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The search is on to find Scotland’s Best Pub or Bar as the deadline for entries to the 30th Scottish Thistles Awards approaches. The award is one of 18 up for grabs in the annual competition which celebrates the best of the best in Scottish tourism. Last year, The Cross Key Inns in Ettrickbridge near Selkirk, Scottish Borders claimed the coveted title of Best Pub or Bar.

On receiving the award at the national final held in Glasgow in December, Rory and Vicki Steel, owners of the Cross Keys Inn said“We were absolutely thrilled to win this award in our region and we’re honoured to fly the flag for the South of Scotland in the Thistle Awards National Final. To win again  really is the best end to our first year of operating. We can’t thank our whole team and our local community in Ettrickbridge enough for all their support and we’re looking forward to building on this success throughout 2024!”

For over 30 years, the Scottish Thistle Awards have helped shine a spotlight on individual businesses, people and partnership- working. They have become an annual celebration of excellence, collaboration and innovation within one of the country’s most important sectors. 

Delivered by VisitScotland in partnership with regional awards programmes, the Scottish Thistle Awards combines five regional awards and a national final.

The Best Pub or Bar category aims to celebrate the key role of bars and pubs as part of the Scottish visitor’s memorable experience by recognising those offering an authentic, cultural experience with a warm welcome. 

Entries to the 2024 Scottish Thistle Awards, with headline sponsors Johnstons of Elgin, close on 28 April.

Colin Wilkinson, SLTA Manager Director said: “For nearly three decades, the Scottish Thistle Awards have stood as a beacon of recognition for excellence in Scotland’s tourism industry. The Scottish Licensed Trade Association would encourage licensed trade businesses across Scotland to participate in these prestigious awards, showcasing the best of what our industry has to offer.

“When you consider that over 70% of visitors to the country visit a pub or a bar, this confirms that the licensed trade is a key sector in Scottish tourism and provides a unique visitor experience from the widely diverse offering the industry provides.

“Our pubs and bars the length and breadth of the country deserve recognition for their contribution in giving international and domestic tourists a memorable experience and the best way to gain that recognition is by entering your pub or bar into the Scottish Thistle Awards 2024.”

Steven Walker, Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel, saidThe Scottish Thistle Awards represent an exciting opportunity for individuals and businesses to gain recognition for all the work they do to make Scotland such a fantastic place to visit and stay.   

“By winning a Scottish Thistle Award, tourism businesses join a prestigious roll of honour, earning recognition as one of the best in the country, helping to ensure that tourism, and the individuals who work in the industry, are recognised for the positive impact they bring to the country and our communities.  

“Tourism is a vital industry to Scotland and I would encourage those working in tourism and events to get their entries in and help shine a spotlight on our area.”  

Responsible tourism is at the heart of the Scottish Thistle Awards, supporting the aim for Scotland to be recognised globally as a leader in this field. Entrants to all 17 categories must evidence how they have embraced best practice covering the four key areas of a low carbon economy, inclusivity, thriving communities and Scotland’s natural and cultural heritage.

2024 sees the introduction of a new Rising Star Award. Sponsored by HIT Scotland, the award aims to recognise the achievements of individuals that are at the start if their career within the tourism and hospitality industry.

Regional winners for Central, East and the West will be announced at two regional finals delivered by VisitScotland in September. 

Winners from all five regional awards, which also include the Highlands and Islands Thistle Awards (HITA) the Aberdeen City and Shire Thistle Awards (ACSTA) and the South of Scotland Thistle Awards (delivered in partnership with the South of Scotland Destination Alliance and supported by South of Scotland Enterprise) go on to compete at the Scottish Thistle Award national ceremony in November.

For more information and to enter the Scottish Thistle Awards, visit:

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