winter Festival (which has just ended for another year) was judged to the best cultural event and another maritime venture, Go to St Kilda, was named best outdoor adventure experience.  Like EcoVentures, Go to St Kilda, takes passengers out into the sea to the small island of St Kilda which is nestled in both a UNESCO l World Heritage Site and National Nature Reserve where the largest seabird colony in North West Europe exists.  When gannets, puffins and fulmars decide to chat the noise can be noticeable!

Another outdoor activity, cycling, under the name of the Etape Loch Ness won the award for Best Sporting Event. This cycle tour around the 66 miles of the shore of Loch Ness rakes place in April bit it is no use applying to enter the event in 2017; it’s already sold out! You’ll have to be content with just watching it. Continuing that outdoor theme, Mull Eagle Watch collected the Innovation in Tourism Award.

MacGochans in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull was voted friendliest pub or bar and the Inver Restaurant in Argyll walked away withthe top award as Best Restaurant Experience.  Yet another west of Scotland success was Cafe Canna, a small bistro/cafe on the island of Canna in the Hebrides, which won as Best Informal Eatung Experience.

The Majestic Line in Dunoon which has three mini-cruise ships won as Best Accommodation Provider and Kinloch Lodge was regarded as the most hospitable hotel whilst The Grange in Fort William won the same title in the B&B or Guesthouse category. Scotland’s Best B&Bs in Nairn – an organisation  that only accepts as members those B&B’s with eight or fewer rooms  so that the feeling of staying in a B&B rather than a hotel remains – won the Working Together for Tourism Award.

That left awards for individuals, the people rewarded because of their impact on tourism and making the Highlands welcoming to visitors. Steve Feltham was named Highland Ambassador whilst Rachael Gavan from Wilderness Scotland and J P Saint from Links House at Royal Dornoch shared the Highland Rising Star Award.  Andrew Jones from Highland Experience Tours in Inverness collected the award as Tourism and Hospitality Hero.


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