A Michelin-starred restaurant, an Aberdeenshire pub and a whisky distillery on Islay were among those to be crowned Scottish tourism champions last night.
A total of 13 winners received Scottish Thistle Award during a ceremony at the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow, hosted by TV and radio star Edith Bowman.
Among the winners were Edinburgh-based eateries Mimi’s Bakehouse and The Kitchin, The Enchanted Forest in Perthshire, Auchrannie Resort on Arran and Islay’s Laphroaig Distillery.
Peter Lederer – who was instrumental in bringing the Ryder Cup to Gleneagles – was named the winner of the prestigious Silver Thistle Award, given to an individual who have demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the country’s tourism industry.
The former Chairman of Gleneagles, who has worked in the Scottish tourism industry for over three decades, was recognised for his work in transforming the Perthshire hotel into one of the country’s most luxurious resorts.
Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: “The Scottish tourism industry is full of dedicated businesses providing world-class standards that is second to none.
“Last year we all witnessed Scotland performing at its very best and our welcome and hospitality was recognised right across the globe.
“I am delighted to present Peter Lederer with the Silver Thistle Award which is well deserved. For many years he has worked tirelessly to promote the tourism industry at home and overseas.
“He was instrumental in the successful Scottish bid for the Ryder Cup and since then has worked on behalf of the tourism industry and of Scotland to ensure that Scotland cemented its reputation as the Home of Golf.”
This year the Scottish Thistle Awards also extended a special thank you to the people of Glasgow for the warm welcome they had offered to guests during the major events of 2014.
Led by panel of experts from the Scottish tourism industry, the awards celebrate tourism businesses or suppliers across the region who have gone the extra mile to offer an outstanding visitor experience.
With a particular focus on customer service, this year, for the very first time, members of the public were invited to nominate their tourism champions, with judges determining the final winners.
Entries were made across a range of different categories including Friendliest Pub, Most Hospitable Hotel, and Our Warmest Welcome.
Stephen Carter OBE, VisitScotland Board Member and Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel, said: “2014 was an exceptional year for Scottish tourism, it was the year we welcomed the world.
“I’d like to congratulate all our tourism champions for their dedication and commitment to Scotland’s tourism industry. Tourism is at the heartbeat of the Scottish economy, and all those nominated, are leading the way when it comes to making our country a fantastic place to visit and do business.”
The Scottish Thistle Awards is led by several organisations, including VisitScotland, the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.